Daily Current Affairs Short Updates: March 20-21, 2017

Daily Current Affairs Short Updates for March 20-21, 2017 with important tid-bits on current affairs.

NATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS

Government to merge Bharatiya Mahila Bank with SBI

The Union Finance Ministry has decided to merge the Bharatiya Mahila Bank (BMB) with the State Bank of India (SBI). This merger seeks to ensure greater banking services outreach to a larger number of women, at a faster pace. The decision to merge BMB with SBI was taken in view of the advantage of the large network of SBI among other things. Since its establishment in 2014, BMB has extended loans of Rs. 192 crores to women borrowers, while the SBI group has provided loans of about Rs. 46 thousand crore rupees. Besides, out of the total workforce of around 2 lakh employees in SBI, 22% are women. SBI group already has 126 exclusive all-women branches across the country while BMB has only seven.

STATES CURRENT AFFAIRS

Assam Government approves recommendation of 7th Pay Commission

The Assam state cabinet has decided to implement the recommendation of the Seventh Pay Commission. The implementation will make state exchequer bear an additional burden of over Rs. 3000 in the next financial year and the proposed pay structure would come into effect from 1 April 2016.  The commission was constituted for over 4 lakh employees. The Cabinet also decided to set a directorate of the Information Technology Department in Assam.

Manipur economic blockade lifted

The four-month-long economic blockade in Manipur was lifted after successful tripartite talks involving the United Naga Council (UNC), representatives of the Central and the Manipur governments.  The blockade was enforced by UNC, protesting against decision of former Chief Minister O. Ibobi Singh to carve out 7 new districts in the state, where Nagas have substantial presence. The blockade had cut off the two main highways from November 1, 2016, blocking movement of essential commodities to Manipur.

INTERNATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS

North Korea tests new high-performance Rocket engine

The North Korean military has tested a new high-performance rocket engine, giving new birth to isolated country’s rocket industry. The new engine will help North Korea to achieve world-class satellite launch capability.  The test was apparently timed to coincide with the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to China, where he warned that regional tensions had reached a “dangerous level”. Rocket engines can be easily re-purposed for use in missiles. International experts consider that the nuclear-armed North Korea’s space programme is a fig leaf for its weapons tests.

March 20: World Sparrow Day

The world sparrow day (WSD) is observed every year on March 20 to raise awareness of the house sparrow and other common birds to urban environments and threats to their populations. The rationale for celebrating the Day is to use it as a platform to underscore the need to conserve sparrows as well as the urban biodiversity. The sparrow, especially the common house sparrow is one of the oldest companions of human beings. But its population is declining for various reasons such as destruction of its habitat, lack of insect food for the young and the increasing microwave pollution from mobile phone towers. WSD is an international initiative by the Nature Forever Society of India (NFSI) in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and also numerous other national and international organisations across the world. The first WSD was organised in different parts of the world in 2010.

Banking, Business & Economy Current Affairs

ONGC signs agreements to buy GSPC’s KG block stake

State-owned ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) has signed definitive agreements to buy out debt-ridden GSPC’s (Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation) entire 80% in KG (Krishna Godavari)-basin natural gas block for $1.2 billion. ONGC will pay $995.26 million for three discoveries in the KG-OSN-2001/3 block that are under trial production since August 2014. It will pay remaining $200 million for six other discoveries for which GSPC has been finalising an investment plan to bring them to production.

Five Indians in WEF’s 2017 young global leaders list

Five Indians were named in 2017 World Economic Forum’s 100 Young Global Leaders list. They are Vijay Shekhar Sharma (Paytm Founder and CEO), Shruti Shibulal (The Tamara Hospitality), Ambarish Mitra (Founder and CEO Blippar), Hindol Sengupta (Editor-at large Fortune India) and Rwitwika Bhattacharya-Agarwal (Founder and CEO Swaniti Initiative). There were nine global leaders from South Asia, out of which five are from India. Besides, there are some persons of Indian origin from US and Europe named in the list. Each year, the WEF selects 100 young business leaders, under the age of 40, who are tackling the world’s most complex challenges with innovative approaches.

Essar’s Nand Niketan: India’s first private sector township to go cashless

Essar’s Nand Niketan at Hazira (in Surat district, Gujarat) became India’s first private sector township to go cashless, using the mobile wallet for performing digital transactions. Mumbai-based tech company was roped by the township to provide smartphone based application for mastercard-enabled mobile wallets. So far around 8,000 prepaid cards were issued in the township to the employees, merchants and shop owners operating within its precincts. An average of Rs 2 lakh worth of digital transactions are being executed every day.

CCI gives nod to Reliance Communications, Aircel merger

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has given its approval to demerger of Reliance Communications (RCom) wireless division into Aircel Ltd. and Dishnet Wireless Ltd. The combined entity will have assets worth Rs. 65,000 crore.  The merger already has received approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) as well as from the stock exchanges BSE and NSE. It will also reduce RCom’s debt by Rs 20,000 crore while Aircel’s debt would go down by Rs 4,000 crore closing in 2017.

PERSONS IN NEWS

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry passes away

Rock and roll legend Chuck Berry passed away. He was 90. His seven-decade music career had boasted a string of hits, including classics Roll Over Beethoven and Johnny B. Goode. He had received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 1984. He was among the first inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

Former Parliamentarian Pyarimohan Mohapatra passes away

Former IAS officer and Rajya Sabha member and Pyarimohan Mohapatra passed away in Mumbai after a prolonged illness. He was 77. He is regarded as the chief strategist and mentor of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. He was former IAS officer of 1963 batch of Odisha Cadre. He had served as Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Biju Patnaik. He had played a key role in deciding the shape and contours of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) after the regional party was formed in 1997.

V Hangkhalian sworn-in as Protem Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly

Senior BJP legislator V. Hangkhalian was sworn-in as Protem Speaker of the 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly. He was administered oath of office by State Governor Najma Heptulla at the Raj Bhawan. Later Protem Speaker jointly administered oath to newly elected MLAs at the state assembly hall. In recently concluded state assembly election, BJP had won 21 seats while Congress won 28 in the 60-member House. BJP-led government was formed in the state with the support of four legislators each from National People’s Party (NPP) and Naga People’s Front (NPF), one legislator each from Lok Janshakti Party, Congress and Trinamool Congress.

Canadian teacher Maggie MacDonnell wins $1 million Global Teacher Prize

Canadian teacher Maggie MacDonnell who teaches at a school in a fly-in only village of Salluit in the Arctic region has won a $1-million Global Teacher Prize. She was bestowed with this award for changing the lives of her students and transforming her community. She was selected among 10 finalists chosen from 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries. Global Teacher Prize is Nobel-style award, set up in 2014 by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. The prize is paid in instalments and requires the winner to remain a teacher for at least five years.

ICMR Director Soumya Swaminathan named to UN group on antimicrobial resistance

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appointed Soumya Swaminathan, Director of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the high level group to provide expertise on and coordinate the global fight against antimicrobial resistance. The group comprises high level representatives of relevant UN agencies, other international organizations and individual experts across different sectors. Ms Swaminathan is also Secretary in the Department of Health Research in Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. She is also a multi-award-winning paediatrician, clinical scientist and is known for her research on tuberculosis.

 

Justice Navniti Prasad Singh took oath as Chief Justice of Kerala High Court

Justice Navniti Prasad Singh took oath as the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court. He was administered oath to the office by Governor P. Sathasivam at Raj Bhavan in Thiruvanathapuram. Justice Singh was a former judge in the Patna High Court. He was transferred to Kerala High Court after Justice TB Radhakrishnan, who had been serving as the acting Chief Justice was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court.

SPORTS CURRENT AFFAIRS

K T Irfan wins bronze in Asian 20km Race Walk Championships

National record holder K T Irfan won bronze medal in the 20 kilometre men’s event in the Asian Race Walk Championships held in Nomi, Japan. In this event, Irfan finished the race in 1 hour 20 minutes and 59 seconds, little slower than his national record timing of 1 hour, 20 minutes, 21 seconds. South Korea’s Kim Hyun-Sub won the gold medal and Kazakhstan’s Georgiy Sheiko won silver medal. In the women’s 20 kilometre event, India’s Priyanka failed to win medal after finishing fourth.

Roger Federer wins ATP Indian Wells Masters title

Roger Federer won ATP Indian Wells Masters title by defeating Stan Wawrinka by 6-4, 7-5 score. It was his record-equalling fifth title at Indian Wells. With this win, Federer joined Novak Djokovic as the only man to win five Indian Wells titles. Earlier, he had won this title consecutively three times between 2004 and 2006 and in 2012.

Shahid Afridi appointed ambassador of Blind Cricket World Cup

Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC) has appointed former all-rounder Shahid Afridi (37) as the ambassador for the fifth edition of the Blind Cricket World Cup. The PBCC is going to host fifth edition of the tournament which will be played in ODI format in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan in January 2018. Nine members of World Blind Cricket Ltd will participate in the tournament and four of them have agreed to play in Pakistan.

Mumbai lose its permanent status in BCCI

Mumbai lost its permanent status in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). It was as per the new constitution of the cricket board, finalised by the Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed by the Supreme Court. The committee has granted full membership with voting rights to all the North Eastern states, as recommended in Lodha Panel reforms. Uttarakhand, Telangana were made full members and Bihar was given back its voting right. The new rules clearly states, there could be only one full member from a state. Ranji champions along with Baroda and Saurastra are associate members and will take turns to rotate annually to vote. The CoA has strictly adhered to the reforms that have been passed by the Supreme Court.

DAYS, EVENTS AND OBSERVEACES

China to take part in Brahmaputra festival

China is going to participate in the five-day Brahmaputra river festival titled Namami Brahmaputra organised Assam Government. The event is described as the “biggest river festival of India. Various other countries such as Vietnam and Singapore are also attending. The Brahmaputra is 2,900 km long international river originating in southwestern Tibet, China. Of its total length, 918 km flows in India, 1625 km in China and 337 km in Bangladesh.

2017 International Buddhist Conference held in Bihar

The three days International Buddhist Conference 2017 was held at the Rajgir International Convention Centre (RICC) of Nav Nalanda Mahavira Deemed University, Rajgir, Bihar. It was inaugurated jointly by Dalai and Minister of Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma. The conference was organized by the Union Ministry of Culture and Nava Nalanda Mahaviahra Deemed University. Its main theme was Buddhism in the 21st Century – Perspectives and Responses to Global Challenges and Crises. In this conference, 41-volume of the Pali Tripitaka by Dalai lama, reprinted by the Nava Nalanda University in Devanagri script was also released. Nava Nalanda University’s new department of the Buddhist Science, first of its kind in Asia was also inaugurated.

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