1. March 29 - Mahavir Jayanti, the birth anniversary of 24th and last Jain Tirthankar Bhagwan Mahavir was celebrated across India. Lord Mahavir, through his teachings of non-violence and compassion, showed an enlightened path for happiness and progress of humanity. The day is considered to be one of the most auspicious events for Jain people and holds a lot of importance in their religious life.
1. The proposal for restructuring of National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to strengthen their governance, implementation and monitoring framework was approved by the Union Cabinet. The purpose of restructuring is also to ensure better corporate governance, transparency and accountability in operations of NSDC. Besides it will also strengthen oversight role of NSDF.
2. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between India and South Asian Cooperative Environment Programme (SACEP) for cooperation on response to Oil and Chemical Pollution in South Asian Seas Region was approved by the Union cabinet. The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation between India and other maritime nations comprising South Asian seas region namely Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for protection and preservation of marine environment in the region. As per the MoU , Indian Coast Guard under defence ministry will respond to oil and chemical spills on behalf of Government of India. Further, ICG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCCs) will be national emergency response centre for marine incidents.
3. The continuation of Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans Scheme has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). It also approved continuation and modification of Central Sector Interest Subsidy Scheme for period from 2017 to 2020. Under the revised scheme, the numbers of loans per year are expected to be at least 3.3 lakhs i.e. 20% increase over previous scheme. The scheme which ran since 2009, average educational loans per year were only 2.78 lakhs. This will provide education loans to 10 lakh students during this period. The restructuring of scheme is in accordance with policy of Government to make good quality education affordable to all. Ceiling on loan amount has been refixed at Rs. 7.5 lakhs, considering the average loan size only of Rs. 4 lakhs in order to allow more students to access the benefit. The moratorium period will be course period + 1 year.
4. Certain amendments to National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill considering recommendations of Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee (DRPSC) and general feedback from public were approved by the Union cabinet. The amendments approved are i) The final MBBS examination will be held as common exam throughout country. It will serve as exit test to be called National Exit Test (NEXT).ii) It removes provision dealing with bridge course for AYUSH practitioners to practice modern medicine to limited extent. Now state governments have been empowered to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary health care in rural areas.iii) The maximum limit of 40% seats for which fee will be regulated in private medical institutions and deemed universities has been increased to 50% seats. The fee will also include all other charges taken by colleges. iv) The nominees of States and UTs in National Medical Commission (NMC) have been increased from 3 to 6. TNMC will comprise of 25 members of which at least 21 will be doctors. V) It adds provision providing different options for warning, reasonable monetary penalty, reducing intake, stoppage of admission leading up to withdrawal of recognition on medical college non-compliant with norms.vi) It provides severe punishment for any unauthorized practice of medicine or by quacks with imprisonment of up to 1 year along with fine extending up to 1 year along with fine extending up to Rs. 5 lakhs.
5. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved new Integrated Scheme on School Education for period 2018 to 2020 to be formulated by Department of School Education and Literacy. The new scheme will subsume existing schemes related to education such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE). The scheme comes in backdrop of Government’s vision of Sabko Shiksha, Achhi Shiksha and aims to support the States in universalizing access to school education from classes pre-nursery to XII across the country. It will have estimated allocation of Rs 75,000 crore for the mentioned period is 20% increase over current allocations.
6. Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal directed all superintendents of police to ensure swift and correct filing of charge-sheet in all crimes against women and children so that justice can be given to the victims. He also directed the Deputy Commissioners and SPs to conduct intensive awareness campaigns so that people are made aware to prevent heinous crimes taking place against children and women in the state.
7. The two-day meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) between India and Pakistan began in New Delhi on March 29, 2018. The commission is expected to discuss various issues under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).The Indian delegation for the annual meeting comprises India's Indus Water Commissioner P K Saxena, a representative of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and technical experts. Pakistan's six-member delegation for the commission's 114th meeting is being led by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah. The meeting will take place in the backdrop of the continuing tension between the two countries over a host of issues, including the alleged harassment of diplomats.
1. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai returned to Pakistan on March 29, 2018, for the first time since she was shot by Taliban militants. Yousafzai, now aged 20 and a vocal human rights activist, was shot in the head by a gunman for campaigning for female education in 2012. She is expected to hold meetings with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Though the details of the trip have been kept secret in view of the sensitivity, it is expected to last for four days.
2. North and South Korea have agreed to hold a historic summit of their leaders on 27th April , 2018. This agreement came at a ministerial-level inter-Korean meeting held on March 29 in Panmunjom, North Korean. According to a joint news statement issued after the meeting, the officials from both the nations agreed that South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet at a South Korean facility in Panmunjom.The officials also agreed to hold working-level talks next Wednesday in Panmunjom to discuss matters such as protocol and security for the summit.
Science & Technology/Defence:
1. The Indian Space Research Organisation would be launching GSLV-F08 mission carrying the GSAT-6A communication satellite on March 29, 2018 from the second launch pad in Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The countdown for the mission started on March 28 following clearance from the Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board. GSAT-6A, similar to GSAT-6, is a high power S-band communication satellite built on I-2K satellite bus with a mission life of about ten years. The main feature of the satellite is providing mobile communication to India through multi beam coverage facility.
1. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson on March 29, 2018 replaced disgraced former Australian Vice-Captain David Warner as the captain of IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad. The decision was announced a day after the Australian was barred from the IPL for his role in the ball-tampering controversy in South Africa. Warner, declared the chief plotter of the infamous incident, apologised for his role in the scandal. He was the captain of SunRisers last season. The senior batsman has been banned for a year and ruled out of any leadership role in future due to the incident.