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15 & 16 March 2020 Current Affairs

National :
  • The government of India has set an ambitious target to achieve sales of around 70 lakh hybrid and electric vehicles by the end of this year 2020. Heavy Industries Minister, Prakash Javadekar said, Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India, FAME scheme was initiated in 2015. 

    He said the scheme was formulated to promote the manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicle technology under the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020. In the 2nd phase of the scheme, it is aimed to support through demand incentives about seven thousand E-buses, 5 lakh E-3 wheelers, 55 thousand E-4 wheelers passenger cars and 10 lakh E-2 wheelers.

  • Indian Ministry of External Affairs has opened 24x7 helplines for COVID-19. The toll-free number of the Control Room is 1800118797. Other numbers are 91- 11- 23012113, 91- 11- 23014104 and 91- 11- 23017905. The fax number is 91- 011- 23018158. People can also mail on the email ID

  • Indian Government is implementing POSHAN Abhiyaan across the country to address the problem of malnutrition. The programme was launched on 8th March in 2018 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Jhunjhunu. The Abhiyaan aims to reduce malnutrition in the country in a phased manner through a life cycle approach. Its goal is to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia among young children, women and adolescent girls and reduce low birth weight.

  • The Indian government has taken several significant steps to protect the rights and interests of the LGBTQ community. In December 2019, the government has enacted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019 with an aim to prohibit discrimination against transgender persons. The Act provides for greater accountability on the part of central and state governments for issues concerning transgender persons. It provides every transgender person a right to reside and be included in his household. 

    It prohibits discrimination against such persons including denial of service, unfair treatment in education, employment, healthcare, facilities, opportunities available to the public, right to movement and right to reside. No government or private entity can discriminate against a transgender person in employment matters including recruitment and promotion.

  • Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh has announced the biggest ever scheme for the welfare of sports persons and artists of the State. N. Biren Singh said that ‘Chief Minister’s Akhannaba Sanaroising gi Tengbang (CMAST)’ and Chief Minister Artist Sing gi Tengbang (CMAT)’ would provide benefits to thousands of sportspersons and artistes of the State who have brought laurels to the State and Country. 

    Under the CMAST Scheme, a suitable employment in government services will be provided to sports persons, who have won medals in notified disciplines in selected International Sports events. The scheme would also support the sports persons on purchasing of costly sports items. Also, cash awards for Olympic participants have been enhanced to 1 crore, 75 lakh, 50 lakh and 10 lakh rupees for different categories. Sportsperson who have represented in National and International tournaments and are unemployed would be given lifetime pension. In scheme for artists, CMAT is designed with a view to encourage the artists in different fields and targeted to cover 4000 artistes in a year. 

    Chief Minister said, pension will be given to selected artists who are 60 years and above. Monetary support would be extended to cultural groups or institutes for training and productions in various fields of arts and culture. Financial assistance will also be provided to the students studying in government dance and music institutes in Manipur.

Bilateral :
  • The Government of India will provide 107.01 million Nepali Rupees for three new school buildings in Nepal. The schools will be constructed in Darchula, Dhanusha and Kapilvastu districts. The Embassy of India and Nepal’s Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration signed Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) in Kathmandu on March 16, 2020 for the construction of two new school buildings.

Economy :
  • The 39th GST Council meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt Nirmala Sitharaman on 14th March in New Delhi. Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur, along with Finance Ministers of States/UTs and seniors officers of the Ministry of Finance, participated in the meeting. 

    Highlights :
    1.) The officials discussed the issues faced by the taxpayers in the GST system. A summary of the recently observed IT issues, and the way forward to resolve them was submitted.

    2.) The meeting focused on smoothening the rollout of the new return system and ensured the transition to the new return system is made in an incremental manner.

    3.) The meeting addressed the compliance-related issues so that the problem of tax evasion and gaming of the system due to non-linking of FORM GSTR-1 and FORM GSTR-3B is addressed immediately.

    4.) The officials stated that in order to tackle and prevent the gaming of the system, implementation of Aadhaar authentication and spike rules would be initiated.

Sports :
  • In Badminton, Taiwan's shuttler Tai Tzu Ying clinched her third women's singles title of the All England Championships at Birmingham in United Kingdom on March 16, 2020.

  • Winners of England Badminton Championships :
    1.) Men's Singles: Viktor Axelsen 
    2.) Women's Singles: Taipei Tai Tzu-Ying 
    3.) Men's Doubles: Hiroyuki Endo, Yuta Watanabe 
    4.) Women's Doubles: Yuki Fukushima, SayakaHirota
    5.) Mixed Doubles: Praveen Jordan, Melati Daeva Oktavianti

  • Ace Indian paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal wins the ITTF Challenger Plus Oman Open.

Days :
  • World Consumer Rights Day is celebrated on the 15th of March every year to raise global awareness about consumer rights and needs. Celebrating the day is a chance to demand that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights. 

    Indian Government has taken various steps to protect the rights of the consumers and early redressal of their grievances. Last year, the Centre has enacted the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 replacing the old 1986 Act to protect the interest of consumers and timely settlement of disputes. Under the new Act, there is also a provision of setting up of Central Consumer Protection Authority. 

    The Authority will have a dedicated wing to conduct investigation to carry out inquiries relating to consumer rights, unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements. Consumer Affairs Ministry is also running various consumer awareness programmes through Jaago Grahak Jaago.

  • World Sleep Day is observed on 13 March. The day focuses on the issues related to sleep, sleep medicine, education about sleep. The day raises awareness about the social effects that sleep deprivation can have on everyday life. 

    World Sleep Day aims to help those who have sleep problems, educate people all over about the importance of sleep, and change the way people view and experience sleep by giving people valuable resources to help them in their daily lives.

  • International Day of Action for Rivers is observed on 14th March. This year, the 22nd annual International Day of Action for Rivers is observed. The day aims to stress the importance of rivers and how it affects the lives of the people. The theme of 2020 International Day of Action for Rivers is Women, Water, and Climate Change. 

    The International Day of Action Against Dams and For Rivers, Water and Life was initiated at the first International Meeting of People Affected by Dams at Curitiba Brazil in March 1997. Representatives from 20 countries decided the designate 14 March as the observation of International Day of Action, which coincides with Brazil's Day of Action Against Large Dams. The day was designated to raise people's voices against destructive water development projects, reclaim the health of our watersheds, and demand the equitable and sustainable management of our rivers.

  • International Pi (p) day is observed on 14th March every year. Pi has been known for almost 4000 years. Mathematicians started to use the Greek letter p in the 1700s. The day was chosen as the numbers 3, 1, and 4, which are the first three significant digits of p. Pi. 

    Pi is one of the most well-known mathematical constants. It is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. It is represented by the lower-case Greek letter p. For any circle, the distance around the edge is a little more than three times the distance across. The irrational number is most often approximated with the decimal 3.14 or the fraction 22/7.

Science & Technology:
  • Researchers in the United States have discovered a communication network in plants that helps them respond to a hormone involved in pest resistance. This may help develop crops that can withstand insect attacks. The study, published in the journal 'Nature Plants', observed that the hormone called jasmonic acid is particularly important for a plant's defense response against fungi and insects. 

    Joseph Ecker, a study co-author from Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US has said the research has given a really detailed picture of how the hormone, jasmonic acid acts at many different levels. He said the research has enabled them to understand how environmental information and developmental information is processed, and how it ensures proper growth and development. 

    In the study, the scientists used the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a widely studied small flowering plant in the mustard family, whose genome has been well characterised. The researchers said the findings from studying Arabidopsis thaliana can be applied to other plants, including those grown for food. 

    During the experiment, using various computational approaches, the study team could identify genes important for the plant's response to jasmonic acid, and for the cellular cross-communication with other plant hormone pathways. According to the scientists, the genes MYC2 and MYC3 rose to the top in their degree of importance across the system. They said the two genes are involved in producing proteins that regulate the activity of thousands of other genes. 

    By assessing these gene networks and subnetworks, researchers could understand the architecture of the whole plant hormone system. It also helped them to understand which genes are turned on and off during a plant's defense response. Ultimately, the process helps in identifying breeding crops that are able to better withstand attacks from pests.

  • Scientists from the International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad developed a cost-effective solar receiver tube technology for industrial process heat applications. 

    Highlights :
    1.) Solar receiver tube technology is used in Concentrating Solar Thermal (CST).

    2.) The receiver tube technology absorbs solar radiation and converts it into heat for the targeted applications, especially in industries. It also exhibits high corrosion resistance suitable for Indian weather conditions.

    3.) It provides a viable solution to meet the demands on industrial process heat (=250°C) of a majority of industrial processes.

    4.) The receiver tube achieved around 93% absorptance and around 14% emittance along with good thermal stability and high corrosion resistance. The absorber coating has been successfully validated for heat gain and heat loss studies in a testing facility established at ARCI.

    5.) The government has also signed MoU with M/s. Greenera Energy India Private Limited for technology transfer. It plans to mass-produce the solar receiver tube for wider market absorption.



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