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Important Current Affairs 20th March 2019

INTERNATIONAL:

INCOIS and French scientists discovered existence of a new sea level oscillation.

• Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) researchers, in collaboration with scientists from France, have discovered the existence of a ‘synchronous oscillation’ of sea level across the entire Tropical Indian Ocean with a time period of 30 to 80 days during winter months of December to April.

• In these months, Indian Ocean routinely gains/losses 3 trillion tonnes of water from the Pacific Ocean every 30-80 days accompanied by a sea level rise/fall of 4 cm which is 30% of total sea-level change. This process is driven by intense winds hovering over a small area in the eastern Indian Ocean. This wind is associated with tropical weather phenomenon called Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). MJOs, being a low-pressure system, is known to facilitate cyclone formation over the Indian Ocean. The study said the waves gain more relevance since MJOs are gradually getting more intense in the warming climate.

British Army to create a new Battalion by recruiting more than 800 Nepalese Gurkha.

• The British Army has announced that it would create a new Specialised Infantry Battalion by recruiting more than 800 Nepalese Gurkha servicepersons.  Gurkhas have completed 200 years of service in the British Army and currently, they comprise upto 3% of the British Army.

• Gurkha and British Army During the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-16, Gorkha Kingdom had inflicted heavy casualties on the British Army even though they had lost the war. British India decided to recruit these soldiers starting in 1815 and the Gurkhas have fought on the side of the British Empire in almost every war, including both World Wars.

• The Gurkhas are recruited every year by the British Army and Gurkhas are held in high esteem in the British Army. Gurkhas have the same service conditions as the regular British Army, with the option of British citizenship upon retirement.

BANKS AND ECONOMY:

RBI says Forex swap for liquidity has been received well.

• The recent decision of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to inject rupee liquidity through long-term foreign exchange (forex) swap, a first of its kind in liquidity management policy, has been received well.  On 26th March auction the feedback of the forex swap will be received. The central bank will conduct a dollar-rupee buy/sell swap auction of $5 billion for a three-year tenor, on March 26.

Hyundai and Kia to invest USD 300 million in Ola.

• Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors Corporation together plans to invest $300 million in cab aggregator Ola. This will be the biggest combined investment by the two firms of the South Korean Hyundai Motor Group.  As part of the strategic collaboration, the three companies will work on developing unique fleet and mobility solutions, besides building India-specific electric vehicles and infrastructure.

• Hyundai Motor Group expects to accelerate its transition from a ‘car manufacturer’ into a ‘Smart Mobility Solutions Provider’, as the partnership’s initiatives will allow it to engage in all aspects across the entire mobility value chain, including vehicle production, fleet operation, and mobility services.

GST Council approves transition plan for new GST rates.

• GST council approved a transition plan for new goods and services tax rates on residential properties under which developers of under-construction buildings may either opt to shift to the revised lower rates without input tax credit or stick to the previous rates. Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey told media that for housing projects launched on or after the first of April this year, the developers will have to adhere to the new GST rates recommended by the council last month.

• Developers can also opt for different GST options for separate buildings in a project depending on if construction started before or after 31st March this year. Mr Pandey added that there will be no revenue loss to the government due to the new GST structure for under-construction housing.

SPORTS:

Gopi Thonakal qualified for World Athletics.

• In marathon, India's Asian champion Gopi Thonakal has qualified for the World Athletics Championships to be held in the Qatari capital Doha in September-October this year. He achieved qualification after finishing 11th in the Seoul International Marathon, clocking his personal best time of 2 hours 13 minutes 39 seconds. Gopi’s time is the second best ever by an Indian after the four-decade old national record of 2:12:00, which is held by Shivnath Singh.

IPL franchise Rajasthan Royals to Academy in England.

• Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals has tied up with the Star Cricket Academy in Surrey, England. The tie-up is to re-launch the facility as the ‘Rajasthan Royals Academy’. The centre has a state-of-the-art cricket centre named the Jarrett Centre.

• It is an indoor cricket training centre run by former professional batsman Siddharth Lahiri, along with his team of coaches including former England international and mentor to the academy, Keith Medlycott.  The franchise is also keen to create an exchange programme across India and UK wherein the children from the UK will receive an opportunity to come to Institute of Sport, Nagpur.

APPOINTMENT AND RESIGNATION:

Japanese Olympic chief quits amid corruption allegations scandal.

• Tsunekazu Takeda, the head of Japan's Olympic Committee (JOC), is stepping down over corruption allegations relating to the awarding of the 2020 Games to Tokyo. Takeda is being investigated by French prosecutors who are looking into claims that a €2 million (£1.7 million) bribe was paid to secure Tokyo's winning bid for the Olympic Games. Takeda was head of the Tokyo bidding committee when it was awarded the Games in 2013, defeating rival bids from Madrid and Istanbul.

Kazakhstan's 1st and only President resigns after 29 yrs in power.

• Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan's first and only President, announced his resignation on March 19 after 29 years in power. He has been Kazakhstan's President since 1990 and was formally elected in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. He received 98 percent of the votes. Nazarbayev would continue to chair the Security Council and remain the leader of the Nur Otan party. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, speaker of the upper house of parliament, will take over as the country's acting president for the remainder of his term in line with the constitution

NATIONAL:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address 25 lakh Chowkidars.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address over 25 lakh Chowkidars through audio bridge medium on Wednesday and share the colours of Holi with them.  The Party's media head and Rajya Sabha MP Anil Baluni this is a part of a series of initiatives under the 'Main Bhi Chowkidaar' outreach programme.

IIPHG to launch Conquer Exam, Be a Warrior app.

• Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Gujarat, (IIPHG) joined hands with National Mental Health Program, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Gujarat for developing a mobile application called as ‘Conquer Exam, Be a Warrior’ to reduce the exam pressure for the student. This application creates awareness as well as help students to analyze their weak point and overcome from the exam pressure by providing assistance.

Uttar Pradesh to take census of Otters for the first time.

• For the first time, Uttar Pradesh is taking a census of Otters in its protected areas. The census has begun in the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR).

•  Otters  Otters live on fish and spend much of its time in or close to water bodies. A growing or healthy population of otters means the water bodies are pollution-free. Clean water bodies mean a healthy ecosystem of the forest.

• India is home to 3 of the 13 species of otters found worldwide. These are: 1) Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra) - IUCN status: Near Threatened 2) Smooth-coated Otter (Lutra perspicillata) - IUCN status: Vulnerable 3) Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus) - IUCN status: Vulnerable.

ICF Chennai becomes worlds largest rail coach manufacturer.

• Integral Coach Factory (ICF), the rail coach manufacturing factory at Chennai, which became famous for manufacturing Train 18, has become the single largest rail coach manufacturer in the world surpassing top Chinese manufacturers. The manufacturing facility of Indian Railways in Chennai manufactured 2,919 coaches from April 2018 to February 2019 against 2,600 coaches manufactured by top Chinese manufacturers.

•  ICF has set a target to manufacture 3,200 coaches in this financial year 2019. The ultra-modern ‘Train 18’ is engine less, with self-propelled coaches like metro was indigenously made at Integral Coach Factory (ICF), Chennai. Integral Coach Factory in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, was established in 1952 and is owned and operated by the Indian Railways.

International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure IWDRI 2019 held in New Delhi.

• International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IWDRI), a two-day workshop organised by National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and in partnership with the Global Commission on Adaptation, United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank was held at New Delhi.

• The objectives of the workshop were to:

♦ Identify good practices of disaster risk management in key infrastructure sectors.

♦ Identify specific areas and pathways for collaborative research on DRI (Transport, Energy, Telecom and Water).

♦ Discuss and co-create the broad contours of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) as well as a notional roll-out plan for the next three years.

♦ Build a forum for members to work on areas of common interest and make specific commitments. The first IWDRI was held in January 2018 and IWDRI 2019 built upon some of the ideas generated at the IWDRI 2018 as a crucial milestone towards the establishment of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). 

DAY:

International Day of Happiness is celebrated on 20th March.

• International Day of Happiness is celebrated every year on March 20. The theme for IDH 2019 is ‘Happier Together’. This year the focus will be on what we have in common, rather than what divides us. It is celebrated by all 193 UN Member States. Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.

• It was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement.

AWARDS:

Irfan Ramzan Sheikh who fought against 3 terrorists as 14-yr-old awarded Shaurya Chakra.

• Jammu and Kashmir's Irfan Ramzan Sheikh, who fought off three armed terrorists in 2017, when he was 14 years old, was awarded Shaurya Chakra by President Ram Nath Kovind. Sheikh fought off the terrorists who wanted to kill his father and didn't let them enter his house. The terrified terrorists left one of the terrorists' body and ran away.

Mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck becomes 1st woman to win prestigious Abel Prize.

• Mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck (76-year-old) has become the first woman to win the Abel prize, sometimes called the Nobel prize of mathematics, for the impact of her work on "analysis, geometry and mathematical physics". She is also an advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics.

•  About Abel Prize: It is named after Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel and directly modeled after the Nobel Prizes. It comes with a monetary award of 6 million Norwegian Kroner. Established: 23 August 2001 First awarded‎: ‎2003 Country: Norway Awarded for: Outstanding scientific work in the field of mathematics Presented by: Government of Norway

MOUS:

MoU signed by Ola and Telangana Govt. to strengthen traffic infrastructure in Hyderabad

• A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Ola and the Government of Telangana to support the government’s initiative to implement smart solutions to enhance mobility experience further strengthening traffic infrastructure in Hyderabad. Under the MoU, the first pilot project proposed is the dynamic mapping of riding quality of various major roads in Hyderabad through the network of vehicles operating on the Ola platform.

IBBI and SEBI signed an MoU for effective implementation of IBC.

• The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). The IBBI and the SEBI seek effective implementation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (Code) and its allied rules and regulations, which have redefined the debt-equity relationship and aims to promote entrepreneurship and debt market.

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