1. March 23 - Youth Empowerment Day. The Punjab Government observed March 23, 2018, the martyrdom day of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, Shaheed Sukhdev and Shaheed Rajguru as 'Youth Empowerment Day'. In the state-level function organised at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of Bhagat Singh in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh paid homage to the three freedom fighters. To mark the occasion, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh also launched a state-wide programme to administer the oath to Drug Abuse Prevention Officers (DAPOs). Programmes at the district level were presided by the state ministers.
2. March 24 - World Tuberculosis Day (WTD) is observed every year to raise public awareness about the global epidemic of Tuberculosis (TB) and efforts to eliminate the disease. The theme of World TB Day 2018 is “Wanted: Leaders for a TB-free world”. WTD is observed to commemorate discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacillus (bacteria) causing TB on 24th March, 1882 by German microbiologist Robert Koch.
1. Krem Puri- the world’s longest sandstone cave was discovered near Laitsohum village in Mawsynram area in East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. This sandstone cave is also India’s second longest cave in general category after limestone Krem Liat Prah-Umim-Labit system. The cave is 24,583 metres (24.5 km) in length and is known for its complex cave systems hidden under its undulating hills. Krem Puri cave system also has fossils of dinosaurs, especially Mosasaurus, a giant reptile that lived 66-76 million years ago.
2. NAIPUNYA RATHAM or World on Wheels- the multi utility vehicle was launched at State Secretariat in capital Amaravathi , by Andhra Pradesh Government ‘s Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu. As a part of Smart village Smart Ward Programme ,it will facilitate and look to improve digital literacy, digital skills and create awareness on various government schemes that are underway in Andhra Pradesh. It is aimed at taking technology and innovation to the remote corners of Andhra Pradesh. The first phase of Naipunya Ratham will cover 13 districts and 28 smart villages in collaboration with Hewlett Packard (HP), Entrepreneurship Development. State Government will soon roll out 12 more Naipunya Rathams by May 2018.
3. Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 has been passed by the parliament to empower government to fix period of maternity leave and tax-free gratuity amount with an executive order. The Bill seeks to amend Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 on two issues related to maternity leave and ceiling of gratuity payable to an employee. Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 allows for payment of gratuity to employees in any establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port, railways, company, or shop employing 10 or more workers. Under it, employees are paid gratuity if they have provided at least 5 years of continuous service at time of termination. Gratuity is calculated based on 15 days of wages for each year of continuous and complete service, subject to a ceiling.
4. Renowned Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma’s untitled painting of Tilottama was sold for $795,000 (around Rs 5 crore) at Sotheby’s Modern and Contemporary South Asian art auction in New York. The winning bid was made by anonymous private collector.
5. India’s first Sign Language Dictionary of 3000 words has been launched by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. The dictionary has been developed by Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLR&TC) under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD). This dictionary is available in both print and video formats. It will help to bring uniformity in sign languages which are used by differently abled people especially people with hearing or speech impairment. ISL dictionary consists of various categories of words for example legal terms, medical terms, academic terms, technical terms and daily use words. It has English and Hindi terms to help deaf children to learn English.
6. ‘Videsh Aaya Pradesh ke Dwaar’- an engagement programme with regional media in Hyderabad, Telangana was launched by the External Publicity and Public Diplomacy Division of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The initiative aims enhance public diplomacy outreach of MEA and its commitment to take objectives of foreign policy to people at grassroot-level.
7. The first-ever National Conference on Drug Law Enforcement was held in New Delhi. It was inaugurated by Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir. The 2-day conference was organized by Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Ministry of Home Affairs. NCB is nodal drug law enforcement and intelligence agency of India. It is responsible for fighting drug trafficking and the abuse of illegal substance.
8. The Union Government has decided to declare 2018 as 'National Year of Millets to boost the cultivation of millets like ragi and jowar on a mission mode to achieve nutritional security. The information was shared by Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh while addressing MPs in a consultative committee meeting in New Delhi on March 22, 2018. The Minister said that millet cultivation in India has declined due to change in dietary habits and unavailability of millets. As a result of this, level of nutrients like proteins, Vitamin-A, iron and iodine have fell in women and children.
9. The voting for 25 Rajya Sabha seats spread over 7 states, which began at 9 am on March 23, 2018 concluded at 4 pm on the same day. The counting of votes was undertaken at 5 PM in the state capitals. Among a total of 58 Rajya Sabha seats to be filled, 33 candidates from 10 states were declared elected unopposed on March 15. Seven union ministers including Ravi Shankar Prasad and Prakash Javadekar were among them. Voting for the remaining 25 seats was held in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana and Kerala. While in Uttar Pradesh, 11 candidates are in the fray for 10 seats, in West Bengal six candidates are in the fray for 5 seats. In the remaining states, three candidates are contesting for two seats in Jharkhand, five candidates are in the field in Karnataka for four seats and four candidates are in the fray for three seats in Telangana.
10. The Delhi High Court on March 23, 2018 set aside the Centre's notification disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs in the office-of-profit case. The ruling was passed by a two-judge bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Chander Shekhar, who remanded the plea of AAP MLAs back to the Election Commission which will hear it afresh. Terming the Election Commission's recommendation on disqualification as vitiated, the bench stated that there was a violation of natural justice and no oral hearing was given to the MLAs before disqualifying them as legislators of the Delhi Assembly.
1. An agreement to create African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), one of the world’s largest free trade blocs have signed by the 44 African countries from total 55 members of African Union (AU).The agreement was signed at a summit held in Kigali, Rwanda. AfCFTA will bring together 1.2 billion people with combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion from entire continent of Africa comprising 55 countries.
2. US President Donald Trump has announced 60 billion US dollar tariffs on China for its alleged unfair trade practices. President Trump directed US Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to announce within 15 days a proposed list of products to be hit with the tariff raise. The USTR has already identified potential targets- 1,300 product lines worth about 48 billion dollars. Besides this, Trump also asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to come up with a list of restrictions on Chinese investment. The US currently has about 500 billion dollars of trade deficit with China.
Science & Technology/ defence:
1. The launch of India’s second lunar mission ‘Chandrayaan-2’ has been postponed from April 2018 to Oct-Nov, 2018 by ISRO as experts have suggested more tests. It will be launched on board of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV-F10). The spacecraft (orbiter) weighs around 3,290 kg and it will orbit around moon and perform objectives of remote sensing moon.
2. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has entered into Technology Transfer Agreement (TTA) with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) to transfer technology for manufacturing space grade Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) cells. The ISRO uses Li-Ion batteries as power sources for satellite and launch vehicle applications due to their high energy density, reliability and long cycle life. Lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is type of rechargeable battery that contains several cells.
3. The global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose to historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes in 2017 due to higher energy demand and slowing of energy efficiency improvements according to International Energy Agency (IEA). The global energy demand rose by 2.1% in 2017 to 14,050 million tonnes of oil equivalent, more than twice previous 2016 rate, boosted by strong economic growth. The demand raised by 0.9% in 2016 and 0.9% on average over previous 5 years.
4. Fluorimeter, an instrument to measure traces of uranium in water has been developed by the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), an Indore-based unit of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). The device is capable of examining traces of uranium in sample of water from 0.1 PPB (Parts-per-billion) unit to 100 PPB. It costs around Rs 1 lakh. For mass production of this instrument, DAE has transferred its technology to its other unit, Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL). The device will be especially helpful in areas like Punjab where uranium traces in water sources have been found to be at dangerous levels. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) has fixed permissible radiological limit to 60 PPB of uranium concentration for drinking water.
5. Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was successfully flight-tested for first time with indigenously developed seeker at Pokhran test range, Rajasthan. So far, seeker, a critical technology in missiles was imported from Russia. During the test missile with India-made seeker flew in its designated trajectory and target with pin-point accuracy. The indigenous seeker was developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Hyderabad, in collaboration with other DRDO labs. It is considered as significant milestone in indigenous missile technology and would reduce import dependence.
6. INS Ganga (F22)- Indian Navy’s indigenously built warship was decommissioned in Mumbai, Maharashtra after over three decades of service. INS Ganga (F22) was a Godavari-class guided-missile frigate of the Indian Navy. It was built by Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai and was commissioned into Indian Navy on 30 December 1985. The Godavari class was first indigenous warship design and development initiative of Indian Navy.
1. World’s first brass futures contracts have launched by India’s largest commodities exchange platform, Multi Commodity Exchange of India Limited (MCX). It will facilitate brass stakeholders to hedge their price risk. MCX Brass futures will be the first non-ferrous contract with compulsory delivery option. It will provide its stakeholders with more organised and robust price discovery platform. MCX is country’s first listed commodity futures exchange that facilitates online trading, and clearing and settlement of commodity futures transaction thereby providing platform for risk management.
1. John R Bolton (Former US Ambassador to the United Nations) has been appointed as the new National Security Adviser to US President Donald Trump, replacing Lt Gen H R McMaster. Bolton would be assuming his new role from April 9, 2018. The announcement in this regard was made by President Trump through his twitter handle.
Awards & Honours:
1. Abel Prize 2018 – the prestigious prize was won by Canadian mathematician Robert P. Langlands (81) for his visionary programme connecting representation theory to number theory. He will receive the award from Norway’s King Harald V at an award ceremony in Oslo in May 2018. It is awarded annually by Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters to one or more outstanding mathematicians. The award was established by Government of Norway in 2001 and awarded annually since 2003. It is named after 19th century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.
1. The world badminton governing body, BWF released its latest ranking list on March 22, 2018. The list saw India shuttler HS Prannoy jump up four places to regain his world number 12 spot. Indian men's doubles combo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have also managed to break into the top 20 in the latest ranking. Another duo of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy also improved to stand at the 24th position. Second-ranked Kidambi Srikanth also narrowed his gap with world no 1 Viktor Axelsen. P V Sindhu however, remained static at the third sport. Saina Nehwal, who was ousted on the opening day of All England Open 2018, also remained static at the 12th spot. Sai Praneeth however, slipped to the 15th position due to his first-round exit at All England Open.