Daily Current Affairs - 25-03-2021

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has launched a competency-based assessment framework on March 25, 2021.

Key facts

Assessment framework was launched for classes 6-10 for three subjects namely, English (reading), Science, and Maths. This framework is a part of “CBSE Competency Based Education Project” which was launched to replace existing “rote learning model” in accordance with the new National Education Policy (NEP) in next 2-3 years.

How this plan will be implemented?

CBSE had collaboration with British Council and three agencies from UK namely Cambridge, NARIC and Alphaplus. These agencies are helping CBSC to the objectives envisaged under the plan. This Assessment Framework is the basis for larger project exercise which is underway. Under the exercise, 40 assessment designers, 180 test item writers and 360 master trainer mentors are being trained to use assessment framework. It will help in create model question bank and several ideal lesson plans.

First Phase of Assessment

Under this phase, Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and private schools across India will participate in the programme. The programme will be rolled out to all 25,000 CBSE schools across India by 2024.

New National Education policy 2020

The Education policy 2020 envisages a significant shift in education ecosystem across India. It aims to prepare students for 21st century. The policy lays emphasis on competency-based education instead of education which tests rote learning. The policy was approved by Union Cabinet on July 29, 2020. It outlines the vision of India’s new education system by replacing the National Policy on Education, 1986. Policy is a comprehensive framework for elementary education, higher education and the vocational training across rural and urban India.

Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, has launched Central Scrutiny Centre (CSC) and Investor Education and Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) Mobile App. These tech-enabled initiatives were developed by Ministry of Corporate Affairs to strengthen vision of “Digitally Empowered India”.

Key Point

These two initiatives will help in creating a new corporate and investor friendly ecosystem. The ministry of corporate affairs will bring in more tech-enabled services to attain ease of doing business and ease of living for people. According to Finance Minister, Ministry of Corporate affairs has been engaged in digitisation, automation and improvement in order to extend support to society, economy, corporates and professionals. She also added that, around 1.38 lakhs companies have been incorporated as opposed to 1.16 lakhs companies last year by Central Registration Centre as of February 2021. Thus, registration has increased by over 17%.

Central Scrutiny Centre (CSC)

Central Scrutiny Centre would help in scrutinize certain Straight Through Process (STP) Forms filed by corporates on MCA21 registry. It would flag companies for more in-depth scrutiny. This scrutiny centre was established with the objective of ensuring that data quality remains uncompromised and free from any flaws. CSC would primarily scrutinise filings made by users under the straight through processes and identify data quality issues and irregularities.

IEPFA Mobile App

This Mobile App was launched with the aim of achieving goal of financial literacy and spreading awareness, education & protection among investors in rural as well as urban areas. The app will push for Ease of Living. It has been developed for citizen engagement and information dissemination in order to promote awareness among investors. The app comprises of facility to track status and progress of IEPF claim refund process. It also provides a mechanism for investors and common citizens in order to report on suspected fraudulent schemes.

United States has co-sponsored a resolution led by European Union (EU) highlighting ongoing human rights concerns in Myanmar including for Rohingya. It has also recalled developments made since February 1 in 46th session of UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Background

Council of the European Union on March 22, 2021 imposed sanctions on 11 individuals who were responsible for military coup in Myanmar and subsequent military & police repression against peaceful demonstrators. The UNHRC also urge military to restore democratically elected government in country and release those who were unjustly detained. UNHCR also urged military to refrain from violence against people of Burma. UNHCR Resolution also renewed mandate of Special Rapporteur and continued its support towards Independent Investigative Mechanism in Myanmar.

United States’ Stand on Military Coup

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced new sanctions against Bureau of Special Operations commander, Lt Gen Aung Soe; chief of police of Myanmar Than Hlaing; and two army units implicated in human rights abuses across ethnic areas. US along with United Kingdom, Norway and Albania supported language which condemned military’s actions and expanded monitoring & reporting.

Military Coup in Myanmar

Myanmar’s military had declared the ‘state of emergency’ for a year by overthrowing the democratically elected government in Myanmar on February 1, 2021, before newly-elected parliament was about to convene. Military also house arrest the State Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other top officials who were accused of election fraud.

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

UNHCR is a United Nations body which promote and protect human rights across the world. It comprises of 47 members elected for a three-year term on a regional group basis. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The body investigates allegations of breaches of human rights across the United Nations member states. It also look after thematic human rights issues like freedom of association and assembly, freedom of belief & religion, freedom of expression, LGBT rights, women’s rights and rights of racial & ethnic minorities.

Rajya Sabha passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 on March 24, 2021. It amends the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 which provides for certain provisions regarding functioning of Legislative Assembly and government of Delhi.

Highlights

The bill was passed amid uproar by opposition and walkout by MPs of several parties. It was passed in Rajya Sabha by a voice vote. However, opposition asked for division when the government moved bill for consideration. 83 members voted favour while 45 members opposed it. Just before the passage of the bill,  Congress party too walked out. Lok Sabha had passed the Bill on 22 March, 2021.

Provisions of the Bill

The Bill amends certain powers and responsibilities of Legislative Assembly and Lieutenant Governor. According to the Bill, “government” in Delhi means Lieutenant Governor (LG).  Bill provides that Rules related to procedure and conduct of the business in assembly must be consistent with Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha. It prohibits Legislative Assembly from making any rule to enable itself or its Committees to consider matters of day-to-day administration of Delhi or conduct any inquiry into administrative decisions. Bill makes all such rules made before its enactment void. Bill also provides that, LG’s opinion must be obtained before taking any executive action on the decisions of Minister or Council of Ministers.  It also requires for LG to reserve those bills for President which cover any matter outside the purview of powers of Legislative Assembly.

Report from State Bank of India’s research team underlined that duration of the second covid-19 wave in India might last up to 100 days. The report was authored by Chief Economic Adviser of Bank, Soumya Kanti Ghosh.

Highlights

India is currently witnessing a spike in daily coronavirus cases. In past 24 hours it witnessed over 50,000 new infections. Report also highlights that India is better placed this time in controlling the pandemic as vaccinations drive is gaining pace. According to report, Increasing the pace of vaccination is the only way to overcome COVID-19 pandemic. The report also said that, localised lockdowns or restrictions have not resulted in controlling spread of infection. It is visible in case of states like Maharashtra and Punjab. So, it suggests that, Lockdown is ineffective and vaccination is the only cure. Lastly, looking at the number of days from current level of daily new cases to peak level in the first wave, report expects that India will reach the peak in second half of April, 2021.

Background

India is witnessing second wave of infection since February 2021. Daily new cases are rising again. Total cases in second wave are expected in the order of 25 lakhs. On 24-25 March, 53,476 new coronavirus infections were reported which took nationwide COVID-19 count to 1,17,87,534. Majority of the cases were reported from Maharashtra alone. Active caseload across India registered an increase for 15th day and was recorded at 3,95,192. On the other side, the number of vaccinations in India has crossed 5.3 crores mark.

Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Shaktikanta Das, while speaking at 7th edition of India Economic Conclave has called for effective regulation which should help innovation in fintech space.

Highlights

According to RBI Governor, Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) has multi-currency capabilities. So, there is scope to explore if it can be expanded beyond India. He also underlined the huge role which technology and innovation played in serving consumers better and faster. According to him, during the covid-19 pandemic, RBI processed 274 crore digital transactions in order to provide direct benefit transfer to people. To boost the digital payments, RBI also allowed transfer of funds through Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS).

Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS)

Real Time Gross Settlement systems are specialist funds transfer systems in which transfer of money or securities is done from one bank to another bank in “real-time” and on a “gross” basis. It is the fastest possible money transfer system among the banking channel. Real-Time Settlement means a payment transaction is not subjected to ‘waiting period’. In such system, transactions are settled as and when they are processed. While, the “Gross settlement” means transaction is settled on one-to-one basis.  RTGS System is used for high-value transactions. Banks are also free to use balances maintained under cash reserve ratio (CRR) and intra-day liquidity (IDL) to be supplied by central bank, to meet any eventuality arising out of this payment system. RBI also fixed IDL limit for banks to three times their net owned fund. This system is monitored by RBI which has stopped levying any charges on transactions made through RTGS from July 2019.

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, in association with 9 IIMS has invited applications for “Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship” till March 27, 2021.

Highlights

The programme has invited application in  in collaboration with IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM-Jammu, IIM Udaipur, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Nagpur, IIM Visakhapatnam, IIM Lucknow and IIM Ranchi. It comprises of classroom sessions at IIMs and unique opportunity in order to promote skill planning and development across district economies. It provides a unique opportunity for young and dynamic individuals in order to combine classroom sessions at IIM with engagement in district economies in a bid to promote skill development and skill planning.

Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship

Mahatma Gandhi National Fellowship was 2021-2023 was launched by the ‘Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship’. It is a two-year fellowship programme, launched to boost skill development at district level. It has been designed under ‘Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)’. It seeks to address challenge of non-availability of personnel for implementation of several programmes at national, state and district levels. It comprises of an in-built component of on-ground practical experiences with district administration. This scheme was launched in 75 districts across Gujarat, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Now, the programme has been rolled out across 660 districts in India.

Who are eligible for Programme?

To be eligible for programme, fellows have to be citizens of India in age-group of 21-30 years. They should have a graduation degree from a recognized university. They should be proficient in official language of state of fieldwork.

Implementation of Programme

Under the programme, fellows work under the close supervision of state skill development missions (SSDM). They spend time and effort in understanding skilling challenges and gaps across the district. They enrich their skilling programmes by bringing in fresh thinking to execution and outcome management.

India TB Report 2021 was published recently. According to it, India reported a 24% year-on-year fall in registration of tuberculosis cases in 2020.

Key Findings

Amid the covid-19 pandemic-led disruptions and lockdowns, an estimated 18.05 lakh TB cases were registered in India. Report also found that, between January and February 2020, registrations of TB increased by 6% on year. Later, National Tuberculosis Elimination Programme had closed gap on missing TB cases. Thus, by December 11% more cases were reported as compared to April. Report further highlights, 24.04 lakh cases were reported in 2019, among which treatment success rate was 82% while mortality rate was 4%. According to report, 4% of patients were lost in follow ups while treatment failure & regimen change accounts for about 3%.

Tuberculosis Cases in India

Tuberculosis is one of India’s most critical health challenges. It typically has devastating health, social and financial consequences for patients as well as communities on a large scale. India has the largest caseload, 2.64 million tuberculosis patients, across the world. It accounts for 30% of the world’s TB cases. Government of India has aimed to have TB-free India by 2025, five years ahead of global target date, 2030. With this aim, India is trying to detect cases early and prevent emergence of new cases by extending TB care.

Government Initiatives

Government of India is undertaking several schemes to tackle the challenge of TB:

  1. Nikshay Ecosystem: It is a National TB information system which acts as one-stop solution to manage the information of patients and monitor program activity & performance across the country.
  2. Nikshay Poshan Yojana (NPY): NYP scheme was launched with the aim of providing financial support to TB patients for their nutrition.
  3. TB Harega Desh Jeetega Campaign: This campaign was launched in September 2019 with highest level of commitment to eliminate TB.
  4. Saksham Project: This project was launched by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) to provide psychosocial counselling to Drug resistant-TB patients.

Annual edition of ‘International Intellectual Property (IP)’ was released on March 23, 2021. India was ranked 40 among 53 global economies in the ninth IP index.

International Intellectual Property Index

The Index is released annually by ‘US Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre (GIPC)’.  It evaluates Intellectual Property rights across 53 global economies on the basis of patent, commercialisation of IP assets, copyright policies and ratification of international treaties.

Key Findings

India’s Performance

India performance in the index has improved over past few years. Country has made several positive efforts which increased the score because of stronger enforcement efforts and precedent-setting court cases of copyright and trademark infringement.

Concerns

Rights-holders in India still face substantive challenge with respect to patenting environment in which policy framework of India continues to deny patent eligibility to various innovations.

Intellectual property (IP)

It is a category of property which includes intangible creations of human intellect. Well-known types of IP are patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. Modern concept of intellectual property developed in England during 17th and 18th centuries. Intellectual property became a commonplace in world’s legal systems in 20th century. Intellectual property law is enforced to encourage creation of a variety of intellectual goods. Statute of Monopolies (1624) is regarded as origin of patent law and British Statute of Anne (1710) is regarded as origin of copyright.

Here are today’s Important Questions on Current Affairs that may be useful for various interviews and competitive examinations.

What are Rajiv Kumar and Amitabh Kant Task Forces?

The Government of India has set up two high-level task forces to lay roadmap for enforcement of contracts and conciliation mechanisms respectively. One of the task force is headed by NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar and the other is being chaired by the NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. These task forces are aimed to fast-track implementation of infra development in the country.

What do you know about defence Ministry and Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd deal?

The Union Defence Ministry has inked a deal with Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd worth Rs.1,056 crore. The deal is for procurement of 1,300 light combat vehicles to be used by the Indian Army. The induction of these vehicles manufactured by Mahindra Defence is planned to be completed in 4 years.

What do you know about new excise policy of Delhi?

The Government of Delhi has approved its new excise policy. Under the policy, the minimum age for alcohol and liquor consumption in Delhi has been reduced from 25 years to 21 years. This has been implemented based on the recommendations of a panel set up by the Government of Delhi.

What is main change in National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill?

The Lok Sabha has passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill – 20This bill seeks to amend the definition for “Government of Delhi” as Lieutenant-Governor (L-G). The bill also mandated the elected government in Delhi – NCR to take the opinion of the L-G before any executive action.

What do you know about Suez Canal?

Suez Canal is a manmade waterway that connects the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the most heavily used shipping lanes and 12% of the world trade happens through this canal. 30% of all container ships in the world pass through this route. The canal was constructed in 1869 and was controlled by the Britons and the French interests in the initial years. In 1956, Egypt nationalised the canal and it now the source of 5.61 billion USD revenue per year for the Egyptian economy.

Why the Tiger Relocation Project was in news?

Tiger Relocation Project is an inter-state project to relocate tigers from Madhya Pradesh to Odisha. It was started in 2018 to improve the tiger population in Odisha. As part of the project, a tigress named Sundari was relocated from Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve in MP to Satkosia Tiger Reserve in Odisha. Another male tiger named Mahavir was relocated to Odisha from Kanha Tiger Reserve in MP. Following the failure of the project, Sundari was recently returned to Madhya Pradesh.

Health Ministry has confirmed that,  “double mutant” coronavirus variant which comes with the combination of mutations has been found in India. Scientists are checking if this has increased the infectivity or is making COVID-19 more severe.

Highlights

Genome sequencing of virus sample by Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG), a consortium of 10 labs in India, reveals the presence of two mutations, E484Q and L452R, in some 200 virus samples from Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab and Gujarat.

Double Mutant Variant

Two mutations have been identified individually in other variants of SARS-CoV-2 in several parts of the world. They have been associated with reduction in vaccine efficacy and infectivity. Combined effect and biological implication of the variant is yet to be understood.

Vaccine Efficacy on Double Mutant Variant

India has not yet conducted studies on efficacy of vaccine is influenced by variants. However, international studies have shown reduced efficacy of vaccines like Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax on some variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Variants of Concerns

Three global Variants of Concerns; U.K. variant (B.1.1.7), South African variant (B.1.351) and Brazilian (P.1) lineage; have been identified across the globe. These variants of concerns have been identified in 10,787 samples from international passengers. 771 cases of these variants have been identified in 18 States of India. Now, the new ‘double variant’ has been submitted to be categorised under formal lineage. Double Variant will have its own name.

Variants under investigation

N440K mutation, a variant under investigation, is associated with immune escape and it has been found in 123 samples so far. This mutation was earlier found in 33% of samples from Andhra Pradesh. This has also been reported from 16 other countries like Denmark, Singapore, U.K., Japan and Australia.

Indian Coast Guard Ship Vajra was commissioned to the Indian Coast Guard by Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat, at Kattupalli in Chennai.

Key Points

INS Vajra was sixth in series of seven Offshore Patrol Vessel and was constructed by M/s Larsen & Toubro Ltd at Kattupalli. It is a 98-meter ship and is fitted with state-of-the-art Navigation & Communication Equipment, machinery and Sensors. It has been designed to carry one twin-engine helicopter and four high speed boats. It also carries two Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats for swift Boarding Operations. Vajra will be commanded by Deputy Inspector General Alex Thomas and is based at Tuticorin under the Operational and Administrative Control of Coast Guard District (Tuticorin).

Significance of INS Vajra

INS Vajra can be used in Search & Rescue operations, Law Enforcement and Maritime Patrol. The ship is also capable of carrying Pollution Response Equipment for oil spill response at Sea. It will be deployed to conduct surveillance in exclusive economic zones of Indian Coastal region.

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)

EEZ is prescribed by United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982. It is an area of sea in which sovereign state enjoys special or ‘sovereign’ rights of exploring & using marine resources and producing energy from water & wind. EEZ stretches from baseline to 200 nautical miles (nmi) from the coast of the state. It is also called as maritime continental margin. It does not include territorial sea or continental shelf beyond 200 nmi.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

It is an international agreement signed during third United Nations Conference on Law of the Sea during 1973 and 1982. The Convention defines rights and responsibilities of nations regarding the use of world’s oceans, environment, establishing guidelines for businesses and management of marine natural resources. It came into effect in 1994. 167 countries and European Union have joined this Convention, as of 2016.

Asia’s largest Tulip Garden in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, is scheduled to be opened for general public and tourists from March 25, 2021.

Highlights

Tulip Garden is a spectrum of colours which features lakhs of tulips. Flowers have blossomed in the lap of Zabarwan Hills along the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar city. Around 15 lakh flowers of more than 64 varieties are in full bloom nowadays in the garden.

Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden

The garden was previously known as Model Floriculture Center. It is the largest tulip garden in Asia spread over an area of 74 acres. It is situated on the foothills of Zabarwan Range in Dal Lake of Srinagar. Tulip garden was inaugurated in 2007 with the aim of boosting floriculture and tourism in Kashmir Valley. It is built on a sloping ground in terraced fashion comprising of seven terraces. Many other species of flowers like daffodils, hyacinths, and ranunculus have also been added to the garden.

Tulip festival

It is an annual celebration that showcase the range of flowers in tulip garden as a part of tourism efforts by the state Government. Festival is organized on the onset of spring season in Kashmir valley.

Tulips (Tulipa)

Tulips are a genus of spring-blooming perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes. Tulips are generally large, showy and brightly coloured. They have a different coloured blotch at the base of their tepals internally. The flower is a member of lily family called Liliaceae.

Zabarwan Range

It is a 32 km long sub-mountain range between Pir Panjal and Great Himalayan Range located in central part of Kashmir Valley. It borders central part of Kashmir Valley to the east. It is surrounded specifically by Sind Valley in North, Lidder Valley in south, Zanskar Range in east and Jehlum Valley in west. Shankaracharya Temple is built on edge of the central part of Zabarwan Range. Highest peak of the range is Mahadev Peak.

According to Economy Minister of Taiwan, Wang Mei-hua, Taiwan will ration water from April, 2021 for more than one million households residing in centre of the island.

Key Points

Taiwan is a sub-tropical country and is experiencing its worst drought in half a century because the rain-soaking typhoons failed to make landfall in the country in 2020. Shortage of water is most severe across the swathe of western Taiwan, where most of the people live. Thus, from April, water supplies in parts of Taichung and Miaoli would be cut for two days in a week and government will sent out water tankers to supply residents when required. Government also adds that; Hsinchu province, which is home to companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), will not be affected by this drought. Reservoirs of Hsinchu are low but supplies are being topped up by carrying water from Taipei city and by desalination.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC)

TSMC is a multinational semiconductor contract manufacturing and design company. It is the largest companies in Taiwan and most valuable semiconductor company across the world. It is also the largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry in the world. TSMC is headquartered in Hsinchu Science Park in Hsinchu, Taiwan. It is majorly owned by foreign investors.

Hsinchu City

Hsinchu is 7th largest city in Taiwan by population. It is a windy coastal city which borders Taiwan Strait in west, Hsinchu County in north & east and Miaoli County in south. This city was founded by Han settlers in 1711. In the year 1878, it was renamed to Hsinchu.

Here are Today’s News Headlines by GK Today for March 25, 2021

India

Parliament passes bill giving over-riding powers to LG over elected govt. in Delhi

The contentious Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that gives some overriding powers to the Lieutenant Governor over elected state government was passed in Rajya Sabha on March 24, 2021. The Bill, which has already got the nod from Lok Sabha, was passed by voice vote.

National Commission for Allied & Healthcare Professions Bill passed by Parliament

Parliament has passed National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2021. Bill seeks to set up a National Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions to regulate and standardize education and practice of allied and healthcare professionals. Functions of proposed National Commission include framing of standards for education and practice, creating and maintaining an online Central Register of all registered professionals, providing basic standards of education, and providing for a uniform entrance and exit examination.

Lok Sabha passes Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill

Lok Sabha on March 24, 2021 gave its nod to a bill which seeks to strengthen the provisions relating to protection and adoption of children. The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2021, which seeks to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, proposes to increase role of district magistrates and additional district magistrates with issues concerning child care and adoption.

SC expresses concern over likely misuse of money raised through electoral bonds

Supreme Court on March 24, 2021 expressed concern over possible misuse of money generated by political parties through electoral bonds to spread violence and anarchy and demanded to know if the government had safeguards to check such a possibility. “This money could be used to carry out all sorts of illegal activity, spread violence and terrorism,” a three-judge bench led by CJI SA Bobde observed while hearing a plea for stay on issue of another round of bonds in April ahead of assembly polls.

Indian Air Force has shortage of 405 pilots: Govt. tells Lok Sabha

The Indian Air Force has a shortage of 405 pilots against authorised strength, government told Lok Sabha on March 24, 2021. Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said the number of pilots in the Indian Air Force at present is 3,834 as against the sanctioned strength of 4,239. He said 260 aircraft are being used for training of pilots in the force. The trainer aircraft in the IAF included Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II, Kiran MkI/IA and Hawk Mk-132 advanced jet trainer.

CJI S. A. Bobde recommends Justice NV Ramana as his successor

Chief Justice of India S. A. Bobde, who is scheduled to retire on April 23, recommended Justice NV Ramana as his successor on March 24, 2021. Presently, Justice Ramana is the senior-most Supreme Court judge after CJI. Bobde has written to Union Law Ministry clearing the way for Justice Ramana to be appointed as the 48th Chief Justice of India.

Indian Coast Guard ship ‘Vajra’ commissioned at Chennai Port Trust

Indian Coast Guard ship ‘Vajra’, the sixth offshore patrol vessel to enhance coastal security, was formally commissioned into service at the Chennai Port Trust on March 24, 2021. The ship was indigenously designed and built by Larsen and Toubro Ship building Ltd.

US govt. to resume Homeland Security Dialogue with India discontinued by Trump

The Joe Biden administration has announced the re-establishment of Homeland Security Dialogue with India that was discontinued by previous Donald Trump dispensation. This comes a day after Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas spoke with India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu on March 22, 2021 and expressed his desire to further strengthen the partnership between India and his department.

Economy & Corporate

Parliament passes Finance Bill

Parliament has passed the Finance Bill, 2021 with the Rajya Sabha returning it to Lok Sabha on March 24, 2021. With this, Parliament has completed all the budgetary exercise. Government has raised the limit for tax exemption on interest earned on provident fund contributions by employees to 5 lakh per annum in specified cases as against 2.5 lakh rupees proposed in the Budget. This exemption, however, is subject to condition that up to Rs 5 lakh contribution does not include employer’s contribution beyond statutory limit of up to 12 per cent of basic pay.

India ranks 40 on the International Intellectual Property (IP) Index of US Govt.

India ranked 40 among 53 global economies on the latest annual edition of the International Intellectual Property (IP) Index released on March 23, 2021. Released annually by US Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Centre (GIPC), the Index evaluates Intellectual Property rights in 53 global economies from patent and copyright policies to commercialisation of IP assets and ratification of international treaties.

Competition Commission probe into the new privacy policy of WhatsApp

The Competition Commission of India on March 24, 2021 ordered a probe into new privacy policy of WhatsApp. In a Suo-Motu order on the Updated Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for WhatsApp Users, Anti-trust Watchdog said that WhatsApp has prima facie contravened the Competition Act, 2000. The order says that WhatsApp through its exploitative and exclusionary conduct, in the garb of policy update violated the provisions of Section 4 of the act.

NHAI to develop world class ‘Wayside Amenities’ at more than 600 locations

In a major move to improve commuters’ experience on National Highways for both passengers and truckers, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will develop world class ‘Wayside Amenities’ at more than 600 locations across 22 states in the next five years. Out of these, 130 are targeted for development in 2021-22. The amenities will include numerous facilities for passengers such as Fuel Station, Electric Charging Facilities, Food Court, Retail Shops, ATM, Toilets with shower facility, Children Playing Area, Clinic, Village Haat for local handicrafts etc.

World

Cargo ship ‘Ever Given’ runs aground in the Suez Canal in Egypt, blocks traffic

A giant container ship named ‘Ever Given’ ran aground in Suez Canal in Egypt, blocking off one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes that’s vital for movement of everything from oil to consumer goods. The hull of Ever Given, one of the biggest container ships in operation, became wedged lengthways across the canal, leaving at least 100 vessels gridlocked as they attempted to transit between the Red Sea and Mediterranean.

World Tuberculosis Day observed on March 24

World Tuberculosis (TB) Day was observed on March 24, 2021. The day is observed on March 24 every year to raise public awareness about devastating health, social and economic consequences of TB, and to step up efforts to end global TB epidemic. The date marks a day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB.

International Day for the Right to the Truth observed on March 24

International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims was observed on March 24, 2021. This annual observance pays tribute to the memory of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was murdered on 24 March 1980. Monsignor Romero was actively engaged in denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable individuals in El Salvador.

Senate confirms Dr. Vivek Murthy as U.S. Surgeon General

Indian-American physician Vivek Murthy has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as President Joe Biden’s surgeon general. Dr. Murthy, 43, would occupy the position of America’s Surgeon General for the second time. In 2011, President Barack Obama tapped him to serve on the advisory group on prevention, health promotion, and integrative and public health.

Navies of India and Madagascar conduct first joint patrolling of Madagascar’s EEZ

The navies of India and Madagascar undertook joint patrolling of Madagascar’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and also conducted a Passage Exercise (PASSEX). “The first-ever joint patrol between navies reflects growing defence ties between two Indian Ocean neighbours aimed at common objective of ensuring maritime security in Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Pakistan Day celebrated on March 23

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan on the occasion of Pakistan Day which was celebrated on March 23, 2021. Pakistan Day is celebrated to mark the Lahore Resolution on March 23, 1940 when the All-India Muslim League demanded a separate nation for the Muslims of India.