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Important Current Affairs of 4th April

INTERNATIONAL:

Cholera vaccinations launched in post-cyclone Mozambique.

• In Mozambique, a vaccination campaign launched after Cyclone Idai battered the nation and unleashed an outbreak of cholera.

• International relief agencies and the Health Ministry are aiming to immunise nearly 9,00,000 people against the water-borne intestinal disease, which has already killed two people and infected more than 1,400.

• The vaccinations will be administered at health centres, shelters for the displaced, and at schools and markets. Cyclone Idai smashed into the coast of central Mozambique last month, unleashing hurricane-force winds and rains that flooded the hinterland and drenched eastern Zimbabwe.

Brunei passed harsh new sharia laws.

• Brunei introduced harsh new sharia laws, including death by stoning for adultery and gay sex.

• The law was passed despite a storm of global criticism from politicians, celebrities and rights groups.

• The tough penal code in the country fully came into force following years of delays. The laws make Brunei the first place in East or Southeast Asia to have a sharia penal code at the national level, joining several mostly West Asian countries such as Saudi Arabia.

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS:

Chicago elected Lori a black woman as its Mayor.

• Chicago elected Ms.Lori Lightfoot, 56, a black woman as its Mayor. The voters have put their faith in an openly-gay political novice to tackle difficult problems of economic inequality and gun violence.

• Since 1837, Chicago voters have elected only one black Mayor and one woman Mayor. Ms. Lightfoot will become Chicago’s first openly gay Mayor as well as the first African-American woman to hold the post.

• Lori Lightfoot a former federal prosecutor and practicing lawyer beat out Toni Preckwinkle, a career politician who is also black, by a wide margin of 74% to 26% with most ballots counted. She has promised to clean up city government and reduce economic inequality.

Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigns after 20 years in power.

• Algeria‘s long-serving president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his resignation, after mass protests demanding an end to his rule, and after a call from the army for him to be declared unfit to hold office. Bouteflika came to the presidency after its darkest period, the 1990s Islamic insurgency.

• . After taking power in 1999, he managed to bring back stability to a country devastated by killings and distrust. Mr Bouteflika has not publicly spoken and has been wheelchair-bound since a stroke in 2013. Bouteflika is accused of failing to create an economy that could offer enough jobs, despite the nation's vast oil and gas wealth. Abdelkader Bensalah took charge as interim leader for a maximum of 90 days as elections are organised.

NATIONAL:

Two new birds spotted in Kerala Aralam sanctuary.

• The 19th edition of the bird survey in Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary spotted two new species of birds - Woolly-necked Stork (Karuvarakkuru) and White-bellied Drongo (Kakkarajan) - both dry land species. A total of 152 species were spotted in the three-day survey.

Tata Projects bagged USD321 mn worth project from NPCIL.

• Tata Projects has received an order from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) for the construction of 2 x 700 MW power plant. The estimated cost is about $321 million.

• This is the firm’s third contract in the nuclear power sector.  This project will provide the much needed power supply to the region and ensure developmental initiatives receive an impetus. The scope of work involves the construction of main plant buildings, structures and other works of Gorakhpur Haryana Anu Vidyut Pariyojana - 1&2.

IFINs GNPAs touched 90 percent says IL&FS.

• IL&FS Financial Services Ltd. (IFIN), the non-banking finance arm of infrastructure conglomerate IL&FS, reported an increased gross non-performing asset (NPA) ratio of 90% as at end December 2018 against the gross NPAs of 5% in March 2018. The new management completed six months.

•  It is unusual for any lender to report 90% gross NPAs and it is probably for the first time, in recent times, that a lender had reported such delinquency. IFIN’s total exposure as on March 31, 2019 was Rs.18,805 crore, of which external exposure was Rs.10,656 crore and exposure to the group, Rs. 6,949 crore. About Rs.1,300 crore is categorised as other assets.

US approved to sell 24 'Romeo' Seahawk helicopters to India for USD 2.4 billion

• The US has approved the sale of 24 multi-role MH-60 'Romeo' Seahawk helicopters to India at an estimated cost of $2.6 billion. The Lockheed Martin-built helicopters are designed for hunting submarines, targeting ships, and conducting search-and-rescue operations at sea. It is considered the world's most advanced maritime helicopter.

• The helicopters are currently deployed with the US Navy. These helicopters would replenish India's aging fleet of British-made Sea King helicopters.

Indian Army builds longest suspension bridge 'Maitri on Indus in record 40 days

• Indian Army's Combat Engineers of 'Sahas aur Yogyata' Regiment of 'Fire and Fury Corps' have built the longest cable suspension bridge named 'Maitri’ over Indus river in Leh in a record 40 days. The 260-foot-long bridge is dedicated to Indians to commemorate 20th year of Kargil Vijay Diwas.

• The central government had emphasised on building an all-weather road connectivity in the region. An all-weather road was built from Manali to Ladakh via Zanskar in Kargil last year. Similarly, the work for the Zojila tunnel, which is Asia's longest, has also been started. These projects were part of the Rs 25,000 crore projects allocated by the Centre for the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

RBI reduced repo rate for second consecutive time by 25 bps to 6 percent.

• The RBI cut its repo rate by 25 basis points to 6% in its first bi-monthly policy review of 2019-20. The decision comes a week before the election starts on April 11. The central bank had reduced the benchmark lending rate by 25 basis points in February after an 18-month gap.

• The reverse repo rate, too, was lowered from 6% to 5.75%. The bank rate was fixed at 6.25%. What is Repo rate? Repo rate refers to the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in case of shortage of funds.

• Repo rate is short form of Repurchase Rate. What is reverse repo rate? The reverse repo rate is the rate at which the central bank borrows money from commercial banks, to control the money supply in the country.

One97 Communications-owned Paytm Money Gets SEBI Approval for Stock Broking.

• One97 Communications-owned Paytm Money, the wealth management arm of Paytm got approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to start offering a stock broking service such as the ability to trade in equities and cash segments, derivatives, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) among other exchange-traded products.

RBI sets limits for Ways and Means Advances.

• The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in consultation with the government of India has set the limits for Ways and Means Advances (WMA) for the first half of the financial year 2019-20 (April 2019 to September 2019) at Rs.75000 crore.  Ways and Means Advances (WMA)

♦ WMA is the temporary loan facility provided by the RBI to the Centre and State governments

♦ The WMA scheme was introduced in 1997 to meet any temporary mismatches in the receipts and payments of the government

♦ The WMA needs to be vacated after 90 days

♦ The interest rate for WMA is currently charged at the repo rate that is, 6.25%

♦ The limits for WMA are decided by the RBI and in consultation with the Government of India RBI's Policy rates and Reserve ratios:

 ♦ Bank Rate: 6.50%

♦ Repo Rate: 6.00%

♦ Reverse Repo Rate: 6.00%

♦ Cash Reserve Ratio: 4%

♦ Statutory Liquidity Ratio: 19.25%

DAYS:

UN observes International Day for Mine Awareness on 4th April.

• On 8 December 2005, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

• The theme for 2019 is "United Nations Promotes SDGs – Safe Ground – Safe Home". United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has been working to:

♦ meet the needs of the affected people and tailored to the threat of explosive hazards faced by civilians, peacekeepers, and humanitarians

♦ save lives

♦ facilitate deployment of UN missions and the delivery of humanitarian assistance

♦ protect civilians

♦ support the voluntary return of the internally displaced and refugees

♦ enable humanitarian and recovery activities.  

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Important Current Affairs of 2nd April

APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS:

Eicher Motors Ltd. Vinod K.Dasari as the CEO of Royal Enfield.

• Eicher Motors Ltd. has appointed Vinod K. Dasari as the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Enfield. He will also join the board of Eicher Motors as executive director with immediate effect.

• He stepped down as MD and CEO of Ashok Leyland on March 31. He takes over from Siddhartha Lal, who will continue as the MD of Eicher Motors.  The company also plans to invest Rs.700 crore in capital expenditure for 2019-20. The planned expenditure will include completion of construction work of the Technology Centre, Phase-2 of the Vallam Vadagal plant in Tamil Nadu and towards the development of new platforms and products.

SPORTS:

Indian Badminton Tournament 2019 was held in New Delhi.

• The Indian Badminton Tournament 2019 was held at K. D. Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi from 26 to 31 March 2019 and had a total purse of $350,000. Champions of Indian Open Badminton 2019:

♦ Men's Singles: Viktor Axelsen (Denmark)

♦ Women's Singles: Ratchanok Intanon (Thailand)

♦ Men's Doubles: Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin (Chinese Taipei)

 ♦ Women's Doubles: Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu (Indonesia)

♦ Mixed Doubles: Wang Yilü and Huang Dongping (China) India's Srikanth Kidambi lost to Viktor Axelsen of Denmark 7-21, 20-22 in the men's singles summit clash.

India finish with 16 gold medals at Asian Airgun Championships.

• Indian shooters claimed five gold medals on the final day of the Asian Airgun Championships to sign off with a total of 25 medals in Taoyuan, Taipei.  India finished with 16 gold, five silver and four bronze medals.

• The next assignment for Indian shooters is scheduled at Al Ain, the United Arab Emirates where the International Shooting Sport Federation Shotgun World Cup stage. India finish with 16 gold medals at Asian Airgun Championships.

Manu Sawhney took over as ICC Chief Executive with immediate effect.

• India-born Manu Sawhney, the ex-CEO of Singapore Sports Hub and ex-Managing Director of ESPN Star Sports, has been working alongside the outgoing Chief Executive David Richardson for last six weeks to ensure a smooth transition. Richardson will remain with the International Cricket Council (ICC) until July to oversee the delivery of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019.

Lewis Hamilton won Bahrain Grand Prix 2019.

• Lewis Hamilton won Bahrain Grand Prix 2019 title  He defeated Valtteri Bottas of Finland who secured the second position.  Charles Leclerc was finished with the third position and becoming Ferrari’s youngest ever race winner at the age of 21. About Bahrain Grand Prix 2019 First race took place at the Bahrain International Circuit on 4 April 2004. Number of times held: 15 First held:2004 Most wins (drivers): Germany Sebastian Vettel  Most wins (constructors): Italy Ferrari

NATIONAL:

Hump-backed Mahseer, a large freshwater fish added in 'Critically Endangered' list.

• Hump-backed Mahseer, also called the tiger of the water and found only in the Cauvery river basin (including Kerala’s Pambar, Kabini and Bhavani rivers) - is now “Critically Endangered”, as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

• There are about 16 species of mahseer in India. Maximum length  of fish will be 150 cm and a weight of 90 kg. The fish is considered as one of the 229 species from recent Red List which updated in November 2018. The threat status of 12 other Indian species, including great hornbills, has increased.

Odisha celebrated 84th foundation day on April 1, 2019.

• The day is also known as ‘Utkal Divas.’ Odisha was the first State to be formed on linguistic basis in 1936. Earlier, Odisha was part of Bihar.

India’s defense satellite EMISAT successfully launched by ISRO.

• The Indian Space Research Organization, ISRO, launched India’s latest satellite EMISAT and 28 other smaller satellites of international customers this morning with textbook precision.

•  The ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network at Bengaluru has assumed control of EMISAT satellite after its successful launch.

• The national space agency’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV-C45, carrying the payloads on board, lifted off from its spaceport, Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota at 09:27 am. In a little over 17 minutes, the primary payload EMISAT was ed by the rocket at an altitude of 754 km, as planned.  In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration.

Centre to set up Terror Monitoring Group (TMG) in J&K.

• The Union Home Ministry has announced setting up of a Terror Monitoring Group (TMG) to ensure synergised and concerted action against terror financing and terror-related activities in Jammu and Kashmir.

• TMG will act against all registered cases related to terror, terror financing and terror-related activities and bring them to a logical conclusion. It will identify all key persons including leaders of the organisations who are involved in supporting terrorism in any form and take concerted action against them.

• It will investigate the networks of various channels being used to fund terror and terror-related activities and take action to stop the flow of such funds.

• The seven-member TMG constitutes of members:

1. Headed by: Jammu and Kashmir additional director general of police (ADGP)

2. Intelligence Bureau (IB)

3. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

4. National Investigation Agency (NIA)

5. Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)

6. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC)

7. Jammu and Kashmir police inspector-general

INTERNATIONALS:

China launched 2nd Generation data relay satellite, Tianlian II-01.

• The Tianlian II-01 satellite was launched by a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest China's Sichuan Province. This is the first of China's second-generation data-tracking and relay satellites, which will provide services like data relay, measurement and control, and transmission to manned spacecraft, satellites, carrier rockets and non-spacecraft users.

Japan names new imperial era, set to begin on May 1, as 'Reiwa'.

• 'Reiwa' will be the name for the new era when Prince Naruhito succeeds his father Emperor Akihito, whose abdication on April 30 will end the 31-year 'Heisei' era (Since 1989). While 'Rei' means "good" and "beautiful" as well as "order" or "command", 'Wa' means "peace" or "harmony".

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

Reserve Bank of India to inject USD 5 billion more liquidity into banking system

• Reserve Bank of India injects long-term liquidity worth USD 5 billion into the banking system through a dollar-rupee buy-sell swap for a tenure of three years on April 23, the second such auction within a month.

•  Earlier on March 26, the central bank had bought USD 5 billion through similar swap auction in a bid to ease liquidity ahead of elections. "In order to meet the durable liquidity needs of the system, the RBI has decided to inject Rupee liquidity for a longer duration through long-term foreign exchange Buy/Sell swap in terms of its extant Liquidity Management Framework,"

Bank of Baroda becomes 2nd largest PSU, 3rd largest bank in India.

• Bank of Baroda (BoB) became the second largest public sector undertaking (PSU) bank after merging Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank into itself as part of the first three-way amalgamation. BoB is now the third-largest bank after State Bank of India (SBI) and HDFC Bank. Following the merger, the number of PSBs has come down to 18.

•  The consolidated bank will have over 9,500 branches, 13,400 ATMs, 85,000 employees to serve 12 crore customers. The bank will have a business mix of Rs 15 lakh crore of balance sheet, with deposits and advances of Rs 8.75 lakh crore and Rs 6.25 lakh crore, respectively. Post-amalgamation, the bank will have a 22 per cent market share in Gujarat and 8-10 per cent market share in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Reliance Mutual Fund partnering with Google becomes the first Indian company to launch voice-based financial transactions

• Reliance Nippon Life Asset Management (RNAM) joined hands with Google to enable the customers of Reliance Mutual Fund to carry out voice-based financial transactions. RNAM becomes the first company in India, to provide a conversational interface that would help customers regarding funds transactions.

About RNAM 

♦ It is a joint venture between Anil Ambani-led Reliance Capital and Japan’s Nippon Life Insurance Co Ltd.

♦ CEO Sundeep Sikka

♦ Founded: 1995

DAYS:

World Autism Awareness Day is observed on 2nd April.

• World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day observed on 2nd April every year. The aim is to encourage member states of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) throughout the world.

• The theme for 2019 is "Assistive Technologies, Active Participation". It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). World Autism Awareness Day was passed in council on 1 November 2007 and adopted on 18 December 2007. It was proposed by the United Nations representative from Qatar, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Consort of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, and supported by all member states.

• World Autism Day is one of only seven official health-specific UN Days. The day itself brings individual autism organizations together all around the world to aid in things like research, diagnoses, treatment, and overall acceptance for those affected by this developmental disorder.

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Important Current Affairs of 27th March

NATIONAL:

CARE Hospitals has launched Ummeed, a Cancer screening programme.

• CARE Hospitals in association with Piramal Swasthya has launched a cancer screening programme called ‘Ummeed’ in Hyderabad, Telangana. The initiative that will help in early detection of oral, breast and cervical cancer, will be introduced in Rangareddy in the next 45 days, where in screening will be conducted free of cost.

• A fully-equipped van will be used to screen people and an all-woman team will educate the rural population about the importance of early detection of cancer.

IIT Delhi researchers developed AI based disease detector.

• Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi have created a low-power electronic hardware system, based on artificial intelligence (AI), which is capable of detecting malaria, tuberculosis, intestinal parasite and cervical cancer within a few milliseconds.

•  The researchers aim to build a neuromorphic system exclusively for the healthcare sector, in places where there are limited resources and paucity of specialists. AI-based software do exist for apps used for diagnosis.

•  However, this is the first time that a portable, low-power and cost-effective hardware has been developed to make AI-based systems available in areas with resource constraints.

AUSINDEX to be held off the coast of Vishakhapatnam from April 2 to 16th.

• Third Installment of the Joint Naval Exercise of India and Australia AUSINDEX is to be held off the coast of Vishakhapatnam from April 2 to 16.

• The joint exercise will focus on anti-submarine warfare, as part of efforts to ramp up bilateral naval cooperation in the strategic Indian Ocean region.

• AUSINDEX 2019 From the Australian side, HMAS Canberra (landing helicopter dock), Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment vessel, two frigates, HMAS Newcastle and HMAS Parramatta and P81 and P8 maritime patrol aircraft, will be involved in the exercise.

• A Kilo-class submarine, land-based Hawk aircraft that will provide the air attack element for the exercise, a Kamorta class anti-submarine vessel, besides a stealth destroyer will lead the Indian deployment for the exercise.

• The exercise will feature the deployment of Australian personnel on Indian ships and vice versa. The area of the exercise will be within 200 miles of Vishakhapatnam.  Over 1000 Australian defence personnel will take part. Australia has also proposed logistics sharing pact with India.

ISRO to launch 29 satellites including EMISAT on April 1, 2019.

• India on April 1 will launch an electronic intelligence satellite 'Emisat' for the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) along with 28 third party satellites. ISRO, for the first time, will also demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket.

• PSLV-C45 will take off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota tentatively at 9:30 AM carrying the satellites onboard.

• EMISAT, weighing 436 kg, is intended for electromagnetic spectrum measurement. The 28 international customer satellites are from four countries, viz. Lithuania, Spain, Switzerland and USA. All these satellites are being launched under commercial arrangements.

INTERNATIONAL:

GIZ Indo German Development Corporation to help in waste segregation.

• The Indo-German Development Corporation, GIZ, has been tied to help the North Delhi Municipal Corporation to carry out waste segregation activities. The tie-up, which has been facilitated through the Swachh Bharath Mission, is for a five-year period during which time the development corporation will provide technical assistance such as training

• In order to ensure implementation of the solid waste management bylaws in the North Corporation, ward level committees were being formed, involving Resident Welfare Associations, market associations, NGOs and Ragpickers organisations to look into specific local requirements. In addition, three ‘model wards’ have been selected where waste segregation will be ensured within six months.

IOC and BPRL has acquired an oil block in Abu Dhabi.

• Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Bharat PetroResources Ltd. (BPRL), a subsidiary of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), acting jointly as a consortium through Urja Bharat Pte Ltd. has acquired an oil block in Abu Dhabi, where the two will invest $170 million.

• The consortium through Urja Bharat Pte Ltd. have been awarded 100% stake in the Abu Dhabi Onshore Block 1 Concession.

• The concession has been awarded by the Supreme Petroleum Council, on behalf of the Abu Dhabi government. The concession award is for 35 years. This Onshore Block 1 is located in the A1 Dhafra region around Ruwais City and the refining complex, including the coastal region to the west.

China infused USD 2.2 billion in Pakistan's forex reserves.

• China infused around $2.2 billion in Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves for imports and external debt repayments. Pakistan has so far received a total of $9.1 billion in financial assistance from friendly countries during the current fiscal year. Pakistan has got $4.1 billion from China, $3 billion from Saudi Arabia and $2 billion from United Arab Emirates (UAE). Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves stood at $8.84 billion as on March 15.

LIMA 2019 Aero Expo held in Langkawi, Malaysia.

• Langkawi International Maritime Aero Expo (LIMA-2019) is held in Langkawi, Malaysia from 26 March 2019 to 30 March 2019. The event, that takes place once every two years, is one of the largest maritime and aerospace exhibitions in the Asia-Pacific.

• It is established in 1991. Indian Air Force (IAF) is participating in the Maritime Aero Expo for the first time, during which it will showcase its indigenously developed LCA fighter aircraft, Tejas.

• The anti submarine warfare corvette INS Kadmatt also participate in LIMA 2019

World's largest e-waste recycling hub opened in Dubai.

• Located at the Dubai Industrial Park, the 2,80,000 square feet plant will process Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), IT asset disposition (ITAD), refrigerant gas and specialised waste. It is established by ‘Enviroserve’ company with a total cost of $5 million. It has a processing capacity of 100,000 tonnes of total integrated waste per year, of which 39,000 tonnes is e-waste.

DAYS:

World Theatre Day celebrated on 27th March.

• World Theatre Day celebrated annually on the 27th March by ITI Centres and the international theatre community.

• It was initiated in 1961 by the International Theatre Institute (ITI).   On this day several national and international theatre events are organised.

•  A celebrated figure of the theatre is also invited by ITI who speaks and motivates people about the theme of Theatre, a culture of peace and circulate the message in the whole world. 

• This year that is in 2019 Carlos CELDRAN from Cuba, is an award -winning and highly esteemed theatre director, playwright, academic and professor, living and working in Havana, Cuba and present his work all over the world has been selected for the message 2019.

World Purple day Observed on March 26.

• Epilepsy Awareness Day which is commonly known as World Purple Day is observed on March 26 in order to encourage the people to wear the colour to increase the awareness of Epilepsy. Nearly 50 million people in the world are having Epilepsy as per the World Health Organization (WHO) which does not have a known cause.

• The day was first observed in 2008 in Nova Scotia, Canada to encourage awareness and cast away the myths on the general public about the decease. The mission of the day is to share stories and start conversations about epilepsy and to raise funds.

BANKS AND ECONOMICS:

Forex swap auction received USD 16.31 billion by RBI.

• The first Forex swap auction by Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which was aimed at infusing primary liquidity, received $16.31 billion bidding by banks. In turn, RBI infused Rs.34,561 crore rupee liquidity.

• There is the expectation that RBI would conduct more such auctions as there is an appetite in the market, and reduce dependence on open market purchases of bonds.

• RBI has infused a significant amount of liquidity in the current fiscal through open market operations (OMOs). 

RBI fined Rs 2 Crore penalty on PNB.

• The Reserve Bank of India has fined a penalty of Rs 2 crore on Punjab National Bank for non-compliance of regulatory directions with regard to SWIFT operations.  SWIFT (Society For Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) is a global messaging software used for sharing information on inter-bank transactions by financial entities.

AWARDS:

ADNOC Awards Onshore Block To Indian Consortium.

• A consortium of two Indian oil companies, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited awarded as the exploration rights for Abu Dhabi Onshore Block 1.  The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC, Monday signed agreements awarding the exploration rights. The award has been endorsed by Abu Dhabi’s Supreme Petroleum Council. 

President Kovind honoured with highest civilian order in Croatia.

• President Ram Nath Kovind was honoured with Croatia's highest civilian award -- the Grand Order of the King of Tomislav, by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. He was awarded for his "exceptional contribution to the advancement of relations and development of mutual cooperation between Croatia and India.

• “President Kovind is the first Indian President to visit Croatia. Kovind is in the European country as part of his eight-day three-nation visit to Croatia, Bolivia and Chile to further strengthen bilateral ties between India and the three countries.

APPOINTMENTS:

Election Commission appoints K K Sharma as a Spl. Central Police Observer for LS polls in West Bengal, Jharkhand

• Election Commission of India appointed former Director General of Border Security Force K K Sharma as a Special Central Police Observer for Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal and Jharkhand.  Mr Sharma will oversee the deployment and other security-related issues in these States.

Shambhu S Kumaran appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Kingdom of Morocco

• Shambhu S Kumaran a 1995 batch of Indian Foreign Service officer appointed as next India’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco.

• Shambhu S Kumaran a 1995 batch of Indian Foreign Service officer appointed as next India’s Ambassador to Kingdom of Morocco.

•  He will succeed Dr. Kheya Bhattacharya. About Kingdom of Morocco Capital: Rabat Currency: Moroccan dirham Points of interest: Majorelle Garden, Bahia Palace Spoken languages‎: ‎Moroccan Arabic; ‎Berber‎; ... Official languages‎: ‎Arabic; ‎Berber     Foreign Languages‎: ‎French; English; Spanish.

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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 22th March

NATIONAL:

Lok Sabha passed the Indian Forest Amendment Bill, 2017.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CBSE launches app Shiksha Vani.

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

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

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

India's deepest shaft cave discovered in Meghalaya.

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

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

INTERNATIONAL:

FAO expressed its concerns over armyworms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jagmeet Singh made history in the House of Commons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPORTS:

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

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

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

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

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

DAYS:

World Down Syndrome Day observed on March 21.

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

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

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

World Water Day is celebrated on 22nd March.

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

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Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary observed as National Youth Day

National Youth Day was observed on 12 January 2017 to mark the 154th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. The day is observed with an aim to recognise the ideals and teachings of Vivekananda and project him as a role model for the Indian youth.
●    In 1984, the Union Government declared that 12 January, i.e. the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda will be observed as the National Youth Day. His birthday has been celebrated as the National Youth Day since 12 January 1985.
●    On this occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his tweet said, “We offer salutations to the great Swami Vivekananda & remember his powerful thoughts & ideals that continue shaping the minds of generations’.
●    Born on 12 January 1863 in an aristocratic family in West Bengal, Vivekananda was an Indian monk and a chief disciple of the 19th-century Indian spiritualist Ramakrishna. His original name was Narendra Nath Datta.
 

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12th World Hindi Day celebrated across the world

The 12th World Hindi Day was celebrated on 10 January 2017 across the world. 
●    To mark the occasion, special events were organised by non-resident Indians (NRIs) and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) to spread the greatness of Hindi language.
●    World Hindi Day was first observed on 10 January 2006. The day is celebrated alongside the National Hindi Diwas that is being celebrated on 14 September.
●    The National Hindi Diwas is celebrated annually to mark the day, 14 September 1949, on which the Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi written in Devanagari script as the Official Language of the Union.
●    The World Hindi Day seeks to promote Hindi at the global stage, while the National Hindi Diwas is celebrated across the country.
●    Hindi is the fourth most spoken language in the world.
●    In India, Hindi is spoken as a mother tongue by more than 250 million people.

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Good Governance Day on December 25 celebrated

Good Governance Day is being observed across India on 25 December 2016. The day is observed to mark the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who has turned 92.
●    To mark the occasion, a Good Governance campaign will be undertaken for 100 days. 
●    During this campaign, ministers and members of Parliament will travel across India and attend programmes that highlight the key initiatives of the government.
●    Besides, six major initiatives will be launched by the  Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions. The initiatives include
●    Immovable Property Return through Property Related Information System (PRISM)
●    Recruitment Rules Formation, Amendment Monitoring System (RRFAMS)
●    Announcement of E-Service Book
●    Mandatory online filing of APAR by all All India Services and Central Group A Service Officers
●    Launching of redesigned website of Department of Personnel and Training.
●    The endeavour of the government is to improve delivery systems, to promote digital transformation and take forward the connectivity revolution in all sectors.

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Dr. Jitendra Singh unveils six initiatives of DoPT to mark Good Governance Day 

The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh presided over the ‘Good Governance Day’ function, here today. He launched six major initiatives of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on the occasion of Good Governance Day.Main features of the new initiatives are as follows:
●    National Informatics Centre (NIC) had prepared ‘Guidelines for Indian Government Websites’ (GIGW) with a view to make government websites citizen centric and user friendly which has been circulated by the Department of AR & PG to all Government Ministries / Departments for adoption.
●    The Cabinet Secretary to the Government of India had written to all the Secretaries in this regard and advised NIC to extend necessary technology support to facilitate the departments in revising, redesigning their websites to make them compliant to Guidelines for Indian Government websites to make them usable, citizen centric and universally accessible.
●    CMF is a Content Management Framework developed by NIC, MeitY and is aligned to the mandate of PMO to standardize all the websites of Government of India under the Digital India Programme.
●    This includes standardization of Content Architecture, User Interface Design and layout and along with certain important key features such as accessibility, responsive design etc., in order to simplify the information dissemination and access by common citizens even through hand held devices (i.e. mobiles, tablets etc) to the various government services.
●    As per information available the websites of 23 Ministries / Departments have been mitigated using CMF and the websites of remaining departments are in pipeline.
●    The revamped website of DoPT is bilingual and compliant with the ‘Guidelines for Indian Government Website (GIGW).


 

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National Mathematics Day observed on 22 December 2016

National Mathematics Day was observed on 22 December 2016 across India. The day marks the birth anniversary of Indian Mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.
●    This observation was first introduced by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 26 February 2012. The announcement was made at Madras University on the occasion of 125th birth anniversary of Ramanujan. The year 2012 was also observed as the National Mathematics Day.
●    He was born on 23 December 1887 in a Tamil Brahmin Iyengar family in Erode, Madras Presidency in British rule. At present, Erode is a district of Tamil Nadu.
●    He was an autodidact (self-taught person) who lived during the British Raj.
●    His contributions in Mathematics include number theory, mathematical analysis, infinite series, and making formulas and equations.
●    His discoveries in mathematics include Ramanujam Prime and Ramanujam theta. These discoveries also propelled further research on the subject.
●    As a mathematician, he compiled some 3900 mathematical results and equations. Maximum of those equations’ and claims has been proven correct.
●    He along with Godfrey Harold Hardy, a British Mathematician, discovered the smallest number represented as sum of two cubes 1729. This number is known as Hardy–Ramanujan number 1729.
●    He was considered as a natural genius in mathematicians like Gauss and Euler.
●    He died on 26 April 1920 at a young age of 32 years.

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