Current Affairs March 03 &04, 2019

In this post, GKToday presents Current Affairs of March 03 &04, 2019 in Short Notes form for preparation of IBPS, Banking, CLAT, SSC, Railway, UPSC, IAS/PCS, UPPSC, BPSC, MPPSC, RPSC, TNPSC, MPSC, KPSC and all other competitive examinations of India.

1. On 1st of March 2019, the Supreme Court pulled up the Haryana government for passing amendments to an act which allows construction in the ecologically-sensitive Aravalli hills. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta stated that the step will destroy the forest and it cannot be permitted. Terming the move as shocking, the bench asked the state not to take any further action on the law. It said that the Haryana government has taken the step despite the apex court's directive in this regard. On 27th Feb 2019, the state assembly had passed an amendment to the centuries-old Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900 (PLPA) Act & opened up thousands of acres of land for real estate developers and for mining in the Aravallis and Shivalik ranges. The decision meant it would not only burden the already ecologically-fragile system, but would also pose a major environmental and ecological threat to the national capital region.

2. India's Shashank Shekhar has won the 10 kilometre race of Nepal's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Open Marathon and Run for Fun held in Kathmandu. Shekhar of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) Contingent at Embassy of India in Kathmandu secured first position. RD Murgan also from CISF got third place. A total nine CISF personnel participated in 10 KM race category. The remaining seven personnel also successfully completed run and received Certificate of Achievement. COAS Open Marathon and Run for Fun is an annual event organised by the Nepal Army.

3. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Bank of Japan (BOJ) have signed a Bilateral Swap Arrangement (BSA) for $75 billion that will help in bringing greater stability in foreign exchange and capital markets in the country. The pact will enables both countries to swap their local currencies (i.e., either Japanese yen or Indian rupee) against US dollar for up to $75 billion. The BSA was negotiated between India and Japan during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Tokyo on October 29, 2018. With this, India can access the agreed amount of $75 billion for its domestic currency, for the purpose of maintaining an appropriate level of balance of payments or short-term liquidity.

4. West Indies opener Chris Gayle has become the first-ever player to smash 500 sixes in international cricket. He achieved this feat in the ongoing 5-match One Day International (ODI) series against England at National Cricket Stadium in Grenada, West Indies on 27 February. However, Gayle’s fireworks weren’t enough to help his team cross the line as West Indies were bowled out for 389. They fell 29 runs short of England’s 418/6, scored courtesy Jos Buttler’s 150 and Eoin Morgan’s 103 as well as half-centuries by Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales. Earlier in the ongoing series, he had toppled Shahid Afridi to record the most number of sixes by any batsman in international cricket. Gayle, who will retire from ODIs after the 2019 Cricket World Cup, now has 506 sixes in international cricket (98 in Tests, 305 in ODIs and 103 in T20Is). He also breached 10,000-run mark in ODIs and become only the 2nd from West Indies after Brian Lara (10,405 runs) to achieve the milestone.

5. The Zero Discrimination Day (ZDD) is observed every year on 1st of March to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all of the member countries of the UN. The days aims to tell people that nobody should be differentiated based on their HIV status, age, sex, gender identity, race, ethnicity, language, geographical location or migrant status. The 2019 campaign 'Act to change laws that Discriminate' challenges people to act against laws that discriminate in their country. The campaign encourages people to ask themselves "What if …" and to think about their own actions. For example: 'What if your neighbour had tuberculosis? Would you stop to chat?'

6. On Feb 28, Union Minister for Textiles Smriti Zubin Irani launched a comprehensive programme for the development of knitting and knitwear sector in the country under the PowerTex India scheme in New Delhi. The total outlay for the knitwear scheme is Rs. 47.72 crore & would be in operation till March 31, 2020.The programme for knitting and knitwear units, catering to domestic and exports markets, has 8 components where the industries would get support to install machinery under group work shed scheme, buy yarn, go in for solar energy, have common facilities and create new service centres under public private partnership mode. The scheme envisages creation of new service centres on Public Private Partnership (PPP) model by industry and association in the knitting and knitwear clusters. Some of the major knitwear clusters in the country are Tiruppur, Ludhiana, Kanpur, and Kolkata.

7. The BCG-IBA report titled ‘EASE Reforms for Public Sector Banks’ has measured the performance of each Public Sector Bank (PSB) on 140 objective metrics across six themes, including customer responsiveness, credit off-take, and digitization. As per report, the Punjab National Bank (PNB) with a score of 78.4 out of 100 has been ranked first in the EASE (Enhanced Access & Service Excellence) index, followed by BoB (77.8), SBI (74.6), Oriental Bank of Commerce (69), Canara Bank (67.5) and Syndicate Bank (67.1). PNB has shown strong performance in parameters such as customer responsiveness, responsible banking, credit off-take and financial inclusion.

8. The Lignocellulosic biomass (or LC biomass) refers to plant biomass that is composed of carbohydrate polymers (cellulose, hemicellulose), and an aromatic polymer (lignin). It is the most abundantly available raw material on the Earth for the production of biofuels, mainly bio-ethanol. It is in news recently because the Union Cabinet has approved the "Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool fasal awashesh Nivaran) Yojana" for providing financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock. It has been launched as a tool to create 2G Ethanol capacity in the country and attract investments in this new sector. The scheme focuses to incentivize 2G Ethanol sector and support this nascent industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area. The ethanol produced by the scheme beneficiaries will be mandatorily supplied to Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to further enhance the blending percentage under Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme. The JI-VAN Yojana will be supported with total financial outlay of Rs.1969.50 crore for the period from 2018-19 to 2023-24.

9. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has recently constituted an 8-member task force headed by its former deputy governor Usha Thorat to examine issues related to offshore rupee markets and recommend policy measures to ensure the stability of the external value of the domestic currency. The task force will assess the causes behind the development of the offshore rupee market and study the effects of the offshore markets on the rupee exchange rate and market liquidity in the domestic market. It would also recommend measures to address concerns, if any, arising out of offshore rupee trading besides proposing measures to generate incentives for non-residents to access the domestic market. The panel would submit its report by the end of June 2019.

10. On the occasion of National Science Day (NSD-2019), the Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, Prakash Javadekar launched Rs 250 Crore scheme ‘STARS’ to fund 500 science projects. The selection of these projects would be done on the basis of competitions.The project will be coordinated by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. Interested candidates will have to submit applications to take part in the competition. The applications will release on the first week of April 2019. The acronym of STARS stands for “Scheme for Translational and Advanced Research”. Beside this, the HRD Ministry in collaboration with the National Skill Ministry and Labour and employment Ministry collaboratively launched SHREYAS – Scheme for Higher Education Youth for Apprenticeship and Skills to empower non-technical courses.

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