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Daily Current Affairs for March 16-17,2018 ( English)

National:
1.     Pranab Mukherjee Foundation was launched on March 15, 2018 at a function at the official residence of former President where Pranab Mukherjee and Tata Group head Ratan Tata jointly inaugurated the foundation to initiate, support and execute projects aimed at improving the quality of life of people.
2.     The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in December 2017 launched 'LaQshya' Initiative- 'Labour Room Quality Improvement Initiative'. It is expected to improve the quality of care provided to the pregnant mother in the Labour Room and Maternity Operation Theatres with an aim to prevent undesirable adverse outcomes associated with childbirth. It will be implemented in government Medical Colleges (MCs) besides District Hospitals (DHs), and high delivery load Sub- District Hospitals (SDHs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs). It is being implemented to ‘fast-track’ interventions for achieving tangible results.
3.     World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Energy Transition Index (ETI) released as part of report titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition. India was ranked at 78th among 114 countries on World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Energy Transition Index  (ETI) released as part of report titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition.Top 10 countries in Energy Transition Index were Sweden (1st), Norway (2nd), Switzerland (3rd), Finland (4th), Denmark (5th), Netherlands (6th), the UK (7th), Austria (8th), France (9th) and Iceland (10th).
4.     The Ministry of Environment and Forests gave environmental clearance to India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project to be established in Bodi West hills in Tamil Nadu.  It was clarified that there will be no impact of blasting on any habitation in the vicinity due to INO project. It was informed also that there was no scope for radioactivity and leaching of water.
5.     The Lok Sabha passed the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to empower government to fix period of maternity leave and tax-free gratuity amount with an executive order. The Bill seeks to amend the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. It allows for payment of gratuity to employees in any establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port, railways, company, or shop employing 10 or more workers.  The Bill removes the existing ceiling of Rs 10 lakh amount of gratuity payable to an employee and states that the ceiling may be notified by the central government.
6.       Haryana became third state, after Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to have provision of capital punishment for such sexual offenders. The Haryana Assembly unanimously passed Criminal Law (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2018 providing for death penalty for convicts found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less.
7.       Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill 2018 was passed by Arunachal Pradesh Assembly to do away with the Anchal Samiti, the intermediate level of the three-tier panchayati raj system and set up a two-tier system in the state. This is being done as per 73rd Amendment of Constitution that enables state having less than 20 lakh population not to have intermediate level and Arunachal has population of 13.84 lakh. Three-tier panchayati raj institutions were set up in state in 2003, 2008 and 2013, and elections for next five-year term were due in April-May 2018. The purpose of setting up two-tier panchayati raj system in state is to standardis use of financial resources due to poor resource base.
8.       Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017 has passed by the Lok Sabha to further ease procedures for doing business in the country. The Bill seeks to amend the Specific Relief Act, 1963. The Bill seeks to remove conditions of specific performance is limited right, which may be given by court at its discretion and permit specific performance by courts as general rule.
9.       Maharashtra Government has banned use of plastic in time-bound manner, citing environmental and public health concerns. The ban will include plastic bags, thermocol, disposable cups and plates, cutlery, non-woven polypropylene bags, plastic pouches and packaging. The decision was taken at cabinet meeting led by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
10.   The fifth edition of Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) 2017 report released by Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation, Janaagraha. Pune was ranked first among 23 cities across India in terms of quality of urban governance. The objective of survey was to measure preparedness of cities to deliver high quality infrastructure and services in long term by evaluating city syst ems. It spans 23 Indian cities and factors in answers to 89 questions .These questions are classified on four categories viz. urban planning & design, urban capacities & resources, transparency, accountability & participation and empowered & legitimate political representation.
11.   105th session of Indian Science Congress (ISC) at Manipur Central University in Imphal was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The focal theme of 5-day ISC is “Reaching the Unreached through Science & Technology”.
12.   Jaipur will co-host 8th Theatre Olympics, the largest international theatre festival being held for the first time in India. As a co-host, it will provide great opportunity to highlight the cultural heritage of Rajasthan. It will provide platform to number of folk art forms and theatre performers from state have. Some of folk art forms like Swaang, Gawri among others will be showcased during the theatre festival. The 8th edition of Theatre Olympics was inaugurated by Vice president Venkaih Naidu in New Delhi in February 2018. The theme of festival is – “Flag of Friendship“. The event was organised by National School of Drama (NSD). The 51-day long nationwide theatre extravaganza will cover 17 cities in India with more than 25,000 artists performing 450 shows, 600 ambience performances and 250 youth show. 30 countries participated in the festival from across the globe. The Jaipur chapter of Theatre Olympics 2018 is organised by National School of Drama (NSD) under the aegis of Ministry of Culture in collaboration with Ravindra Manch Society and Art & Culture Department, Rajasthan Government.

International:
1.     A global human rights body Amnesty India on March 15, 2018 launched 'Halt the Hate' website to track alleged hate crimes in India against marginalised people such as the Dalits, Adivasis, religious minority groups and transgenders.
2.     Chinese scientists developed artificial heart using Rocket Technology and it is currently undergoing testing experiments on animals. The heart was developed jointly by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) and Teda International Cardiovascular Hospital in North China’s Tianjin. The artificial heart uses magnetic and fluid levitation from rocket system. This technology used can reduce damage to the blood and enable pumping of blood to work longer.
Science & Technology/defence:
1.       India’s first cloned Assamese buffalo male calf named Sach-Gaurav was born in Hisar, Haryana. This credit goes to The Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) It was born to Murrah buffalo, at Hi Tech Sach Dairy Farm, 100 kms from cloning laboratory, making it first buffalo calf to be born in field.
Appointments/Resignations:
1.       Angela Merkel was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany for a fourth term on March 15, 2018 after lawmakers voted to re-elect her as leader in a close vote.

2.       Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico officially resigned, less than three weeks after the murder of an investigative reporter Kuciak and his fiancee Kusnirova.

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