Current Affairs 11 to 20 March

1.Liberalised Visa Regime between India and Maldives implemented
Maldives and India exchanged diplomatic notes for implementing the visa facilitation agreement, which was signed during President Ibu Solih’s visit in December 2018 and came into effect from 11th March 2019.

i. The new agreement provides a very liberal visa regime for Maldivian nationals to visit India for tourism, business, education and medical purposes and also makes it easier for Indians to travel to Maldives for business purposes.
ii. It allows Maldivian parents to obtain visas that will be valid during the duration of their children’s academic term and the facility will also be extended to the dependents of parents, enabling minor siblings to also remain with the family during their stay in India.
iii. The attendants of Maldivian patientswill also be able to get visas for the duration medical treatment sought in India now.
iv. This is considered as India’s most liberal visa facilitation agreement with any country.
About Maldives
♦ Capital – Male
♦ Currency – Maldivian rufiyaa
♦ President – Ibu Solih

2.WHO released the Global Influenza Strategy 2019-2030
World Health Organization (WHO) released a Global Influenza Strategy for 2019-2030 aimed at protecting people in all countries from the threat of influenza, one of the world’s greatest public health challenges.

i. The aim of the strategy is to prevent seasonal influenza, control the spread of influenza from animals to humans, and prepare for the next influenza pandemic.
ii. Every year across the globe, there are an estimated1 billion cases, of which to 5 million are severe cases, resulting in 290000 to 650000 influenza-related respiratory deaths.

3.Saudi Arabia became the world’s largest importer of weapons, the position held by India for a decade: SIPRI
India lost its position as the world’s largest importer of weapons, which it held for over a decade, with Saudi Arabia topping the global share of arms imports between 2014 and 2018, as per the data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), the leading Stockholm-based think tank that measures weapons imports over five-year periods

i. Saudi Arabia accounted for 12% of the global share of arms imports between2014-2018, followed by India with a9.5% share.

ii. Indian arms imports fell 24% between 2009-13 and 2014-18 because of delays in deliveries of fighter jets and submarines produced under licence from Russian and French original equipment manufacturers.
iii. India’s top arms supplier, Russia, accounted for 58% of India’s arms imports during the last 5 years, compared to 76% in the previous five-year period.
iv. USIsrael and France increased their arms exports to India in 2014-18.

4.Turmeric from Erode, Tamil Nadu gets GI tagged after an 8-year process
On 6th March 2019, Geographical Indication (GI) tag was granted by the Geographical Indication Registry to Erode turmeric after a process spread over 8 years. The cultivar is known as Erode local (Chinnanadan).

5.Indian Sundarbans became ‘Wetland of International Importance’
On 9th March 2019, The Indian Sundarban was accorded with the status of ‘Wetland of International Importance’ in the Ramsar Convention. Indian Sundarban which is also a UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) world heritage site, is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Key Points
i. Indian Sundarban met four out of nine criteria required for the status, which are presence of rare species and threatened ecological communities, biological diversity, significant and representative fish and fish spawning ground and migration path.

6.Indian artistic gymnast, Dipa Karmakar honoured with barbie doll modelled after her
Ace gymnast Dipa Karmakar, hailing from Tripura had a Barbie doll modelled after her in the list of honours achieved which includes – Arjuna Award in 2015Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2016Padma Shri award in 2017.

i. On the 60th anniversary of Barbie, the makers has released a new line of dolls to honour 20 female role models across 18 countries speaking 14 different languages.

7.HDFC becomes the third Indian company to achieve a market value of more than Rs.6 trillion
On 13th March, HDFC Bank became the third Indian company after Reliance Industries (Rs. 8.52 trillion) and TCS (Rs. 7.49 trillion) to achieve a market value of Rs. 6 trillion, owing to a sudden upsurge in its share prices.

Key points:
i. The shares of the bank have risen in each of the last five trading sessions, capping a 6% jump to a record high of Rs. 2,227.40.
ii. The bank witnessed a 20% growth in profits and a bad loan ratio of less than 1.5%.

8.A new species of frog named ‘Starry Dwarf Frog’ found in Western Ghats
A new species of frog known as ‘Starry Dwarf Frog’ has been discovered in Western Ghats mountain range.
i. The features of the frog are:

  • Orange-bellied
  • Brown back covered with tiny spots which make it look like a starry sky
  • Camouflages well in wet leaf litter

9.India observed Dandi March Day on 12th March, 2019
12th March 2019 marks the 89th anniversary of the Dandi Satyagraha or Salt Satyagraha, an act of nonviolent civil disobedience in colonial India led by Mahatma Gandhi.
i. Mahatma Gandhi had undertaken a 26-day march from March 12, 1930 to April 6, 1930 as a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly.
ii. The 400 km Dandi March started from Sabarmati Ashram.

10.A new 50p ‘black hole’ coin in honour of Stephen Hawking’s work unveiled by Royal Mint
The Royal Mint has honoured Stephen Hawking’s legacy by issuing a new 50 pence piece

Key Points:
i. The coin has drawn its inspiration from Hawking’s work on black holes discussed in his bestselling book- A Brief History of Time.
ii. The coin has his name engraved along with an illustration of concentric circles that represent a black hole.
iii. It also has his equation on the black hole theory.
iv. The coin will not be circulated as normal change and has only been made as a commemoration edition.

11.World Kidney Day observed on 14th March
The World Kidney Day was observed on 14th March 2019 to raise awareness about the importance of taking care of kidneys and preventing kidney diseases. It is generally celebrated at the second Thursday of March every year.

i. World Kidney Day is an initiative of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN)and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).
ii. The theme of the World Kidney Day 2019 is Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.

12.World Consumer Rights Day 2019 observed on 15th March
The World Consumer Rights Day 2019 was celebrated on 15th March 2019. The theme for this year is “Trusted Smart Products” which has been selected owing to the popular nature of smart gadgets like smart phones, wearable fitness trackers, voice-activated assistants and smart TVs etc.

13.World Sleep Day 2019 observed on 15th March
The World Sleep Day was observed on 15th March 2019 and the theme for this year was ‘Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging’.

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

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

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

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

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

17.Microsoft launched Project ‘Sangam’ to boost India’s Swachh Bharat Mission
On 8th March 2019, Microsoft has announced that it has partnered with The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to promote its Project ‘Sangam’ which is developed to accelerate Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) in India. It is one of the world’s largest Cleanliness Programme.

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

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

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

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

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

21.K T Irfan named as first Indian athlete to be chosen for Tokyo Olympics 2020
29-year-old Indian athlete from Kerala, K.T. Irfan has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as he finished fourth in the men’s 20 kilometer category at the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan.

i. He holds the national record of 1:20:21 which he achieved during his 10th place finish at the 2012 Olympics in London.
ii. He also qualified for 2019’s World Championships that is to be held in Doha,Qatar as he bettered the qualifying mark of 1:22:30.

22.PM Modi launches ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar’ campaign
On the lines of upcoming Lok Sabha elections, PM Modi, along with BJP leaders has started “Main Bhi Chowkidar (I am a watchman too)” campaign by prefixing the word “chowkidar” to their names in their Twitter profiles.
Key Points: 
i.Its a video campaign titled “Take The Pledge”, showing people who has fought corruption, social evils and working hard for the progress of India, as watchmen.
ii.The 3.45-minute video is urging people to join Modi on March 31 at 6 p.m. for a video programme titled ‘Main Bhi Chowkidar”.
iii.In order to encourage people to be a part of campaign, a unique tech innovation called conversation cards on twitter was also started, through which people will get a personalised message from PM on Twitter on participating in this campaign.

23.Goa CM Manohar Parrikar passed away at the age of 63 years
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar passed away at the age of 63 years after fighting a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer at his residence in Panaji, Goa.He is the India’s 18th and Goa’s second chief minister to die in office.

i. Former Defence Ministerand four-time Goa chief minister, he was among the few from Goa who made it to the national level.
ii. He held the Defence portfolio in the Narendra Modi-led government from 2014 to 2017 after which he returned to being Goa Chief Minister once again.
iii. The Central government announced national mourning on 18th March 2019 following his demise and the National Flag was flown at half-mast in New Delhi and capitals of all States and Union Territories.
iv. Manohar Parrikar was born in Mapusa, Goa on 13th December 1955 and did his schooling at Loyola High School, Margao. After finishing his secondary education in Marathi, he went on to graduate in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT Bombay) in 1978.
v. He is the first IIT alumnus to serve as MLA of an Indian state and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 2001.

24.Pramod Sawant sworn in as 13th Chief Minister of Goa
On 19th March 2019, BJP MLA and Former Speaker of Goa legislative assembly Pramod Sawant(45) took oath as 13th Chief Minister of Goa succeeding Manohar Parrikar, who died due to Cancer. Governor Mridula Sinha administered the oath of office of Pramod Sawant.

Some facts about Goa
♦ Capital: Panaji
♦ Governor: Mridula Sinha
♦ Chief Minister: Pramod Sawant
♦ National Park and wildlife Sanctuary: Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

25.Global Recycling Day 2019 observed on 18th March

Global Recycling Day is held on 18th March every year, with an aim to change the mindset of governments, businesses, communities and individuals around the world, to see recyclables as resource – not waste.The theme for Global Recycling Day 2019 was “Recycling into the Future”

26.Singapore, Paris and Hong Kong shared top spot in World’s Most Expensive Cities Survey
On 19 March 2019, the annual Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey listed Singapore, Paris and Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive cities. In the 30 year long history it is for the first time the three cities are sharing the top spot.

27.Mercury is closer to Earth than Venus on the basis of average distance
On 19th March 2019, the US based researchers from NASALos Alamos National Laboratory and US army disclosed a new ideology that mercury is closer to earth than Venus.

Key Points
i. As per the research on the basis of average distance,every other planet when compared to mercury is farther from earth including Venus based on average distance. It also included mercury is the closest planet to every other planet in the solar system when considering the average.
ii. To calculate distance between planetary bodies involves their relative distance from the sun which is measured in Astronomical Unit (AU),as per the current methodology. The study says mercury is at 0.387 AU from earth while Venus is at 0.722 AU.

28.World Sparrow day observed on March 20 
The World Sparrow Day(WSD) is observed annually on 20th March to spread awareness about the house sparrow as well as to educated people about the threat to their population. The Theme for this year’s World Sparrow Day is “I love sparrows”.
Key Points:
i. The Nature Forever Society of India founded by Mohammed Dilawar in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) has taken this international initiative.
ii. In the year 2010, the first World Sparrow Day was celebrated and in the year 2012, a campaign “Rise of Sparrows” launched by Delhi Government aimed at conservation of House Sparrow and also declared it as ‘state bird’ of Delhi.

29.International Day of Happiness – 20 March
On March 20th of every year the ‘International Happiness Day’ is celebrated worldwide.The concept of happiness day was founded by prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien and it was celebrated from the year 2013.
i. Theme of International Day of Happiness 2019 is ‘Happier Together’.
ii. This year also celebrates with a central aim “ShareHappiness and be Part of Something Amazing.”
iii. Main concept of the day is to create awareness about importance of happiness in everyone’s life around the world.

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