Current Affairs – March 4, 2021 [Today’s News Headlines]

Here are Today’s News Headlines by GK Today for March 4, 2021

India

Govt. sanctions 12 new Sashastra Seema Bal battalions for Nepal, Bhutan borders

The government has sanctioned a dozen fresh Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) battalions, comprising over 13,000 personnel for the Nepal and Bhutan borders guarding force, to “fortify” defences along these fronts including the tri-junction area in Sikkim that adjoins Bhutan and Tibet. The SSB, with an estimated strength of about 90,000 personnel, is the designated force to guard the open Indian fronts with Nepal (1,751 km) and Bhutan (699 km).

World Hearing Day observed on March 3

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare on March 3, 2021 virtually inaugurated six new ‘Outreach Service Centers for Communication Disorders’ across the country by All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysuru on the occasion of World Hearing Day.

Nawada in Bihar tops aspirational districts ranking in January: Niti Aayog

Nawada in Bihar has topped the list of aspirational districts ranked by government think tank Niti Aayog in January. Kiphire (Nagaland) and Namsai (Arunachal Pradesh) are at the second and third positions. The delta rankings took into account incremental progress made by over 112 aspirational districts across six developmental areas in December 2020. Health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion, skill development and basic infrastructure were taken into consideration for the ranking.

India to commemorate ‘Chabahar Day’ on March 4

The Ministry of External Affairs said that, India will commemorate ‘Chabahar Day’ on March 4 on the sidelines of the Maritime India Summit 2021 being held in New Delhi. The virtual event will see the participation of ministers from Afghanistan, Armenia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and the Uzbekistan. The Summit is being held from March 2-4, 2021.

India, Norway to conduct marine spatial planning in Lakshadweep and Puducherry

India and Norway have agreed to jointly work in the area of marine spatial planning in the oceanic space for the next five years during the first project steering committee meeting conducted virtually recently. This is a part of the Indo-Norway Integrated Ocean Initiative under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in 2019. Lakshadweep and Puducherry have been identified as pilot sites for the project.

WAN-IFRA names The Hindu Group ‘Champion Publisher of the Year 2020’

The Hindu Group won two golds and two silvers at South Asian Digital Media Awards given by WAN IFRA (World Association of News Publishers), culminating in being named ‘Champion Publisher of the Year’, owing to the highest tally on the points table. The awards are presented in recognition of outstanding work done by news publishers, in digital media. The winners were honoured virtually at the Digital Media India 2021 Conference held on March 3, 2021.

Kotdwar (Uttarakhand)–Delhi ‘Siddhabali Jan Shatabdi Special Train’ started

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on March 3, 2021 flagged off Siddhabali Jan Shatabdi Special Train that will run between Kotdwar in Uttarakhand and Delhi junction. It will have stoppages at Najibabad Juction, Muzzampur Narain Junction, Bijnor, Haldaur, Chand Siau, Mandi Dhanaura, Gajraula, Hapur, Ghaziabad enroute in both directions.

U.S. thinktank Freedom House downgrades India’s status to ‘partly free’

Freedoms in India have reduced, according to a report from a U.S. thinktank, Freedom House, resulting in India being classified as ‘partly free’. India’s score was 67, a drop from 71/100 score of 2020 downgrading it from the free category.

Economy & Corporate

IEA chief backs India on coal, says no exit without financial support

Lending his weight to India’s stand on coal as an energy source, International Energy Agency (IEA) chief Fatih Birol said it won’t be fair to ask developing nations to stop using coal without giving international financial assistance to make up for the economic challenge from such a move. Developing nations like India depend on coal for 60 per cent of their energy, and coal and associated sectors are major employment generators, he said at the Energy Horizons Leadership Dialogue organised by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).

Cabinet approves MoU with France on renewable energy cooperation

The Union Cabinet on March 3, 2021 gave ex post facto approval to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and France on renewable energy cooperation. The objective of the MoU is to establish the basis for promotion of bilateral cooperation in the field of new and renewable energy on the basis of mutual benefit, equality and reciprocity. It covers technologies relating to solar, wind, hydrogen and biomass energy.

Cabinet approves signing of MoU between India, Fiji for co-operation in agri sector

The government on March 3, 2021 approved a pact between India and Fiji for co-operation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between agriculture ministries of the two countries in this regard. The MoU between India and Fiji provides for cooperation in various areas including promotion of joint ventures between private sectors of both countries.

4G telecom spectrum auction ends with govt. receiving bids of Rs 77,814.80 cr

The 4G telecom spectrum auction 2021 ended on March 2 with the government receiving bids worth Rs 77,814.80 crore. Reliance Jio emerged as the biggest buyer by acquiring a total of 488.35 MHz of spectrum for Rs 57,122.65 crore, followed by Bharti Airtel with 355.45 MHz at Rs 18,698.75 crore, and Vodafone Idea with 11.80 MHz for Rs 1,993.40 crore, Telecom Secretary Anshul Prakash said. Out of 2308.80 MHz of spectrum put for auction, the government received bids for 855.60 MHz.

‘India Telecom 2021’ International Business Expo being held on March 3-4

TEPC (Telecom Equipment Export Promotion Council) is organising ‘India Telecom 2021’ – an Exclusive International Business Expo virtually on March 3 & 4, 2021 under Market Access Initiative Scheme (MAI) of Department of Commerce, Government of India and with support of Department of Telecommunications & Ministry of External Affairs. This annual event was inaugurated by Sanjay Dhotre, Minister for State for Communications, Education and Electronics & Information Technology.

Caller identity app Truecaller launches ‘Guardians’ safety app for women

Caller identity app Truecaller has launched a safety app for women—Guardians. The app helps women share their location with family or friends at all or specific times and alert them in case of an emergency. Truecaller CEO and cofounder Alan Mamedi said the app works in low connectivity areas and on low-end devices.

World

World Wildlife Day celebrated on March 3

World Wildlife Day was celebrated on March 3, 2021 under the theme “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”, as a way to highlight the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas.

Australia building world’s first platypus sanctuary in New South Wales state

Australian conservationists on March 3, 2021 unveiled plans to build the world’s first refuge for the platypus, to promote breeding and rehabilitation as the duck-billed mammal faces extinction due to climate change. The Taronga Conservation Society Australia and the New South Wales State government said they would build the specialist facility, mostly ponds and burrows for the semi-aquatic creatures, at a zoo 391 km from Sydney, by 2022.

US: Joe Biden’s commerce secretary pick Gina Raimondo confirmed by Senate

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo was confirmed by the Senate as the new US commerce secretary, about two months after President Joe Biden’s announcement of the nomination. The upper chamber of Congress approved her nomination in an 84-15 vote. Raimondo is a 49-year-old former venture capitalist.

UN Secretary-General addresses virtual gathering of “Powering Past Coal Alliance”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on March 2, 2021 called on wealthy nations to end coal use by 2030 in a video message to a virtual gathering of the “Powering Past Coal Alliance”. The alliance was formed by Canada and Britain in 2017 to bring together governments and business to accelerate the phase-out of “unabated” coal power. It now has more than 120 members.

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