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    Important Current Affairs of 23th March

    NATIONAL:

    Uttarakhand plans to introduce caravans in major spots to boost tourism.

    • The government of Uttarakhand in a bid to promote tourism will be introducing mobile caravans or motor homes equipped with every facility you can expect to find in a regular house. The portable homes will enable you to access remote locations. The plan also includes the development of parks for the caravans to be stationed.

    • These complexes will provide water, electricity and waste disposal facilities. This way, coupled with the government’s endeavour to build homestays in and around popular tourist spots, soon most Himalaya vistas will be enjoyable from your windowsill. We are working on a plan to introduce fleets of mobile caravans equipped with all facilities available in homes, which will be introduced soon.

    Corporate Affairs Ministry releases national guidelines on responsible business conduct

    • Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs released the National Guidelines on responsible business conduct and revised the National Voluntary Guidelines on social, environmental and economic responsibilities of business, 2011.

    • These guidelines on responsible business conduct aim to urge businesses to actualise the following principles in letter and spirit:

    •  Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity in a manner that is ethical, transparent and accountable.

    • Businesses should provide goods and services in a manner that is sustainable and safe.

    •   Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains.

    •  Businesses should respect the interests of and be responsive to all their stakeholders.

    •  Businesses should respect and promote human rights.

    •  Businesses should respect and make efforts to protect and restore the environment.

    CSK to donate IPL opener proceeds to families of Pulwama attack.

    • The cricket extravaganza Indian Premier League begins on Saturday with its 12th edition. Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will take on Royal Challengers, Bangalore at Chennai in the opening game.  According to the CSK director, the entire ticket proceeds of this match will be given to the families of CRPF personnel killed in the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama. Another IPL team, Kings XI Punjab, recently donated five lakh rupees each to families of five CRPF soldiers killed in the Pulwama attack.

    India Post released stamp cover on Ice Stupa in Leh.

    • India Post released a special stamp cover on Ice Stupa in Leh at an event in the presence of Himalayan Institute of Alternatives Ladakh founder Sonam Wangchuk who spearheaded the Ice Stupa initiative.  Ice Stupas refer to artificial glaciers. The water from these artificial glaciers melt in the springtime, just when the fields need Leh lies in the cold desert region and most villages in the region face acute water shortage in the streams whereas in June there is an excess of water and even flash flooding due to the fast melting of the snow and glaciers in the mountains. By September all farming activities end and yet a smaller stream flow throughout the winter steadily but wastefully going into the Indus river without being of use to anybody.

    • Ice Stupas are aimed at reducing water crisis in the region and also to convey a message to the world that how the Mountain people are forced to do such innovative ideas to solve the water crises, Ice Stupas also sends a message to all the people who live in big cities to not use resources in such a way that it creates problem for mountain people.

    INTERNATIONAL:

    New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons.

    • New Zealand imposed an immediate ban on assault weapons following the Christchurch massacre that claimed the lives of 50 mosque-goers. Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern announced assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect, making a pledge to ensure that nothing like Christchurch massacre ever occurs in the Pacific nation again. About New Zealand Capital: Wellington Currency: New Zealand dollar.

    SPORTS:

    BWF badminton rankings 2019: Lakshya, Riya break into top 100.

    • Young Indian shuttlers Lakshya Sen and Riya Mookerjee broke into the top-100 among Men’s and Women’s singles players in the latest World Badminton Rankings. Making a massive jump of 28 places, Lakshya Sen is placed 76th. Riya Mookerjee climbed up 19 spots to be placed 94th. In the women's singles rankings, P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal are static with Sindhu at sixth and Saina at ninth position.

    • Japan's Kento Momota is leading the men's chart while Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying is topping the women's singles list. Among men, B Sai Praneeth also moved up three places to 19th. Kidambi Srikanth remains static and is the best placed Indian in the men's rankings at seventh. He is followed by Sameer Verma (14th), H S Prannoy (24th), Subhankar Dey (43rd), Parupalli Kashyap (48th), Ajay Jayram (52nd) and Sourav Verma (53rd).

    India to face Nepal for title clash at SAFF Women's Championship.

    • In football, India clinched the SAFF Women's Championship for the fifth time in a row, defeating hosts Nepal 3-1 in the final at Biratnagar. In the first half, Dalmia Chhibber of India scored the first goal of the match which was equalled by Nepal's Sabitra Bhandari at the 33rd minute. In the second half, Grace Dengmei scored the second goal at 63rd minute and Anju Tamang scored third and decisive goal in the 76th minute.

    BANKS AND ECONOMY:

    Fitch Cuts India GDP Growth Forecast For FY20 To 6.8%.

    • Fitch Ratings cut India’s economic growth forecast for the next financial year starting April 1, to 6.8% from its previous estimate of 7%, on weaker than expected momentum in the economy. The rating agency also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7% from 7.3% and 7.1% from 7.3%, respectively.

    Defence Ministry clears proposal to buy 10 lakh 'Made in India' hand grenades for Army.

    • The Rs 500 crore proposal comes shortly after the Defence Ministry cleared the acquisition of assault rifles and signed a joint venture with Russia to manufacture AK-203 rifles for the infantry units of the Indian Army. The new hand grenades will replace the existing inventory, HE-36 grenades manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board.

    • The multi-mode grenades have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Recently, the government also signed a contract worth Rs 700 crore for procurement of 70,000 Sig Sauer assault rifles with a US manufacturer.

    RBI denies IDBI Banks proposal to name change.

    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has turned down IDBI Bank’s proposal to change its name following the transfer of a controlling 51% stake to LIC, insurance behemoth, from the government of India.  The board of IDBI Bank had, last month, sought the RBI’s approval for a change in the name of the lender to either LIC IDBI Bank or LIC Bank following the takeover by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). However, RBI did not elaborate on the reasons for denial by the regulator for changing the name.

    PFC to buy 52.63 percent govt shares in REC for Rs 14,500 crore by March-end.

    • State-owned Power Finance Corporation (PFC) will acquire the entire 52.63 per cent shares of the government in REC for Rs 14,500 crore by the month-end, a move that will help the centre to meet its disinvestment target.

    • REC Limited is a public Infrastructure Finance Company in India’s power sector. The company is a Public Sector Undertaking and finances and promotes rural electrification projects across India. The government proposes to raise Rs 80,000 crore from disinvestment during the fiscal ending March 19 and has so far raised Rs 56,473.32 crore. With completion of PFC-REC deal, the amount will increase to over Rs 70,000 crore.

    AWARDS:

    Brazilian astronomer Marcelo Gleiser wins 2019 Templeton Prize.

    • Brazilian physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser (60) was awarded 2019 Templeton Prize worth $1.4 million for his work on blending science and spirituality. It makes him first Latin American to win this award. Templeton Prize is awarded annually on person for outstanding his/her contributions in affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Mother Teresa was the first winner in 1973. Some of its other recipients include Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1975), Dalai Lama (2012) etc. In 2018, it was awarded to King Abdullah II of Jordan.

    OBITUARIES:

    India-Pakistan war hero, Captain M.N. Samant died aged 89 years.

    • Captain Mohan Narayan Rao Samant of the Indian Navy, a 1971 India-Pakistan war hero, who was honoured by Bangladesh as a ‘Friend of Liberation War’, has passed away at the age of 89. The Maha Vir Chakra awardee was instrumental in India waging a covert maritime war against shipping in the then East Pakistan. He had trained over 400 Bengali college students as maritime commandos for carrying out mass raids and inflicting damages to Pakistani shipping vessels in the run up to the 1971 war.

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    Important Current Affairs of 21 March

    INTERNATIONAL:

    India attacks UNSC for Progressively Undermining UN General Assembly in finding solutions for global challenges.

    • India and UN General Assembly must take lead in finding solutions to the challenges faced by the world, slamming the Security Council for "progressively undermining" the authority of the 193-member global body. India's deputy permanent representative K Nagaraj Naidu said on Monday the growing number of complex challenges facing the world, like those related to peace and security, climate change and sustainable development that cut across boundaries and regions can be addressed only through a genuine multilateral and participative process.

    • The prerogatives and authority of the General Assembly have been progressively undermined by the Security Council through its frequent attempts to redefine its scope of competence through wider and permissive interpretations of what constitutes a threat to international peace and security and by engaging in discussions on issues that clearly fall within the purview of the General Assembly.

    Cyclothon held on the occasion of World Sparrow Day.

    • A colourful cyclothon was organised in Berhampur on the occasion of World Sparrow Day, March 20th, to mark the progress of making Ganjam the first sparrow-friendly district of Odisha. The event aimed at spreading awareness about the rising number of vehicles causing air pollution, which, in turn, affects the avian population.

    • A large number of cyclists donning sparrow masks along with a sparrow mascot took part in this cycle rally organised by youth environmental organisation Anchalika Vikash Parishad (AVP) and the Forest Department.

    Nirav Modi was denied bail in London.

    • ndian businessman Nirav Modi who was accused in the Rs.13,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case was denied bail in London, despite offering the court assurances including £500,000 as security.  Mr.Modi is now due to appear before Emma Arbuthnot, the Chief Magistrate of Westminster Magistrates Court, who ordered Vijay Mallya’s extradition on March 29.  The hearing before District Judge Marie Mallon took place a day after Mr. Modi was arrested at a bank branch in London by the Metropolitan Police.

    SAIL launched Smart Garbage Bins.

    • Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has launched smart garbage bins made of stainless steel which integrates technology for smart waste management. Smart Garbage Bins The IOT (Internet of Things) enabled Gazelle sensors Smart Garbage Bins will send signals to the garbage collection vehicle about the 'fill-up' position of the bin. This provides for better cleaning and lower human intervention.

    • These Smart Garbage Bins made up of SAIL SALEM stainless steel will be installed in underground Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) pits at the Smart Garbage Station. This will help prevent the spread of stink and diseases. There will be separate bins for recyclable and non-recyclable wastes.  Initially, these Smart Garbage Bins will be placed at one each at Kamala Nagar in North and BhikajiCama Place in South Delhi.

    Kazakhstan renames capital Astana as 'Nursultan' after ex-President.

    • Kazakhstan's Parliament has voted to rename the country's capital Astana as 'Nursultan', in honour of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan's new President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had proposed the move to rename the capital in honour of Nazarbayev, who announced his resignation on March 19 after 30 years in power. Nazarbayev's daughter, Dariga, was elected speaker of the Senate.

    Google unveiled video game streaming service Stadia.

    • Google unveiled its on-demand video-game streaming service Stadia, built for Chrome, Android and TVs, at the 2019 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. Stadia's 'Crowd Play' feature will let people, watching a YouTube live stream, to actually join the streamer's game. The service will initially be launched this year in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe.

    Italy to join China's Belt and Road Initiative.

    • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pledged to make Italy the first Group of Seven nation to join China's ambitious Belt and Road initiative (BRI). This move will help rebalance Italy's trade with the Asian nation. Four Italian ports could reportedly be opened to Chinese investments for BRI. The US has warned Italy against joining the Chinese initiative.

    BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

    South Indian Bank to issue Basel III compliant bonds.

    • South Indian Bank plans to raise up to Rs.250 crore by issuing Basel III compliant bonds. The Committee approved the information memorandum for issuance of rated, unsecured, redeemable, non-convertible, Basel III compliant, lower tier 2 bonds up to Rs.150 crore with an option to retain an over-subscription aggregating up to Rs.100 crore, aggregating to total issue size of Rs.250 crore.

    Vodafone Idea approves terms for Rs. 25,000 Crore worth Rights Issue at 60 percent discount.

    • India's largest telecom firm Vodafone Idea announced its board has approved ₹25,000 crore rights issue at a discount of around 60% to the current share prices. Vodafone Group and the Aditya Birla Group would contribute ₹11,000 crore and ₹7,250 crore, respectively. The issue will increase the number of Vodafone Idea shares by 229%. Vodafone Idea stock fell as much as 7.6 per cent to Rs. 29.60, its steepest intraday fall in almost two months.

    Mizoram Assembly passed Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019 to detect illegal foreigners

    • Mizoram Assembly passed a new bill named Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019 with an objective to detect foreigners illegally residing in Mizoram,who takes away the benefits of the citizen of Mizoram. As per the Bill, the Assembly will create the 2 registers namely one for the citizen residents and another for non-citizen residents of a village/area/town. This register comprises the name, details and passport size photographs of every individual in the state.

    NATIONAL:

    Social Media platforms to prevent violation of Code of Ethics during polls.

    • Social Media platforms and internet mobile Association of India (IAMAI) have adopted a Voluntary Code of Ethics for the forthcoming general elections. According to the code submitted to the election Committee, IAMAI and Social Media platforms, including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google, will create a high priority dedicated reporting mechanism and appoint dedicated teams during the polls for taking expeditious action on any reported violations

    • No political campaign will be allowed to run on major social media platforms in the last 48 hours before polling ends. It has also been agreed to provide a mechanism for political advertisers to submit pre-certified advertisements issued by the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee. 

    • The code also promises to facilitate transparency in paid political advertisements. The social media companies will take action on content reported by the nodal officer, expeditiously, in accordance with the law. IAMAI will act as the liaison between social media firms and the poll panel. Our correspondent reports that the code, which comes into operation with immediate effect, has been developed to ensure free, fair and ethical use of social media platforms to maintain the integrity of the electoral process. 

    Shark-faced plane lands at Delhi airport for the first time.

    • A shark-themed plane, an Embraer E190-E2 commercial jet, landed at the Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport for the first time. Last year, the shark-themed aircraft landed at Lhasa's Gonggar Airport (Tibet), one of the world's highest airports at 11,713 feet. E190-E2 is manufactured by Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer.

    IND INDO CORPAT 2019 was inaugurated at Port Blair.

    • The 33rd edition of India-Indonesia coordinated patrol (IND-INDO CORPAT) was inaugurated at Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The IND-INDO CORPAT 2019 is held from 19 Mar to 04Apr 2019.  Navies of both countries have been carrying out coordinated patrolling twice a year since 2002 in an effort to keep the Indian Ocean region (IOR) safe and secure for commercial shipping and international trade.  It also enhances mutual understanding and interoperability between the two navies.

    •  IND-INDO CORPAT 2019  From the Indonesian Side Naval Ship, KRI Sultan Thaha Syaifuddin and Maritime Patrol Aircraft CN-235 are taking part. Commodore Ashutosh Ridhorkar, Naval Component Commander, Andaman and Nicobar Command is leading the Indian side. During the exercise ships and aircraft from both the countries would undertake the patrolling on the respective sides of 236 nautical miles long International Maritime Boundary line.

    SpiceJet becomes first Indian low-cost airline to join IATA as a member.

    • Budget carrier SpiceJet has joined global airlines' grouping International Air Transport Association (IATA), becoming the first Indian low-cost carrier to get the membership. The membership would help SpiceJet, which has ambitious expansion plans, to have codeshares and agreements with other carriers. IATA has over 290 airlines as members. Other Indian members of the IATA include Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara.

    Indian-Omani group signs USD 3.8 billion deal to build Sri Lanka refinery.

    • India's Accord Group and Oman's oil ministry have signed a $3.85 billion deal to build an oil refinery in Sri Lanka. This is the biggest single pledge of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) ever made in the country. The project will be located near the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, which was handed over on a 99-year lease to a state-owned Chinese company. Privately-owned Accord Group will control 70 per cent of the joint venture and the Sultanate of Oman's Ministry of Oil and Gas the rest. The refinery is expected to produce 9 million metric tonnes of refined products a year for export from the Hambantota port, which serves the busiest East-West shipping route.

    India ranked 140th in the happiest country in the world 2019 list.

    • Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world 2019 for the second year in succession. The report was released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations on March 20. India secured 140th place, seven spots down from last year, on UN World Happiness Report- 2019. Indians are not as happy in 2019 as they were in 2018 and the country figures at 140th place, seven spots down from last year, on UN World Happiness Report- 2019

    •  The UN’s seventh annual World Happiness Report, which ranks the world’s 156 countries on “how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be”, also noted that there has been an increase in negative emotions, including worry, sadness, and anger. Pakistan is ranked 67th, Bangladesh 125th and China is placed at 93rd position, according to the report. People in war-torn South Sudan are the most unhappy, ranked 156th, with their lives.

    Mumbai social worker Gauri Sawant designated as first transgender election ambassador

    • A 38-year-old transgender activist Shree Gauri Sawant from Mumbai appointed as first transgender election ambassador by The Election Commission of India. There was no separate classification of transgenders as voters till 2014 but after that transgenders were first enrolled as voters along with males and females. Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA) appointed as Mr. K M Mammen as Chairman. Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA) appointed as Chairman & Managing Director of MRF Ltd Mr. K M Mammen as their chairman.

    SPORTS:

    Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch unveiled.

    • Tokyo 2020 Olympics unveiled a cherry-blossom shaped torch for the Games as the city prepares for the famed flower season to begin in coming days. The top part of the torch is shaped in the traditional emblem of the sakura, or cherry blossom using the same cutting-edge technology as in the production of Japan's bullet trains, the organisers said.

    • The shiny rose-gold torch, which is 71 centimetres (28 inches) long and weighs 1.2 kilograms (2 pounds 10 ounces), uses aluminium construction waste from temporary housing built for victims of the 2011 quake and tsunami. Fukushima was chosen as the starting point for the Olympic torch relay.  Japan has dubbed the 2020 Games the "Reconstruction Olympics" and wants to showcase recovery in regions devastated by the disaster.

    India bags over 350 medals at Special Olympics World Games.

    • India got more over than 350 medals at the Special Olympics World Games 2019 at Abu Dhabi in UAE, making the history for the country. The current medal tally stands at 85 Gold, 153 Silver and 124  Bronze totalling 362 medals. Some of the biggest names in world music will perform at the spectacular Closing Ceremony at Zayed Sports City.

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    Important Current Affairs of 18th March

    NATIONAL:

    New hydro policy will help to meet renewables target.

    • The Union Cabinet approval to the new hydroelectricity policy that, among other things, included large hydro projects within the ambit of renewable energy. Prior to the policy, only small hydro projects of a capacity of less than 25 MW were treated as renewable energy. Large hydro projects were treated as a separate source of energy.

    •  India’s renewable energy sector had an installed capacity of 75,055.92 MW as of February 2019, according to data with the Central Electricity Authority. This made up about 21.4% of the overall energy mix, with the rest coming from thermal, nuclear and large hydro sources.  With the inclusion of large hydro in renewable energy, the energy mix changes drastically. Renewable energy capacity would now be 1,20,455.14 MW or 34.4% of the overall energy mix.

    NGT directed 6 states to submit action plans for bringing air quality standards.

    • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed six States to submit by April 30 action plans for bringing air quality standards within the prescribed norms, failing which they would be liable to pay environment compensation of Rs.1 crore each.  A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel ordered the Chief Secretaries of Assam, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Nagaland governments to submit their plan within the stipulated time

    Second Scorpene submarine Khanderi ready for induction.

    • The Navy is set to induct the second Scorpene submarine Khanderi by early May. The remaining submarines in the series are in advanced stages of manufacturing and trials. Khanderi was launched into the water in January 2017 and has since been undergoing a series of trials.

    • Also, the fourth submarine Vela is ready to be launched into the water for trials around the same time depending on the ocean tide.  Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene submarines under technology transfer from Naval Group of France under a 2005 contract worth $3.75 bn.

    • After a series of delays in the project, the first submarine of the class Kalvari joined service in December 2017. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2020.

    India and Maldives agreed to cooperate on defence, development, health.

    • India and the Maldives discussed measures to strengthen ties and agreed to collaborate in the fields of defence, development cooperation, capacity building and health as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks with the country’s top leadership, including her Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid.

    • Ms. Swaraj and Maldivian Foreign Minister Shahid reviewed progress on important bilateral issues, including implementation of agreed outcomes of President Solih’s visit to India during 2018. She unveiled a plaque dedicating the renovated IGM Hospital to the people of Maldives in the city of Male. IGMH is the first and largest government health-care facility in the Maldives, built with Indian assistance.

    Nara Lokesh, Poonam Mahajan among Indians in Young Global Leaders list.

    • Andhra Pradesh IT minister Nara Lokesh, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan and Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain are among the Indians featuring in the list of Young Global Leaders, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). Telangana government's Chief Innovation Officer Phanindra Sama, SaveLife Foundation's Piyush Tewari and Kaleidofin's co-Founder Sucharita Mukherjee are also in the list. The list has 127 of the world's "most promising social activists, business leaders, public servants, artists and technologists under the age of 40".

    Climate Vulnerability Index Highest For Assam And Mizoram.

    • Indian scientists have developed a common framework for the assessment of climate change vulnerability in all the states in the Himalayan region. The assessment shows that the vulnerability index is the highest for Assam (0.72) and Mizoram (0.71). Sikkim is the least vulnerable state with the index being 0.42. Assam is highly vulnerable to climate change because of factors like low per capita income, deforestation, large number of marginal farmers, least area under irrigation, lack of alternative sources of income and high rates of poverty.

    ANNOUNCEMENTS AND LAUNCHES:

    Aviva Life Insurance launches Special Mentorship Programme Wings.

    • Aviva Life Insurance announced the launch of ‘Wings’, a specially designed mentorship program to empower the female workforce. Wings program is an initiative of the SHE division of Aviva Life Insurance for mentoring all the women employees in Aviva.

    BCCI announced Dream11 as official partner of VIVO IPL.

    • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), announced Dream11, India’s Biggest Sports Game, as the Official Partner for the VIVO Indian Premier League (IPL). This 4-year exclusive partnership will begin with the upcoming IPL 2019 season. Additionally, the ‘Official Fantasy Game’ of IPL will also be powered by Dream11.

    APPOINTMENTS:

    Santosh Jha appointed as The Next Ambassador Of India to the Republic Of Uzbekistan.

    • Santosh Jha presently Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Uzbekistan. Presently, Mr Jha working as Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Washington DC USA.

    Kotak Mahindra Bank has appointed KVS Manian, Gaurang Shah as board directors.

    • KVS Manian and Gaurang Shah appointed as Kotak Mahindra Bank ’s whole-time directors for a three-year term effective from the date of approval from the Reserve Bank of India. He is currently working as the president – corporate, an investment bank and Gaurang Shah is the president- group chief risk officer of the bank

    Pinaki Chandra Ghose named as Indias first Lokpal.

    • Pinaki Chandra Ghose is likely to be India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman or Lokpal. He is the former Supreme Court judge and current member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The decision was made by the PM-led high-level selection committee.  Mr.Ghose was appointed as judge of the Calcutta High Court in 1997 and went on to become Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh before his elevation to the Supreme Court in 2013. The Lokpal Act, which was passed in 2013 after a nationwide anti-corruption movement.

    • The act provides for setting up of Lokpal at the centre and Lokayuktas in the States to probe corruption complaints against top functionaries and public servants. A Lokpal is an anti-corruption authority or ombudsman who represents the public interest. The Lokpal has jurisdiction over all Members of Parliament, central government employees, including the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers in cases of corruption.

    SPORTS:

    Diksha, 18-yr-old becomes 2nd Indian golfer to win on Ladies European Tour.

    • Diksha Dagar became the second Indian woman golfer to win an event on Ladies European Tour after clinching South African Women's Open in Cape Town. Aditi Ashok was the first Indian to win on the Ladies European Tour after clinching Hero Women's Indian Open in Gurugram in 2016.

    OCA reinstated Chess in Asian Games 2022.

    • Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) decided to reinstate the Chess game to the Asian Games fold for the 2022 edition in Hangzhou. The top players welcomed the return of Chess.

    • The OCA General Assembly met in Bangkok on March 3 and its president Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad Al-Sabah officially confirmed the development to World Chess Federation (WCF) president Arkady Dvorkovich.

    • Chess was a part of the Asian Games programme at the 2006 edition in Doha and 2010 in Guangzhou. India won two gold medals at Doha, and two bronze in the 2010 edition at Guangzhou.

    T. Irfan became first Indian athlete to qualify for Tokyo Olympics.

    • A 29-year-old Indian athlete from Kerala, K.T. Irfan qualified for the Tokyo Olympics as he finished fourth in the men’s 20 kilometre category at the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan. He got qualified for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

    • He made the cut after finishing fourth at the Asian Race Walking Championship at Nomi in Japan.  The fourth-place finishes also ensured a berth in the upcoming International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship in Doha that begins in September. The Two other Indian race walkers, who qualified for the World Championship are Devinder and Ganapati.

    BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

    RBI allows HDFC Bank to hold only 9.9 percent in Bandhan Bank.

    • HDFC, India’s largest mortgage lender, which has agreed to merge its low-cost arm Gruh Finance Pvt. Ltd. with Bandhan Bank, can hold 9.9 percent in the bank, according to its exchange filing. That’s the maximum a non-banking finance company can own in a private bank. HDFC had sought approval for 14.96 percent.

    AWARDS:

    Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan received Padma Bhushan from President.

    • President Kovind presented Padma Bhushan to Shri Sankaralingam Nambi Narayanan for Science & Engineering. Shri Narayanan is an accomplished scientist with more than three decades of experience in Indian Space Research Organisation. The scientist was instrumental in developing the Vikas engine that would be used for the first PSLV that India launched.

    • But, Nambi Narayanan, who was falsely implicated in the ISRO spy case, was accused of selling state secrets comprising confidential test data from rocket and satellite launches. In 1994, Narayanan was arrested by Kerala police over espionage charges, which were dismissed by CBI in 1996. The Supreme Court declared him not guilty in 1998 and ordered Kerala to pay ₹50-lakh compensation over "mental torture" in 2018

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    Important Current Affairs 17th March 2019

    NATIONAL:

    India sets aspirational target for engineering exports at USD 200 bn by 2025.

    • India can achieve a three-fold "aspirational" increase in its engineering exports to reach $200 billion by 2025, if concerted efforts are made by the government and industry to develop a conducive ecosystem, and ensuring inputs at competitive prices, according to an EEPC India-Deloitte strategy paper. India's engineering exports, which contribute 25 per cent to the overall merchandise shipments, are projected to touch about $80-82 billion in the current financial year ending March 31.

    West Bengal has maximum first-time voters in Lok Sabha polls.

    • According to Election Commission, West Bengal has the maximum number of first-time voters, around 20.1 lakh, in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. WB is followed by Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, with around 16.7 lakh and 13.6 lakh first-time voters, respectively. The number of people eligible to vote has reportedly increased by 8.4 crore as compared to 2014 General Elections. Over 1.5 crore voters are in the age group of 18-19 years. These "young voters" constitute 1.66 per cent of the total electors.

    AFINDEX 2019 held at Pune.

    • Africa-India Joint Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX-19) between the Indian Army and 16 African nations will be conducted in Pune from March 18 to 27. The joint exercise would be held at Pune's Foreign Training Node at Aundh Military Station and College of Military Engineering in Kirkee. 

    Features of AFINDEX-19:

    ♦ 10 personnel, each from the participating nations from the African continent and personnel of Maratha Light Infantry of the Indian Army will participate in the joint exercise

    ♦ The exercise aims to train the participating contingents in Humanitarian Mine Assistance (HMA) and Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) under the United Nations Charter through practical

    ♦ Contingents from Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, Uganda, Niger & Zambia are part of the joint exercise together with officers from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar as Observers

    Erode Turmeric received GI tag.

    • Erode Turmeric has finally received GI tag from the Geographical Indication Registry. Erode is the city in the state of Tamil Nadu. The product to acquire GI tag has to indicate that a product of a particular origin has a certain quality or reputation or some other characteristics, which is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

    The uniqueness of the Erode Turmeric:

    ♦ Erode Turmeric is golden yellow in colour with resistance to pests after boiling

    ♦ Erode turmeric contains 2.5 to 4.5% of curcumin content

    ♦ Erode Turmeric is grown in hot moist conditions prevalent in the area with temperature ranging from 20 degrees to 37.9 degrees Celsius with an average of 600 to 800 mm rainfall in a year Geographical Indication defines the goods as originating in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory, provided a given quality reputation or other characteristics of the product are attributable to its geographical origin.

    Income Tax dept cracks down on terror funding in Kashmir valley.

    • Income Tax Department conducted search actions at 5 locations in the Kashmir Valley. Few places in Jammu were also searched. In a release, the CBDT said, these actions are part of the Department’s continued drive against use of black money by disruptive elements in the State.

    • It said, the operations also send a message of deterrence and obviation to those intending to vitiate the democratic process of free and fair elections.  The preliminary results are extremely encouraging. In the aggregate, undisclosed cash of one crore 44 lakh and unaccounted jewellery of 2.48 crore rupees has been seized.

    NITI Aayog and USAID organised IEMF.

    • Niti Ayog in association with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) organized the first workshop on the development of the India Energy Modelling Forum (IEMF). The workshop was organized under the Sustainable Growth Pillar of the India-U.S. Strategic Energy Partnership.

    •  IEMF aims to improve cooperation and coordination between modelling teams, the Government of India, knowledge partners and think-tanks, build the capacity of Indian institutions, and identify issues for joint modelling activities and future areas of research. The workshop featured eight expert sessions which saw discussions around the various aspects of setting up an India-centric energy modelling platform and was attended by various central government ministries and agencies.

    SPORTS:

    South Africas Duminy announces retirement from ODIs after 2019 World Cup.

    • The 2019 World Cup will be Duminy's third appearance in the tournament, having featured for South Africa in 2011 in the subcontinent and in 2015 in Australia and New Zealand. Allrounder Jean-Paul Duminy had already retired from Test cricket in September 2017 after featuring in 46 matches. Duminy has played 193 ODIs so far - scoring 5047 runs at an average of 37.39 - in addition to bagging 68 wickets.

    Argentina, Colombia set to co-host Copa America in 2020.

    • Argentina and Colombia have been chosen in principle to co-host the 2020 Copa America. The 2020 Copa América will be the 47th edition of the Copa América. 2019 Copa América will be  staged in Brazil between June 14 and July 7. The Copa América is the world's oldest international football tournament. The event was first held in 1916 in honour of the 100th anniversary of Argentina's independence—with Uruguay winning the inaugural title.

    Sourav Ganguly appointed as advisor of Delhi Capitals for IPL 2019.

    • Former India captain Sourav Ganguly was appointed as the advisor of Delhi Capitals (formerly known as Delhi Daredevils) for the upcoming edition of Vivo Indian Premier League (IPL), where he will work closely with the team’s head coach Ricky Ponting. With Captain Shreyas Iyer, Delhi Capitals will be facing Mumbai Indians on 24th March 2019 at the Wankhede Stadium.

    BANKS AND ECONOMY:

    State Bank of India launched YONO Cash for cardless withdrawal of cash.

    • State Bank of India launched ‘YONO Cash’ for cardless withdrawal of cash at over 16,500 SBI ATMs across the country. With this facility, customers can initiate the cash withdrawal process on the YONO app and set a six-digit YONO Cash PIN for the transaction.  They will also get a six-digit reference number for the transaction on their registered mobile number via SMS. The withdrawal has to be completed in the next 30 minutes at the nearest ATM. The initiative will also address their concern of using debit card at the ATMs for cash withdrawals by eliminating possible risk associated with it.

    AWARDS:

    Manmohan Singh presented the Business Line Changemaker of the Year award to Arun Jaitley.

    • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley received the award over successful implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The award was also presented to the petitioners against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalised homosexuality.

    Indian Embassy in Nepal awarded 200 scholarships to meritorious Nepali students.

    • The Indian Embassy in Nepal has announced 200 scholarships to meritorious Nepali students for continuing various undergraduate courses at colleges and universities. The scholarships were granted under the Golden Jubilee Scholarship scheme.

    • Golden Jubilee Scholarship scheme was initiated by the Indian Embassy in Nepal to mark the completion of 50 years of India-Nepal Economic Cooperation. This year the scholarship programme covered 36 undergraduate courses including MBBS, BDS, BE, BSc and BBA The recipients of the scholarships represent 50 districts of Nepal. Under the scheme, an MBBS/BDS student receives NRs. 4,000/- per month for five years, a BE student receives NRs. 4,000/- per month for four years and a student studying in other undergraduate courses receives NRs. 3,000/- per month for three years. Those provided scholarship included 45% of girls and 8% differently-abled students.

    INTERNATIONAL:

    India welcomes France's decision to sanction Masood Azhar.

    • India welcomed the decision taken by France to sanction Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar.  In a tweet, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, Azhar who is a Pakistan-based and his outfit is UN proscribed terrorist organisation who is responsible for the Pulwama terrorist attack. Earlier, France has decided to freeze all assets of Pakistan based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, JeM chief Masood Azhar, in the application of the country's Monetary and Financial Code.

    • The French government's Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France always been and always will be by India's side in the fight against terrorism.  France has decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets in the application of the Monetary and Financial Code.                                  

    OBITUARIES:

    Goa CM Manohar Parrikar Passes Away Aged 63 After Battle with Pancreatic Cancer.

    • Manohar Parrikar, Goa Chief Minister and former defence minister, has passed away at the age of 63 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Parrikar was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February 2018 and had been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York since.

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    Important Current Affairs of 16th March

    NATIONAL:

    Kent RO receives the Best Domestic Water Purifier Award 2019.

    • Kent RO Systems Pvt. Ltd. has been bestowed with the Best Domestic Water Purifier Award 2018-19 for its RO (Reverse Osmosis)+ UV + UF (Ultra Filtration) technology at the Water Digest Water Awards organized at The Lalit, New Delhi. Water Digest Water Awards is backed by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and UNESCO.

    • Reverse Osmosis (RO) removes the all pollutants and contaminants from water, UV also known as Ultra Violet Radiation kills bacteria and virus and Ultra Filtration, an additional layer of security which works without electricity, filters remnants of microbial bodies. Thus, a combination of all three provides multistage purification which makes the water 100% safe and pure.

    Students of IIT Kharagpur developed app to detect Fake Notes.

    • The Students from IIT- Kharagpur has devised a code for a Smartphone application to address the problem of detecting fake Indian currency. Detecting Fake Currency Students of IIT- Kharagpur has developed an image processing application which can detect counterfeit currency.

    •  A user can upload a currency note image and the mobile app would verify its authenticity using 25 features extracted from the front and rear side of the currency note. If the app finds the discrepancies with the features it reports about the failure checkpoints.  Smart India Hackathon 2019 organised by Ministry of Human Resource and Development in association with AICTE, i4c and Persistent Systems. It provides an unique Open Innovation Model for identifying new and disruptive technology innovations to solve the challenges faced in the country.

    NGT suspended the expansion of Udupi thermal plant.

    • The Principal Bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi, has ordered the suspension of the Environmental Clearance of August 1, 2017, granted for the expansion of the thermal plant of Udupi Power Corporation Ltd. (UPCL) at Yellur in Udupi district by addition of 2 x 800 MW units to raise ultimate capacity to 2,800 MW.  The move is after the appeal of an NGO which opposed the thermal power plant at Yellur in Udupi district. The tribunal held that clearances granted for the setting up of the power plant were illegal. It directed the State government to conduct a study of carrying capacity of the area. It also ordered the company to pay Rs.1 lakh as cost to the petitioners.

    Karnataka government plans for cloud seeding project.

    • The government of Karnataka is planning for cloud seeding project due to drought and to influence the upcoming monsoon and capture as much water as possible from the rain clouds. The State government has called the tenders for cloud seeding operations to enhance rainfall during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020. The cost is expected to be Rs.50 crore per year.

    • Earlier Efforts of Karnataka Karnataka had undertaken a similar exercise through Project Varshadhare in 2017.  Cloud Seeding is a process of intervening chemically to induce precipitation rain or snow from clouds. Cloud seeding aims to facilitate and accelerate the process by making available chemical nuclei for condensation to take place.

    • The agents used as nuclei are iodides of silver or potassium, dry ice (solid carbon dioxide), or liquid propane.

    Joint exercises to be conducted by US army and NSG in Hyderabad.

    • The US military forces and the Indian National Security Guard (NSG) is conducting joint exercises in Hyderabad. This would be a part of the US-India security partnership. The aim of these exercises is to enhance preparedness and tackle any crisis that affects the public health and safety. The exercise is witnessing participation by the 1st Battalion and the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) stationed out of Okinawa, Japan. The exercise will be overseen from the US Embassy, New Delhi and US Special Operations Pacific Command at Camp HM Smith in Hawaii.

    President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Gandhinagar.

    • President of India Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (FINE) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. 10th Biennial National Grassroots Innovation awards were also distributed by the President on the occasion.

    • The event will provide a platform to the innovators for building the linkages with potential stakeholders whose support can improve the prospects in the coming years for the betterment of the society. FINE is a unique initiative of the Office of the President of India to recognize, respect and reward grassroots innovations and foster a supportive ecosystem. President Kovind awards National Grassroots Innovators.

    • For innovations in new varieties of agriculture crops, Prakash Singh Raghuvanshi from Uttar Pradesh has been awarded lifetime achievement award.

    USFDA approved Glen marks generic version of acne treatment gel.

    • Glenmark Pharmaceuticals received its final approval from the United States Food & Drug Administration (USFDA), the US health regulator, for its generic version of BenzaClin gel used in the treatment of acne.

    • The approval granted to Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc, USA (Glenmark) by the USFDA is for Clindamycin and Benzoyl Peroxide Gel, 1 per cent|5 per cent, a generic version of BenzaClin1 Gel, 1 per cent/ 5 per cent, of Valeant Bermuda. Citing IQVIATM sales data, Glenmark said BenzaClin Gel, 1 per cent/ 5 per cent had sales of $99.4 million in the 12-month period ended January 2019. Glenmark’s current portfolio consists of 151 products authorised for distribution in the US with 53 ANDAs (Abbreviated New Drug Applications) pending approval with the USFDA.

    SPORTS:

    India to host FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in 2020.

    • International Football Federation (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino announced that India will host the U-17 Women's World Cup in 2020. The tournament in India will be the seventh edition. By virtue of being the host country, India will take part in the tournament for the first time in its history. This will be the second FIFA tournament India will be hosting, after the U-17 Men's World Cup in 2017. The U-17 women's tournament began in 2008, when New Zealand hosted it. Spain are the current champions.

    ESPN World Fame 100 list: Virat Kohli the only Indian in Top 10.

    • This year’s ESPN World Fame 100 list, an annual list of the most famous athletes on the planet, placed the Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo at the top spot, followed by former Basketball player Lebron James and FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi. Indian skipper, Virat Kohli, stands on the seventh position and is the only Indian athlete in the top 10 club, whereas Dhoni is placed on the 13th position. There were only three women in the list- Serena Williams (17), Maria Sharapova (37) and Sania Mirza (93); making Sania Mirza the only Indian woman athlete to feature in the list.

    Karnataka defeated Maharashtra to win Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

    • Karnataka defeated Maharashtra to win their maiden Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore. With the win, Karnataka set a record of most number of wins in a row by an Indian domestic team as they won 14 T20 matches to lift the coveted T20 trophy.

    Narasimha appointed as mediator to resolve disputes of cricket administration by SC.

    • Supreme Court appointed senior advocate P. S. Narasimha, as a mediator for resolving various disputes related to cricket administration in the country. A bench of Justices S. A. Bobde and A. M. Spare was informed by P. S. Narasimha that former apex court judge Justice (retd) D. K. Jain has assumed charge as the ombudsman of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The bench also asked P. S.

    Winners list of 2019 All England Open Badminton Championships.

    • All England Open Badminton Championships 2019 was held from 6 Mar 2019 to 10 Mar 2019 at Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom. The Winners in the various categories of the are: Men's Singles: Japan's Kento Momota Women's Singles: China's Chen Yufei Men's Doubles: Indonesia's Mohammad Ahsan & Hendra Setiawan Women's Doubles: China's Chen Qingchen & Jia Yifan Mixed Doubles: China's Zheng Siwei & Huang Yaqiong All England Open Badminton Championships All England Open Badminton Championships held annually in England is the world's oldest badminton tournament. The genesis of the tournament can be traced to open tournament held in the English town of Guildford in 1898, the success of this tournament paved the way for the All England's inaugural edition, which was held at London's Horticultural Halls in 1899.

    INTERNATIONAL:

    India gets first TIR shipment via Chabahar Port from Afghanistan.

    • he first shipment under the United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention arrived in India from Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar Port. TIR allows goods to be sealed in compartments and requires no need for physical checking of the contents.

    • This enables shipments to pass through countries without being opened at borders. India joined the TIR Convention (the United Nations Customs Convention on International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets) on June 15, 2017. India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar in Iran in December 2018.

    Geographical Indication (GI) tag granted to Coorg Arabica Coffee and 4 other varieties of Coffee by the Geographical Indications Registry.

    • Geographical Indication (GI) tags have been granted to Coorg Arabica Coffee, Wayanad Robusta Coffee, Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee, Araku Valley Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee, by the Geographical Indications Registry on 1st March 2019. Coorg Arabica Coffee is grown in Kodagu, Karnataka. Wayanad Robusta Coffee is grown in Wayanad, Kerala. Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee are grown in Chikmagalur, Karnataka.

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    Important Current Affairs of 15th March

    NATIONAL:

    Brookfield acquires RILs East West Pipeline

    • India Infrastructure Trust, an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT), sponsored by Brookfield, will acquire the East West Pipeline for Rs. 3,000 crore.

    • The pipeline is owned by Reliance Industries Ltd’s promoters’ family.  As a part of the transaction, the InvIT would acquire 100% equity interest in Pipeline Infrastructure Private Ltd. which currently owns and operates the pipeline.

    • Following this acquisition by Brookfield, the existing pipeline usage agreement has been reworked.  Now, reserved capacity will be cut to 33 Million Metric Standard Cubic Meter Per Day (MMSCMD) against 56 MMSCMD and any unutilised capacity payment by RIL will be the difference between Rs.500 crore a quarter and actual revenue earned by PIPL.

    DRDO successfully test fired Man Portable Anti-tank Guided Missile

    • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully test-fired Man Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM) in the desert ranges of Rajasthan.

    • The MPATGM is a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) comes loaded with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead. It has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometers. The indigenously developed missile has features like a state-of-the-art imaging infrared radar seeker with integrated avionics.

    Arecanut Gets Its First GI Tag For Sirsi Supari

    • Registrar of Geographical Indications, Government of India, accorded a GI tag, ‘Sirsi Supari’, to arecanut grown in Sirsi, Siddpaur and Yellapur taluks of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka. The Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (TSS) Ltd, a Sirsi-based agri cooperative, is the registered proprietor of the GI ‘Sirsi Supari’.

    NTPC partners with Indian Railways for fly ash transportation

    • State-run National Thermal Power Corporation Ltd. (NTPC) has teamed up with the Indian Railways for fly ash transportation. The partnership is to help enhance ash utilisation at Rihand and Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power plants.  NTPC had signed a memorandum of understanding with Hazipur-based East Central Railway Zone for transportation of fly ash under Indian Railways’ Special Freight Train Operator scheme.

    IFFM to be from 29th March at Malappuram, Kerala

    • The 77th International Film Festival of Malappuram (IFFM) organised by the Rasmi Film Society will be held at Malappuram, Kerala on March 29, 30 and 31. Actor Indrans will inaugurate the festival at the Municipal bus-stand auditorium, named after filmmaker Mrinal. Sen.V.C. Abhilash’s Aalorukkam will be the inaugural film. There will be 11 films in the World, Indian and Malayalam categories.

    RInfra to sell Delhi-Agra Toll Road in Rs 3,600 crore deal

    • Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has signed a "definitive binding agreement" with Singapore-based Cube Highways and Infrastructure for sale of its 100 per cent stake in Delhi-Agra (DA) Toll Road Pvt Ltd. The deal is valued over Rs 3,600 crore.

    • In addition, NHAI claims of Rs 1,200 crore to be filed by DA Toll Road will flow directly to Reliance Infrastructure. DA Toll Road Pvt Ltd is the special purpose vehicle (SPV) of RInfra, which operates the 180 kilometre long six-lane road that connects the national capital with Agra on National Highway-2.

    ECI to launch Observer App

    • The Election Commission of India (ECI) is to launch the Observer App, a mobile application, that will help poll observers to submit reports.

    •  The poll observers will get all the important notifications and alerts through the ‘Observer App’. It will also help them get their deployment status and download the ID card. As the observers will be involved in real-time disposal of cases of violation of the Model Code of Conduct and expenditure received through another mobile application ‘cVIGIL’, those details will also be available on the ‘Observer App’.

    BANK AND ECONOMICS:

    Russia releases coin commemorating annexation of Crimea.

    • A new coin that features the Crimea or Kerch Strait Bridge released by Russia’s central bank, to mark Crimea’s reunification with Russia. Two million new five ruble (about $0.08, €0.07) coins were pressed which depict an outline of the peninsula which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

    RBI categorises IDBI Bank as private sector lender

    • IDBI Bank has been categorised as a private sector bank for regulatory purposes with effect from January 21, 2019.

    • This follows  Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) acquiring 51 per cent of the total paid-up equity share capital of the bank. In April 2005, IDBI Bank was categorised under a new sub-group, ‘other public sector banks,’ by the RBI.

    • The Bank has a high proportion of bad loans. In another release, the RBI announced that the State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank will continue to be identified as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs). D-SIB means that a bank is 'too big to fail'.

    DAY:

    World Consumer Rights Day is observed on 15th March

    • The consumer movement marks 15th March with World Consumer Rights Day every year, as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs. The theme for World Consumer Rights Day 2019 is ‘Trusted Smart Products’.

    • The day demands that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights. World Consumer Rights Day was inspired by President John F Kennedy, who sent a special message to the US Congress on 15th March 1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights. He was the first world leader to do so.

    • This World Consumers Rights Day highlights what consumers want and need from a connected world. This year over 100 members in over 90 countries are coming together to mark World Consumer Rights Day.

    AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

    M.R.Kumar takes charge as Chairman of LIC

    • M.R.Kumar, the newly-appointed chairman of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), has taken charge on 14th March. Mr.Kumar took over from Hemant Bhargava who had been the acting chairman since January 2019. Mr.Kumar had joined LIC as a direct recruit officer in 1983.  The government had also named two MDs for LIC, Vipin Anand and T.C. Suseel Kumar.

    Sweden's 16-year-old Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

    • Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student and activist has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in climate activism and fighting global warming. She began her weekly protest in August 2018 by riding her bicycle to the Swedish Parliament with ''School strike for climate'' sign.

    • The #FridaysForFuture movement went viral and spread over 80 countries. If she were to win, she would be the youngest recipient since Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai, who was 17 when she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

    Padmanaban Gopalan bagged the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region

    • Social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu, Padmanaban Gopalan, founder of No Food Waste named the winner of the Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region worth 3,000 Pounds at a ceremony at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. He was given the honour for his work towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Zero Hunger with his innovative system of recovering excess food to distribute to those in need. 

    Army Chief Bipin Rawat conferred PVSM by President Kovind

    • Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was conferred with the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), the highest military medal award in recognition of peace-time service not accounting to gallantry, by President Ram Nath Kovind. President also awarded three Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras to armed forces personnel for displaying gallantry.

    • Two Kirti Chakras were posthumously awarded to Sepoy Vramha Pal Singh of the Rajput Regiment and Rajendra Kumar Nain, a constable with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). A Shaurya Chakra was also posthumously awarded to Ravindra Dhanawade by the President, who is the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.

    Three Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras awarded by the President to Army Personnel

    • President Ram Nath Kovind conferred 3 Kirti Chakras and 15 Shaurya Chakras to Armed Forces Personnel for displaying conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and extreme devotion to duty at the Defence Investiture Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.  2 Kirti Chakras and 1 Shaurya Chakra were given posthumously. 15 Param Vishisht Seva Medals, 1 Uttam Yudh Seva Medal and 25 Ati Vishisht Seva Medals were also conferred on senior officers of the Armed Forces for their distinguished service by the President.

    INTERNATIONAL:

    Special olympics World Game began in UAE

    • Special Olympics World Games 2019 is held at Abu Dhabi, from March 14 to 21. The Games were declared open by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. There are 7,500 athletes from 190 countries taking part at the Games this year. Team India is the second largest contingent after the host UAE with 387 players, along with coaches and other staff. The Special Olympics takes place every two years and alternates between summer and winter.

    UK removes cap on PhD level work visas

    • U.K. announced in a Budget update, referred to as the annual Spring Statement, that from later this year all PhD-level highly-qualified roles will be exempt from any cap on the numbers that can apply and come to work in Britain.

    • Indians are among the largest group of professionals set to benefit from a new U.K. government plan to remove any limit on the number of PhD-level work visas to be granted.  A key pillar of the plan is backing Britain to remain at the forefront of the technology revolution that is transforming the economy. In Order to support that ambition, the country completely exempt PhD-level roles from the visa caps.

    Vienna topped the Most Liveable Cities index for the 10th year

    • The Austrian capital Vienna has topped Mercer's index of most liveable cities for the 10th year in a row. Zurich in Switzerland, is placed second in the index, while Auckland, Munich and Vancouver came joint third. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu is ranked at 105 in Mercer's Quality Of Living Index and is the number one city from India.

    • Luxembourg was named the safest city in a separate personal safety league table. Global consulting firm Mercer surveyed in 231 cities across the globe and were ranked them based on factors such as healthcare, education, public services, recreation, crime, housing and personal freedom. The ranking was based on data analysed between September and November 2018.

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    Important Current Affairs of 14th March

    NATIONAL:

    Chennai to get second Greenfield airport.

    • The Tamil Nadu government has finally taken the first step towards building the second Greenfield airport near Chennai. Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (Tidco) Limited has issued a Request for Proposal to appoint a consultant for preparing a draft report and identify potential sites near the city.

    •  Tidco was chosen as the nodal agency for selection of a consultant, officials said. No site has been identified yet. The consultant will identify and propose three potential sites near Chennai for the greenfield airport. The consultant will look at the air traffic projections and the demand and do a detailed master plan citing the necessary airside and land facilities and other infrastructure and industrial provisions the site will need.

    Over 12 Indian states banned e-cigarettes.

    • Following an advisory from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued in 2018, Twelve states across India have banned Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes.

    • States of Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Jharkhand have taken steps to ban the use of ENDS.

    • ENDS, more commonly known as e-cigarettes or “vapes" in India, are products that produce an aerosolized mixture containing flavored liquids and nicotine that is inhaled by the user.

    Over 605 people have died of swine flu in 2019 so far: Health Ministry.

    • According to data from the Union Health Ministry, as many as 605 people have died due to swine flu this year, with 75 deaths being reported last week. Over 19,380 people have tested positive for the virus. Rajasthan reported the highest number of swine flu cases (4,551) and deaths (162) followed by Gujarat (118 deaths  and 3,969 cases). Delhi was third with 3,362 swine flu cases and seven deaths. Swine flu is the common name for the H1N1 influenza virus. H1N1 is a self-limiting viral, air-borne disease spread from person to person, through large droplets generated due to coughing and sneezing, indirect contact by touching a contaminated object or surface and close contact, including handshaking, hugging and kissing.

    India extended USD 250 million to Nepal.

    • India has extended a grant assistance of up to USD 250 million to Nepal for the reconstruction of infrastructures in the areas of housing, education, health and cultural heritage that was destroyed during the devastating April 2015 earthquake which saw the death of over 9,000 people.

    India ranks 16th in terms of highest number of impacted species in hotspots.

    • India was ranked 16th in the world in terms of highest number of impacted species in biodiversity-rich zones (also known as hotspots) due to human actions.

    • In India, 35 species affected on an average in biodiversity-rich zones. Malaysia ranks first among countries with highest number of impacted species (on an average 125 species). Southeast Asian tropical forests — including those in India’s Western Ghats, Himalaya and north-east — are among the ‘hotspots’ of threatened species.

    India bans Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes after the Ethiopian Airlines crash.

    • Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft banned by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in the Indian airspace from 1600 hrs IST or 1030 UTC 13th March 2019. The airlines affected by this are SpiceJet which has 13 jets of the model 8 variant and Jet Airways which has 5 jets of this variant.

    Thirty four edition of Aahar International Food and Hospitality Fair begins in New Delhi.

    • 34th edition of Aahar- the International Food and Hospitality Fair which is organized by India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO) begins in New Delhi on 12th March 2019. Participants from China, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Spain, USA and UK are participating in the event.

    HGS and NASSCOM to launch centre of excellence for PwDs in Bangalore.

    • Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS) partnered with National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) Foundation to launch a centre of excellence in Bengaluru for training differently-abled persons (PwDs) which will train a minimum of 100 PwDs making them industry-ready over the next 12 months with a goal to place at least 50% of them in companies already sensitised for hiring them.

    • The trainees will be skilled in a variety of job roles suitable for hospitality, IT or BPM and retail industries and will also be trained on soft skills, interview skills, communication skills, and English language.

    BANKS AND ECONOMY:

    HDFC Bank becomes third Indian firm to cross Rs 6 lakh crore in value.

    • HDFC Bank crossed the Rs. 6 lakh crore market capitalisation mark for the first time on March 13, becoming only the third Indian company to achieve the milestone.

    • Reliance Industries is the most valued Indian company with a market value of Rs.8.50 lakh crore, followed by TCS at Rs. 7.50 lakh crore.

    About HDFC bank:

    ♦ HDFC Bank is India’s largest private sector lender by assets.

    ♦ CEO: Aditya Puri

    ♦ Headquarters: Mumbai

    ♦ Founded: August 1994, India

    RBI to inject rupee liquidity through Forex swap.

    • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to inject rupee liquidity into the system through long-term foreign exchange buy/sell swap, a first-of-its-kind instrument, used for liquidity management. The RBI would conduct dollar-rupee buy/sell swap auction of $5 billion for a three-year tenor on March 26.

    •  The U.S. dollar amount mobilised through this auction would also reflect in RBI’s foreign exchange reserves for the tenor of the swap while also reflecting in RBI’s forward liabilities. This move of RBI can lower the dependence on open market operations (OMO) which have been a significant amount of the overall borrowing as higher OMOs can distort the rates curve.

    AWARDS AND RESIGNATION:

    Rahul Bajaj resigns as chairman of Bajaj Finserv.

    • Rahul Bajaj will step down as Chairman and Non-Executive Director of Financial services company ‘Bajaj Finserv’ on May 16. However, he will continue to serve the company as Chairman Emeritus. The 80-year-old has been at the helm of Bajaj Finserv since its inception in 2007 and the Bajaj Group for around five decades.

    Ved Rahi will be awarded with Kusumagraj Rashtriya Sahitya Puruskar.

    • Famous Novelist and Film Director, Ved Rahi will be awarded prestigious Kusumagraj Rashtriya Sahitya Puruskar which carries a cash prize of Rs. 1 Lakh, A memento and a citation. Ved Rahi was born in Jammu in 1933 and he had written seven novels in Dogri Language. He also wrote in Hindi and Urdu. He was given Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983 for his Novel “Aale” which was written in Dogri Language.

    INTERNATIONAL:

    Japan announced Rs 22 lakh for Kolkata museum.

    • The Japanese government announced a donation of some Rs 22 lakh ($31,800) to the Rabindra Bharati Museum, Kolkata in a bid to strengthen historical and cultural ties with India. Rabindranath Tagore, Asia's first Nobel Prize recipient, visited Japan in 1916, 1924 and 1929, renewing relations between the countries as India's leading cultural ambassador.

    About Japan:

    ♦ Capital: Tokyo

    ♦ Currency: Japanese yen

    ♦ Prime minister: Shinzo Abe

    UK issued a Black hole Coin to commemorate Stephen Hawking.

    • The United Kingdom has commemorated Professor Stephen Hawking in a new 50p coin. The coin has references to the late physicist's pioneering work on black holes.  Black Hole Coin  The commemorative coin aims to celebrate the life and "ground-breaking" achievements of Hawking, who passed away in 2018. It is a commemorative coin and not for circulation as currency.

    • The coin features Hawkins's name in capital letters above a rippling drawing of concentric circles, intended to represent a black hole. The coin was designed by  British engraver and printmaker Edwina Ellis. The coin is available in gold, silver, and a double thickness silver version called a piedfort. The coin has been released by UK's Royal Mint.

    EU has added 10 countries in the Tax blacklist.

    • The European Union has expanded its tax haven blacklist by including 10 countries. The list now has 15 countries. The list was first drawn up by EU in 2017 in the wake of several scandals that pushed the EU into doing more to fight tax evasion by multinationals and the rich.

    • Seven countries Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu, and Dominica were moved from greylist to blacklist due to their inability towards reform commitments. Three other countries added into the list are Barbados, the United Arab Emirates, and the Marshall Islands.

    • Eu list of Tax Blacklist or Tax Havens: Tax Havens provide taxpayers with opportunities for tax avoidance, while their secrecy and opacity also serve to hide the origin of the proceeds of illegal and criminal activities. Features of these Tax Havens include low or zero taxation, fictitious residences (with no bearing on reality) and tax secrecy.

    Krishna Kumari Kohli becomes the first Thari Hindu woman to be elected to the Senate of Pakistan.

    • Krishna Kumari Kohli appointed as the first female senator of Pakistan from the Hindu Dalit community. She is also the first Thai Hindu woman to be elected to the Pakistan Senate. On 8th March 2019, which was celebrated as the International Women’s Day, she chaired the session of the Upper House of Parliament.

    Industrial production growth declined to 1.7% in January 2019 as per CSO report.

    • The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has released the data for the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for the month of January. The IIP data shows that: Industrial output growth stood at 1.7% in January against the 2.6% growth recorded in December 2018.  Eleven out of the twenty-three industry groups in the manufacturing sector have shown positive growth during the month of January 2019 as compared to January 2018. The cumulative industrial production increased by 4% in April-January FY2019 compared with 4.1% growth in April-January FY2018.

    Japan plans to stun the world in 2020 Olympics.

    • Driverless cars, robot volunteers and ultra high-definition TV: Japan Inc. plans to use the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to show the world it has regained its touch for innovation and technology.  The last time Japan hosted the summer games, Tokyo 1964, it stunned the visitors with its shinkansen, the sleek high-speed bullet train that has since become a byword for cool and efficient transport.

    •  The country used the games as a springboard to dominate the tech world. From Sharp's LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens to the Sony Walkman, Japan enjoyed an unparalleled reputation in the vanguard of technological innovation. Japan’s vision for the 2020 Games includes an aspiration to make them the most innovative in history.

    NASA to send women to Mars.

    • NASA, the US Space agency, said that the first person to set foot on Mars is likely to be a woman. It said that women are at the forefront of the U.S. space agency’s upcoming plans.

    • NASA recently announced that it will have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space. NASA has the first all-female spacewalk at the end of March, which is, of course, National Women’s Month. So NASA is committed to making sure that it has a diverse set of talent. It is also looking forward to the first woman on the Moon.

    DAY:

    World Kidney Day 2019 is observed on 14th March.

    • World Kidney Day 2019 is observed on 14th March. The theme of the World Kidney Day 2019 is Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere.  Second Thursday of March every year is observed as World Kidney Day every year as a global health awareness campaign focusing on the importance of the kidneys and reducing the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.

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    Important Current Affairs of 13th March

    NATIONAL:

    India-Bangladesh Jointly Inaugurated 4 Development Projects

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, jointly unveiled e-plaques for development projects in Bangladesh, through video conferencing.

    • This was the sixth such video conference between PM Modi and Prime Minister Hasina.

    E-plaques were unveiled for the following 4 development projects:

    ♦ Supply of buses and trucks,

    ♦ Inauguration of 36 community clinics,

    ♦ Inauguration of 11 water treatment plants, and

     ♦ Extension of National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.

    Facebook launched Facebook Hubs to aid start-ups.

    • Facebook launched ‘Facebook Hubs’ at 20 locations in India to support the start-up ecosystem in the country.

    • These hubs will help foster innovation and support for the community by hosting mentor hours and trainings, workshops, roundtable discussions.

    • The company has partnered with co-working company 91springboard. These hubs will be part of a global network for training and mentoring facilities for start-ups, among others.

    Six lakh employees to be trained to handle 96000 VVPAT Machines in Maharashtra.

    • For the first time in Lok Sabha elections, VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audi Trail) machines are to be used all over the country. In Maharashtra, 96000 VVPAT machines will be used in 48 Lok Sabha constituencies and process for training 6 lakh employees to handle these machines has begun. They will be provided with training at three levels.

    • VVPAT system is complimentary for electronic voting machines (EVMs) and receipt of voting will be given to the voters through these machines. Information regarding vote cast to a particular candidate by the voter can be available after pressing a button on VVPAT machine. A receipt will be given in seven seconds after voting to the voter.

    ECI to launch cVIGIL on 18th March.

    • Election Commission of India has developed cVIGIL, a mobile app, for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. ‘cVIGIL’ stands for 'Vigilant Citizen’.

    •  It is expected to be launched on 18th March 2019. It will be available on Google Playstore. Complaints regarding the model code of conduct and violations can be lodged in during election time.

    • To lodge a complaint, a voter should download the app from Google Play Store. Photos and two-minute video clippings regarding the violation including threatening of voters, causing enmity between voters on caste and religious lines, character assassination of candidates, can be uploaded via the app. Complainants also have the option to remain anonymous. Within 100 minutes of filing the complaint, the complainant will receive feedback on the action taken.

    Vastradan Campaign has set the Guinness World Record.

    • Vastradan Campaign initiated by the erstwhile royal family of Udaipur has set the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of clothes for donation.

    • Through the Vastradan Campaign, over 3,29,250 pieces of clothing from over 76,000 donors were collected and distributed to the needy. The campaign reached out to over 120 schools, 15 colleges and around 30 NGOs.

    • The certificate for the Guinness World Record was handed over to Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, a descendant of Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap. The campaign highlighted the empathy of the citizen's especially young boys and girls.

    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. 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.

    • Every year across the globe, there are an estimated 1 billion cases, of which 3 to 5 million are severe cases, resulting in 290000 to 650000 influenza-related respiratory deaths. WHO recommends annual influenza vaccination as the most effective way to prevent influenza, which is especially important for people at higher risk of serious influenza complications and for health care workers.

    • The new strategy is the most comprehensive and far-reaching that WHO has ever developed for influenza and it outlines a path to protect populations every year and helps prepare for a pandemic through strengthening routine programmes. For more than 65 years, the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS), comprised of WHO Collaborating Centres and national influenza centres, have worked together to monitor seasonal trends and potentially pandemic viruses and this system serves as the backbone of the global alert system for influenza. 

    DRDO developed a range of Casualty Combat drugs.

    • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a range of combat drugs that can extend the golden hour till the soldier or an armoured unit is shifted to hospital after an attack. This range of drugs can bring down the death toll.

    • The spectrum includes bleeding wound sealants, super absorptive dressings, and glycerinated salines. It can save lives in the event of warfare in the jungle and high altitude areas as well as in terror attacks.

    • These medicines ensure that soldiers do not suffer from unwanted blood loss while being taken to better healthcare from war zones. This range of casualty drugs is aimed at enhancing the chances of survival and minimum disability by providing effective first aid care within the golden hour.

    Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO):

    ♦ Formed on: 1958

    ♦ Headquarters: New Delhi

    ♦ Minister responsible: Nirmala Sitharaman

    ♦ Parent: Ministry of Defence

    ♦ It is charged with the military's research and development

    Indias first LGBTQ Clinic and HIV treatment centre inaugurated by Humsafar Trust in Mumbai.

    • The first HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) treatment centre and holistic clinic for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) by Humsafar trust in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

    • The founder of Humsafar Trust, Ashok Row Kavi announced that the center will be open for all and it will give provide counselling.

    BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

    RBI to become World's 10th largest holder of gold.

    • According to data provided by the World Gold Council (WGC), India has the 11th largest gold reserve and the current holding pegged at 607 tonnes. The Netherlands holds the 10th position with 612.5 tonnes, or just about 5.5 tonnes ahead of RBI.

    • The top spot is occupied by US gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes, followed by Germany with 3,369.7 tonnes. International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks third on the list with total gold reserves of 2,814 tonnes.

    Bank of Baroda becomes one of the first PSBs to launch creche/day-care facility for employees children.

    • Bank of Baroda become one of the first public sector banks to launch a crèche/child day-care facility for children of its employees.

    • The day-care facility has been launched at its Mumbai corporate office in Bandra Kurla Complex and is being mulled further on being implemented at the head office in Vadodara, Gujarat.

    • The bank will bear 60% of the cost incurred every month and rest 40% will be borne by the parents.

    SEBI withdrew 20 percent on investments by FPI in corporate bonds.

    • Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the markets regulator, withdrew the 20% limit on investments by Foreign Portfolio Investors (FPIs) in corporate bonds of an entity. SEBI withdrew the restriction in accordance with a circular issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

    • In 2018 June, the Securities and Exchange Board of India had mandated that no FPI shall have an exposure of more than 20% of its corporate bond portfolio to a single corporate. However, in February RBI lifted the restriction in view of market feedback. To give effect to the directions of the RBI, SEBI said provisions of its June 2018 circulars with respect to exposure of more than 20% stands withdrawn with immediate effect.

    • Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI):

    ♦ Formed: April 12, 1988

     ♦ Acquired Statutory Status on: January 30, 1992

    ♦ Headquarters: Mumbai, Maharashtra

    ♦ Chairman: Ajay Tyagi

    ♦ SEBI is the regulator for the securities market in India

    PNB Sanctions Loans worth Rs 689 cr to 1,600 MSMEs Via Online Portal.

    • State-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) sanctioned loans worth Rs 689 crore to over 1,600 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through the PSB loaning 59minutes.com portal as part of its effort to promote such industries. Under the Mudra Yojana, the bank has offered loan to over 2.69 lakh small entrepreneurs this fiscal  About Bank of Baroda Founder: Dyal Singh Majithia, Lala Lajpat Rai Headquarters: New Delhi

    BoI raised Rs.660 crore by selling shares to employees

    • State-owned Bank of India (BoI) raised Rs.660.80 crore by issuing shares to employees under Employee Share Purchase Scheme (ESPS).

    • The bank issued 6,25,52,188 shares of Rs.10 each to eligible employees. The Bank offered a discount of 24.28% on the applicable price to the employees and about 94.70% of total employees participated.

    AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

    Ex-RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan received Yaswantrao Chavan National Award

    • Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan, for his contribution towards economic development, was awarded the ‘Yashwantrao Chavan National Award 2018‘ on March 12, 2019, which was the 106th birth anniversary of late Yashwantrao Chavan, the first chief minister of Maharashtra. About Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor – Shaktikanta Das Headquarters – Mumbai.

    Axis Bank names Rakesh Makhija as new Chairman.

    • Axis Bank has appointed Rakesh Makhija as Non-Executive Chairman for a period of 3 years. He will take over from Sanjiv Misra when his term ends on July 17.

    • Makhija is also the Chairman of the bank's Nomination and Remuneration Committee.

    SPORTS:

    India retain 2nd spot in ICC T20I rankings, Rahul moves up to 5th.

    • The Indian cricket team retained its second spot in the T20I team rankings with 122 points, despite the recent series loss against Australia at home. Pakistan tops ICC T20I rankings with 135 points, with England remaining at third place with 121 points. In the T20I batsmen rankings, Indian batsman KL Rahul moved up to the fifth spot. In the T20I bowlers' list, Kuldeep Yadav, who was rested for two T20Is against Australia, dropped a place to the fifth rank. Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan remained in top positions in batsmen and bowlers’ list respectively. About ICC: ICC - International Cricket Council It was founded as the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by representatives from Australia, England and South Africa. It was renamed as the International Cricket Council in 1989. Headquarters: Dubai, United Arab Emirates Current champion: India national cricket team Chairperson: Shashank Manohar

    Dipa Karmakar selected as Barbie Role Model.

    • Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar was selected as Barbie role model & was presented with a one-of-a-kind doll by Barbie as the company celebrates its 60th anniversary. She was part of the ‘Shero’ program launched in 2015 by the company. Karmakar has won over 77 medals, including 67 gold ones at state, national and international levels.

    • She also became India’s first gymnast to win a gold medal at an international event – the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Challenge Cup at Mersin, Turkey. Mattel, the toy manufacturing company behind Barbie, on their 60th anniversary of Barbie, released a new range of barbies to honor female role models globally, spanning different career fields. Japan’s tennis star Naomi Osaka, Brazilian surfer Maya Gabiera and Canadian ice skater Tessa Virtue are other women athletes who have been honoured.

    INTERNATIONAL:

    Google celebrated 30 years of World Wide Web with doodle.

    • Google on March 12 celebrated 30 years of the World Wide Web (WWW) with a doodle. On March 12, 1989, British scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee while working at European Organisation for Nuclear Research in Switzerland, CERN, submitted a proposal for an information sharing system that would become the WWW. On April 30, 1993, CERN put WWW software in the public domain. Its popularity started spreading from November with the launch of Mosaic, the first search engine to accept pictures. That revolutionised the web, making it user friendly. Mosaic was later replaced by the likes of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

    UK Parliament rejects Prime Minister's Brexit deal for a second time.

    • UK Members of Parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, which sets out the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union (EU), for the second time. MPs voted by 391 to 242 to reject the deal. The UK is due to leave the EU on March 29. Brexit is an abbreviation for "British" and "exit" referring to the UK's decision in a June 23, 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (EU). The UK joined the European Communities (EC) in 1973 under the Conservative government of Edward Heath.

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    Important Current Affairs 12th March 2019

    NATIONAL:

    Jet Airways sought Rs.750 crore from Etihad

    • Naresh Goyal, Jet Airways chairman, has sought urgent funding of Rs.750 crore from its equity partner Etihad, the reason cited was the very precarious position of the airline following the lingering cash flow issues which got amplified after the forced grounding of over 50 of its planes.

    • The airline had also secured the go-ahead from the Civil Aviation Ministry to pledge its shares in Jet Privilege for securing the interim funding. The airline holds 49.9% stake in the loyalty programme while the majority is with Etihad.

    PM inaugurated Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology.

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology at Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh. He also unveiled the statue of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya at the campus.  Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology is a state-of-the-art institution that comprises of an auditorium, an open-air theatre, and an Archaeological Museum

    • Institute of Archaeology is an academic wing of the Archeological Survey of India under the Ministry of Culture.  Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage in India.

    • It functions under the under the Ministry of Culture. ASI regulates all archaeological activities in the country as per the provisions of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 and Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.

    PM attended 50th Raising Day celebrations of CISF.

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the 50th Raising Day celebrations of Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF), at Indirapuram in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. He suggested the idea of starting digital museums at airports and metros, showcasing the work of CISF.

    • Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF): Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) came into existence in 1969 with three battalions. It provides integrated security cover to the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) which occupied the commanding heights of the economy. Over the years CISF has grown several folds to reach 1,48,371 personnel.

    Surat Metro Project springs up expected to serve the masses by 2024.

    • The Government of India approved the Surat Metro Rail Project having two Metro Rail Corridors with a combined length of 40.35 km.

    • The project will be completed in 5 years at an estimated project cost of Rs. 12020.32 Crore This project will provide continuous availability of affordable, reliable, safe, secure and seamless transport system in the urban agglomeration of the city.

    • It will reduce the accidents, pollution, travel time, energy consumption, anti-social incidents as well as regulate urban expansion and land use for sustainable development.

    Jammu and Kashmir government to give monthly stipend and jobs for those who Shun militancy.

    • Draft on Reintegration proposes a monthly stipend and jobs for those who Shun militancy by the Jammu and Kashmir government. The move is to encourage the youths hailing from Jammu and Kashmir to Shun militancy.  The government proposes to offer them a monthly stipend of Rs. 6000 and jobs. The new Reintegration policy draft is under the consideration of Jammu and Kashmir administration headed by Governor Sathya Pal Malik

    • As per the government, the initiative will allow the militants who surrender ‘to encourage him to join the mainstream’. It gives importance to rehabilitation. Militants found to have been involved in heinous crimes won’t get the proposed benefits.

    About Jammu and Kashmir

    ♦ Capital – Srinagar (summer), Jammu (winter)

    ♦ Governor – Sathya Pal Malik

    Madhya Pradesh Government raises Reservation Quota of OBCs to 27 percent.

    • Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel approved the ordinance to increase reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) from 14 per cent to 27 per cent, making MP the only state in India to have 27 per cent quota for OBCs. At present, the state provides 20 per cent reservation to Scheduled Tribes, and 16 per cent to Scheduled Castes.

    • OBCs are estimate to constitute nearly 52 per cent of the state’s population, and OBC groups have often demanded an increase in reservation to reflect their strength in the state

    Centre amended the Enemy Property Order.

    • The central government has amended the guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018, to facilitate usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use.  Enemy properties are the properties of the people who migrated to Pakistan during partition and also to China after the Sino-India war in 1962. It is estimated that there are 9,280 such properties which were left behind by people who went to Pakistan and 126 such properties were left by the Chinese nationals.

    • The central government has amended the guidelines for disposal of the Enemy Property Order, 2018, to facilitate usages of enemy property by the state government exclusively for public use.  Enemy properties are the properties of the people who migrated to Pakistan during partition and also to China after the Sino-India war in 1962. It is estimated that there are 9,280 such properties which were left behind by people who went to Pakistan and 126 such properties were left by the Chinese nationals.

    Venkaiah Naidu conferred Honorary Doctorate from the University of Peace.

    • Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was conferred Honorary Doctorate from the UN established the University of Peace. He is the first Indian to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Peace. The university has stated that the degree of "Doctor Honoris Causa" (Doctor of Philosophy) was conferred on the Indian Vice President recognising his contribution to the Rule of Law, democracy and sustainable development in India.

    • The University of Peace was established in accordance with the Resolution 35/55 passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1980. The main campus of the University of Peace is located in Costa Rica. It aims to be a forward-thinking, transformational and inspirational educational institution dedicated to the goals of quality teaching, research, and service for serving humanity in building a peaceful world.

    Centre launched Pulse Polio Programme 2019 to eradicate Polio.

    • The government has launched the Pulse Polio Programme 2019. Under the programme, polio drops would be administered to children less than five years of age. More than 17 crore children of less than five years across the country will be administered polio drops.

    • The pulse polio programme aims to protect children from the polio disease by conducting two nationwide mass polio vaccination campaigns and two to three sub-national campaigns each year.  India was declared Polio-free country in the year 2014.

    • India's last reported cases of wild polio were in West Bengal and Gujarat on 13 January 2011. 

    ♦ Polio also known as poliomyelitis is a highly contagious viral disease caused by Poliovirus

    ♦ It attacks the nervous system

    ♦ Children younger than 5 years old are more likely to contract the virus than any other group 

    ♦ Poliovirus spreads by food or water containing human faeces and less commonly from infected saliva

    Arcelor Mittal receives NCLT nod for taking over Essar Steel at Rs 42,000 Crore.

    • A resolution plan of Rs. 42,000 crores submitted by ArcelorMittal for the acquisition of Essar Steel Ltd. was approved by the Ahmedabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The approval has been granted 583 days after the beginning of insolvency proceedings, against the mandatory time period of 270 days.

    India stands world’s 2nd largest arms importer says SIPRI.

    • According to the latest report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the world’s second largest importer of major arms in 2014–18 and accounted for 9.5% of the global total. Saudi Arabia which holds the long-held tag as largest importer accounted for 12% of the total imports during the period.

    •  Russia accounted for 58% of Indian arms imports in 2014–18, compared with 76% in 2009-13. Israel, the U.S., and France all increased their arms exports to India in 2014-18. The Russian share in Indian imports is likely to sharply go up for the next five-year period as India signed several deals including S-400 air defence systems, four stealth frigates, AK-203 assault rifles, a second nuclear attack submarine on the lease, and deals for Kamov-226T utility helicopters, Mi-17 helicopters, and short-range air defence systems.

    Keralas Marayur jaggery finally gets Geographical Indication tag.

    • The Marayoor Jaggery, the traditional and handmade product from Idukki district of Kerala, received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Central Government. In Marayur and Kanthallur grama panchayats of Kerlala, jaggery is produced without adding any chemicals.

    • The distinct features of the Marayur Jaggery are high sweetness with less saltiness, high content of iron and less sodium. About Geographical Indication (GI): A Geographical Indication (GI) tag is a name or sign used on products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin. It can be a town, a region, or a country. It plays a very important role to increase the realm of the market.

    Pinaka guided rocket system successfully test fired.

    • Defence Research and Development organisation, DRDO successfully test fired the PINAKA guided WEAPON rocket system from Pokhran range in Rajasthan. This indigenously developed Guided PINAKA by DRDO will significantly boost the capability of the artillery to make precision hits. Pinaka is a multiple rocket launcher produced in India for the Indian Army. Pinaka saw service during the Kargil War, where it was successful in neutralising enemy positions on the mountain tops.

    Hardeep Puri launched the Indian Urban Observatory and Video wall at New DelhI.

    • Minister of State (I/C) for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep S Puri, inaugurated the state-of-the-art India Urban Observatory and Video Wall at New Delhi. The India Urban Observatory will plug into the sources of data from cities, both from real-time and archival sources. It will help in getting up-to-date information on a meaningful set of indicators over various domains such as transport, health, environment, water, finance and so on, which will further assist in developing best practices, future

    BANKS:

    Korea Exim Bank to give Rs 4,100 crore loan for Vizag Metro.

    • Korea Exim Bank has come forward to extend a Rs 4,100 crore loan for Visakhapatnam Metro Rail project. The three-corridor Vizag Metro would be built over a stretch of 42.55 km at a cost of Rs 8,300 crore. About Korea Eximbank:

    ♦ Also called  Export–Import Bank of Korea

    ♦ It is the official export credit agency of South Korea

    ♦ Founded: 1976

    ♦ Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea.

    INTERNATIONAL:

    Fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly to discuss curbing of plastic waste.

    • The fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly has gathered in Nairobi, Kenya from 11 - 15 March 2019.  In the five-day UN Environment Assembly, Countries from around the world has set their sights on a pivotal deal to curb plastic waste, a source of long-term pollution and worsening contamination of the ocean’s food chain

    • The UN wants individual countries to sign up to significantly reduce plastic production, including a phasing out of single-use plastics by 2030, a goal inspired by the 2015 Paris Agreement on voluntary reductions of carbon emissions.

    • The world currently produces more than 300 million tonnes of plastics annually, and there are at least five trillion plastic pieces floating in our oceans. Microplastics have been found in the deepest sea trenches and high up the earth’s tallest peaks, and plastic consumption is growing year-on-year. The One Planet Summit on 14th March will bring together heads of State to lend political clout to the process.

    Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister meets PM Modi.

    • Saudi Arabia's state minister for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir met PM Narendra Modi in Delhi. Jubeir's visit to India comes days after his trip to Pakistan's Islamabad. Saudi minister's visit comes after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's stand-alone visits to India and Pakistan soon after the Pulwama terror attack.

    About Saudi Arabia:

    ♦ Capital: Riyadh

    ♦ Currency: Saudi riyal

    ♦ King: Mohammed bin Salman

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    Important Current Affairs 11th March 2019

    NATIONAL:

    Karnataka sought Rs.2,064 crore for draught relief

    • Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy sought early release of Rs.2,064.30 crore funds to provide relief to drought-hit farmers in the ongoing rabi season. In addition to floods, Karnataka reeled under severe drought both during Kharif (summer) and rabi (winter) seasons of the 2018-19 crop year (July-June).

    • The state government has submitted a memorandum seeking Rs.2,064.30 crore drought relief fund for the ongoing rabi season as crop loss is estimated to be Rs.11,384.7 crore. The state has declared drought in156 out of 176 talukas.

    • The state has released Rs.386 crore from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and given priority to ensure drinking water and fodder, besides creating 1.19 crore man-days jobs under the MGNREGA scheme

    Lok Sabha 2019 elections will start from 11th April

    • Election Commission of India announced that the Lok Sabha 2019 elections will start from April 11, in seven phases. Code of Conduct for parties kicks in from 10th March and there are close to 90 crore eligible voters. Date of counting will be on the 23rd of May 2019.

    • The election in 22 States and Union Territories will be conducted in a single phase. Two-phase elections are in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Manipur, and Tripura, while Assam and Chhattisgarh will have three phases. Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha will be covered in four phases, Jammu and Kashmir in five, and Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal in seven phases. In Anantnag, the election will be held in three rounds.

    • Schedule of the seven phases of Lok Sabha polls:

    ♦ Phase one – 11th April 2019

    ♦ Phase two – 18th April 2019

    ♦ Phase three – 23rd April 2019

    ♦ Phase four – 29th April 2019

    ♦ Phase five – 06th May 2019

    ♦ Phase six – 12th May 2019

    ♦ Phase seven – 19th May 2019

    Date of counting- 23rd May 2019

    NPPA reduced MRP of 390 non-scheduled cancer medicines up to 87 percent

    • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has reduced the MRP of 390 non-scheduled cancer medicines have been reduced by up to 87%.NPPA has asked the manufacturers and hospitals to revise the prices based on the trade margin formula. According to the price regulator, five brands will see a price reduction of about 70%, while 12 others will see a 50-70% price cut. MRPs of 45 cancer medicines will reduce by 25%.

    • This price reduction is expected to result in annual savings of around Rs.800 crore for patients. The price reduction is expected to benefit about 22 lakh cancer patients in India.

    Ministry of power to give star rating for 2 electrical appliances

    • The Ministry of Power has announced that two more electrical appliances microwave ovens and washing machines will now be assigned star ratings based on their energy efficiency metrics.

    • The rating of appliances in India is undertaken by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. Bureau of Energy Efficiency is a statutory body set up under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.

    • The program to rate microwave ovens and washing machines will be implemented on a voluntary basis and will be valid up to December 31, 2020. Star Rating of Appliances provides a basic sense of how energy efficient each product is. Higher the rating, higher is the efficiency of the appliance.

    India, ASEAN clock fastest growth for e-commerce, digital trade sectors: FICCI KPMG

    • According to India and ASEAN: Co-creating the Future’ report by industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and consulting major KPMG, India and 10 member ASEAN are among the fastest growing economies in the world.

    • India and ASEAN show a faster growth rate even for e-commerce and digital trade sectors.

    • Global E-commerce Sector topped by China.

    • Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach 4.5 trillion dollars from 1.3 trillion dollars by 2021.

    • By 2025, the e-commerce market in India is expected to reach a volume of 90 billion dollars as per the report.

    BANKS:

    SBI to link the interest rate to RBIs repo rate

    • State Bank of India is to link the interest rate it offers on savings account deposits to the Reserve Bank of India’s repo rate, an external benchmark. SBI has become the first domestic bank to do such linking. By doing so, the bank will effectively link all loan rates to an external benchmark either directly or indirectly, thereby attempting tospeed up the transmission of any changes in the benchmark monetary policy rate to depositors and borrowers.

    • The following changes are announced by SBI:

    ♦ Savings accounts with deposits above Rs.1 lakh would be priced at 2.75% below the prevailing repo rate of 6.25%

    ♦ Cash credit accounts and overdraft facilities over Rs.1 lakh would be priced at 2.25% over the repo rate

    ♦ For all other floating rate products, including retail and corporate loans, the impact of SBI’s decision to link savings account deposit rates to the repo rate will be felt indirectly

    ♦ For savings account holders with balances up to Rs.1 lakh and borrowers with cash credit and overdraft limits up to Rs.1 lakh, interest rates will remain fixed

    AWARDS AND APPOINTMENTS:

    Maneka Gandhi felicitated the 30 winners of the Web Wonder Women contest

    • Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, felicitated the 30 winners of the ‘Web Wonder Women’ contest organized by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in New Delhi.

    • The women were selected from over 240 nominations received under the categories media, awareness, legal, health, governmental, food, environment, development, business and art.

    ACKO General Insurance honoured with Golden Peacock Award 2019

    • he new-age digital insurance company, ACKO General Insurance was awarded the prestigious Golden Peacock Innovative Product Award – 2019, for their contextual micro insurance product -“Ola Ride Insurance“.

    • The award was presented to Biresh Giri, Appointed Actuary & CRO, Acko at an event in Dubai.

    • Launched in March 2018, Ola Ride Insurance is a first of its kind insurance in the Indian market where Acko partnered with the leading ride-sharing company, Ola.

    India claims the First Prize at The International Golden City Gate Tourism Awards 2019 in the category of TV Cinema Spot at ITB, Berlin

    • The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India was awarded the First Prize in the category- TV Cinema Spot at the International Golden City Gate Tourism Awards 2019 held at Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB), Berlin.

    • The awards were received by Shri Yogendra Tripathi, Secretary, Tourism.

    • The awards were given for the following promotional films and TV commercials produced under the Incredible India 2.0 Campaign:

    Yogi of the Racetrack

    The Reincarnation of Mr. and Mrs. Jones

    Sanctuary in Paris

    Maharani of Manhattan

    The Masala Master Chef

    S. Mubarak appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of El Salvador

    • Shri B. S. Mubarak, the Indian Foreign Service officer of 2001 batch, is presently the Ambassador of India to the Republic of Guatemala.

    INTERNATIONAL:

    Japanese woman honoured by Guinness World Records

    • A 116-year-old Japanese woman who loves playing the board game Othello is being honored as the world’s oldest living person by Guinness World Records.

    • Tanaka was born January 2, 1903, the seventh among eight children. The previous oldest living person was another Japanese woman, Chiyo Miyako, who died in July at age 117.

    NASAs LRO spotted water molecules moving around the dayside of moon

    • NASA Scientists have observed water molecules moving around the dayside of the moon using NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). It is an advance that could help us learn about the accessibility of water that can be used by humans in future missions.

    • Measurements from the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) instrument aboard the LRO of the sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the surface helped characterize lunar hydration changes over the course of a day.

    • Lunar water can potentially be used by humans to make fuel or to use for radiation shielding or thermal management. Water molecules remain tightly bound to the regolith until surface temperatures peak near lunar noon.

    Pulse polio programme launched in Nagaland

    • The Nagaland Health and Family Welfare Department launched the first round of 'Intensive Pulse Polio Immunization' programme. I.Himato Zhimomi, Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare, administered the first two polio drops to an infant at Naga Hospital, Kohima marking the launch of the three-day programme.

    India launched its 3rd IT corridor in China

    • National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) entered into a partnership with China's Xuzhou city from Jiangsu Province in China to help develop the IT corridor. This is India's third IT corridor in China. The corridor will facilitate partnerships between Indian and Chinese companies.

    • The partnership will enable Indian software and service industry associations to enter the Chinese market and seize the development opportunities in China. The earlier two corridors launched at Dalian and Guiyang cities has brought to fore opportunities with over 300 companies where more than 10 Indian SME companies have signed deals worth 31 Million RMB (USD 4.5 million).

    • The first two corridors had enabled cooperation in co-create mode in emerging technologies such as A1, IOT, and Analytics in the Chinese market. IT corridor project between India and China strengthens India-China Digital Cooperation

    SPORTS:

    Bisht won gold at the 38th GeeBee Boxing Tournament, Finland

    • Kavinder Singh Bisht in the 56kg-category struck gold at the 38th GeeBee Boxing Tournament in Helsinki, Finland. Bisht defeated Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Hussamuddin in the 56kg summit clash.

    • Three-time Asian medallist Shiva Thapa, Govind Sahani, Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Mohammed Hussamuddin and Dinesh Dagar won silver medals at the Finland Boxing tournament.

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