Current Affairs – March 19, 2021 [Today’s News Headlines]

Here are Today’s News Headlines by GK Today for March 19, 2021

India

Indian Naval Landing Craft Utility L58 Commissioned at Port Blair

Indian Naval Landing Craft Utility (LCU) L58, which is the eighth and last ship of the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mark IV Class, was commissioned into the Indian Navy at Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Indigenously designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE), Kolkata.

Envoys of four nations present credentials to President of India

President Ram Nath Kovind, accepted credentials from four countries on March 18, 2021 in a virtual ceremony. Those who presented their credentials were: Shashi Prakash: High Commissioner of Fiji; David Emmanuel Puig Buchel: Ambassador of Dominican Republic, Farid Mamundzay: Ambassador Afghanistan; Charrandass Persaud: High Commissioner of Guyana.

Indian Navy conducts Passage Exercise with Bahrain’s Navy in Persian Gulf

Indian Navy on March 17, 2021 undertook Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Royal Bahrain Naval Force Corvette Al Muharraq in the Persian Gulf under Operation Sankalp. PASSEXs are conducted regularly by the Indian Navy with units of friendly foreign navies, whilst visiting each other’s ports or during a rendezvous at sea.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar holds talks with Kuwaiti counterpart

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on March 18, 2021 held wide-ranging talks with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah in New Delhi to elevate bilateral relations. In the financial year 2019-20, Kuwait was the 10th largest oil supplier to India and it met about 3.8 per cent of India’s energy needs.

India, Saudi Arabia hold talks on initiating cooperation in space

India and Saudi Arabia held discussions on initiating cooperation in the space field and explored the possibility of inking a county-level MoU. Secretary in the Indian Department of Space and ISRO Chairman K. Sivan and President of Board of Directors of the Saudi Space Commission Prince Sultan bin Salman led the discussions.

EU joins India-promoted Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

Accepting India’s invitation, the European Union (EU) has officially on-boarded as a member of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), following its endorsement of the charter of the CDRI earlier. CDRI is an international collaborative platform involving the public and private sector. It was launched in 2019 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the UN Climate Change Summit. It aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks in support of sustainable development.

Economy & Corporate

Bill to increase FDI in insurance sector to 74% passed by Rajya Sabha

A bill to increase foreign direct investment limit in the insurance sector to 74 per cent from the current 49 per cent was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 18, 2021. Replying to the debate on Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said foreign investment will supplement domestic long-term resources with a view to further insurance penetration in the country.

India’s economy to contract by 6.9% in 2020; grow by 5% in 2021: UNCTAD

India’s economy, estimated to contract by 6.9 per cent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, is forecast to record a “stronger recovery” in 2021 and grow by 5 per cent, according to a UN report which said the country’s current fiscal year budget points to a shift towards demand-side stimulus, with an uptick in public investment. The report, ‘Out of the frying pan into the fire?’ published on March 18, 2021 as an update to the Trade and Development Report 2020 by UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Draft rules for setting up Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facility (RVSF) notified

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has notified draft rules for setting up Registered Vehicle Scrapping Facility (RVSF).  The rules lay down the procedure for setting up, authorization and operation of RVSF. These RVSFs shall be provided access to the VAHAN database and shall be authorized to make entries regarding scrapping of the vehicle & issuance of Scrapping Certificate.

AIM, NITI Aayog, AWS tie up to boost cloud computing skills in India

Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog, and Amazon Web Services on March 18, 2021 announced new initiatives to strengthen the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in India. This will be done by empowering school students with cloud computing skills, and enabling entrepreneurs to build innovative education technology solutions on the cloud. A Statement of Intent was signed between NITI Aayog and Amazon Internet Services Private Limited, which undertakes the resale and marketing of Amazon Web Services Cloud services in India.

4 volumes of Compendium on CPI for Industrial Workers released: Labour Ministry

Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar on March 18, 2021 released four volumes of Compendium on Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Industrial Workers. Gangwar said that the compendium having data on CPI for Industrial Workers of more than eight decades will play a pivotal role in bridging the data gap between old records and present figures and maintaining continuity.

World

AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine safe: European Medicines Agency

The European Union’s drug regulatory agency said on March 18, 2021 that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not linked to an overall increase in the risk of blood clots and that the benefits of use outweigh the risks, paving the way for European countries to resume administering the shots. Several European countries had suspended the use of the vaccine over the past week following reports of rare types of blood clots occurring in a small number of the millions of people who had received the shot across the continent.

UNCTAD raises global economic growth forecast for 2021 to 4.7%

The global economy is set to grow by 4.7% this year thanks to a stronger-than-expected recovery in the United States, a report by the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said on March 18, 2021, revising up its previous forecast of 4.3%. The upwards revision from its previous forecast made last September factors in an expected boost in U.S. consumer spending on the back of progress distributing COVID-19 vaccines and a vast stimulus package, the report said.

Spain’s parliament pass law legalising euthanasia for terminally-ill patients

Spain’s parliament voted through a law legalising euthanasia on March 18, 2021, becoming one of the few nations to allow terminally-ill or gravely-injured patients to end their own suffering. A priority for Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government, the law was drafted following public pressure generated by several high-profile cases. The vote, which passed by 202 in favour and 141 against and two abstentions in the 350-seat chamber, makes Spain the fourth European nation to decriminalise assisted suicide, alongside the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.

US Senate confirms appointment of Katherine Tai as US Trade Representative

The US Senate on March 17, 2021 unanimously approved the nomination of Katherine Tai as President Joe Biden’s chief trade negotiator. Senators voted 98-0 to confirm Tai as the next US Trade Representative, making her the first woman of colour and the first Asian American to serve as the nation’s top ambassador on trade policy.

French diplomat appointed Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General on Afghanistan

UN chief Antonio Guterres has appointed veteran French diplomat Jean Arnault as his personal envoy on Afghanistan and regional issues, authorising him to liaise with regional countries on his behalf to support negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban and implement any agreements reached between them. The appointment of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General on Afghanistan and Regional Issues reflects the continued commitment by the United Nations to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan, Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said.

Sports

India beat England by 8 runs in 4th T20 International at Ahmedabad

India beat England by eight runs in the fourth T20 International to level the five-match series 2-2 at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 18, 2021. Invited to bat first, India scored 185 for eight in the stipulated 20 overs. In reply, England were stopped at 177 for eight in their full quota of overs.

‘Girl Gang’ announced official song of ICC Women’s World Cup 2022

Girl Gang, a track by New Zealand singer Gin Wigmore, has been announced as the official song of the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup. The tournament is set to be hosted in New Zealand from March 4 to April 3, 2022. The International Cricket Council (ICC) made the announcement in an event on March 18, 2021.

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