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Important Current Affairs 31st March 2019

INTERNATIONAL:

Red Cross to aid Venezuela in two weeks.

• The Red Cross announced that it is to aid Venezuela in two weeks. It also said it would not allow any political “interference” in the operation.

• Francesco Rocca, head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent said that the organisation would begin distributing aid that President Nicolás Maduro has to date refused to allow into the country, leaving it stockpiled since mid-February on the borders with Colombia and Brazil.

European Parliament bans single use plastic products.

• The European Parliament approved ban on single-use plastic products such as the straws, cutlery and cotton buds that are clogging the world's oceans.

• The law on single-use plastic ban sets a target to gather 90% of plastic for recycling by 2029 and mandates the production of plastic bottles with 25% recycled material by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

• The law also insists on polluters pay principle insisting polluters to pay the costs of a clean-up.  Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.

• They are not usually biodegradable and goes into a landfill where it is buried or it gets into the water and finds its way into the ocean. They degrade into tiny particles after many years.

•  In this process of degradation, they release toxic chemicals which make their way into our food and water supply.

NATIONAL:

IAE report says rate of emission of CO2 increased in India.

• The International Energy Agency (IEA) report on Carbon dioxide emissions said that India emitted 2,299 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018. The rate of growth of carbon dioxide emission in India was higher than that of the United States and China which are the two biggest emitters in the world.

• India's emissions carbon dioxide witnessed an increase of 4.8% rise from 2018. This increase in the emission of carbon dioxide was attributed to coal consumption.  China, the United States, and India accounted for nearly 70% of the rise in energy demand. India's per capita emissions were about 40% of the global average and contributed 7% to the global carbon dioxide burden whereas the largest emitter the United States was responsible for 14%.

• India has pledged to reduce the emissions intensity of its economy by 2030. But India's energy intensity improvement declined 3% from last year even as its renewable energy installations increased 10.6% from last year. As per estimates, India requires at least $2.5 trillion (Rs 150 trillion approx.) to implement its climate pledge which is around 71% of the combined required spending for all developing countries pledges.

Laurus Labs Limited partners with Global Funds.

• Laurus Labs Limited, Hyderabad-based pharma, has entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Global Fund for a period of 3.5 years.

• The agreement gives Laurus Labs volume commitments for drugs from the Global Fund for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.

• Global Fund has been created to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. It was created in 2002 to raise, manage and invest the world's money to respond to three of the deadliest infectious diseases the world has ever known. The aim of Global Fund is to defeat AIDS, TB and malaria which are all preventable and treatable.

Indian Army inducted 4 indigenous Dhanush Howitzer guns.

• Indian Army inducted 4 indigenous Dhanush Howitzer guns. The induction of Dhanush Howitzer guns gives major fire-power boost to the Indian Armed Forces. Dhanush Howitzers Long Range Artillery Guns are the first ever indigenous 155 mm x 45 calibre long-range artillery guns.

• Dhanush Long Range Artillery Guns are equipped with inertial navigation-based sighting system, auto-laying facility, on-board ballistic computation and an advanced day and night direct firing system. The self-propulsion unit on Dhanush allows the gun to negotiate and deploy itself in mountainous terrains with ease. Dhanush is also electronically upgraded to enhance firing accuracies, laying speeds of the existing gun and to provide compatibility with various kinds of ammunition as well.

Ministry for Health added new ruled to the Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules

• The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare have added new ruled to the Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019 with an aim to promote clinical research in the country. The new rules reduce the time for approving applications to 30 days for drugs manufactured in India and 90 days for those developed outside the country

•  The new rules state that in case of no communication from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), the application will be deemed to have been approved. The new rules will ensure patient safety, as they would be enlisted for trials with informed consent and the ethics committee will monitor the trials and decide on the amount of compensation in cases of adverse events.

• The rules also waive off the requirement of a local clinical trial if the drug is approved and marketed in countries specified by the DCGI with the approval of government from time to time and certain other conditions.  The new rules aim to promote clinical research in India by providing for a predictable, transparent and effective regulation for clinical trials and by ensuring faster accessibility of new drugs to the Indian population.

Centre leaves interest rate on Small Saving Schemes unchanged.

• The Ministry of Finance has announced that it will keep the interest rate unchanged on small savings schemes for the three-month period beginning April 1.

• The announcement covers small-saving schemes such as:

 ♦ Post Office Saving Accounts 

♦ Post Office Time Deposits 

♦ National Saving Certificates (NSC)

♦ Public Provident Fund (PPF)

♦ Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP)

♦ Sukanya Samriddhi The unchanged interest rate means the NSC (5 years) and the PPF (15 years) will fetch 8% interest, while money deposited in KVP will double in little over nine years. At the same time, if one is parking money in a fixed deposit with a maturity of five years with the State Bank of India, he/she will get 6.85%. Senior citizens will get half a percent more: 7.35%.

GAIL and BHEL signed to development of Solar Power Projects.

• State-owned gas utility GAIL India Ltd has signed MoU with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) for cooperation in the development of solar power projects.

• It aims at building a closer strategic partnership between the two Maharashtra PSUs for jointly pursuing commercial solar power projects through participation in tariff / Viability Gap Funding (VGF) based competitive bidding process.

SPORTS:

Justice D.K. Jain to be the Ethics Officer of the Indian cricket board.

• Supreme Court-appointed BCCI Ombudsman Justice D.K.Jain (retd) has been appointed to serve as the Ethics Officer of the Indian cricket board on an ad-hoc basis. According to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), provisions in its constitution require an Ethics Officer to be appointed to determine and decide issues related to conflict of interest.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

Centre to infuse Rs.5,042 crore into BoB.

• The Finance Ministry has decided to infuse Rs.5,042 crore into state-owned Bank of Baroda (BoB) ahead of the merger of two other public sector lenders Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with BoB. The merger of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank with Bank of Baroda would be effective from April 1.

PNB sells 13.01 percent stake in Housing Finance Arm for Rs.1851.60 crore

• State-owned lender Punjab National Bank (PNB) had sold stake in its housing finance arm, PNB Housing Finance (PNBHF) to General Atlantic Group and VardePartners for Rs 1,851 crore at Rs.850 per share.

• Both VardePartners and General Atlantic Group will buy 1.089 crore shares each at Rs 850 per share in the housing finance company from Punjab National Bank. After the transaction, Punjab National Bank will continue to hold a strategic stake of 19.78% in the housing finance company and will remain the promoter and strategic shareholder of the company.

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