Daily Current Affairs - 15-03-2021

The Central Government has informed the Lok Sabha on March 15, 2021 that, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) is not being privatized.


This information was provided by the government in a reply to a supplementary question during the Question Hour in Lok Sabha. The Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, also stated that the government will be bringing the Initial Public Offer (IPO) to bring in transparency and valuation. He also replied that, the IPO will increase the investment in LIC. The decision regarding the percentage for shareholders will be taken later.

Initial public offering (IPO)

IPO is also called as the stock market launch. It is a public offering where the shares of company are sold to the institutional investors. It can also be sold to the retail (individual) investors. The public offering is underwritten by one or more investment banks. These banks also arrange the shares which are listed on one or more stock exchanges. Through this process a privately held company is transformed into the public company. This mechanism can be used to raise new equity capital for the companies. It can also monetize the investments of the private shareholders like company founders or private equity investors.

Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)

LIC is an Indian government owned insurance and investment corporation. It was established on September 1, 1956. The company was established by the Life Insurance of India Act. This act nationalized the insurance industry across India. The state-owned LIC was created by merging over 245 insurance companies and provident societies.

The 27-years-old Indian Fencer, Bhavani Devi, has created a history and has become the first Indian fencer to qualify for Olympics in Women’s individual Sabre. The fencer finds her place in the Tokyo Olympics by the “Adjusted Official ranking method” on March 14, 2021. Now the fencer will take part in the Tokyo Olympics which is scheduled to be organised from July 23, 2021 to August 8, 2021.

About Bhavani Devi

Her complete name is Chadalavada Anandha Sundhararaman Bhavani Devi. She was born on 27 August 1993.  The Indian sabre is supported by GoSports Foundation under the Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Programme. Bhavani Devi has been trained by Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach Sagar Lagu in the SAI Training Center at Thalassery apart from her training in Italy.

Her achievements

The Indian fencer had won a Bronze medal at 2009 Common Wealth Championship held in Malaysia. In the year 2010, she won Bronze medals in the International Open of Thailand. She also won 2010 Cadet Asian Championship in Philippines. In the year 2014, she won a silver medal in the Asian Championship under 23 category in Philippines and become the first Indian to achieve the medal. She also became the first Indian to win the gold medal at the senior Commonwealth Fencing Championship in Canberra. In the event, she beat Catriona Thomson from Scotland in the semi-finals and England’s Emily Ruaux for the finals. As of September 2020, she is ranked at the 45th position across the with 37.0 points.

Tokyo Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics will be organised from July 23 to August 28, 2021. The Olympics were earlier scheduled to be held in 2020 but the games were postponed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, a fire broke in the Shetrunjay Hills reserve forest area of Gujarat. The forest area is the habitat of Asiatic lions in the Bhavnagar territorial forest division. The fire had engulfed an area of about 200 hectares before it was bought under control on March 14, 2021.

Key Facts

The officers of the Bhavnagar territorial forest division highlighted that the fire started in the revenue area of Kanjarda village of Palitana taluka. Later it spread to the Shetrunjay Dungar Reserve Forest.

Shatrunjaya or Shetrunjaya

The hills are located in Palitana city of Bhavnagar district in Gujarat. The hills are located on the banks of river Shetrunji and are considered as a sacred hill by Jains. It has an altitude of164 feet above sea level. These hills are similar to other hills where Jain temples have been built in Gwalior, Mount Abu, Bihar and Girnar. The hills are bounded by the Gulf of Khambhat in the south and Bhavnagar town in the north.


The Jain’s sacred hill of Shatrunjaya comprises of 865 temples on it. These hills were sanctified when Rishabha gave his first sermon atop the hill. Rishabha was the first tirthankara of Jainism. The ancient history related to the hills can also be traced to Pundarika Swami who was a chief Ganadhara and grandson of Rishabha. Swami had attained Nirvana or Moksha on the hill.

Shetrunji River

It is an eastward-flowing river in Gujarat. The river rises in the northeast of Gir Hills. The river has a maximum length of 227 kilometres.

The United States has become the second biggest oil suppliers of India by overtaking Saudi Arabia. This shift comes after the refiners boosted cheaper U.S. crude purchases to a record levels in order to offset the OPEC+ supply cuts.

Key points

The switch in supplies were triggered by the lower U.S. crude demand. It was also coincided with the voluntary extra 1 million bpd output cut by the Saudi Arabia in line with the agreement of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies (OPEC+) so as to maintain the lower production.

India’s oil import

The oil import of India from the world’s top producer, United States had increased to 48 per cent to stand at a record of 545,300 barrels per day (bpd) in February 2021.  This accounted for 14 per cent of the overall imports of India in February.  On the other hand, the import of India from Saudi Arabia decreased by 42 per cent from January 2021. It fell down to a decade-low of 445,200 bpd. As a result, Saudi Arabia, which has consistently been one of top two suppliers of oil to India, fell down to position 4 for the first time since 2006.


India is the third biggest oil importer and consumer in the world. The country had repeatedly been calling on the major oil producers in order to ease the supply curbs and aid the global economic recovery. India had also pointed to Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cuts in contributing to increase in the price of oil globally.

Top seller

As per the data, Iraq continued to be the top oil seller to India. The top position was maintained even though the oil purchases have declined by 23 per cent in five-month low to 867,500 bpd. Iraq has also cut the annual supplies of oil to Indian refiners by 20 percent in 2021 to meet the obligations under the OPEC’s production deal.

A Hong Kong based scientist has developed a method that uses the machine learning and artificial intelligence and scan the retinas of children in order to detect the early childhood autism.

Key points

The new technology can scan the retinas of children young as six years and help in identifying the risk of autism. The commercial version of the technology will hopefully be developed by the end of year 2021.

About the new technology

The new technology uses a high-resolution camera along with a new computer software. The software analyses the combination of factors such as blood vessels and fibre layers in the eye which can help in identifying the children at risk of autism. Once the risk of autism is identified, better treatment programmes can be implemented on time.

How this technology was tested?

Using the technology seventy children, 46 with autism and the control group of 24, were tested. The average age of the children was 13 years old. The technology performed well to identify the children with autism. The success rate of the technology was found to be 95.7 percent.

About Autism

It is a developmental disorder which is characterized by difficulties of social interaction and communication. The condition is also characterised by a restricted and repetitive behaviour. The signs of the autism are usually identified during first three years of the child. The signs of the autism are developed gradually. This disorder is associated with the combination of genetic and environmental factors. Autism is estimated to affect about 24.8 million people across the world as of 2015. As of 2017, in the developed countries, 1.5% of children are diagnosed with this disorder. This disorder occurs more often in males than in females.

The Jammu & Kashmir Administrative Council has given approval for the proposal of the Housing and Urban development department to provide interest-free loans up to Rs 2 lakh. The approval was given under the leadership of Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha.

Key points

After the approval has been given, the interest-free loans up to Rs. 2 lakhs will be given to the urban houseless and economically weaker section beneficiaries. The loans will be given under the Construction- BLC component of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Urban (PMAY-U) scheme.  The interest-free loans will be provided for a period of 10 years. It also comprises of a moratorium of six months. The loan amount is repayable by a monthly instalment of Rs. 2,500. This approval is in line with the aim of central government to provide affordable housing to economically weaker sections in the country.

Significance of the move

The interest-free loan given by the government will provide an additional benefit to the beneficiaries. In total, the benefits will be over and above the financial assistance of Rs. 1.66 lakh which has been already provided to beneficiaries of PMAY-U. With this approval, the beneficiaries of the scheme can now avail Rs. 3.66 lakh to construct their dwelling units.

BLC Component of the scheme

Under the Beneficiary-Led Individual House Construction (BLC) component, the PMAY-U scheme currently benefits 41,992 beneficiaries. However, such beneficiaries in the Jammu & Kashmir have been experiencing difficulty to mobilize their contribution because they belong to the economically weaker sections. Further, they contribute for a higher share when compared to the shares of other states and UTs. As a result, the construction of dwelling units of BLC component of the scheme has not yet achieve the desired target. Following this, the beneficiaries demanded to enhance the assistance given to them so that they could complete the construction of houses in specified time. Thus, the state government given its approval to provide interest-free loans to all the beneficiaries.

The 63rd Grammy Awards, 2021 were organised in the Los Angeles in a socially distanced manner amid the covid-19 pandemic on March 14, 2021.


The award ceremony witnessed the first-ever Grammys conferred to Meghan Thee Stallion and Harry Styles. However, the K-pop group could not win the Grammy this year which turned disappointing For BTS fans. During the ceremony, Dynamite band gave a performance from Seoul on Grammy-nominated number. In the award show, Beyonce recorded a history because she became the only female artist to win 28 Grammy awards ever. Also, she got the greatest number of nomination (Nine) this year. The “Single Ladies” star was conferred for Savage (with Meghan Thee STallion) and Black Parade.


The Record of the year was conferred to Everything I Wanted by Billie Eilish while the Album by Taylor Swift called ‘Folklore’ was conferred for ‘Album of the year’.  Song of the year was awarded to “I Can’t Breathe” by Dernst Emile II, H.E.R. and Tiara Thomas. On the other hand, Best pop solo performance was given to “Watermelon” by Harry Styles. “Rain on Me” by Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande was awarded for Best pop duo/group performance.

Grammy Award

The award is presented by the Recording Academy. It recognizes the achievements across the music industry. The trophy of the award depicts a gilded gramophone. Annual presentation ceremony is featured by the performances of prominent artists and presentation of the popular awards Grammys are considered as the first and biggest award of Big Three networks’ major music awards which is held annually. It is one among the four major annual American entertainment awards. The three other award includes Academy Awards (film), Tony Awards (theater and Broadway) and Emmy Awards (television).

The Union power ministry has sent the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021, for the inter-ministerial consultation.


The bill was also sent to the law and justice ministry for its critical examination and evaluation. After the cabinet approves the bill, it will be introduced in the current session of parliament with the aim of passing it in the same session.

Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2021

The amendments proposed through the bill aims to de-license the power distribution and increase competition among them. The bill is being regarded as the next-generation power sector reforms across the country. The amendment bill was proposed in line with what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said with respect to the electricity suppliers. The prime minister had said that the electricity consumers should be able to choose their supplier like the retail commodity. The amendments also propose to appoint a member with the legal background to every electricity regulatory commission. It also seeks to strengthen the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity. The electricity regulator will spell out the penalty for not meeting the renewable purchase obligations. These obligations require the power distribution companies (DISCOMS) to buy fixed amount of renewable energy in order to reduce their reliance on the fossil fuels. The bill might also prescribe the rights and duties of the power consumers in line the government’s plan of ensuring round the clock supply.


The framework to allow the consumers to choose their electricity suppliers was proposed in the Union budget 2021-2022.

India’s energy Target

India has set the target to achieve the 450GW renewable energy capacity by the year 2030. The current installed renewable energy capacity of India stands at 89.63GW. The energy of 49.59GW capacity is currently under execution while energy requirement of 27.41GW has been tendered.

The capital of China, Beijing, was shrouded with the brown dust on March 15, 2021 because of heavy winds that was blowing in from the Inner Mongolia and other parts of north-western China.


The China Meteorological Administration has announced the “Yellow alert” stating that the sandstorms had spread from the Inner Mongolia into the provinces of Gansu, Shanxi and Hebei. The Beijing’s official air quality index also reached to a maximum level of 500. The floating particles called the PM10 reached to 2,000 micrograms per cubic metre in some regions. The reading of the smaller particles that infiltrate lungs called PM 2.5 also reached to 300 micrograms per cubic metre. This reading was far higher than the standard of 35 micrograms set by China.


In the months of March and April every year, the capital city Beijing faces regular sandstorms because of its proximity to the Gobi Desert and deforestation throughout the northern China.

Gobi Desert

It is a large desert or brushland region of the East Asia. The desert covers the parts of Northern China, North-eastern China and Southern Mongolia. The Gobi Desert basins are surrounded by Altai Mountains, grasslands & steppes of Mongolia in the north, Taklamakan Desert in the west, Hexi Corridor & Tibetan Plateau in the southwest and North China Plain in the southeast. The Gobi Desert is significant because of location of several important cities along the Silk Road. The desert is a “rain shadow desert”. The shadow is formed by the Tibetan plateau that blocks the precipitation from the Indian ocean to reach to this desert. The desert is 6th largest desert across the world while 2nd largest in the Asia region.


It is a landlocked country located in the East Asia. The area of the country is roughly equivalent to the historical territory of Outer Mongolia. The country is located between Russia in the north and China in the south. In south, Mongolia neighbours the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It does not have shared border with Kazakhstan though, the distance between both the countries is just 37 kilometres.

India is preparing to propose for a law to ban the cryptocurrencies, to fine anyone who is trading in India or to fine anyone even for holding such digital assets. India will be rolling out the rule in a potential blow to millions of the investors who are piling into red-hot asset class.


The bill that will be proposed would be one of the strictest policies in the World against cryptocurrencies. The bill would be criminalising the possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring of the crypto-assets. The bill would provide the holders of cryptocurrencies up to six months to liquidate. After six months, penalties would be imposed. If this bill would become a law, then India will become the first major economy that will hold the cryptocurrency illegal. The other major economy, China, though have banned mining & trading of the cryptocurrency but it has not penalised its possession.


The central government will propose this bill in line with the government agenda of banning the private virtual currencies like bitcoin apart from building a framework for the official digital currency.

Bitcoin Transaction across world

Bitcoin is the world’s biggest cryptocurrency. The currency hit a record high of $60,000 on March 13, 2021. This volume accounts for the double than what it was in previous years. The amount has doubled because its acceptance for payments has increased with the support of high-profile backers like CEO of Tesla Inc, Elon Musk. Indian government is to ban the use of cryptocurrency in India, despite that the transaction volume in India are increasing. In India, nearly 8 million investors are holding 100 billion rupees as per the estimates of industry.


It is a digital asset which works as a medium of exchange where individual coin ownership records are stored in the ledger in the form of computerized database. These records are stored using a strong cryptography so as to secure the transaction records. It also helps in controlling the creation of additional coins and also verify the transfer of coin ownership.

The Indian Naval Ship Jalashwa has reached the port of Anjouan in Comoros on March 14, 2021. The ship was carrying a consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of rice. The ship will be received by the Foreign Minister of Comoros, H.E. Dhoihir Dhoulkamal during a ceremony on March 15, 2021.


This consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of rice as food assistance were flagged off to Comoros in the light of promise made by the Vice President of India, Venkaiah Naidu during his brief visit to Comoros in the month of October 2019.

India-Madagascar Cooperation

After handing over the consignment to Comoros, the INS Jalashwa will travel to the Port of Ehoala so as to deliver another consignment of 1000 metric tonne of rice and 1,00,000 tablets of HCQ. This consignment will be delivered in accordance with the promise of External Affairs Minister of India, S Jaishankar. He made his promise after the Madagascar asked for the solidarity and assistance from the Indian side to deal with the humanitarian crisis in South of Madagascar because of severe drought. The ship will also deploy the Indian Naval Training Team in Madagascar for capacity building and training of the Malagasy Special Forces for two weeks.

INS Jalashwa

It is an amphibious transport dock which presently serves the Indian Navy. This ship was procured from the United States for US $90 million in the year 2005. The ship then was commissioned to the service in June 2007. This is the only Indian naval ship that has been procured from United States. It is based in Visakhapatnam under Eastern Naval Command.

Eastern Naval Command

It is one among the three command-level formations of Indian Navy. It is based in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. This command level is responsible for all the naval forces in Bay of Bengal, parts of Indian Ocean and naval establishments on east coast of India. This command was set up in March 1968. It is commanded by a Three Star Flag Officer of the rank of Vice Admiral. The vice admiral flag officer is titled as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Command.

The new parcel management system (PMS) of Indian Railways will be extended to 523 locations now. Earlier this system was only in place at 84 locations. This decision was taken in a bid to provide transportation for small consignments across a huge network of stations.


As per the statement of the Indian Railways, the small businesses and traders in the small cities and towns have been using these services to transport their merchandise from the big cities and production centres to a place where business is fast, reliable and cheap. Under this, the charging of the parcels is based on the weight and volume of the commodity and not the type of commodity.

Parcel Management System

Phase three of the computerisation of the PMS will be rolled out under which, this system will be extended to 523 locations from 84 locations to additional 143 locations in phase-II. The extension of the system will bring following changes:

  1. It will include the provision of 120 days advance booking,
  2. The system will show the availability of parcel space on online e-forwarding note module on the website of PMS.
  3. It will also help in generation of forwarding note online by registered customers along with the fare estimate.
  4. Booking of parcel or luggage across the parcel office at stations with the help of computerised counters
  5. Automatic capturing of weight by electronic weighing of consignment
  6. Barcoding of the consignment to track and status updates of packages using the GPRS network transmission of data
  7. SMS updates to customers at each stage.

The new Parcel Management System will also comprise of an Freight System Ledger Accounting (FSLA) module do to online preparation of manifest for registered newspapers and magazines.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has announced a new scheme with the objective of promoting tourism and increasing state revenues. The new set of rules will be known as “All India Tourist Vehicles Authorization & Permit Rules, 2021”. The new scheme was announced in the light of increasing travel and tourism in India.

Key Points

These new rules under the scheme will be applicable from April 1, 2021. Under the scheme, any tourist vehicle operator can apply to get “All India Tourist Authorization or Permit” in the online mode. The ministry highlighted that, permit will be issued after submitting relevant documents and fees within 30 days of submitting such applications. However, the existing permits will be in force until their validity. The rules notified by the Ministry are in line with providing seamless movement for the tourist passenger vehicles. The rules were notified after goods carriage vehicles under National Permit Regime got successful. The scheme allows the flexibility in form of authorization or permit being granted. Flexibility is allowed for a period of three months or its multiples however, it shall not exceed three years at a time.


These new set of rules for the tourist vehicle operators and permits will help in promoting the tourism across the states in India. It will also help in increasing the revenue of state governments. It will help in consolidating a central database and fees of all the authorization or permits.


These rules were notified after the 39th and 40th Transport Development Council meetings.

Transport Development Council

The council is the highest body that advise the Government with respect to the matters related to roads and road transport. The Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways acts as the Chairman of this Council. The council held its meeting at least one time in a year.