Current Affairs Daily Updates: 23rd March 2017

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Current Affairs Daily Updates: 23rd March 2017
Upendra Tripathy appointed as Interim Director General of ISA
  • Upendra Tripathy, the former secretary at Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, was appointed as the full-time interim Director General (IDG) of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • He served the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy as its secretary from 1 April 2014 to 31 October 2016.
  • He has worked with local, provincial and union governments in India for the last 36 years.
P.V. Sindhu roped as ambassador of PepsiCo’s sports drink Gatorade
  • Olympics silver medalist and professional badminton player PV Sindhu has been appointed as brand ambassador of PepsiCo’s sports based drink for Gatorade to popularise the benefits of this drink.
  • Sindhu will unveil an all new Sweat More campaign to support the badminton star’s journey from silver to gold.
  • It was the first time American food and beverage maker PepsiCo Inc has roped an Indian to endorse the brand in India.
Russian VTB Bank to Shut Its Only Office Branch in India
  • The Russian VTB Bank has announced its intention to close its only office in India as part of its ongoing cost optimisation strategy.
  • However, the bank will continue operations in the country and further develop their partner and client network in the country.
  • The VTB Bank was launched in India in New Delhi in April 2008. The branch holds an Indian banking licence for transactions in national and foreign currencies.
  • Russian government is the majority shareholder of VTB Bank with 60.9 percent of the voting shares.
  • The Delhi branch focused on trade financing, foreign exchange transactions, corporate lending, settlement and cash services, and opening Rouble accounts for Russian tax residents operating in India.
ABB India bags award for restoring 1,035 MW Sharavathi plant in Karnataka
  • ABB India has restored and modernized the critical 1,035 MW Sharavathi hydropower plant in Karnataka that accounts for 25% of Karnataka Power Corporation’s generation.
  • For restoring the crucial power infrastructure, the ABB has bagged 'the India Smart Grid Foundation (ISGF) innovation award'.
  • ABB is one of the largest engineering companies as well as one of the largest conglomerates in the world. ABB has operations in around 100 countries, with approximately 132,000 employees in December 2016.
Mobile Payment Service ‘Samsung Pay’ Officially Launched In India
  • Samsung Electronics officially launched the mobile payment service, Samsung Pay in India on March 22, 2017.
  • With this, Samsung becomes the first company to launch a mobile payment service in India, ahead of Apple Pay or Android Pay.
  • The first commercial transaction of the new payments service in India was carried out in the presence of NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Samsung Southwest Asia President and CEO HC Hong.
  • Samsung has tied up with several banks and payment gateways in India like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, SBI, Standard Chartered, Citi Bank, and American Express for the payment service.  
  • Its network partners are American Express, Visa, and MasterCard, while Pine Labs is the Acceptance partner for PoS machines.
CCEA approves Policy for extension of oilfield contracts
  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on 22 March 2017 approved a policy for grant of extension to the Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) that were awarded by Union Government  for Pre-NELP Exploration Blocks before 1999.
  • This extension comes as a relief for Vedanta-owned Cairn India Ltd that operates India’s largest onland block at Barmer in Rajasthan. Cairn India holds 70 per cent stake in the Rajasthan block while ONGC owns 30 per cent.
  • The policy aims to enable and facilitate investment to extract the remaining reserves.
World Meteorological Day 2017 observed globally
  • The World Meteorological Day 2017 was observed globally on 23 March 2017 with the theme 'Understanding Clouds'. The Day is organised every year by World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and is celebrated globally.
  • The theme highlights the enormous importance of clouds for weather climate and water. Clouds are central to weather observations and forecasts.
  • On the occasion of World Meteorological Day 2017, WMO released its new digitized International Cloud Atlas- a global reference for observing and identifying clouds.
India ranks 131 in 2016 Human Development Index
  • India was ranked 131 in the 2016 Human Development Index (HDI) among the 188 countries.  India scored 0.624 and was placed in medium human development category.
  • The index was unveiled recently as part of the Human Development Report (HDR) 2016 titled Human Development for Everyone published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • Top three countries: Norway (0.949 score), Australia (0.939) and Switzerland (0.939)
Taiwan Signs MoU to Build Home Grown Submarines
  • Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing­wen launched the island’s first ever home­grown submarine project on March 21, 2017 at a naval base in southern city of Kaohsiung because the island faces rising navy threats from China as relations deteriorate.
  • An MoU has been signed for the project between the navy, Taiwanese shipbuilder CSBC Corporation and the National Chung­Shan Institute of Science and Technology, which develops combat system integration.
Peshawar High Court orders separate counting of Sikhs in census
  • The Peshawar High Court on 22 March 2017 ordered authorities to ensure separate counting of Sikhs in the nation-wide census.
  • The order came after the community members filed a plea for not being counted among the religions. The court ordered that the section of Sikhism be included in the religion column in the census form.
  • The first phase of the 6th census had clubbed Sikhs with the Scheduled Castes of the country while separately counting the Muslims, Hindus, Christians and some other groups.
  • The Sikhs community filed a petition in the high court, which ordered that the section of Sikhism be included in the religion column in the census form.
Majuli to be India’s first carbon neutral district and biodiversity heritage site
  • Majuli: Biggest River Island in the world in the Brahmaputra River, Assam
  • Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam, on 21 March 2017 launched initiatives to develop Majuli as India’s first carbon neutral district and as a biodiversity heritage site.
  • The launch coincided with the celebration of International Day of Forest at Brahmaputra State Guest House in Guwahati.
India and ADB Sign $350 Million Loan for Upgrading 1,500 kms of District Roads in State of Madhya Pradesh
  • Philippines headquartered Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s Deputy Country Director L. B. Sondjaja and Joint Secretary (Multilateral Institutions), Department of Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, Raj Kumar have signed a $350 million loan agreement in New Delhi on March 22, 2017.
  • This loan amount will be used to improve 1,500 kilometers of major district roads in India’s second­largest State Madhya Pradesh.
  • The state government of Madhya pradesh also will allocate $150 million for this project
RS passes HIV, AIDS Bill, 2014 by voice vote
  • The upper house of Indian Parliament, Rajya Sabha passed the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 by voice vote on 21 March 2017.
  • The bill, which includes provisions that ensure equal rights to people afflicted by HIV and AIDS in getting treatment and admission in educational institutions and jobs, was introduced in the house on the same day.
High level committee to examine working of CCIM, CCH and their governing legislation
  • The high level Committee has been formed to examine the working of the regulatory bodies Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and Central Council of Homoeopathy(CCH) said by Yesso Naik, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for AYUSH.
  • The committee will be headed by Arvind Panagariya,Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog.
  • Other members of the committee are Chief Executive Officer (CEO), NITI Aayog and Secretary, Ministry of AYUSH
  • Both the council will be inspected by the new committee and will suggest suitable reforms.
Government Lowers Cash Transaction Limit to Rs 2 lakh
  • The Government of India has proposed to lower the limit of cash transaction from Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh per month to further tighten and discourage payments by cash as well as curb black money.
  • The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed 40 amendments to the Finance Bill 2017 which was cleared by the Lok Sabha on March 21, 2017.
  • The new limit will be effective from April 1, 2017. Any violations to the norms would be subjected to a fine equivalent to the amount of transaction.
Union Cabinet approves MoU with USA on partnership for Cyber Security
  • The Union Cabinet, presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 22 March 2017 was apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-ln) and the US Homeland Security Department on cooperation in the field of Cyber Security.
  • The MoU was signed on 11 January 2017 in New Delhi.
  • The agreement aims to promote closer co-operation and exchange of information pertaining to the Cyber Security in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations and on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
Union Ministry of Railways releases new Water Management Policy
  • The Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu on 22 March 2017 released the Water Policy of Indian Railways to mark the World Water Day.
  • The policy covers all aspects of water use, recycling, conservation and recharge of groundwater.
  • This is a progressive and creative policy under which field units will be motivated to recycle and save water.
  • The objective of the policy is to improve water use efficiency by setting up water recycling plants, rainwater harvesting plants, sewage treatment plants and effluent treatment plants on railway land.
  • The policy allows the participation of private players for recycling water for non-potable usage on build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis.
  • In this water policy, water audits, restoration of water bodies and recycling of water were given a priority.
SC constituted committee to explore technical solution to block videos of sexual offences on social networking sites
  • The Supreme Court of India on 22 March 2017 constituted a committee to explore a technical solution to block videos of sexual offences on social networking sites.
  • The committee comprises of representatives from the Union government and internet majors.
  • The members of the committee that includes the nominees of Google India, Microsoft India, Yahoo India, Facebook and other internet intermediaries were given a time period of 15 days to meet and come up with a solution.
GRAPES-3 Telescope upgraded to detect solar storms
  • The GRAPES-3 experiment at TIFR’s (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ootacamund in Tamil Nadu is getting upgraded to detect solar storms.
  • GRAPES-3 (Gamma Ray Astronomy PeV EnergieS phase-3) experiment had detected the effect of a solar storm that hit the earth in June 2015.
  • GRAPES-3 has an important role in understanding the propagation of storms from the L1 point (Lagrange point 1) to its impact on the Earth. The upgraded detector will have an increased coverage and improved capacity to determine the direction of incident cosmic rays.
  • It will play a major role in getting precise information about the propagation of storms in the last million miles (from the L-1 point) of their journey from the Sun to the earth.
Indian para-athletes win 8 medals in IPC Athletics Grand Prix
  • Indian para-athletes in the third week of March 2017 bagged eight medals, including three gold, in the 9th Fazza International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai.
  • With 3 gold, 1 silver and 4 bronze medals till the second day of competition, India ranks at the seventh spot out of 48 participating countries.
  • Sundar Singh Gurjar clinched a gold each in the men’s Javelin Throw F-46 and Discus Throw F-46 competitions.
  • Gurjar, who lost his left hand in an accident two years ago, threw 60.33m in Javelin Throw F-46. He threw 44.56m in Discus Throw F-46, over five meters clear of the rest of the field.
  • The third gold for India was grabbed by Narender Ranbir in men’s Javelin Throw F-44 with an effort of 47.75m.
  • Other Indian winners till the second day of competition
    • Anandan Gunasekaran won silver in 400m Men T-42/44/46
    • Ramkaran Singh won bronze in 800m Men T-13/20
    • Surjit Singh won bronze in Shotput Men F-40/41/42
    • Rohit won bronze in 400m Men T-11/12/13
    • Pramod K Yadav won bronze in 400m Men T-42/44/46