Current Affairs – March 20, 2021 [Today’s News Headlines]

Here are Today’s News Headlines by GK Today for March 20, 2021

India

States can pass resolutions against Central laws: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on March 19, 2021 prima facie found no harm in State Legislative Assemblies passing resolutions against Central laws like the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act or controversial new farm laws. A Bench, led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde, said these resolutions are merely “opinions” of majority members of a Legislative Assembly and do not have the force of law.

Bill to modify list of scheduled castes in Tamil Nadu passed by Lok Sabha

A bill to modify the list of scheduled castes in Tamil Nadu by grouping of seven castes which presently exist as separate castes, was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 19, 2021. According to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021, the Tamil Nadu government has proposed certain modifications in the list of Scheduled Castes by grouping the seven castes which presently exist as separate castes.

Haryana: Assembly passes bill to recover damages to property during protests

The Haryana Recovery of Damages to Property during Disturbance to Public Order Bill, 2021 was passed in the state Legislative Assembly on March 18, 2021. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that this bill will determine the responsibility of those who damage property as well as ensure compensation to the victim.

US Secretary of Defence calls on PM Modi in New Delhi

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd James Austin III, who is on an official visit to India, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on March 19, 2021. Secretary Austin expressed US’ strong desire to further enhance the strategic partnership for peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

President Ram Nath Kovind talks to Chile’s President on phone

India and Chile on March 19, 2021 agreed to deepen bilateral relations post the COVID-19 pandemic, including the second expansion of India-Chile Preferential Trade Agreement. During a telephonic conversation between President Ram Nath Kovind and Sebastian Piera Echnique, the President of Chile, the two countries resolved to maintain the momentum in bilateral relationship in diverse areas.

Arindam Bagchi appointed new Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs

Arindam Bagchi has been appointed as new Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The outgoing spokesperson Anurag Srivastava will now be joint secretary (north). Bagchi is a 1995-batch Indian Foreign Service officer who had earlier served as ambassador to Croatia and deputy high commissioner in Sri Lanka, besides having served as director in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Gram Ujala scheme launched in Bihar; poor households to get LED for Rs. 10

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and Minister of State, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, R. K. Singh launched the Gram Ujala programme in Arrah, Bihar through a virtual event on March 19, 2021. LEDs will be available for only Rs 10 each for each household, in exchange for working condition old incandescent bulbs.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) celebrates its 82nd Raising Day

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) celebrated its 82nd anniversary on March 19, 2021. A parade was organised at the CRPF Academy, Gurugram to mark the occasion. Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai took the salute at the parade. The minister remarked that the unflinching commitment of the CRPF to its motto of ‘Service and Loyalty’ is ingrained in its work culture.

Space Technology Incubation Centres (S-TIC) inaugurated at 3 NITs by ISRO

Three Space Technology Incubation Centres (S-TIC) were inaugurated at National Institute of Technology (NIT) at Nagpur, Bhopal and Rourkela by the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K Sivan. ISRO on March 18, 2021 signed MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) with Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur (for Western region), Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal (for Central region), and National Institute of Technology, Rourkela (for Eastern region). The S-TIC will nurture the young academia with innovative research aptitude for carrying out research and product development in the field of space technology and applications.

Purnagiri Jan Shatabdi express train travels in reverse direction for over 20 km

The Railways has suspended a loco pilot and a guard after the Purnagiri Jan Shatabdi express train travelled in the reverse direction for over 20 km after hitting an animal. No injuries were reported. The incident took place on the evening of March 17, 2021 on the Khatima-Tanakpur section in Uttrakhand.

Economy & Corporate

Bill to amend Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act passed

The Lok Sabha on March 19, 2021 passed a Bill to amend the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR Act) through a voice vote, with Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi stating that the amendments will create jobs and allow private players with enhanced technology into the mining sector. The Bill removes the distinction between captive and non-captive mines.

Defence Ministry seals deal with BDL to acquire 4,690 anti-tank guided missiles

The Defence Ministry on March 19, 2021 sealed a deal with public sector undertaking Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to acquire 4,960 MILAN-2T anti-tank guided missiles at a cost of ₹ 1,188 crore for the Indian Army. The missiles, having a range of 1,850 metres, are being produced by BDL under license from French defence major MBDA Missile Systems. These missiles can be fired from ground as well as vehicle-based launchers and can be deployed in anti-tank role for both offensive and defensive tasks.

Labour Bureau inks agreement with BECIL for conducting all-India surveys

The Labour Bureau has signed a service level agreement with Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (BECIL) for providing technical and manpower support for conducting all India surveys, including on migrant workers. The signing of the agreement marks the beginning of a new era in the field of IT-enabled surveys, a labour ministry statement said. The Labour Bureau is an attached office of the Ministry of Labour & Employment. BECIL is a mini Ratna Company of I&B Ministry.

PGCIL acquires Jaypee POWERGRID Ltd from Jaiprakash Power Ventures

State-run Power Grid Corporation (PGCIL) said it has signed a share purchase agreement with Jaiprakash Power Ventures to acquire 74 per cent stake in Jaypee POWERGRID Ltd (JPL) for Rs 351.64 crore. On completion of the transaction, JPL will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of PGCIL. JPL-JV has developed a 214 km long EHV power transmission project to evacuate power from Karcham-Wangtoo project in Himachal Pradesh.

World

UN’s World Happiness Report: India ranks 139 out of 149, Finland tops

India has been ranked 139 out of 149 countries in the list of UN World Happiness Report 2021 released on March 19, 2021 which is topped by Finland. The World Happiness Report 2021, issued by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, focuses on the effects of COVID-19 and how people all over the world have fared. People in war-torn Afghanistan are the most unhappy with their lives.

World Sleep Day celebrated on March 19

The World Sleep Day was celebrated across the globe on March 19, 2021. The annual event is a celebration of one of the most important parts of our daily routines. World Sleep Day is organised by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society and the aim of the day is also to create awareness around sleep-related issues and the prevention and management of sleep disorders.

Tanzania: Samia Suluhu Hassan sworn in as first female president

Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in on March 19, 2021 as Tanzania’s first female president after the demise of incumbent John Magufuli. The 61-year-old, dressed in black suit and red headscarf, took the oath of office in Dar es Salaam before inspecting troops at a military parade and receiving a cannon salute. Under the constitution, Hassan will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025.

US House passes bills for grant of citizenship for undocumented immigrants

US House has passed key bills that would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, some migrant farmworkers and children whose parents immigrated legally to the country. The passage of the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, by the House on March 18, 2021 by 228-197 votes, was welcomed by the President Joe Biden, who described it as a critical first step in reforming the country’s immigration system.

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