Current Affairs – March 24, 2021 [Today’s News Headlines]

Here are Today’s News Headlines by GK Today for March 24, 2021

India

All those above 45 years can get Covid shot from April 1: Govt.

The government has decided to expand Covid-19 public immunisation drive to include people above 45 from April 1, throwing it open to a much bigger pool as several states battle a second wave of infections. The Cabinet took the decision to expand the campaign which started on January 16, 2021. It has so far included healthcare workers, frontline workers, people above 60 and those with comorbidities between 45 and 59 years.

Maratha quota granted by Maharashtra govt is Constitutional: Centre to SC

Maharashtra has the legislative competence for granting reservation quota to Marathas and its decision is Constitutional as the 102nd amendment does not denude a state of the power to declare its list of Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC), Centre told the Supreme Court on March 23, 2021.

Chhattisgarh: Five policemen killed as Naxals blow up bus in Narayanpur district

Five police personnel were killed and 13 others injured as Naxals blew up the bus in which they were traveling in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district on March 23, 2021. The landmine explosion took place between Kanhargaon and Kadenar villages under Dhaudai police station limits.

UP, MP sign agreement with Centre for Ken-Betwa river interlinking project

The governments of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on March 22, 2021 signed a memorandum of agreement with the Union Jal Shakti Ministry to implement the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project. The project’s purpose is to carry water from surplus regions to drought-prone and water-scarce areas through interlinking of rivers. The project involves transfer of surplus water from Ken river in Panna district in Madhya Pradesh to Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh.

Stamp on 100 Years of First Visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Odisha released

Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State for Education, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology digitally released a Commemorative Postage Stamp on 100 Years of First Visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Odisha. This Commemorative Postage Stamp celebrates an important event of Indian History which is the first visit of Mahatma Gandhi to Odisha on 23rd March, 1921. It energized the Non-Cooperation movement and strengthened the cause of freedom struggle.

Centre to launch Poshan Abhiyan for Senior Citizens

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment aims to launch a Poshan Abhiyan for the Elderly, to provide nutrition support to the indigent elders, who are not staying in the Old Age Homes and are victims of severe malnutrition, by focusing on procuring locally available healthy food material and serving hot-cooked mid-day meals. The Gram Panchayats and Urban Municipalities are the implementing agencies of the Scheme. The funding for the Scheme is from the Senior Citizens Welfare Fund.

Tamil Nadu: AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP Mohammedjan dies at 72

AIADMK Rajya Sabha member A. Mohammedjan died at the age of 72 in Ranipet, Tamil Nadu on January 23, 2021. He was elected as Rajya Sabha member in July 2019 and was also chairman of Tamil Nadu Wakf Board.

Army concludes contract for procurement of 17.27 lakh service medals

The Army concluded a contract for procurement of 17.27 lakh service medals of 17 different types. The Department of Medals in Defence Ministry, which is responsible for issuing original medals, had not provided any medals since 2008 expect for gallantry and Distinguished Service medals presented by the President during investiture ceremonies. Due to this, the personnel were forced to purchase duplicate medals from local markets.

India-Pakistan Indus Waters Commissioners’ meeting held in New Delhi

Pakistan raised objections to the designs of Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower plants in Jammu and Kashmir as the Indus Commissioners of the two countries met in New Delhi on March 23, 2021. On its part, India justified its stand on the designs. The Pakal Dul Hydro Electric Project (1,000 MW) is proposed on the Marusudar river, a tributary of the Chenab river, in Kishtwar district in Jammu and Kashmir. The Lower Kalnai project is proposed in Kishtwar and Doda districts. The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) warrants the two commissioners to meet at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan.

Cabinet approves MoC signed between India & Japan in Water Resources field

The Union Cabinet was apprised of the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed between Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation of Ministry of Jal Shakti and Water and Disaster Management Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan in the field of Water Resources.

MoU between PSCs of India and Afghanistan approved by Cabinet

The Union Cabinet has approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), India and Independent Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Commission (IARCSC), Afghanistan. The MoU will strengthen the relationship between IARCSC and UPSC. It will facilitate sharing of experience and expertise of both the parties in the area of recruitment.

Vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty composes raag on Bangabandhu

On the occasion of the birth centenary of the founding father of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, renowned vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty has composed a new Raag named ‘Moitree’ as a tribute to the Bangabandhu. The compositions contain references to the 50 years of liberation of Bangladesh.

Economy & Corporate

National Bank for Financing Infrastructure & Development Bill introduced in LS

National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development Bill, 2021 was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 22, 2021.  The Bill seeks to establish the National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development (NBFID) as the principal development financial institution (DFIs) for infrastructure financing.  DFIs are set up for providing long-term finance for such segments of the economy where risks involved are beyond the acceptable limits of commercial banks and other ordinary financial institutions.  DFIs do not accept deposits from people. They source funds from the market, government, as well as multi-lateral institutions.

No compound, penal interest be charged during loan moratorium period: SC

The Supreme Court Tuesday directed that no compound or penal interest shall be charged from borrowers for the six-month loan moratorium period, which was announced in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the amount already charged shall be refunded, credited or adjusted.

Banks’ NPAs declined to Rs 5.70 lakh crore at Dec 2020-end: Anurag Singh Thakur

Non-performing assets of banks declined to Rs 5.70 lakh crore in December 2020 and the recovered amount stood at Rs 2.74 lakh crore following a slew of measures taken by the government, Union Minister Anurag Singh Thakur told Rajya Sabha on March 23, 2021. The Minister of State for Finance also said the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) has helped in recovery of NPA (Non-Performing Assets).

PSU POWERGRID launches certified e-tendering portal “PRANIT”

Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (POWERGRID), a central PSU under Ministry of Power has established an e-Tendering Portal-PRANIT which will lead to less paperwork and ease of operation, making the tendering process more transparent. It has been certified by Standardisation, Testing and Quality Certification Directorate (STQC), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India.

India files appeal against the Cairn Energy arbitration verdict at The Hague

India filed an appeal against the Cairn Energy arbitration verdict at The Hague on March 22, 2021, challenging the $1.2-billion award on grounds of sovereignty and tax avoidance by the UK oil major. Based on the appeal, New Delhi will seek a stay on enforcement of the award filed by Cairn in a lower Dutch court and will also contest the enforcement in at least eight other jurisdictions, including the UK, Canada, the US, and France. According to Dutch law, India had time till mid-April to file an appeal.

World

Madagascar: INS Jalashwa reaches Port Ehoala as part of Mission Sagar-IV

As part of Mission Sagar – IV, Indian Naval Ship Jalashwa arrived at Port Ehoala, Madagascar on March 22, 2021 to deliver a consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of rice and one lakh Hydroxychloroquine tablets in response to an appeal made by Madagascar for assistance to deal with natural calamities. An official ceremony for handing over the aid was attended by Prime Minister of Madagascar Christian Ntsay while the Indian side was represented by Abhay Kumar, Ambassador of India to Madagascar.

4 cosmonauts shortlisted for India’s Gaganyaan mission complete training in Russia

The four cosmonauts shortlisted for Gaganyaan, India’s first manned space mission, have completed their training in Russia, according to an official Russian statement on March 23, 2021. The Rs 10,000-crore Mission is expected to be launched in 2022, the year of the 75th anniversary of India’s Independence. The four Indian Air Force fighter pilots are likely to be potential candidates for the Gaganyaan project. Dmitry Rogozin, general director of the State Corporation Roscosmos, on March 18 held a meeting with Indian cosmonaut candidates who successfully completed general space training.

UNHRC adopts resolution against Sri Lanka’s human rights record

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 23, 2021 adopted a resolution against Sri Lanka’s human rights record. The resolution titled ‘Promotion of Reconciliation Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka’ was adopted by the UNHRC after 22 members out of 47 voted in favour of it. Eleven members voted against the resolution. India was among 14 countries which abstained from voting.

Sri Lanka signs 3-year USD 1.5 billion currency swap deal with China

Sri Lanka has signed a 10 billion-yuan (about USD 1,5 billion) currency swap deal with China for a three-year period to be used for promoting bilateral trade and direct investment between the two countries, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has announced. The deal was signed between the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the CBSL statement said on March 22, 2021.

World Meteorological Day celebrated on March 23

World Meteorological Day was celebrated on March 23, 2021. The Geneva-headquartered World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) was founded on this day in 1950. This year’s theme is “The ocean, our climate and weather” which celebrates WMO’s focus in connecting the ocean, climate and weather within the Earth System.

Sports

India (317/5) defeat England (251/42.1) by 66 runs in the first ODI at Pune

India (317/5) defeated England (251/42.1) by 66 runs in the first ODI of the three-match series at Pune on March 23, 2021.

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