Current Affairs – 15th March 2017

Hello Readers, We bring you another issue of current affairs that covers the important news in Current Affairs Today Section.
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Indian Affairs

Cabinet approves Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Public- Private Partnership) Bill, 2017

15 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) declared as Institutes of National Importance.
The Union Cabinet has approved
i. Introduction of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Public Private Partnership (IIIT PPP) Bill, 2017;
ii. To grant statutory status to the fifteen Indian Institutes of Information Technology in Public Private Partnership and declare them as Institutions of National Importance;
iii. To enable these institutions to grant degrees to their students in the academic courses conducted by them.
There is no financial implication with regard to the proposed IIIT PPP Bill, 2017
The Bill will declare the existing Indian Institutes of Information Technology in Public Private Partnership as ‘Institutions of National Importance with powers to award degrees.
This will entitle them to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) or Master of Technology (M.Tech) or Ph.D degree as issued by a University or Institution of National Importance.
The grant of a formal degree in Information Technology, Engineering or Ph.D will enhance the prospects of the graduating students in the job market and will also enable the Institutes to attract enough students required to develop a strong research base in the country in the field of information technology.
The emerging needs of the industry and the economy, as a whole for skilled technical manpower is expected to be met from the talent pool of trained personnel of the institutes.
Every Institute shall be open to all – irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability, and domicile, and ethnicity, social or economic background. Academic Session has commenced in the following15 Institutes:-
Andhra Pradesh(Chittoor), Assam(Guwahati) Gujarat(Vadodara), Haryana(Sonipat), Himachal Pradesh(Una), Jharkhand(Ranchi), Karnataka(Dharwad), Kerala(Kottayam) Maharashtra (Nagpur & Pune), Manipur(Senapati), Rajasthan (Kota), Tamilnadu(Tiruchirappalli), Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow), Kalyani (West Bengal).

Andhra Pradesh Presents Around 1.57 Lakh Crore Budget for 2017-18

Andhra Pradesh Presents Around 1.57 Lakh Crore Budget for 2017-18
Andhra Pradesh Presents Around 1.57 Lakh Crore Budget for 2017-18
  • Andhra Pradesh on March 15 presented nearly Rs 1.57 lakh crore budget for 2017-18, the first after moving the state capital from Hyderabad to Amaravati.
  • Finance Minister Y Ramakrishnudu proposed total expenditure at 1.57 lakh crore, an increase of 15.71 per cent over the previous year.
  • This comprised revenue expenditure of Rs 1.26 lakh crore and capital expenditure of Rs 31,087 crore.The estimated revenue deficit is around Rs 416 crore and the fiscal deficit is estimated at around Rs 23,054 crore, 0.05 per cent and 3 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) respectively.
  • Highlights:

1.Revenue expenditure: Rs 1.25 lakh crore
2.Capital expenditure: Rs 31,087 crore
3.State’s revenue deficit in 2017-18: Rs 416 crore (0.05 per cent of Gross State Domestic Product)
4.Fiscal deficit: Rs 23,054 crore (3.0 percent of GSDP)
5.Under Vision 2029, the state is targeting a growth rate of 12 percent every year.

Centre Launches New Scheme TIES for Developing Export Linked Infrastructure

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, launched a new scheme — TIES — for developing export linked infrastructure in states with a view to promote outbound shipments.
Aim: TIES aims to bridge the infrastructure gap in India to ensure smoother movement of export cargo and also ensure quality standards and certification measures to promote outbound shipment.
The scheme, to be implemented from April 1, would have a budgetary allocation of Rs 600 crore for three years with an annual outlay of Rs 200 crore.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Presents Rs 1236 crore Deficit Budget

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Presents Rs 1236 crore Deficit Budget
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Presents Rs 1236 crore Deficit Budget

 
Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma on Wednesday tabled a Rs 1,236 crore deficit budget for the financial year 2017-18, in which he increased the tax slabs for transportation to raise additional revenue.
The Chief Minister also announced merger of the plan and non-plan expenditure to rationalise its budgetary allocations with a focus on development expenditure and synchronise the budgetary framework with that of the Union Government.
Highlights

  • Fiscal deficit is pegged at Rs 1236 crore which is around 3.8 percent of the GSDP.
  • Total receipts is estimated at Rs 12,510 crore out of which the revenue receipts are estimated at Rs 11,280 crore and capital receipts at Rs 1230 crore.
  • The total expenditure is estimated at Rs 12873 crore of which the revenue expenditure is estimated to be at Rs 10,648 crore while Rs 2225 crore as capital expenditure.
  • The advance estimates for Gross State Domestic Product for 2017-18 is Rs 29,566 crore. This is 10.55% more over this year’s current market price of Rs 26,745 crore.
  • The per capita income of the state at current price for the year 2016-17 stands at Rs 88,497 which is 8.26 percent increase over last year’s estimates of Rs 81,498.

Centre Approves 20 Ganga Cleaning Projects Worth Over Rs 1,900 Crore

Centre Approves 20 Ganga Cleaning Projects Worth Over Rs 1,900 Crore
Centre Approves 20 Ganga Cleaning Projects Worth Over Rs 1,900 Crore
  • The Executive Committee (EC) of National Mission for Clean Ganga has given approval for 20 new projects worth nearly Rs 1,900 crore during a meeting held on March 2, 2017.
  • Out of the 20 projects, 13 are in Uttarakhand, and rest in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
  • The project in Uttarakhand includes creating new sewage treatment plants (STPs), upgrading existing STPs and laying of sewage networks in Haridwar at an estimated cost of approximately Rs 415 crore.
  • In the National Capital, a project to construct new state-of-the-art 564 MLD Okhla sewage treatment plant with best effluent standards has also been approved at an estimated cost of Rs 665 crore.
  •  Besides, two projects for laying new sewage pipelines in Pitampura and Kondli to prevent leakages have also been approved at an estimated cost of more than Rs 100 crore in Delhi.
  •  Sewage related works in Karmalichak in Patna and Rajmahal in Jharkhand have also been given green signal for a cost of over Rs 335 crore.
  • A project under Hybrid-Annuity PPP model worth almost Rs 151 crore has also been approved to address the issue of pollution of Ganga in Varanasi.

International Vision Zero Conference’ on Occupational, Safety and Health

  • The international conference on the VISION ZERO and its relevance to Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), is being organized from 15th to 17th, March 2017 at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi by Directorate General Factory Advice and Labour Institutes (DGFASLI), Government of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment and German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), Germany in association with International Social Security Association (ISSA).
  • The conference aims to focus on the Occupational Safety and Health issues and challenges in the Manufacturing, Construction and Mining sector.
  • The conference will provide a forum for promoting safety and health at work by exchanging knowledge, practices and experience.
  • The conference is expected to introduce the fast emerging internationally accepted concept of ‘Vision Zero’ in India thereby leveraging the efforts of the Government of India to raise the occupational safety and health standards in the country.
  • The delegates include safety engineers, experts and professionals from different Public, Private and MNCs sector, managers, employers from different segments, occupational physicians and health professionals, supervisors, workers and members of the safety committees.There will be three plenary sessions in the conference during the three days dedicated exclusively to the manufacturing, construction and mines sectors.
  • The exhibition will provide the most efficient platform to support technological communication and business trade.
  • The exhibition segments will show-case personal protective equipment (PPEs), health at work, high-risk prevention, environmental protection at work, etc.

International Affairs

Saudi Arabia Inaugurates Girls’ Council But Without Any Girls

Saudi Arabia Inaugurates Girls’ Council But Without Any Girls
Saudi Arabia Inaugurates Girls’ Council But Without Any Girls
  •  In a bid to encourage women participation in workforce, Saudi Arabia has for the first time decided to launch a Girl’s Council.
  •  However, the encouraging initiative became more talk of the town, when none of the female member of the council was present on the stage at its first Qassim Girls Council meeting on March 14, 2017.
  •  The meeting in the al-Qassim province was attended by 13 male members while the women were present too but they were in another room, linked via video due to strict Saudi laws on gender segregation between unrelated men and women.
  •  The meeting was led by province governor, Prince Faisal bin Mishal bin Saud while the girls’ council is chaired by his wife, Princess Abir bint Salman.
  •  Saudi Arabia is taking steps to move toward loosening some of its rules and increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30% as part of its Vision 2030 programme.

Banking and Finance

SBI Announces One Time Settlement Scheme Worth Rs 6,000 cr for Tractor Loan

  • The country’s largest lender, State Bank of India, has announced a one-time settlement (OTS) scheme worth Rs 6,000 crore for tractor loans.
  • SBI Managing Director Rajnish Kumar said the lender was willing to take a haircut of 40 percent on outstanding tractor loans as of September 30, 2016.
  • He said accounts in the category of doubtful or loss as of September 30 for loans disbursed before September 2011 will be eligible. Proposals submitted till March 31 this year will be considered.
  • Kumar said a circular in this regard was issued to branches in early February and that the power of the loan waiver will lie in the hands of the branch manager.

India’s contribution to UN increases to Rs 244 crore

  • India’s contribution to the United Nations rose 55 per cent to Rs 244 crore in 2015-16 compared with the previous fiscal, the governemnt said today.
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Lok Sabha that the government had also made voluntary contributions to the tune of Rs 22 crore to international organisations, including UN agencies, in the last financial year.
  • The country contributed Rs 244 crore to the UN last fiscal compared with Rs 157 crore in 2014-15.
  • For the period 2016-18, India’s Scale of Assessment for the UN’s Regular and Peacekeeping budgets has been fixed at 0.737 per cent and 0.1474 per cent, respectively.

Appointments & Resigns

Babul Supriyo Named Vice-President Of FIFA U-17 World Cup LOC

Babul Supriyo Named Vice-President Of FIFA U-17 World Cup LOC
Babul Supriyo Named Vice-President Of FIFA U-17 World Cup LOC
  • Union Minister Babul Supriyo has been appointed vice-president of the FIFA U-17 World Cup organizing committee.
  • All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel, who is the chairman of Local Organising Committee confirmed.
  • The showpiece event, to be hosted by India for the first time, will be played from October 6 to 28.
  • A FIFA team is scheduled to visit India from March 21 to 27 for the final inspection of the facilities in the six cities which will host matches of the U-17 World Cup.

BJP Leader N Biren Singh Sworn in as Chief Minister of Manipur

BJP Leader N Biren Singh Sworn in as Chief Minister of Manipur
BJP Leader N Biren Singh Sworn in as Chief Minister of Manipur
  • Footballer-turned-politician N Biren Singh was sworn in as the first BJP chief minister of Manipur and the party’s third CM after the ones in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in the Northeast.
  • Singh was given oath of office by governor Najma Heptulla at Raj Bhavan.
  • Prominent BJP officials, including Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, power minister Piyush Goyal, Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal and party general secretary Ram Madhav were present.
  • Seven of the eight ministers who were sworn in belong to allies. Four are from National People’s Party (NPP), one each from Naga People’s Front (NPF) and Lok Janshakti Party.

Justice Sharma sworn in as Upalokayukta of Assam

Justice Sharma sworn in as Upalokayukta of Assam
Justice Sharma sworn in as Upalokayukta of Assam

Former Judge of the Gauhati High Court Chittaranjan Sharma has sworn in as Assam’s Upalokayukta by Governor Banwarilal Purohit on March 14, 2017
About Lokayukta

  • The Lokayukta (also Lok Ayukta) is an anti-corruption ombudsman organization in the Indian states.
  • For the very first time the Maharashtra state has been initiated Lokayukta in year 1971 and at present the Lokayukta system is functioning in 17 states.
  • The state government will appoint Lokayukta.

US Senate confirms Seema Verma for health care post 

US Senate confirms Seema Verma for health care post
US Senate confirms Seema Verma for health care post
  • President Donald Trump’s pick to run Medicare and Medicaid, Indian-American Seema Verma, won confirmation on Monday from a divided Senate as lawmakers braced for another epic battle over the government’s role in health care and society’s responsibility toward the vulnerable.
  • An Indiana health care consultant and a protégé of Vice President Mike Pence, Verma was approved by a 55-43 vote, largely along party lines.
  • She’ll head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a $1 trillion agency that oversees health insurance programs for more than 130 million people, from elderly nursing home residents to newborns. It’s part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • It’s part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Shashank Manohar resigns as ICC chairman

Shashank Manohar resigns as ICC chairman
Shashank Manohar resigns as ICC chairman

First independent chairman of ICC, Shashank Manohar(59) has resigned from the post with an immediate effect on March 15, 2017.
Manohar sent his resignation letter to ICC chief executive David Richardson.
 

IndusInd Bank acquires brokerage firm IL&FS Securities Services

IndusInd Bank acquires brokerage firm IL&FS Securities Services
IndusInd Bank acquires brokerage firm IL&FS Securities Services
  • IndusInd BankBSE 1.83 % will acquire brokerage firm IL&FS Securities Services in an all-cash deal subject to regulatory approvals,
  • IL&FS Securities an arm of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd, (IL&FS) also includes depository and custodial services. It has 1,000 brokers, FPI’s and FII’s as clients. The value of the deal was not disclosed.
  • This acquisition will help IndusInd add to its existing base of more than 500 brokers.

Business

Chennai Port Trust signs MoU with the Government of Puducherry for handling EXIM cargo

Chennai Port Trust signs MoU with the Government of Puducherry for handling EXIM cargo
Chennai Port Trust signs MoU with the Government of Puducherry for handling EXIM cargo
  • A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Chennai Port Trust and the Government of Puducherry in New Delhi today for handling EXIM cargo originating from Puducherry Port hinterland.
  • The MoU envisages that Chennai Port Trust will assist Puducherry Port in handling its export cargo.
  • The cargo originating from Puducherry Port hinterland will be transported through sea mode to Chennai Port for shipping to overseas destinations through mainline and feeder vessels.
  • The MoU was signed by Chairman, Chennai Port Trust and Chief Secretary, Government of Puducherry in the presence of Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, Sh. V. Narayansamy , Chief Minister, Puducherry, Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya, Union Minister of State for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways and other dignitaries.
  • Around 5 Lakh to 10 Lakh tonnes of cargo is expected to be handled. He said that once this arrangement becomes operational, road congestion will reduce substantially as almost 300 trucks will go off road.
  • The MoU is expected to promote industrial growth in the region, generate substantial employment and attract investment by major industries.

Bhel’s first 800 MW supercritical plant operational

Bhel’s first 800 MW supercritical plant operational
Bhel’s first 800 MW supercritical plant operational
  • Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited owned by the Government of India partnered with Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd (KPCL) has commenced commercial operations of its first highest-rating coal-basedsupercritical thermal power plant 800 MW unit.
  • The company has supplied and executed 4,010 MW of coal-based sets for KPCL and its joint ventures, which account for 95 per cent of the utility’s coal-based installed capacity.
  • BHEL is also executing KPCL’s first gas-based combined cycle power project of 370-MW capacity involving a fuel-efficient advanced-class gas turbine at Yelahanka, Bengaluru.

Tata Steel & Wipro Named Among World’s Most Ethical Companies

  • Two Indian companies, Tata Steel and Wipro, have been named in the list of world’s most ethical companies by American think tank Ethisphere Institute.
  • Wipro is one among the two Information technology category firm named in the list. The other firm in that category is US based Xerox Corporation.
  • Besides, Tata Steel is also one of the two companies named in the metals, minerals and mining category. US-based Schnitzer Steel Industries Inc is the other company in this segment.
  • World’s Most Ethical Companies 2017 list consists of124 firms from 5 continents, 19 countries and 52 industry sectors. There are 8 new firms in the list in 2017.

Environment

World’s Oldest Plant-Like Fossils Found In Madhya Pradesh, India

World’s Oldest Plant-Like Fossils Found In Madhya Pradesh, India
World’s Oldest Plant-Like Fossils Found In Madhya Pradesh, India
  • Scientists have discovered 1.6 billion-year-old fossils of red algae in central India, which may be the oldest evidence of plant-like life found on the Earth.
  • The finding in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh by researchers from the Swedish Museum of Natural History indicate that advanced multicellular life evolved much earlier than previously thought.
  • The earliest traces of life on Earth are at least 3.5 billion years old. These single-celled organisms, unlike eukaryotes, lack nuclei and other organelles.
    Large multicellular eukaryotic organisms became common much later, about 600 million years ago, near the transition to the Phanerozoic Era, the “time of visible life.”
  • Discoveries of early multicellular eukaryotes have been sporadic and difficult to interpret, challenging scientists trying to reconstruct and date the tree of life.
  • The oldest known red algae before the present discovery are 1.2 billion years old. The Indian fossils, 400 million years older and by far the oldest plant-like fossils ever found, suggest that the early branches of the tree of life need to be recalibrated.
  • The scientists found two kinds of fossils resembling red algae in uniquely well-preserved
    sedimentary rocks at Chitrakoot.

Sports

Joanna Rowsell Shand Announces Retirement from International Cycling

Joanna Rowsell Shand Announces Retirement from International Cycling
Joanna Rowsell Shand Announces Retirement from International Cycling
  • Two times Olympic gold medallist Joanna Rowsell Shand announced her retirement from international cycling on March 14, 2017.
  • The 28-year-old track cyclist won gold in the women’s team pursuit at London Olympics 2012 and Rio Olympics 2016.
  • After retirement, Britain’s Rowsell-Shand is in the process of setting up her own coaching company named Rowsell Shand Coaching.
  • She will continue cycling and take part in the 180km L’Etape du Tourin France in July 2017.

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