1 . Current Affairs Snippet March 2019 NATIONAL On 26 th February Indian Air Force attacked JeM terrorist camps in POK. The terrorist camp located in Balakot was the largest terrorist camp of JeM and it was run by MaulanaYousafAzhar (alias UstadGhouri), the brother-inlaw of Masood Azhar, Chief of JeM. The Government of India selected the target in a manner so that the civilian casualties were avoided. The camp attacked was situated on a hilltop at a distance from civilian presence. The Government said that the strike was made after the Indian intelligence reports confirmed that JeM was attempting another suicide terror attack in various parts of the country, and the fidayeenjihadis were being trained for this purpose. The Government described the strike as non-military preemptive strike. The air strikes were made 12 days after the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, for which Pakistan-based terror group Jaish e Mohammad had taken responsibility; 40 soldiers of the CRPF were killed in the terror attack. Wing Commander AbhinandanVarthaman was captured by Pakistan.He was captured while he was part of an engagement along the Line of Control with a package of 24 Pakistani aircrafts which was intercepted by eight IAF fighters. His jet was shot down and he parachuted on Pakistan s side of the Line of Control. This is the first time in last 48 years that the Indian and Pakistani warplanes entered into an aerial combat. The Government of India had clarified that it would not enter into any deal with Pakistan for releasing of the captured Indian Air Force pilot. The USA called on both India and Pakistan and told them to cease all cross-border military actions. Pakistan on March 1, 2019 JeM Chief - Masood Azhar AbhinandanVarthaman released the pilot as a good will gesture and lokedit deescalated the rising tensions in the region. Pakistan has indefinitely stopped Samjhauta express. Samjhauta express is a train service that runs between India and Pakistan. Pakistan has said that the service will be resumed once the security situation between India and Pakistan improves. The Government of India has stayed the order giving powers to Assam Riffles to search and arrest without warrant. This was done after the protest lodged by the North Eastern States.The order was apparently given without consulting the states and they were not happy with it. The order was given to Assam Riffles for dealing with the increasing unrest in North Eastern States of India. The Government of India had granted this power to Assam Riffles in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram. The Government of India has deployed 10,000 additional paramilitary personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. The personnel have been deployed as part of routine preelection exercise ahead of Lok Sabha elections. The Centre government has deployed 100 companies of paramilitary. 45 are from the CRPF, 35 are from the BSF and 10 each from the SSB and the ITBP. This move has brought BSF back to Srinagar after a period of 14 years (except for a brief period of one week in 2016). The Election Commission has approved the use of any of the 12 approved IDcards for casting votes. Till now only photo voter slip was allowed as identification document for casting vote.the step has been taken by the Election Commission to ensure more voting. The use of photo voter slips has been questioned in recent years as they are prepared after the finalising of the electoral rolls and distributed close to the voting dates. This increases chances of manipulation. The Central Government has approved additional assistance of Rs. 1, crore to Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Jharkhand and Rajasthan for damages incurred in natural disasters during The assistance has been approved announced under the National Disaster Fund.The assistance of Rs crore has been announced for Andhra Pradesh for damages caused by cyclonic storm "Phethai". The assistance of Rs crore has been announced for Manipur for rehabilitation post floods and landslides. The assistance of Rs crore and Rs. 1, crore have been announced for Jharkhand and Rajasthan respectively for dealing with the drought in the state. The Government of India has constructed National War Memorial (NWM) at India Gate in memory of the war heroes of Indian forces. National War Memorial, New Delhi All copyrights to this material vests with IMS Learning Resources Pvt Ltd. No part of this material either in part or as a whole shall be copied, reprinted, reproduced, sold, distributed or transmitted in any form in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, or stored in any retrieval system of any nature without the permission of IMS Learning Resources Pvt Ltd., and any such violation would entail initiation of suitable legal proceedings.
2 The memorial honours Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in war and operations since independence of India. The memorial spread over an area of 40 acres is made up of four concentric circles. Amar Chakra (circle of immortality), Veer Chakra (circle of bravery), Tyag Chakra (circle of sacrifice) and Rakshak Chakra (circle of protection). India Gate is a war memorial built by the British in memory of 84,000 Indian soldiers killed during World War I and the Afghan campaign. The memorial has been constructed at a cost of Rs 176 crore. The Supreme Court of India has referred the Aydohya case to mediation panel. The mediation will be held in Uttar Pradesh s Faizabad district. The mediation will be headed by Justice (retd) F M Kallifulla, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Senior Advocate SriramPanchu be part of the mediation panel. Justice (retd.) F.M. Kallifulla, Sri Ra, Panchu, and Sri Ravi Shankar The five judge Supreme Court Bench has asked the panel to give progress report in four weeks and to complete the process in eight. The order also empowers the mediators to co-opt more members in case of difficulty. The Court ordered mediation saying that it only has power to decide property matters, the mediation can provide possibility of healing. The Court has also said that the case was not only about the property but it was also related to religious sentiments of two important communities. The Election Commission in a statement has said that all the political parties in Jammu and Kashmir support simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls at the earliest. The bureaucracy (including the Chief Secretary and Home Secretary) on the other hand want separate Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State. The Pakistan s Foreign JeM Chief Masood Azhar Minister has admitted that Jaish-e- Mohammad(JeM) chief MasoodAzhar is in Pakistan and is unwell. The Minister also clarified that it could not act against Azhar unless India presents solid and inalienable evidence that could stand in a court of law. Jaise-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF men were killed by a suicide bomber. India and Pakistan are in state of high tension in the aftermath of Pulwama attack, India s attack on terrorist camp in PoK and Pakistan s retaliation against India. The Central Government has banned Jamaat-e- Islami(JeI) Jammu F-16 Pakistan Air Force and Kashmir under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The Central Government has delegated powers to the Jammu and Kashmir Governor to order seizure of funds, properties and assets of the outfit under Section 42 of the UAPA. The ban will remain in operation for a period of five years. The Indian Government provided the United States proofs that F-16 fighter jets were used by Pakistan in the recent confrontation with India. United States is keeping an eye on the reports of the misuse of these jets. Indian Air Force displayed parts of AMRAAM beyond visual range air-to-air missile as evidence that Pakistan used F-16 to conduct aerial raids on installations in Kashmir. Pakistan claims that it did not used F-16 fighter jets in the conflict. The use of American made F-16 fighter jets against India is a violation of the end user agreement signed between Pakistan and America. Sunil Arora - Chief Election Commissioner of India TheElection Commission announced that the Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases, between April 11 and May 19. Participation of more than 90 crore voters is expected in the 17 th Lok Sabha Elections. The results of the polling will be declared on May 23. The Election Commission also announced that the assembly elections for Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Sikkim will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.
3 The Election Commission (EC) decided against holding the J&K state polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha citing security reasons. Lok Lok Sabha Election 2019 Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Phase 5 Phase 6 Phase 7 April 11 April 18 April 23 April 29 May 6 May 12 May 19 Andhra Assam(5) Assam(4) Bihar(5) Bihar(1) Bihar(8) Bihar(8) Pradesh (25) Arunachal Bihar(5) Bihar(5) J&K(1) J&K(2) Haryana(10) Jharkhand(3) Pradesh (2) Assam(5) Chhattisgarh Chhattisgarh Jharkhand Jharkhand Jharkhand MP (8) (3) (7) (3) (4) (4) Bihar(4) J&K(2) Gujarat(26) MP(6) MP(7) MP(8) Punjab(13) Chhattisgarh (1) Karnataka (14) Goa (2) Maharashtra (17) Raj (12) UP (14) WB (9) J&K(2) Maharashtra (10) J&K (1) Odisha (6) UP (14) WB (8) Chandigarh (1) Maharashtra Manipur(1) Karnataka(14) Rajasthan WB(7) Delhi(7) UP(13) (7) (13) Manipur (1) Odisha(5) Kerala(20) UP(13) HP(4) Meghalaya(2) TN(39) Maharashtra WB(8) (14) Mizoram(1) Tripura(1) Odisha(6) Nagaland(1) UP(8) UP(10) Odisha(4) WB(3) WB(5) Sikkim(1) Puducherry(1) Dadra &Ngr Haveli(1) Telangana(17) Tripura(1) UP(8) Uttarakhand (5) Daman and Diu(1) Photographs of politicians will be printed on EVM ballot paper to help electors identify the correct candidate and to avoid confusions. In 2014 Sabha polls in Bihar, UP and West Bengal will be conducted in seven phases, in Jammu and Kashmir in five phases, in Jharkhand, MP, Maharashtra and Odisha in four phases, in Assam and Chhattisgarh in three phases, in Karnataka, Manipur, Rajasthan and Tripura in two phases and remaining states will go to poll on a single day This is the first general electionin India where there will be 100 percentuse of voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) units. A VVPAT produces a printout of the vote cast using an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM), which can be shown to the voter to dispel doubts. The Election Commission has made it compulsory for candidates to advertise their criminal records. The candidates with criminal record will have to advertise their criminal records on TV and newspapers at least three times during the election campaigning. Candidates who do not have criminal records will have to mention that they do not have criminal records against them. The Election Commission made a number of announcements related to Lok Sabha elections Few of these are: elections, nine lakh polling stations were set up. In 2019 Election Commission will set up ten lakh polling stations. Parties and candidates cannot issue any political advertisement on social media without clearance from the Election Commission first. The ads made on social media will count towards the total poll expenditure of the parties. All the Lok Sabha 2019 candidates have to compulsorily declare their social media accounts while filing the affidavit with the Election Commission. Biju Janta Dal (BJD) announced that it would reserve 33% tickets for women in Lok Sabha elections With this announcement BJD has become the first party in India to implement the longstanding demand of women. BJD won 20 of 21Lok Sabha seats in Odisha in 2014 elections and it currently has three women MPs. BJD did not announce 33% reservation for women in the Assembly Polls for Odisha that would take place simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.
4 On 13 th March, China once again placed a technical hold on the proposal in the UN Security Council to ban chief of the terror outfit, Jaish-e- MohammedMaulanaMasood Azhar. US, UK, France and Germany supported the move of ban. Listing of Azharas a global Masood Azhar - JeM Chief terrorist would have led to travel ban on Azhar along with taking over of his assets. This in turn would have put a substantial curb on the terrorist activities of the outfit. It would also have supported India s assertion that Pakistan is the epicentre of terrorism in the South Asian region. For last 10 years, India has been trying to get Azhar listed as a global terrorist in the UN Security Council. India started its efforts after the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack in China has been blocking this effort. A BJP delegation comprising Union ministers and the party s general secretaries approached the Election Commission to declare West Bengal as a super sensitive state to ensure fair elections. The BJP also demanded that the central forces should be deployed at all the polling stations in the state. BJP also requested EC to transfer police officers where their impartiality was questionable and asked EC to remove Commissioner Rajeev Kumar from election duty. India and USA entered into an understanding for construction of six nuclear plants in India. The statement for the same was issued at the conclusion of the 9th round of India-US Strategic Security Dialogue. The understanding was made possible due to the special waiver given by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), This waiver has allowed India to sign civil nuclear cooperation agreements with the US, France, Russia, Canada, Argentina, Australia, Sri Lanka, the UK, Japan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and South Korea. LAW.TheSupreme Court of India has asked the Election Commission of India to respond to the plea seeking an independent review of the software used in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) and EVM Tracking Software (ETS). The Supreme Court has also asked the poll panel to respond to the plea (PIL) that suggested making changes in the source code of EVMs to make them tamper proof. The PILs have been filed by activists Sunil Ahya and Ramesh Bellamkonda. According to the plea, software review of EVMs is necessary because EC is not doing 100% verification of VVPAT paper trail. The EC has decided to conduct the verification of VVPAT paper slips of only one polling station per assembly constituency. The Supreme Court of India has stayed its order of evicting approximately 11 lakh tribal families in 21 states of India. The Supreme Court passed the order to evict people who were unable to prove their rights over the land on which they lived. The Supreme Court was very hard on Central and State Governments while passing the order. It asked them why they took so much time to request for the review. The Court said that they should have raised objection when the order was passed. The Court said that after declaration of an area as forest all the unauthorised people have to be removed from the area. Andrea Thompson (US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security) and Vijay Gokhle (Foreign Secretary of India) TheGovernment of India has promulgated an ordinance allowing the voluntary use of Aadhaar for opening bank accounts and purchasing mobile connections. The ordinance provides for voluntary use, i.e. nobody can be denied service due to refusal of furnishing Aadhaar number. The ordinance also bans storing of Aadhaar number and other biometric information by the service providers. The ordinance will become law once it receives the President s signature. TheDelhi High Court has rejected the petition of TTV Dinakaran and VK Sasikala for allotting the two-leaves symbol to the All India Anna DravidaMunnetraKazhagam s (AIADMK). The High Court has upheld the Election Commissions decisions to allot the symbol to the Panneerselvam- Palaniswami faction of the AIADMK. The EC has allotted pressure cooker symbol, as an interim measure, to Dinakaran faction last year during the by polls of the R K Nagar constituency in Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court of India has clarified that the Central Government is not responsible for delays in the appointment of High Court Judges. The Supreme Court took the onus of the delays of itself by saying that nearly 70 to 80 files are pending before its Collegium. The SC clarified that 27 recommendations are currently pending before the Centre and about 70 to 80 are pending before the Collegium. The clarification was issued in response to an PIL alleging that the Centre was indefinitely sitting on names recommended by the Collegium for appointment to the country s higher judiciary. The PIL was filed by an NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigations. On March 6, 2019 the Supreme Court reserved its verdict on whether the Ayodhya title dispute case should be resolved through court-monitored mediation. The five judge Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India asked the petitioners to suggest names for the mediator or panel of mediators. The Supreme Court also said that it would pass the order on the issue very shortly. The parties (including UP Government) in favour of constructing Ram Temple argued that the mediation is bound to fail due to the sensitive nature of the case. They want the Court to decide on the issue one way or other. The Haryana Government passed a Bill that allows the use of thousands of acres of protected Aravali land for real estate and other non-forest activities. Among other things, the law will allow for the regulation of unauthorised constructions in the area because it will come into effect retrospectively. The Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been sent to Governor for his assent. Congress has requested Governor not to assent to the Bill.
5 The Supreme Court has taken a strong exception to this Bill. It has said that this step of Haryana Government will destroy the forest and this cannot be permitted. The Supreme Court has asked the state not to take any further action on the law and termed it shocking that the Haryana government has taken this step despite being told earlier by the Court not to do so. Environmentalists claim that allowing unrestricted construction in Aravalis forest can create problems for environment of Delhi, Gurugram and Faridabad. The Supreme Court has directed Attorney General K KVenugopal to inform before 17 th March when it would be possible to convene a meeting of the Lokpal Selection Committee. The Supreme Court has decided to look into a plea questioning provisions in the law that allows courts to pass an order for restitution of conjugal rights of separated couples. The plea states that these provisions are based on patriarchal gender stereotype and violate the Constitutional rights to privacy and individual autonomy. The plea challenges the validity of Section 9 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Section 22 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954; and Order 21, Rules 32 and 33 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, which provide the statutory scheme for the Restitution of Conjugal Rights. The PIL has been made by two students of the Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar Delhi High Court in 1984 upheld these provisions to be Constitutional. But the culture has changed since then and the right to privacy has been accepted as a fundamental right. The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will look into the issue. The Supreme Court of India upheld the appointment of Lieutenant Generals Dalbir Singh Suhag and SanjivChachra as heads of the Eastern and Northern Commands respectively made in While upholding the appointment, Supreme Court clarified that seniority alone cannot be a criterion for appointment to such important posts. The Court also said that the principle that the appointment should be done by selection does not mean that the criterion of seniority will be ignored while making the selection. The Supreme Court of India has taken the Assam Government to task over the functioning of the Foreigners Tribunals in the state. The Supreme Court asked the State why there were 90 inmates in detention centres when the tribunals have declared over 58,000 as foreigners so far. The Supreme Court asked the Tribunal where all the foreigners in the state have gone. The Supreme Court also warned the Government that it may seek the personal presence of the state Chief Secretary and Home Secretary to explain the position if the things do not improve. To protect the forests, the Supreme Court has completely banned the felling of trees in Himachal Pradesh. The interim order of the Court also banned felling of trees even in cases where the approvals have been granted by the Divisional Forest Officers. The ban will remain in place till April 1, which is also the date of the next hearing of the case. The Supreme Court has directed the States to ensure that only those police officers should be appointed as Director General of Police who have at least six months of service left before retirement. Supreme Court had earlier said that the appointment to the post of Director General should be made solely on the basis of merit and that the appointment should be made for a minimum period of two years. As a consequence of the previous order, UPSC was only looking for officers with at least two years of service left before retirement. The Supreme Court clarified that this was not the intension of the Court. The Supreme Court Collegium has cleared appointment of 26 judges to 3 High Courts. Six judges each will be appointed to Madras and Patna High Courts while 14 judges will be appointed to Bombay High Court. Supreme Courthas asked for the amicus curiae in the case pertaining to BCCI s administration pending before it, to look into the claim that the new constitution of the board went beyond the recommendations of the Justice R M Lodha panel. The Supreme Court made this demand when some states h raised an issue that in the BCCI Constitution, there are some issues which are beyond the Lodha panel recommendations. The Cricket Association of Bihar, also raised the issue of some officials of the rival Bihar Cricket Association being allegedly caught on camera demanding bribes from players. The Court also refused to grant an urgent hearing to former BCCI chief Anurag Thakur s plea. He has submitted a plea seeking expunction of certain remarks against him in the Supreme Court judgment following which he had to quit his post. STATES 22 percent of Assam s total forest land is under encroachment. Of total forest land of 17,39, hectares, 3,87, hectares are encroached. Assam has 312 reserved forest with 13,54, hectares of land, out of which 3,73, hectares are illegally occupied, while 3,971 hectares are encroached in five national parks that have a total area of 1,97,826 hectares. Likewise, 10, hectares across 18 wildlife sanctuaries of 1,87,008.1 hectares are also under encroachment, In the reserved forests, there are 499 forest villages with square km of land and total population of 2,34,113 dwellers. Kerala has become the first state in India to have inducted a robot in the police force. KP-Bot, inducted in Kerala State Police Force The robot KP-Bot is modelled after a woman sub-inspector. KP-Bot has been developed by Asimov Robotics Pvt Ltd in association with Cyberdome, Kerala Police s research centre.
6 KP-Bot is capable of identifying people using facial recognition and can interact based on answers in its database. Kerala Police is planning to use robots for traffic control and bomb disposal in future. Delhi Government has released the latest economic figures. The main points of the data are: The Delhi economy grew at the rate of 8.61% in Tax collection grew 14.07% in The main sources of tax revenue in were GST at Rs 13, crore and VAT at Rs 11, crore. The tax collection growth for has been projected at 17.69% over According to the data an average resident in Delhi earns three times the national average. The per capita income of Delhi is Rs 3,65,529 against the national average of Rs 1,25,397 as per current prices. Delhi has become the first state in India to implement the recommendation of Swaminathan Commission related to MSP. Delhi has allocated Rs 100 crore in its current budget for providing 1.5 times of Minimum Support Price to farmers. Maharashtra government has formed a Transgender Welfare Board. The board has been formed with the objective of providing formal education, employment opportunities, conducting health programmes and giving legal help to the transgender community. The members of the community will be issued community identity cards which will help them in availing the benefits like education, medical treatment etc. The eligible members of the community will be provided hostel facilities and scholarship of Rs 48,000 to 60,000 under Babasaheb Ambedkar Swadhar Scheme. The milk production in Goa increased by 22% in The milk production till December 2018 was 81,655 litres per day while in it was 66,000 litres per day and in it was 72,000 litres per day. Even after this increase, the state still struggles to meet its requirement of 3,50,000 litres per day. The Goa Government credits its Kamdhenu scheme for this success. Under this scheme farmer are given financial incentives to buy milch cattle. The Election Commission found 3,565 defective Electronic Voting Machines and 2,594 defective VVPAT machines during First Level Checks in Gujarat. The Commission is ordering new EVM and VVPAT machines from Rajasthan to replace the defective machines. The defective machines have been sent to Bharat Electronic Limited for repairs. Maharashtra is developing five export clusters under the agriculture export policy of the Central Government. These clusters will promote export of mangoes, grapes, pomegranates, onions and oranges. 50% of India s agriculture export comes from Maharashtra. Maharashtra leads in the export of mangoes, grapes, oranges, onions etc. The districts of Solapur, Ahmednagar and Pune (pomegranates), Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri (mangoes), Nashik, Pune and Sangli (grapes), Nashik (onions), and Nagpur, Wardhaand Amravati (oranges) have been identified for creation for clusters. The Maharashtra Government has released new Five Years Industrial Policy ( ). The policy calls for investment to the tune of Rs 10 lakh crores which will have the potential of creating 40 lakh new jobs. The focus of the new policy is on development of industries in the backward regions of VidarbhaandMarathwada. The policy includes Chief Minister Employment Generation Programme which is aimed at creating two lakh youth entrepreneurs in manufacturing and service sectors in the next five years. The Government of Maharashtra has also decided to set up Maharashtra Export Promotion Council to attract global investors. According to the Gender Statistics released by Economics and Statistics Department of Kerala Government, there are wide gender disparities in the state s labour markets. According to the report: Female unemployment rate is higher than the male unemployment rate in most of the districts in Kerala. Kerala has the highest femaleunemployment rate in India. Men casual labourers are paid almost twice the wages paid to female causal labourers. This is true for both urban and rural areas. Male employees earn more than female employees in almost all of the employment categories. Uttar Pradesh is all set to emerge as India s top producer of sugar in This is also be the first time that UP will overtake Maharashtra in sugar production from cane. Uttar Pradesh was the top producer of sugar in also. These successes have been made possible due to the wonder cane variety, Co-0238, developed by Bakshi Ram, director of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research s Sugarcane Breeding Institute (SBI) at Coimbatore. Supreme Court of India struck down tenders worth Rs 6,300 crore issued in 2016 by the Maharashtra women and child development department for supplying Take Home Ration (THR). While striking down the tenders, Supreme Court made observations that some of the conditions stated in the tender notice were arbitrary and favoured big players and industrialists at the cost of women self-help groups (SHGs). The Court ordered the issue of fresh tenders within four weeks. ECONOMIC AFFAIRS The GST Council has lowered the GST rate on under construction flats to 5 percent without input tax from the existing 12 percent. The GST rate on affordable housing has been reduced to 1 per cent from the existing 8 percent. Under the new decision the affordable houses are the ones that cost less than Rs 45 lakhs and cover area of less than 60 square meters in metros and less than 90 square meters in non-metro cities. The council did not take any decision on the issue of lotteries. Currently, state run lotteries attract 12 per cent GST while state-authorised lotteries attract 28 per cent GST. The Government of India has decided to delay the implementation of higher tariffs on goods imported from United States to April 1.
7 The increase in tariffs has been done in response to USA s refusal to exempt India from the application of new steel and aluminium. According to Crisil report, companies in India spent nearly Rs 50,000 crores on Corporate Social Responsibility between financial year 2015 and Between 2015 and 2018, the unspent amount (the amount that the Companies have yet to spend on CSR) was approximately Rs 60,000 crores. The latest data released by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade shows that the FDI (equity) inflow into the chemicals fell significantly during April-December According to the data the Government is revising the FDI flow to $1.82 billion for the April-December 2018 period from $6.06 billion. The data released by Central Government shows that fiscal deficit reached per cent of the full-year revised target of Rs 6.34 lakh crore at the end of January, The increase in fiscal deficit is due to lower revenue collections. Singapore became the largest source of FDI into India for the period April-December The Singapore s FDI into India increased by 41% during the period for nearly reaching the USD 13 billion amount. The Mauritius FDI into India for the same period fell by 55% to reach USD 6 billion. The total FDI into India fell by 7% to USD 33.5 billion. The Reserve Bank of India is planning to release new series of Rs 100 denomination bank notes. The notes will be released under the Mahatma Gandhi (new) series. These new bank notes will bear the signature of the new RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das. The RBI has also clarified that all the previously issued bank noted of Rs 100 denomination will continue to be legal tender. Afghanistan has started exports to India through the Chabahar Port in Iran. The shipment of 23 trucks carrying 57 tonnes of dried fruits, textiles, carpets and mineral products were dispatched from western Afghan city of Zaranj to Iran s Chabahar port from where it will be transported to Mumbai, India. This export route to India completely bypassespakistan. The India-EU free trade agreement (FTA) cannot be finalised without lowering duties on cars and car parts. The European Union s ambassador to India clarified that lowering of duties on cars and car parts is political sensitive issue in Europe and that European Parliament will not clear the agreement unless they are included in it. India and Europe has been negotiating on Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) since 2007, but no agreement has been reached till date. Europe is not happy with India s stance on automobiles and wines & spirits. India wants more access for its professionals and recognition as a data secure country. WTO is looking into the Indian Minimum Support Price program for pulses. USA, Australia and Canada has served formal counternotification citing that the subsidy involved under the program was much higher than allowed by WTO. EU, New Zealand, Ukraine and Paraguay are also making the same claim. India is defending its stance by saying that the calculation used by US and Canada was wrong and the program was only aimed at ensuring nutrition supply for 195 million poor Indians. India has reported the subsidies at 1.5% of the total value of production. US and Canada claim that this subsidy is between 31 85%. The WTO allows for 10% subsidy of the total value of production. Chickpeas, pigeon peas, black matpe, mung beans and lentils are covered under this program. In the past, India has been served threecounternotifications related to wheat, rice, sugar and cotton. USA and Canada are also not happy with the methodology used by India in this regard. They say that India reports figures in USD rather than in rupees, only reports the volume actually purchased, does not mention total value of production, and only provides the aggregate MSP support without breaking it down for each pulse separately. India will have to remove its MSP program or it will have to face penalties if it loses this case in WTO. Indian Government and World Bank has entered into an agreement of $ 250 million for National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP). NTERP will help rural women to develop viable businesses for farm and non-farm products. The World Bank s assistance will come in the form of 20 years $250 million loan from International Bank for Reconstruction and Development with 5 years grace period. OCED has once again cut its forecast for global economic growth. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation & Development, the world economy will grow 3.3 per cent in 2019 and 3.4 per cent in These forecasts place a cut of 0.2 percentage points for 2019 and 0.1 percentage points for 2020 compared to OCED s forecast released in November, These cuts have been made mainly due to the increasing trade disputes due to Trump policies and uncertainty over Brexit. Other issues affecting the global economy include recession in Italy, slowing down of Chinese economy and raising trade barriers etc. The Government has collected to the tune of Rs lakh crore as Goods and Service Tax till February, The Government has revised its GST collection targets for to Rs lakh crore from Rs lakh crore budgeted initially. GST collection target for has been set at Rs lakh crore. The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) set a deadline of March 31 or latest by June 30 for completing assessment of individuals who made substantial cash deposits in their bank accounts following demonetisation in November, The department sent notice to 3 lakh individuals who made substantial cash deposit into their account during the period 87,000 out of them did not file their return. According to a report, Indian online gaming industry will start generating income of Rs 11,900 crore by 2023.
8 The report released by KPMG and Indian Federation of Sports Gaming states that the Indian online gaming industry will witness a growth rate of 22 per cent from 2018 to According to the data released by Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy the unemployment rate in India rose to 7.2 percent in February The CMIE report states that 11 million people lost jobs in 2018 after the demonetisation of high value notes in late 2016 and the launch of a new goods and services tax in 2017 hit millions of small businesses. The Government says that is does not have any data showing the effect of demonetisation on jobs in small businesses. The Government of India has recently withheld jobs related data citing the need of checking its veracity. The leaked data showed that unemployment rate in reached 45 years high. The CMIE data is based on the survey of tens of thousands of households across India. The United States is removing India s status as the beneficiary of its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) duty concession programme. United States clarified India failed to provide assurances that it would provide USA equitable and reasonable access to its markets in number of sectors. The programme allows export of certain products to USA duty free if the developing countries meet eligibility conditions. The withdrawing of the status will affect more than 1,900 Indian products. The Indian Government has clarified that withdrawing of status will have minimal impact on India and that it is in talk with the USA to arrive at a balance on the issue. The concerns raised by the US include India s decision in 2017 to cap prices of cardiac stents, slashing their maximum retail prices over 70% in a move that impacted US stent giants Abbott, Medtronic and Boston Scientific. USA has recently withdrawn the GSP status from Turkey on the grounds that Turkey is sufficiently economically developedand it should no longer be provided with preferential market access to USA markets. The Central Board of Indirect Tax and Customs clarified a number of issues recently. The board clarified that the GST will be levied on the value of supply excluding the tax collected at source (TCS).This clarification of overturned the circular issued on December The Government levies TCS to track certain high-value transactions. In case of buy one get one free and buy more and save more schemes the tax will be paid on the amount of money recovered from the customer. The CBIC also clarified that free samples and gifts are outside the ambit of GST as they are not treated as supply of goods. According to a report released by TransunionCibil, a credit information company, number of women creditors is growing faster than the number of men creditors. According to the report, between 2015 and 2018, the number of successful credit application for females grew at 48% and for males at 35%. Cibil data shows that around 8.6 million new to credit women borrowers are opening new loan accounts in India annually. Approximately 66% of these women are from five states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. In India Tamil Nadu and Kerala have the lowest borrowing risk in the country with an average Cibil score among women of 781. SEBI has sought direct powers to grant immunity in select cases and to impose lesser penalty if the accused agrees to provide assistance against other wrongdoers. Currently, only Central Government is authorised to grant full or partial immunity in cases related to securities law violations. The SEBI has not asked for power to grant immunity, it has asked for power to make deals and impose lesser penalties in certain cases. SEBI argued that similar powers are available tofair trade watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI). DEFENCE & SECURITY The Defence Acquisition Council has cleared purchase of defence equipment to the tune of Rs 2,700 crores. The Council has approved the purchase of three cadet training ships for the Indian Navy. India handed over a dossier on specific details of involvement of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in the Pulwama terror attack on CRPF and the presence of its camps in Pakistan. India has successfully tested indigenously developed Quick Reaction Surface to Air Missiles. The missiles were test fired from Integrated Test Range (ITR) Chandipur, off the Odisha Coast. These missiles have been developed to replace the current Akash missile system. These missiles have 360-degree coverage, light weight, high mobility and shorter reaction time as compared to Akash. These missiles use solid fuel propellant and have a range of 25 to 30 kilometers. The missiles were developed by DRDO. The Indian Air Force is in the process of equipping its Sukhoi-30MKI with Israeli SPICE bombs. SPICE-2000 are Sikhoi-30MKI laser guided bombs which are expected to increase the capability of Sukhoi- 30MKIs. Currently IAF's Mirage 2000 are equipped with these bombs. Mirage 2000 were used for Balakot air strike. Indian Government has decided to provide Z-plus security cover to the Chiefs of the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. This decision was taken because perceived threats against them have increased after a fresh threat assessment was done by the security agencies. The fresh assessment was done in the backdrop of increasing Indo-Pak tensions. Army Chief already enjoys Z-plus protection. Indian Government has launched 28 major infrastructure projects for Central Armed Police Forces across the nation.
9 The projects will cost estimated Rs1, crore to Indian exchequers. These projects will benefit CRPF, BSF, CISF, ITBP and SSB, Delhi Police, Land Ports Authority of India, NDRF, Central Forensic Science Laboratory etc. These projects involve construction of 71 non-residential buildings, 5,283 residential quarters and 34 barracks. These projects will be taken up in the states of Assam, Kerala, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tripura, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttarakhand. The Government of India has signed a $3 billion deal for leasing a nuclearpowered attack submarine for a period of 10 years. Russia will deliver Akula class submarine- to be INS Chakra III renamed as Chakra III- to the Indian Navy by This will be the third Russian submarine to be leased by the Indian Navy. The first Russian nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra was leased in 1988 for a period of three years. The second INS Chakra was taken on lease in 2012 for a period of 10 years. The Government of India has decided to bring certain sections of Indo-Bangladeshi border in Assam under electronic surveillance. The decision has been taken to check illegal immigration and smuggling of arms, ammunition, drugs and cattle. The BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique), has been launched under the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System (CIBMS) The electronic surveillance will be used on 61 km riverine section of the international border in Dhubri district of Assam. The Brahmaputra river enters into Bangladesh in this section. India and Russiaentered into an agreement to manufacture the 200 series Kalashnikov assault rifles. The AK-203manufactured under the agreement will replace the INSAS rifles being used by the Army and other forces. The AK-203 assault riflewill be manufactured at the Korwa ordnance factory in the Amethi district, Uttar Pradesh. The immediate target is to produce 7,00,000 AK-203 rifles in the facility. With time, the assault rifles will be produced with 100% local content. The AK-203 is the latest and most advanced version of the legendary AK-47 rifle. The AK-203 sis capable of holding 30 bullets. The rifle has an effective range of 400 metres and is considered to be 100% accurate. AK-series riflesnever get jammed. The Kalashnikovs can work under extreme climatic conditions and are effective even in sand, soil and water. The AK-47 was first produced by engineers of Stalin s USSR, working in secret at the Machine, Engineering, and Motor Plant Complex in Izhevskin Ural mountains, about 1,200 km east of Moscow. POLICY & GOVT. INITIATIVES The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is going to gradually increase the production of radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine for treatment of cancer and for the accurate diagnosis of thyroid, renal and cardiac diseases. Nuclear medicine uses radiation to provide information about the functioning of a person s specific organs, or to treat certain specific diseases like cancer. The radioisotopes normally used in nuclear medicines is Technetium 99. The Government of India has recently released draft of a new e-commerce policy. The draft policy aims to invite and encourage foreign investment in the marketplace model alone. This is in line with the Government s stand of fully blocking foreign-funded e-commerce companies from holding inventory. The policy states that online marketplaces should not adopt business models or strategies which are discriminatory and which favour one or few sellers/traders operating on their platforms over others. The government has proposed the creation of a legal and technological framework to restrict cross-border data flow, while laying conditions for businesses regarding collection or processing of sensitive data locally and storing it abroad. The draft policy focuses on ten multi-disciplinary regulatory points for the e-commerce sector such as data, taxation, consumer protection, payments etc. There is nothing in the policy regarding the need for an independent e-commerce regulatory authority. The Government of India has changed the rules for future exploration of oil and gas blocks. These changes are made with the intention of attracting private investment and increasing domestic production. The new rules are aimed at increasing the hydrocarbon production in the country by giving pricing and marketing freedom to the companies involved in exploration. The Government of India wants to reduce India s dependence on imported oil by 10 percent by The new rules also allow state owned companies to enter into strategic partnership for enhancing production from current blocks. India has 26 known sedimentary basins. But, only 7 of these basins are producing. Currently India exports around 80% of its crude oil requirements. In till now India has already paid more than $100 billion for purchasing oil. The Government of India has released an anthem Plastic Waste-Free India in seven languages (Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam and Kannada.). The anthem has been launched under the Government initiative for making India plastic free by The Government of India has announced formation of a new railway zone for Andhra Pradesh. The newsouthern Coast Railway Zone will be headquartered in Vishakhapatnam. This change will transfer Guntakal, Guntur and Vijayawada divisions from South Central Railways to Southern Coast Railways.
10 The Waltair division of East Coast Railways will be divided into two and one of the parts will be included in the Southern Coast Railways. Between 2009 and and 45 requests for new zones and new divisions respectively were received. The committee looking into these requests said that implementation of these requests was not justified. The Indian Government has cleared the second phase if FAME India policy to promote use of electric vehicles in India. The Government has set the total outlay of the second phase of the scheme at Rs 10,000 crore. The total amount allocated for the first phase was Rs 895 crore. The FAME policy was launched in April The scheme allows state and city transport corporations to deliver demand incentives for electric buses. The Government is planning to support 10 lakh private vehicles and five lakh e-3w category vehicles, 55,000 thousand 4W category vehicles and 7,000 buses under the scheme. The incentives under the scheme will be restricted to vehicles that use Lithium Ion batteries or other new technology batteries. The scheme envisions setting up of 2,700 charging stations across India. The aim is to provide a charging station in a grid of 3 by 3 kilometres. The scheme also envisions setting up of charging stations on the either side of major highways at a distance of 25 kilometres. The Government of India has made it compulsory for election candidates to declare their income tax returns of the last five years, details of foreign assets and Permanent Account Number (PAN). Under the new order spouse, members of the Hindu Undivided Family and dependents are also required to declare all the details at the time of filing nomination. Under former rules the candidate contesting election had to only disclose the last I-T return for self, spouse and dependents in Form 26 The Central Government has asked states to ensure 24 X 7 power supply to all households barring agriculture sector. For agriculture consumers the Government has set a target of 8-19 hours of power supply. The National Electronic Policy 2019 has a provision for creating a Sovereign Patent Fund. The fund will allow the State to acquire Intellectual Property Rights that are important to achieve national economic objectives. This will encourage domestic innovations because the Government will be able to acquire critical IP rights and reduce the knowledge gap. The SPF was first used in South Korea. This was later on used by France and Japan. The SPF will benefit small and medium players because they will be able to make use of critical knowledge at low cost. The Government of India has amended Hazardous and Other Wastes (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 The import of solid plastic waste has been banned under the amended rules. The import is banned even in special economic zones (SEZ) and by export-oriented units (EOUs). The amended rules have also removed the requirement of getting permission from Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for exporting silk waste. The Government of India has released the Model Retirement Homes Guidelines. These guidelines set the requirements for safety, physical infrastructure, and running of private real estate projects developed specifically for those over 60 years of age. According to the guidelines, the buildings should be barrier free, should provide complete wheelchair access, elevators with audio and visual signalling systems, anti-skid tiles in certain areas, gas leak detection systems in cooking areas, power back-up facilities etc. The States and Union Territories will have to incorporate these guidelines into their respective state law before they come into force. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has purposed amendment of the existing law for aligning them with the WHO goals related to trans fats. The WHO wants to globally eliminate the use of industrially produced trans fats by FSSAI wants to amend Food Products Standards and Food Addictive Regulations, 2011 to limit trans-fatty acids in all oils and fats to 3 per cent by January, 2021 and to 2 per cent by January, Indian Railways has announced that all the trains coming to the NCR region will run on electricity from December This decision has been taken to curbincreasing pollution in the region. Due to this, the Indian railways will be able to save on fuel cost and increase the speed of the trains. Indian railways has identified 118 pairs of trains for switchover to electric traction. The switchover will be done in three phases, with 39 pairs in phase 1, 60 pairs in phase 2 and 19 pairs in phase 3. In 2019, the Government of India approved a proposal for the complete electrification of the Indian Railways. The total cost of the proposal is expected to be Rs 12,134 crores. SPORTS The Asian Hockey Federation has honoured Harmanpreet Singh with the Player of the Year 2018 award and Lalremsiami with the Rising Player of the Year 2018 award. The Best Performance Team award was given to Indian men s team. Harmanpreet was the captain of the Indian team that had an unbeaten streak at the Asian Champions Trophy in Muscat in which the team was declared joint winner with Pakistan. Lalremsiami is a striker in the Indian Women Team and she gave Harmanpreet Singh Lalremsiami
11 impressive performance in 2018 World Cup and the Asian Games where the team won a historic silver. ApurviChandela won the first gold medal at the ISSF World Cup Apurvi won the medal by breaking the world record in Women 10m Riffle. All India Football Federation is all set to bring the first Futsal Cup to India. Fursal is a short variant of the football which is played indoor. It is one of the fastest growing indoor games in the world today. Switzerland s Belinda Bencic won the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament. This was first win for Belinda in four years. The Asian Tour 10 Reds Snooker tournament scheduled to be held in Bengaluru during the last week of March was cancelled. The cancellation happened because India refused visas to six Pakistani and Pakistan origin. The tournament was cancelled by the Asian Confederation of Billiard Sport. This is the first time that the tournament was cancelled because the government denied visas to Pakistani players. The Indian Olympic Committee has already advised all the International Sports Federations to not to hold sport events in India until the government guarantees that the athletes from all countries will be allowed to compete in India. The National Anti-Doping Agency has put the onus of implementing the no needle policy in India on the national sport federations. The no needle policy restricts use of needles to only those athletes who have Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). Even then the needles have to be used under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner. Six young athletes at the Khelo India Youth Games failed the dope test. Three athletes from wrestling and one each from archery,track and field and weightlifting tested positive for banned drugs in the test conducted by National Anti-doping Agency (NADA). International Cricket Council has banned former Zimbabwe Cricket director EnockIkope. The ban will stay in place for a period of 10 years. Enock has been charged with violation of three counts of ICC s anti-corruption code. Enock is the second official from the Harare Metropolitan Cricket Association to be banned by the ICC. RajanNayer from the AprnviChandela EnockIkope same association was banned from all cricket activities for 20 yearsmatch fixing charges. ViratKohli has become the fasted cricketer to score 9000 international runs as captain. Kohli made 9000 runs in 159 innings whereas the previous record holder Ponting took 203 innings. India has become the second team to win 500 One-Day International (ODI) cricket matches. Australia is the only other country which has won 500 One- Day International (ODI) cricket matches. India has played 963 matches out of which, it has won 500, lost 414 and tied 9 matches. BCCI has announced new annual player contracts for ViratKohli, Rohit Sharma and JaspritBumrah have been awarded Grade A Plus contracts. MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, RavindraJadeja, CheteshwarPujara, AjinkyaRahane, Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) Bhuvneshwar Kumar, ShikharDhawan, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Kuldeep Yadav and Rishabh Pant have been awarded Grade A contacts. KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, YuzvendraChahal and Hardik Pandya have been awarded Grade B contacts. KedarJadhav, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu, HanumaVihari, Khaleel Ahmed and WriddhimanSaha have been awarded Grade C contracts Sixteen-year-old P. Iniyan became the 61 st Grandmaster from India. IM Iniyan P. P. Iniyanwon the Noisiel Open in France by defeating GM Sergey Fedorchuk of Ukraine in the sixth round. P. Iniyanbecame the 61st Grandmaster for India when he crossed the 2500-point in ELO ratings. Inyan is from Erode Tamil Nadu Naomi Osaka has taken Jermaine Jenkins as her new coach. Naomi is an International No. 1-ranked Tennis player who plays for Japan. Naomi s previous coach SaschaBajin started coaching Osaka before the 2018 season. He played a major role in helping Naomi win U.S. Open Title in September 2018 and the Australian Open Title in February 2019 when she also rose to No. 1 for the first time Jenkins has recently been hired by the US Tennis Association as the national coach for women s tennis. Malaysia s Tan KimHer has resignedas India s doubles badminton coach, citing personal reasons Kim had one-and-a-half-year contract pending with the Badminton Association of India. His contact was supposed to end Tan Kim Her ViratKohli
12 after 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Kim s coaching helped Chirag and SatwiksairajRankireddyto become India s premier men s doubles pair. The pain won the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. Kim s leadership also paved the way for India sfirst gold in mixed team. After Kim s departure, new double coaches FlandyLimpele and NamrihSurotowill continue the coaching of the Indian doubles pair. Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has decided to included cricket in the sports programme for the 2022 edition of Asian Games. Cricket was included in 2010 and 2014 Asian Games, but was dropped from the 2018 edition. The Indian Olympic Association has welcomed the decision of including Cricket in the 2022 Asian Games. Asian Games 2010 and 2014 featured T20 format of the cricket. Experts believe that in all probability the same format will be played at the 2020 Asian Games at Hangzhou, China. In 1998 edition of the Commonwealth Games was the only edition in which cricket was included. OCA has also decided to invite Oceania countries (including Australia) to the 2022 Asian Games. FIFA is considering to schedule some of the 2022 World Cup matches at Oman and Kuwait. World Cup 2022 is expected to be held at Qatar. FIFA will consider Oman and Kuwait only if the number of teams are increased from 32 to 48. FIFA has already taken a decision to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams in 2026 but FIFA president Gianni Infantino has proposed to implement the enlarged format from 2022 itself. Global players union FIFPro has asked FIFA to stop its plans for new competitions and a potential expansion of the 2022 World Cup until it reviewed the game s crowded international match calendar. Using Kuwait and Oman will not be easy because both the countries severed political, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June, 2017 accusing it of supporting terrorism. Australia won the ODI series against India. Australia achieved the win in the fifth and final ODI against India at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi where they defeated India by 35 runs, This is the first series win for Australia in the last two years. This is the first Australian series win in India since United World Wrestling has asked all the nation federations under it to stop communication with the wrestling Federation of India. The step has been taken in response to India s denial to issue visa to Pakistani shooters in the recent World Cup. INTERNATIONAL Sudan has declared one-year state emergency.the emergency has been declared in light of opposition to Sudan s President Omar al-bashir. Omar has been ruling the country for last 30 years. He has postponed the Constitutional Amendment that will allow him Boeing 737 Max to be elected as President for another term in 2020 Presidential elections. The Sudanese protesters are demanding the resignation of Omar. The protests started on December 19, 2018 due to inflation and cash shortage. Omar is a strong supporter of Islam and is a former army officer. He came to power after military coup in Omar has won elections in both 2010 and These elections were held after making constitutional amendment. Omar is wanted by the International Criminal Court for his role in the genocide in the Darfur region. Omar denies this and he has been trying to get Sudan to be removed from the list of countries which USA deems state sponsors of terrorism. TheUS Government has started the process of creating a US Space Force. The US President has signed the Space Policy Directive 4. This directive lays down the foundation for a legislative initiative that can establish a Space Force as a new military service. The Space Force will be part of Air Force. The establishment of the Space Force will require congressional approval. The US trade deficit reached a 10-year high in The American trade deficit condition has worsened even though the Government has taken protectionist tradepolicies for protecting US markets against unfair foreign competition. The United States has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods imported from China. China has imposed tariffs on $110 billion worth of goods imported from USA. United States has imposed duties on imported steel, aluminium, solar panels and washing machines. The US imports in 2018 touched an all-time high of $2.6 trillion. Pakistan has sealed the Lahore headquarters of Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). The Pakistani authorities have also confiscated 56 facilities and seminaries of Saeed in the Sindh province. This move was made after the United Nationsrejected Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed s appeal for removal of his name from the list of banned terrorists. An Ethiopian passenger jet to Nairobi crashed a few minutes after leaving the airport. There were no survivors abroad the Boeing MAX. 149 passengers and 8 crew members died in the crash.
13 The pilot abroad the flight alerted the controllers at the Addis Ababa airport saying that he was experiencing some difficulties and he was granted permission to turn back the plane. Four Indians, including an Environment Ministry consultant were killed in the crash. This is the second crash of Boeing 737 MAX in a short period of time. In October 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX operated by Lion Air crashed killing more than 180 people. The Governments of Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan Malaysia, New Zealand, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Namibia have groundedboeing 737 MAX planes. Argentinas, Aeromexico, Cayman Airways, Comair (South Africa),Eastar Jet (South Korea), Ethiopian Airlines, GolAirlines (Brazil), Icelandair, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle and S7 (Russia)airlines have also grounded their fleets ofboeing 737 MAX planes. China has clarified once again that it has never recognised India and Pakistan as nuclear states. The clarification was issued while China was making it clear that it will not acknowledgenorth Korea as a nuclear state. The second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam has been unsuccessful leading to different speculations. China is also blocking India s entry into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) on the ground that New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). More than nine people were killed in Brazil Elementary School shooting. On 13 th March, two young men entered the Raul Brasil elementary school in Sao Paula and fired at children and caretakers before killing themselves. Nine people (including 5 children) were confirmed dead and 17 others were injured. Brazil is one of the most violent countries in the World. Brazil has the highest homicide rate in the world, but school shootings are rare in the country. Brazil has extremely strict gun laws, but it is not difficult to get weapons in the country. Malaysia closed more than 111 schools after suspected chemical leak left more than 200 children, teachers and others sick. According to the authorities the poisoningwas most likely caused by toxic waste dumped into a river near the schools in the southern state of Johor. United States is withdrawing all of its diplomats from its embassy in Venezuela. The decision was taken in the light of deteriorating situation in the country. Previously USA had decided to keep some of its diplomatic staff in a bid to legitimize the opposition challenger to President Nicolás Maduro President Maduro has remained in power because of backing by the military. The American authorities and opposition leaders did not expect this. The present crisis in Venezuela erupted after Maduro was elected as President for a second term. Both the opposition and the USA claimed that the elections were a sham. Guaidó, head of the National Assembly declared himself as the interim President of the country. The USA, most of the Latin American Countries and some European Governments recognised Guaidó as the legitimate head of the country. President Maduro accused United States of interfering in the country and cut all the diplomatic terms with it. In February USA sent food and medical supply overland to the county. This made position of army officers difficult because they were left with a choice of blocking the needed supplies or deflecting from the army. The officers chose to block the conveys. United Kingdom has launched a global period poverty fund to help women across the globe to access sanitary products by 2050 and to deal with the stigma around menstruation. SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY China is planning to build a solar power station in space. Initially, China will build small power stations in space between 2021 and This will be followed by a 1 megawatt station by China is also planning to build its own space station Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace by An HIV-positive man in England has become the second known adult in the world to be cleared of AIDS virus. The man was cleared of the virus after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor. This discovery does not mean that the cure of AIDS has been found, but it means that one day a cure will be found. The doctors have been unable to find any HIV virus in the patient even after three years of the treatment and 18 months after stopping of antiretroviral drug. The first known adult to be cleared of the AIDS is known as Berlin patient because he underwent the similar treatment in Germany in He is also HIV free till now. Many scientists have tried to replicate the success of the Berlin patient and this is the only time when they have succeeded. Some people of Northern European decent have a genetic mutation known as 'CCR5 delta 32, which make them resistant to HIV Virus. Approximately 37 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV and the AIDS has killed around 35 million people worldwide since it was recognised. NASA s new telescope Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) can help in finding 1,400 new planets beyond our solar system. The $3.2 billion WFIRST project is scheduled for lunch in The new telescope will be able to map the universe at rate that is 100 times faster than that of Hubble Space Telescope. WFIRST is equipped with 300-megapixel Wide Field Instrument. The doctors in Australia have identified a set of semiidentical twins during gestation. This is the first time that a set of semi-identical twins have been identified during gestation. This is the second known case of semi identical twins in the world. Semi-identical or sesquizygotic twins represent a third type of "twinning", the other two being identical (zygotic) and fraternal (dizygotic) twins. Semi identical twins are extremely rare in nature. They are born when two sperms fertilise the same egg. If one egg is fertilised by two sperms, it results in three sets of chromosomes, one from the mother and two from the father and the embryos normally do not survive. Sesquizygotic twins were first reported in the US in Google has launched a new app called Bolo.
14 This app will help students in India to read in Hindi and English. The google is developing the app after running a pilot project in 200 villages of Uttar Pradesh involving more than 900 children. Bolo works as personalised reading and provides both positive feedback and feedback which helps child in taking corrective actions. The app is capable of working offline and does not collect any information like age, name, gender, etc. Google will work with Pratham Education Foundation, Room to Read, Saajha and Kaivalya Education Foundation a Piramal Initiative for taking this app to children. CERN, is planning a new experiment FASER (Forward Search Experiment) to look for particles associated with the dark matter. The Dark Matter makes approximately 27 percent of the Universe but our knowledge of dark matter is very limited. CERN has the world s largestand most powerful particle accelerator. American astronauts Christina Koch and Anne McClain will become the first NASA astronaut to conduct the first-all female spacewalk on March 29 The spacewalk will be carried out at the International Space Station under Expedition 59 Expedition 59 will take around seven hours of spacewalk and will involve replacing batteries that were installed last year. A total of 213 spacewalks have been performed at the International Space Station since December Soviet s Svetlana Savitskayais the first woman to perform a spacewalk. She did that on July SUMMITS & ORGANIZATIONS The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) invited India as a guest of Honour for its March 1, 2019 held at Abu Dhabi. Indian Foreign Minister MsSushma Swaraj at OIC Meeting 2019 The Indian External Affairs attended the foreign ministers meeting of OIC held in Abu Dhabi, on March 1-2, at the invitation of the UAE s Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. India was invited to the meeting last time in India was disinvited for that meeting on the lobbying by Pakistan. Pakistan, who is founder-member of OIC, did not attend the OIC meeting over special honour to Sushma Swaraj. OIC in its Abu Dhabi Declaration, the joint Communique of OIC members, Kashmir was not included at all; however, a separate resolution on Kashmir was passed by the OIC. According to the latest report released by World Bank and International labour Organisation, India should increase exports to provide higher wages to labour. The report shows how exports and increased trade helps move people from unorganised sector to organised sector, increase wages and reduce poverty. According to the report between 1999 and 2001 estimated 8,00,000 jobs moved from unorganised sector to organised sector in India due to growth in exports. According to WTO data, India contributes 1.7 per cent to the world exports and consumes 2.5 per cent of the world imports. ENVIRONMENT & ECOLOGY According to the scientists managing India s real time drought prediction system, 47 percent of the country is facing drought. At least 16 percent of India is facing exceptional or extreme drought. This drought can create water problems during summer Arunachal Pradesh received poor rain and parts of Jharkhand, southern Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and northern part of Tamil Nadu are under drought. There is little risk of famine like conditions, but the economy will be significantly affected. National Green Tribunal has ordered both Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradeshpollution control boards to publicise the water quality of the Ganga river at all important locations in the state. This water quality should be updated on monthly basis. This publication should also tell if the water is fit for drinking and for bathing. NGT also told National Mission for Clean Ganga that there is no justification for the delay in filing of the action plan to clean Ganga as the river has been declared the national river. MISCELLANEOUS According to the data released by WHO, the number of reported measles cases in 2018 were double the number of reported cases in Total of 229,068 measles cases were reported in In 2017 an estimated 110,000 people died from measles. The vaccine coverage for measles is stable at 85 percent. The vaccine coverage of 95% is required for preventing future outbreaks of the disease. Measles is a highly infectious but easily preventable disease. The Modern Coach Factory (MCF)Rae Bareli will export customised Make in India coaches to Mozambique. MCF has received an order to export 90 coaches to South Africa s Mozambique through RITES. In Budget ,the Government had sanctioned Rs 480 crore for increasing the production capacity of MCF from 1,000 coaches to 3,000 coaches per year by the end of Indian railways is also considering transfer of technology for manufacturing Vande Bharat Express-type train sets Vande Bharat Express
15 from ICF to MCF. The transfer (if done) will help to significantly scale up the production of these nextgenerationtrain sets. National Anti-Profiteering Authority has found the online seller Cloudtail guilty of profiteering. The seller made profit of around Rs 10.8 lakh through sale of printer cartridges at a higher base price after Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates were reduced in November, The seller has been asked to deposit the illegal profit along with 18% interest in the consumer welfare account. Cloudtail has argued that it cannot be held responsible because the price of the products are set by the manufacturer or importers. Around 101 out of top 500 listed companies have not yet appointed an independent woman director on their boards. Indian Oil Corporation, Bharti Airtel, Procter & Gamble Hygiene, Godrej Industries, Jindal Steel and Power etc. have all failed to make the appointment. Appointment of an independent woman director on the boards of the corporate companies was one of the key recommendations of the Kotak Committeeon Corporate Governance. SEBI has accepted the recommendation. According to the SEBI, there must be one independent director on the board of directors of the top 500 listed companies by market capitalisation by April 1, 2019 and of the top 1,000 listed companies by April 1, According to the scientists managing India s real time drought prediction system, 47 percent of the country is facing drought. At least 16 percent of India is facing exceptional or extreme drought. This drought can create water problems during summer Arunachal Pradesh received poor rain and parts of Jharkhand, southern Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and northern part of Tamil Nadu are under drought. There is little risk of famine like conditions, but the economy will be significantly affected. According to the Skymet (India s only private weather forecasting agency) Monsoon 2019 will be a normal monsoon. In the preliminary Southwest Monsoon forecast, the Skymet has predicted more than fifty per cent chance of normal monsoons. Rainfall between 96 percent and 104 percent of the longterm average of about 89 centimetres (35 inches) is considered normal. SKYMET (India's only private weather forecasting Agency) Annual monsoon season in India is responsible for nearly 70 per cent of the rainfall in India. According to IMD data, Delhi has experienced its coldest and longest winter season in last seven years. The average maximum temperature in February was the lowest since 2011 at 21.9 degree Celsius against the average of 23.1 degree Celsius. According to IMD this happened due to continuing cold wave that affected North Western India in February. The Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd is going to set up network of solar-based electric vehicle chargers on the Delhi- Chandigarh Highway. The network will be established under the FAME Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid) & Electric Vehicles in India) scheme. According to the latest data released by IQAirAirVisual and Greenpeace, Gurugram was the most polluted city in the world in According to the data 22 out of 30 of the most polluted cities in the world are in India, 5 are in China, 2 are in Pakistan and 1 is in Bangladesh. According to the data, seven of the 10 most polluted cities in the world are in India. According to the World Bank health-care, costs and productivity losses from pollution in India impacts as much as 8.5 per cent of the gross domestic product of India. BASIC GK ASPECTS BOOKS AND AUTHORS Media shifting Terrain by Pamela Philipose The Scent of God by SaikatMajumdar The Hindi Cannon by MrityunjayTripathi Fierce Fairy Tales by Nikita Gill Dissent on Aadhaar edited by ReetikaKhera DipaKarmakar: The small wonder by Bishweshwar Nandi, Digvijay Singh Deo and Vimal Mohan The Queen of Jasmine Country by SharanyaManivannan Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden Doab Dil by Sarnath Banerjee Deities and Devotees Cinema, Religion and Politics in South India by Uma MaheswariBhrugubanda Around the World in 80 Trains bymonisha Rajesh The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind by RaghuramRajan Birds of Bhutan and the Eastern Himalayas by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp and Sherub Helm Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality: Sri Ramakrishna and Cross Cultural Philosophy of Religion by AyonMahara Every Vote Counts: The Story of India s Elections bynavin Chawla The Great March of Democracy: Seven Decades of India s Elections bys.y. Quraishi. AWARDS AND HONOURS Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes were awarded on February 28, the National Science Day. Total of 34 awards were presented for the years 2016, 2017 and Out of 34 awards only one was awarded to a female, Aditi Sen in physics category. The awards are given out in seven disciplines of Biological, Engineering, Medical, Chemical, Physical, Mathematical, Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Plenary Sciences. The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize is among the most sought-after multidisciplinary awards in the fields of science and technology in India.
16 The award is given by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) since Journalist Priyanka Dubey, has been honoured with the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist in the year Priyanka works as a bilingual journalist with BBC at its Delhi bureau. Priyanka was honoured due to her multi-faceted, investigative and interrogative reportage. Julie Andrews will be honoured with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 76th edition of Venice Film Festival. Julie is knows for her work in classic movies like Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Julie Andrews will receive the award during the Venice Film Festival, which is schedule from August 28 to September 7. APPOINTMENTS Priyanka Dubey Julie Andrews Ajay Narayan Jha has been appointed as a member of the 15 th finance commission. Ajay will replace Shaktikanta who resigned from the commission following his appointment as the governor of Reserve Bank. NishiKulshreshthaChaturvedi has been appointed as Coca Cola svice President for India and South West Ajay Narayan Jha Asia. Nishi, a Coca-Cola veteran who has joined through the ranks within the Coca-Cola system, joined the company in 2012, as National Head Human Resource as part of Hindustan Coca- Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd. (HCCB). She has played a significant role in Nishi the leading talent management strategy KulshreshtaChaturved and ensuring legal workplace compliance with in the Coca-Cola system. Subhash Chandra Garghas been appointed as the new Finance Secretary. Garg is a 1983 batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre. Garg previously served as the Secretary in Department of Economic Affairs. The senior-most secretary among the five secretaries in the Finance Ministry is designated as the Finance Secretary. MR Kumar has been appointed as the Chairperson of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved the proposal of the Department of Financial Services to appoint MR Kumar, Zonal Manager, North Zone as the Chairperson. The Government of India has also appointedt C Suseel Kumar, Zonal Manager, South Central Zone, and VipinAnand, Zonal Manager, Western Zone, as managing directors of the Corporation. Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is the largest financial institution in India with assets worth more than Rs lakh crore. The appointments to the top positions in LIC are always from within the organisation. This position is similar to the appointment to the top positions in SBI. Padma Lakshmi has been appointed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as its latest Goodwill Ambassador, Padma will help with the UNDP s mission of fighting against inequality and discrimination across the world. Lakshmi s appointment was announced by UNDP on the eve of International Women Day. Lakshmi is a New York Times bestselling author Lakshmi is one of the founders of the Endometriosis Foundation of America Lakshmi is an ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union advocating Lakshmi is an Indian-American television personality and food expert. E. Sreedharan has been appointed as the principal advisor for two mass rapid transit systems to be built in Jammu and Srinagar. Jammu and Kashmir administration has cleared setting up of Jammu Mass Rapid Transit Corporation and the Srinagar Mass Rapid Transit Corporation. Sreedharan, is a retired IES (IRSE) officer. Sreedharan is popularly known as the Metro Man because his contributions towards Konkan Railway and Delhi Metro changed the face of public transport in India. From 2015 to 2018Sreedharan served on the United Nations High Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport. HasmukhAdhiahas been appointed Chancellor of Central University of Gujarat. Adhia will succeed Yoginder K Alagh. HasmukhAdhia is the Former Finance Secretary of India. Adhia is a 1981-batch Gujarat cadre officer of the IAS. Former Lok Sabha MP Baijayant Jay Pandawas appointed as the National Vice-President and Padma Lakshmi E. Sreedharan World Wide Developers Council (WWDC) Subash Chandra Garg HasmukhAdhia MR Kumar Jay Panda
17 Spokesperson of thebharatiya Janata Party on March 8. Former BJD leader Baijayant joined BJP on March 8. Baiijayant was suspended from BJD almost a year ago for alleged anti-party activities, which he has denied. PEOPLE IN NEWS Nepal s Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister RabindraAdhikari was killed in a helicopter crash along with six other individuals. The helicopter caught fire after it hit Chuchche Dada hill in Taplejung district in the mountain region of northeastnepal. All the individuals in the helicopter died in the crash. The minister was going to Pathibhara Temple after attending a programme at ChuhanDanda in Panchthar. Veteran CPI(M) leader and former Kerala minister, V J Thankappan died on 9 th March due to age-related ailments at his residence. Thankappan started his political career in the left party in 1963, and he served as a minister in the E K Nayanar cabinet during Former Formula One race director Charlie Whiting died on 14March 2019, at the age of 66. Charlie Whiting died three days before the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. As FIA director, Whiting is best known for pushing the improved safety norms. He was instrumental in introducing the halo. Halo is the ring like barrier that is fitted over the drivers heads to protect them from heavy impacts and missiles. Three Norwegian lawmakers have nominated Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg for the Nobel Peace Prize. Greta Thunberg, aged 16, has become a prominent voice in campaigns against climate change. Greta has been encouraging students to skip school to join protests demanding faster action on climate change. This movement has Greta Thunberg started moving from Sweden to other European countries. PLACES/EVENTS IN NEWS VJ Thankappan Charlie Whiting The Dhasal Literature Festival was held from 24 th February, 2019 to 25 th February, 2019 in Mumbai University s Kalina campus. This is the fourth edition of the festival which was started in 2016 to pay tribute to Marathi poet, writer and Ambedkarite-Dalit movement activist VaibhavChhaya. This year s festival was titled Sara KaahiSamashtisathi, and it addressed the issue of lumpenproletariat. In 2018, 22 artists from across Maharashtra participated in the festival. This year, a total of 142 artists from across India participated in the programme. International Festival of Spiritual India was held from 22 nd February, 2019 to 24 th February, 2019 in Pune. CSIR-NIIST (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research- National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology), Thiruvananthapuram, hosted the eighth annual meeting of the Indian Academy of Biomedical Sciences and the conference on 'Deliberation on translation of basic scientific insights into affordable healthcare products' from 25 th to 27 th February. The 8 th edition of the Youth Festival was held from February 22 to 27 at Central Park, Delhi. The festival is organised by Sahitya Kala Parishad and the Department of Art, Culture and Language, Delhi Government. This festival celebrates music dance and Arts. The 2019 edition of the festival saw participation of more than 1200 artists. Apple is hosting 30th edition of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference from June 3 to 7 at the McEnery Convention Centre in San Jose, California. WWDC is Apple s biggest event of the year. In the event,thousand of developers from across the globe gather alongwith the thousands of engineersfrom Apple to learn about the latest Apple innovations and to be a part of the community. Apple will be introducing macos 10.15and is thinking about introducing ios 13 in this convention. IMPORTANT ABBREVIATIONS POK: Pakistan Occupied Kashmir JeM: Jaish-e-Mohammed GOI: Government of India SSB: Sashastra Seema Bal IAF: Indian Air Force ITBP: Indo-Tibetan Border Police GSP: Generalized System of Preferences MSP: Minimum Support Price CSR: Corporate Social Responsibility DRDO: Defence Research and Development Organisation FAME: Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles ACBS: Asian Confederation of Billiard Sports OIC: Organization of Islamic Cooperation NADA: National Anti-Doping Agency IMD: India Meteorological Department WHO: World Health Organization EVM: Electronic Voting Machines PIL: Public Interest Litigation NGO: Non- Governmental Organization AFCs: Automatic Fare Collection Counters ONOC: Once Nation Once Card AAMRAM: Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile NSG: National Suppliers Group SHG: Self Help Groups THR: Take Home Ration TCS: Tax Collected at Source SEBI: Security and Exchange Board of India CCI: Competition Commission of India