Current Affairs: 23 March 2017

Published on Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bhagat Singh's death anniversary: 23 March

  • The 23rd of March will mark the 86th martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, one of the most revered figures of the anti-colonial movement. 
  • On this day, Indians pay homage to three martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the country. Freedom fighter Bhagat Singh who was hanged along with his comrades Sukhdev Thapar, and Shivaram Rajguru for revolting against a British colonel are remembered on this day and homages are paid to the freedom fighters for the contribution to the freedom struggle of India.
  • The Border Security Force is also planning to put on display the pistol used by the freedom fighter Singh to kill British officer John Saunders in 1928, at its new arms museum in Indore.

4 Indian cities among cheapest globally: Economist Intelligence Unit

  • Four Indian citiesare among the cheapest to live in globally, while Singaporehas been ranked as the most expensive for the fourth consecutive year, as per a report by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
  • Bangalore (3rd place), Chennai (6th), Mumbai (7th) and New Delhi (10th) have been ranked by EIU among the 10 cheapest cities in the world.
  • Almaty has been ranked as the cheapest city in the world followed by Lagos. Karachi was placed 4th, Algiers (5th), Kiev (8th) and Bucharest (9th) rank.
  • The EIU's Worldwide Cost of Living 2017 report -- a ranking of the world's major cities -- said Asia is home to some of the world's most expensive cities and also to many of the world's cheapest cities.
  • Singapore retained its title as the world's most expensive city for the fourth consecutive year, while Hong Kong remained second, closely followed by Zurich at the 3rd place.
  • Others in the 10 most expensive list include Tokyo at the 4th position, Osaka (5th), Seoul (6th), Geneva (7th), Paris (8th), New York (9th) and Copenhagen at 10th place.
  • New York is the only North American city among the 10 most expensive cities, although Los Angeles remains highly ranked, in 11th place.

Rajya Sabha Passes Bill to Ensure Rights of HIV/AIDS Patients

  • A crucial bill to ensure equal rights to people afflicted by HIV and AIDS in getting treatment, admission in educational institutions and jobs, was passed by the Rajya Sabha
  • The bill was introduced in the upper house of Parliament in 2014 and then referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee which gave its report in 2015.

Features of the bill

  • The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention) and Control) Bill, 2014, moved by Health Minister JP Nadda, was passed in the Upper House by a voice vote.
  • During the debate on the measure, many members suggested amending the Section 14(1) of the bill, to remove the phrase "as far as possible" for providing medical treatment to the Centre and the states to those infected with HIV and AIDS.
  • While making the rules, it is ensured that nobody is denied treatment and we are committed to providing medical treatment to all those living with HIV or AIDS.
  • The measures to be taken by the central or state governments under Sector 13 shall include measures for providing as far as possible, anti-retroviral therapy and opportunistic management to people living with HIV or AIDS.
  • Government is giving special attention to this issue and the number of such cases has come down drastically.
  • There is a penalty to the tune of Rs 1 lakh for breach of confidentiality of the patient's detail. The bill says it's important for high-risk groups to access services such as treatment of sexually transmitted infections, HIV testing, condoms, clean needles and syringes to prevent HVI transmission to the general public.

ABB India bags The India Smart Grid Foundation (ISGF) innovation award. award for restoring 1,035 MW Sharavathi plant in Karnataka

  • ASEA Brown Boveri (ABB) India has restored and modernised the critical 1,035 MW Sharavathi hydropower plant in Karnataka that accounts for 25 per cent of Karnataka Power Corporation’s generation.
  • The Sharavathi project with seamless integration of complete plant data, is an example of ABB’s future-ready technologies enabling the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and aligns with the government’s push for 24x7 reliable power for all with focus on smart power infrastructure and digitalisation.
  • Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd. (KPCL), the state-owned electric utility in-charge of Sharavathi, expected the renovation of its second largest generating station to take two years. 
  • Working round the clock, the ABB team, with support from KPCL management, helped restore the entire plant – comprising 10 units - in just six months.
  • The restoration and modernisation will help lower overall costs generally associated with higher capex and maintenance costs for individual systems such as advanced alarm management and remote communication with the state power grid and KPCL headquarters.
  • For restoring the crucial power infrastructure, the ABB has bagged the The India Smart Grid Foundation (ISGF) innovation award.
  • The award is a testimony to our customer focus and speed, complementing ABB’s next level automation platform with timely delivery and execution,

PepsiCo’s Gatorade India appoints PV Sindhu as brand ambassador

  • PepsiCo’s sports drink brand Gatorade has roped in Indian shuttler PV Sindhu as its brand ambassador. The move is as part of the global beverage major’s commitment towards dialling up the communication on the benefits of its healthier food and beverage offerings to consumers.
  • Sindhu is the first Indian brand ambassador of the brand, and she joins the likes of Ussain Bolt and Lionel Messi.
  • As part of the deal, Gatorade will be unveiling a new campaign featuring Sindhu in a digital film that shows the brand’s close partnership with the athlete.
  • In 2016, Sindhu became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal and currently ranks amongst the top 10 players in the world.

Sarbananda Sonowal launches initiative to make Majuli carbon neutral

  • Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today launched initiative to develop Majuli, the world’s largest river island, as the country’s first carbon neutral district and a biodiversity heritage site. 
  • Majuli is facing existential crisis and therefore initiatives like designating carbon neutral district and biodiversity heritage site are needs of the hour to preserve its rich heritage and legacy
  • Sonowal also launched through remote a registry in Majuli which would record and analyse the climate impact of all proposed projects in the state’s newest district.
  •  He said the Sustainable Actions for Climate Resilient Development (SaCReD) Initiative would ensure that infrastructure in Majuli had less carbon.
  • The chief minister also launched “Forests are Lives” campaign to underline the importance of Assam’s rich forest and biodiversity and urged all to take a pledge to conserve its biodiversity to make the state pollution free.

What is Majoli?

  • Mājuli or Majoli is the biggest river island in the world in the Brahmaputra River, Assam, India and also 1st island district of the country
  • Majuli has shrunk as the river surrounding it has grown. However it is recognised by Guinness Book of World Records as World's Largest River Island.
  • The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti, an anabranch of the Brahmaputra, joined by the Subansiri River in the north. Mājuli island is accessible by ferries from the city of Jorhat.

Kuldip Nayar journalism awards: First winner Ravish Kumar

  • For his contributions in the world of journalism, eminent TV journalist Ravish Kumar on Sunday was honoured with the first Kuldip Nayar journalism award. 
  • He was conferred with an award plaque along with a cash amount of Rs 1 lakh.
  • In the event organised by the Gandhi Peace Foundation at the India International Centre, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar was present to bestow the award named after him.
  • Accepting the award conferred on him, journalist Ravish Kumar said that in today’s age there is time to explore possibilities. He said that there are journalists who are constantly looking to fulfil the potential present in them.
  • The Kuldip Nayar journalism award was set up to honour those working in vernacular media and will be awarded every year from now on.

Who is Kuldip Nayar?

  • Kuldip Nayar (born 14 August 1923) is a veteran Indian journalist, syndicated columnist, human right activist, author and ex-High commissioner of India to United kingdom noted for his long career as a left-wing political commentator. He was also nominated as a Member of the upper house of the Indian Parliament in 1997.

Russia’s VTB bank to shut India office

  • Russian bank VTB has decided to close its only office in India to cut costs but will continue to work in India
  • The decision to shut the branch in India was taken as part of a strategy of VTB Group aimed at optimising costs. 
  • The bank will continue to work on the Indian market, expanding our cooperation with local partners
  • While closing its office in New Delhi, VTB added that it saw commodities and investment banking as priority areas for the bank in India.
  • VTB is also planning to cut costs in Europe by slimming down its operations to focus on Frankfurt.

Samsung Pay launched in India

  • Samsung today launched a new digital payments service in the country, called Samsung Pay, that hopes to bring debit cards, credit cards and wallets under one umbrella.
  • Samsung Pay, a service that users of Samsung S7 Edge, S7, S6 Edge Plus, A series 2016 and 2017, and Note 5 users will get via a service update, will be available on Visa, Mastercard and Rupay payment cards. ICICI, HDFC, Standard Chartered, SBI, Axis bank cards will be supported, along with Paytm and Amex cards. UPI and CitiBank card support is also expected to become available soon.
  • The Samsung Pay service is also supported on Samsung Gear S3.
  • Nearly 90% of all POS machines in India work on magnetic technology for payments with cards. The Samsung Pay service uses a similar technology. The service creates a magnetic field between the POS machine and the phone to replicate a card transaction.
  • The Samsung Pay app also offers promotions from banks on reward points. It shows offers from Paytm as well. The app also comes with built-in customer support.

Govt proposes to lower cash transaction limit to Rs 2 lakh

  • The government today proposed to lower the cash transaction limit to Rs 2 lakh, from Rs 3 lakh announced in the Budget, as it introduced 40 amendments to the Finance Bill in an unprecedented move.
  • As the Finance Bill was taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha, the opposition parties including TMC, BJD and RSP protested against the introduction of these many amendments, saying it was being done as a "back-door entry".
  • Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, however, overruled the objections raised by the opposition parties, saying the 'incidental provisions' involved in the amendments constitute a 'Money Bill' and therefore can be considered as part of the Finance Bill.
  • The proposed amendments to the Finance Bill include a provision to cap legal cash transactions at Rs 2 lakh. While presenting the Budget on February 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had proposed to make any cash transaction beyond Rs 3 lakh as illegal with effect from April this year.
  • A penalty of equal amount would be levied in case of any violation of the provision, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia tweeted after the amendment was moved.

Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in north eastern states to show oneness of culture

  • Dance, music, drama, puppetry, and handicrafts showcasing the spectacular diversity of India, from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Gujarat to Bengal through folk, tribal and classical art forms in all its dimensions will be the focus of the fifth Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav being organized in the northeast from 23 to 31 March 2017.
  • An Exhibition on Buddhist art and tradition is also being organized at Parade Ground of Tawangon the occasion of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav to showcase the splendour and magnificence of the cultural sphere. Craftsmen from all over the country will display and sell handicrafts to the general public. 
  • Chefs of traditional delicacies from different regions of the country will treat the visitors to an unparalleled culinary experience. Day-long performances of traditional performers of fringe-folk arts like ‘Behroopiyas’, ‘Baazigars’, ‘Kacchi Ghori’, etc. will take place in the Parade Ground from 23 March to 25 March 2017.
  • The essential thrust of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM) is to present the rich diversity and uniqueness of Indian culture and to promote the cultural inter-linkages amongst the states to strengthen National integration and also to bid the artists of other parts of the country with the people of North East in a single thread of culture. 
  • The Mahotsav was envisioned to preserve, promote and popularize the heritage and cultural diversity of Indian culture and reconnect the new generation with Indian culture.

Shri Upendra Tripathy Appointed as Full Time Interim Director General of ISA

  • Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, Government of India and Ms. Sgolene Royal, Minister for Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs Government of France jointly decided to appoint Mr. Upendra Tripathy, as the Interim Director General (IDG) of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) on a full time basis.
  • Mr. Upendra Tripathy was the Former Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy from 1st April, 2014 until 31st October 2016. Mr. Tripathy is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Karnataka Cadre. 
  • He has worked with local, provincial and union governments in India for the last 36 years.

Background on International Solar Alliance (ISA)

  • The International Solar Alliance (ISA) was launched on 30th November, 2015 as a coalition of the solar resource rich countries jointly by Shri. Narendra Modi, Honble Prime Minister of India and Mr.Fran?ois Hollande, Honble President of France in the presence of Mr. Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations on the first day of the Paris Climate Conference or CoP21. I
  • SAs mission and vision is to provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar resource rich countries where the global community including bilateral and multilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and stakeholders can make a positive contribution to assist and help achieve the common goals of increasing use of the solar energy in meeting energy needs of prospective ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.

ICC Test Rankings: Ravindra Jadeja No.1 bowler, Cheteshwar Pujara No.2 batsman

  • Ravindra Jadeja gained seven points to become the sole world number one bowler in the ICC's Test rankings. He held the top spot jointly with Ravichandran Ashwin, who lost 37 points after a dismal performance in India's drawn Test against Australia in Ranchi.
  • Jadeja, who took nine wickets in the third Test of the ongoing four-match series against Australia, is also the highest wicket-taker in the series with 21 scalps. 
  • He grabbed five for 124 and four for 52 in in Ranchi, to gain seven points after starting joint-first with Ashwin at 892 points.
  • Jadeja has also closed in on a major landmark as his tally of 899 rating points puts him on the brink of becoming only the second India bowler after Ashwin to touch the 900-point mark. Ashwin, who had a highest rating of 904 points, has slipped 37 points behind Jadeja to 862 points after finishing with two wickets in Ranchi.
  • Meanwhile, top-ranked Steve Smith has reached a career-high rating of 941 points after scores of 178 not out and 21.

World Water Day: 22 March

  • World Water Day, held every March 22, is taking place around the world on Wednesday, aiming at attracting attention to the water crisis with this year's theme: "Why Waste Water."
  • The day was originally launched in 1993 by the U.N. 
  • To coincide with the 2017 date, reports have been published warning of severe water scarcity in parts of Africa and Iran. 
  • As drought conditions are reported throughout East Africa, World Water Day feels more timely than ever.

World Meteorlogical Day: 23 March

  • Each year, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), its members and the worldwide meteorological community around the world celebrate World Meteorological Dayon 23rd March around a chosen theme.
  • The theme for this year's World Meteorological Day is 'understanding clouds', which highlights the enourmous importance of clouds for weather climate and water.

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