Current Affairs March 16&17, 2019

In this post, GKToday presents Current Affairs of March 16&17, 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. Arecanut (also known as supari or betel nut) is the latest entrant in the list of agricultural produce with a Geographic Indication (GI) tag. The Registrar of Geographical Indications, under the Union government, accorded a GI tag to ‘Sirsi Supari’ grown in Sirsi, Siddpaur and Yellapur taluks of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka. The Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (TSS) Ltd, a Sirsi-based agri cooperative, is the registered proprietor of the GI ‘Sirsi Supari’. The GI tag will guarantee the authenticity of arecanut grown in these taluks, and ensure a better market for ‘Sirsi Supari’. The arecanut has unique features like a round and flattened coin shape, particular texture, taste. The total carbohydrates in ‘Sirsi Supari’ are 23% to 26%, total arecoline is 0.11% to 0.13%, total tannin content is 14.5% to 17.5%. ‘Sirsi Supari’ is used both as ‘chali’ (white arecanut) and red arecanut. The ‘chali’ variety is made by peeling the ripened nuts and sun drying them later. The red arecanut is produced by harvesting the tender nuts, then boiling and colouring them, then making them into different grades and finally sun drying them.

2. The World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is observed every year on March 15 to promote the basic rights of all consumers and empower them. It also gives people a chance to protest against the market abuses and social injustices. The day was inspired by former US President John F Kennedy, who was the first leader in the world to address the issue of consumer rights in a special message sent to the US Congress on 15th March 1962. The 2019 theme is ‘Trusted Smart Products’ has been chosen in view of the increased popularity of smart gadgets like smart phones to wearable fitness trackers, to voice-activated assistants and smart TVs. In India, we observe the National Consumer Day (NCD) on 24th of December every year.

3. The State Bank of India (SBI) has launched doorstep banking service for senior citizens over 70 years of age, differently-abled customers and infirm customers, including visually-impaired customers. Eligible customers can avail this service at a nominal fee of Rs. 100 per transaction for financial transactions and Rs. 60 for non-financial transactions. The doorstep banking services are available to KYC- compliant account holders, with a valid mobile number registered with the bank and residing within 5km radius from their home branch. This service will not be available for accounts operated jointly, minor accounts, and accounts of non-personal nature. The list of specific services will include - Cash pickup & delivery, Cheque pickup, Cheque book requisition slip pickup, Delivery of drafts & Term deposit advice, Life certificate pick-up and Pickup of Form 15H for Income Tax purposes.

4. Astronomers from Japan, Taiwan, and Princeton University have discovered 83 quasars powered by supermassive black holes in the distant universe, which were formed when the universe was only 5% of its current age. These quasars are lying 13 billion light-years away from the Earth. The team used data taken with 'Hyper Suprime-Cam' (HSC) instrument, mounted on the Subaru Telescope of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, which is located on the summit of Maunakea in Hawaii. This finding, published in The Astrophysical Journal, increases the number of black holes known at that epoch considerably, and reveals, for the first time, how common they are early in the universe's history. It also provides new insight into the effect of black holes on the physical state of gas in the early universe in its first billion years. Supermassive black holes, found at the centers of galaxies, can be millions or even billions of times more massive than the Sun. While they are prevalent today, it is unclear when they first formed, and how many existed in the distant early universe. A supermassive black hole becomes visible when gas accretes onto it, causing it to shine as a quasar.

5. The Austrian capital Vienna has topped the Mercer's index of most liveable cities for the 10th year in a row, followed by Zurich in Switzerland. In joint third place are Auckland, Munich and Vancouver. Luxembourg was the safest city in the world. In 105th place, Chennai ranks as the Asia-Pacific region’s safest city, while Karachi (226) is the least safe. According to Mercer’s 21st annual Quality of Living Rankings, Hyderabad and Pune have been named the most liveable city in India with rank 143rd. New Delhi featured at the 162nd position on the list, Mumbai at 154 and Bengaluru at 149. The 21st edition of the annual survey evaluated 231 cities across the globe between September and November last year based on 39 factors including political stability, healthcare, education, crime, recreation and transport. This year, Mercer provided separate rankings for personal safety, analysing the cities’ internal stability, crime levels, law enforcement and limitations on personal freedom. The ranking influences cities’ abilities to attract business.

6. Padmanaban Gopala, a social entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu, has bestowed with the 2019 Commonwealth Youth Award for the Asian region at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London for his technology-based food rescue organisation. Gopalan, founder of No Food Waste, was named the winner of the award worth 3,000 pounds for his work towards achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Zero Hunger with his innovative system of recovering excess food to distribute to those in need. Every year the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work celebrates the achievement of young people aged between 15 years and 29 years, whose projects serve the people and communities in their country and drive the progress to realize the different SDGs.

7. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist, has been nominated for 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in climate activism and fighting global warming. Ms. Thunberg is the founder of the School Strike for Climate movement, which is a global, growing movement of students demanding more action from authorities regarding global warming and climate change. The movement began last year as a solo protest by Thunberg outside the Swedish Parliament building. She encouraged students to skip school to join protests demanding faster action on climate change. It has since grown, and on 15th March 2019, thousands of students from across continents skipped school and take part in protests. It is said to be the largest such protest. If she won, Thunberg would be the youngest person to become a Nobel peace prize laureate, a title Malala Yousafzai took as a 17-year-old in 2014for her work on the right to education. The winner of the Nobel peace prize will be announced in October 2019.

8. Kento Momota has become the first Japanese man to win the All England Open Badminton Championships when he beat Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 2-1 in the men’s singles final at the Birmingham Arena. Beside this, Chen Yufei of China won the women’s title by upsetting world No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan in straight games, 21-17, 21-17.

9. On 15th March, the Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (FINE-2019) has been inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The 4-day event would provide platform to the innovators for building the linkages with potential stakeholders whose support can improve their prospects in coming years for the larger social good. It will also help in promoting lateral learning and linkages among the innovators to enrich the ecosystem for new India. FINE is a unique initiative of the Office of the President of India to recognise, respect, showcase, reward innovations and to foster a supportive ecosystem for innovators. The festival is organised by the President's Secretariat in association with Department of Science and Technology (DST) and National Innovation Foundation (NIF). It is a celebration of country's innovation potential, particularly ideas stemming from grassroots and from creative communities in disadvantaged regions.

10. In Maharashtra, the 10-day long Africa-India Joint Field Training Exercise (AFINDEX-19) between the Indian Army and 16 African nations will be conducted in Pune from March 18 to 27. The purpose of the exercise is to train the participating contingents in Humanitarian Mine Assistance (HMA) and Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) under the United Nations Charter. In addition to the participating nations from the African continent, officers from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar would attend the exercise as Observers. The joint exercise will cover the dynamics of raising a Mission headquarters, nuances of establishing military observer team sites in disturbed areas. The nuances of HMA being covered will include establishment and functioning of Mine Action Teams (MAC), identification and survey of contaminated areas and mechanical / manual demining techniques. The exercise is expected to greatly facilitate sharing of Indian Armed Forces experiences in United Nations Peace Keeping operations with countries in Africa and shall significantly enhance relations with the African continent.

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