Current Affair of March 2021
1. A Himalayan mammal is the newest creatures that has been spotted in the state of Assam. The Himalayan serow looks like somewhere between a goat and an antelope. It was spotted in the Manas Tiger Reserve which is having the area of 950-sq. km on December 3, 2020. This animal is a high-altitude dweller which is usually found around 2000 to 4000 metres above the sea level. The Himalayan serow is a subspecies of mainland serow. The species is native to the Himalayas. The Himalayan serow was previously considered its own species as Capricornis thar. It is mostly blackish along with the flanks, hindquarters. The upper legs of the species are rusty red in colour while the lower legs are whitish. The specie has been listed in CITES Appendix I.
2. The researchers from India and United States have found the five new species of shrub frogs. These species of the frog were discovered from the Western Ghats which is a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot. The five species of the frogs belong to Old World tree frog of family called Rhacophoridae. These species were discovered by researchers from Kerala Forest Research Institute, University of Delhi and University of Minnesota. This discovery is part of the long comprehensive study on Shrub frogs of genus Raorchestes in the Western Ghats. The research was carried out for the period of 10 years. The new species were identified and were distinct on the basis of several criteria including the external morphology of frog, calling pattern, DNA, and behaviour.
3. The BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has introduced the "Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021" in the assembly. This bill has replaced the ordinance that the government had brought to check the religious conversions through any fraudulent means. The new bill has replaced the ordinance which the government cleared in December 2020 and promulgated in January 2021. The bill comprises of the provisions of 10 years imprisonment for some cases and fine for violators. The bill was presented by the Home Minister, Narottam Mishra. Now this bill will be put up for consideration. Members can suggest amendments to the bill. The bill was passed in the assembly on the line of law passed by Uttar Pradesh which have similar provisions.
4. The Governor of Haryana, Satyadev Narayan Arya, has approved a bill to reserve 75 per cent jobs in Private sector jobs for the people of the state. Reservation will be provided in every company, trust and society. Thus, the "Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020" has now come into force in the State of Haryana from March 2, 2020. The state assembly had passed the "Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020" in the year 2020. The bill seeks to provide a quota for local people for the jobs in private sector offering the monthly salary of less than rupee 50,000. The state government have passed this bill stating that the reservation will be socially, economically and environmentally desirable. Further, to provide reservations in private sector jobs for locals was main election promise of the Jannayak Janata Party. This party is in power with its alliance with BJP after winning 10 seats out of 90 seats.
5. The Odisha government will start the first state survey of "social and educational conditions" of people belonging to the backward classes from May 1 to May 20, 2021. In the state of Odisha, there are around 209 communities which are identified as the socially and educationally backward classes (SEBCs). They account for 54% of the Population in Odisha. The Survey will be conducted with respect to the social and educational conditions of the people who belongs to the backward classes in the state. It will cover the details like their occupation, and education standard etc. The state minister for SC/ST development stated that this move will be of transformative nature and it will have a transformative impact in the backward population in the state.
6. The government of Jharkhand have presented the "Outcome-Based Budget" on March 3, 2021 for the first time. In this budget, all the departments were given specific targets and responsibilities that are required to be completed in a specified time. The results with respect to those targets will be evaluated at the end of financial year 2022. Finance Minister Rameshwar Oroan tabled the Outcome-based budget of worth Rs 91, 277 crores for the financial year 2021-22. The budget was increased from the budget of Rs 86, 370 crores in the year 2019-2020. The government also stated that, in the year 2021-22, fiscal deficit will be equal to Rs 10, 210.87 crores. It accounts for 2.83 per cent of the state's GDP.
7. The Parliament of India have merged two of the TV channels namely, Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV into an integrated channel "Sansad TV". This new platform will continue to live telecast the house proceedings, pack news and the current affairs programme in Hindi as well as in English languages. The Rajya Sabha TV establishment is run from the rented public property near the Talkatora stadium. Now this establishment will be merged with the infrastructure of Lok Sabha TV in order to create a new entity. The former textiles secretary, Ravi Kapoor, has been appointed as the CEO of the Sansad Tv on a contract basis for a period of one year.
8. The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has approved an agreement between India and Fiji for their cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. The agriculture pact was signed between Ministry of Agriculture of India and Agriculture Ministry of the Republic of Fiji. This agreement between the countries will come into force from the date of its signing. It will continue for five years.
9. LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2021 was recently published. The report focuses on the manner women perceive their opportunities. It also focuses on how gender gap is slowing down the career progress for working women in India in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic. As per the index, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the working women in India the most as compared to working women in other countries. The index maintains that, working women in India continue to battle strongest gender bias with respect to equal pay and opportunity across the Asia Pacific countries. As per the report; about one in five women, which accounts for 22% of the working women in India, is unhappy with the opportunities to advance in their career. These women said that, their companies are favourably biased towards men.
10. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has released the monthly climate summary on March 2, 2021. As per the IMD Report, India has recorded its second warmest winter during the months of January and February 2021 after the year 1901. The IMD has stated that, minimum temperature recorded in past two months was 15.39 degrees Celsius as opposed to normal temperature of 14.59 degrees Celsius while the maximum period for the same period was 27.47 degrees Celsius. It also states that, winter of 2016 have the record for warmest ever winter in India. As per IMD, 2021 winter was the third warmest after 2016 and 2009 winters in terms of mean temperature.
11. The World Health Organization (WHO) has published the first world report on hearing on World Hearing Day which was observed on March 3, 2021. In the new report, the WHO has highlighted that, one in every four individuals across the world will be experiencing mild-to-profound hearing loss by 2050, which roughly accounts for 2.5 billion people across the world. As per the report, at least 700 million people will be suffering from disabling hearing loss and they would require ear & hearing care. The report highlights that, billion young people in the age group 12–35 years are at risk of hearing loss because of noise pollution in recreational settings.
12. The US government funded NGO "Freedom House" published its annual report on global political rights and liberties recently. The report titled "Freedom in the World 2021 – Democracy under Siege" published the report on political freedom across the world. In the latest report, the status of India as a democracy and free society was downgraded to "partly free". Report also says that, it seems India have abandoned its potential to serve as the global democratic leader. It also highlighted that, the downgraded rank of India from upper ranks of free nations will particularly damage the impact on global democratic standards. India has been given a score of 67 out of 100. It further highlights that, the political rights and civil liberties in India has deteriorated since the year 2014 because of increasing pressure on human rights organisations, rising intimidation of academics journalists, and incidents like lynching.
13. The World food prices have increased for the ninth consecutive month in February 2021. The Food and Agriculture Organisation stated that the food prices have increased because of jumps in prices of sugar and vegetable oils. The food price index measures the monthly changes for a basket containing the cereals, dairy products, oilseeds, meat and sugar. The index had averaged to 116.0 points in February 2021 against the 113.3 points in January. The FAO also highlighted that; the cereal harvests remained on course worldwide so as to hit the annual record in the year 2020.
14. The eleventh edition of the QS World University Rankings by Subject was released on March 4, 2021. The report was compiled by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). The ranking provided the independent comparative analysis regarding the performance of 14,435 individual university programme. As per the report, India's private institutes have improved their performance in the latest report. The QS World University Ranking highlights that, the public 'Institutions of Eminence' were better-represented in the rankings as compared to the private ones.
15. The United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) published the "Food Waste Index Report, 2021". As per the UNEP report, estimated 931 million tonnes of food were wasted across the world 2019. The agency also highlighted that this amount of wasted food can circle the Earth seven times. The index report was published by the UNEP in collaboration with the partner organisation WRAP. Out of the total waste generation, households accounts for the sixty-one per cent of waste, food services accounts for 26 per cent from food waste while, the retail accounts for 13 per cent waste. The report also highlights 17 per cent of total global food production is wasted. The agency stated that, weight roughly equals to 23 million fully loaded 40-tonne trucks is enough to circle Earth seven times. capita per year which accounts for 91,646,213 tonnes in a year. As per the report, every country that has measured food waste which was substantial independent of income level. Further, the waste coming from the households comprises of the 11 percent of the total food available at consumption level. The agency further highlighted that, on the global per capita stage 121 kgs of consumer food is wasted per year out of which 74 kgs waste is generated from the households.
16. The United Nations report have called to scale up the carbon capture, use and storage in light with the Paris Agreement on Climate change which aims for the net-zero emissions goal in order to limit the global warming. The scaling-up "carbon capture, use storage" (CCUS) technology comprises of the component like capturing the CO2 emissions from the coal and gas power plants. It also seeks to capture carbon emissions from the heavy industry for its deep underground storage or reusing it. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) stated that deployment of CCUS technology on a large scale would permit the countries to decarbonize these sectors. The UN report have warned that, time is nearing to deliver the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development. The countries like United states, Scandinavia, and United Kingdom are leading the way. On the other hand, the smaller nations need the international partners and financing.
17. Recently, a report was commissioned by the Amazon Web Services (AWS) on India's Digital skilled workforce. The report highlights that, digital skills are becoming a significant component for employees in order to perform their jobs efficiently. The digitisation journey has further accelerated in the view of ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic to a certain extent for individuals and organisations.
18. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its interim Economic Outlook on March 9, 2021. It has projected that the Indian economy will grow at the rate of 12.6% in Financial Year 2022. This will be the highest among G20 countries. The economic outlook is aided by the additional fiscal support after covid-19 pandemic pushed Indian economy into recession after almost 40 years. The report highlights that, recovery in activity continued in fourth quarter of 2020 despite there were new virus outbreaks and tighter containment norms in some economies. The Global output was around 1% lower than it was before the covid-19 pandemic.
19. The World Bank has recently published its report called "Connecting to thrive: Challenges and Opportunities of Transport Integration in Eastern South Asia". As per the report, greater transport connectivity in between India and Bangladesh can increase the national income of both the nations. The report highlights that the seamless bilateral connectivity between the countries have the potential to increase the national income of India by 8% and of Bangladesh by 17%. It further states that, Bangladesh's exports to India can increase by 182% and India's exports to Bangladesh can increase by 126% if they sign a free trade agreement. As per the report, if the transport connectivity is increased, it will lead to increase of Bangladesh's export to India by 297% and India's exports to Bangladesh by 172 %. The report notes that, presently, Indian trucks are not allowed to transit into Bangladesh because of which the transportation cost for goods into the north-eastern states of India increases.
20. The government has put a "Draft Excise Policy" in public domain with respect to the government's proposal to allot the retail liquor vends through e-auction. This move was taken by the government in order to generate more revenue for the exchequer in the Union territory. It will also remove the possibility of cartelization and monopolistic practices. This policy will be finalized soon by the government. This policy has been drafted with the aim of rationalizing the number of taxes or duties and other levies. This will help in optimizing the revenue for common good and encouraging the transition from high alcoholic content beverages to low. It will also bring about a greater social consciousness regarding the harmful effects of consumption of liquor and alcoholic beverages. Finally, it will check bootlegging or smuggling of liquor in Union Territories from neighbouring States or Union Territories.
21. The state of Madhya Pradesh has introduced the night safaris in the three national parks in Madhya Pradesh on March 4, 2021. This move by the state is a major boost for the state which is already known for its robust tourism industry. With the introduction of night safaris in three national parks, wildlife enthusiasts can now experience the majestic animals at night. The three parks include the Bandhavgarh National Park, Kanha National Park and Pench National Park. Usually, safaris are conducted during the day because tourists feel safer in the daylight. But because of day safaris, tourists miss out to witness nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. So, now the state hopes to organise the safaris in a controlled manner. Under the safaris, the routes will be decided by the state. They would ensure that, neither the animals nor the tourists get vulnerable to harm. The night safari can be booked on the Wildlife Safari Reservation portal. This portal is operated by forest department of the state.
22. The Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, has announced that the Delhi Cabinet has given approval to constitute the Delhi Board of School Education on March 6, 2021. Arvind Kejriwal also stated that, there are some 1000 govt schools and 1700 private schools functional in the Union territory of Delhi. He said, all the government schools and most of the private schools here are affiliated with Central Board of Secondary Education. The government has also planned to include 20-25 schools under the Delhi board of School Education in the academic session 2021-2022. The Chief Minister stated that, the CBSE affiliation of all these schools will be scrapped. They would be given affiliation under the new board. The schools which will be selected for affiliation after discussing with Principals, teachers and parents. The Chief Minister also hope that, all the schools will come forward to voluntarily get the affiliation with the new board within four-five years.
23. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, will inaugurate the 'Maitri Setu' between India and Bangladesh via video conferencing on March 9, 2021. He will also inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of several infrastructure projects in Tripura on the occasion. The 'Maitri Setu' is a bridge that has been built in the River Feni. Feni river flows between the Indian boundary in the state of Tripura and Bangladesh. The name 'Maitri Setu' has been chose to symbolize the growing bilateral relations and friendly ties between both the countries. The construction of the bridge was done by the "National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd". The total cost of the bridge project is Rs. 133 Crores. It is a 1.9 Km long bridge that connects the Sabroom in India with Ramgarh in Bangladesh.
24. The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, laid down the foundation stone for conservation works of Singorgarh Fort at the Singrampur village of Damoh district in Madhya Pradesh on March 7, 2021. On the occasion, the President also inaugurated the Jabalpur Circle of Archaeological Survey of India. He also addressed the State Level Tribal Conference at Singrampur village in Damoh which was organized by Union Ministry of Culture and the Tribal Affairs Department of Madhya Pradesh. On the occasion, Kovind also paid his floral tributes at the statue of Rani Durgavati in Singrampur village. He also launched the booklet of Tribal Department and a portal for virtual classes for the tribal artists. On this occasion, President also awarded the talented tribal students with the Shankar Shah and Rani Durgavati awards.
25. The HDFC Bank has launched the "SmartUp Unnati mentoring Programme". This programme was launched to provide its support to the women entrepreneurs. This programme was launched on the occasion of International Women's Day. Under this programme, the senior women leaders from the HDFC Bank with the expertise will mentor the women entrepreneurs so as to help them in achieving their goals in next one year. This programme is available for the existing customers of the bank. The programme will initially target more than 3,000 women entrepreneurs who are associated with the SmartUp programme of the bank. Under the programme, the senior women executive leaders will be acting as the sounding board for women entrepreneurs. Thus, it is a programme for women by women.
26. On the occasion of International Women's Day, the all-women art exhibition titled as "Akshya Patra" was inaugurated on March 9, 2021 at the Lalit Kala Akademi. This art exhibition is being organised at the Rabindra Bhavan Galleries and will conclude on March 20, 2021. The art exhibition will showcase around 250 artworks form across the 12 countries. It also includes the art work of those created by 29 talented female artists who attended three-day all women's national art camp at the Garhi Studios. This is a multi-dimensional art show which exhibits the art works of budding, young as well as senior artists. The art exhibition will bring about both the Indian and the international participants to the fore tribal, international, contemporary, and Avante Garde art practices around the globe. This art exhibition has been themed around many faces and benefactions of Mother Nature.
27. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, on March 10, 2021 have urged all the Members of Parliament (MPs) and the public representatives to take part in 'Amrit Mahotsav'. The Amrit Mahotsav will start from March 12, 2021 to mark the 75 years of India's Independence from the British rule. It will start at the Sabarmati Ashram in Gujarat. This festival will be organised at the 75 locations for 75 weeks across the country.
28. Olive Ridley female turtles have started moving to the Gahirmatha beach in the Kendrapara district in Odisha. They are arriving at the beach to lay eggs which is described as the phenomenon called 'arribada'. Arribada is a Spanish term which describes the unique natural heritage of these marine species which converge on the nesting ground to lay eggs. The annual mass nesting of the marine species started on March 10, 2021 in Nasi-2 beach of Gahirmatha nesting ground. Around 2,000 turtles had turned up to lay eggs on ground. The mass nesting process will continue for at least 10 days. Usually, around 7.30 lakh Olive Ridley turtles were gathered for the mass nesting in the year 2019-2020.
29. The Panel for Air Quality Management set by the Central government in around the National Capital Region has now been dissolved after five months of its constitution. The Panel was set by the Centre government in the month of October 2020. Now the panel stands dissolved because the ordinance which was passed to set up the panel has lapsed. Ordinance had to be introduced in Parliament within six weeks. But it was not introduced within the prescribed time because of which the ordinance lapsed. The panel was headed by a former secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, M.M. Kutty.
30. The Sangay volcano of Ecuador was erupted on March 11, 2021 and it ejected the clouds of ash up to the height of 8,500 meters into the sky. Following the eruption, the sky in the capital of Chimborazo called Riobamba was overcast with the ash cloud even though the capital city is located around 50 kilometres away from the Sangay Volcano. The Sangay volcano has recorded activity since past few weeks now. the ash from the volcano has also damaged the crops and cattle around the city.
31. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) have established an oversight committee on March 15, 2021 comprising of twelve members in order to prevent the unregulated and Unscientific mining in Meghalaya. The committee was established after the NGT observed that rat-hole mining is so often in Meghalaya despite the government has put ban on it. The bench headed by NGT Chairperson, Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, highlighted that the state authorities are bound to work for the protection of scarce natural resources in accordance with the "Public Trust Doctrine". The tribunal also highlighted that, the monitoring cannot continue forever, so task needs to be taken by the executive authorities which will then be overseen by the oversight committee.
32. The Supreme Court of India has given its suggestion in the behalf of the critically endangered Great Indian Bustards after the number of birds falling dead due to collision with power lines is increasing over time. These power line run through the dwindling natural habitats of the Indian Bustards in the states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Bench led by Chief Justice, Sharad A. Bobde, will examine whether the overhead power lines could be replaced with the underground cable lines in order to save the heaviest flying birds. The court also found an alternative mechanism that is to install the flight bird diverters in order to guide the birds away from power lines would not be a cost-effective method. In fact, such diverters are of the nature of recurring costs and will cost more than installing and maintaining the underground lines.
33. The largest floating solar farm of the world is being built in Singapore. The country has resorted to set up the energy plants off the coasts and reservoirs across it. This floating solar farm is being set up in the light that despite being one of the smallest countries across the world, it is one of the biggest per capita carbon dioxide emitters in India. Thus, to cater to the issue of climate change and to cut the greenhouse gas emission it is building the floating solar farm. This project is being built by Sembcorp Industries.
34. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO), Goa, has launched the "TraceBioMe Project" in order to map the genetic diversity of organisms. This project is supported the CSIR. It would also help in mapping the effect of micronutrients apart from tracing the metals deposited on them in the Indian Ocean. It will also forecast the extensive sampling of water, planktons, sediments and several organisms in different parts of Indian Ocean. This in turn will help in studying the presence of different types of organisms, trace metals and micronutrients found therein. The project would be using the modern state-of-the-art molecular techniques and the classical techniques to map the genetic diversity. In the first phase of the project, microscopic organisms will be investigated.
35. The government has set up 11 committees which will be led by the concerned line ministries apart from officials from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and NITI Aayog. The committee will expedite the transition India from a linear to a circular economy across the 11 focus areas. These committees will be preparing the comprehensive action plans to help in transitioning from the linear to the circular economy in the respective focus areas. The committee will also carry the necessary modalities which in turn will ensure the effective implementation of findings and recommendations.
36. The Union Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', took his ride in the 'Energy Swaraj Yatra' bus which has been built by the professor of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Dr Chetan Singh Solanki. The "Energy Swaraj Yatra" bus runs on the solar energy. It comprises of a complete work-cum-residential unit. The professor has been travelling on the bus to raise awareness regarding the use of solar power since the year 2020. This yatra will continue till 2030. While taking the ride, the education minister highlighted that, this project is in line with the "National Education Policy" which comprises of an "in-built framework for imparting skills" with respect to the use of solar energy in schools and colleges. The minister also stated that, this bus has been designed with the objective of creating a public movement for the adoption of 100 percent solar energy.
37. India has planned to conduct the airborne radar surveys in order to estimate the thickness of Himalayan glaciers. Under the plan, the pilot study will be conducted in the Lahaul – Spiti basin of the Himachal Pradesh. This proposal was initiated by the "National Centre for Polar & Ocean Research (NCPOR)" under the Ministry of Earth Sciences". After this pilot project is done, similar studies will also be conducted in the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra sub-basins. This development is significant because of the importance of glaciers in the river systems of India and 500 million lives which the river sustains downstream in Indo-Gangetic plains. They are also significant from with respect to the energy security standpoint. The development is also strategically imperative.
38. Tirath Singh Rawat has become the new Chief Minister of Uttarakhand on March 10, 2021. He took the oath as CM a day after the former CM Trivendra Singh Rawat resigned from the post. Tirath Singh is the Lok Sabha MP from Garhwal. He was elected as the leader of BJP Legislature Party and it made him to take over as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. This news was announced by Trivendra Singh Rawat after the meeting of BJP legislature party. The choice of making Mr Rawat the new CM of the state was also taken up as a surprise because he was not among the favourite candidate for many. The other key names for the post of CM were Dhan Singh Rawat, Ajay Bhatt and Anil Baluni.
39. All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has released the approval process handbook for academic year 2021-22. The AICTE Handbook highlights that: Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics will continue to be important subjects for core streams of engineering such as mechanical engineering. However, for streams such as Textile Engineering, Agriculture or Biotechnology, students will be given an option of not studying these three subjects in class 12th. Those who does not opt. for these subjects will have to make up through bridge courses in college.
40. The Rajasthan Assembly has passed the demand for grants of Rs 370.60 for the higher education by voice vote on March 16, 2021. The bill was passed amid the protest by the opposition legislators. They stormed into the well of the House and staged a sit-in against the government even though the Higher Education Minister, Bhanwar Singh Bhati, had replied to the issue. The bill was passed in line with the government's focus on the skill development and quality education.
41. Haryana Assembly has passed the "Haryana Recovery of damages to property during disturbance to public Bill, 2021" on March 18, 2021 to recover the compensation from the protesters if they cause damage to property. The bill was passed by a voice vote. The Bill provides for the recovery of damages to properties which is caused by the persons during disturbances to public order by the assembly, lawful or unlawful means like riots and violent disorder. The bill also comprises of the provision to constitute the Claims Tribunal in order to determine the liability, assess the damages caused and to compensate for the damage. The bill is not meant for people's democratic right of holding protest but for the people who damage the public and private property.
42. The "Labour Bureau", which is an attached office under the Ministry of Labour & Employment had signed an agreement with the "Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Limited (BECIL)", which is an enterprise under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, have signed a service level agreement in order to provide the technical and manpower support to the Labour Bureau. This support from BECIL will help in conducting All India Surveys on Migrant Workers as well as the All-India Quarterly Establishment based Employment Survey (AQEES). This agreement marks the beginning of "IT-enabled surveys" in which surveys by Bureau will be integrated with technology provided by BECIL. This will help in reducing the time taken to complete the surveys by 30-40%.
43. The Parliament has passed the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 after the Rajya Sabha cleared it on March 10, 2021. This bill was already passed in the Lok Sabha in February, 2021. The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. The legislation comprises of the provisions of dealing with the domestic and international arbitration. It defines the law to conduct conciliation proceedings. It replaces the Ordinance comprising of the same provisions that was promulgated on November 4, 2020. The legislation deals with the domestic and international arbitration.
44. The government discussing and is in process of developing regulations for the personal and non-personal data through the Draft National e-commerce policy. The policy highlights that the government have laid down the principles regarding the usage of data for development of any of the industry where such norms are not in effect. With the draft policy, the government put an adequate safeguard that seeks to prevent misuse and access of data by the unauthorized persons.
45. The Rajya Sabha has approved the "National Institute of Food Technology Bill, 2019" on March 15, 2021. This bill declares the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Kundli in Haryana and Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu as the "National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management". Bill also establishes a board of Governors which will act as the principal executive body in the institute. This board would be responsible for general direction, superintendence, and control of the affairs in institutes.
46. The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2021. The bill was moved by Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Mansukh Mandaviya. This initiative is part of the proactive approach which was adopted by Ministry of Shipping by repealing the archaic colonial laws and replacing them with the modern and contemporary needs in the maritime industry.
47. Rajya Sabha has passed the "National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professional Bill, 2020" by voice vote on March 16, 2021. The Bill seeks to regulate & maintain the standards of education & services by allied & healthcare professionals. The bill was passed with the aim of fulfilling the long-pending demands for the sector. The bill will create an institutional structure in order to enhance the employability. It will benefit around 8 to 9 lakh existing allied and healthcare professionals. With the implementation of the bill, these professionals will be more ready to cater the global shortage and demand of 1.80 crore professional by 2030 which was predicted by WHO global workforce report. It also provides for regulation and maintenance of the standards of education & services by allied & healthcare professionals. It also provides for the assessment of institutions and maintenance of the central and state register. The bill also seeks to create the system in order to improve the research & development and adoption of the latest scientific advancement.
48. The Parliament has cleared the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill was approved in the Rajya Sabha March 16, 2021. The bill was already passed in the Lok Sabha on March 17, 2020. The bill was passed with the objective of amending the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. It seeks to increase the upper limit of legal abortions to 24 weeks for the special categories of women. This increase in the upper limit of the abortions was done in light with the advancement of the medical technologies which has made it possible to allow removal of foetus even at the advanced stage of pregnancy.
49. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) have released the 'India FinTech: A USD 100 Billion Opportunity' report. The report highlights the findings from the study conducted by BCG and FICCI. The study was conducted to size the value-creation potential and to identify the imperatives for FinTech growth of India. The FinTech industry in India is growing at a fast rate. The FinTech players are redefining their business models in different sectors of financial services industry. They are also helping in improving the service delivery and are also contributing to the digital financial inclusion. The dynamic FinTech industry of India has more than 2100 FinTechs out of which 67% were set up in the last 5 years. The total value of the industry accounts to $50-$60 billion. The growth of the industry has not been affected by the pandemic.
50. A survey titled as "Embracing Digital: Is covid-19 the catalyst for lasting change?" was conducted by the EY and Imperial College London's institute for Global Health Innovations. As per the survey, India has witnessed the highest the adoption of the digital technologies by the health & human services in during the time when covid-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital solutions. The survey was conducted on more than 2000 global HHS Professionals in India, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom. From India, 359 respondents took part in the survey. The survey highlights that, the use of digital technologies and data solutions has increased since the outbreak of covid-19 pandemic. During the survey it was found that, 74% of the respondents across India reported that digital technologies and data solutions have increased the productivity of the staff. Further, 75% of the respondents reported that digital solutions are effective in delivering the better outcomes for patients and other service users.
51. The United Nation Sustainable Development Solutions Network has released its annual report called "World Happiness Report, 2021". The report was collected and prepared slightly differently amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. The report measures the subjective well-being by relying on three indicators namely, Life Evaluation, Positive Emotions and Negative Emotions. The report was presented ahead of "World Happiness day" which is observed on March 20.
52. The date "March 19" evoked several painful memories at Kishangarh village of Mansa district. In the year 1949, in the Kishangarh village, four farmers were killed on the same date during the "Pepsu Muzara movement". This movement and those farmers were remembered at several sites of ongoing farmer's protest. This movement was started with the objective of taking ownership rights of land after tilling it for years together. This movement started in 1930s under British rule when the Jagridars were seeking the share in crop of farmers across the villages of Punjab under the Patiala Riyasat. The share used to be passed on to the Maharaja of Patiala and then to Britshers. Thus, the farmers were working like slaves of Jagirdars, Maharaja and British. So, the farmers started this movement in which they refused to give the food grains to their masters. After India's Independence some 784 villages of the Patiala Riyasat were named as PEPSU province. Following this, in the month of October 1948, the Patiala Maharaja had passed orders to give one third land of villages to Jagirdars. However, farmers did not accept this. Later on March 19, 1949 these farmers confronted the security forces of Maharaja at Kishangarh in which four farmers, one cop and one patwari were killed.
53. Shaheed Bhagat Singh Smarak was inaugurated in New Delhi by Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' on March 23, 2021. Education minister also paid homage to Bhagat Singh in the chamber located in basement of Viceregal Lodge of Delhi University. Bhagat Singh was imprisoned in this chamber. To commemorate the 90 years of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, the university has organised a programme. On the occasion, an existing collection of books on freedom fighters which has been converted into "Shaheed Smriti Pustakalaya" was also made available for the students and teachers of Delhi university. Bhagat Singh Smarak will remain open for the students and university community to instil the values of freedom and sacrifice.
54. 28th Edition of the Hunar Haat of indigenous products of artisans and craftsmen is being organised at Kala Academy in Panaji, Goa. The event was started from March 26th and will conclude on April 4, 2021. It is being organised under the theme- "Vocal for Local". According to Union Minister for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, "Hunar Haat" is a "Perfect, Popular and Proud Platform" to popularise the indigenous artistry and crafts across the country. The event will be formally inaugurated on March 27, 2021.
55. The International Day of Forests is observed by the United Nations on March 21. The day commemorate the green cover across the world highlighting its importance. The day was observed under the theme – "Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being". The international day of forest was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2012. The day is marked with the celebrations and it raises awareness regarding the importance of all types of forests. The countries across the world are encouraged to undertake the local, national and international efforts in order to organize the activities like tree-planting campaigns with respect to forests and trees. This day is celebrated by the United Nations Forum on Forests and Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. These organisations collaborate with governments, Collaborative Partnership on Forests and other such organisations in the field.
56. Global Wind Report 2021 was published by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) on March 25, 2021. Though, 2020 was a record year for global wind power industry, but this report warns that there is a need to install new wind power capacity three times faster by next decade in order to achieve global climate targets & limit global warming to below 2°C above the pre-industrial levels. In the year 2020, 93 GW of new capacity were installed. It is a 53% year-on-year increase. But this is not sufficient to ensure that world will achieve net zero emission target by 2050.
57. The government has set up the "Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG)" for the genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 across India. This was announced by the Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare in a written reply in Lok Sabha. The minister also highlighted that, this consortium comprises of ten Regional Genome Sequencing Laboratories (RGSLs) namely, ILS Bhubaneshwar, NIBMG Kalyani, NCCS Pune, ICMR-NIV Pune, CDFD Hyderabad, CSIR-CCMB Hyderabad, NIMHANS Bengaluru, InStem/NCBS Bengaluru, CSIR-IGIB Delhi, and NCDC Delhi.
58. The Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh, has expressed his fear regarding the interlinking the Ken-Betwa rivers linking project. The minister said that the interlinking of the rivers will destroy the Panna Tiger Reserve located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The minister also said that, he had suggested alternatives of the river interlinking 10 years ago but those recommendations were ignored. The River interlinking project aims to divert the surplus water from Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh. This is being done with the objective of irrigating the drought-prone Bundelkhand region across the districts of Jhansi, Lalitpur, Banda & Mahoba districts in UP and Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur & Panna districts in MP. This project is one among the 30 rivers interlinking projects across the country.
59. Bihar is celebrating its 109th foundation day on March 22, 2021. The foundation day is known as the "Bihar Day". The day is regarded as a public holiday across the state. The day is observed every year on March 22. It marks the formation of state of Bihar. On this day, Bihar was carved out of the Bengal by the British government in the year 1912. The Day was started being celebrated in the tenure of Nitish Kumar. Now it is celebrated on a large scale by Bihar Government. The day is also celebrated in the countries like Britain, United States, Germany, Australia, Canada, Scotland, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Trinidad & Tobago and in Mauritius.
60. The Jal Shakti Ministry has signed a pact with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the government of Denmark on March 22, 2021 in order to bring the tap water connections to the 11 water-scarce districts of the Bundelkhand and Vindhya regions in Uttar Pradesh under the Jal Jeevan mission. The project will comprise of the supports like capacity building, creation of village action plans, grassroot water quality monitoring methods and community mobilisation. All these supports will be facilitated by UNOPS. The project has set a million-dollar budget for the year 2021. However, the project will be scaled up in the year 2022.
61. The state government of the Andhra Pradesh has decided to set up "India's first government-run ambulance network" for animals. This decision was taken in order to further boost the animal husbandry and veterinary sector in the state. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, has made this ambulance network as one of its main missions in order to help in reaching out to the distressed animals to provide them proper animal healthcare. The Animal Husbandry Department was directed to set up one Mobile Ambulance Veterinary Clinic at each of the assembly constituency.
62. The annual Permanent Indus Commission meeting was recently held after a gap of over two years. Before the meeting, Pakistan had raised objections to the designs of Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower plants which are under construction in Jammu and Kashmir. In response, India has justified its stand. Pakistan had also sought more information regarding the projects in Ladakh which were sanctioned after abrogation of Article 370. In the meeting, both the sides also discussed other issues under Indus Waters Treaty. Indian side was led by PK Saxena, India's Indus Commissioner while the delegation from Pakistan was led by Indus Commissioner Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah. The meeting was significant because this is the first important engagement between both the countries after Indian and Pakistani militaries had announced to strictly observe a ceasefire along Line of Control and other sectors.
63. Asia's largest Tulip Garden in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, is scheduled to be opened for general public and tourists from March 25, 2021. Tulip Garden is a spectrum of colours which features lakhs of tulips. Flowers have blossomed in the lap of Zabarwan Hills along the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar city. Around 15 lakh flowers of more than 64 varieties are in full bloom nowadays in the garden.
64. Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has launched a competency-based assessment framework on March 25, 2021. Assessment framework was launched for classes 6-10 for three subjects namely, English (reading), Science, and Maths. This framework is a part of "CBSE Competency Based Education Project" which was launched to replace existing "rote learning model" in accordance with the new National Education Policy (NEP) in next 2-3 years.
65. "MICE Roadshow Meet in India" Brand and Roadmap for Promotion of India as MICE Destination were launched by Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh on March 25, 2021. 'Chhatrasal Convention Centre' was also launched at Khajuraho which has been developed under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism. The event will mark Keynote sessions and Panel discussions on Responsible Tourism, Iconic Destination and India as a MICE Destination industry experts and senior Government officials.
66. Supreme Court of India, on March 26, 2021, refused to stay sale of fresh set of electoral bonds from 1 April. This decision was taken ahead of assembly elections across four states; Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Tamil Nadu and in Union Territory of Puducherry. Supreme Court, while refusing the stay, underlines that these bonds were allowed to be released in 2018 and 2019 without any interruption. There exists no justification to stay these bonds as sufficient safeguards are there. Apex Court also highlighted that; electoral bonds not only benefit the ruling party.
67. Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan, addressed the 7th annual summit of NATHEALTH in virtual mode on March 26, 2021. The summit focused on 'Indian Health system expansion in post-COVID era'. While addressing the summit the minister reiterated the commitments of government for fulfilling goal of Health for all. He noted that, "Health for All" is a top priority for current Government and to institutionalize the approach towards this goal, government has launched the "National Health Policy" in 2017. The primary vision of policy-framework is to attain highest possible level of health and well-being for all irrespective of all age groups. To attain this vision, the policy emphasizes on preventive & promotive aspects of health and providing universal access to good quality healthcare services. Government also launched Ayushman Bharat program with the objective of providing Universal Free Access to primary health care, promoting health and wellbeing.
68. The Supreme Court of India has refused to interfere with the decision of the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the loan moratorium scheme declining to extend moratorium period of six-months. The supreme court has also highlighted that the additional reliefs like total waiver of interest cannot be allowed because it will affect the depositors. The apex court also added that no interest on interest will be charged on the borrowers during moratorium period irrespective of loan amount. If any amount has been collected will be refunded.
69. Parliament has passed the "Finance Bill 2021" on March 23, 2021. Bill seeks to bring financial proposals of central government in effect for the financial year 2021-22. Bill was passed by lower house of the Parliament with several amendments. It proposes for some changes in proposals which were made in union budget 2021 with the objective of boosting the ease of doing business and easing compliance burden.
70. Parliament passed "National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill, 2021" (NBFID Bill) after Rajya Sabha approves it on March 25, 2021. Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on March 24, 2021. The bill seeks to establish a National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development to support 'infrastructure financing' across the country. NBFID would work as a principal development financial institution (DFIs). It includes development of bonds and derivatives markets which are required for infrastructure financing.
71. NITI Aayog has released a report titled 'Investment Opportunities in India's Healthcare Sector'. The report highlights investment opportunities in different segments of the healthcare sector of India, including health insurance, telemedicine, medical devices and equipment, hospitals, home healthcare, and medical value travel. NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, Member Dr. VK Paul, and Additional Secretary Dr. Rakesh Sarwal. As per the report, since 2016 India's healthcare industry has been growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of around 22%.
1. The Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) will celebrate its 70th anniversary in March 2021. In the celebration, the Indian Air Force's Sarang, Surya kirans and Light Combat Aircraft Tejas will participate in Colombo from March 3 to 5, 2021. The participation of the Indian Air Force in the 70th anniversary celebration of SLAF signifies the strong professional bonds between the two air forces.It is an aerobatics demonstration team of Indian Air Force (IAF). Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) is a part of 52nd Squadron of the IAF. It was formed in the year 1996. This team performs the several demonstrations with nine aircraft. Till 2011, the squadron was composed of HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk.2 military trainer aircraft. This squadron was based in Karnataka's Bidar Air Force Station. But this team got suspended in February 2011 and was re-established in the year 2017 with Hawk Mk-132 aircraft.
2. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval for the single-shot Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. This is the third vaccine which was authorised in the United States. It is a cost-effective alternative vaccine of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. This vaccine can be stored in the refrigerator rather than a freezer. The first doses of the vaccines will be available in second week of March 2021 for the public.
3. The Russian Space agency, Roscosmos, has successfully launched its first ever Arctic-monitoring satellite that will monitor the Arctic's climate and environment. The space agency blasted off the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket which is also carrying the Arktika-M satellite on board. The rocket was blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on February 28, 2021. The Arktika-M spacecraft was launched to the orbit later.
4. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has recently released its Initial Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Synthesis Report. While commenting on the report; the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, stated that the year 2021 is a "make or break" year so as to confront the global climate emergency. The Secretary-General further stated that in order to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius, the global emission should be cut by 45% of the 2010 level by 2030.
5. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Boeing Co have announced on March 2, 2021 that they completed the first flight test on a pilotless fighter-like jet which was designed to operate in concurrence the with crewed aircraft. "Loyal Wingman" is the first military aircraft that has been designed and manufactured in more than 50 years in Australia. This first military aircraft make its flight under the supervision of Boeing test pilot who was monitoring it from the ground control station located in South Australia. In the development of the product, the Australian government invested $40 million. The aircraft has also attracted interest from United States and United Kingdom.
6. Pakistan has signed a ten-years agreement with Qatar over the liquefied natural gas (LNG). The new agreement was signed at a significantly lower rate than the other deals that both the countries had signed. The new agreement between Pakistan and Qatar will help in saving $300 million annually or nearly $3 billion in the next 10 years for Pakistan. This agreement was signed at around 31 percent lower rate when compared to the previous PML-N agreement of 2015. The agreement has been signed for 10 years which is the lowest publicly disclosed contract on the liquified natural gas in the world. As per the new contract, Pakistan will pay around $316 million less than the prior agreement. It will amount to saving of around $3 billion in LNG import. This agreement was signed after a year-long negotiation between both the countries.
7. India has made a fresh proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the establishing the mechanism of true vaccine internationalism. India has also warned developed nations who are blocking proposal of temporary waiver of the intellectual property obligations. India warned them that even if they vaccinate all the citizens, they will be at the risk of sluggish recovery in case the infection continues to spread with same pace in the emerging markets. With that, India has called for the immediate start of text-based negotiations so as to work out on the modalities for TRIPS waiver.
8. India has launched the "Real-time Vessel Tracking System" in order to help the seafarers and fishermen as and when they need. This system has been named as "Sagar-Manthan: Mercantile Marine Domain Awareness Centre (MMDAC)". The system was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Maritime India Summit-2021. While inaugurating the system, the Prime Minister highlighted that the India is developing "Mega ports with world-class infrastructure at Paradip, Vadhavan, and Deendayal Ports". He also said that domestic waterways are cost effective and environment friendly way of transporting the freight. So, India aims to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030". He further stated that, the "Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid" that establishes the regional connectivity with Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan will also be strengthened in order to boost the effective regional trade and cooperation.
9. The Union Ministry of Earth Science announced on March 3, 2021 that India have agreed to work in collaboration with Norway in the area of marine spatial planning of the oceanic space for next five years. The Earth Science Ministry highlighted that the first project steering committee meeting with representatives of both the counties was held successfully. The ministry also stated that the two countries have made a plan to ensure that human activities in sea take place in a safe, efficient and sustainable manner. The human activities will be taken in the areas including transportation, energy, aquaculture, tourism and fisheries. As per the Indian ministry, Lakshadweep and Puducherry have been identified as the sites for this project.
10. The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has approved an agreement between India and Fiji for their cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. The agriculture pact was signed between Ministry of Agriculture of India and Agriculture Ministry of the Republic of Fiji. This agreement between the countries will come into force from the date of its signing. It will continue for five years.
11. Wipro Limited has announced that it has joined an initiative by the World Economic Forum (WEF) called "Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative". This partnership will help in cross-pollinating ideas with the other industry leaders and help in developing industry standards and best practices. This initiative will help in promoting a culture of inclusion, diversity, justice and equity for the people coming from different racial backgrounds at the workplace. The initiative aims to drive action accountability for companies in order to confront racism at the systemic level, to set new global standards to achieve the "racial justice" in business, and to accomplish important policy changes for the purpose of inclusion advancement of the professionals with the under-represented racial ethnic groups.
12. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that, India will commemorate the 'Chabahar Day' on March 4, 2021 on the margins of the ongoing Maritime India Summit 2021 which is being held in Delhi from March 2 to March 4. The virtual event will witness the participation of ministers from Afghanistan, Iran, Armenia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. During the event; The ministerial level opening session will be addressed by the external Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar while a keynote address by be given the Minister of State (Independent Charge) Mansukh Mandaviya, for the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways. Ministerial-level opening session would be followed by two webinar sessions namely the 'Boosting Business through Trade Promotion and Regional Connectivity' and 'Development of Port Infrastructure: Unleashing Opportunities'.
13. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has declared the year 2023 as "International Year of Millets". The resolution to declare the year was sponsored by India. The resolution was adopted by consensus and the support of over 70 nations out of 193. This news was shared by the India's Permanent Representative to US Ambassador, TS Tirumurti. He highlighted that, this is a big step that will promote the ecological and nutritional benefits of millets across the world. The millets will now be promoted as a key component of food basket and effective policy change. The ambassador also expressed his gratitude towards all the co-sponsors of India's resolution specially the countries like Bangladesh, Senegal, Nepal, Russia and Nigeria besides the members of United Nations.
14. The first consignment of 'red rice' was flagged off on March 4, 2021 to the United States. This adds on to the India's rice exports potential. The rice was sourced by leading rice exporter called 'LT Foods'. The ceremony of the flagging-off of the export consignments was carried out by APEDA Chairman Dr. M. Angamuthu in Haryana. The APEDA is involved in promoting rice exports with the help of several stakeholders along the value chain. The government had also set up a "Rice Export Promotion Forum (REPF)" under the parent head of APEDA.
15. The National Emergency Management Agency highlighted that; New Zealand has issued a Tsunami warning in the coastal areas on March 4, 2021 following an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 in the north-eastern coast of the country in the Kermadec Islands region. This was the third earthquake that struck the north-eastern area of the country, following a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in the same region. The country also witnessed a 7.2 magnitude earthquake which was about 900 kilometres away towards east of North Island. Following the tsunami warnings, people near the East Coast of the North Island, from the Matata to Tolaga Bay, Whakatane Opotiki, from Bay of Islands to Whangarei and the Great Barrier Island have been asked to move immediately to high ground. This, the tsunami prone zones have been evacuated.
16. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi will hold the virtual summit with his Swedish counterpart, Stefan Lofven on March 5, 2021. Both the Prime Ministers will exchange their views on the global and regional issues. They will also be discussing the bilateral relations between both the countries. The Ministry of External Affairs highlighted that, this is going to be the 5th interaction between two leaders starting from the 1st interaction held in 2015. After that, the Swedish Prime Minister had visited India in February 2016 for Special Make in India week following which the Indian Prime Minister also visited Stockholm in April 2018 for the "First India Nordic Summit". As per the statement of ministry, both the leaders met in September 2015 on the side-lines of United Nations General Assembly. The most recent discussion between both the countries was held in April 2020 to discuss the situation of ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
17. The United States Department of Commerce is all set to tax aluminium sheet exporters from the 18 countries including India after the department determine that these countries had benefited from subsidies and dumping. When a country or company exports any product at a price which is lower in the foreign importing market as compared to the price in the domestic market of the exporters is called as Dumping. The dumping has the ability to flood the market with product prices which are considered to be unfair. The dumping process is legal as per the norms of the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, action can be taken of the foreign country can show the negative effects that any exporting firm has caused to its domestic producers.
18. The United Nations report have called to scale up the carbon capture, use and storage in light with the Paris Agreement on Climate change which aims for the net-zero emissions goal in order to limit the global warming. The scaling-up "carbon capture, use storage" (CCUS) technology comprises of the component like capturing the CO2 emissions from the coal and gas power plants. It also seeks to capture carbon emissions from the heavy industry for its deep underground storage or reusing it. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) stated that deployment of CCUS technology on a large scale would permit the countries to decarbonize these sectors. The UN report have warned that, time is nearing to deliver the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development. The countries like United states, Scandinavia, and United Kingdom are leading the way. On the other hand, the smaller nations need the international partners and financing.
19. The Indian Naval Ships are all set to make the first-ever visit to historic port town of Mongla in Bangladesh. The ships will make part of the 'Swarnim Vijay Varsh' celebration which will be commemorating 50 years of the 1971 liberation war against Pakistan. The celebrations will be held from March 8 to March 10, 2021. The official release shows that, the Indian Naval Ships including the indigenously build offshore patrol vessel, Sumedha and an indigenously built guided missile corvette, Kulish will take the port call at Mongla from March 8 to 10. This will commemorate the ongoing Swarnim Vijay Varsh and it will also reiterate the India-Bangladesh historic friendship. The ships will pay homage to the Bangladeshi and Indian combatants & citizens who lost their lives in the Liberation War of 1971. This also marks the firm resolve and commitment of India to maintain peace, stability and good order in line with the SAGAR (Security & Growth for all in the Region) policy of India.
20. Google has launched a new web platform 'Women Will' on March 8, 2021 on the occasion of "International Women's Day". This platform will provide its support to 1 million rural women in India in order for them to become entrepreneurs with the help of accelerator programmes, business tutorials and mentorship. This web portal can be accessed in English and Hindi languages. It will offer the guidance to the aspiring women in villages to turn their interest or a hobby like beauty services, tailoring, home tuition, food processing, etc. into business. It will also be providing guidance to manage and promote the business. In the initial phase, Google will work with 2,000 Internet Saathis in order to help women turn entrepreneurs.
21. The government of Australia has suspended its defence cooperation with Myanmar and has decided to redirect the humanitarian aid which the country was providing to the government of Myanmar. This decision was taken on March 7, 2021 by the government following the military takeover of the government of Myanmar and detention of the Australian citizen in Myanmar. The Foreign Minister of Australia, Marise Payne, stated that the Australian diplomats only had access to the economic policy adviser Sean Turnell twice after he was detained in February 2021 in Myanmar. She is of the view that it is a limited consular support for the diplomat. Australia announced to suspended its defense training program with Myanmar which was worth 1.5 million Australian dollars over the five years. This program was restricted to the non-combat areas like English-language training. Now the Australian humanitarian aid will be directed away from the Myanmar government and other government-related entities. The aid will now focus on immediate humanitarian needs of most vulnerable and poor in Myanmar such as Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities. Australia had also imposed sanctions like an arms embargo and other sanctions which targeted several individuals. Those sanctions will also continue to be reviewed
22. The American rock band called Kings of Leon has released a music album recently. The music album was launched as a non-fungible token (NFT). Thus, the band has become the first ever to distribute the digitised art. The new album of the band is titled as 'When You See Yourself'. It will be distributed in three tokens under the series called 'NFT Yourself'. One token will be provided as a special album package. Second token will be offering live show perks such as front-row seats for life while the third token will be offering the exclusive audio-visual art. This system was developed by YellowHeart which is a New York City-based ticketing firm. This firm is also specialised in the blockchain technology. The album will be released on the music-streaming platforms such as apple music, Spotify, and Amazon. However, the version with the special perks will only be available on the YellowHeart platform. This concept of 'smart contracts' can also be used for general tickets which will allow the artists to earn a small percentage of money when the NFT is resold.
23. Switzerland has voted on March 7, 2021 in favour of the proposal to ban the full facial coverings such as burqa and niqab in almost all the public places. This controversial proposal was passed following a public referendum which was supported by around 51.21 percent of voters. This proposal of banning the full-face coverings in public was tabled by groups like right-wing Swiss People's Party. This referendum means that, full facial covering will be banned in all publicly accessible places in Switzerland such as in the countryside, on the streets, in public transport, in public offices like shops, restaurants. However, the full-face covering will be allowed at the places of worship and other such sacred sites. Covering face will be allowed for health & safety reasons as well besides in the situations where covering face is the local custom like in carnivals.
24. The European Union has released its plan called "2030 Digital Compass Plan". This plan was put forward after the Covid-19 pandemic exposed the 27-countries reliance on the key technologies owned by the Chinese and the U.S. companies. The plan will be presented to the Parliament for the final approval. The plan was released because, the European Union wants to produce the fifth global output of the cutting-edge semiconductors by the end of this decade. EU also seeks to make its first quantum computer in five years. This move is being taken in an effort to cut down its dependence on the technologies coming from the non-European countries.
25. New Zealand has inaugurated its first large vaccination clinic in a bid of scaling up efforts to protect the people from Covid-19 pandemic. The clinic was opened in South Auckland and it will initially target the household members of the border workers. The country has stamped out the community spread of coronavirus. It also considers border workers and their families are most vulnerable to catch the disease from any infectious travelers.
26. China and Russia have recently signed a planetary pact. This plan for a joint lunar space station was unveiled on March 9, 2021. This pact was signed between the countries because Russia seeks to regain the glory of space pioneering which was there in the Soviet times while China geared up its own extra-terrestrial ambitions. Russia was once the one among the top countries of space travel. It has a record of sending the first man into space. But, the cosmic ambitions of Russia dimmed the glory because of poor financing and corruption. The glory of Russia has been captured by China and the United States. Both of these countries have achieved major success in space exploration and research.
27. A World Health Organisation official has recently stated that, vaccine passports for COVID-19 should not be used for international travel because of several concerns like ethical considerations that the coronavirus vaccines are not easily available across the world. The vaccine passport is designed as a "proof of vaccination" that some of the countries has mandated even before Covid-19 pandemic. The travellers coming from several African countries to United States or India are required to provide this certificate as a proof that they are vaccinated against diseases like yellow fever. The vaccine passports are the digital documents and they also function as a proof of vaccination against Covid-19. The vaccine passport will also act as a "digital vaccination record" across the countries. Many countries have started accepting the proof of vaccination in order to bypass quarantine norms however, universally accepted version of vaccine passport is not yet emerged.
28. The World Bank has recently published its report called "Connecting to thrive: Challenges and Opportunities of Transport Integration in Eastern South Asia". As per the report, greater transport connectivity in between India and Bangladesh can increase the national income of both the nations. The report highlights that the seamless bilateral connectivity between the countries have the potential to increase the national income of India by 8% and of Bangladesh by 17%. It further states that, Bangladesh's exports to India can increase by 182% and India's exports to Bangladesh can increase by 126% if they sign a free trade agreement. As per the report, if the transport connectivity is increased, it will lead to increase of Bangladesh's export to India by 297% and India's exports to Bangladesh by 172 %. The report notes that, presently, Indian trucks are not allowed to transit into Bangladesh because of which the transportation cost for goods into the north-eastern states of India increases.
29. The scientists are looking for the signs of ancient life on the Red Planet with the help of data gathered by the NASA's rover Perseverance which is exploring the surface of Mars. Scientists find that the data collected on the mission is much closer to home at the Salda lake located in southwest Turkey. The American space agency, NASA, stated that the minerals and rock deposits at Salda lake are the nearest match on earth with the deposits on the Jezero Crater where the spacecraft landed. The Jezero Crater is believed to be once flooded with water. The Information which was gathered from Lake Salda would help the scientists to search for the fossilised traces of microbial life which is preserved in the sediment which were deposited around the delta and the long-vanished lake. Scientists are of the view that, these sediments around the lake were eroded from large mounds which are formed with the help of microbes and are called as microbialites.
30. Brazil is hosting the new variant of covid-19 called P.1. this variant of the virus is more contagious and deadlier. Amid the rising cases, the country is observing a major shortfall in vaccine supplies. Furthermore, one of the reasons of rising cases are the policy uncertainty. For example, in three different cities of Brazil namely, Bauru, Serrana and Araraquara within 140 km has completely different approaches to fight the sudden rise in covid-19 cases. This led to more confusion and uncertainty. In Araraquara, there is a complete lockdown while in Bauru there is no lockdown or any policy on wearing masks. On the other hand, vaccination programme is going on in Serrana.
31. The Japanese scientific research institute called RIKEN and Fujitsu started developing the "Fugaku" six years ago. It is the world's most powerful supercomputers. Now this supercomputer is fully ready and developed in Japan and is now available for the research use. This supercomputer has been developed with the aim of making the device core of the computing infrastructure of Japan. Then the supercomputer was tested for the particular projects in order to combat COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. Now the Fugaku is fully open and available for shared use. The Research Organization for the Information Science and Technology (RIST) of Japan has selected some 74 projects which will use this supercomputer in the financial year 2021. RIST has also proposed for the development of the new projects in several categories and has invited the researchers who are interested to apply for the same.
32. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi will participate in the first Leaders' Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework along with the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison; Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihide Suga and President of United States of America, Joseph R. Biden. The summit will take place virtually on March 12, 2021. The QUAD Leaders will discuss the regional and global issues which are of shared interest. They will also exchange their views on several practical areas of the cooperation to maintain a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. The virtual summit will also provide the countries an opportunity to exchange their views on the contemporary challenges like resilient supply chains, maritime security, climate change and emerging & critical technologies.
33. The BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues (CGETI) held their first meeting under the Chair ship of India. The meeting was held from March 9 to March 11, 2021. The meeting was held under the Theme : 'BRICS @15: Intra BRICS Cooperation for Continuity, Consolidation, and Consensus'. India under its Chair ship for 2021, presented a calendar of events for BRICS CGETI 2021. Those events comprise of priority areas for deliverables, schedule and scope of MSME roundtable conference workshop on Services Statistics and BRICS Trade Fair. It was followed by several presentations made by the concerned department on proposed deliverables during the India's Chair ship under BRICS CGETI track.
34. Recently, the Bamiyan Buddhas were brought back to life with the help of 3D projection in the event held in the Bamiyan Valley of Afghanistan. The event called "A Night with Buddha" was held on the anniversary of annihilation. Bamiyan Buddhas were two 6th-century monumental statues of Gautama Buddha. The statues were carved into the side of a cliff located in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan. The smaller buddha or the Eastern Buddha had the height of 38 m while the larger buddha or the Western Buddha was 55 m in height.
35. A Japanese-Australian venture has started producing hydrogen from brown coal. Japan and Australia have collaborated for a $500 million pilot project which aims to show that liquefied hydrogen can be produced commercially and can be safely exported overseas. The countries have planned to create the first international supply chain for the liquefied hydrogen. In the next they also planned for shipping a cargo on the first liquefied hydrogen carrier of the world. The project will produce the hydrogen by reacting coal with oxygen and steam under high heat and pressure with carbon dioxide & other gases as the by-products.
36. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reviewed their cooperation, on March 11, 2021, in the space arena including the earth observation, lunar cooperation and satellite navigation. The space agencies from both the countries also agreed to explore the opportunities regarding the cooperation in "space situational awareness and professional exchange programme". The agencies signed the Implementing Arrangement in order to collaborate for activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using the data from satellites.
37. The European Parliament has declared whole of the European Union as "LGBTIQ Freedom Zone" on March 11, 2021. This symbolic resolution was passed in the answer to local authorities in Poland who were labelling themselves as "LGBT ideology-free zones" in recent times. Poland had also planned to close the loophole that allowed same-sex couples to adopt. But the Polish government announced its proposal to adopt the ban before the European Parliament passed the declaration to support the rights of LGBT.'
38. China has formally approved its 14th five-year plan for 2021-2025 on March 11, 2021. The draft outline was passed by the National People's Congress. China had also approved four dams on the upper and middle reaches. The Hydropower dam in Tibet will be the first dam on the lower reaches of the Brahmaputra. However, India has expressed its concerns on the four previously announced dams on upper and middle reaches of the Brahmaputra River. The first of the dam called, Zangmu, was operationalised in the year 2015. The Indian side is also monitoring the flows of river and construction of the dam on lower reaches using the hydrological data that China provides in accordance with the bilateral arrangement between India and China. The officials have however highlighted that, the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on the upstream flows. 35% of the basis is in India.
39. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) have asked the government of Somalia on March 12, 2021 to organise elections in the country without further delay. This was asked by the UNSC in a resolution which has stressed about the pressing threat of security in Somalia because of al-Shabab and armed opposition groups. The resolution was adopted amid the growing pressure on the President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, after the scheduled elections in the month of February, 2021 could not take place. The election failed to take place as there was no agreement on how the vote will be carried out. The critics also accused Mohamed of delaying the election because he is seeking a second four-year term.
40. The Sangay volcano of Ecuador was erupted on March 11, 2021 and it ejected the clouds of ash up to the height of 8,500 meters into the sky. Following the eruption, the sky in the capital of Chimborazo called Riobamba was overcast with the ash cloud even though the capital city is located around 50 kilometres away from the Sangay Volcano. The Sangay volcano has recorded activity since past few weeks now. The ash from the volcano has also damaged the crops and cattle around the city.
41. The Indian Naval Ship Jalashwa has reached the port of Anjouan in Comoros on March 14, 2021. The ship was carrying a consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of rice. The ship will be received by the Foreign Minister of Comoros, H.E. Dhoihir Dhoulkamal during a ceremony on March 15, 2021. After handing over the consignment to Comoros, the INS Jalashwa will travel to the Port of Ehoala so as to deliver another consignment of 1000 metric tonne of rice and 1,00,000 tablets of HCQ. This consignment will be delivered in accordance with the promise of External Affairs Minister of India, S Jaishankar. He made his promise after the Madagascar asked for the solidarity and assistance from the Indian side to deal with the humanitarian crisis in South of Madagascar because of severe drought. The ship will also deploy the Indian Naval Training Team in Madagascar for capacity building and training of the Malagasy Special Forces for two weeks.
42. The capital of China, Beijing, was shrouded with the brown dust on March 15, 2021 because of heavy winds that was blowing in from the Inner Mongolia and other parts of north-western China. The China Meteorological Administration has announced the "Yellow alert" stating that the sandstorms had spread from the Inner Mongolia into the provinces of Gansu, Shanxi and Hebei. The Beijing's official air quality index also reached to a maximum level of 500. The floating particles called the PM10 reached to 2,000 micrograms per cubic metre in some regions. The reading of the smaller particles that infiltrate lungs called PM 2.5 also reached to 300 micrograms per cubic metre. This reading was far higher than the standard of 35 micrograms set by China.
43. A Hong Kong based scientist has developed a method that uses the machine learning and artificial intelligence and scan the retinas of children in order to detect the early childhood autism. The new technology can scan the retinas of children young as six years and help in identifying the risk of autism. The commercial version of the technology will hopefully be developed by the end of year 2021. The new technology uses a high-resolution camera along with a new computer software. The software analyses the combination of factors such as blood vessels and fibre layers in the eye which can help in identifying the children at risk of autism. Once the risk of autism is identified, better treatment programmes can be implemented on time.
44. The United States has become the second biggest oil suppliers of India by overtaking Saudi Arabia. This shift comes after the refiners boosted cheaper U.S. crude purchases to a record levels in order to offset the OPEC+ supply cuts. The switch in supplies were triggered by the lower U.S. crude demand. It was also coincided with the voluntary extra 1 million bpd output cut by the Saudi Arabia in line with the agreement of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) so as to maintain the lower production.
45. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a virtual summit with his Finland counterpart Sanna Marin on March 16, 2021. In the virtual summit, both the leaders will cover entire spectrum of the bilateral relationship. They will also exchange their views on the regional and global issues of the mutual interest. The virtual summit will also provide a blueprint for future expansion and diversification of the India-Finland relationship.
46. The Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, is set to visit India in the month of April, 2021. He was earlier supposed to visit India in January 2021 for the India's Republic Day Celebrations as the chief guest but he cancelled his visit because of increasing COVID-19 cases in United Kingdom. The British Government also mentioned that, a British aircraft will be deployed in the region in light of the visit of Prime Minister. During the visit, the British government will look towards boosting the United Kingdom's opportunities and countering the influence of China in the Indo-Pacific region. The government also called the Indo-Pacific region as the geopolitical centre of the world.
47. The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has given its approval on March 16, 2021 on the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in sports & youth affairs between India and Maldives. The bilateral exchange programmes under the MoU between both the countries in the arena of sports and youth affairs will help to expand the expertise and knowledge with respect to sports science, sports medicines, coaching techniques and participation in youth festivals & camps. This in turn will result in improving the performances of sportspersons of India at the international tournaments. The MoU will also strengthen the bilateral relations between both the countries. The MoU will benefit all the sportspersons of India belonging to any of the region, caste, creed, gender, and religion equally.
48. The Indian Parliament is discussing over a proposal to form a Parliamentary Friendship Group with the friendly nations in a bid to strengthen the bilateral relations. This information was announced by the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on March 16, 2021 while he was meeting the Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Dilshod Akhatov, at Parliament. During the meeting, the Lok Sabha speaker highlighted that the "India Friendship Group" has been set up in both the Houses of the Uzbek Parliament. He further noted that, the proposal to set up a Parliamentary Friendship Group for Uzbekistan is under consideration.
49. The Information technology companies of India, like Wipro and Tech Mahindra, will be collaborating with the companies of Finland to develop the 5G and 6G technologies to use them in India and other markets. The tech company, Nokia has already started working in the rural areas of India so as to expand the 5G applications. This was announced after the Indian Prime Minister and Prime Minister of Finland hold a virtual summit on March 16, 2021.
50. The largest floating solar farm of the world is being built in Singapore. The country has resorted to set up the energy plants off the coasts and reservoirs across it. This floating solar farm is being set up in the light that despite being one of the smallest countries across the world, it is one of the biggest per capita carbon dioxide emitters in India. Thus, to cater to the issue of climate change and to cut the greenhouse gas emission it is building the floating solar farm. This project is being built by Sembcorp Industries.
51. The Union Health Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, has been appointed as the chairman of "Stop TB Partnership Board" on March 18, 2021. This appointment was made to recognise his outstanding contribution towards the movement of eradicating Tuberculosis (TB) from India by 2025. He will be serving the global body for a three-year term from July 2021. It is an international body which is having the power to align the nations to fight against TB. The body observes the participation of a wide range of constituencies which provides credibility to this body. With the participation of several constituencies, the body gets a broad range of medical, social and financial expertise which is required to defeat TB. The body works with the vision of a "TB-free world".
52. The Sixth India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Women's Forum meeting was organised on March 16, 2021 in virtual mode. The meeting was led by the Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Government of India. During the virtual meeting, the forum discussed the issues which has contributed in transforming the lives of women. They highlighted the initiatives, policies and best practices which the country initiated for the gender inclusive economy to transform and eliminate the gender-based discrimination violence against women. This in turn will help in understanding the each other's systems and programmes. Based on the understanding, the country would be able to create a strategic roadmap in order to promote the gender equality agenda to achieve the sustainable development goals.
53. The Ministry of External Affairs of India has informed that Italy has signed a framework agreement with India on March 17, 2021 to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The Italian Republic signed the framework agreement of ISA following the amendment made to the framework agreement of ISA which came in to effect on January, 2021. This amendment had opened the membership in the Solar Alliance to all the members of the United Nations. The ISA Framework Agreement was signed by Ambassador of Italy, Vincenzo De Luca.
54. The European Commission, on March 17, 2021, has proposed for a Covid-19 certificate called "Digital Green Certificate" covering the details regarding the Covid-19 vaccination, testing and recovery. This decision was taken in order to reopen the European Union (EU) for travel in a safe, sustainable and predictable manner. The Covid-19 certificate is an approach by European Union to issue, verify and accept the certificates so as to facilitate a free movement within the European Union. This legislative proposal was put forward on the basis of strict respect for non-discrimination and the fundamental rights of the citizens of European Union. The commission would also allow the possibility to extend the compatible certificates which have been issued in other countries.
55. The Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) member countries have accepted the "Sinatra Doctrine" as a counter to the increasing China's aggressiveness to undermine the unity of the European Union through the divide and rule policy. This doctrine was the name which the Soviet government of Mikhail Gorbachev used to describe their policy to allow the neighbouring Warsaw Pact states to determine their internal affairs. The name was taken from the song "My Way" which was popularized by Frank Sinatra. The implementation of the doctrine was part of doctrine of new political thinking by Gorbachev.
56. The World Bank has approved USD 200 million in order to help Bangladesh. This amount will be used to provide support and services to low-income urban youths who have been impacted by COVID 19 pandemic and the migrants who lost their jobs or had to return to the country involuntarily amid the covid-19 pandemic. The World Bank has come up with the Recovery and Advancement of Informal Sector Employment (RAISE) project. This project aims to benefit around 1.75 lakh poor urban youth by apprenticeship programme, training, micro & self-employment support, and counselling. This project will help around 2 lakh migrants who returned to Bangladesh to reintegrate in domestic labour migrate. It will also help them to prepare for re-migration. Under the project, they will get the cash grants and counselling services on the basis of their needs and aspirations. The project will be benefiting the migrants as well as the urban informal sector to overcome the structural barriers and to gain employment. To provide the support and services, 32 district welfare centres will be set up across Bangladesh. The concessional lending will be provided by the World Bank's' International Development Association (IDA) over a 30-year term with the grace period of 5 years.
57. Russian scientists have launched one of the biggest underwater space telescopes of the world on March 13, 2021. This underwater space telescope was deployed deep into universe from pristine waters of Lake Baikal. The deep underwater telescope was under construction since the year 2015. The telescope has been designed to observe the smallest known particles called neutrinos. The telescope has been named as "Baikal-GVD". It was submerged to the depth of 750-1300 meters across the four kilometres from the shore of Lake Baikal. The floating observatory comprises of strings along with the spherical glass and the attached stainless-steel modules.
58. The Union Minister of Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani, in a reply to supplementary question in Rajya Sabha has replied that, the central government will soon establish a women helpline centres in foreign countries which will look after the distressed overseas residents. These Women Helpline Centres are being set up with the help of Ministry of external affairs in other countries. This is being done to ensure safety and security of Indian women across the world. The union minister also informed that the government has associated with NIMHANS for the mental health outreach of the children and has launched project SAMVAD. This project is providing the psychological help to the children in distress. The centre has also collaborated with NALSA and the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure a fair compensation for the acid attack victim.
59. The European Union (EU) comprising of 27 members has joined the "Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) initiative" of India. The EU joined this initiative following its endorsement of the charter of the CDRI. CDRI is an international coalition of countries, United Nations (UN) agencies, private sectors, multilateral development banks and academic institutions. The initiative aims to promote the disaster-resilient infrastructure. The initiative was launched with the objective of promoting the research and knowledge sharing in the areas of infrastructure risk management, financing, and recovery mechanisms. It also supports the sustainable development. The CDRI Initiative was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The initiative was launched at the UN Climate Change Summit. It also supports the sustainable development. The initiative also focuses on developing the disaster-resilience in the ecological, social, and economic infrastructure. It seeks to achieve the substantial changes in the policy frameworks of the member countries.
60. The Parliament of Spain has passed and voted in favour of law that legalises the euthanasia on March 18, 2021. Thus, the country has become one among few nations that allow the terminally-ill or gravely-injured patients to end their life. Passing this law was the priority for Socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez's government. This law was drafted following the public pressure which was generated due to several high-profile cases while most specific case being that of Ramon Sampedro whose situation was immortalised in Oscar-winning 2004 film titled "The Sea Inside". Thus, the parliament voted in favour of the law. The law was passed with 202 votes in favour, 141 votes against and two abstentions in the chamber of 350-seat. Following this, Spain has become the fourth European nation which has decriminalise the assisted. The other four EU Nation include Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg.
61. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has joined the USO India and Toonz Media Group over the water conservation awareness programme for students. For the water conservation programme, the students have created the animation videos which will be unveiled on the occasion of World Water Day on March 22, 2021. It will be unveiled as a part of "H2Ooooh! – Waterwise Program" for the school students. This programme is organised in partnership with the National Mission for Clean Ganga, Water Digest magazine, United Schools Organization India (USO India) and Toonz Media Group.
62. The Indian Embassy in Beijing participated in the "Nowruz" which was held at the Secretariat of "Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)" in Beijing, China on March 20, 2021. Nowruz is the Iranian and Persian New Year Festival. The celebration was participated by the Indian Ambassador Vikram Misri, along with the diplomats of other SCO member countries which include China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and India. More than 500 guests took part in the festival. During the celebrations, the Indian embassy showcased the performances of Yoga, Kathak and Indian cuisine. On the occasion, the Indian Ambassador also planted a Pine tree sapling as a symbol of nurturing of the friendship between India and SCO.
63. Department of Science and Technology (DST) announced on March 18, 2021, that 'Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF)' has launched "US India Artificial Intelligence Initiative". The initiative will focus on the Artificial Intelligence cooperation in priority critical areas for both nations. The DST while launching the initiative emphasized on the need to scale up the Science & Technology partnership between both the countries. This partnership will help in solving the problems of both countries and overcome the barriers for growth. This partnership between India and US was done on the basis of shared values of openness, transparency and reciprocity. It also encourages the innovation that will benefit both.
64. India and Japan have agreed to recognize the offices of each other in order to act in collaboration as "competent International Searching and International Preliminary Examining Authority (ISA/IPEA)" for the international patent application which are filed with them. The agreement was signed during 4th review meeting of "Department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) and Japan Patent Office (JPO)" under memorandum of cooperation on industrial property. First phase of meeting was co-chaired by Guruprasad Mohapatra who is the secretary of DPIIT and Toshihide Kasutani who is the commissioner of JPO. During the meeting, first year of "pilot Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programme" was reviewed. The second phase was co-chaired by Ravinder who is the joint secretary of DPIIT and Kasutani.
65. India and France are working on the "Third Joint Satellite Mission" at the time when the bilateral space collaboration between both the country is entering into multiple domains even in the human spaceflight programme. Several French companies are interested to tap into the opportunities provided by the recent reforms in the space sector by the government. France is also the largest partner of India in Space. ISRO highlighted that, ISRO and French space agency Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) have worked on the two joint missions namely the 'Megha-Tropiques' which was launched in the year 2011 and the 'SARAL-Altika' which was launched in the year 2013.
66. The Foreign Minister of Taiwan, Joseph Wu, recently launched a "Freedom Pineapple" campaign on Twitter in order to condemn the politically-driven ban on the import of pineapples from Taiwan by China. The Taiwanese pineapples have also become a political symbol in the region following the ban. Freedom pineapples is a political and social response against the Chinese ban on import of pineapples from Taiwan. The Chinese government has banned the import of Pineapples from Taiwan just before the season for pineapple was started in the year 2021. The government has banned the import stating that the imports done in the previous instances had been contaminated with pests. However, this was denied by experts, producers, and the government of Taiwan. The movement's name is inspired from a "Play on Freedom Fries" which is named as the "Freedom pineapples".
67. The Danish Red Cross announced that it has launched first of its kind catastrophe bond for the volcano-related disasters in collaboration with the several financial firms. This bond which will enable the disaster relief agency to get the financial aid quickly to those who are suffering because of the eruption of 10 volcanoes namely Chile, Ecuador, Cameroon, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and Indonesia. The project's partners aim to raise $3 million with the launch of this bond. This money will be transferred to the Denmark's branch of the Red Cross. The Initial investors in the bond are Plenum investments and Schroder Investment Management. The firm specializes in the insurance-linked securities.
68. Highlighting the broader resumption of the diplomatic ties, the two countries announced that, they are all set to hold their first meeting in three years of a "Permanent Indus Commission" on March 22, 2021. The commission that deals with the water rights on the Indus River. The Permanent Indus Commission which was set up under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 will meet on March 23 and March 24 in New Delhi. The commission deals with the bilateral water issues and they will discuss the same during the meeting.
69. Russia has successfully put 38 satellites for 18 countries into orbit from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, published a video showing its Soyuz rocket was launched against the grey and cloudy skies. The rocket successfully placed satellites (into orbit) from countries including Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Italy, Germany and Brazil. The launcher also launched "Challenge-1 satellite", which is the first satellite completely made in Tunisia, created by Telnet Telecommunications group.
70. The Union Cabinet has given its approval for Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) which was signed between India and Japan for bilateral cooperation in the field of water resources. This will help in increasing exchange of information, knowledge and technology. According to official statement, memorandum of cooperation was signed in between 'Department of Water Resources, River Development Ganga Rejuvenation' under 'Ministry of Jal Shakti' of government of India and 'Water & Disaster Management Bureau' under 'Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism' of government of Japan.
71. Saudi Arabia government has proposed UN-sponsored ceasefire in Yemen and is awaiting a response from the rebel Houthi movement. This peace initiative by Saudi Arabia is in line with previous proposals like consultation efforts to end crisis. Deputy Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, also highlighted that Saudi Arabia will keep supporting the government of Yemen in country's fight against Houthi rebels. The government of Saudi Arabia seeks to bring about peace in Yemen. The country hopes that Houthi rebels will accept the ceasefire proposal to negotiate peace consultations between Yemeni parties in a bid to reach out to a comprehensive and sustainable political settlement.
72. The annual Permanent Indus Commission meeting was recently held after a gap of over two years. Before the meeting, Pakistan had raised objections to the designs of Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower plants which are under construction in Jammu and Kashmir. In response, India has justified its stand. Pakistan had also sought more information regarding the projects in Ladakh which were sanctioned after abrogation of Article 370. In the meeting, both the sides also discussed other issues under Indus Waters Treaty. Indian side was led by PK Saxena, India's Indus Commissioner while the delegation from Pakistan was led by Indus Commissioner Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah. The meeting was significant because this is the first important engagement between both the countries after Indian and Pakistani militaries had announced to strictly observe a ceasefire along Line of Control and other sectors.
73. According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), North Korea has fired two cruise missiles off the West Coast on March 21, 2021. United States made no big deal with respect to the firings. US President just said "nothing much has changed". The senior administration officials were of the view that, launches were not in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. A senior US administration official considered the launches as normal military activity by North Korea.
74. Joe Biden administration has decided to re-establish "Homeland Security Dialogue" with India. This dialogue was discontinued by former President of United States Donald Trump. This decision was taken after the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas hold talks with Ambassador of India to US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu on March 22, 2021. Security Secretary of Homeland extended his support to further strengthen the partnership between both the sides.
75. According to Economy Minister of Taiwan, Wang Mei-hua, Taiwan will ration water from April, 2021 for more than one million households residing in centre of the island. Taiwan is a sub-tropical country and is experiencing its worst drought in half a century because the rain-soaking typhoons failed to make landfall in the country in last year. Shortage of water is most severe across the swathe of western Taiwan, where most of the people live. Thus, from April, water supplies in parts of Taichung and Miaoli would be cut for two days in a week and government will sent out water tankers to supply residents when required. Government also adds that; Hsinchu province, which is home to companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), will not be affected by this drought. Reservoirs of Hsinchu are low but supplies are being topped up by carrying water from Taipei city and by desalination.
76. United States has co-sponsored a resolution led by European Union (EU) highlighting ongoing human rights concerns in Myanmar including for Rohingya. It has also recalled developments made since February 1 in 46th session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Council of the European Union on March 22, 2021 imposed sanctions on 11 individuals who were responsible for military coup in Myanmar and subsequent military & police repression against peaceful demonstrators. The UNHRC also urge military to restore democratically elected government in country and release those who were unjustly detained. UNHCR also urged military to refrain from violence against people of Burma. UNHCR Resolution also renewed mandate of Special Rapporteur and continued its support towards Independent Investigative Mechanism in Myanmar.
77. Parliament of New Zealand passed the 'Miscarriage bereavement leave law'. This legislation provides mothers and their partners a "right to paid leave" after a miscarriage or stillbirth. New Zealand has become the second country, following India, across the world to pass such legislation. The bereavement leave law was passed unanimously in parliament on March 24, 2021. It provides the employees three days leave after a pregnancy ends with a stillbirth. They do not require to tap into sick leave now. Bill will provide women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss. Leave provisions apply to mothers, their partners and the parents who are planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.
78. India will send 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines (AstraZeneca Vaccine) to the UN peacekeepers. on March 27, 2021 and then vaccines will be distributed to peacekeeping missions. Announcement to gift 200000 covid-19 doses to UN Peacekeepers was announced by External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, in February 2021. This decision was taken by considering that, UN Peacekeepers operate in such difficult circumstances. External Affairs Minister had announced this while addressing "UN Security Council open debate on implementation of resolution 2532 (2020) on cessation of hostilities" in the line of COVID-19 pandemic.
79. Indian Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh and South Korean Defence Minister, Suh Wook have inaugurated "Indo-Korean Bilateral Friendship Park" in Delhi Cantt on March 26, 2021. Friendship Park has been built to commemorate contribution of Indian peacekeepers in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. India-South Korea relations have strengthened in recent years with the convergence of Act East Policy (AEP) of India and New Southern Policy (NSP) of South Korea. Bilateral ties have frown multi-dimensional in the fields of Maritime security, nuclear disarmament, regional economic cooperation, counterterrorism and energy cooperation.
80. World's first ship tunnel is set to be constructed in Norway. Construction on the project will start in 2022 and it will be completed by 2025-2026. Norway has planned to construct Ship tunnel underneath the mountains in Stadhavet peninsula of Norway. The tunnel will be 37 meters high, 1,700 metres long and 26.5 metres wide. A total of $315 million would be spent in constructing ship tunnel. Tunnel will burrow through narrowest point of Stadhavet peninsula. Conventional blasting will be employed to build tunnel. It will also use underground drilling rigs and pallet rigs. Tunnel was included in the National Transport Plan for the first time in 2013. Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications approved for preparations to start in March 2021.
81. China has announced sanctions on relevant British individuals and entities on March 26, 2021. As per the statement of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, United Kingdom had imposed unilateral sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals and entity citing human rights issues in Xinjiang. So, this move by China is based on lies and disinformation. As per the official statement from China, sanctions on relevant Chinese individuals breaches international law and basic norms which governs international relations. It also interferes in internal affairs of China and undermines the bilateral relation of China & UK.
82. Pakistan has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile on March 26, 2021. Missile has a range of 900 kilometres. Pakistan test-fired Shaheen-1A surface to surface ballistic missile with the aim of re-validating various design and technical parameters of weapon system including the advanced navigation system. According to Army's media wing, missile has a range of 900 kilometres. Missile comprise of a sophisticated and advanced guidance system which makes it a highly accurate missile system. Launch of the missile was witnessed by senior officials from Strategic Plans Division, scientists & engineers of strategic organisations and strategic forces.
83. President of United States, Joe Biden and British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson have asked the democratic countries to provide an alternative to China's infrastructure strategy called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Both the leaders held the discussions over phone. They discussed the issues including COVID-19 and global health security, China, Iran, climate change, and preservation of political stability in Northern Ireland. United States and its Quad partners namely Australia, India, and Japan had committed in initial days of March, 2021 to launch another initiative between democratic states to provide up to one billion vaccines across South East Asia and Pacific to cover the vaccine shortages. Trump administration in 2019, had also launched an infrastructure scheme called "Blue Dot Network" to vet projects and boost private-sector led infrastructure development in Indo Pacific region. However, this scheme is not set up to directly finance the projects on its own.
84. On 26th March, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Bangladesh on his 2-day visit at the invitation of Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. The Visit included the commemoration of three very significant events. First was Mujib Borsho, second is the birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the third is the celebration of 50 years of Bangladesh Liberation and the establishment of diplomatic ties between the India and Bangladesh. Apart from these, there were five MoUs signed by PM Modi related to connectivity, commerce, IT and sports to build the bilateral ties between the two nations.
85. Recently, India made a deal with Bangladesh where Indian companies will develop the transmission lines of Bangladesh Rooppur Nuclear power plant. It is an under-construction 2.4 GWe nuclear power plant in Bangladesh. It is being constructed at Rooppur (Rupppur) in the Pabna District of Bangladesh, on the bank of Padma River. There are two units of plants which are expected to be completed in 2022 and 2024 respectively. Each will produce 1200MW of electricity. It has significance as it will be the Bangladesh's first nuclear power plant.
1. The Indian Air Force (IAF) will participate in the multinational exercise called "Desert Flag" in the United Arab Emirates. The Air Force of India will take part in the exercise along with the forces of the France and United States. The six Indian Air Force fighter called "Su-30-MKI fighters" took their flight off to participate in the exercise in United Arab Emirates on March 3, 2021. Two C-17s fighters of the IAF would also be joining the Indian team for the exercise in order to help in induction and de-induction. The exercise would take part in the Persian Gulf region.
2. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully conducted the successful flight test of the Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology on March 5, 2021. The flight test was conducted from Integrated Test Range at Chandipur off the coast of Odisha. The air launch scenario was also simulated during the flight test using the booster motor. After that, the nozzle-less booster accelerated the motor to the required Mach number for the operating the Ramjet.
3. The Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) on March 8, 2021 conducted the final development test of Air Independent test of the "Air Independent Propulsion (AIP)". The test was conducted a day before the INS Karanj attack submarine was inducted into the Indian Navy. This is a major step which will make the Indian submarines more lethal. While, INS Karanj will be commissioned on March 10, 2021. The Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) allows the submarine to be submerged for a long period under water. This system also makes the sub-surface platform more deadly by turning it quieter than the nuclear submarine. The Indian Navy has planned to retrofit all of its Kalvari class non-nuclear attack with the AIP system in its first upgrade.
4. The Indian Navy has inducted into service the third Scorpene-class conventional diesel-electric submarine called INS Karanj on March 10, 2021. The watercraft called INS Karanj was commissioned by the former Navy Chief, Admiral V.S. Shekhawat. He was the Commanding Officer of previous version of the INS Karanj during 1971 India-Pakistan War. INS Karanj is the part of Six Scorpene submarines which are being built under Project-75. It was built by Mazagon Dock Limited which has also taken up the other projects. The submarine was built under technology transfer from the Naval Group of France for which a dollar 3.75 billion deal was signed in October 2005. But the project is delayed by four years because of delay in construction.
5. The India–Uzbekistan joint military exercise "DUSTLIK II" is being held in the Foreign Training Node Chaubatia at Ranikhet in the state of Uttarakhand. It is the second edition of annual bilateral joint exercise of both the armies. It will conclude on March 19, 2021. The exercise will also culminate into a 36-hour joint validation exercise which is scheduled for March 17 to March 18, 2021. This exercise will be a testbed for soldiers of both the countries because under the exercise, the armies will undergo the challenges of actual operations in such scenarios.
6. The Indian army is all set to procure Made in India "Mobile Integrated Network Terminal (MINT)" systems providing a huge boost to the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan of the government. The MINT system will enhance the operational communication capability of the Indian Army in accordance with the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan. The Ministry of defence highlighted that; Indian Army is in the process of procuring the MINT systems under the Make II Category of DAP 2020. This system is a portable, lightweight, state of art integrated communication solution comprising of the satellite backhaul and wireless access system to provide the support voice, video and data.
7. The Indian Naval Ship Jalashwa has reached the port of Anjouan in Comoros on March 14, 2021. The ship was carrying a consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of rice. The ship will be received by the Foreign Minister of Comoros, H.E. Dhoihir Dhoulkamal during a ceremony on March 15, 2021. This consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of rice as food assistance were flagged off to Comoros in the light of promise made by the Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu during his brief visit to Comoros.
8. The Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS), which is a joint venture between the Kalyani Group of India and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems of Israel, have released the first batch of Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) kits. The missile was released for Indian Army and Indian Air Force. The release of the MRSAM Missile also marked the KRAS' commitment to deliver more than 1000 MRSAM missile kits to India in near future. These missile sections will then be sent for further and future integration to the Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). The Kalyani Group has infused the "State-of-the-art technology with the engineering excellence in the company.
9. The Indian Parliament is discussing over a proposal to form a Parliamentary Friendship Group with the friendly nations in a bid to strengthen the bilateral relations. This information was announced by the Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on March 16, 2021 while he was meeting the Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Dilshod Akhatov, at Parliament. During the meeting, the Lok Sabha speaker highlighted that the "India Friendship Group" has been set up in both the Houses of the Uzbek Parliament. He further noted that, the proposal to set up a Parliamentary Friendship Group for Uzbekistan is under consideration.
10. The defence ministry has signed deal worth Rupees 1,188 crores with the state-run Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). Following the deal, the BDL will supply 4,960 Milan-2T Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) for Indian Army. The defence ministry had signed the deal with BDL in March 2016 for these missiles. It is a Tandem Warhead ATGM having the range of 1,850 metres. The missiles have been produced by BDL under the license from MBDA Missile Systems of France. The warheads comprise of a forward charge and a rear charge which is separated by the blast shield. The forward charge of the ATGM fires first and disrupts the outer armor of target while the rear charge of the missile fires after a short while. It then penetrates remaining armor of the target. These missiles will be inducted in the Indian Army in three years.
11. Indian Coast Guard Ship Vajra was commissioned to the Indian Coast Guard by Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, at Kattupalli in Chennai. INS Vajra was sixth in series of seven Offshore Patrol Vessel and was constructed by M/s Larsen & Toubro Ltd at Kattupalli. It is a 98-meter ship and is fitted with state-of-the-art Navigation & Communication Equipment, machinery and Sensors. It has been designed to carry one twin-engine helicopter and four high speed boats. It also carries two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats for swift Boarding Operations. Vajra will be commanded by Deputy Inspector General Alex Thomas and is based at Tuticorin under the Operational and Administrative Control of Coast Guard District (Tuticorin).
Business, Economy & Banking
1. The Reserve Bank of India has recently published its State of the Economy Report. The report highlights that, the Indian state refiners' daily gasoline sales in February 2021 have increased from 1.5% from the year 2020. According to the report, this is the slowest pace of growth in the six months as record-high retail prices have hit the consumption. The RBI has raised the concern that, the rising diesel and petrol prices might increase the inflation. This increase in inflation will make hard for RBI to continue its accommodative monetary policy.
2. India has made a fresh proposal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for the establishing the mechanism of true vaccine internationalism. India has also warned developed nations who are blocking proposal of temporary waiver of the intellectual property obligations. India warned them that even if they vaccinate all the citizens, they will be at the risk of sluggish recovery in case the infection continues to spread with same pace in the emerging markets. With that, India has called for the immediate start of text-based negotiations so as to work out on the modalities for TRIPS waiver.
3. India has launched the "Real-time Vessel Tracking System" in order to help the seafarers and fishermen as and when they need. This system has been named as "Sagar-Manthan: Mercantile Marine Domain Awareness Centre (MMDAC)". The system was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Maritime India Summit-2021. While inaugurating the system, the Prime Minister highlighted that the India is developing "Mega ports with world-class infrastructure at Paradip, Vadhavan, and Deendayal Ports". He also said that domestic waterways are cost effective and environment friendly way of transporting the freight. So, India aims to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030". He further stated that, the "Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid" that establishes the regional connectivity with Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan will also be strengthened in order to boost the effective regional trade and cooperation.
4. The Union Government has amended the "Insurance Ombudsman Rules, 2017" on March 2, 2021. The ombudsman rules were amended with the objective of improving the working of 'Insurance Ombudsman mechanism'. This will help in facilitating the resolution of the complaints with respect to the deficiencies in insurance services in a cost-effective and impartial manner on time.
5. The Union Cabinet Chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has approved an agreement between India and Fiji for their cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. The agriculture pact was signed between Ministry of Agriculture of India and Agriculture Ministry of the Republic of Fiji. This agreement between the countries will come into force from the date of its signing. It will continue for five years.
6. The Axis Bank has launched the WhatsApp Banking with the objective of helping and addressing the banking needs of its customers on March 3, 2021. The WhatsApp Banking will help the customer to use the bank anywhere and anytime on the chatting app. In order to avail the WhatsApp Banking services, the customers are required to initiate a chat with designated Axis Bank number and ask for the details. This service will allow the customers to ask the information with respect to their account balance, credit card payments, recent transactions, fixed & recurring deposit details. The customers can also ask their queries and get it answered or resolved in the real-time.
7. Wipro Limited has announced that it has joined an initiative by the World Economic Forum (WEF) called "Partnering for Racial Justice in Business initiative". This partnership will help in cross-pollinating ideas with the other industry leaders and help in developing industry standards and best practices. This initiative will help in promoting a culture of inclusion, diversity, justice and equity for the people coming from different racial backgrounds at the workplace. The initiative aims to drive action accountability for companies in order to confront racism at the systemic level, to set new global standards to achieve the "racial justice" in business, and to accomplish important policy changes for the purpose of inclusion advancement of the professionals with the under-represented racial ethnic groups.
8. The Western Railway zone of the Indian Railways has introduced the "Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) system". This system will play a significant role of preventing the train accidents by effective communication. The Mobile Train Radio Communication system is a technologically advanced and effective communication system. This system provides for an instant and constant interaction of train crew with the station master as well as the Control Centre. This system can connect the calls in 300 milliseconds which is the lowest time used by any other system. This system has been introduced for the first time in India. MRTC also acts in a similar way for the Air traffic control (ATC) for aircrafts. It has been installed in the 105 rakes if the western railways.
9. HDFC ERGO General Insurance has launched the "Business Kisht Suraksha" cover. It is a unique cover which was launched with the aim of protecting the balance sheet of Micro finance Institutions (MFIs), financial institutions and banks if any catastrophe or natural disaster occurs. This was launched with the aim of limiting the impacts on balance sheet of financial institutions which occurs because of non-payment of EMIs by borrowers or because of several calamities like earthquakes, floods, cyclones. The Business Kisht can be customised as per the needs of the individual MFI or financial institution (FI). It can also be tailor-made based on the geographical presence of the borrower, MFI or any FIs. The MFIs or FIs would also be given the option to select the number of EMIs which might need insurance coverage.
10. The first consignment of 'red rice' was flagged off on March 4, 2021 to the United States. This adds on to the India's rice exports potential. The rice was sourced by leading rice exporter called 'LT Foods'. The ceremony of the flagging-off of the export consignments was carried out by APEDA Chairman Dr. M. Angamuthu in Haryana. The APEDA is involved in promoting rice exports with the help of several stakeholders along the value chain. The government had also set up a "Rice Export Promotion Forum (REPF)" under the parent head of APEDA.
11. The Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, has asked the scientists of CSIR laboratories in India to develop land available at each laboratory to set up as a model under the "CSIR Floriculture Mission". In the earlier move, the CSIR Floriculture Mission was given approval for the implementation across the 21 States and Union Territories of India. Under the CSIR Floriculture mission, the available knowledge base in the CSIR Institutes will be utilized in order to help Indian farmers and industry to reposition themselves so as to meet import requirements.
12. The United States Department of Commerce is all set to tax aluminium sheet exporters from the 18 countries including India after the department determine that these countries had benefited from subsidies and dumping. This decision was taken by the US Department of Commerce after several U.S. aluminium alloy manufacturers complained that they were being harmed because of imports at the lower prices. A U.S. investigation on India states that, in the year 2019, Imports from India have benefited from subsidies for 35 percent to 89 percent.
13. A State Bank of India's report highlights that, the pan-India Prices of fuels will drop if the petrol and diesel are brought under the GST regime to ₹75 and ₹68 a litre, respectively. SBI research further highlights that, if we assume the GST rate of 28%, cess of ₹30 and ₹20 on a litre of petrol and diesel respectively, crude oil price of $60 per barrel and rupee-dollar exchange rate of 73; then it will face a revenue deviation from Budget estimates by only ₹1 lakh crore which accounts for 0.4% of the GDP for the financial year 2021-2022.
14. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) in association with the SBI Payments have announce to launch the 'RuPay SoftPoS' for millions of Indian merchants. This technology will be helpful in transforming the NFC enabled smartphones into merchant Point of Sale (PoS) terminals for retailers. With the help of RuPay SOftPoS system, the merchants will be able to accept the contactless payments of up to ₹5000 by simple tap and pay mechanism using their smartphones. This system will be providing a cost-effective acceptance to the infrastructure for the retailers at nominal cost. This will also to proliferate the digital payment acceptance in millions of underserved Indian MSMEs. Under the mechanism, the merchants will be able to convert their android smartphone devices into payment terminal by downloading the supported app. The system will revolutionize the way micro and small merchants receive. It will also create a demarcated shift in the tendency of merchants to deal in cash towards accepting a secure, contactless and digital payments.
15. The Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited (IMPCL) and the Government e-Market (GeM) portal has inked a deal under which the IMPCL will now sell its products on the e-Market (GeM) portal of the government. The Ayurvedic and Unani medicines of the IMPCL will now be featured in the GeM portal to hundreds of the government sector buyers. This will help in the quick procurement of these medicines by the Central and State Government institutions to use them in the healthcare programmes. This facility will also help in streamlining the procurement and distribution of the Ayurvedic and Unani medicines by the State governments. The thousands of patients and other clients who visit the Government Ayush hospitals will benefit from this increased availability of the medicines even in the far-flung Ayush Hospitals and Clinics. Under the deal, the GeM has created 31 categories which covers around 311 medicines which are live in marketplace. These medicines can now be uploaded by the IMPCL on GeM Portal.
16. Indian Railways has launched an integrated "Rail Madad Helpline number 139". This helpline number can be used for all type of queries, assistance and complaints for passengers during the travel. All the existing helplines numbers have now been integrated into a single number 139. This was done to overcome the inconvenience that existed with multiple helpline numbers for grievances and enquiry for railway travel. This integrated helpline number will help in quick grievance redressal and enquiry during the journey. To raise the awareness and inform public, railways has also launched a social media campaign called "#OneRailOneHelpline139".
17. The HDFC Bank has launched the "SmartUp Unnati mentoring Programme". This programme was launched to provide its support to the women entrepreneurs. This programme was launched on the occasion of International Women's Day. Under this programme, the senior women leaders from the HDFC Bank with the expertise will mentor the women entrepreneurs so as to help them in achieving their goals in next one year. This programme is available for the existing customers of the bank. The programme will initially target more than 3,000 women entrepreneurs who are associated with the SmartUp programme of the bank. Under the programme, the senior women executive leaders' will be acting as the sounding board for women entrepreneurs. Thus, it is a programme for women by women.
18. The Central Silk Board (CSB) under the Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a "convergence model" in order to implement the "Agro-forestry in silk sector" under the "Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme". The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Minister of textile and Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani and the Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Parshottam Rupala. On the occasion, Smriti Irani stated that, India will become self-reliant in silk production within next two years.
19. The Delhi government presented the budget for financial year 2021-2022 on March 9, 2021. The government presented a ₹69,000-crore budget which was themed on patriotism. Budget was presented by the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia. While presenting the budget, he announced that the government has decided to celebrate 75th Independence Day of India. The Delhi government will hold programmes from March 12, 2021 which will last for 75 weeks.
20. The Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) started to implement the second phase of SMS regulation on March 8, 2021. With this move, the functioning of banks and e-commerce firms were hit and several crucial services were disrupted such as sending of one-time password (OTP) by banks and e-commerce firms for several services. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) have recently notified that every SMS content will have to be verified before it is delivered to the users. This process of verifying the SMS content is known as SMS scrubbing. This process was implemented on March 8 after several delays. As this system was rolled out, unverified and unregistered SMS messages were blocked by the telecom operators.
21. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) recently notified that the finance ministry has decreased the threshold for mandatory e-invoicing from rupees 100 crores to rupees 50 crores. e-invoicing involves the reporting details of the specified Goods and Services Tax documents to the government-notified portal and to obtain a reference number. The IT systems provider for GST called GSTN claims that there exists not a larger difference between present system and the new one. The registered persons also seek to create the GST invoices on their own accounting or billing or ERP systems. These invoices are reported to the "Invoice Registration Portal (IPR)". When the reporting is done, the IRP returns the e-invoice with unique Invoice Reference Number (IRN) after the e-invoice is signed digitally and a QR Code id added. This invoice was issued to the receiver along with the QR Code. This GST invoice will be valid only with the valid IRN.
22. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) has released the list of "Digital Payment Scorecard". In the list, the State Bank of India (SBI) has topped for the third consecutive months. The digital payment scorecard tracks the performance of the Commercial Banks on several digital parameters. SBI maintained the top remitter bank by recording highest UPI transaction volume which accounted for nearly Rupees 640 million. SBI has also emerged as the largest issuer of debit cards. It issued over 290 million debit cards with a 30% market share with respect to card spends and 29% share with respect to transaction volume. Bank has also made steady progress with respect to increasing payment acceptance infrastructure.
23. The department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has highlighted that, the government is planning to ease and scrap the thousands of compliance burdens for the companies. In a webinar organised in the first week of March 2021, Prime Minister Modi had promised the industry leaders to reduce the India Inc's burden by scraping the 6000 compliance requirements.
24. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has removed IDBI Bank from the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework which is the enhanced regulatory supervision of RBI on March 10, 2021. The bank was removed from the framework after four years as a result of its improved financial performance. Central bank had enlisted the IDBI Bank under the PCA framework in May 2017. This is because the bank had breached the thresholds for capital adequacy, leverage ratio, asset quality and return on assets. The net NPAs were more than 13% in the month of March 2017.
25. The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) launched the first virtual trade fair on March 10, 2021. It will conclude on March 12, 2021. This trade fair was organised in order to boost the export of agricultural and processed food products. APEDA has initiated this concept of the virtual trade fair because of the COVID-19 related restrictions. It was organised to sustain the agricultural and processed food products exports of India.
26. The Union Railway Minister, Piyush Goyal, announced on March 10, 2021 that the Indian Railways has prepared a National Rail Plan (NRP) in order to establish a future ready Railway system by the year 2030. The Union Railway Minister highlighted that; the National Rail Plan has been prepared with the aim of formulating the strategies on the basis of both operational capacities as well as the commercial policy initiatives. The step was taken so as to increase the modal share of Railways to 45 percent in freight. The plan also seeks to create the capacity ahead of the demand in the country. It will also cater to the future growth in demand up to the year 2050 and also increase the modal share of Railways to 45 percent in freight traffic.
27. The government's think tank, NITI Aayog has submitted the first list comprising of 12 Public Sector Undertakings that will be privatized under the centre's privatisation drive. The list submitted by the NITI Aayog includes the PSUs in strategic sectors. This list will now be reviewed by Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) and Core Group of Secretaries on Divestment (CGD) which is headed by cabinet secretary. The list comprises of the PSUs and insurance companies which will first follow the centre's ambitious drive of privatisation.
28. The central government has launched the "Mera Ration Mobile App" in the country on March 12, 2021. This app was launched in order to facilitate the 'One Nation-One Ration Card' system. The app was developed by the government in association with the National Informatics Centre (NIC). It was developed in order to facilitate several "one nation-one ration card" system related services among the National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries. It will facilitate several services to migrant beneficiaries, FPS dealers and other relevant stakeholders. The app will also help in identifying nearest fair price shop. It will benefit those ration card holders who will move to new areas for livelihoods. Mobile application will be launched in 14 languages. Currently it is available in English and Hindi. The languages are identified on the basis of places where most migrant people move. With the help of the app the beneficiaries can easily check details of food grain entitlement, recent transactions and Status of their Aadhaar seeding. The migrant beneficiaries can also register their migration details with the help of application. Beneficiaries can also enter their suggestions or feedback.
29. The commerce and industry ministry stated on March 12, 2021 that the central government is working to develop a portal called "Atmanirbhar Niveshak Mitra Portal" for information dissemination, hand-holding, and facilitation of the domestic investors. The portal Atmanirbhar Niveshak Mitra is currently is in the testing phase. The ministry is also working on a webpage which will be available in regional languages and mobile app. This portal is being developed in order to strengthen efforts to promote domestic investments. It is being developed by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
30. Department of Financial Services (DFS), under finance ministry, has sent a memorandum to the chairman of Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) and has asked it to withdraw a rule treating AT1 bonds (perpetuals) which is having 100-year maturity. The circular was issued by SEBI on March 10, 2021 regarding the AT1 bonds and this will take effect from April 1, 2021. This circulation has generated significant apprehension in mutual fund industry for which the losses would result from the consequential revaluation of AT1 bonds.
31. The Uttar Pradesh government will be organising a three-day "Kalanamak Rice Festival" in the Siddharth Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh. The festival will start from March 13, 2021. This festival is being organised after grand success of "Strawberry Festival in Jhansi" and "Jaggery Festival in Lucknow". The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, has emphasized to promote the localised production and provide them a market in a bid to create new income opportunities for the farmers. The festival was inaugurated virtually on March 13.
32. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced a new scheme with the objective of promoting tourism and increasing state revenues. The new set of rules will be known as "All India Tourist Vehicles Authorization & Permit Rules, 2021". The new scheme was announced in the light of increasing travel and tourism in India. Under the scheme, any tourist vehicle operator can apply to get "All India Tourist Authorization or Permit" in the online mode. The ministry highlighted that, permit will be issued after submitting relevant documents and fees within 30 days of submitting such applications. However, the existing permits will be in force until their validity. The rules notified by the Ministry are in line with providing seamless movement for the tourist passenger vehicles. The rules were notified after goods carriage vehicles under National Permit Regime got successful. The scheme allows the flexibility in form of authorization or permit being granted. Flexibility is allowed for a period of three months or its multiples however, it shall not exceed three years at a time.
33. The new parcel management system (PMS) of Indian Railways will be extended to 523 locations now. Earlier this system was only in place at 84 locations. This decision was taken in a bid to provide transportation for small consignments across a huge network of stations. As per the statement of the Indian Railways, the small businesses and traders in the small cities and towns have been using these services to transport their merchandise from the big cities and production centres to a place where business is fast, reliable and cheap. Under this, the charging of the parcels is based on the weight and volume of the commodity and not the type of commodity.
34. India is preparing to propose for a law to ban the cryptocurrencies, to fine anyone who is trading in India or to fine anyone even for holding such digital assets. India will be rolling out the rule in a potential blow to millions of the investors who are piling into red-hot asset class. The bill that will be proposed would be one of the strictest policies in the World against cryptocurrencies. The bill would be criminalising the possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring of the crypto-assets. The bill would provide the holders of cryptocurrencies up to six months to liquidate. After six months, penalties would be imposed. If this bill would become a law, then India will become the first major economy that will hold the cryptocurrency illegal. The other major economy, China, though have banned mining & trading of the cryptocurrency but it has not penalised its possession.
35. The Union power ministry has sent the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, for the inter-ministerial consultation. The bill was also sent to the law and justice ministry for its critical examination and evaluation. After the cabinet approves the bill, it will be introduced in the current session of parliament with the aim of passing it in the same session.
36. The Central Government has informed the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2021 that, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is not being privatized. This information was provided by the government in a reply to a supplementary question during the Question Hour in Lok Sabha. The Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, also stated that the government will be bringing the Initial Public Offer (IPO) to bring in transparency and valuation. He also replied that, the IPO will increase the investment in LIC. The decision regarding the percentage for shareholders will be taken later.
37. The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, informed the Parliament that AYUSH ministry is holding consultations with the stakeholder to explore the setting up of an AYUSH Export Promotion Council (EPC). The government is also exploring the procedural steps which would be involved in setting up the council. In a reply, the minister said that, the "Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)" has been tasked to coordinate with the Department of Commerce and the Indian Industry members who have shown their interest in forming the corpus for AYUSH export promotion council. Ministry of AYUSH has also set up a task force to expand the trade classification, quality control and standardization of Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) & Herbal Products. The recommendations provided by the task force are under examination by the government current.
38. The World's highest Bridge called the "Chenab Bridge" has completed a major milestone after the engineers completed the arch bottom of the bridge on March 14, 2021. The bridge is being called as the Indian Railways' engineering marvels. The arch upper of the Chenab bridge is in making and will be completed soon. The special bridge is being built across river Chenab. The river is having a central span of 467 metre. It is being built at the height of 359 metre from river bed. The bridge is even higher than the Qutub Minar in Delhi which is 72 metres in height and the Eiffel Tower in Paris which is having the height of 324 metres. The maximum design wind speed of the bridge is 266 kmph.
39. The umbrella entity of the digital payments in India called "National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)" has launched the "UPI-Help" on the BHIM UPI Application. UPI-Help will act as the grievance redressal mechanism on the BHIM application for the users. The application will help the users to check the status of pending transactions and raise complaints against the transactions which have not been processed or in case the money has not reached the beneficiary. Users can also raise complaints against the merchant transactions. Currently, this window is open on BHIM app for the customers of State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, AXIS Bank and ICICI Bank. Other customers including the customers of Paytm Payments Bank, TJSB Sahakari Bank and other participating banks shall also be able to get the benefit of UPI-Help on a later date.
40. The Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, announced on March 16, 2021 that the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has cleared the proposal of setting up of the "Development Finance Institution (DFI) with the capital infusion of rupees 20,000 crore. This proposal was approved in a bid to boost the infrastructure development in country. The Development Finance Institution will be set up in order to raise long-term funds. There will also be some tax benefits on DFI for a period of 10-years. DFI would comprise of a professional board in which 50 percent of the members will be non-official directors. Under it, the initial grant will be ₹ 5,000 crores. Later, additional increments of grant will be made in to effect within the limit of ₹ 5,000 crore. In the initial phase, new institution will be owned by government while in the later phase, the government's stake will be cut to 26 per cent.
41. Indian stocks have gained the most across the world's top 10 nations by market value in the fiscal year 2021-2022. This has underscored the strength of rally which was not affected by the covid-induced economic uncertainties. The data from the Bloomberg highlights that, India's aggregate market capitalization has reached to 88% in dollar terms in the current fiscal. This was recorded as the sharpest increase in the aggregate market capitalization since the financial year 2011. In the fiscal year 2019-2020, the market capitalization of India reached to 31% following the nationwide lockdown wrecked investor sentiment.
42. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced on March 16, 2021 that it has fined India's largest lending bank "State Bank of India (SBI)" with Rs 2 crore after it failed to follow the regulations in payment of remuneration to its employees through the commissions. The Reserve Bank of India imposed the monetary penalty of rupee 2 crore on SBI in an order dated March 15, 2021. It imposed the penalty on SBI for the contravention of provisions of section 10 (1) (b) (ii) of Banking Regulation Act, 1949. RBI also issued the specific directions to the bank on payment of remuneration to its employees in the form of commission.
43. The State Bank of India (SBI) and Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) will be sign the first Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) linked external commercial borrowing (ECB) deal. The deal will be signed because the de facto international benchmark reference rate called the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) will no longer work as the benchmark after December 2021. The state Bank of India highlighted that, it will be arranging $100 million linked to SOFR for 5 years. The LIBOR will no longer work as the benchmark after December 2021. Thus, the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) and Sterling Overnight Interbank Average Rate (SONIA) are the most potential alternatives. But only a few swap deals are linked to these alternatives at the international level. Libor is still used extensively specially for loans which are getting matured within the year.
44. The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, has introduced the Vehicle Scrapping Policy on March 18, 2021 in the Lok Sabha which will come into effect from April 1, 2021. The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways highlighted that; 51 lakhs of the light motor vehicles which are 20 years old and more will be scrapped under this policy. He further stated that, 34 lakhs of light motor vehicles are older than 15 years while around 51 lakhs of light motor vehicles are older than 20 years. According to him, 17 lakh medium heavy commercial vehicles are older than 15 years.
45. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) have announced for a $41 million-loan guarantee program in order to finance the investment in the renewable energy solutions by Indian Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The USAID and DFC are jointly sponsoring the $41 million loan portfolio guarantee. This load amount will help to finance the investments by Indian SMEs for the renewable energy solutions and rooftop solar installations. These loans will enable the SMEs to access the reliable power and cut costs.
46. The government has set up 11 committees which will be led by the concerned line ministries apart from officials from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and NITI Aayog. The committee will expedite the transition India from a linear to a circular economy across the 11 focus areas. These committees will be preparing the comprehensive action plans to help in transitioning from the linear to the circular economy in the respective focus areas. The committee will also carry the necessary modalities which in turn will ensure the effective implementation of findings and recommendations.
47. The Rajya Sabha has passed the "Insurance Amendment Bill 2021". The Bill will amend the Insurance Act, 1938. The bill was passed even after the Opposition parties was criticising the bill for its clause that enable "control and ownership" by the foreign investors. The bill will increase the limit of foreign direct investment (FDI) from 49 percent to 74 percent in Indian insurance companies. The bill also comprises of the provision for removal of restrictions on ownership & control on the insurance companies. As per the bill, majority of directors on the board and key management persons will have to be resident Indians. Thus, this provision will make them accountable to the Indian law. Further, the bill specifies that at least half of directors have to be the independent directors which also ensures the accountability.
48. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has asked the general and health insurance companies on March 19, 2020 to mandatorily offer the sum insured in between rupees 50,000 to rupees 10 lakh under the standard health insurance product. This move was announced in order to enhance the coverage which are available under Arogya Sanjeevani product. The IRDAI had also mandated all the general and health insurers to offer the standard individual health insurance product with the maximum sum insured up to rupees 5 lakh and minimum of rupees 1 lakh. This was done in order to reduce the confusion and encourage more people to buy health insurance.
49. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has set up a "standing external advisory committee (SEAC)" on March 23, 2021. This panel will evaluate the applications for the universal banks and small finance banks (SFBs). This committee comprises of five members. The chairperson of the committee will be the former RBI deputy governor, Shyamala Gopinath. Other members of the committee include- Director of the central board of RBI, Revathy Iyer; Former executive director of the National Payments Corporation of India, B Mahapatra; Former Chairman of the Canara Bank, T N Manoharan, Former MD of the State Bank of India, Hemant G Contractor. The committee has a tenure of three years. The secretarial support to the panel will be provided by Department of Regulation of the RBI. The committee will meet periodically, as and when it will be required. The panel will be free to ask for more information and can held discussions with any applicant for clarification on any issue. After this, the committee will submit its recommendations to the apex bank.
50. The government of India may soon ask the auto companies in India to manufacture the passenger and commercial vehicles that run on the multiple fuel configuration with the aim of reducing the use of polluting fossil fuels and cutting down the harmful emissions. In the line, the government is actively looking up after the use of "Flexible Fuel Vehicles" which will ensure the increased use of the bio-fuels to run the vehicles. Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) are the modified version of the vehicles which can run both on the gasoline and the doped petrol with varying levels of ethanol blends. These vehicles are currently being used in Brazil successfully. FFVs gives people the option to switch the fuel based in the price and convenience. Majority of the vehicles sold in Brazil are FFVs.
51. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) relaxed the norms for valuing perpetual bonds on March 22, 2021 after the finance ministry opposed the norms which proposed to value banks deemed residual maturity of Basel III additional tier 1 (AT1) bonds as 100-year debt. The statement released by the SEBI highlighted that the maturity would be 10 years till March 31, 2022. Later it will be increased to 20 and 30 years over subsequent six-month period. The statement further highlighted that, from April 2023 onwards, the residual maturity of the AT1 bonds will become 100 years from date of issuance of these bonds. It further states that, the deemed residual maturity of the Basel III Tier 2 bonds will be considered for 10 years or contractual maturity until March 2022. After March 2022, residual maturity will be in accordance with the contractual maturity. These guidelines were published by SEBI after the Finance Ministry opposed the norm which would have been valuing the deemed residual maturity of Basel III additional tier 1 (AT1) bonds of the banks as a 100-year debt from April 1, 2021.
52. The National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 22, 2021. Under the bill, the government will soon set up a "National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development". This bank will also get government guarantee support as well as the direct access to liquidity from the apex bank RBI with the objective of kick-start infrastructure financing in the country.
53. The Commerce Ministry has said that, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will be assisting the states and union territories in order to prepare the "Annual Export Ranking Index" of different districts. The index would be ranking each district on the export competitiveness. The union government is working on 'developing districts as export hubs' in order to decentralise the export promotion activity. Earlier the export promotion was dealt by the Central government only. No state or districts was involved into the decision-making process of the promoting goods and services which are produced at the grassroots level.
54. The Supreme Court of India has refused to interfere with the decision of the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on the loan moratorium scheme declining to extend moratorium period of six-months. The supreme court has also highlighted that the additional reliefs like total waiver of interest cannot be allowed because it will affect the depositors. The apex court also added that no interest on interest will be charged on the borrowers during moratorium period irrespective of loan amount. If any amount has been collected will be refunded.
55. The central PSU named Power Grid Corporation of India has established an e-Tendering Portal called PRANIT. This portal will help in maintaining the less paperwork, ease of operation and making the tendering process more transparent. The portal has been certified by the Standardisation, Testing and Quality Certification Directorate (STQC) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. The POWERGRID is the only organization in India which have an e Procurement solution on the SAP Supplier Relationship Management which also comply with all the applicable requirements related to the security and transparency.
56. Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has initiated cabinet approved National Biopharma Mission with the objective of strengthening emerging biotechnology enterprise across India. Mission is entitled as "Industry-Academia Collaborative Mission for Accelerating Discovery Research to Early Development for Biopharmaceuticals – Innovate in India (I3) Empowering biotech entrepreneurs & accelerating inclusive innovation".
57. Parliament has passed the "Finance Bill 2021" on March 23, 2021. Bill seeks to bring financial proposals of central government in effect for the financial year 2021-22. Bill was passed by lower house of the Parliament with several amendments. It proposes for some changes in proposals which were made in union budget 2021 with the objective of boosting the ease of doing business and easing compliance burden.
58. Power and new and renewable energy minister, Raj Kumar Singh, launched "Gram Ujala scheme" on March 24, 2021 in Varanasi. Scheme will boost rural employment as well as local economies. It will also uplift villages of India and will contribute in climate change mitigation. Use of LED Bulbs will help in saving energy because a 12-watt LED bulb provides light equivalent to 100-watt incandescent bulb. It will result in to savings of 2025 million kWH per year and reduce the CO2 emission by 1.65 million tonne CO2 per year. The scheme will enable better illumination at the affordable price.
59. Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Shaktikanta Das, while speaking at 7th edition of India Economic Conclave has called for effective regulation which should help innovation in fintech space. According to RBI Governor, Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) has multi-currency capabilities. So, there is scope to explore if it can be expanded beyond India. He also underlined the huge role which technology and innovation played in serving consumers better and faster. According to him, during the covid-19 pandemic, RBI processed 274 crore digital transactions in order to provide direct benefit transfer to people. To boost the digital payments, RBI also allowed transfer of funds through Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS).
60. Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, has launched Central Scrutiny Centre (CSC) and Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) Mobile App. These tech-enabled initiatives were developed by Ministry of Corporate Affairs to strengthen vision of "Digitally Empowered India". These two initiatives will help in creating a new corporate and investor friendly ecosystem. The ministry of corporate affairs will bring in more tech-enabled services to attain ease of doing business and ease of living for people. According to Finance Minister, Ministry of Corporate affairs has been engaged in digitisation, automation and improvement in order to extend support to society, economy, corporates and professionals. She also added that, around 1.38 lakhs companies have been incorporated as opposed to 1.16 lakhs companies last year by Central Registration Centre as of February 2021. Thus, registration has increased by over 17%.
61. Central government has launched second tranche of commercial coal auction on March 25, 2021. A comprehensive list of mines will be uploaded along with key technical data. Following this, bidders will submit their preferences for mines to be included in next round of auction. This will be a continuous process and will result in expediting auction setup. It will also help bidders to plan better and will enhance transparency across the system.
62. Parliament passed "National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill, 2021" (NBFID Bill) after Rajya Sabha approves it on March 25, 2021. Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on March 24, 2021. The bill seeks to establish a National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development to support 'infrastructure financing' across the country. NBFID would work as a principal development financial institution (DFIs). It includes development of bonds and derivatives markets which are required for infrastructure financing.
63. Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has extended restrictions on withdrawals and deposits in Punjab Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank till 30 June, 2021. This decision was taken as central bank is working to finalize an investor for scam-hit multi-state cooperative bank. Reserve Bank of India had imposed restrictions on Punjab & Maharashtra Bank Cooperative Bank in September 2019 after it came across financial irregularities in the bank. Following that, RBI had curbed all activities of PMC Bank. It also appointed an administrator for next six months and limited withdrawals from accounts of the customers. The restrictions were to expire on March 31, 2021.
Science & Technology
1. The Computer maker HP has developed its first ever consumer PC using the plastic waste in ocean. This move was built on the basis of sustainability commitment of the company. The company has manufactured the Pavilion 13, Pavilion 14, and Pavilion 15 Laptops using the ocean-bound plastics. Company estimates that using the plastics in such electronic devices will result into moving around 92,000 plastic bottles from the oceans and landfills. Outer boxes and fibre cushion that were used to pack the laptops are also made with the 100% recyclable material. As per the HP, these Pavilion PCs are having Wi-Fi 6 that will provide up to four times faster Wi-Fi speeds. Further, it will be providing 75% lower latency.
2. The digital mapping and location-based deep-tech product and platform company, MapmyIndia has launched the targeted maps and nearby search features for its mobile application as well as its official website. This feature will help the Indians to find coronavirus vaccination centres across India. Government of India has also integrated these features into cowin.gov.in which is the official covid-19 vaccination registration portal. This feature would help in guiding the people and connect them to the nearest vaccination centres.
3. The National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) is all set to launch its 'AI Game Changers' program in India. The programme will be launched to promote the artificial intelligence (AI)-led innovation across the country. The programme is being run in collaboration with the innovation partner for the programme, Microsoft. It was launched under the "AI for India" Mission. It seeks to recognize the impactful and scalable AI-based innovation in India. The Nasscom and Microsoft will work in collaboration to develop and promote the AI Gamechangers program. It was built with the shared commitment of adopting the Artificial Intelligence across all the key sectors.
4. The Western Railway zone of the Indian Railways has introduced the "Mobile Train Radio Communication (MTRC) system". This system will play a significant role of preventing the train accidents by effective communication. The Mobile Train Radio Communication system is a technologically advanced and effective communication system. This system provides for an instant and constant interaction of train crew with the station master as well as the Control Centre. This system can connect the calls in 300 milliseconds which is the lowest time used by any other system. This system has been introduced for the first time in India. MRTC also acts in a similar way for the Air traffic control (ATC) for aircrafts. It has been installed in the 105 rakes if the western railways.
5. The Starship Prototype of the SpaceX was exploded shortly after it made its successful landing on March 3, 2021 for the first time after a high-altitude flight test. The reason for the explosion of the prototype was not immediately clear. However, it was being referred "Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly" by the company. SpaceX test flew the Starship rocket Serial Number 10 (SN10) and it has aimed to launch the prototype at the height of 10 kilometres or at around 32,800 feet altitude. The rocket was not carrying any passengers on board because it was a development vehicle and it flies autonomously. The last two prototypes namely the SN8 and SN9 reached to the high altitudes in December 2020 and February 2021 but they slammed into ground at Boca Chica in Texas and got exploded. Each of these three test flights lasted for around six minutes.
6. The scientists have discovered a "space hurricane" for the first time. The hurricane swirled for eight hours over the North Pole in the upper atmosphere of Earth. These hurricanes are usually occurred in the lower atmosphere of the Earth. It was never observed in the upper atmosphere. Earlier, the space hurricane was detected in August 2014 during a retrospective analysis which was led by the researchers at Shandong University of China. Its findings were published in February 2021 in Nature Communications.
7. The American rock band called Kings of Leon has released a music album recently. The music album was launched as a non-fungible token (NFT). Thus, the band has become the first ever to distribute the digitised art. The new album of the band is titled as 'When You See Yourself'. It will be distributed in three tokens under the series called 'NFT Yourself'. One token will be provided as a special album package. Second token will be offering live show perks such as front-row seats for life while the third token will be offering the exclusive audio-visual art. This system was developed by YellowHeart which is a New York City-based ticketing firm. This firm is also specialised in the blockchain technology. The album will be released on the music-streaming platforms such as apple music, Spotify, and Amazon. However, the version with the special perks will only be available on the YellowHeart platform. This concept of 'smart contracts' can also be used for general tickets which will allow the artists to earn a small percentage of money when the NFT is resold.
8. The Indian space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in collaboration with the US space agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has completed the development of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which has the capability of producing extremely high-resolution images for joint earth observation satellite mission. It is a joint collaboration for the dual-frequency L-Band and S-Band SAR for the earth observation. NISAR is the first satellite mission which will use two different radar frequencies called L-band and S-band. These radar frequencies will be used to measure the changes in Earth's surface less than a centimetre across. This mission will be launched in the year 2022 from the Sriharikota spaceport of ISRO in Andhra Pradesh. The payload was shipped from the Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre (SAC) to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA.
9. Scientists have recently detected the signs of a hidden structure inside the core of Planet Earth. This sign has the potential to change the long-standing narrative of what lies at centre of Earth. This layer is being termed as the 'fifth layer'. As per the long-standing narrative, there exists four layers namely; crust, mantle, outer core and inner core. The scientists have also spotted reportedly some changes in the structure of iron within the inner core. These changes suggests that a new 'boundary line' is stretching for about 650 kilometres from centre of the Earth.
10. The scientists are looking for the signs of ancient life on the Red Planet with the help of data gathered by the NASA's rover Perseverance which is exploring the surface of Mars. Scientists find that the data collected on the mission is much closer to home at the Salda lake located in southwest Turkey. The American space agency, NASA, stated that the minerals and rock deposits at Salda lake are the nearest match on earth with the deposits on the Jezero Crater where the spacecraft landed. The Jezero Crater is believed to be once flooded with water. The Information which was gathered from Lake Salda would help the scientists to search for the fossilised traces of microbial life which is preserved in the sediment which were deposited around the delta and the long-vanished lake. Scientists are of the view that, these sediments around the lake were eroded from large mounds which are formed with the help of microbes and are called as microbialites.
11. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) reviewed their cooperation, on March 11, 2021, in the space arena including the earth observation, lunar cooperation and satellite navigation. The space agencies from both the countries also agreed to explore the opportunities regarding the cooperation in "space situational awareness and professional exchange programme". The agencies signed the Implementing Arrangement in order to collaborate for activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using the data from satellites.
12. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched the sounding rocket called RH-560 on March 12, 2021. The rocket was launched in order to study "attitudinal variations" in the neutral winds and plasma dynamics. The RH-560 rocket was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) Sriharikota Range (SHAR). ISRO highlighted that the sounding rockets are one or two-stage solid propellant rockets. These rockets are used to probe the upper atmospheric regions and conduct the space research. The rockets would also serve as easily affordable platforms which can test or prove the prototypes of new components or subsystems for use in the launch vehicles and satellites. ISRO had started launching the indigenously made sounding rockets from the year 1965.
13. A Hong Kong based scientist has developed a method that uses the machine learning and artificial intelligence and scan the retinas of children in order to detect the early childhood autism. The new technology can scan the retinas of children young as six years and help in identifying the risk of autism. The commercial version of the technology will hopefully be developed by the end of year 2021. The new technology uses a high-resolution camera along with a new computer software. The software analyses the combination of factors such as blood vessels and fibre layers in the eye which can help in identifying the children at risk of autism. Once the risk of autism is identified, better treatment programmes can be implemented on time.
14. The researchers from the US National Institutes of Health have found that, a mosquito protein called AEG12 strongly inhibits the family of viruses which causes dengue, yellow fever, Zika and West Nile. They also noted that the protein also inhibits the coronaviruses. The researchers further found that the mosquito protein, AEG12, works by destabilising the viral envelope and breaking the protective covering of the virus. It does not affect the viruses which do not have any envelope. The researchers used the X-ray crystallography to solve structure of the protein. It was found that the protein rips out the lipids, that is fat-like portions of membrane which hold virus together, at the molecular level. It shows that, the protein is hungry for lipids which are present in the membrane of virus so it gets rid of some of its lipids. It then exchanges those lipids with the one it prefers.
15. The Finnish telecom equipment maker, Nokia, announced on March 16 that it has partnered with the Microsoft, Amazon web services and Google so as to develop a new cloud-based 5G radio solution. This solution will be developed with its radio access network (RNA) technology. This partnership was gone with objective of developing a new business cases, in three separate statements. RAN is the part of a mobile telecommunication system. This system implements a radio access technology. RAN resides between a device like computer, mobile phone or any remotely controlled machine. It also provides connection with the core network. Based on the standard mobile phones and other wireless connected devices are called as user equipment, terminal equipment or mobile station etc. The functionality of RAN is typically provided by the silicon chip which resides in both the core network and the user equipment.
16. The Spring Equinox is also known as "Vernal Equinox". In the year 2021, it will fall on March 20, 2021. It will technically be occurring at 9.37 in the morning. March 20 is the most common date for the Spring Equinox. However, it can occur on any date between 19 to 21 March. March 20 is considered as the first day of the spring as per the astronomical calculation of the seasons. The date is based on the two equinoxes and solstices. The astronomical spring will end on June 21, 2021 which is called as the summer solstice.
17. A team of Scientists from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research have found a method that mimic the Photosynthesis which is the natural process of reducing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The artificial photosynthesis method was developed in order to capture excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This method harnesses the solar energy and converts the captured carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide (CO). The Carbon monoxide in turn can be used as a fuel for the internal combustion engines. In the process, the team of scientists are conducting the same process as in the natural photosynthesis but using the simple nanostructures.
18. The Minister for Electronics and IT, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a written reply to Rajya Sabha has said that; India has developed its first indigenously developed App Store called "Mobile Seva Appstore". The app store hosts some 965 live apps of several domains and categories of public services. This Indian App Store will be available for free of cost in the initial phases. The minister further highlighted that, while the government is encouraging the private players to host apps, it is also showing its interest to develop and strengthen its own mobile app store. This reply was given by the minister on the question, whether absence of India's own digital store and its dependence on external app stores of Google and Apple is creating problems for the India's digital ecosystem or the ministry is considering having its own digital store for self-reliance.
19. The Union Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', took his ride in the 'Energy Swaraj Yatra' bus which has been built by the professor of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Dr Chetan Singh Solanki. The "Energy Swaraj Yatra" bus runs on the solar energy. It comprises of a complete work-cum-residential unit. The professor has been travelling on the bus to raise awareness regarding the use of solar power since the year 2020. This yatra will continue till 2030. While taking the ride, the education minister highlighted that, this project is in line with the "National Education Policy" which comprises of an "in-built framework for imparting skills" with respect to the use of solar energy in schools and colleges. The minister also stated that, this bus has been designed with the objective of creating a public movement for the adoption of 100 percent solar energy.
20. India and France are working on the "Third Joint Satellite Mission" at the time when the bilateral space collaboration between both the country is entering into multiple domains even in the human spaceflight programme. Several French companies are interested to tap into the opportunities provided by the recent reforms in the space sector by the government. France is also the largest partner of India in Space. ISRO highlighted that, ISRO and French space agency Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) have worked on the two joint missions namely the 'Megha-Tropiques' and the 'SARAL-Altika'.
21. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced on March 22, 2021 that it has successfully demonstrated its free-space Quantum Communication for a distance of 300 metres for the first time in India. It was demonstrated at the Space Applications Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad in between the two line-of-sight buildings within its campus. Several numbers of the key technologies were indigenously developed to achieve this major feat. This space quantum communication includes the use of indigenously developed NAVIC receiver for the time synchronisation in between the transmitter and receiver modules. It also includes a gimbal mechanism system instead of the bulky large-aperture telescopes for the optical alignment of the system.
22. Russia has successfully put 38 satellites for 18 countries into orbit from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, published a video showing its Soyuz rocket was launched against the grey and cloudy skies. The rocket successfully placed satellites (into orbit) from countries including Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Italy, Germany and Brazil. The launcher also launched "Challenge-1 satellite", which is the first satellite completely made in Tunisia, created by Telnet Telecommunications group.
23. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has revised the schedule launch of geo imaging satellite GISAT-1 on board GSLV-F10 rocket after a minor issue occurred with the spacecraft. The spacecraft was scheduled to be launched on March 28. But due to minor issue, it will now be launched on April 18 from Sriharikota spaceport. Originally, it was scheduled to be launched on March 5, 2020 but it was postponed due to technical reasons.
24. Facebook has planned to put two undersea Internet cables to connect Southeast Asia to North America, to increase data capacity and improve the internet authenticity. The Two Cables are named as "Echo" and "Bifrost". The cables will connect Singapore, Indonesia and North America. Echo is being installed in partnership with Google and Indonesian telecommunications' company XL Axiata. It is scheduled to be completed by 2023. Bifrost is being built in partnership with Indonesia's Telin and Singapore's Keppel, and is planned to be completed by 2024. Facebook is partnered with companies like Google and some regional telecommunication companies.
1. The Union Minister for Social justice and Empowerment, Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, will launch the "Sugamya Bharat App" in the virtual mode on March 2, 2021. the minister will also launch a handbook called "Access – The Photo Digest". The Sugamya App and the handbook were developed by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under the parent head of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Mobile App can be downloaded after the department will launch it officially from Play Store by the Android users. However, the IoS version of the App will be made available by March 15, 2021.
2. The Secretary of Ministry of Housing and Housing Affairs (MoHUA), Shri Durga Shanker Mishra, has launched the field assessment of Swachh Survekshan, 2021. It is the sixth edition of this annual cleanliness survey which is conducted by the Government of India. The Swachh Survekshan 2021 was introduced by the MoHUA in the year 2016. It was launched as a competitive framework in a bid to encourage the cities to improve their status of the urban sanitation. It also encourages the citizens to participate on a large scale. In the year 2016, when this initiative was launched, only 73 cities with million plus population were grown. But in the subsequent surveys, the number of cities increased. In 2017, 434 cities were covered; in 2018, 4203 cities were covered; in 2019, 4237 cities were covered while it further raised to 4242 cities in 2020. It also includes 62 cantonment boards. Since 2016, the cities are regularly filling their data and updating their progress in the MIS along with the other citizen centric campaign.
3. The Third Jan Aushadhi Diwas celebrations started on March 1, 2021. This is a one-week-long celebrations and the celebrations would conclude on March 7, 2021. To mark the celebrations, the Jan Aushadhi Kendras conducted the Health Check-up Camps. The health check-up activities include Sugar level check-up, blood Pressure check-up, free doctor consultation and free medicine distribution. The camps informed the educated the general public who visited there regarding the price, benefits and quality of the medicines which are sold at the Jan Aushadhi Kendras.
4. The National Water Mission's (NWM) campaign called "Catch the Rain" will be launched in states and is set to nudge the stakeholders. The campaign has the tagline "Catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls". The campaign will help in creating the appropriate Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) which are suitable for the climatic conditions and subsoil strata before the monsoon make its fall. The campaign will run the drives to make check dams, rooftop RWHS, water harvesting pits, desilting of tanks to increase its storage capacity and removal of encroachments. It will also help in removing obstructions in channels, repairs to step-wells etc. All these activities will be taken up by active participation of people.
5. The Office of Principal Scientific Adviser of the Government of India has launched the "Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship" under the "Waste to Wealth" Mission on March 3, 2021. The Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship initiative was launched with the objective of recognizing the students, self-help groups, community workers, sanitary workers and municipal workers who are engaged in tackling enormous challenge of waste management in a scientific and sustainable manner. Under the fellowship programme, the government will be providing awards under three categories as stated below:
6. The Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, has asked the scientists of CSIR laboratories in India to develop land available at each laboratory to set up as a model under the "CSIR Floriculture Mission". In the earlier move, the CSIR Floriculture Mission was given approval for the implementation across the 21 States and Union Territories of India. Under the CSIR Floriculture mission, the available knowledge base in the CSIR Institutes will be utilized in order to help Indian farmers and industry to reposition themselves so as to meet import requirements.
7. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has announced to classify all the major schemes of the ministry for their effective implementation and programmes under the three Umbrella schemes namely, Mission Poshan 2.0, Mission Vatsalya and Mission Shakti. As per the census 2011, the Women and Children accounts for 67.7% of India's population. So, the empowerment protection of women children and ensuring their overall development is very crucial for the sustainable and equitable development of India. In this line, the Ministry of Women and Child Development seeks to ensure the well-nourished children growing in the safe and secure environment. It also seeks to empower the women by providing them an environment which is accessible, affordable, reliable and is free from discrimination violence. The major objective of Ministry is to address the gaps in the State action for women children and to promote the inter-ministerial inter- sectoral convergence which in turn will help in creating the gender equitable child centred legislation, policies and programmes.
8. The Ministry of Finance has launched several schemes in past seven years which comprise of several special provisions that empowers the women. One such scheme is "Stand-up India scheme" under which 81% of the account holders are women. All these schemes have financially empowered the women to lead a better life and fulfil their dreams of being an entrepreneur. These schemes have benefitted the women in the manner stated Stand-Up India Scheme and Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY).
9. The Central Silk Board (CSB) under the Ministry of Textiles and the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a "convergence model" in order to implement the "Agro-forestry in silk sector" under the "Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) Scheme". The MoU was signed in the presence of Union Minister of textile and Women & Child Development, Smriti Irani and the Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Parshottam Rupala. On the occasion, Smriti Irani stated that, India will become self-reliant in silk production within next two years.
10. The Union Cabinet has approved the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Nidhi (PMSSN) on March 10, 2021 as a single non-lapsable reserve fund. This is a non-lapsable reserve fund for the Health in the Public Account. This fund will comprise of the proceeds from the share of health in the Health and Education Cess. This revenue in the fund will be used for the flagship schemes of the Health Ministry including the National Health Mission, Ayushman Bharat – Health and Wellness Centres, Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana and for the emergency disaster preparedness and responses in cases of health emergencies. The fund will be administered and maintained by the Ministry of Health Family welfare. The fund also includes the emergency disaster preparedness responses during the health emergencies.
11. The "Arjuna Sahayak Irrigation Project" will be completed and launched in one or two months in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The project will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister. The launching of the project was announced by the Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, on March 11, 2021. This irrigation project will bring positive changes for farmers. This was announced by him while he was launching the Lahchura Dam under the Arjun Sahayak Project in Mahoba district.
12. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced a new scheme with the objective of promoting tourism and increasing state revenues. The new set of rules will be known as "All India Tourist Vehicles Authorization & Permit Rules, 2021". The new scheme was announced in the light of increasing travel and tourism in India. These new rules under the scheme will be applicable from April 1, 2021. Under the scheme, any tourist vehicle operator can apply to get "All India Tourist Authorization or Permit" in the online mode. The ministry highlighted that, permit will be issued after submitting relevant documents and fees within 30 days of submitting such applications. However, the existing permits will be in force until their validity. The rules notified by the Ministry are in line with providing seamless movement for the tourist passenger vehicles. The rules were notified after goods carriage vehicles under National Permit Regime got successful. The scheme allows the flexibility in form of authorization or permit being granted. Flexibility is allowed for a period of three months or its multiples however, it shall not exceed three years at a time.
13. The Jammu & Kashmir Administrative Council has given approval for the proposal of the Housing and Urban development department to provide interest-free loans up to Rs 2 lakh. The approval was given under the leadership of Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha. After the approval has been given, the interest-free loans up to Rs. 2 lakhs will be given to the urban houseless and economically weaker section beneficiaries. The loans will be given under the Construction- BLC component of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Urban (PMAY-U) scheme. The interest-free loans will be provided for a period of 10 years. It also comprises of a moratorium of six months. The loan amount is repayable by a monthly instalment of Rs. 2,500. This approval is in line with the aim of central government to provide affordable housing to economically weaker sections in the country.
14. The Ministry of Women and Child Development is celebrating the Poshan Pakhwada from March 16 to March 31, 2021. The Department of Women Child Development or the Social Welfare Department will be the nodal department to look after the Poshan Pakhwada across the states and Union Territories. The key focus areas of the Pakhwada are to address the nutritional challenges using the Food Forestry and to organize the Poshan Panchayats. Under it, the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) working under the Ministry of AYUSH, will distribute 4 samplings of the nutritional rich plants to each of the Anganwadi Centers. This will cater to the nutritional challenges. The distribution will be done under the supervision of the local panchayat and DM or DC. The ministry will also be organizing the awareness campaign on the topics including the malnutrition prevalence and its consequences, food forestry, Poshan Vatika, identification of SAM children and its management.
15. The Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, announced on March 18, 2021 that the much-anticipated Universal Health Scheme (UHS) called "Mukhya Mantri Chiranjeevi Yojana" will be launched on May 1, 2021. Under the scheme, a cashless health services will be provided to all the families in Rajasthan. The families will get health services up to Rs 5 lakh. This scheme was announced under the measures so as to reinforce the health infrastructure in Rajasthan.
16. The Jharkhand government has launched the "SAAMAR Campaign" which stands for "Strategic Action for Alleviation of Malnutrition and Anaemia Reduction" campaign recently. The campaign was launched to tackle the malnutrition in Jharkhand. The SAAMAR campaign was started with the aim of identifying the anaemic women and malnourished children. The campaign converges several departments to effectively tackle the problem of malnutrition.
17. The central government has planned to evaluate the outcome of the Phase 1 of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) for the expansion of the project after spending rupees 118.2 million on the Mission so far. Under this mission, "NDHM Sandbox Environment" has also been established to promote innovation and build trust. The National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) was launched by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, following this, the mission was launched in the union territories of Chandigarh, Daman Diu, Ladakh, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Andaman Nicobar Islands, Puducherry and Lakshadweep. The Union Health Ministry is looking after the implementation of the mission in the six union territories. The central government has issued some 997095 health IDs under the programme as of March 15, 2021.
18. The Jal Shakti Ministry has signed a pact with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the government of Denmark on March 22, 2021 in order to bring the tap water connections to the 11 water-scarce districts of the Bundelkhand and Vindhya regions in Uttar Pradesh under the Jal Jeevan mission. The project will comprise of the supports like capacity building, creation of village action plans, grassroot water quality monitoring methods and community mobilisation. All these supports will be facilitated by UNOPS. The project has set a million-dollar budget for the year 2021. However, the project will be scaled up in the year 2022.
19. Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has initiated cabinet approved National Biopharma Mission with the objective of strengthening emerging biotechnology enterprise across India. Mission is entitled as "Industry-Academia Collaborative Mission for Accelerating Discovery Research to Early Development for Biopharmaceuticals – Innovate in India (I3) Empowering biotech entrepreneurs & accelerating inclusive innovation". National Biopharma mission was launched to support small and medium enterprises in order for them to overcome the risks associated with early stages of development of products. It promotes entrepreneurship by supporting enhanced industry-academia inter-linkages. It also provides mentoring & training for academia, innovators and entrepreneurs. The mission further promotes domestic manufacturing by shared national facilities like GLP Analytical facilities, cell line repositories and setting clinical trial network.
20. Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment aims to launch 'Poshan Abhiyan' for the Elderly to provide them 'nutrition support'. Under the mission, supports will be provided to indigent elders who are not staying in Old Age Homes and are victims of malnutrition. Mission will focus on procuring healthy food material which are available locally to serve hot-cooked mid-day meals. Scheme will be implemented by "Gram Panchayats and Urban Municipalities". 'Senior Citizens Welfare Fund' will be utilized to fund & implement the mission.
21. Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, in association with 9 IIMS has invited applications for "Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship" till March 27, 2021. The programme has invited application in collaboration with IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM-Jammu, IIM Udaipur, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Nagpur, IIM Visakhapatnam, IIM Lucknow and IIM Ranchi. It comprises of classroom sessions at IIMs and unique opportunity in order to promote skill planning and development across district economies. It provides a unique opportunity for young and dynamic individuals in order to combine classroom sessions at IIM with engagement in district economies in a bid to promote skill development and skill planning.
22. Uttar Pradesh government has announced on March 26, 2021 to start an affordable rental housing scheme for students, urban migrants and poor people living in cities. Uttar Pradesh cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath proposed for Affordable Rental Housing and Complexes (ARHC) scheme. Under state government's ARHC scheme; beneficiaries include poor migrants, students, urban migrants, low-income groups including factory workers, people from economically weaker section (EWS) and people associated with hospitality. Preference will be given to people from widows, working women & minorities, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes. Preference will be subject to provisions made by state government. This scheme will be implemented under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) to promote participation of private and public institutions to construct, operate and maintain rental housing complexes for the beneficiaries.
23. Power and new and renewable energy minister, Raj Kumar Singh, launched "Gram Ujala scheme" on March 24, 2021 in Varanasi. Gram Ujala scheme offers world's cheapest LED bulbs across rural areas at rupees 10. This scheme is financed on the basis of carbon credits. It will claim carbon credits under "United Nations' Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)". Carbon credits will contribute to rupees 60 per piece while rupees 10 will be paid by rural consumer Under the scheme, incandescent and compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs will be taken back from the rural customers.
24. Under the TB Mukt Bharat Initiative by 2025, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated the "Tribal TB Initiative" on March 26, 2021. The Ministry also published a guidance note on Joint Action Plan for the elimination of Tuberculosis (TB), a Special Edition of Tribal Ministry's Publication 'ALEKH' on TB, and a document on Tribal Tuberculosis (TB) Initiative. In India, almost 104 million tribal population lives, across 705 tribes, accounting for 8.6 % of the country's population. The poor living standards like physical remoteness, malnutrition, and lack of hygiene lead to the tribal population getting vulnerable to TB. 177 tribal districts were identified as High-priority districts that are vulnerable.
Awards & Honours
1. The Indian Boxer, Mary Kom, was appointed as the chairperson of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) champions and veterans committee on March 3, 2021. AIBA President Umar Kremlev stated that he is confident that Mary Kom will make significant contribution towards the success of this committee with her vast knowledge and experience. It comprises of the most respected boxing veterans and champions from across the world who have achieved some significant goals and are ready to share their experience.
2. Bangladesh has announced on March 7, 2021 the names of nine individuals and one organization who will be conferred with the Highest Civilian Award of the Bangladesh called "Independence Award" for the year 2021. As per the announcement, four individuals have been selected posthumously under the category of freedom fighters with respect to their contribution to the liberation war of Bangladesh. These four individuals include- A K M Bazlur Rahman, Brig Gen. Khurshid Uddin Ahmed, Ahsan Ullah Master and Akhataruzzaman Chowdhury Babu. Apart from them, Dr. Mrinmoy Guha Niyogi was selected for contributing to science and technology. Mahadev Saha have been selected for award for his contributions in literature. Ataur Rahman and Gazi Mazharul Anwar will be honoured with the award for their contribution in Culture while, Dr. M Amzad Hossain was nominated for the award for his social public service. Among the various organisations, "Bangladesh Agriculture Research Council" was nominated for the award for "Research Training".
3. The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) and worldwide organisation of film archives and museums from across the globe will confer the prestigious 2021 FIAF Award to Amitabh Bachchan at a virtual showcase on March 19, 2021. The 78-year-old actor was nominated for the award by the FIAF affiliate Film Heritage Foundation which is a not-for-profit organisation founded by Shivendra Singh Dungarpur a filmmaker & archivist. This foundation is dedicated to preserve, restore, document, exhibit and study the film heritage of India. The award will be given to him by filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan. Both are the previous recipients of the award. Amitabh Bachchan will be honoured for his dedication and contribution to the preservation of the film heritage.
4. The tech giant Google is celebrating the 89th birthday of renowned Indian professor and scientist Udupi Ramachandra Rao on March 10, 2021 through its "Google Doodle". The doodle features a sketch of Professor Rao and having a background of Earth and shooting stars to mark his contributions in the space arena. Udupi Ramachandra Rao was an Indian space scientist. He also worked as the chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation. The scientist was also the Chairman of Governing Council of Indian Institute for Space Science and Technology (IIST) at Thiruvananthapuram, Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad and Nehru Planetarium at Bengaluru. He is remembered as the "India's Satellite Man". He died in the year 2017. He was born in a village of Karnataka on March 10, 1932. He started his career as a cosmic-ray physicist and as a protege of Dr Vikram Sarabhai who is regarded as the father of India's space program. He then worked as a professor and conducted experiments on Pioneer and Explorer space probes of NASA. He returned to India in 1966 and lead the 1975 launch of India's first satellite called "Aryabhata". This satellite is one among 20 satellites the professor developed. The satellite transformed the rural India by providing advanced communication and meteorological services.
5. The National Academy of Letters have announced the names for the "Sahitya Akademi Award 2020 on March 12, 2021. The names were announced during the opening of annual "Festival of Letters" event. The award will be bestowed upon the politician-writer M Veerappa Moily, poet Arundhathi Subramaniam along with other 20 writers. Subramaniam have won the award for her poetry collection called "When God is a Traveller" in English. Veerappa Moily has been named for his epic poetry called "Sri Bahubali Ahimsa Digvijayam" in Kannada language. The list comprises of seven books of poetry, five short stories, four novels, two plays, and one memoir and one epic poetry in 20 Indian languages. The awards for Nepali, Malayalam, Odia and Rajasthani Languages will be announced later.
6. The 63rd Grammy Awards, 2021 were organised in the Los Angeles in a socially distanced manner amid the covid-19 pandemic on March 14, 2021. The award ceremony witnessed the first-ever Grammys conferred to Meghan Thee Stallion and Harry Styles. However, the K-pop group could not win the Grammy this year which turned disappointing For BTS fans. During the ceremony, Dynamite band gave a performance from Seoul on Grammy-nominated number. In the award show, Beyonce recorded a history because she became the only female artist to win 28 Grammy awards ever. Also, she got the greatest number of nomination (Nine) this year. The "Single Ladies" star was conferred for Savage (with Meghan Thee STallion) and Black Parade.
7. The peace prize was conferred ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled visit to Dhaka on March 26, 2021. He will be attending the celebrations of the golden jubilee of the independence and birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the first President and also became Prime Minister of Bangladesh, later. He is called as "Father of the Nation" or "Mujib". He was assassinated on August 15, 1975.
8. The winners for the 67th National Film Awards 2021 were announced on March 22, 2021. This award ceremony was delayed by a year amid the covid-19 pandemic. The National Film Awards ceremony is organised on May 3 every year. However, the ceremony was not organised in the year 2020. The winners were finally announced on March 22 during a press conference at the National Media Centre in New Delhi. In the year 2021, there were a total of 461 films in the Feature Film category and 220 films in the Non-Feature Film category. The entries were from the 13 states in the most film-friendly states.
9. Pune Lieutenant General Walter Anthony Gustavo "WAG" Pinto, former General Officer in the Indian Army, breathed his last on the night March 25 at the age of 97. Here are important Current Affairs Facts about the legendary soldier. Born in 1924, General Pinto did his school education in Bangalore and St Aloysius Senior Secondary School, Jabalpur from where he passed his senior Cambridge school leaving certificate with 4 Ds (distinctions). He was popularly known as 'Victor of Basantar' for his commanding of the 54
1. The All-India Football Federation has announced that, Odisha will host the Indian Women's League (IWL). However, the but the dates will be announced at the later stage. The Indian football has been trying to restart the on-field sporting action now amid the ongoing Covid-19 cases. The matches started with the I-League qualifiers. This is followed by the Indian Super League (ISL) and the I-League. Both of the leagues, namely, ISL and I-League are presently being played.
2. The Indian wrestler, Vinesh Phogat, has won the gold medal in women's 53-kg category. She won the medal at XXIV Outstanding Ukrainian Wrestlers and Coaches Memorial in Kyiv, Ukraine. In the event, the Indian Wrestler, Vinesh Phogat, defeated the world number seven, Vanesa Kaladzinskaya from Belarus in the finals match. It was a fight to win the gold medal. After winning the wrestling match, she made a winning return to her first competitive outing played after the lockdown imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now the 26-year-old wrestler will be back into action in the first ranking tournament of the season from March 4 to March 7, 2021 in Rome.
3. The Union Minister for Information & Broadcasting said that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is associating with IIT Bombay to form a Centre of Excellence in gaming and other related areas. This announcement was made while addressing a virtual exhibition and prize announcement of "Khel Khel Mein" which us a Pan Maharashtra toy or game project design competition. The minister highlighted that the Central government is at an advanced stage of preparation. This centre of excellence (CoE) in gaming will come into effect when the new session will begin in 2021.
4. Indian wrestler, Bajrang Punia, has regained the world number one ranking. He gained his ranking after winning second successive gold medal at Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series. The wrestler defeated Tulga Tumur Ochir of Mongolia by 2-2 criteria in 65 kg the final freestyle event which was organised in Rome on March 7, 2021. He won the event after getting a two-pointer in last 30 seconds of bout. This was the first international competition of Bajrang Punia since the Covid-19 outbreak.
5. The veteran Indian women's cricketer Mithali Raj has become the first Indian woman cricketer that has completed 10,000 international runs in all the cricket formats. She also become the second woman cricketer at the international level to complete 10000 runs. Mithali Raj leads the One Day International (ODI) team of India has joined the Charlotte Edwards of England in elite club. She achieved the milestone of 10,2000 after she hit a boundary off the Anne Bosch in 28th over of Indian innings in ongoing third ODI match against South Africa. However, after reaching the milestone she departed in the very next ball. She scored 36 runs on 50 balls and hit 5 boundaries during the inning.
6. The 27-years-old Indian Fencer, Bhavani Devi, has created a history and has become the first Indian fencer to qualify for Olympics in Women's individual Sabre. The fencer finds her place in the Tokyo Olympics by the "Adjusted Official ranking method" on March 14, 2021. Now the fencer will take part in the Tokyo Olympics. Her complete name is Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararaman Bhavani Devi. She was born on 27 August 1993. The Indian sabre is supported by GoSports Foundation under the Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Programme. Bhavani Devi has been trained by Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach Sagar Lagu in the SAI Training Center at Thalassery apart from her training in Italy.
7. Sports Ministry has decided to extend "Khelo India Programme" from 2021-22 to 2025-26. Ministry has also furnished Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) memorandum to Ministry of Finance to extend the annual event. As per the memorandum to Finance Ministry, an amount of 8,750 crore has been estimated as a financial implication of new Khelo India Scheme. This programme is being extended after considering how this initiative has played a significant role in building a sporting culture across the country.