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1 to 4 March 2020 Current Affairs

International :
  • China has taken over as president of the UN Security Council for the month of March 2020, pledging to promote solidarity and cooperation in this capacity. China's permanent representative to the UN, Zhang Jun said his country attaches great importance to the work during its presidency and will act responsibly and constructively. 

    The Security Council was established by the UN Charter. Its primary responsibility is to work to maintain international peace and security. The council has 15 members: the five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms. The council's presidency is a capacity that rotates every month among its 15 members.

  • World Bank has unveiled a 12 billion dollar aid package that will provide fast-track funds to help countries combat the coronavirus outbreak. World Bank President David Malpass told that the goal is to provide fast, effective action that responds to country needs. The funds, some of which are targeted to the world's poorest nations, can be used for medical equipment or health services and will include expertise and policy advice.

  • Asian Development Bank (ADB) is to provide a total of $4 million (Rs.29 crore) to the Asia-Pacific countries. The bank aims to help developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to fight the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Saudi Arabia starts issuance of permanent premium residency permit to foreigners. Indian investor Yosuffali M A, Chairman of the Lulu group became one of the first to be given the permanent residency permit by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

    The Premium Residency, informally known as Saudi Green Card, is a residence permit in Saudi Arabia that grants expatriates the right to live, work and own business and property in the Kingdom without need for a sponsor. The introduction of the Premium Residency comes as a part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 reform plan, which was announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to boost the Saudi economy. This initiative of Saudi Arabia is to target key investors and prominent personalities from various fields including sports, arts and culture, who have played a defining role in the nation-building process.

National :
  • The Centre has launched the second phase of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen)- SBM(G) Phase-II. It will be implemented from 2020-2021 to 2024-2025 in a mission mode with an outlay of one lakh 40 thousand 881 crore rupees. Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on March 4, 2020 launched the second phase of the mission at a National Dissemination and Consultation workshop in New Delhi. 

    The second phase will focus on sustaining the gains made under the programme in the last five years in terms of toilet access and usage, ensuring that no one is left behind. It will also ensure that effective solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) is instituted in every Gram Panchayat of the country. 

    Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Mr.Gajendra Singh Shekhawat lauded the enormous success of Phase-I of the SBM (G) and said that the cabinet approval of Phase II is a great recognition to the signification achievements made under the mission. It will continue to generate employment and provide impetus to the rural economy through the construction of household toilets and community toilets.

  • Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Mr.Gajendra Singh Shekhawat released a study done by the UNICEF and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on the impact of the SBM(G) on rural women. 

    The study titled Impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) on the convenience, safety and self-respect of women in rural India - surveyed 6,993 women across the 5 states in February 2020. These states are Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. 

    The survey indicated that the increased access to household toilets has led to the improvement in the Suvidha, Suraksha and Swabhimaan of women in rural India.

  • Government said that out of 34 crore accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, around 60 per cent are women account holders. Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Minister Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey said, in various schemes taken up by the Ministry in North Eastern part of the country, the largest beneficiary are women.

  • Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has undertaken several initiatives to achieve women empowerment through skill development. Skill India mission is committed to equipping women with market relevant skills and lead them to a path of self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship. 

    Trainings are being conducted for Self Employed Tailor, Beauty Therapist, Customer Care Executive, Hair Stylist, Yoga Trainer, etc. through Pradhan Mantri Mahila Kaushal Kendra. Apart from Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, the Ministry of Women and Child Development with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has also been initiating various steps for improving women livelihood and empowering women through skill development.

  • Government has envisaged replacement of all the level crossings on National Highways by Road Over Bridges or Road Under Bridges under the Setu Bharatam scheme. The programme is being implemented by Road Transport and Highways Ministry to ensure safe and smooth flow of traffic and reduced road fatalities by 50 percent by 2020. 

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Setu Bharatam scheme on 4th March in 2016 for building rail over-bridges or underpasses for safe and seamless travel on National Highways. The Prime Minister had said that a good infrastructure network is vital for the growth and development of a nation. He also stressed on the necessity to bring in a comprehensive, integrated approach in developing infrastructure in the country. 

    About Setu Bharatam programme : 
    Setu Bharatam programme was launched to make all National Highways free of railway level crossings in order to prevent the frequent accidents and loss of lives at level crossings. 

    208 places were identified for construction of rail over-bridges or underpasses under the project at a cost of nearly 10,200 crore rupees. 

    Around 1,500 bridges that are over 50 to 60 years old are being rebuilt. 

    Ministry of Road Transport Highways and Ministry of Railways have signed an MoU to replace all level crossings by Road Over Bridges or Road Under Bridges.

    Unmanned railway crossings are one of the chief causes of rail accidents in India, with such accidents being more frequent in rural areas. With the elimination of all such crossings targeted for this year, such mishaps can be avoided.

  • 68th All India Police Athletic Championship-2019 began at Bhanu in Panchkula District of Haryana on March 3, 2020. Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju declared the meet open at Basic Training Centre of ITBP.

  • The 35th edition of AAHAR - the Food and Hospitality fair began in New Delhi on March 3, 2020. This five-day-long fair is being organized by India Trade Promotion Organisation, ITPO, with support of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Agriculture and Processed Food Products Development Authority and several apex industry associations.

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has developed "Jeevan Kaushal" (life skills) curriculum for undergraduate students at Universities and Colleges. The Jeevan Kaushal Curriculum covers the courses on communication skills, professional skills, leadership and management skills, and universal human values. 

    It is aimed to enhance an individual's ability to be fully self-aware by helping oneself to overcome all fears and insecurities and to grow fully from inside out and outside in. It will increase knowledge of a person and raise awareness of emotional competency and emotional intelligence at place of study or work. The skills will develop interpersonal skills and adopt good leadership behaviour for the empowerment of self and others. It will set appropriate goals, manage stress and time effectively.

  • The Minister of State (IC) for Tourism & Culture, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel launched the multilingual Incredible India website in New Delhi on March 2, 2020. The website is currently hosted in English and Hindi is now launched in Chinese, Arabic and Spanish to attract tourists from these regions.

  • In Madhya Pradesh, State Board of Secondary Education has kept a Honesty Box in all the examination centers to prevent cheating and to increase morality in the students. Through this box, the students will be motivated to honestly put their cheating material in the box.

  • Indian Government has permitted airlines operating in India to provide in-flight Wi-Fi services to passengers. The Pilot-in-Command may permit the access of Internet services by passengers on board an aircraft in flight, through Wi-Fi on board, when laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, e-reader or a point of sale device is used in flight mode or airplane mode.

  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Hardiwar-based Patanjali Bio Research Institute (PBRI) on 1st March. 

    The MoU aims to undertake research work, training, and education. The MoU was signed by ICAR Director General Trilochan Mohapatra and PBRI CEO Acharya Balkrishna in the presence of Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. It aims to foster close interaction in research, technology demonstration, capacity building, seed production, entrepreneurship, and skill development.

  • The Union Minister for Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare, Rural Development &Panchayati Raj Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the Pusa Krishi Vigyan Mela 2020 on 1 March. The fair aimed at calling talent in Agriculture. The festival aims to make agriculture a profitable venture.The government provides funds to promote agriculture as it is vital that the share in GDP and exports should rise. 

    The Mela is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's priority to agriculture and achieving the target of doubling farmers' income by 2022. Discussion at the fair directed the Agriculture Institutes and scientists to ensure that superior seeds are provided to farmers at reasonable rates.

  • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla recently launched a national campaign from Kota, Rajasthan on March 1, 2020, to create malnutrition-free India. Om Birla launched “Suposhit Maa Abhiyan” will support adolescent girls and pregnant women in the country. 

    The main objective of this campaign is to keep pregnant women and newborn health. It has been launched from Kota but it will cover entire India. About 1000 kits of 17 kg balanced diet were provided to 1,000 pregnant women in the first phase of the campaign.

  • Indian Railways launched its first ‘Restaurant on Wheels’ at the circulating area of Asansol Railway station for the use of Railway passengers as well as general public of Asansol. Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Shri Babul Supriyo, inaugurated this first of its kind restaurant in a programme held at Asansol station on 26th February, 2020. 

    Shri Babul Supriyo also inaugurated two new air-conditioned Retiring Rooms and Electronic Reservation Chart Display System (through MPLAD fund) and a Battery operated Car at Asansol station.

Economy :
  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has infused 1.46 lakh crore rupees in the rural banking system during the current fiscal. NABARD has said that 66,397 crore rupees have been given in short-term credit and 6,704 crore rupees in long-term credit to rural cooperative banks. 

    Regional rural banks have availed 14,141 crore rupees in short-term credit and 8,417 crore rupees in long-term credit. In addition, other banks, including small finance banks, have obtained long-term refinance of 37,895 crore rupees. While short-term refinance is essentially production credit, long-term refinance is aimed at supporting sectors like dairy, poultry, fishery, farm mechanisation, irrigation, and non-farm sectors, among others.

  • The Indian Cabinet on March 4, 2020 approved Foreign Direct Investment, FDI policy on civil aviation. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said, FDI policy was amended to permit foreign investment in Air India. 

    He said, Non Resident Indians can acquire up to 100 per cent equity in Air India under automatic route. The Minister said, earlier only 49 per cent were available for sale to NRIs but now they can purchase 100 per cent. He said, India has become most favoured nation in FDI.

  • ‘India among most dollarized countries in terms of invoicing’. Professor Hélène Rey, Professor of Economics at London Business School delivered the lecture on ‘financial globalization and international financial markets’ as part of the Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of India’s 35th Commencement Day celebrations. He said, India is one of the most dollarized countries in the world, following Brazil, Pakistan and Indonesia, in the share of imports and exports invoiced in dollars.

  • Bank of America Corporation (BAC) economists stated that the world economy is heading for its worst performance since the 2009 financial crisis. The decline is due to the increasing spread of coronavirus across the world. The economists stated that they are expecting 2.8% global growth in 2020, which is the weakest since 2009.

Days :
  • National Security Day or Rashtriya Suraksha Diwas is observed on 4 March every year in India to appreciate the work of security forces as they play a major role in maintaining the peace and security of the people in the country. On this day, the leaders, officials, and people pay homage to the soldiers who died while saving the country. 

    The day promotes the security forces that continuously work for the nation. It aims to remind the people about the personal duties of the security forces towards the country. 

    National Security Day is observed on 4th March as the day marks the day of establishment of the National Security Council (NSC) of India.

  • World Hearing Day is observed on March 3, 2020. The theme of 2020 World Hearing Day is "Don't let hearing loss limit you. Hearing for life!”. It highlights that timely and effective intervention will ensure that people with hearing loss can achieve their full potential.

  • World Wildlife Day is being celebrated on the 3rd of March every year to create awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife. The theme for this year is "Sustaining all life on earth". 

    The year is significant on two counts. It has been announced as bio-diversity super year because of the large number of eco friendly initiatives being taken the world over. The year 2020 is specially significant to India because it has taken over as the President of CoP13 for Action Against Climate Change.

  • Land Ports Authority of India (LPAI) celebrated its 8th Foundation Day on 2nd March in New Delhi. The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai, presided over the celebration.

  • Zero Discrimination Day is observed on 1 March every year. The day promotes diversity and recognizes that everyone counts. 

    The symbol for Zero Discrimination Day is the butterfly. It is used by people to share their stories and photos as a way to end discrimination and work towards positive transformation. 

    The United Nations celebrated Zero Discrimination Day on 1 March 2014, after UNAIDS. UNAIDS is a program on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) launched its Zero Discrimination Campaign on World AIDS Day in December 2013.

  • World Civil Defence Day is celebrated on 1 March every year to raise awareness of public protection from natural and technogenic disasters and rescue service work. 

    World Civil Defense Day was instituted by the International Civil Defense Organization (ICDO) General Assembly in 1990. It commemorates the day when the ICDO Constitution came into force as an intergovernmental organization in 1972. 

    ICDO was established by French Surgeon-General George Saint-Paul in 1931 in Paris. It was recognized by the French Parliament in June 1935 and in 1972 it achieved the status of an intergovernmental organization.

Defence :
  • India won a $40 million defence deal to supply 4 indigenously-built weapons locating radars to Armenia in Europe. India won the deal by overtaking Russia and Poland. The move by GoI is to boost the defence sector of the country. The deal is a major achievement for the 'Make in India' programme in the defence sector. 

    1.) Under the deal, India will supply 4 SWATHI weapon locating radars. The weapon is to be developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and delivered to Armenia in Europe.
    2.) Armenians had conducted trials of systems offered by Russia and Poland but they approved the Indian system, which was developed by DRDO. India began the supply of the equipment to Armenia.

    SWATHI weapon:
    1.) The SWATHI weapon will help in locating radars.
    2.) It provides fast, automatic and accurate location of enemy weapons like shells, mortars, and rockets in its 50-km range.
    3.) The weapon includes 81mm (or higher calibre mortars), 105mm (or higher calibre shells) and 120mm (or higher calibre free flying rockets).
    4.) The weapon is being developed by DRDO's Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE).
    5.) SWATHI can simultaneously handle multiples projectiles fired from different weapons at different locations.
    6.) The weapon can adjust the fire of its own artillery weapon also.

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) entered into an academic collaboration and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Savitribai Phule Pune University. The MoU aimed to establish a 'Chair of Excellence' at the Department of Defence & Strategic Studies. 

    Chair of Excellence:
    1.) The IAF has named it as "Marshal of the Air Force (MIAF) Arjan Singh Chair of Excellence" with an aim to pay tribute to the legend and commemorate the centenary birth year of the MIAF Arjan Singh.
    2.) The Chair will empower the IAF officers to pursue Doctoral Research and higher studies in Defence & Strategic Studies and allied fields.
    3.) The chair will facilitate research and higher studies in the area of National Defence and allied fields of Air Force officers.
    4.) It will be inculcating a strategic outlook and building a pool of strategic thinkers.

Awards :
  • President of India, Ram Nath Kovind on March 4, 2020 conferred 61st annual Lalit Kala Akademi's awards on 15 artistes at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

  • Scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and IIT-Delhi received National Award for Young Women Showing Excellence through Application of Technology for Societal Benefits. 

    Dr. ShwetaRawat from Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), DRDO, Timarpur, Delhi was awarded for the discovery of female-specific Full Body Protector. The device aimed to safeguard the Female troops deployed in riot control actions. 

    Dr. Shalini Gupta, Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, was awarded as she led the development of a technology SeptifloTM. It offers fast and affordable assay for point-of-care diagnosis and treatment of bacterial septicemia.

Persons :
  • Former India hockey star and Olympic bronze medallist Balbir Singh Kullar died after suffering a heart attack at his home in Punjab.

  • Veteran athletics coach Joginder Singh Saini died in Patiala. Saini received the Dronacharya Award in 1997 for his contribution to Indian athletics. He was the chief coach of the Indian athletics team which won 18 medals, including eight golds, at the 1978 Asian Games.

  • Indian investor Yosuffali M A, Chairman of the Lulu group became one of the first to be given the permanent residency permit by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Premium Residency, informally known as Saudi Green Card, is a residence permit in Saudi Arabia that grants expatriates the right to live, work and own business and property in the Kingdom without need for a sponsor.

Appointments :
  • Indian-American health policy consultant Seema Verma has been appointed as one of the key members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force constituted by US President Donald Trump to combat the deadly disease.

Sports :
  • Rafael Nadal wins Mexican Open title after beating Taylor Fritz.

  • Young Indian shuttlers Tasnim Mir and Mansi Singh won a bronze medal each in the girls' singles Badminton event at the Yonex Dutch Junior International 2020 in Haarlem, Netherlands. It was the first time India won two bronze medals in girls' singles at this BWF Junior International Grand Prix tournament.

  • The Khelo India University Games concluded in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on March 1, 2020. Panjab University, Chandigarh took home the champions trophy-winning 46 medals including 17 gold, 19 silver, and 10 bronze.

  • Former India spinner Sunil Joshi was named chairman of the national selection panel by the BCCI's Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) in Mumbai.

Science & Technology :
  • Scientists say Black carbon might influence melting of Gangotri Glacier. The study suggested the reason behind this seasonal increase is agricultural burning and forest fire. Along with agricultural burning and forest fire, the long-range transport of pollutants in winter, also influence the melting of Glacier. The light-absorbing nature of black carbon can trigger glacial melt. A study on Chirbasa station near Gangotri Glacier found that black carbon (BC) concentration changed from 0.01µgm-3 in winter to 4.62µgm-3 during summer, for the year 2016.

  • Researchers from Sree Chitra Thirunal Institute of Medical Science and Technology (SCTIMST) developed an innovative intracranial flow diverter stent. The device is used for the treatment of aneurysms of the blood vessels of the brain. Aneurysms are the enlargement of an artery caused by weakness in the arterial wall.



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