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Important Current Affairs of 22th March

NATIONAL:

Lok Sabha passed the Indian Forest Amendment Bill, 2017.

• The Lok Sabha passed the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill replaces Indian Forest (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind in November 2017 and amends Indian Forest Act, 1927.

• Though bamboo was taxonomically a grass, it was earlier defined as a tree under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and its felling and transit required permission. It was a major impediment for bamboo cultivation by farmers on non-forest land.

• The bill omits bamboo grown in non-forest areas from the definition of trees. The omission thereby exempts it from requiring permits for felling or transportation of bamboo grown in non-forest areas. With this, bamboo grown in non-forest areas ceases to be a tree.

• It will encourage bamboo plantation by farmers, which will contribute to doubling farmers income by 2022.  The Indian Forest Act, 1927 consolidates laws relating to forests, the transit of forest-produce and duty to be levied on them. Under it, the definition of the tree includes palms, stumps, bamboos, brush-wood, and canes.

Indias to fight hypothermia, Bracelets from Bengaluru saving babies in Papua New Guinea

• Bempu is made in India Hypothermia alert device and the Bempu was invented in 2016 by Bengaluru-based Ratul Narain, who is an alumnus of Stanford University. Currently, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is using the device extensively in PNG, in southwestern Pacific to save newborns from extreme cold and sudden drop in temperature.

•  The facility has so far been used largely in Henganofi district, Eastern Highlands province of the country. It was used for children with less than 2.5kg birth weight. Eastern Highlands province was chosen for the pilot as it’s one of the coldest terrains in PNG.

CBSE launches app Shiksha Vani.

• Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) launched its podcast app, 'Shiksha Vani'. It will be used to send out major announcements made by the board and is expected to be the quickest way to information. The first official circular on the app confirmed the beginning of the evaluation process of the 2019 Board Examinations.

ADB to invest USD 50 million in Avaada Energy for expansion of solar projects in India.

• The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will invest $50 million in Indian renewable energy independent power producer Avaada Energy Private Limited, to expand its solar energy generation capacity in India. Avaada is a developer of utility-scale, rooftop, and off-grid solar projects. According to the ADB, this investment will contribute to the Indian government’s goal to increase the share of renewable energy generation capacity from about 20% in 2018 to 40% by 2030. It will also help to reduce India's emission intensity of its gross domestic product by 33-35 per cent by 2030. The company has secured power purchase agreements of about 1,700 megawatts.

India's deepest shaft cave discovered in Meghalaya.

• India's deepest shaft cave Krem Um Ladaw has been discovered in Meghalaya's East Khasi Hills district during the annual 'Caving in the Abode of the Clouds Expedition'. The cave has a 105 m deep shaft entrance passage.

• This comes a year after the world's longest sandstone cave Krem Puri was discovered in Meghalaya. With all these discoveries, Meghalaya has become on of the top caving regions of the world. Meghalaya has 1,700 caves and cave locations of which over 1000 have been explored or partially explored.

INTERNATIONAL:

FAO expressed its concerns over armyworms.

• The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has expressed concerns over the increasing menace of Crop-damaging armyworms in Asia. Farming in several Asian countries is under threat from Armyworms, a type of crop-damaging insects that have munched their way from America and across Africa.  These flying insects arrived in India in July and have since spread to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, and China's Yunnan province.

• These insects feed mostly on maize and can feed on several species of crops, including rice and sugarcane. Armyworms which are native to the Americas have been moving eastwards since 2016 sweeping across Africa where they caused $1-3 billion in damage, before arriving in Asia. 

• The FAO had convened a meeting of officials from affected countries and experts for discussing ways to limit armyworm infestations amid a "growing sense of alarm". FAO called on the nations to work together since pest has no respect for international boundaries and it threatens food security, economy, domestic and international trade

India signals to boycott China's Belt and Road Forum for second time.

• China's second Belt and Road Forum for a second time, saying no country can participate in an initiative that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity. India boycotted the first Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in 2017 after protesting to Beijing over the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) overriding New Delhi's sovereignty concerns.

• Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently said that next month China plans to hold a much bigger, second BRF which will also be attended by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. Speculation is rife whether India would attend the second BRF as China has deepened its commitment to expand the USD 60 billion CPEC, which aims to connect China's Xinjiang province with Pakistan's Gwadar port with a host of road, rail, gas and oil pipelines. China has also undertaken a host of energy projects under the aegis of the CPEC.

India and Sri Lanka to conduct joint military exercise Mitra Shakti VI.

• India and Sri Lanka is to conduct joint military exercise Mitra Shakti VI from 26 March to 8 April at Sri Lanka.  At the Military Exercise Mitra Shakti VI India would be represented by the Bihar Regiment. Gemunu Watch Battalion of Sri Lankan Army will be representing the Sri Lankan side. The exercise aims to build and promote close relations between armies of both the countries and to enhance the ability of joint exercise commander to take military contingents of both nations under command.

Jagmeet Singh made history in the House of Commons.

• Indian-origin Jagmeet Singh made history in the House of Commons, a component of Canada’s Parliament, as the first non-white leader of a major opposition party in the country. Singh, 40, the leader of the New Democratic Party, was elected in federal by-elections held on February 25. Singh’s first words as an elected lawmaker were about last week’s terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand.

First ever High-Level Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Cooperation (HLD-IPC) held in Jakarta, Indonesia.

• The Government of Indonesia hosted the first ever High-Level Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Cooperation (HLD-IPC) in its capital city Jakarta.

• The theme of the HLD was “Towards a Peaceful, Prosperous, and Inclusive Region”.

• It was inaugurated by Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

• The representatives from India, Australia, US, Brunei Darussalam, Japan, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand and China apart from 10 member ASEAN countries.

• The main objective behind this meet was to urge all participating governments to talk openly about their plans for increasing cooperation and for building trust in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean region.

SPORTS:

Former hockey Captain Sardar Singh appointed in Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) standing committee.

• A total of 13 Indian Olympic Association members, including former India hockey captain Sardar Singh, have been named in various Standing Committees of the Olympic Council of Asia at its 38th General Assembly in Bangkok.

• Singh has been elected in the athletes standing committee, while IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta was named in the culture standing committee. Hockey India secretary general Mohd. Mustaque Ahmad is in the media standing committee, while Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwala and Lalit Bhanot have been elected in the sports for environment and sports standing committees respectively. All the members have been elected for a four-year term from 2019 to 2023.

Abu Dhabi signed to host T10 League for next five years.

• Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi, will be the new home of T10 cricket for the next five years, starting with the 2019 season. The first match of the T10 League 2019 will be held on October 23. In Cricket, there are two short formats so far, that is, ODI and T-20. Now, brace for T-10. T10 was first introduced to the UAE in 2017. With eight squads vying for victory in games with an explosive pace, players featured have included Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik, Shane Watson and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed.

DAYS:

World Down Syndrome Day observed on March 21.

• Recognizing the need to support people suffering from Down Syndrome, the WHO (world Health Organization) on 20th December 2007, recognized March 21st as ‘World Down Syndrome Day’. Following the decision of WHO, the United Nations General Assembly also designated the same date as “World Down Syndrome Day” on 19th December 2011.

• Since 2012 “World Down Syndrome Day” has been observed annually on 21st March. World Down Syndrome Day 2019 theme is “Leave no one behind”. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder causing a delayed physical and mental growth in individuals.

• Children or adults suffering from Down Syndrome have lower IQ and learning ability along with characteristic facial features. A young adult with Down Syndrome has an average IQ of 50; equivalent to that of a normal 9 years old child.

World Water Day is celebrated on 22nd March.

• The World Water Day designated by the United Nations is celebrated on 22nd March every year. The first World Water Day was commemorated in 1993. The theme for World Water Day 2019 is ‘Leaving no one behind’. This is an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water for all by 2030.  To ‘leave no one behind’ focus on taking efforts towards people including those who have been marginalized or ignored.  Regulatory and legal frameworks must recognise the right to water for all people, and sufficient funding must be fairly and effectively targeted at those who need it most.

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