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May-2019 Current Affairs in Detail (in English)

Current Affair

PERSONALITIES

NEWSMAKERS
Pinaki Chandra Ghose : President Ram Nath Kovind on 23 March 2019 administered the oath of office to Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, a former Supreme Court judge, as the country’s first Lokpal. Former Chief Justices of different high courts — Justices Dilip B Bhosale, Pradip Kumar Mohanty, Abhilasha Kumari — besides sitting Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court Ajay Kumar Tripathi are judicial members in the Lokpal. Former first woman chief of Sashastra Seema Bal Archana Ramasundaram, ex-Maharashtra chief secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, former IRS officer Mahender Singh and Gujarat cadre ex-IAS officer Indrajeet Prasad Gautam are the Lokpal’s nonjudicial members.
Neomi Rao: Prominent Indian- American lawyer Neomi Jehangir Rao was, on 19 March 2019, sworn in as US Circuit Judge for the powerful District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, replacing the controversial Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She was sworn in by US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Neomi Rao has become the second Indian-American after Sri Srinivasan to be part of the powerful court said to be next only to the US Supreme Court. Padma Lakshrni: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on 7 March 2019 appointed Indian-American television personality and food expert Padma Lakshmi as its new Goodwill Ambassador, in support of its fight against inequality and discrimination around the world
APPOINTMENT
Karambir Singh: Vice Admiral Karambir Singh was on March 23, 2019 appointed as the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS). He is currently serving as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam. Singh will take over the office of CNS as the 24th Navy Chief from incumbent CNS Admiral Sunil Lanba, who is set to retire on May 31, 2019 after completing three years in office.
Mohammad Shtayyeh: Mohammad Shtayyeh was on March 10, 2019 named as the new Prime Minister of Palestine by the President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. Shtayyeh, a longtime ally of the Abbas, is the member of the central committee of the President’s Fatah party. He replaced Rami Hamdallah, who had been prime minister since 2014.
Macky Sall: Senegal’s president Macky Sall won his reelection bid garnering 58% of the votes cast, according to provisional results from the National Vote Counting Commission on 28 February 2019. The majority win hands Sall a second term without a run-off vote.Opposition candidate Idrissa Seck came second with 21 percent of votes, while Ousmane Sonko placed third with 16 percent.
Pramod Sawant: Goa Legislative Assembly Speaker and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Pramod Sawant was sworn-in as the 11th Chief Minister of Goa on 19 March 2019. He was given the oath of office and secrecy by Goa Governor Mridula Sinha.
PS Narasimha: The Supreme Court on March 14, 2019 appointed senior advocate PS Narasimha as mediator for resolving various disputes related to cricket administration within the cricket body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Narasimha will hear the BCCI’s position, and then make recommendations to Committee of Administrators (CoA). Narasimha is assisting the apex court as amicus curiae in the BCCI matter.
Govind Prasad Sharma: The National Book Trust (NBT) has appointed educationist and author Govind Prasad Sharma as its new Chairman. NBT, an autonomous organisation under the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, was previously chaired by Baldeo Sharma since 2015.
Ajit Kumar Mohanty: Distinguished scientist Ajit Kumar Mohanty was on 6 March 2019 appointed Director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), the country’s premier multi-disciplinary nuclear research facility.He is at present Director, Physics Group in BARC and Director, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics. The BARC is India’s premier nuclear research facility based in Mumbai.
Ramesh Chand: India in March 2019 nominated NITI
Aayog member Ramesh Chand for the post of the new Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Director-General. The election is scheduled in June to pick the successor to Brazilian economist Jose Graziano da Silva, who has served two terms since 2011. The other candidates are Qu Dongyu of China, Medi Moungui of Cameroon, Catherine Geslain-Laneelle of France and Davit Kirvalidze of Georgia.
P V Ramesh: The Appointment Committee of the Cabinet in March 2019 approved the appointment of P V Ramesh appointed as the director-general of the National Archives of India. Currently, he is serving as the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Rural Electrification Corporation. Justice SA Bobde: Supreme Court judge Justice S A Bobde was on 5 March 2019 nominated as Executive Chairman of the National Legal Service Authority. At present, Justice A K Sikri heads the authority. National Legal Services Authority of India is mandated to provide free legal services to the needy. It also organises Lok Adalats for speedy resolution of civil cases.
RESIGNATION
Nursultan Nazarbayev: Nursultan Nazarbayev, on 19 March 2019, resigned as the President of Kazakhstan after serving nearly 30 years as the leader of the oil-rich nation. He had been the only leader to run Kazakhstan since it emerged free from the collapse of Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Besides holding the office of the President, Nazarbayev served as Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister from 2015 to 2016. He, however, will continue to enjoy the Constitutional status of ‘Leader of the Nation’, life-time position as Chief of the country’s Security Council and Head of the ruling political party Nur Otan.
DEATH
Manohar Parrikar: Four-time Goa Chief Minister and former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, on 18 March 2019, passed away in Panaji after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer for over a year . Parrikar, the tallest BJP leader of Goa, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2018. Previously, he was the chief minister of Goa from 2000 to 2005 and from 2012 to 2014 and from 2014 to 2017, he served as the Minister of Defence. He was a former member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh.

Awards / Honours / Distinctions

Abel Prize
Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, on 19 March 2019, named U.S mathematician Karen Keskulla Uhlenbeck as the winner of the 2019 Abel Prize. The Abel Committee recognized Uhlenbeck “for her pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations, gauge theory and integrable systems, and for the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics.” She is the first woman to be awarded this top honour in mathematics, which will be presented to her by His Majesty King Harald V at an award ceremony in Oslo, Norway on May 21, 2019.
Windham-Campbell Prize
Journalist and writer Raghu Karnad, on 14 March 2019, won the 165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize in the non-fiction category for his debut book, The Farthest Field: An Indian Story Of The Second World War. The announcement was made in a ceremony in London. In terms of prize money, it is one of the richest literary awards in the world. Karnad is the second Indian to receive the prestigious prize, since Jerry Pinto won it for his novel, Em And The Big Hoom, in 2016.
The International
Golden City Gate Tourism Awards 2019
The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, on 8 March 2019. won the First Prize in the category of TV Cinema Spot at the prestigious international Golden City Gate Tourism
Awards 2019 held at Berlin, Germany: Yogi of the Racetrack
The Reincarnation of Mr. and Mrs. Jones
Sanctuary in Paris
Maharani of Manhattan and
The Masala Master Chef
Honorary Doctorate on Vice President Naidu
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu was on 7 March 2019 conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by the University for Peace founded by the United Nations Organisations (UNO) for his contribution “to the Rule of Law, democracy and sustainable development in India”. He received the degree of “Doctor Honoris Causa” from the Dean of the University for Peace. Naidu is the first Indian to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Peace.
The University of Peace was established in accordance with the Resolution 35/55 passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1980. The main campus of the University of Peace is located in Costa Rica, a country of Central America.
Gandhi Peace Prize
President Ram Nath Kovind on February 26, 2019 conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi.The 2018 Gandhi Peace Prize was conferred on Yohei Sasakawa, who is at the forefront of many philanthropic initiatives. The awardees were selected by a jury under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Gandhi Peace Prize Awardees for 2015-2018

YearAwardeesContribution
2015Vivekanan- da Kendra, KanyakumariContribution in rural development, education, development of natural resources.
2016A k s h a y a Patra Foundation and Sulabh InternationalAkshaya Patra Foundation was chosen for its contribution in providing mid-day meals to millions of children across India
Sulabh International was chosen for its contribution in improving the condition of sanitation in India and emancipation of manual scavengers.
2017Ekal Abhiyan TrustContribution in providing education for rural and tribal children in remote areas pan India, rural empowerment, gender and social equality
2018Yohei Sasaka- waFor his contribution in Leprosy Eradication in India and across the world

Nari Shakti Awards
President Ram Nath Kovind presented the Nari Shakti awards, 2018, the highest civilian honour for women in India, in New Delhi on the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019. Forty One individuals and three institutions were given the award. The awardees include acid attack victim and social activist Pragya Prasun, Rani Mistri Sunita Devi, first woman marine pilot of India Resh- ma Nilofer Naha, woman commando trainer Dr Seema Rao, spiritual and motivational speaker Brahma Kumari Shivani and wildlife conservationist Sonia Jabbar. This year, the Nari Shakti Puraskar was also awarded to One Stop Centre of Lucknow. Tamil Nadu State Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Department got the award for exceptional progress in improving child sex ratio at birth under the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme.
Chameli Devi Jain Award
Priyanka Dubey, a bilingual correspondent with the BBC at its Delhi bureau, was in March 2019 named for the Chameli Devi Jain Award for an Outstanding Woman Journalist for the year 2018. Dubey was chosen for her multi-faceted, investigative and interrogative reportage. The Chameli Devi Jain Award has been awarded to women journalists for the past 37 years for upholding standards of excellence through a sustained body of work. Named after Chameli Devi Jain, a freedom fighter, it is perhaps the country’s longest running media award for women.
Swachh Survekshan 2019 Awards
President Ram Nath Kovind on March 6, 2019 conferred the Swachh Survekshan Awards 2019 at a ceremony in New Delhi. Indore was adjudged as India’s Cleanest City for the third consecutive year in the central government’s cleanliness survey, while Bhopal was named as the ‘Cleanest Capital’ of India. Indore reported a 70 percent drop in vector-borne ailments in 2019, which is being attributed to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
Major Awardees of Swachh Survekshan 2019

CategoryPlace (Winner)State
India’s Cleanest
City
IndoreMadhya Pradesh
Cleanest Big CityAhmedabadGujarat
Cleanest Medium
City
UjjainMadhya Pradesh
Cleanest Small
City
New Delhi Municipal CouncilDelhi
Cleanest CapitalBhopalMadhya Pradesh
Best Performing StateChhattisgarhChhattisgarh
India’s Cleanest CantonmentDelhi Cantonment BoardDelhi
Best Ganga TownGaucharUttarakhand
North Zone’s Cleanest CityNawashahrPunjab
East Zone’s Cleanest CityNarharpurChhattisgarh
North East Zone’s Cleanest CityThoubalManipur
South Zone’s Cleanest CityPiriyapatnaKarnataka
West Zone’s Cleanest CityKarhadMaharashtra

Yashwantrao Chavan National Award
Former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan was, on 12 March 2019, honored with the ‘Yashwantrao Chavan National Award 2018’ for his contribution towards economic development. Rajan served as RBI governor between September 2013 and September 2016.
Yashwantrao Chavanwas the first chief minister of Maharashtra.
Pritzker Prize
Japanese architect Arata Isozaki on 5 March 2019 received the 2019 Pritzker Prize, widely considered to be the profession’s highest honour. He is the 46th Pritzker laureate and the eighth Japanese architect to receive the honour. Isozaki will be awarded the prize of 100,000 in May at a ceremony at the Chateau de Versailles in France. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and the Palau Saint Jordi indoor sporting arena in Barcelona are among more than 100 of his major projects.
Bhagwan Mahavir Ahimsa Puraskar
Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Vartha- man was, in March 2019, chosen for the first Bhagwan Ma- havir Ahimsa Puraskar constituted by the Akhil Bharatiya Digambar Jain Mahasamiti. Varthaman, a wing-commander in the Indian Air Force shot into limelight in the ongoing bilateral tensions between Indian and Pakistan aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
Missile Systems Award
India’s aerospace scientist and Chief of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), G Satheesh Reddy, was recently conferred the Missile Systems Award 2019 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Satheesh is the first Indian to win the award. He will share the prize with Rondell J. Wilson, a former Principal Engineering Fellow of Raytheon Missile Systems.
Satheesh Reddy, who is Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, is considered the architect of advanced missile technologies and smart guided weapons technologies in India.
Earlier, he was the first scientist from India to receive the Silver Medal from the Royal Aeronautical Society, London.
Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 28 February 2019, conferred Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 in New Delhi. Eleven scientists including Dr Rishikesh Narayan of Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and Dr Amalendu Krishna of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai were awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhat- nagar Prize for 2016. Ten scientists including Dr Deepak
Gaur of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and Dr S Suresh Babu of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre were given the Shan- ti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for 2017. Thirteen scientists including Dr Amit Kumar of IIT, Delhi and Dr Nitin Saxena, IIT, Kanpur were awarded Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for 2018.
● The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizeis awarded annually for notable and outstanding research, applied or fundamental, in Biological Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Earth, Atmosphere, Engineering Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Medical Sciences and Physical Sciences.

National

Under Mission Shakti, India Successfully Tests Anti-Satellite Weapon
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 March 2019 said India shot down a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite, a pre-determined target, under ‘Mission Skati.’. He said India has become a “space superpower” with the successful testing of anti-satellite weapon. India is only the fourth nation after the US, Russia and China to have achieved this feat. A-SAT missile will give new strength to India’s space programme. Cabinet nod to ordinance for voluntary use of Aadhaar for eKYC formalities
In a move that could help prepaid payment instrument (PPI) issuers complete the e-KYC process for users before the September 1 deadline, the government on 28 February 2019 approved promulgation of an ordinance to allow individuals to voluntarily use Aadhaar as KYC document. The ordinance has the same amendments to the Aadhaar Act as proposed by the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment Bill), 2018, passed in the Lok Sabha.
India Puts Complete Ban On Import of Solid Plastic Waste
Taking an important step towards tackling the menace of plastic waste in India, the government has completely banned import of solid plastic waste/scrap into the country. India generates 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste every day. Earlier, such import was partly banned as India did not prohibit it in special economic zones (SEZ). Besides, import of plastic waste/scrap was also allowed by export oriented units (EOUs) which used to procure it from abroad as post-recycling resources.
GSI Sets Up 22 GPS Stations Across Country
The Geological Survey of India (GSI), Kolkata, on 4 March 2019 launched 22 permanent global positioning system (GPS) stations across India to identify seismically hazardous zones and encourage mapping activities. The 22 GPS-Geodetic (pertaining to Geodesy, the science of earth measurement) observatories are located in Kolkata, Thiruvanan- thapuram, Jaipur, Pune, Dehradun, Chennai, Jabalpur, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Raipur, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Gandhinagar Vishakhapatnam, Agartala, Itanagar, Mangan, Jammu, Lucknow, Nagpur, Shillong and Little Andaman.
The new 13 stations will be located in Aizawl, Faridabad, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh, Cooch Behar, Zawar, North Andaman, Middle Andaman, South Andaman, Ranchi, Mangalore, Imphal and Chitradurga.
National Policy on Software Products 2019
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 1, 2019 approved the National Policy on Software Products 2019 to develop India as a Software Product Nation. The policy aims to develop India as the global software product hub, driven by innovation, improved commercialization, sustainable Intellectual Property (IP), promoting technology startups and specialised skill sets. It also aims to create Indian software products Industry of USD 70-80 billion with direct and indirect employment of 3.5 million by 2025.
National Mineral Policy 2019
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 28, 2019 approved National Mineral Policy 2019. It includes provisions which will give boost to mining sector such as: Introduction of Right of First Refusal for RP/PL holders
Encouraging the private sector to take up exploration,
Auctioning in virgin areas for composite RP cum PL cum ML on revenue share basis
Encouragement of merger and acquisition of mining entities
Transfer of mining leases and creation of dedicated mineral corridors to boost private sector mining areas.
Grant status of industry to mining activity to boost financing of mining for private sector and for acquisitions of mineral assets in other countries by private sector.
It also mentions that long term import export policy for minerals will help private sector in better planning and stability in business.
UNEA Adopts India’s Two Resolutions On Plastic, Nitrogen Management
The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in March 2019 adopted two resolutions piloted by India on single-use plastics and sustainable nitrogen management. The resolutions were adopted at the fourth session of UNEA which was held in Nairobi from March 11 to 15 on ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Production and Consumption’.
Union HRD Ministry Launches Shreyas
Union Minister for Human Resources Development, Prakash Javadekar on February 27, 2019 launched the ‘Scheme for Higher Education Youth in Apprenticeship and Skills’ (SHREYAS) for providing industry apprenticeship or training opportunities to fresh graduates of 2019. Launched primarily to skill non-technical students of BA, BSc. B.Com courses, the SHREYAS programme intends to introduce BA, BSc, and B.Com (Professional) courses in the higher educational institutions.
● SHREYAS Scheme is a programme basket comprising the initiatives of three central ministries: Ministry of Human Resources Development, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Government Launches ‘2nd Edition of ISL Dictionary’ for Hearing Impaired Persons
Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot on February 27, 2019 launched the ‘2nd Edition of Indian Sign Language (ISL) Dictionary’. The dictionary has been prepared by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC) under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
ISRO Launches ‘Young Scientist Programme’ for School Children
The Indian Space Research Organisation has launched a special programme for school children called Yuva Vigyani Karyakram or Young Scientist Programme. The programme aims at imparting basic knowledge on space technology, space science and space applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of space activities.
Karnataka Government Launches Jalamrutha Water Conservation Scheme
Karnataka, which has the largest swathe of drought-prone land in the country next only to Rajasthan, launched a major water conservation scheme titled ‘Jalamrutha’ on 28 February 2019. The scheme focusses on drought-proofing measures, including protection and rejuvenation of wa- terbodies.’Jalamrutha’ will deploy scientific approaches to water budgeting, water harvesting and water conservation through the use of geospatial data, satellite imagery, topographical and geological data. It will be a community driven movement, which will be implemented by key line departments of the government, Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs), non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and private sector institutions, according to RDPR officials.
PM Modi Releases New Series of Visually Impaired Friendly Coins
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 7, 2019 released the new series of visually impaired friendly circulation coins of Rs 1, Rs 2, Rs 5, Rs 10 and Rs 20. The new circulation coins with various differentiating features, will greatly aid the visually impaired. The coins will facilitate the visually impaired Divyang community, and will instill them with confidence.
Uttarakhand Government Launches Mukhyamantri Anchal Amrit Yojana
The government of Uttarakhand in March 2019 launched the Mukhyamantri Anchal Amrit Yojana to provide milk at the Anganwadi Centres. Under the Mukhyamantri Anchal Amrit Yojana, the government would provide 100 ml milk twice a week for 2.5 lakh children at 20,000 Anganwadi Centres in the state.Children under six years of age in every Anganwadi centre will be provided milk under the Aanchal Amrit scheme.
ISRO, French Space Agency Seal Agreement On Maritime Security
National space agency ISRO and its French counterpart CNES on 6 March 2019 sealed an agreement to set up a joint maritime surveillance system in the country in May. The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will identify and track movement of ships globally – and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands. Before that, they will initially share data from their present space systems and develop new algorithms to analyse them, according to the Paris based National Centre for Space Studies.
The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that are considered a model.
Swachh Bharat Mission (G)
Over 96 percent of households in Rural India actually use toilets: The National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2018-19, conducted by an Independent Verification Agency under the World Bank support project to the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G), has found that 96.5% of the households in rural India who have access to a toilet use it. The survey has also re-confirmed the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status of 90.7% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF by various districts and states. The survey was conducted between November 2018 and February 2019, covering 92040 households in 6136 villages across the country.
Nearly 93% households were found to have access to toilets during the survey period while 96.5% of the people who had access to toilets used them.
While 90.7% of villages which were previously declared and verified as ODF were confirmed to be ODF, the remaining villages also had sanitation coverage of about 93%, the survey shows.
Further, 95.4% of the villages surveyed found to have minimal litter and minimal stagnant water.
PM-STIAC Identifies Nine Missions
The Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PMSTIAC) has launched nine mission of national importance, including those on artificial intelligence, quantum computing, electric vehicles and deep ocean exploration. The missions are aimed at understanding and conserving biodiversity, developing sustainable agricultural processes, leveraging precision health for personal well-being, recovering wealth from waste, developing and using artificial intelligence, quantum computing, connected mobility solutions and other technologies to address frontier scientific questions and the challenges that the country in particular and the planet in general face.
ICAR, CSIR to Work Together in Field of Food, Agriculture
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have agreed to collaborate in the area of food and agriculture. Both the sides agreed to collaborate and work together on mutually agreed areas of agri-foods, medicinal and aromatic plants, nutraceuticals, precision agriculture, big data analysis, use of artificial intelligence, genetic modifications in cotton, application of sensors in agriculture, post-harvest management and agricultural mechanisation.
PM Modi Launches Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana from Gujarat
Narendra Modi on March 5, 2019 launched the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan Yojana (PM-SYM), a mega pension scheme for unorganised sector, from Gandhinagar, Gujarat.The PM-SYM is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme that will benefit as many as 10 crore workers in the unorganised sector. It will provide monthly pension of Rs 3000 to the employees of unorganised sector after 60 years of age.
The unorganised sector workers, with income of less than Rs 15,000 per month and who belong to the entry age group of 18-40 years, will be eligible for the scheme.
Those workers should not be covered under New Pension Scheme (NPS), Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) scheme or Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
He or she should not be an income tax payer.
West Bengal Government Launches Yuvashree Arpan Scheme
West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on 6 March 2019 unveiled Yuvashree Plan II or Yuvashree Arpan, a new scheme to encourage entrepreneurship among youths. Under the scheme, around fifty thousand Youths who have passed out of ITI or other polytechnic institutes will be eligible to get financial support of Rs 1 lakh from the state MSME department to set up their own business initiatives.
PM Modi Launches Mobility Card for Seamless Travel Through Different Metros
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 4, 2019 launched ‘One Nation, One Card’ Model from Ahmedabad, Gujarat for seamless travel through different metros and other transport systems. The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs introduced the ‘National Common Mobility Card’ (NCMC) to enable seamless travel by different metros and other transport systems across the country besides retail shopping and purchases.India’s first indigenously developed payment eco-system for transport mobility consists of: National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)
Swachalit Kiraya: Automatic Fare Collection System (SWEEKAR)
Swachalit Gate (SWAGAT) based on NCMC Standards.
IIT, IISc Collaborate on Climate Change Initiative
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Guwahati and Mandi, in March 2019, collaborated with the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru to develop a ‘Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Indian Himalayan Region Using a Common Framework.’ The 12 states to be covered under the framework include Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, the hilly districts of West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir.
EC Announces Schedule of the Lok Sabha Election 2019
The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the schedule of the Lok Sabha Election 2019 and elections to the State Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh on March 10, 2019. As per the schedule, Lok Sabha elections will be held in seven phases this year, and counting will start on 23 May 2019. The term of the present Lok Sabha ends on 3 June 2019.
President Launches Countrywide Pulse Polio Programme 2019
President Ram Nath Kovind on March 9, 2019 launched the Pulse Polio programme 2019 by administering polio drops to children less than five years old at the Rahstrapati Bha- wan. The President administered the polio drops on the eve of the National Immunisation Day that is observed on 10 March every year. The Pulse Polio Immunisation (PPI) Program was initiated in India in 1995 with the aim of eradicating polio completely from the country.
Government Reduces Price of 390 Anti-Cancer Non- Scheduled Medicines up to 87 Per cent
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), under the Union Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers on March 8, 2019 announced the reduction in prices of 390 Anti-Cancer Non-Scheduled Medicines up to 87 percent. Non-scheduled drugs are allowed an increase of up to 10 percent in prices every year, which is monitored by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

INDIA & THE WORLD

India, US to Sign Agreement for Exchange of Country-by-Country Reports
India and the United States recently announced to sign the Bilateral Competent Authority Arrangement along with an Inter-Governmental Agreement for exchange of Country- by-Country (CbC) Reports. The agreement would enable both the countries to exchange CbC Reports filed by the parent entities of International Groups in the respective jurisdictions commencing on or after January 1, 2016. The agreement will ensure that all tax authorities have access to the same information about an MNC’s value chain and the resulting tax consequences.
US to Set Up Six Nuclear Power Plants in India
New Delhi and Washington have agreed on a proposal to build six nuclear power plants in India. This was stated in a joint statement issued on 13 March 2019 at the conclusion of the 9th round of India-U.S. Strategic Security Dialogue in Washington, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale and Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson.
India Grounds Boeing 737 MAX 8 Fleet After Ethiopian Crash
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on March 12, 2019 ordered to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft fleet in India with immediate effect following the Ethiopian Airlines crash. India-based operator, Spice Jet has around 12 Boeing 737 Max 8′ planes in its fleet, while Jet Airways has five in the country. The decision to ground the Boeing fleet came in the wake of Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10, 2019 in Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board including 4 Indians. The plane belonged to Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet.
India is World’s Second Largest Arms Importer After Saudi Arabia
According to the latest report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on 11 March 2019, India was the world’s second-largest arms importer from 2014-18, ceding the long-held tag as largest importer to Saudi Arabia, which accounted for 12% of the total imports during the period.As per SIPRI data, India was the world’s second largest arms importer in 2014-2018, accounting for 9.5% of the global total, just behind Saudi Arabia with 12%. The others included Egypt (5.1%), Australia (4.6%), Algeria (4.4%) and China (4.2%), UAE (3.7%), Iraq (3.7%), South Korea (3.1%), Vietnam (2.9%) and Pakistan (2.7%). The largest arms suppliers to India, in turn, were Russia (58%), Israel (15%) and USA (12%).
PM Modi, Sheikh Hasina Jointly Inaugurate Development Projects
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on 11 March 2019 jointly unveiled dozens of development projects in Bangladesh, through video conference. Both leaders unveiled e-plaques for supply of buses and trucks, inauguration of 36 community clinics, 11 water treatment plants, and extension of National Knowledge Network to Bangladesh.
India and Bangladesh Hold Sampriti 2019
Indo-Bangladesh joint military exercise, ‘Exercise Sampriti 2019’ was held at Tangail, Bangladesh, in March 2019. This was the eighth edition of the exercise that is hosted alternately by both countries. The exercise is aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies.
33rd Edition of India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol Commences
The 33rd edition of the India-Indonesia Coordinated Patrol (Ind-Indo Corpat) began at Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, on 19 March 2019. It will continue till 14 April 2019. Under the coordinated patrol programme, the ships and aircrafts from both the countries would undertake patrolling on the respective sides of the 236 nautical-miles- long International Maritime Boundary line.
New Visa Agreement Between India, Maldives Comes Into Effect
The new visa agreement between India and Maldives, providing a liberal visa policy for Maldivian citizens seeking medical treatment as well as education and business opportunities in India, came into force on March 11, 2019. The agreement provides a very liberal visa regime for Maldivian nationals to visit India for tourism, business, education and medical purposes. Under the agreement, Maldivian businessmen and tourists can stay in India for 90 days without a visa.
India Extends Financial Grant for Building Educational Campus in Nepal
India has extended Nepalese Rupees 35. 5 million as financial assistance for the construction of an educational campus in Nepal. The campus building was jointly inaugurated by District Coordination Committee and Campus Management Committee on 22 March 2019.
India and Sweden to Increase Cooperation on Anti-Microbial Resistance R and D
Swedish Health Minister Lena Hallengren and Union Health Minister J P Nadda, in March 2019, announced that Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is really dangerous and India and Sweden intend to boost cooperation to tackle it. On February 24, 2009, India and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate in the field of various issues, including AMR, communicable diseases and public health.
India Ranked 47th in Inclusive Internet Index 2019
According to the Inclusive Internet Index (3i) prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for Facebook, India ranked 47th in the index while Sweden topped the chart, followed by Singapore and the US. The UK, Namibia and Ireland, followed by Austria, Chile and South Africa, are among the top performers of the year, all with female digital skills training plans.
India, Sri Lanka Conduct Joint Exercise ‘Mitra Shakti-VI’
The annual joint exercise between India and Sri Lanka, ‘Mitra Shakti-VI’, was conducted from March 26 to April 8, 2019 for the year 2018-19 in Sri Lanka. The exercise is conducted every year as a part of military diplomacy and interaction between the armies of the two nations. While the Indian side was represented by the troops from 1st battalion of the Bihar Regiment, the Sri Lanka army was be represented by the Gemunu Watch Battalion.
India and Oman Hold Al Nagah III Joint Military Exercise
Indian and Royal Army of Oman, in March 2019, held the Joint Exercise Al Nagah III 2019 at Nizwa, Oman. The exercise aimed at increasing interoperability between forces from both countries which is crucial for the success of any joint operation. The Indian Army contingent was represented by 10th Battalion of the Garhwal Rifles. Similar strength was also fielded by Jabel Regiment of Oman.
Pakistan to Open Sharada Peeth Corridor
Pakistan government on March 25, 2019 approved a proposal to open the Sharada Peeth Corridor for Hindu pilgrims.Sharada Peeth is an ancient Hindu temple and cultural site in PoK. This would be second religious corridor after Kartarpur Sahib that will connect the two neighbouring countries. Established in 237 BC during the reign of Ashoka, the 5,000-year-old Sharada Peeth is an abandoned temple and ancient centre of learning, dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning.
India, Maldives Sign Three Agreements
India and Maldives signed three agreements on visa facilitation for diplomatic and official passport holders, development cooperation and renewable energy after extensive talks between Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Foreign Minister of Maldives, Abdulla Shahid during the former’s visit to the tropical island nation from March 17-18, 2019.
INS Kadmatt Participates in LIMA-19
Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) corvette, INS Kadmatt will participate in the 15th edition of Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA-19). In Malaysia in March 2019.The ship will participate in numerous activities during the seven days at Langkawi, including the International Fleet Review (IFR) by the Prime Minister of Malaysia. It will participate in maritime and air demonstration, sea exercises with 29 other participating navies, cultural exchange programmes, cross visits to ships, and sporting events.
Five Nations Sign Rhino Declaration
India, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal on 28 February 2019 signed a New Delhi declaration agreeing to strengthen trans-boundary collaboration among India, Nepal and Bhutan to secure future of Asian rhino species. The declaration was signed at the 2nd Asian Rhino Range States meeting in New Delhi, which was organised by the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change, and International Union for Conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission; Asian Rhino Specialist Group along with WWF-India, International Rhino Foundation and Aaranyak, an NGO.
Supreme Court & Judiciary
Failure To Repay a Loan is Not a Criminal Offence Unless There is Fraudulent Intent: SC
In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court recently held that failure to repay a loan is not a criminal offence unless there is a fraudulent intent. The ruling came in the case of Satishchandra Ratanlal Shah versus the State of Gujarat. The court held that the law clearly recognises a difference between simple payment or investment of money and entrustment of money or property. Mere breach of a promise, agreement or contract does not, ipso facto, constitute the offence of criminal breach of trust contained in Section 405, IPC, without there being a clear case of entrustment.
Corporates Must Prove Source of Share Capital
The Supreme Court on 7 March 2019 ruled that corporates should justify the source of fund received as share capital to the Income-Tax officer, and that receiving them through the bank channel is not enough to prove its genuineness. The apex court said assessees are under a legal obligation to prove the receipt of share capital and premium to the assessing officer, failure of which would justify addition of the said amount to the income of the assessee.
SC Forms 3-Member Team to Resolve Ayodhya Dispute
The Supreme Court on 8 March 2019 referred the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case for mediation by a panel headed by former apex court judge F M I Kalifullah and gave it eight weeks to complete the process. The other members of the panel will be spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and senior advocate Sriram Panchu. The bench directed that the mediation will be held at Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh. Fourteen appeals have been filed in the apex court against the 2010 Allahabad High Court judgment, delivered in four civil suits, that the 2.77-acre land in Ayodhya be partitioned equally among the three parties — the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and Ram Lalla.
SC Dismisses Plea Seeking Ban on Roadshows, Bike Rallies During Polls
The Supreme Court on 25 March 2019 refused to entertain a plea filed by a former DGP of Uttar Pradesh seeking a direction to the Election Commission of India to ban roadshows and bike rallies during polls.
SC Dismisses Plea Challenging Constitutional Validity ‘Triple Talaq’ Ordinance
The Supreme Court in March 2019 dismissed a plea challenging the constitutional validity of an ordinance which makes the practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ a punishable offence. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance was first notified on 19 September 2018. Instant ‘triple talaq’, also known as ‘talaq-e-biddat’, is an instant divorce whereby a Muslim man can legally divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘talaq’ three times in one go.
Supreme Court Clarifies Order on Appointment of DGPs
The Supreme Court in March 2019 clarified its order from 2018 on police reforms and said that officers who have a minimum of six months tenure left in service shall be considered for the post of Director General of Police (DGP). A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the recommendation for post of DGP by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and preparation of the panel should be purely on the basis of merit.

International

World Wide Web Completes 30 Years
World Wide Web (WWW) completed 30 years of existence on 12 March 2019. It was invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. It was on 12 March 1989 that Lee submitted a memorandum, titled “Information Management: A Proposal”,to the management at CERN for a system called “Mesh” that referenced ENQUIRE, a database and software project he had built in 1980, which used the term “web” and described a more elaborate information management system based on links embedded as text. This proposal is what came out as the first web browser, the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee’s boss allowed him time to develop the flowchart into a working model, writing the HTML language, the HTTP application, and the first Web browser ‘WorldWideWeb.app’.
Mueller Finds No Russia Collusion, Obstruction Inconclusive
Special counsel Robert Mueller found that neither Donald Trump nor any of his aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, according to a letter delivered to Congress on 24 March 2019 by the US attorney general. Mueller, a former FBI director, was appointed in May 2017 to conduct one of the most consequential investigations in U.S. history.
● Beyond Russia’s election meddling — which U.S. intelligence agencies found was aimed at hurting Democrat Hillary Clinton and ultimately at helping Trump win — Mueller investigated possible collusion in the operation and whether Trump sought to obstruct justice in what the president has regularly denounced as a “witch hunt.”
Italy Joins China’s Economic Silk Road Project
Italy on March 23, 2019 signed a “non-binding” protocol with China to take part in the nation’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to link China with Europe. With the move, Italy has become the first G-7 country to sign up for the massive project, which is seen as a new Silk Road that will have trade links stretching from Asia to Europe.
Oman Signs Deal to Allow US Military to Use Its Ports
Oman on March 24, 2019 signed an agreement with the United States, allowing American ships and warplanes to take advantage of its ports and airports. The framework agreement is aimed at bolstering Oman-US military relations. The agreement will allow the US forces to take advantage of the facilities offered at some of Oman’s ports and airports during visits of the US military vessels and aircraft, particularly in the port of Duqm.
Kazakhstan Renames Capital Astana as ‘Nursultan’
Kazakhstan’s parliament on March 20, 2019 renamed its capital Astana as ‘Nursultan’ in honor of outgoing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev. Nursultan stands for “Sultan of Light” in Kazakh language, while, Astana means ‘capital’ in Kazakh language. Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned on March 19, 2019 after serving nearly 30 years as the leader of the oil-rich nation.
USA Recognises Golan Heights as Israeli Territory
United States President, Donald Trump, on March 21, 2019 declared that the US will recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a disputed land which Israel captured from Syria in 1967. With this move, the US will be the first country to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. The rest of the international community considers Golan Heights as a disputed territory occupied by Israel. The disputed area was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Golan Heights is a picturesque 1,800 sq km plateau beside the Sea of Galilee that borders Israel, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
Israel seized much of the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and then effectively annexed it in 1981.
New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons
New Zealand on March 21, 2019 imposed an immediate ban on assault weapons following last week’s Christchurch massacre that claimed the lives of at least 50 mosque-goers. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said that all assault rifles and military-style semi-automatic weapons would be banned with immediate effect.
The Christchurch mosque shootings were two consecutive terrorist attacks at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday Prayer on 15 March 2019. The attacks began at the Al Noor Mosque in the suburb of Riccarton and continued at the Linwood Islamic Centre. The gunman live-streamed the first attack on Facebook Live. The attacks killed 50 people and injured 50 others. Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian man, described in media reports as a white supremacist and part of the alt-right, was arrested and charged with murder.
UAE launches Lose to Win Programme: The UAE Government has launched “Lose to Win,” a programme for the overweight employees to shed extra kilos and adopt a healthy lifestyle.Launched by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, it encourages those struggling with weight issues to learn how to induce positive changes in their lifestyle.
Paris Tops Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2019
Paris, Hong Kong and Singapore topped the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2019 released by the Economist Intelligence Unit in March 2019. Zurich in Switzerland stood at the fourth position followed by Japan’s Osaka which shared fifth place with Geneva, also in Switzerland. Seoul (South Korea), Copenhagen (Denmark) and New York (US) were jointly placed at the seventh spot. Los Angeles (US) along with Israel’s Tel Aviv was named the 10th most expensive city in the world. World’s cheapest cities include Caracas (Venezuela), Damascus (Syria), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Karachi (Pakistan), Lagos (Nigeria), Buenos Aires (Argentina) as well as the three Indian cities of Bengaluru, Chennai and Delhi.
Japan Donates 69 Million to The United Nations World Food Programme
Japan has donated 69 million to the United Nations World Food Programme to provide vital aid to 28 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, with the biggest shares of the money being earmarked for Yemen and Iraq.
Finland Tops World Happiness Report 2019
Finland topped the World Happiness Report 2019 that was released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network in March 2019. It beat Nordic peers Denmark, Norway and Iceland to be at the top position for the second year in a row. The United Kingdom stood at a rank of 15 (from 18 last year), Germany went down from the 15th spot to the 17th and the United States dropped from the 18th to the 19th.
Japan, Russia and China finished at 58 (down from 54th), 68 (down from 59th ) and 93rd place (down from 86th) respectively.
India has witnessed a sustained drop with a 140th place this year compared with the 133rd place in 2018.
India featured in the list of five countries that had the largest drop since 2005-2008 in the index, along with Yemen, Syria, Botswana and Venezuela.
India, China, Pakistan, Other SCO Members to Hold Sary-Arka-Antiterror 2019
India, Pakistan and the other members states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will take part in a joint antiterrorism exercise to be held this year by the grouping. The decision to hold the joint exercise ‘Sary-Arka-Antiterror 2019’ was announced during the 34th meeting of the SCO’s Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) council held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent organ which serves to promote cooperation of member states against three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism.
USA Hosts Red Flag 2019
Red Flag 19 military drill was held at the Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, USA, in March 2019. The exercise gives aircraft crews an opportunity to experience advanced, relevant, and realistic combat-like situations in a controlled environment to increase their survivability in actual combat operations.
Malaysia Joins The International Criminal Court
Malaysia recently became a member of the International Criminal Court, in a boost for the beleaguered institution at a time it faces growing criticism. The ICC is the world’s only permanent war crimes court and aims to prosecute the worst abuses when national courts are unable or unwilling.
UK Issues New Black Hole Coin in Honour of Stephen Hawking
The UK’s Royal Mint on 12 March 2019 unveiled a new commemorative 50 pence coin inspired by the late legendary British physicist Stephen Hawking’s seminal work on black holes. Hawking, one of the world’s best-known theoretical physicists who died aged 76 last year, joins the ranks of other eminent scientists such Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin to have a commemorative coin in honour of one of his greatest discoveries that black holes should not be all black.
Vienna Tops Mercer Quality of Living Ranking 2019
Austrian capital Vienna, in March 2019, topped the Quality of Living Index 2019 released by the Consulting Agency Mercer. Vienna was closely followed by Zurich in Switzerland. Auckland, Munich, and Vancouver came in joint third. San Francisco with the ranking of 34 was named the best city to live in in the U.S. London with a ranking of 41st was the best city in the UK on Mercer’s scale. Singapore with a ranking of 25th has held onto its status as Asia’s most livable city. Uruguay’s capital Montevideo was the highest ranked city in South America. Port Louis, Mauritius, was Africa’s top city. Baghdad ranked last, followed by Bangui in the Central African Republic and Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
Hyderabad and Pune topped the list among the Indian cities with a rank of 143.
Bengaluru was the second best with the ranking of 149.
Mumbai with the ranking of 154 stood third among Indian cities.
Trump-Kim Meeting Held in Vietnam
United States President Donald Trump held the second summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27-28, 2019 as part of his administration’s ongoing endeavour to denuclearize North Korea. The Summit came less than a year after the two leaders held a historic meeting in Singapore in June 2018

Books & Authors

The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind by Raghuram Rajan Eating Wasps by Anita Nair

Miscellaneous

Idukki’s Marayoor Jaggery Gets GI Tag
The Marayoor Jaggery, the traditional and handmade product from Idukki district of Kerala, on March 8, 2019 received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag from the Central Government.
Vastradan Campaign Sets Guinness World Record
A campaign by a member of the erstwhile royal family of Udaipur in March 2019 received over 3 lakh items of clothing, creating a Guinness world record for the largest collection of clothes for donation. Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, a descendant of Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap, received the certificate from an official of the Guinness Book of World Records-UK at Udaipur on 10 March 2019. He started the ‘Vastradan’ campaign under which over 3,29,250 pieces of clothing from over 76,000 donors were collected and distributed to the needy.
Infosys Foundation Constitutes Aarohan Social Innovation Awards
The Infosys Foundation in March 2019 constituted Aarohan Social Innovation Awards to reward individuals, teams or NGOs developing solutions for the social sector. Aarohan Social Innovation Awards are aimed at nurturing the culture of innovation in the social sector to scale positive change across the country and thereby provide a platform to help the solutions scale.
British Army Inducts Gurkha Infantry Battalion
The British Army recently announced that it would create a new Specialised Infantry Battalion by recruiting more than 800 Nepalese Gurkha servicepersons. Gurkhas have completed 200 years of service in the British Army and currently, comprise up to 3% of the British Army.
Prayagraj Kumbh 2019 makes it to Guinness World Records
The government, on 3 March 2019, announced that the Prayagraj Kumbh Mela 2019 has secured place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest crowd management, largest sanitation drive and largest painting exercise of public sites. A three-member team from the Guinness World Records visited Prayagraj for the purpose. The festival, which began on January 14, concluded on 4 March 2019 with the sixth and final “Shahi Snan” (royal bath) on the occasion of Maha Shivratri. Prayagraj Kumbh 2019 entered the Guinness Book of World Records for: the largest traffic and crowd management plan; the biggest painting exercise of public sites under paint my city scheme; the biggest sanitation and waste disposal mechanism.
Coorg Arabica Coffee, four others get GI Tag
The Geographical Indications Registry on March 1, 2019 granted the Geographical Indication (GI) Tag to Coorg Arabica Coffee, Wayanad Robusta Coffee, Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee, Araku Valley Arabica Coffee and Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee.
Arecanut Gets its First GI Tag for ‘Sirsi Supari’
Arecanut, known as supari or betel nut, in March 2019, made its entry in the list of agricultural produce for the first time with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for ‘Sirsi Supari’. Sirsi-based agri cooperative, Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (TSS) Ltd is the registered proprietor of the Sirsi Supari. ‘Sirsi Supari’ is grown in Sirsi, Siddpaur and Yellapur taluks of Uttara Kannada district in Karnataka.
India’s Forest-Certification Scheme Gets Global Recognition
The council of Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) in March 2019 decided to recognised forest-certification scheme developed specifically for Indian forests by Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), an Indian non-profit. The Certification Standard for Sustainable Forest Management developed by NCCF is the first forest-certification scheme from India to get global recognition.
India Post Releases Special Stamp Cover on Ice Stupas
The Indian Department of Post on March 18, 2019 released a ‘special stamp cover on Ice Stupa’. The stamp was released by Jammu and Kashmir’s Chief Postmaster General during a function organised at the Ice Stupa site at Gangles Village in Leh. The special stamps aim to create awareness about depleting glaciers and affect the ecology around the Himalayas. Ice Stupas also known as artificial glaciers, are being built with an aim to reduce the problem of water shortage, faced by Ladakhi farmers due to receding of glaciers.
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ART, CULTURE & AWARDS

Which American mathematicianwas, in March 2019, chosen for the Abel Prize 2019 for her fundamental work in geometric analysis and gauge theory, which has dramatically changed the mathematical landscape? — Karen Uhlenbeck
Indian Journalist and writer Raghu Karnad, in March 2019, won the 165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize in the non-fiction category for his debut book, . —The Farthest Field: An Indian Story Of The Second World War’
Who conferred the Gallantry Awards and the Distinguished Service Decorations as part of the Defence Investiture Ceremony- 2019 to Armed Forces Personnel in March 2019 for displaying conspicuous gallantry, indomitable courage and extreme devotion to duty? — President Ramnath Kovind
Which ministry, in March 2019, won the First Prize in the category of TV Cinema Spot at the prestigious international Golden City Gate Tourism Awards 2019? — Ministry of Tourism
Which Indian dignitary was, in March 2019, conferred Honorary Doctorate from the UN established University of Peace for his contribution to the Rule of Law, democracy and sustainable development in India? — Vice President Venkaiah Naidu
On the occasion of Womens Day on 8 March 2019, President Ram Nath Kovindawarded Nari Shakti Puraskarto ___ and Tamil Nadu State Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Department. — One Stop Centre of Lucknow
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in March 2019, laid the foundation stone for the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor that will directly connect Ganga’s Manikarnika and Lalita Ghat to which temple? — Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple
Which bilingual correspondent with the BBC was, in March 2019, named for the Chameli Devi Jain Award for an Outstanding Woman Journalist for the year 2018? — Priyanka Dubey
Which former governor of RBI was, in March 2019, chosen for the ‘Yashwantrao Chavan National Award 2018’ by Yashwantrao Chavan Prathisthan for his contribution to economic development? — Raghuram Rajan
Which Japanese architect, in March 2019, received the Pritzker Prize 2019 that is annually awarded to honour a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision, and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity? — Arata Isozaki
Which Indian company recently bagged the international sustainability award Green Era Award for Sustainability in Lisbon, Portugal? — TVS Motor Company
Which Indian Air Force Wing Commander was, in March 2019, chosen for the first Bhagwan Mahavir Ahimsa Puraskar constituted by the Akhil Bharatiya Digambar Jain Mahasamiti? — Abhinandan Varthaman
The Disaster Management Authority of which state recently bagged the SKOCH Award, 2018 for its remarkable achievements in the field of disaster management? — Odisha
Aerospace scientist and Chief of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) who was recently conferred the Missile Systems Award 2019 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is: — G Satheesh Reddy
Where was the new Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2019? — Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh

ECONOMY

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) on March 19, 2019 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with which body for better implementation of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016? — Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
Just a day before the expiry of Supreme Court set deadline, the Reliance Communications (RCom) on March 18, 2019 cleared the outstanding dues by paying Rs 458.7 crore to which Swedish telecom equipment maker? — Ericsson
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 15 March 2019 issued which guidelines to prevent misuse of price-sensitive information for financial instruments by participants in markets? — Reserve Bank of India (Prevention of Market Abuse) Directions, 2019
Arecanut, known as supari or betel nut, recently made its entry in the list of agricultural produce for the first time with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for: — ‘Sirsi Supari’
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on 12 March 2019 midnight ordered to ground the which aircraft fleet in India with immediate effect following the Ethiopian Airlines crash? — Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in March 2019 approved the investment approval for 2x660MW Khurja Super Thermal Power Plant (STPP) in which district of Uttar Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs 11,089.42 crore? — Bulandshahar
According to an announcement made by the President of International Football Federation (FIFA) Gianni Infantino after the council meeting in Miami, USA, on 15 March 2019, which Asian country will host the Under-17 Women’s Football World Cup in 2020? — India
In the latest ICC ODI rankings, released on 18 February 2019,Indian skipper Virat Kohliremained at the number one spot in the list of batsmen, followed by at the second position. — Rohit Sharma
The cricket board of which country, in March 2019, paid 1.6 million US dollars, equivalent to over eleven crores in Indian currency, to the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) as compensation after losing a case in the ICC’s Dispute Resolution Committee? — Pakistan
Afghanistan’s cricket team on 18 March 2019 recorded its maiden Test win, beating which team by seven wickets in a one-off game at Dehradun in Uttarakhand which has been Afghanistan’s home for a while? — Ireland
Which young Indian shuttlers, on 19 March 2019, broke into the top-100 among Men’s and Women’s singles players in the latest World Badminton Rankings? — Lakshya Sen and Riya Mookerjee
Which sportsperson on 17 March 2019 became the first Indian from athletics to qualify for the 2020 Olympics while finishing fourth in the 20 km event of the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan? — KT Irfan
Which formula one motor racer, in March 2019, upstaged his Mercedes world champion team-mate Lewis Hamilton to win the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix? — Valtteri Bottas
Which Indian woman golfer, on 16 March 2019, became the youngest Indian woman to win on the Ladies European Tour (LET) in Cape Town, South Africa? — Diksha Dagar
Which Canadian tennis sensation, in March 2019, became the first wild card to win the WTA title at Indian Wells with a victory over Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber? — Bianca Andreescu
Which Indian Premier League (IPL) team, on 21 March 2019, announced to donate proceeds from their first IPL home game to families of the CRPF personnel martyred in the Pulwama terrorist attack? — Chennai Super Kings
What is the name of BCCI CEO who was recently included in the six-member working group, set up by the ICC, to consider the sanctioning of players’ release for the franchise-based Twenty20 leagues across the world? — Rahul Johri
According to the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2018-19, conducted by Independent Verification Agency (IVA), percent of the households in Rural India who have access to the toilet use it. — 96.5 per cent
At which place did Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 4, 2019 launch ‘One Nation, One Card’ Model for seamless travel through different metros and other transport systems? — Ahmedabad, Gujarat
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs recently approved the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool Fasal awashesh Nivaran (JI-VAN) Yojana’ for providing financial support to which project? — Integrated Bioethanol Projects
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on March 14, 2019 categorised which bank as a ‘Private Sector Bank’ for regulatory purposes with effect from January 21, 2019? — IDBI Bank Limited
The CCEA, on March 7, 2019 approved the extension of time and scope for revival and development of unserved and under-served air strips of State Governments, Airports Authority of India (AAI), Civil enclaves, CPSUs, helipads and: — Water aerodromes
The National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories, in February 2019, launched which scheme for basic composite medical laboratories for sensitizing small laboratories to basic doable quality practices? — Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS)
The Union Cabinet in March 2019 approved measures to promote the Hydro Power Sector, which include declaring as part of non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO). — Large Hydropower Projects (HPO)
The Union Government and which country signed an agreement for the Exchange of Information and Assistance in Collection with respect to Taxes (TIEA) in New Delhi on February 28, 2019? — Brunei

SPORTS

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on 20 March 2019 unveiled torch for the Games that is in the traditional emblem of the Sakura, or cherry blossom using the same cutting-edge technology as in production of Japan’s: — Bullet trains
India bagged how many medals at Special Olympic Games in Abu Dhabi? — 368 medals
India, in March 2019, clinched the SAFF Women’s Championship for the fifth time in a row, defeating which team in the final at Biratnagar? — Nepal
Which city of Madhya Pradesh was, in March 2019, adjudged as India’s Cleanest City for the third consecutive year in the central government’s cleanliness survey? — Indore
The Supreme Court of India on March 8, 2019 decided to refer the Ayodhya-Babri Masjid title dispute case for mediation and formed a panel of mediators which will be headed by Supreme Court judge . —F M Kalifullah
On which recent date was ‘Janaushadhi Diwas’ observed across the country to provide further impetus and create awareness about the use of generic medicines? — 7 March 2019

INTERNATIONAL

Which country, in March 2019, renamed its capital Astana to Nursultan to honour outgoing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev? — Kazakhstan
Which country topped the World Happiness Report 2019 that was released by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network in March 2019? — Finland
Which country, on 22 March 2019, donated 69 million dollars to the United Nations World Food Programme to provide vital aid to 28 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, with the biggest shares of the money earmarked for Yemen and Iraq? — Japan
India in March 2019 extended a financial grant of 35.5 million Nepalese rupees for the construction of an educational campus in Nepal under which programme? — Development Partnership Programme
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in March 2019 announced a ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines in the backdrop of mosque shootings in: — Christchurch
US President Trump in March 2019 announced that the US will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights that was part of until 1967. — Syria
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in March 2019 expressed concerns over the increasing menace of Crop-damaging armyworms in: — Asia
According to the Quality of Living Index 2019, released by the Consulting Agency Mercer in March 2019, which European city has topped the index for the tenth year in a row? — Vienna
The decision to hold Sary-Arka-Antiterror 2019, the first joint military exercise of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, was recently announced during the 34th meeting of the RATS council held in: — Tashkent, Uzbekistan

NATIONAL

Which former Supreme Court judgewas on March 19, 2019 appointed as India’s first Lokpal also known as the anti-corruption ombudsman? — Pinaki Chandra Ghose
The Goa Legislative Assembly Speaker and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader who was sworn-in as the 11th Chief Minister of Goa in March 2019 is: — Pramod Sawant
India and which country, in March 2019, signed three agreements on visa facilitation for diplomatic and official passport holders, development cooperation and renewable energy? — Maldives
The Election Commission of India (ECI), on 10 March 2019, announced the schedule of the Lok Sabha Election 2019 and elections to the State Assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, and: — Arunachal Pradesh
The Geographical Indications Registry on 1 March 2019 granted the Geographical Indication (GI) Tag to Coorg Arabica Coffee, Wayanad Robusta Coffee, Chikmagalur Arabica Coffee, Araku Valley Arabica Coffee and: — Bababudangiris Arabica Coffee
The Supreme Court on 14 March 2019 appointed which senior advocate as mediator for resolving various disputes related to cricket administration within the cricket body? — PS Narasimha
Indian and Pakistan’s officials on 14 March 2019 held the first round of talks to discuss and finalise the modalities for Kartarpur Corridor at the Indian side of: — Attari-Wagah border
Giving setback to India, which permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the fourth time blocked a bid in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to designate Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohammed’s chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”? — China
The Union Cabinet, in March 2019, approved the issuance of statutory notifications for the General Elections to the Lok Sabha 2019 under which section of the Representation of the People Act, 1951? — Section 14
Which Indian dignitary on March 9, 2019 launched the Pulse Polio programme 2019 by administering polio drops to children less than five years old? — President Ram Nath Kovind
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in March 2019, approved the setting up of how many new Kendriya Vidyalayas under civil, defence sector all over the country? — 50
The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development on 6 March 2019 honoured , who have been driving social reforms through social media. — ‘Web Wonder Women’
According to the recently released statistics of the Interparliamentary Union, the percentage of female elected heads of state dropped from 7.2 per cent to per cent from 2017 to 2018. — 6.6 per cent
Which country, in March 2019, commemorated professor Stephen Hawking in a new 50p coin that features Hawking’s name in capital letters above a rippling drawing of concentric circles, intended to represent a black hole? — United Kingdom
According to the Trends in International Arms Transfers 2018 Report, released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in March 2019, was the world’s second largest importer of major arms in 2014-18 and accounted for 9.5 per cent of the global total. —India
Which Asian country, in March 2019, ratified the Rome Statute making it the 124th State party to the International Criminal Court (ICC)? — Malaysia
What was the name of military drill held in the US in March 2019 that gave aircraft crews an opportunity to experience advanced, relevant, and realistic combat-like situations in a controlled environment to increase their survivability in actual combat operations? — Red Flag 2019

MISCELLANEOUS

The Supreme Court on 15 March 2019 set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee’s order imposing a life ban on which former Indian cricketer for his alleged involvement in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal? — S Sreesanth
Which Indian city hosted the International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure in March 2019 in collaboration with United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and in partnership with the Global Commission on Adaptation, United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank? — New Delhi
Which sports is set for a return at the Asian Games after the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) on 3 March 2019 included it in the sports programme for the 2022 edition in Hangzhou? — Cricket
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) recently designated , the son of slain al Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, under its sanctions list by describing him as being seen as the “most probable successor” of the group’s current leader Aiman al-Zawahiri. — Hamza bin Laden
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 February 2019 launched Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) first-of-its-kind mobile application, , in order to create awareness about sports and fitness in the country. — ‘Khelo India App’
Which Indian IT company, on 21 March 2019, signed a three-year partnership agreement with Roland-Garros to provide technology solution for tennis tournament The French Open Grand Slam event? — Infosys
According to an announcement made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 14 March 2019, which Indian media company has been awarded the broadcast rights in the Indian subcontinent for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games? — Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN)
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in Guwahati and Mandi, in March 2019, announced to have collaborated with which institution to develop a ‘Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Indian Himalayan Region Using a Common Framework? — Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 7, 2019 released which dictionary in New Delhi? — Dictionary of Martyrs of India’s Freedom Struggle (1857-1947)
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on 5 March 2019 launched smart fencing under the Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System along the Indo- Bangladesh border in which district of Assam to deter illegal infiltration? — Dhubri
Which Asian city topped the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2019 released by the Economist Intelligence Unit in March 2019? — Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris
The first shipment under the United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention arrived in India from Afghanistan in March 2019 through which port? — Chabahar Port of Iran
On which recent date was Zero Discrimination Day observed by the United Nations and other world organizations to promote and celebrate everyone’s right, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, skin colour, etc? —1 March 2019
According to the latest World Gold Council report, India has the largest gold reserve and the current holding pegged at 607 tonnes. — 11th
What was the name of the bilateral joint exercise between India and Oman that was held at Jabel Al Akhdar Mountains in Oman in March 2019, aimed to enhance interoperability in counterterrorist operations in semiurban mountainous terrain? — Al Nagah III □ □□

India & World •

UNION GOVERNMENT

Mr. Ram Nath Kovind : President [From July 25, 2017]
Mr. Venkaiah Naidu: Vice-President
Shri Narendra Modi : Prime Minister; Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space, All important policy issues and All other portfolios not allocated to any Minister
[Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh]

CABINET MINISTERS

1. Shri Raj Nath Singh : Home Affairs [Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh]
2. Smt. Sushma Swaraj : External Affairs, Overseas Indian Affairs [Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh]
3. Shri Arun Jaitley : Finance and Corporate Affairs;
[Rajya Sabha, Uttar Pradesh]
4. Shri Prakash Javadekar : Human Resource Development [Rajya Sabha, Madhya Pradesh]
5. Shri Nitin Jairam Gadkari : Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation [Nagpur, Maharashtra]
6. Dr. Harsh Vardhan : Science and Technology, Earth Sciences; Environment, Forest and Climate Change [Chandani Chowk, Delhi]
7. Shri Suresh Prabhu : Commerce & Industry, Civil Aviation [Rajya Sabha, Haryana]
8. Shri D. V. Sadananda Gowda : Statistics and Programme Implementation, Chemical and Fertiliser [Bengaluru North, Karnataka]
9. Sushri Uma Bharati : Drinking Water & Sanitation [Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh]
10. Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani : Textiles, [Rajya Sabha, Gujarat]
11. Shri Ramvilas Paswan : Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution [Hajipur, Bihar]
12. Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman : Defence [Rajya Sabha,
Karnataka]
13. Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi : Women and Child Development [Philibhit, Uttar Pradesh]
14. Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi : Minority Affairs [Rajya Sabha, Jharkhand]
15. Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad : Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology [Rajya Sabha, Bihar]
16. Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda : Health and Family Welfare [Rajya Sabha, Himachal Pradesh]
17. Shri Anant Geete : Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises [Raigarh, Maharashtra]
18. Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal : Food Processing Industries [Bhatinda, Punjab]
19. Shri Narendra Singh Tomar : Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Mines, Parliamentary Affairs[Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh]
20. Shri Chaudhary Birender Singh : Steel [Rajya Sabha, Haryana]
21. Shri Jual Oram : Tribal Affairs [Sundargarh, Odisha]
22. Shri Radha Mohan Singh : Agriculture and Farmers Welfare [East Champaran, Bihar]
23. Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot : Social Justice and Empowerment [Rajya Sabha, Madhya Pradesh]
24. Shri Piyush Goyal : Coal, Railways, Finance & Corporate Affairs [Rajya Sabha, Maharashtra]
25. Shri Dharmendra Pradhan : Petroleum and Natural Gas & Skill Development and Entrepreneurship [Rajya Sabha, Bihar]

MINISTERS OF STATE

1. Shri Inderjit Singh Rao : Planning (Independent Charge), Chemical & Fertilizer[Gurgaon, Haryana]
2. Shri Raj Kumar Singh : Power, New and Renewable Energy (Independent Charge) [Aara, Bihar]
3. Shri Hardeep Singh Puri : Housing and Urban Affairs (Independent Charge)
4. Shri Manoj Sinha : Telecommunications (Independent Charge), Railways [Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh]
5. Shri Shripad Yesso Naik : AYUSH (Independent Charge), [North Goa, Goa]
6. Shri Alphons Kannanthanam : Tourism (Independent Charge), Electronic and Information Technology
7. Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore : Information and Broadcasting (Independent Charge); Youth Affairs and Sports [Jaipur Rural, Rajasthan]
8. Dr. Jitendra Singh : Development of North Eastern Region (Independent Charge), Prime Minister’s Office, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space [Udhampur, Jammu & Kashmir]
9. Shri Ashwini Kumar Choubey : Health and Family Welfare [Buxar, Bihar]
10. Dr. Mahesh Sharma : Culture (Independent Charge), Environment, Forest and Climate Change [Gautam Buddh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh]
11. Shri Vijay Goel : Parliamentary Affairs, Statistics and Programme Implementation [Rajya Sabha, Rajasthan]
12. Dr. Subhash Ramrao Bhamre : Defence [Dhule, Maharashtra]
13. Dr. Virendra Kumar : Women and Child Development, Minority Affairs [Tikamgarh, Madhya Pradesh]
14. General V. K. Singh : External Affairs [Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh]
15. Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar : Labour and Employment (Independent Charge) [Barreilly, Uttar Pradesh]
16. Shri Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary : Mines and Coal [Banskantha, Gujarat]
17. Shri Giriraj Singh : Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (Independent Charge) [Navada, Bihar]
18. Shri Hansraj Gangaram Ahir : Home Affairs [Chandrapur, Maharashtra]
19. Shri Upendra Kushwaha : Human Resources Development [Karakat, Bihar]
20. Shri Radhakrishnan P : Finance and Shipping [Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu]
21. Shri Kiren Rijiju : Home Affairs [Arunachal West, Arunachal Pradesh]
22. Shri Krishan Pal : Social Justice and Empowerment [Faridabad, Haryana]
23. Shri Anant Kumar Hegde : Skill Development and Entrepreneurship [Uttari Kannand, Karnataka]
24. Shri Vishnu Deo Sai : Steel [Raigarh, Chhattisgarh]
25. Shri Sudarshan Bhagat : Tribal Affairs [Lohardaga, Jharkhand]
26. Shri Jayant Sinha : Civil Aviation [Hazaribagh, Jharkhand]
27. Shri Shiv Pratap Shukla : Finance [Rajya Sabha, Uttar Pradesh]
28. Shri Babul Supriyo : Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises [Asansol, West Bengal]
29. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti : Food Processing Industries [Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh]
30. Shri Vijay Sampla : Social Justice and Empowerment [Hoshiyarpur, Punjab]
31. Shri Ram Kripal Yadav : Rural Development [Pataliputra, Bihar]
32. Shri SS Ahluwalia : Drinking Water and Sanitation [Darjeeling, West Bengal]
33. Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat : Agriculture and Farmers Welfare [Jodhpur, Rajasthan]
34. Shri Shri Ramdas Athawale : Social Justice and Empowerment [RPI MP, Maharashtra]
35. Shri Ramesh Chandappa Jigajigani : Drinking Water and Sanitation[Bijapur, Karnataka]
36. Shri Rajen Gohain : Railways [Nagaon, Assam]
37. Shri Parshottam Rupala : Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Panchayati Raj [Rajya Sabha, Gujarat]
38. Shri PP Chaudhary : Law and Justice, Corporate Affairs [Pali, Rajasthan]
39. Shri Jasvantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor : Tribal Affairs [Dahod, Gujarat]
40. Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal : Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation [Bikaner, Rajasthan]
41. Dr. Satya Pal Singh : Human Resource Development, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
42. Shri Ajay Tamta : Textiles [Almora, Uttarakhand]
43. Smt. Krishna Raj : Agriculture & Farmer Welfare
[Shahjehanpur, Uttar Pradesh]
44. Shri Mansukh L Mandaviya : Road Transport and Highways, Shipping, Chemicals and Fertilisers [Rajya Sabha, Gujarat]
45. Smt. Anupriya Patel : Health and Family Welfare [Apna Dal MP, Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh]
46. Shri CR Chaudhary : Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Commerce and Industry [Nagaur, Rajasthan]

JUDICIARY

Chief Justice of India : Mr. Justice Ranjan Gogoi
Attorney General of India : Mr. KK Venugopal
Solicitor General of India : Mr. Tushar Mehta
● Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) : Mr. Justice L. Narasimha

CHIEF OF ARMED FORCES

Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces : Shri. Ram Nath Kovind
Chief of the Army Staff: General Bipin Rawat
Chief of the Air Staff: Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa
Chief of the Naval Staff : Admiral Sunil Lamba (From 31 May, 2019 : Admiral Karambir Singh)
Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Forces : Lt. Gen. Amit Sharma
Chief of Integrated Defence Staff: Lt. Gen. Satish Dua

CONSTITUTIONAL & OTHERS

Rajya Sabha, Chairman : Mr. M. Venkaiah Naidu
Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chairman : Mr. Harivansh Narayan Singh
Speaker of Lok Sabha : Mrs. Sumitra Mahajan
Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha : Mr. M. Thambidurai
Leader of Rajya Sabha : Mr. Arun Jaitley
Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha) : Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad
Chief Election Commissioners : Mr. Sunil Arora
Comptroller and Auditor-General of India : Mr. Rajiv Mehrishi
Election Commissioners : Mr. Ashok Lavasa; Mr. Sushil Chandra
Rajya Sabha, Secretary General : Mr. Vivek Kumar Agnihotri
Lok Sabha, Secretary General : Ms. Snehlata Shrivastava
First Lokpal of India : Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose

OFFICERS OF UNION GOVERNMENT

Cabinet Secretary : Mr. Pradeep Kumar Sinha
Principal Secretary to Prime Minister : Mr. Nripendra Misra
National Security Adviser and Special Adviser to Prime Minister (Internal Security) : Mr. Ajit Kumar Doval
Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister : Dr. GS Reddy
Secretary, Department of Defence Research and Development; Chairman of the Defence Research and Development Organisation : G.S. Reddy
Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government : Mr. Krishnaswamy Vijay Raghavan
Foreign Secretary : Mr. Vijay Keshav Gokhale
Home Secretary : Mr. Rajiv Gauba
Finance Secretary : Mr. Subhash Chandra Garg
Chief Economic Advisor : Mr. Krishanmoorthy Subramanian
Defence Secretary : Mr. Sanjay Mitra
Revenue Secretary : Mr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey
Registrar-General of India and Census Commissioner : Mr. Sailesh
Chief Vigilance Commissioner : Mr. K.V Chowdary
Chief Information Commissioner : Mr. Sudheer Bhargava

HEADS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT ORGANISATIONS

Director – General, National Investigation Agency (NIA) :Mr. Yogesh Chander Modi
Director, Intelligence Bureau (IB) : Mr. Rajeev Jain
Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) : Mr. Rishi Kumar Shukla
Director, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) : Mr. Anil Dhasmana
Director-General, Border Security Force (BSF) : Mr. Rajnikant Mishra
Director-General, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) :Mr. Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar
Director-General, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) :Mr. Rajesh Ranjan
Director-General, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) :Mr. S.S. Deswal
Director-General, Indian Coast Guard : Mr. Rajendra Singh
Director-General, Railway Protection Force (RPF) : Mr.Arun Kumar
Director-General, National Security Guards (NSG) : Mr. Sudeep Lakhtakia
Director General, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) : Mr. Sugan R. Chinoy
Director-General, National Cadet Core (NCC) : Lt. Gen. Rajeev Chopra
Director, Enforcement Directorate : Mr. Sanjay Kumar Mishra
Director-General, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) : Mr. Kumar Rajesh Chandra
Director General, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) : Mr. S.N. Pradhan

HEADS OF COMMISSIONS

Chairman, 15th Finance Commission : Mr. N.K. Singh
Chairman, NITI Aayog : Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi
Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog : Mr. Rajiv Kumar
Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy : Mr. Kamlesh Nilkanth Vyas
Chairman, Space Commission and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) : Mr. K. Sivan
Chairman, 21st Law Commission : Justice Balbir Singh Chauhan
Chairman, National Commission for Minorities : Mr. Gairul Hasan Rizvi
Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Castes :Mr. Ram Shankar Katheria
Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes :Mr. Nand Kumar Sai
Chairperson, National Commission for Women : Ms. Rekha Sharma
President, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission : Mr. Justice D. K. Jain
Chairman, National Commission for Backward Classes : Mr.Justice V. Eswaraiah
Chairman, National Human Rights Commission : Mr. H L Dattu
Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India : Mr. R S Sharma

HEADS OF SCIENTIFIC ORGANISATIONS

Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) : Mr. Ajit Kumar Mohanty
● Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) : Mr. G. Nageshwar Rao
Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) : Prof. Balram Bhargava
Director-General & Secretary, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) : Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra
Director-General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) : President, Indian National Science Academy : Shekhar Mande

HEADS OF PUBLIC SECTORS UNITS

MAHARATNAS
Chairman, Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) : Mr. Anil Kumar Chaudhary
Chairman, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) : Mr. Sanjeev Singh
Chairman and Managing Director, ONGC : Mr. Shashi Shanker
Chairman and Managing Director, GAIL (India) : Mr. BC Tripathi
● Chairman-cum Managing Director, Coal India Ltd. : Mr. Anil Kumar Jha
Chairman and Managing Director, National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) : Mr. Gurdeep Singh
Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) : Mr. Atul Sobti
OTHERS
Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) : Mr. M K Surana
Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL) : Mr. D Rajkumar
Chairman and Managing Director, Oil India Limited : Mr. Utpal Bora
Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) : Mr. Anupam Srivastava
Chairman and Managing Director, Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) : Mr. PK Purwar
CEO & MD, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) : Mr. Vinod Kumar
Chairman-cum-Managing Director, Food Corporation of India (FCI) : Mr. D.V. Prasad
Managing Director, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) : Mr. Mangu Singh
Chairman and Managing Director, Air India : Mr. Ashwani Lohani

HEADS OF BANKS AND COMMERCIAL ORGANISATIONS

Governor, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) : Shri Shaktikant Das
Chairperson, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) : Mr. Pramod Chandra Mody
Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) : Mr. Ajay Tyagi
Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs : Mr. S. Ramesh
● Director-General, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade : Prof. Manoj Pant
Chairman, NABARD : Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala
President, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) : Mr. Sandeep Somani
Chairman, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) : Mr. Hemant Bhargava
● Chairman, General Insurance Corporation (GIC) : Mr. Alice Vaidyan
● President, Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) : Mr. Rakesh Bharati Mittal
President, NASSCOM : Ms. Debjani Ghosh
President, ASSOCHAM : Mr. Sandeep Jajodia
● Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority: Mr. Subhash Chandra Khuntia
Chairman, National Anti-Profiteering Authority: Mr. Badri Narain Sharma

HEADS OF BOARDS & COUNCILS

Executive Director, Central Social Welfare Board : Smt. Neelam Bhardwaj
● Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) : Prof. Arivind P. Jamkhedkar
Chairman, Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) : Dr. Braj Bihari Kumar
Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU : Professor Nageshwar Rao
Director, NCErT : Prof. Hrushikesh Senapaty
Chairman, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) : Mr. S.P. Singh Parihar
Chairman, Railway Board : Mr. Vinod Kumar Yadav
Chairman, National Shipping Board : Mr. Pradeep Trimbak Rawat
● Chairman, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) : Mr. Dilip Rath

HEADS OF ORGANISATIONS : ARTS & FILMS

Chairperson, Sahitya Akademi : Mr. Vishwanath Tiwari Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi : Mr. Shekhar Sen Chairperson, Prasar Bharati : Dr. A. Suryaprakash Chairman, National Film Development Corporation : Mr. Suresh Gopi
Chairman, National Book Trust (NBT) : Mr. Govind Prasad Sharma
Chairperson, Central Board of Film Certification : Mr. Prasoon Joshi
Chairperson, Children’s Film Society of India : Mr. Mukesh Khanna
President, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) : Mr. Ram Bahadur Rai Chairman, Lalit Kala Akademi : Mr. Uttam Pacharne President, Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) : Mr. B.P. Singh
Director-General, Doordarshan : Smt. Supriya Sahu Director-General, AIR : Mr. F. Sheheryar

HEADS OF SPORTS ORGANISATIONS

President, Indian Olympic Association : Mr. Narinder Dhruv Batra
President, All India Sports Council : Mr. Vijay Kumar Malhotra President, Sports Authority of India : Neelam Kapoor President, All India Football Federation : Mr. Praful Patel President, Hockey India : Mr. Mushtaque Ahmad President, Tennis Association of India : Mr. Praveen Mahajan

HEADS OF PRESS INSTITUTIONS

Chairman, Press Council of India : Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad
Director, Press Institute of India : Mr. Sashi Nair
President, Indian Newspapers Society : Mr. Jayant Mammen Mathew
Chairman, Press Trust of India : Mr. N. Ravi
Chairperson, Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) : Mr. Debabrata Mukherjee
Registrar-General of Newspapers in India : Mr. K. Ganesan

HEADS OF OTHER ORGANISATIONS

India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations : Mr. Syed Akbaruddin
India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to WTO : Mr. J.S. Deepak
Chairman, University Grant Commission (UGC) : Prof. D.P. Singh
Chairman, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) : Mrs. Anita Karwal
Chairman, All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) : Prof. Anil D. Sahasrabudhe Chairman, UPSC : Mr. Arvind Saxena Chairman, SSC : Mr. Ashim Khurana

HEADS OF IMPORTANT OFFICES : WORLD

Secretary-General, United Nations Organisation : Mr. Antonio Guterres (Portugal)
Deputy Secretary-General, UN : Amina J. Mohammed President, World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) : Mr. Jim Yong Kim
Managing Director, International Monetary Fund : Ms.
Christine Lagarde
Director-General, UNESCO : Ms. Audrey Azoulay (France) Director-General, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) : Mr. Jose Graziano da Silva (Brazil)
Director-General, International Labour Organisation (ILO) : Mr. Guy Ryder
Director General, WHO : Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Head UN High Commission for Refugees : Mr. Filippo Grandi Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) : Mr. Achim Steiner
Secretary-General, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) : Mr. Angel Gurriya President, International Court of Justice : Mr. Abdulqawi Yusuf
President, Asian Development Bank : Mr. Takehiko Nakao President, International Olympic Committee : Mr. Thomas Bach (Germany)
President, Interpol : Mr. Meng Hongwei (China) Secretary-General, Commonwealth : Ms. Patricia Scotland (United Kingdom)
Chairman, International Cricket Council : Mr. Shashank Manohar (India)
President, European Commission : Mr. Jean Claude Juncker (Luxembourg)
Director-General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) : Mr. Yukio Amano
Secretary-General, NATO : Mr. Jens Stoltenberg (Norway) Director-General, World Trade Organisation (WTO) : Mr. Roberto Azevedo (Brazil)
Secretary-General, SAARC : Mr. Amjed Hussain B Sial President, FIFA : Mr. Gianni Infantino Secretary-General, Amnesty International : Mr. Salil Shetty

CAPITALS, GOVERNORS AND CHIEF MINISTERS OF STATES & UTs

Andhra PradeshHyderabadMr. ESL NarasimhanMr. N. Chandrababu Naidu
Arunachal PradeshItanagarBrig. (Dr.) BD Mishra (Retd.)Mr. Pema Khandu
AssamDispurProf. Jagdish MukhiMr. Sarbanand Sonowal
BiharPatnaMr. Lalji TandonMr. Nitish Kumar
ChhattisgarhRaipurMrs. Anandiben PatelDr. Bhupesh Baghel
GoaPanajiMrs. Mridula SinhaMr. Pramod Sawant
GujaratGandhinagarMr. Om Prakash KohliMr. Viajy Rupani
HaryanaChandigarhMr. Satyadev Narayan AryaMr. Manohar Lal Khattar
Himachal PradeshShimlaMr. Acharya Dev VratMr. Jairam Thakur
Jammu & KashmirSrinagar (Summer) Jammu (Winter)Mr. Saty Pal MalikGovernor Rule
JharkhandRanchiMs. Draupadi MurmuMr. Raghuvar Das
KarnatakaBengaluruMr. Vajubhai Rudabhai ValaMr. H.D. Kumaraswamy
KeralaThiruvananthapuramMr. P SathaasivamMr. Vijayan Pinarayi
Madhya PradeshBhopalMrs. Anandiben PatelMr. Kamal Nath
MaharashtraMumbaiMr. Ch Vidyasagar RaoMr. Devendra Fadnavis
ManipurImphalMrs. Najma HeptullahMr. N. Biren Singh
MeghalayaShillongMr. Tathagat RoyMr. Conrad Kongkal Sangma
MizoramAizawalProf. Jagdish MukhiMr. Zoramthanga
NagalandKohimaMr. Padmanabha AcharyaMr. Neiphiu Rio
OdishaBhubaneswarMr. Ganeshi LalMr. Naveen Patnaik
PunjabChandigarhMr. VP Singh BadnoreCaptain Amarinder Singh
RajasthanJaipurMr. Kalyan SinghMs. Ashok Gehlot
SikkimGangtokMr. Ganga PrasadMr. Pawan Kumar Chamling
Tamil NaduChennaiMr. Banwarilal PurohitMr. Edappadi K. Palaniswami
TelanganaHyderabadMr. ESL NarasimhanMr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao
TripuraAgartalaMr. Kaptan Singh SolankiMr. Biplab Kumar Deb
Uttar PradeshLucknowMr. Ram NaikMr. Adityanath Yogi
UttarakhandDehradunMs. Baby Rani MauryaMr. Trivendra Singh Rawat
West BengalKolkataMr. Keshari Nath TripathiMs. Mamata Banerjee
CAPITAL, Lt. GOVERNOR AND CHIEF MINISTER OF NATIONAL CAPITAL TERRITORY
NATIONAL CAPITAL TERRITORYCAPITALLIEUTENANT GOVERNORCHIEF MINISTER
DelhiDelhiMr. Anil BaijalMr. Arvind Kejriwal
CAPITALS, LT. GOVERNORS/ADMINISTRATORS AND CHIEF MINISTERS OF UNION TERRITORIES
UNION
TERRITORIES
CAPITALLIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OR ADMINISTRATORCHIEF MINISTER
Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPort BlairAdmiral (Retd.) Devendra Kumar Joshi
ChandigarhChandigarhMr. VP Singh Badnore (Administrator)
Dadra and Nagar HaveliSilvassaMr. Vikram Dev Dutt (Administrator)
Daman and DiuDamanMr. Praful Khoda Patel (Administrator)
LakshadweepKavarattiMr. Farooq Khan (Administrator)
PuducherryPuducherryMrs. Kiran Bedi (Lt. Governor)Mr. V Narayansamy

Note : This section has been updated till April 5, 2019.

CMDs, EDs of Public Sector Banks as on 05.04.2019

Sl.
No.
Name of the Bank (Headquarters)Name of the CMD/MD & CEOName of the ED/MD/DMD
1Allahabad Bank (Kolkata)CH. S.S. Mallikarjuna Rao (MD & CEO)Sh. K. Ramchandran; Sh. P.R. Rajagopal
2.Andhra Bank (Hyderabad)Sh. J. Packirisamy (MD & CEO)Sh. Ajit Kumar Rath; Sh. Kulbhushan Jain
3.Bank of Baroda (Vadodara)Sh. P S Jayakumar, (MD & CEO)Smt. Papia Sengupta; Sh. S.L. Jain Sh. Vikramditya Singh Khichi
4.Bank of India (Mumbai)Shri. Dinabandhu Mohapatra (MD & CEO)Sh. Atanu Kumar Das; Sh. Neelam Damodaran; Sh. Chaitanya Gayatri Chin- tapalli
5.Bank of Maharashtra (Pune)Sh. A.S. Rajeev (MD & CEO)Sh. AC Rout; Sh. Hemant Kumar Tamata
6.Canara Bank (Bengaluru)Shri T.N. Manoharan (Chairman)Sh. Matam Venkata Rao; Sh. Debashish Mukherjee; Ms. A. Manimekhalai
7.Central Bank of India (Mumbai)Sh. Pallav Mohapatra (MD & CEO)Sh. P Ramana Murthy; Sh. Bajrang Singh Shekhawat; Sh. Alok Srivastava
8.Corporation Bank (Mangalore)Smt. PV Bharathi (MD & CEO)Sh. Gopal Murli Bhagat, Sh. Birupaksha Mishra
9.Indian Bank (Chennai)Ms. Padmaja Chunduru, (MD & CEO)Sh. M K Bhattacharya, Mr. Shenoy Vishwanath V
10.Indian Overseas Bank (Chennai)Shri R Subramania Kumar, (MD & CEO)Sh. K Swaminathan, Sh. Ajay Kumar Srivastava
11.Oriental Bank of Commerce (Gurgaon, Haryana)Sh. Mukesh Kumar Jain (MD & CEO)Sh. Vijay Dube; Sh. Balakrishna Alse S.
12.Punjab & Sind Bank (New Delhi)Sh. S. Harisankar (MD & CEO)Dr. Fareed Ahmad; Sh. Govind N Dongre
13.Punjab National Bank (New Delhi)Shri. Sunil Mehta, (MD & CEO)Sh. Lingam Venkata Prabhakar; Sh. Agyey Kumar Azad
14.Syndicate Bank (Manipal, Karnataka)Shri. Mrutyunjay Maha- patra (MD & CEO)Sh. S. Krishnan; Sh. Ajay K Khurana
15.UCO Bank (Kolkata)Sh. Atul Kumar Goel (MD & CEO)Sh. Charan Singh; Sh. Ajay Vyas
16.Union Bank of India (Mumbai)Sh. Rajkiran Rai G. (MD & CEO)Sh. Manas Ranjan Biswal; Sh. Gopal Singh Gusain; Sh. Dinesh Kumar Garg
17.United Bank of India (Kolkata)Sh. Ashok Kumar Pradhan (MD & CEO)Sh Sanjay Kumar; Sh. Ajit Kumar Das
18.Vijaya Bank (Bengaluru)Sh. RA Sankara Narayanan (MD & CEO)Sh. Murali Ramaswami; Sh. Nageshwara Rao Y.
19.State Bank of India (Mumbai)Sh. Rajnish Kumar (Chairman)Sh. Praveen Kumar Gupta, MD; Sh. Dinesh Kumar Khara, MD; Sh. Arijit Basu, MD; Smt. Anshula Kant, MD

Science / Technology / Environment

space
Evidence of Water, Particle Plumes Found on Asteroid Bennu
NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) mission recently announced to have discovered evidence of water, particle plumes on asteroid Bennu among numerous other findings. Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid in the Apollo group and is a potentially hazardous object. Bennu, which is only slightly wider than the height of the Empire State Building, may contain unaltered material from the very beginning of our solar system.
Hayabusa2 Probes Asteroid Ryugu
A Japanese space probe named after a falcon, Hayabusa2, has touched down on an asteroid more than 300 million km (186 million miles) from Earth on a mission to seek clues about the origins of life. It is the second Japanese spacecraft to land on an asteroid after Hayabusa touched down on a near-Earth asteroid named Itokawa in 2005. It was the first to bring asteroid dust back to Earth, although not as much as hoped. Hayabusa2 is an asteroid sample-return mission of the Japanese space agency, JAXA. It is the successor of Hayabusa which had returned asteroid samples in 2010.
3 Astronauts on Soyuz Craft Successfully Reach ISS
A Russian cosmonaut and two US astronauts arrived at the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on 15 March 2019, five months after the failed launch of a rocket carrying two of the passengers. The International Space Station — a rare area of cooperation between Moscow and Washington — has been orbiting the Earth at roughly 28,000 kilometres per hour since 1998.
NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Spots Water Molecules on Moon
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft has observed water molecules moving around the dayside of Moon, a finding that may prove beneficial as the agency plans to put astronauts back on the lunar surface. Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) — the instrument aboard LRO — measured sparse layer of molecules temporarily stuck to the Moon’s surface, which helped characterize lunar hydration changes over the course of a day. Michael Poston from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Texas, US, had previously conducted extensive experiments with water and lunar samples collected by the Apollo missions. The research revealed the amount of energy needed to remove water molecules from lunar materials, helping scientists understand how water is bound to surface materials.
AstroSat Discovers New Group of Stars in Globular Cluster NGC 2808
Indian multi-wavelength space observatory AstroSat launched in September 2015 continues to yield exciting results. Using this observatory, astronomers from Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai have identified a new population of ultraviolet stars in the globular cluster NGC 2808. Globular clusters are collections of thousands to millions of stars, moving as one unit. These stars are tightly held together by gravity of the cluster itself, and are believed to have formed together at roughly the same time. Some globular clusters could be among the oldest objects in our Milky Way, which hosts over 150 of them.
China’s Long March-3B Rocket Series Complete 300 Launches
China’s Long March-3B rocket, regarded as the main stay of the country’s space programme since 1970, successfully completed its 300th launch by putting a new communication satellite into orbit on 10 March 2019. The Long March carrier rocket series, developed by CASC, is responsible for about 96.4 per cent of all the launch missions in China.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Docks With International Space Station
The Elon Musk-owned SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, on 3 March 2019, docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on its debut unmanned flight. Flight computers guided the spacecraft directly into a docking port, unlike the previous cargo Dragon spacecraft that were attached to the space station after captured by a robotic arm.
● Rocketed into the orbit early on 2 March 2019, the capsule carried a test dummy named Ripley — after the heroine from the “Alien” movies — and 400 pounds (about 181 kg) of supplies and experiments to the ISS.
● The demonstration mission, called Demo-1, is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans and built and operated by a US commercial company through a public-private partnership

ENVIRONMENT

UNEP Releases Sixth Global Environment Outlook
The United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) in March 2019 released the sixth edition of the Global Environment Outlook (2019) titled ‘Healthy Planet, Healthy People’. The report calls on the decision makers to take immediate action to address pressing environmental issues to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as well as other internationally agreed environment goals, such as the Paris Agreement.
Highlights of Global Environment Outlook
● A quarter of all premature deaths and diseases worldwide are due to manmade pollution and environmental damage.
● Deadly emissions, chemicals polluting drinking water, and the accelerating destruction of ecosystems crucial to the livelihoods of billions of people are driving a worldwide epidemic that hampers the global economy.
● The report highlights the growing divided between rich and poor as rampant overconsumption, pollution and food waste in the developed world leads to hunger, poverty and disease elsewhere.
● As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise amid a preponderance of droughts, floods and superstorms made worse by climbing sea levels, there is a growing political consensus that climate change poses a future risk to billions.
● Poor environmental conditions cause approximately 25% of global disease and mortality and resulted in around 9 million deaths in 2015 alone.
● The report notes that chemicals pumped into the seas causes potentially multi-generational adverse health effects, and land degradation through mega-farming and deforestation occurs in areas of Earth home to 3.2 billion people.
● Air pollution causes 6-7 million early deaths annually.
7 of the Top 10 Most Polluted Cities in the World are in India
Of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, seven are in India alone, according to recently released data by IQAir AirVisual and Greenpeace. Haryana’s Gurugram tops the list of the most polluted cities in the world, followed by Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Bhiwadi and Noida. What’s alarming, according to the report, is that air pollution is likely to cause the death of an estimated seven million lives globally in the next year while costing the world’s economy nearly 225 billion. The only non-Indian city in the top five list is Faisalabad, Pakistan.

HEALTH

Traces of West Nile Virus found in Kerala
The death of a child in Kerala’s Malappuram district in March 2019 drew attention to the epidemiology of the little-known West Nile Virus in India. Though awareness is low, the virus is endemic to several States. The first documented WNV case in Kerala was in Alappuzha in 2011, with the numbers then growing.
● West Nile virus (WNV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that causes West Nile fever.
● It is a member of the family Flaviviridae, specifically from the genus Flavivirus, which also contains the Zika virus, dengue virus, and yellow fever virus.
● West Nile virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes, mostly species of the genus Culex, but ticks have also been found to carry the virus

DEFENCE

IAF Inducts 4 Chinook Helicopters
The first batch of four Boeing heavy-lift Chinook Helicopters, CH-47F (I) was inducted in Indian Air Force (IAF) on March 25, 2019 at Air Force Station, Chandigarh, in Squadron No 126 Helicopter Flight (Featherweights). The Chinook helicopters arrived at the Mundra airport in Gujarat from the United States on February 10, 2019. These multirole helicopters will be used in life-saving role during Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions. They will operate alongside the Russian machines. The Indian Air Force is currently using Mi-17 and Mi-26 helicopters, which were manufactured by Russia.
Indian Navy’s Nuclear Training Facility Launched
The Indian Navy’s state of the art Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Training Facility (NBCTF) was inaugurated by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba at INS Shivaji, Lonavala, on March 25, 2019. The training facility has been named ABHEDYA, which means impenetrable in Sanskrit.
Pinaka Guided Weapons System Successfully Test-fired
The indigenously developed Pinaka guided rocket system was successfully test fired on 11 March 2019 at Pokhran desert in Rajasthan, in a boost to artillery capability of the Army. The weapon system is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance kit comprising of an advanced navigation and control system. The unique feature of the Pinaka versions tested is the integrated avionics system; it consists of an on-board mission computer, miniaturized navigation system and telemetry.
● Pinaka rocket systems are developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
● The rocket system is named after Pinaka, the bow of Lord Shiva

TECHNOLOGIES

Google Launches ‘Bolo’ App to Help Children Read In Hindi, English
Google on March 6, 2019 launched a new application called ‘Bolo’ that aims to help children in primary school to read in Hindi and English. The app, which is being launched in India first, uses Google’s speech recognition and text-to-speech technology. It comes with a built-in fun and helpful reading buddy, an animated character called ‘Diya’. The animated character ‘Diya’ encourages children to read stories aloud and helps if the child is unable to pronounce a word or understand its meaning. The character also lauds the reader when he or she completes the reading.
SAIL Launches Smart Garbage Bins
Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has launched smart garbage bins made of stainless steel. These smart garbage bins will be able to send a signal to the garbage collection vehicle about the ‘fill-up’ position of the bin, aiding better cleaning and lower human intervention. The environment-friendly garbage bins will be made of SAIL SALEM stainless steel. These will be installed in underground Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) pits at the Smart Garbage Station. This will help prevent the spread of stink and diseases.

Sports

India to Host FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2020
Gianni Infantino, the President of International Football Federation (FIFA), on March 15, 2019 announced that India will host the U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2020. The 2020 World Cup will be the seventh edition of the U-17 Women’s tournament. The U-17 Women’s World Cup will be the second FIFA tournament that India will be hosting, the first was the U-17 Men’s World Cup held in 2017.
Cricket Will be Back at The Asiad in 2022
Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), on 3 March 2019, included cricket in the sports programme for the 2022 Asian Games edition in Hangzhou. Cricket was dropped from the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia after featuring in 2010 and 2014, albeit without the presence of game’s powerhouse India.
Women Cricketers Get on Lord’s Honours Board
Women cricketers will now feature on the iconic Lord’s honours board after the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) decided to highlight individual performances from one-day internationals. Earlier, only players who made a century or took a five-wicket haul in men’s test matches were officially recorded within the dressing rooms, but changes have been made as part of the 135-year-old MCC’s refurbishment drive at Lord’s ahead of 2019 season.
PM Modi Launches Khelo India App
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 February 2019 launched Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) first-of-its-kind mobile application, ‘Khelo India App’ in order to create awareness about sports and fitness in the country. The application has been developed by SAI as part of the Khelo India Scheme.
Cherry Blossom-Themed Torch Unveiled for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Tokyo Olympics organizers in March 2019 unveiled their torch for 2020 games, playing off the image of Japan’s famous cherry blossoms. The cherry blossom is Japan’s most-loved flower. The torch image was picked because the torch relay will begin a year from now in March when Japan’s cherry blossom trees are in full bloom across the country. The 1.2 kilogram torch is made from aluminium, 30 percent of which has been salvaged from the temporary housing built in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake.
Indian Wells WTA Title
Canadian sensation Bianca Andreescu became the first wild card to win the WTA title at Indian Wells on 17 March 2019 with a gritty 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber.
Ladies European Tour
Diksha Dagar, an Indian female professional deaf golfer, on 16 March 2019, created history by becoming the youngest Indian woman to win the Ladies European Tour (LET) at the age of 18 as she won the 2019 Investec South African Women’s Open in Cape Town. She also became the second Indian woman golfer to win a title after Aditi Ashok.
Australian Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas upstaged his Mercedes world champion teammate Lewis Hamilton to win the season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix on 17 March 2019. Red Bull’s precocious Max Verstappen came third to join them on the podium after audaciously overtaking Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel midway through the race.
Irfan Becomes First Indian Athlete to Qualify for Tokyo Olympics
National record holder KT Irfan on 17 March 2019 became the first Indian from athletics to qualify for the 2020 Olympics while finishing fourth in the 20 km event of the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan. The Asian and World record in men’s 20 km race walk stands in the name of Japanese Yusuke Suzuki who clocked 1:16:36 in the 2015 edition of the same championships in Nomi.
2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games Held in Abu Dhabi
The 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games was a multi-sport event for athletes with intellectual disabilities in the tradition of the Special Olympics movement. It was held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from March 14-21, 2019. The motto of Special Olympics was “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me brave in the attempt.’
● With impressive numbers coming from powerlifting and roller-skating, India finished the Special Olympics World Games with a rich haul of 368 medals, which included 85 gold, 154 silver and 129 bronze.
● The next Special Olympic Games are set to take place in Sweden in 2021.
IPL Witnesses its First Mankading
Rajasthan Royals opener Jos Buttler on 25 March 2019 became the first victim of ‘Mankading’ in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) when a desperate Kings XI Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed the batsman in the controversial manner during their IPL match in Jaipur. Mankading is a situation in cricket when a bowler run out a non-striker by hitting the bails before bowling and the nonstriker is outside the crease, with no warning.
2019 All England Badminton Open
The 2019 All England Open, officially YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships 2019 was a BWF World Tour 1000 event which took place at Arena Birmingham in England from 6 to 10 March 2019. It was the sixth tournament of the 2019 BWF World Tour and also part of the All England Open championships, which had been held since 1899.The winners in the various categories of the All England Open Badminton Championships 2019 are: ● Men’s Singles: Japan’s Kento Momota;
● Women’s Singles: China’s Chen Yufei;
● Men’s Doubles: Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan & Hendra Setiawan;
● Women’s Doubles: China’s Chen Qingchen & Jia Yifan;
● Mixed Doubles: China’s Zheng Siwei & Huang Yaqiong.
Bajrang Punia Wins Gold in Bulgaria
Bajrang Punia won gold in the freestyle wrestling 65kg category and Pooja Dhanda claimed gold in the 59kg category at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov wrestling in Ruse, Bulgaria, in March 2019. Rio Olympic bronze medallist Sakshi Malik settled for a silver medal in the 65kg category. Punia dedicated the victory to Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

Important Days

28 February: National Science Day: The National Science Day 2019 was observed across India on February 28, 2019 to mark the discovery of the Raman Effect by Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (CV Raman). The theme of National Science Day 2019 was “Science for the People and the People for Science.
1 March: Zero Discrimination Day: Zero Discrimination Day is annually celebrated by the UN and other international organisations on 1 March to promote and celebrate everyone’s right, regardless of age, gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, skin colour, etc.
7 March: ‘Janaushadhi Diwas: ‘Janaushadhi Diwas’ was observed across India on 7 March 2019 with an aim to provide further impetus and create awareness about the use of generic medicines. The Government launched the Pradhan Mantri
Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana to make affordable and quality generic medicines popular among the people. The Government aims to have atleast 1 PMBJP Kendra in each block of the country by 2020.
8 March: International Women’s Day: The International Women’s Day 2019 was observed across the world on 8 March 2019 with the theme, ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change’.
Second Thursday of March: World Kidney Day: The World Kidney Day 2019 was observed on March 14, 2019, the second Thursday of March, with an aim to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys. The theme of World Kidney Day 2019 was “Kidney Health for Everyone Everywhere”.
15 March: World Sleep Day: The World Sleep Day was observed across the globe on March 15, 2019 with the theme ‘Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging’. The day is observed annually on the Friday before the March Equinox on the Earth, when the subsolar point appears to leave the Southern Hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from Earth.
15 March: World Consumer Rights Day: The World Consumer Rights Day was observed across the world on March 15, 2019 with an aim to promote basic rights of consumers and to ensure that these rights are respected and protected. The theme of 2019 World Consumer Rights Day was ‘Trusted Smart Products’.
23 March: World Meteorological Day: World Meteorological Day 2019 was observed on March 23 with the theme “The Sun, the Earth and the weather”. The theme recognises the critical role the Earth’s nearest star plays in what transpires on the planet. World Meteorological Day is observed on March 23rd every year to commemorate the coming into force of the Convention establishing the World Meteorological Organization on 23 March 1950.
24 March: World Tuberculosis Day: The World Tuberculosis (TB) Day was observed across the globe on March 24, 2019 with an aim to raise public awareness about the upsetting health and economic consequences of tuberculosis and to step up efforts to end the global TB epidemic. The theme of World TB Day 2019 was “It’s time”. On the occasion of the World TB Day 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a joint initiative “Find. Treat. All. #EndTB” along with the Global Fund and Stop TB Partnership.

Business & market

SEBI Tightens Norms for Liquid MFs
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), in March 2019, tightened the valuation methodology for liquid mutual funds (MFs) and did away with the open offer exemption given to those seeking to acquire assets undergoing insolvency resolution. The move came in light of the redemption risks faced by liquid schemes after the Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) crisis rattled markets.
IBBI, SEBI Sign Pact for Effective Implementation of IBC
Markets regulator SEBI on 17 March 2019 inked pact with Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India to effectively implement securities laws, and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).The pact provides for sharing of information with each other, subject to the limitations imposed by the applicable laws. Moreover, the pact involves appointment of panel of insolvency professionals (IPs) as administrators under relevant regulations.
From April 1, Shares Can be Transferred in Demat Form Only
SEBI on 27 March 2019 said transfer of shares of listed companies can be done only in the dematerialised form from April 1 but investors are not barred from holding shares in the physical form. In December 2018, the watchdog extended the deadline for transfer of shares of listed companies only in dematerialised (demat) form to April 1. Now, it has been decided not to extend the deadline.
● Shares in the demat form would help in maintaining a transparent record of shareholding at companies amid rising concerns over beneficial ownership of entities.
● According to the regulator, the move does not prohibit an investor from holding the shares in physical form even after April 1.
● However, “any investor who is desirous of transferring shares (which are held in physical form) after April 1, 2019 can do so only after the shares are dematerialised,” it noted.
● Transfer deeds once lodged prior to deadline and returned due to deficiency in the document may be re-lodged for transfer even after the April 1 deadline.
● The decision “is not applicable for demat of shares, transmission (i.e. transfer of title of shares by way of inheritance/ succession) and transposition (i.e. re- arrangement/ interchanging of the order of name of shareholders) cases.
SpiceJet Joins Global Airlines’ Grouping IATA
Indian budget carrier, SpiceJet on March 19, 2019 announced its membership of global airlines’ grouping ‘International Air Transport Association’ (IATA), becoming the first Indian low-cost carrier to get the membership. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) represents more than 290 airlines, including Air India, Jet Airways and Vistara.
India & Oman Begin Sri Lanka’s Oil Refinery Project
India’s Accord Group and Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas began construction of an oil refinery in Sri Lanka on March 24, 2019. The construction of this oil refinery, with investment of USD 3.85 billion , began with inauguration by Prime
Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Hambantota. This project is jointly funded by Oman and Singapore registered Silver Park International (owned by India’s Accord Group) is the single largest foreign investment in Sri Lanka’s history.
Bajaj Launches Quadricycle Qute in Rajasthan
Automobile major Bajaj Auto on 26 March 2019 launched quadricycle ‘Qute’ in Rajasthan. It is designed in response to evolving requirements of low running cost, eco-friendly and safe alternative to intra-city commute.
ITC’s John Players Now Part of Reliance Retail’s Wardrobe
Diversified conglomerate, ITC Ltd, in March 2019 sold is apparel brand John Players and its related trademarks and intellectual property to Reliance Industries’ retail unit, Reliance Retail. Apart from John Players, which caters to the mid-end segment; the company operates the premium WLS brand (formerly Wills Lifestyle), which will now be the focus brand.
Hinduja family top Asian Rich List 2019
According to the Asian Rich List 2019 released at the Asian Business Awards in London on 22 March 2019, leading London-based NRI industrial tycoons, the Hinduja family have topped the Asian Rich List 2019 for the sixth successive year with an estimated net worth of 25.2 billion pounds. Steel magnates Lakshmi Mittal and his son Aditya Mittal remained in second place, with 11.2 billion pounds- down 2.8 billion pounds.
Tata Power SED Bags Rs 1,200 Crore Contract From Defence Ministry
Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division (SED) in March 2019 bagged a Rs 1,200 crore contract from the defence ministry for supply of ship-borne 3D Air Surveillance Radars. Tata Power SED signed a deal with the Ministry of Defence to supply 23 ship-borne 3D Air Surveillance Radars to the Indian Navy over the next 10 years.
BEL Gets First Green Channel Status From DGQA For Supply of Spares
Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), a defence public sector, in March 2019, received the first Green Channel Status certificate from Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) for supply of spares for a particular radar being manufactured by Military Radar Strategic Business Unit (SBU) of BEL’s Bangalore Complex. This is the first certificate issued to any organisation in India after the Green Channel Policy was formulated during March 2017.
● Green Channel Status is the authority given by the purchaser to the manufacturer to formally certify its
products or stores on behalf of the purchaser or any other authority designated by him, after having verified the firm’s infrastructure, quality policies and practices to produce and supply goods of specified quality.
NCLAT Nod
Essar Steel goes to ArcelorMittal: The National Company Law and Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in March 2019 accorded conditional approval to ArcelorMittal’s Rs. 42,000-crore bid to take over the stressed Essar Steel.
NTPC, Railways Ink Pact for Transporting Fly Ash
State-run NTPC on 14 March 2019 teamed up with the Indian Railways for fly ash transportation, a move that will help enhance ash utilisation at Rihand and Vindhyachal Super Thermal Power plants. NTPC signed a MoU with Hazipur- based East Central Railway Zone for transportation of fly ash under Indian Railways’ Special Freight Train Operator (SFTO) scheme. NTPC has become the first entity in the country to sign an SFTO agreement with Indian Railways.
Adani Becomes 1st Indian Port Operator to Record 200 MT Cargo Movement
Adani Port and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) on 27 March 2019 claimed that it had become the first Indian port operator to handle cargo movement of 200 million tonnes (MT) in 2018-19. APSEZ, a part of globally-diversified Adani Group, is the largest port developer and operator in India. APSEZ’s 10 ports and terminals represent 24 per cent of the country’s total port capacity.
Mukesh Ambani Breaks Into top-10 on Hurun Global Rich List
Mukesh Ambani has become the first Indian to break into the top-ten of the Hurun Global Rich List of 2,470 billionaires having a net worth of 1 billion. The 2019 edition of ‘Loong Palace Hurun Global Rich List 2019’ compiles a list of the richest individuals across the globe. Their number has decreased by 224 to 2,470 from 2,694 in 2018.
Government Approves Adani Power’s Rs 14,000-cr Jharkhand SEZ Project
The government has approved a Rs 14,000-crore special economic zone (SEZ) project of Adani Power in Jharkhand, which will export the entire power generated to Bangladesh. The project was approved by the highest decision making body on SEZs – Board of Approval – chaired by the commerce secretary.
NTPC Raises USD 450 Million from International Market
State-run power giant NTPC on 27 March 2019 announced to have raised USD 450 million (about Rs 3,105 crore) through five-year bond offering in the international market under its
USD 6 billion (about Rs 41,400 crore) medium term notes (MTN) programme. NTPC’s USD 6 billion MTN Programme was set up in 2006 and this issuance was the tenth offering under the programme, taking the cumulative amount raised under the MTN Programme to USD 4.30 billion (about Rs 29,600 crore).

insurance

United Bank, HDFC Life Sign Bancassurance Deal
United Bank of India in March 2019 signed a bancassurance deal with private life insurer HDFC Life Insurance Company. Through this partnership, United Bank’s customers will be able to take advantage of HDFC Life’s expertise in life insurance products, distribution and customer service. United Bank has a strong presence in rural and semi-urban areas, with over 2,000 branches and offices, while HDFC Life is India’s largest non-bank- promoted private life insurer.
IRDAI Gives Approval to New Regulations For Life Insurance Products
IRDAI on 28 March 2019 gave the go-ahead for the new regulations for life insurance products. It also gave the first level approval, or R1, to Indiabulls Integrated general insurance business. The new regulations will allow the insurers to charge an extra premium from policyholders who wish to buy riders with unit-linked insurance plans. Currently, insurers deduct units from ULIPs in case a policyholder buys riders with it.
IRDAI Asks General Insurers to Withdraw ‘Automatic Extension of Period Clause’ in Annual Policies
IRDAI has directed general insurers to withdraw the automatic extension in period clause, which is offered as an add-on with annual policy covers by general insurers, as this violates the rules of All-India Fire Tariff and is noncompliant with guidelines on product filing procedures for general insurance products.
● An automatic extension period clause allows policyholders to extend the base policy cover by a specified period and the insurer charges a pro-rata premium for that extended period. But the terms, conditions and exclusions for an add-on cover is same as the base cover.
MR Kumar appointed as LIC Chairman
The Centre in March 2019 appointed MR Kumar as the Chairman of the insurance behemoth Life Insurance Corporation. Kumar will hold the Chairman post for five years.

RBI Upadate & Banking

Demonetisation: RBI Says no Data on 500- and 1,000-Notes Used at Fuel Pumps
In a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in March 2019 said it has no data on the old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes used to pay for utility bills such as fuel at petrol pumps, which are believed to have formed a good part of the demonetised currency that returned to the banking system. Of the Rs 15.41 lakh crore worth Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes in circulation on November 8, 2016, when the note ban was announced, currency worth Rs 15.31 lakh crore have been returned.
RBI Names SBI, ICICI and HDFC as Systemically Important Banks
The RBI on 14 March 2019 named State Bank of India (SBI), ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank as Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs), which in other words mean banks that are too big to fail. As per the norms, these banks will have to set aside more capital for their continued operation. RBI comes with the list every year since 2015. Inclusion in D-SIB indicates that failure of any of these banks would have a cascading effect on Indian financial system.
● The Reserve Bank had issued the framework for dealing with D-SIBs on July 22, 2014.
● The framework requires the central bank to disclose the names of banks designated as D-SIBs starting from 2015 and place these banks in appropriate buckets depending upon their Systemic Importance Scores (SISs).
● Inclusion in the list gives additional comfort to investors that these banks won’t be allowed to fail and therefore, borrowing costs of these banks from the markets are cheaper than their peers.
RBI Sets NBFC-MFIs’ Average Base Rate at 9.21% for April-June
The RBI on 29 March 2019 set the average base rate to be charged from borrowers by non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and micro-finance institutions (MFIs) at 9.21 per cent for the first quarter of the next fiscal. The applicable average base rate to be charged by Non-Banking Financial Company – Micro Finance Institutions (NBFC-MFIs) to their borrowers for the quarter beginning April 01, 2019 will be 9.21 per cent.
RBI Eases Business Guidelines for White Label ATMs
The RBI, on 7 March 2019, eased business guidelines for white label ATMs allowing companies that manage these machines to source cash directly from the central bank, offer non-bank services like bill payments and advertise even non-financial products in their premises, increasing the revenue earning scope for these companies. White label ATM Operators (WLAO), can now source cash directly from RBI offices and currency chests, and will no longer be dependent on sponsor banks for procurement of cash. The RBI has allowed the operators to source cash from any scheduled bank including rural and cooperative banks.
Highlights of RBI’s Guidelines for WLAOs
● Furthermore, the regulators have allowed WLAOs to offer bill payment and deposit services as per the technical feasibility of the device as determined by the nodal body for licensing, NPCI.
● The ATMs would further be allowed to display advertisements of non-finance products as long as it doesn’t run on the screen when the customer is transacting.
● Non-bank entities that set up, own and operate ATMs are christened ‘white label ATM operators’ (WLAOs), and such ATMs are called white label ATMs (WLAs).
● WLAOs can offer bill payment and interoperable cash deposit services, subject to technical feasibility and certification by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
● The operators can display advertisements pertaining to non-financial products/services anywhere within the WLA premises, including the WLA screen, except the main signboard.
● Currently, there are eight WLAOs in the country – AGS Transact Technologies Ltd, BTI Payments Pvt Ltd, Hitachi Payment Services Pvt Ltd, Muthoot Finance Ltd, RiddiSiddhi Bullions Ltd, SREI Infrastructure Finance Ltd, Tata Communications Payment Solutions Ltd, and Vakrangee Ltd.
BoJ, RBI Sign Pact for Currency Swap
The Bank of Japan (BOJ), and the RBI recently signed a currency swap agreement that enables both countries to swap their local currencies (i.e., either Japanese yen or Indian rupee) against US dollar for up to 75 billion. It will contribute to the stability of financial markets, thereby further developing the economic and trade ties between the two countries.
RBI Issues Guidelines to Prevent Market Abuse
The RBI on 15 March 2019 came out with guidelines to prevent misuse of price-sensitive information by participants in markets for financial instruments. The RBI said that market participants, either acting independently or in collusion, shall not undertake any action with the intention to manipulate the calculation of a benchmark rate or a reference rate.
● Also, no market participant would carry out a transaction or initiate any action with the sole or dominant intention of influencing a benchmark rate or a reference rate.
● About regulatory action on market abuse, the RBI said market participants indulging in any such activity are liable to be denied access to markets in one or more instruments for a period that may not exceed one month at a time.
RBI Categorizes IDBI Bank as Private Sector Lender
The RBI, on 14 March 2019, said that IDBI Bank had been categorised as a private sector bank for regulatory purposes with effect from January 21, 2019. This follows Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) acquiring 51 per cent of the total paid-up equity share capital of the bank. In April 2005, IDBI Bank was categorised under a new sub-group, ‘other public sector banks,’ by the RBI.
RBI Uses New Tool For Liquidity Management
The RBI, in March 2019, used a new tool to enhance liquidity in the system through which it bought as much as 5 billion from the banks in a swap deal that injected nearly Rs. 35,000 crores into the system. Banks would be required to park dollar funds with RBI with a deal to buy it back from the RBI after three years. The auction for this first of its kind US dollar buy/sell swap auction took place on March 26, 2019. It was the first time the central bank used a foreign exchange auction to augment banking liquidity after generally using bond purchases for the same all these years. RBI has infused more than Rs 2.36 lakh crore through such purchases so far this fiscal.
RBI Notifies 2% Interest Subsidy Scheme for Short-term Crop Loans
The RBI on 7 March 2019 notified the norms for banks with regards to two per cent interest subvention or subsidy for short-term crop loans during 2018-19 and 2019-20. The Centre has already approved the scheme. To provide short-term crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh to farmers at an interest rate of 7 per cent, the RBI said it has been decided to offer interest subvention of 2 per cent per annum to lending institutions.
● This interest subvention of 2 per cent will be calculated on the crop loan amount from the date of its disbursement/ drawal up to the date of actual repayment of the crop loan by the farmer or up to the due date of the loan fixed by the banks whichever is earlier, subject to a maximum period of one year.
● Under the scheme, an additional 2 per cent interest subvention is provided to farmers repaying loans promptly. For such farmers, the effective rate of short-term crop loans works out to be 4 per cent per annum.
RBI Relaxes Forex Norms for FPIs and FVCIs
The RBI, on 28 March 2019, eased foreign exchange management (deposit) regulations pertaining to opening of accounts by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) and foreign venture capital investors (FVCIs), and opening of non-resident ordinary (NRO) account by long-term visa (LTV) holders. The central bank said that banks, which are authorised to deal in foreign exchange, can allow SEBI-registered FPI and FVCI to open and maintain a non-interest-bearing foreign currency account for the purpose of making investments.
● Further, such banks can open only one non-resident ordinary (NRO) account for a citizen of Bangladesh or Pakistan, belonging to minority communities in those countries, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, residing in India and who has been granted a long-term visa (LTV) by the Central government.
● The account will be converted to a resident account once such a person becomes a citizen of India.
RBI Eases Office Opening Process For Foreign Entities
The RBI, in March 2019, sad that foreign entities doing business in defence or telecom sector in India will henceforth not need to seek separate approval from Reserve Bank of India for opening branch or liaison offices, provided they have clearance from the concerned ministry. RBI said that foreign entities need no prior approval for opening of a branch office / liaison office / project office (PO) or any other place of business in India, where the principal business of the applicant falls in the defence, telecom, private security and information & broadcasting sector, “if government approval or license/permission by the concerned ministry/regulator has already been granted.
● In the case of proposal for opening a PO relating to defence sector, no separate reference or approval of government shall be required if the said non-resident applicant has been awarded a contract by/entered into an agreement with the Ministry of Defence or Service advised that Headquarters or Defence Public Sector Undertakings.
NCLAT Gives nod to RBI Plea in IL&FS Case
The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) in March 2019 accepted the RBI’s impleadment request as a “party respondent” in the appeal filed by the Centre against NCLT’s historic February 25 order in the IL&FS case. As the regulatory authority overseeing banks and non-banking finance companies, the central bank had submitted to NCLAT that it was interested in the outcome of the appeal filed by the Centre in the IL&FS case.
RBI Allows Importers to Raise 150-m Trade Credit
In a bid to give a leg-up to oil/ gas refining and marketing, airline and shipping companies, the Reserve Bank of India’s amended Trade Credit Policy has allowed them to raise trade credits of up to 150 million or equivalent per import transaction under the automatic route. For others, trade credits (TCs) can be raised up to 50 million or equivalent per import transaction, the central bank said in its amended trade credit policy, which was issued to banks authorised to deal in foreign exchange (Category-I Authorised Dealer Banks or ADs). The all-in-cost (including rate of interest, other fees, expenses, charges, guarantee fees whether paid in foreign currency or rupee) ceiling per annum has been pegged at the benchmark rate plus 250 basis points spread.
● TC refers to the credits extended by the overseas supplier, bank, financial institution, and other permitted recognised lenders for maturity – as prescribed under this framework – for imports of capital/non-capital goods permissible under the Foreign Trade Policy of the government.
● Depending on the source of finance, such TCs include suppliers’ credit and buyers’ credit from recognised lenders.

General Banking

Five PSU Lenders Get Capital Infusion of Rs 21,428 Crore From Government
Five state-owned banks, including Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Indian Overseas Bank, Central Bank of India and Union Bank, on 28 March 2019, received shareholders’ approval for capital infusion to the tune of Rs 21,428 crore in lieu of preferential allotment of shares to the government. This capital infusion is for the current fiscal ending March 31, 2019.
● The finance ministry through its notification conveyed its decision to infuse capital of Rs 5,042 crore in BoB.
Branches of Vijaya, Dena Bank to Function as BoB Outlets From April 1: RBI
The RBI, on 30 March 2019, said that branches of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank will function as Bank of Baroda outlets from April 1, following the amalgamation of the two lenders with the latter. The merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Barodawill be effective from April 1, 2019.
● The government in September 2018 had announced merger of Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with Bank of Baroda, aiming to create the third-largest lender after the SBI and ICICI Bank.
● Customers of Dena Bank and Vijaya Bank will continue to see the familiar logos of ‘Goddess Lakshmi’ (the Goddess of Wealth) and that of ‘A man bowing humbly with his hands in his pockets’ for some more time, despite the banks getting merged with Bank of Baroda with effect from April 1, 2019.
● However, the branches will also sport the ‘Now – Bank of Baroda’ sticker on the branches to reflect the changed status.
SBI to Link Saving Deposits, Loan Pricing to Repo Rate From May 1
According to a recent announcement, State Bank of India (SBI), the country’s largest bank, will use the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) policy repo rate as a benchmark to set the savings deposit rates and those for short-term loans from May 1, 2019. It is the first bank to announce a timeline to switch to an external benchmark. The bank’s decision to link its key pricing decisions on savings bank deposits and short-term loans to the repo rate will help it to address rigidities in the balance sheet and ensure a quick transmission of changes in the RBI’s policy rates.
● It will link savings bank deposits with balances of more than Rs. 1 lakh to the repo rate.
● The current effective rate on savings deposits is 3.50 per annum, 2.75 percentage points below the current repo rate of 6.25 per cent.
● Term deposits will continue to be priced on the basis of market condition.
● Cash credit (CC) accounts and overdrafts (OD) of more than Rs 1 lakh will be linked to the repo rate (current repo rate 6.25 per cent plus a spread of 2.25 per cent).
● Risk premiums over and above this floor rate of 8.50 per cent would be based on the risk profile of the borrower, as is the current practice.
In a First, Government Set to Issue Rs 20 Coin as a 12-Edged Polygon
According to a Finance Ministry notification, issued in March 2019, the government will come out with the first ever Rs 20 coin which will be shaped like a 12-edged polygon with the design of grains to denote farm dominance in the country. Besides, new series of one, two, five and ten rupees coins too would be minted, which will be circular in design and have denominations written in Hindi script.
Main features of the new coins
● The Rs 20 coin will weigh 8.54 gm and its outside diameter will be 27mm with the outer ring made of nickel silver and the centre piece of Nickel brass.
● The face of the new Rs 20 coin shall bear the ‘Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar’ with ‘Satyameva Jayate’ inscribed below. The left periphery will have the word ‘Bharat’ in Hindi and the right periphery will have the word ‘India’ in English.
● The reverse side of the coin would have the denominational value ’20’ in the international numerals along with the Rupee symbol.
● The design of grains depicting the agricultural dominance of the country is flanked on the left periphery of the coin.
● According to the notification, the new Rs 10 coin will have an outside diameter of 27 mm and weigh 7.74 gm, while the Rs 5 coin will have a diameter of 25 mm and weight of 6.74 gms.
● The new series one rupee and two rupees coin will weigh 3.09 gm and 4.07 gm, while the diameter would be 20 mm and 23 mm respectively.
● The face of all these coins shall bear the Lion Capitol of Ashoka Pillar with the ‘Satyameva Jayate’ inscribed below, flanked on the left periphery with the word ‘Bharat’ in Hindi and on the right periphery with the word ‘India” in English.
● Coins are minted at the four India Government Mints at Mumbai, Alipore (Kolkata), Saifabad (Hyderabad), Cherlapally (Hyderabad) and Noida (UP).
● The coins are issued for circulation only through the Reserve Bank in terms of the RBI Act.
SBI Inks Pact With Bank of China
SBI on 19 March 2019 signed a MoU with Bank of China (BoC), the third-largest bank in the world by capital size and one of the major players in the Chinese banking sector, to enhance business synergies between both the banks. Through this pact, both SBI and BoC will gain direct access to their respective markets of operation. Both banks’ clients will be able to use the vast combined network to expand their businesses abroad.
ICICI Bank Launches two Instantaneous Home Loan Facilities
Private sector lender ICICI Bank on 28 March 2019 announced the launch of two instantaneous home loan facilities, one of which would enable instant and paperless home loan approval of up to Rs.1 crore.
● The ‘Instant Home Loan’ service enables pre-approved salaried customers of the bank to avail final sanction letter digitally and instantly for loans up to Rs.1 crore for a tenure of up to 30 years (based on the age of the customer) using internet banking facility.
● The ‘Insta Top Up Loan’ initiative would enable existing home loan customers of the bank to avail the facility of topping up their loan immediately up to Rs.20 lakh for a tenure up to 10 years, in a completely digital and paperless manner.
DBS Bank Launches First Branch in Ahmedabad
DBS Bank on 5 March 2019 inaugurated its first branch in Ahmedabad with a focus on catering to the needs of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), corporate and retail. The foreign bank is aggressively increasing its presence in the state and nationally too with eight more branches planned for Vadodara, Mumbai, Gurugram, Noida, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Indore and Ludhiana.
NABARD to Back Green Project
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), in its capacity as Direct Access Accredited Entity of Green Climate Fund (GCF), recently said that it will support a proposal by Tata Cleantech Capital Ltd (TCCL) to generate more than 250 MW of solar energy. The partnership is an attempt to unlock private sector initiatives for the creation of rooftop solar power capacity (for clients in the commercial, industrial and residential housing segments) across India with a loan of 100 million GCF for a period of 20 years. It will achieve an estimated reduction of emissions by 5.2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

E-Banking & E-Commerce

Digital Payments Have Witnessed 9-Fold Increase Over Last 5 Years
Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das, on 25 March 2019, sad that there has been a multi-fold increase in digital payments over the last five years. According to the information shared by him,
● The NEFT system handled 195-crore transactions valued at Rs.172 lakh crore in 2017-2018, growing 4.9 times in terms of volume and 5.9 times in terms of value over the previous five years.
● Similarly, the number of transactions carried out through credit and debit cards in 2017-2018 was Rs.141 crore and Rs. 334 crore, respectively.
● Prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) recorded a volume of about 346 crore transactions, valued at Rs.1.4 lakh crore.
● Thus, the total card payments, in volume terms, stood at 52 per cent of the total retail payments during 2017-2018.
Instagram Moves Into e-Commerce With Shopping Button
Facebook-owned Instagram on 19 March 2019 made a move into potentially lucrative e-commerce by adding an option to buy products shown off in posts by selected brands. A new “checkout” button for instant purchasing launched in a beta version of the app in the US with a limited number of businesses, according to the popular image-centric messaging service.
E-Commerce Revolutionised Retail Sector in India
Kant: Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, on 5 March 2019, said that e-commerce has revolutionised the retail sector in India and will play a major role in the country’s growth story going forward. He further noted that driven by the growth in India’s retail market, the country’s GDP will also witness an increase and result in more job opportunities. According to Kant, India is currently growing at over 7 per cent and if the country has to grow at 9 per cent, then e-commerce market will have to play a major role.
● According to a report by Deloitte India and Retail Association of India, India’s e-commerce market will touch USD 84 billion in 2021 from USD 24 billion in 2017 on account of a healthy growth in organised retail sector.
BoB to Develop Agri-Digital Platform ‘Baroda Kisan
Public sector lender Bank of Baroda on 26 March 2019 said it will develop an agri-digital platform called ‘Baroda Kisan’ in order to provide solutions for all major agricultural requirements. Six companies — Skymet Weather Services, Weather Risk Management Services, BigHaat, Agrostar India,
EM3 Agri Services and Poorti Agri Services — have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the bank for this project. The bank further said the agri-digital platform will be executed by IT Centre of Excellence (ITCoE) of Bank of Baroda in partnership with IBM India.
Going Beyond Digital: Google Pay Goes Offline to Take on Amazon Pay, Paytm
Google showcased an innovation for its mobile payments app Google Pay on 27 March 2019, wherein merchants at stores can initiate payment requests by punching in a customer’s mobile number on their point-of-sale (POS) terminals. With this the California-based firm is taking on PhonePe and Paytm in their own home ground and is also challenging its US rival Amazon. Google also unveiled two other services through which its payments application users can book train tickets and buy gold.
● The digital payments space in India is expected to rise fivefold to reach 1 trillion by 2023, and it would be led by the growth in mobile payments, according to a report by financial services company Credit Suisse.
NPCI Issues 64 mn RuPay cards, AIMS to Grow International Acceptance
National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) on 7 March 2019 announced to have issued over 64 million RuPay global cards, since 2014 and focusing on growing its international acceptance. RuPay card network in the country issues global cards that run on the Discover Network when used outside the country.
● The RuPay global debit and credit cards are currently issued by 40 banks.
● They can be used for purchases at merchant locations and cash withdrawals on the Discover Global Network at countries like United States of America (USA) Singapore, Sri Lanka where cardholders travel.
● The Discover Global Network includes Discover Network, Diners Club International, PULSE and affiliated networks.
SBI, Hitachi Arm to Roll Out Digital Payments Platform
State Bank of India (SBI) and Hitachi Payment Services Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi Ltd, on 5 March 2019 launched their merchant-acquiring joint venture, SBI Payment Services Pvt Ltd (SBIPSPL), in Mumbai, for establishing a digital payments platform for India and other countries in the region.
● The joint venture (SBI has a 74 per cent stake, and the balance is with Hitachi Payment Services) will facilitate expansion of the digital payments landscape in India via its digital payments platform.
● This will offer innovative products to suit the requirements of all segments of merchants by leveraging the brand value and vast distribution network of SBI, and bring Artificial Intelligence and other technological capabilities of Hitachi to SBI Payment Services.
SBI Customers Can Now Make ATM Withdrawals Without Debit Card
State Bank of India, on 15 March 2019, announced that its customers will no longer require debit cards to withdraw cash from ATM. The customers can generate a one-time pin (OTP) on their mobile application YONO and use the pin to transact from the bank’s ATM. The service currently will be available at 16500 ATMs, with bank making “minor upgradations” on the rest of its ATMs to widen the facility to 60000 ATMs across the country in the next three to four months.
● The maximum one-time withdrawal limit on YONO cash transactions has been set at Rs.10000 and a customer can make only two such transactions a day.
● Currently SBI YONO application has 7 million users and SBI Anywhere application has 10 million plus users.
● The bank will integrate both the applications soon and make it a consolidated platform for all its payment solutions including the bank’s IMPS and UPI based payment channels.
SBI to Join SWIFT’s Global Payment Interface
State Bank of India recently announced to soon sign up with the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transactions’ (SWIFT) Global Payment Interface (GPI), adding to the list of Indian banks that have subscribed to the interbank communication channel’s new payment interface which is set to make cross-border transactions much more secure and transparent. India’s largest lender will join 11 of its counterpart banks that will have subscribed to this payments platform which comes with features such as such as end- to-end payment tracking, access to unaltered remittance information, faster and more transparent transactions.
● These banks are ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, Punjab National Bank, Yes Bank, City Union Bank, HDFC Bank, Bank of India, Federal Bank Limited, Union Bank of India, Indian Bank and IndusInd Bank.
PSBloansin59minutes.com Becomes Largest Fintech Lending Platform
According to a recent report by global financial firm Credit Suisse, web portal PSBloansin59minutes.com launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2018 has emerged as the largest online lending platform. Loan approvals have already exceeded Rs300 billion (USD4.2 bn) and disbursements are estimated at Rs 250 billion.
● MSMEs through this portal can avail loans of up to Rs 1 crore in 59 minutes or less than an hour.
● MSMEs apply for loans using their goods and services tax (GST) registration as the portal is integrated with GST server at the back-end as well as IT, credit bureaus and banks.
● It is able to quickly score the applicant on individual models of lenders (currently only public sector banks).
● It is a strategic initiative of Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) led PSB consortium incubated under the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance. Other partner banks are the State Bank of India (SBI), Bank of Baroda, PNB, Vijaya and Indian Bank.

General Economy

Delhi-NCR Accounts for 25 Per cent of FDI in Apr-Dec 2018-19
According to the latest government data, Delhi, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana accounted for about one-fourth of foreign direct investment (FDI) received by the country during April- December 2018-19. On the other hand Maharashtra, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu accounted for about 24 per cent of the total FDI during the period.
● FDI worth USD 8.3 billion was reported in the national capital region during the nine-month period ending December 2018; while, Maharashtra region received USD 8 billion in the same period.
● The other regions where foreign inflows reported include Bangalore (USD 4.44 billion), Chennai (USD 2 billion), Ahmedabad (USD 1.67 billion) and Kanpur (USD 26 million).
● During this period, total foreign investments in India declined by 7 per cent to USD 33.5 billion.
● The key sectors that received the maximum foreign investment during the nine months of the fiscal include services, computer software and hardware, telecommunications, trading, chemicals, and automobiles.
● Singapore was the largest source of FDI during April- December 2018-19 with USD 12.97 billion inflow, followed by Mauritius (USD 6 billion), the Netherlands (USD 2.95 billion), Japan (USD 2.21 billion), the US (USD 2.34 billion), and the UK (USD 1.05 billion).
India Ranks 11th in Gold Holding
According to the latest report released by the World Gold Council (WGC) in March 2019, India, which is the world’s largest consumer of gold, has the 11th largest gold reserve, with the current holding pegged at 607 tonnes. India’s overall position in terms of total gold holding would have been tenth had the list included only countries. Whereas, International Monetary Fund (IMF) is included and is third on the list with total gold reserves of 2,814 tonnes.
The numero uno slot is occupied by the U.S., which boasts of gold reserves of 8,133.5 tonnes, followed by Germany with 3,369.7 tonnes. Italy and France complete the top five list with reserves of a little over 2,400 tonnes each. Meanwhile, among Asian countries, China and Japan have more reserves of the precious metal when compared to India. China – WGC takes into account only ‘Mainland China’ – has reserves of 1,864.3 tonnes, while Japan has gold reserves of 765.2 tonnes.
India to Grow at 7.3% in 2019, 2020: Moody’s
US-based rating agency Moody’s on 1 March 2019 said that the Indian economy is expected to grow at 7.3 per cent in calendar year 2019 and 2020. It said, India is less exposed to a slowdown in global manufacturing trade growth than other major Asian economies and emerging markets and is poised to grow at a relatively stable pace in the two years.
Fitch Cuts Growth Forecast for FY20 to 6.8% From 7%
Fitch Ratings on 22 March 2019 slashed India’s GDP growth forecast for the next fiscal to 6.8 per cent from 7 per cent estimated earlier on weaker than expected economic momentum. In its latest Global Economic Outlook, Fitch also slashed GDP growth forecast for current fiscal ending March 2019 to 6.9 per cent from 7.2 per cent projected in December. The 6.9 per cent estimate is lower than 7 per cent growth estimated by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for the current fiscal. Indian economy grew 7.2 per cent in 2017-18 fiscal.
Subhash Chandra Garg Designated as Finance Secretary
Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg was on 8 March 2019 named as the Finance Secretary. Garg, a 1983 batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre, has been working as the Secretary in Department of Economic Affairs since June 2017.
OECD Cuts Global Economic Growth Forecasts Again
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, on 6 March 2019, cut forecasts again for the global economy in 2019 and 2020, following on from previous downgrades in November, as it warned that trade disputes and uncertainty over Brexit would hit world commerce and businesses. It forecast in its interim outlook report that the world economy would grow 3.3 per cent in 2019 and 3.4 per cent in 2020. Those forecasts represented cuts of 0.2 percentage points for 2019 and 0.1 percentage points for 2020, compared to the OECD’s last set of forecasts in November.
India Ranks 76th on WEF’s Global Energy Transition Index
India has moved up two places to rank 76th on the WEF Energy Transition Index, compiled and released by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF) on 25 March 2019. Sweden remained on the top on this annual list. followed by Switzerland and Norway in the top three. The WEF said India is amongst the countries with high pollution levels and has a relatively high CO2 intensity in its energy system. While India has scored low in terms of system performance (ranking 97 and 86, respectively), it ranks considerably higher when it comes to readiness (45 and 61, respectively). China is ranked even lower than India at 82nd position, though it ranks very high at seventh place in the world for regulation and political commitment.

Finance

GST Council Approves Transition Plan for New Tax Rates for Real Estate Sector
In a move to aid the real estate sector, the all-powerful GST Council on 19 March 2019 approved a transition plan for the implementation of new tax structure for housing projects. As per the decision taken by the GST Council, the developers of residential projects which are incomplete as on March 31, will have option either to choose the old structure with Input Tax Credit (ITC) or to shift to new 5 per cent and 1 per cent rates without ITC. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley chaired the meeting.
Disinvestment Receipts Beat Target
The Government on 22 March 2019 said it has exceeded its disinvestment target for the current fiscal by Rs 5,000 crore and the proceeds have touched Rs 85,000 crore. The government has budgeted Rs 90,000 crore from disinvestment in the next fiscal. In FY18 it had raised Rs 1 lakh crore. Earlier in March 2019, Power Finance Corporation (PFC) acquired the government’s 52.63% stake in Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) for a total consideration of Rs 14,500 crore.
● In February 2019, the government had raised more than Rs 10,000 crore from the Bharat-22 ETF sale and another Rs 5,400 crore from its stake in Axis Bank held via Specified Undertaking of Unit Trust of India (SUUTI).
● The higher disinvestment receipts will provide some cushion against a likely shortfall in direct tax collections.
● In the revised estimates for FY19 presented in the budget on February 1, the government had lowered the gross tax collection target by Rs 23,000 crore.
● Rs 1 lakh crore shortfall in the goods and services tax collection for the year has been partly made up by Rs 50,000 crore higher corporate tax collections.
● Tax collections so far suggest the government may not be able to meet the revised target for FY19.
Net Direct Tax Collection Crosses Rs 10 Lakh Crore Mark
According to the latest data, the net direct tax collection figure has crossed the Rs 10 lakh crore mark as on 16 March 2019. The net direct tax collection during April-January of this fiscal stood at Rs 7.89 lakh crore as against Rs 12 lakh crore targeted for the entire fiscal of 2018-19. The government had earlier estimated the mop up from direct tax collection at Rs 11.5 lakh crore, which was revised upwards by Rs 50,000 crore in the interim Budget for 2019-20.
● The government in the interim Budget revised customs collection target from Rs 1.12 lakh crore to Rs 1.30 lakh crore.
● The GST collection is pegged at Rs 6.43 lakh crore for 201819, which is lower than the targeted Rs 7.43 lakh crore.
Total Government Liabilities Rise to Rs 83.4 Lakh Crore in Q3
According to the latest data on public debt, released on 8 March 2019, total liabilities of the government increased to Rs 83.40 lakh crore at the end of the December 2018 quarter from Rs 82.03 lakh crore in the previous quarter of the current fiscal. Public debt accounted for 89.5 per cent of total outstanding liabilities at the end of December 2018 with internal debt accounting for 83.3 per cent share.
Income Tax Exemption Limit on Gratuity Doubled to Rs 20 Lakh
The labour ministry on 7 March 2019 said that the income tax exemption limit on gratuity had been doubled to Rs 20 lakh from the existing Rs 10 lakh, a move that will benefit employees who are not covered by the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. The income tax exemption for gratuity has been enhanced under Section 10 (10) (iii) of the Income Tax Act, 1961

Agriculture

Walmart Foundation Supports IDEI Irrigation Project to Raise Incomes for 10,000 Smallholder Farmers
Ten thousand smallholder farmers in Andhra Pradesh are set to benefit from the introduction of sustainable irrigation products and practices under a program offered by International Development Enterprises – India (IDEI) and supported with funding from the Walmart Foundation. Providing a grant of US 750,000, the Walmart Foundation will help IDEI take its integrating smallholder farmers Into market systems program to ten districts in the state.
● The program aims to introduce sustainable irrigation products and practices and create a complementary support ecosystem that will boost farm yields, reduce negative environmental impacts, and increase market access and smallholder farmer income.
Cotton Production Estimate Cut Again, Output to hit 10-Year Low
The Cotton Association of India, in March 2019, said that the country’s cotton production is set to hit a 10-year low of 328 lakh bales this season mainly due to rain deficit in key states such as Gujarat, Karnataka, Telangana and Maharashtra. The trade body on 7 March 2019 cut its production estimate yet again, by 2 lakh bales of 170 kg each. It has now cut the production estimate by 8.6% from its first estimate of 348 bales during the past six months.

Industry & Infrastructure

Rail Vikas Nigam IPO Opens
Miniratna Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) came out with its first Initial public offering (IPO) on March 29, 2019. The state-owned company will not receive any proceeds from the offer as the Central Government is selling around 12 percent of its stake in the company. After the IPO, the Government’s stake in RVNL will be pegged at 88 percent.
● With this IPO, Rail Vikas Nigam will be the third rail PSU to be listed after RITES and IRCON International.
● The RITES is a consulting arm of the Indian Railways, while IRCON is into project execution.
Corporate Affairs Ministry Releases National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct
The Union Ministry of Corporate Affairs recently released the National Guidelines on responsible business conduct and revised the National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business, 2011. According to the guidelines,
● Businesses should conduct and govern themselves with integrity in a manner that is ethical, transparent and accountable;
● Businesses should provide goods and services in a manner that is sustainable and safe;
● Businesses should respect and promote the well-being of all employees, including those in their value chains; etc.
Cabinet Approves New Measures to Promote Hydro Power Sector
The Union Cabinet chaired in March 2019 approved measures to promote the Hydro Power Sector, which include declaring Large Hydropower Projects (HPO) as part of non-solar Renewable Purchase Obligation (RPO). Large Hydropower Projects to be declared as a renewable energy source. As per the existing practice, only hydropower projects less than 25MW are categorized as a renewable energy source.
Centre, ADB sign 926 million dollar loan agreement to operationalise two lines of Mumbai Metro: The Union Government on March 1, 2019 signed a 926 million dollar loan agreement to operationalise two of the Mumbai Metro Rail System. The move will ease the distress of millions of commuters each day and help provide a cleaner and less congested city. The project loan is the single largest infrastructure loan in ADB history. The project will be implemented by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
HDFC Bank Joins Reliance Industries, TCS in 100-Billion m-Cap Club
Private sector lender HDFC Bank has joined the 100-billion market capitalisation (M-cap) club. Including the value of its
American depository receipts (ADRs), the Mumbai-based lender’s market value currently is 101.6 billion. Only Reliance Industries (M-cap 123 billion) and Tata Consultancy Services ( 108 billion) have higher market value. At fourth and fifth place are consumer goods companies Hindustan Unilever and ITC, with market cap of 55 billion and 53 billion, respectively. India now has three companies in the global top 100 list in terms of market value. Reliance Industries (RIL) ranks 72, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is at 86 and HDFC Bank at 99.
Work on 36 New Waterways to Begin: IWAI
IWAI Chairman Jalaj Shrivastava on 1 March 2019 said that the government is committed to developing national waterways, and work on 36 of the 106 newly declared waterways would begin soon. The government declared 106 national waterways in 2016 in addition to the existing five, taking India’s total navigable inland waterways to 20,000 km.
Mumbai Airport Tops in ‘Over 40 m’ Passenger Category
The GVK-led Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) was recently awarded for being the best airport by size and region in the ‘Over 40 Million’ passenger category by the Airport Council International (ACI) World. The award was in recognition of excellence in customer experience in the Asia-Pacific region. This is the highest possible reward for any airport operator covering more than half of the world’s 8.3 billion passengers.
In a First in India, JNPT Handles 5 Million TEUs
State-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) was, in March 2019, announced to have handled 5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) this fiscal, becoming the first Indian port to scale the peak. The milestone came three decades after JNPT was built as a satellite port to de-congest Mumbai Port Trust with an investment of Rs. 1,109 crore, of which Rs. 956.97 crore was loaned by funding agencies, with the World Bank being one of the major contributors

External Sector

Donald Trump Plans to End India’s Preferential Trade Treatment
US President Donald Trump said on 4 March 2019 that he intended to end India’s preferential trade treatment under a programme that allows 5.6 billion worth of Indian exports to enter the United States duty free. Trump, who has vowed to reduce US trade deficits, has repeatedly called out India for its high tariffs. In a separate letter, Trump also informed the Congress of his intent to terminate the GSP beneficiary designation of Turkey. This was primarily because the economy of Turkey had improved a lot in the last four-and-a-half decades.
● Under the Generalized System of Preferences programme, certain products are allowed to enter the US duty-free if the beneficiary developing countries meet the eligibility criteria established by the US Congress.
● The eligibility criteria include respecting arbitral awards in favour of US citizens or corporations, combating child labour, respecting internationally recognised worker rights, providing adequate and effective intellectual property protection and providing the US with equitable and reasonable market access.
India Gets First TIR Shipment Via Chabahar Port From Afghanistan
The first shipment under the United Nations ‘Transports Internationaux Routiers’ (TIR) convention arrived in India from Afghanistan through Iran’s Chabahar Port on 13 March 2019. The consignments arrived at port of Nhava Sheva, Mumbai and Mundra.
US Trade Deficit With India Decreased by USD 1.6 Billion in 2018
According to the latest figures revealed by the Bureau of Economy Analysis on 6 March 2019, the trade deficit between India and the US decreased by USD 1.6 billion, almost seven per cent, in 2018 as compared to the previous year. India recorded a decrease in the deficit from USD 22.9 billion in 2017 to USD 21.3 billion in 2018.The US trade deficit in goods and services increased by USD 9.5 billion from USD 50.3 billion in November to USD 59.8 billion in December, according to the figures.
● For 2018, the US goods and services deficit was USD 621.0 billion, up USD 68.8 billion from USD 552.3 billion in 2017.
● Exports were USD 2,500.0 billion in 2018, up USD148.9 billion from 2017. Imports were USD 3,121.0 billion, up USD 217.7 billion from 2017.
● The figures showed that the goods deficit hit USD 891.3 billion in 2018, the largest in US history. America’s goods deficit with China hit a record USD 419.2 billion last year.
India-US Sign Pact for Exchange of Reports to Check Tax Evasion by MNCs
India and the US on 27 March 2019 signed an InterGovernmental Agreement for exchange of Country- by-Country (CbC) reports of multinational companies regarding income allocation and taxes paid to help check cross-border tax evasion. This agreement for exchange of CbC reports, along with the Bilateral Competent Authority Arrangement, will enable both the countries to automatically exchange CbC reports filed by the ultimate parent entities of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in the respective jurisdictions, pertaining to the years commencing on or after January 1, 2016.
● A CbC report aggregates country-by-country information relating to the global allocation of income, taxes paid, and certain other indicators of an MNC.
● It also contains a list of all the group companies operating in a particular jurisdiction and the nature of the main business activity of each such constituent entity.
● MNEs having global consolidated revenue of 750 million Euros or more (or a local currency equivalent) in a year are required to file CbC reports in their parent entity’s jurisdiction.
● The Indian rupee equivalent of 750 million Euros has been prescribed as Rs 5,500 crore in Indian rules.

Social Sector

India, World Bank Sign 250 Million Agreement to Boost Rural Income
The government, on 5 March 2019, signed a 250 million loan agreement with the World Bank for the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP) that aims to help women in rural households shift to a new generation of economic initiatives by developing viable enterprise for farm and non-farm products. The National Rural Economic Transformation project is additional financing to the 500 million National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) approved by the World Bank in July 2011.
UP, Bihar Fall Behind in Human Development Index as Rajasthan, UP Improve
According to SBI Research in a report that is based on the data from Subnational HDI for the states, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar did poorly on the human development index (HDI), as smaller states Haryana and Himachal improved in the last 27 years. Industrial Gujarat and Maharashtra slipped in the HDI ranking between 1990 and 2017, while Haryana has improved the most. The report is based on sub-national human development index data for Indian states from 1990 to 2017.
● Southern states continue to lead the pack on the crucial measure, where the country is ranked 130th globally, but are staring at a different trouble.
● The population in southern states is ageing fast and this can potentially result in imminent pressure on these states in terms of both social as well as physical inter-state migration.
● Rajasthan, UP, Odisha and MP have seen the largest jump in HDI value among the 25 major states.
● Interestingly, the report says one cannot establish a direct co-relation between social sector spends and HDI, which points to the presence of institutional bottlenecks, lack of awareness and implementation issues.
● From the perspective of spending public funds, Nagaland is at the bottom with a growth of 12.7 percent per annum over the past 27 years, while Haryana witnessed the fastest growth at 15.7 percent.
● Bengal had a 13.3 per cent growth in social sector spends ranking 19th, which is a slip of two notches since 1990.
● Gujarat slipped to 14 in 2017 from 12 in 1990, while Maharashtra slipped by one notch to 9, it said. The list is topped by Kerala, followed by Goa.
● The report expects Ayushman Bharat scheme, which provides health cover to the poor, can help improve HDI value both at the national and sub-national level in the coming years if rolled out “properly” and rolled out across the states.
Government Achieves 87 Per cent of 8 Crore Free LPG Connections Target
The government on 8 March 2019 gave out the 7-croreth free cooking gas (LPG) connection as the scheme to make available cleaner fuel in every household kitchens runs ahead of schedule. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said 7 crore connections have been realised in last 34 months under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) which translates into nearly 69,000 connections per day.
● PMUY was launched on May 1, 2016, with a target to give 5 crore connections to women member of poor households by March 2019. The target was later raised to 8 crore connections by 2021 and now envisages giving all households a connection.
● The scheme together with a government push to replace polluting firewood in kitchens has led to LPG coverage rising to 93 per cent of the population from 55 per cent in May 2014.
● The maximum 1.26 crore connections have been released in Uttar Pradesh followed by 78 lakh in West Bengal and 77.51 lakh in Bihar. As many as 63.31 lakh connections have been released in Madhya Pradesh and 55.34 lakh in Rajasthan

Policies

Cabinet Approves ‘Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana’
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March 2019 approved the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jaiv Indhan- Vatavaran Anukool Fasal awashesh Nivaran (JI-VAN) Yojana’ for providing financial support to the Integrated Bioethanol Projects. The scheme aims to incentivize 2G Ethanol sector and support the industry by creating a suitable ecosystem for setting up commercial projects and increasing Research & Development in this area. it will be supported with the total financial outlay of Rs 1969.50 crore for the period 2018-19 to 2023-24.
Government Leaves Interest Rate on Small-Saving Schemes Unchanged
The Finance Ministry on 29 March 2019 announced its decision to keep the interest rate unchanged on small savings schemes for the three-month period beginning April 1. The announcement covers small-saving schemes such as the Post Office Saving Accounts, Post Office Time Deposits, the National Saving Certificates (NSC), the Public Provident Fund (PPF), the Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) and Sukanya Samriddhi. Based on the recommendations of the Shyamala Gopinath panel, interest rates on these schemes are reviewed before the end of every quarter, and accordingly, new rates are announced for the next quarter.
Government Amends SEZ Rules
The government has amended the rules governing special economic zones (SEZ) to include value addition earning norms along with the existing positive net foreign exchange earning requirement to setup a unit, and prescribed criteria while renewing its validity. As per the updated rules, the “prescribed value addition earning requirement” will apply in the proposal to setup a unit in an SEZ, besides the positive net foreign exchange earning requirement.
● The government also said that in case an application is submitted after a period of two months, “reasonableness of the delay shall be examined on the merits and circumstances of the case”.
● For the purpose of work from home, the SEZ unit will have to provide laptop or desktop and secured connectivity such as virtual private network and virtual desktop infrastructure to establish a connection between the employee and work related to the project.
● As per the new norms, the SEZ unit also has to ensure that the work from home employee is not involved in the export of services from outside the unit.
NCLT Benches to be Set up at Amaravati, Indore
The government in March 2019 approved establishment of two new benches of National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), one at Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh and the other at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. The jurisdiction of Amaravati bench will be Andhra Pradesh and that of Indore will be Madhya Pradesh. At present, Andhra Pradesh comes under the jurisdiction of NCLT bench at Hyderabad and Madhya Pradesh comes under the jurisdiction of NCLT bench, Ahmedabad.
● Presently, there are 14 NCLT benches in the country, including the Principal Bench at New Delhi, and three recently added benches at Jaipur, Kochi and Cuttack.

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