Daily Current Affairs and GK | 31 March 2023

By Priyanka Chaudhary | Last Modified: 31 Mar 2023 18:00 PM IST

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Current Affairs

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Topic: International News

1. Azerbaijan and Tajikistan have been certified as malaria-free countries by WHO.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has certified Azerbaijan and Tajikistan for eliminating Malaria from their territories.
  • WHO Director said that “people and governments of Azerbaijan and Tajikistan have worked long and hard to eliminate malaria”.
  • The Certification of malaria elimination is the official recognition by the WHO of a country’s malaria-free status.
  • The certification is given to a country when the chain of malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes has been interrupted throughout the country for at least three consecutive years.
  • The last case of locally transmitted Plasmodium vivax (P.vivax) was detected in Azerbaijan in 2012 and Tajikistan in 2014.
  • A total of 41 countries and 1 territory have been declared malaria-free so far by WHO, including 21 countries in European Region.
  • Both countries governments guaranteed universal primary health care for more than six decades.
  • Both Azerbaijan and Tajikistan used national electronic malaria surveillance systems to track cases in real time.
  • The agricultural irrigation systems in both counties increase the risk of malaria for workers.
  • Both countries established systems to protect agricultural workers by providing them free access to malaria diagnosis and treatment.
  • India has a vision of a malaria free country by 2027 and elimination by 2030.

Topic: Summits/ Conferences/ Meetings

2. Second G20 Sherpas Meeting begins in Kumarakom, Kerala.

  • The Second G20 Sherpas meeting under India’s G20 Presidency is scheduled to take place from March 30 to April 2, 2023, in Kumarakom, Kerala.
  • The four-day meeting will be chaired by India’s G20 Sherpa Shri Amitabh Kant.
  • 120 delegates from G20 member countries, 9 invitee countries, and various international and regional organizations are taking part in this meeting.
  • The Meeting started with two high-level side-events on Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and Green Development.
  • A panel discussion will also be held on global challenges and opportunities to build a growth-oriented and inclusive DPI.
  • The Digital Public Infrastructure side-event has been organized in partnership with NASSCOM, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL).
  • The Green Development event will be organized in partnership with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in India (UNRC) and Observer Research Foundation (ORF).
  • It will give perspectives on global efforts needed for a new vision of green development.
  • India’s G20 Sherpa Shri Amitabh Kant will also lead discussions with the G20 Troika comprising India, Indonesia and Brazil.
  • The second Sherpa meeting will work on many important issues of global concern and will cover the work being done under the 13 working groups within the Sherpa Track.
  • In addition, 11 Engagement Groups and 4 Initiatives will provide policy recommendations from the perspectives of civil society, private sector, academia, women, youth, scientific advancement and research.

Topic: Books and Authors

3. English version of Nepali novel 'Phoolange' will be published in April.

  • On March 28, Penguin Random House India (PRHI) announced, the English version of Nepali novel "Phoolange" will be released on April 17.
  • "Fruits of the Barren Tree," written by Darjeeling-based writer Lekhnath Chhetri, is about the unsuccessful Gorkha separatist movement.
  • In 2021, the original novel was nominated for Nepal's most prestigious literary award, the 'Madan Puraskar'.
  • Anurag Basnet is the editor-translator for the forthcoming edition.

Topic: International News

4. US has allowed the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work in the US.

  • In major relief for foreign workers in the US technology sector, a judge has ruled that the spouses of H-1B visa holders can now work in the US.
  • US District Judge Tanya Chutkan made the ruling while rejecting a petition filed by Save Jobs USA.
  • The petition urged the repeal of an Obama-era rule that gave employment authorization cards to spouses of certain categories of H-1B visa holders.
  • Save Jobs USA is an organization of information technology workers who claim that their jobs are being lost due to H-1B visa holders.
  • Big companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft associated with the technology sector have opposed this petition.
  • The US has so far issued nearly one lakh work permits to the spouses of H-1B workers.
  • The judge said that this provision has existed for a long time with the permission of the US Parliament and is also recorded in the immigration and citizenship law.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has authorized employment not only for students, but also for their spouses and dependents.
  • H-1B Visa: It is a non- immigrant visa that permits US companies to employ foreign workers in specific occupations. This rule was prompted by Ex-US President Barack Obama in the year 2015, which allowed work permit for spouses of those having H-1B work visas waiting for their Green Card.

spouses of H-1B visa holders now can work in the US

(Source: News on AIR)

Topic: International Appointment

5. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan appointed Vice President of UAE.

  • Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, has made a significant declaration about the country's leadership.
  • Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan has been appointed Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, with the approval of the Federal Supreme Council of the UAE.
  • The current Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum will also serve on the post.
  • Sheikh Mansour has been an important part of the UAE's political landscape since he was appointed Minister of Presidential Affairs in 2004.
  • The new Vice President will also be the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Development Fund and a member of the Abu Dhabi Supreme Petroleum Council.
  • He has served on the boards of several investment institutions, including the National Archives, the Abu Dhabi Development Fund, the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority Board, and the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan

(Source: News on AIR)

Topic: Government Schemes and Initiatives

6. Under Swachhotsav 2023, a target has been set to make 1000 cities '3-Star Garbage Free' by October 2024.

  • Union Minister for Urban Housing and Urban Affairs Shri Hardeep S. Puri has said that by October 2024, a target has been set to make 1,000 cities in the country 3-star garbage-free cities.
  • Shri Puri was addressing an event organized on the occasion of International Zero Waste Day 2023 in New Delhi.
  • Referring to the progress of the GFC- Star Rating Protocol launched in January 2018 to encourage the spirit of competition and mission mode in the urban local bodies, he said that since its inception, the certification has picked up significantly.
  • Urban India has become open defecation free (ODF).
  • All 4,715 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are fully ODF, more than 3,547 ULBs are ODF+ with functional and clean community and public toilets and 1,191 ULBs are ODF++ with complete faecal sludge management.
  • Additionally, India's waste processing has increased four times from 17% in 2014 to 75% today.
  • This has been achieved through 100 percent door-to-door waste collection in 97% wards and source segregation of waste by citizens in about 90% wards across all ULBs in the country.
  • The campaign seeks to promote women's participation and leadership in realizing the goals of waste-free cities.
  • A series of programs and activities have been organized in the cities from March 8, 2023 to engage women from different walks of life towards building garbage-free cities.
  • The Swachhotsav campaign was a platform for over 400,000 women entrepreneurs to take a leadership role in urban sanitation.
  • By participating in the unique journey and Masal March, women took the responsibility of urbanization and took the lead in changing the urban landscape.
  • Hon'ble Prime Minister launched the Swachh Bharat Mission - Urban 2.0 with the vision of making India a Garbage Free City (GFC) by taking India on a new path towards an eco-system of holistic cleanliness and waste management.
  • Encouraging door to door collection, source segregation, waste processing and dump site treatment, IEC, capacity building, digital tracking etc. are components of making GFCs.
  • India is also promoting a zero-waste approach, which emphasizes responsible production, consumption and disposal of by-products in a closed circular system.
 
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Topic: Defence

7. Ministry of Defence signed Rs 19,600 crore contracts for 11 Next Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels (NGOPV) and 6 Next Generation Missile Vessels (NGMV).

  • The contracts have been signed with Indian shipyards for the acquisition of these vessels at an overall cost of 19,600 crore rupees.
  • The contract for the acquisition of 11 NGOPV was signed with Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Kolkata at the overall cost of 9,781 crore rupees.
  • Out of the 11 ships, GSL will indigenously design, develop and manufacture seven ships.
  • GRSE will indigenously design, develop and manufacture four ships.
  • The delivery of the ships is planned to start from September 2026.
  • The contract for the acquisition of 6 NGMV was signed with Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) at a cost of 9,805 crore rupees.
  • The delivery of these ships is planned to start from March 2027.
  • These ships would be employed for Local Naval Defence operations.
  • These ships would also be employed for seaward defence of the Offshore Development Area.

Topic: State News/Uttar Pradesh

8. Sericulture Fair inaugurated by Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath in Gorakhpur.

  • Sericulture Fair was organized at Yogiraj Baba Gambhirnath Auditorium.
  • UP CM also laid foundation stone of 18 Chaki rearing buildings, 9 threading machine sheds and 36 community buildings.
  • In addition to this, the grant amount was distributed to the beneficiaries for the silkworm rearing house.
  • CM Yogi said UP is also the largest producer of food grains.
  • He remarked UP constitutes 11% of India’s total cultivable land. It contributes 20% to the country’s total foodgrain production. There are 9 climatic zones in Uttar Pradesh. 
  • Plant mulberry can be planted by farmers on their farm ridges to earn additional income.
  • UP CM said the requirement of silk in UP is 3,000 tonnes, but the production is only 350 tonnes.
  • Banaras, Mau, Gorakhpur, Khalilabad, Ambedkar Nagar, Lucknow, and Meerut are known for silk business.
  • Silk production is being done in 57 districts of UP. Government aims to increase silk production intensively in 31 climate-friendly districts.
  • CM Yogi said earlier PM Modi announced PM Mitra Mega Textile Park for Hardoi.

Topic: State News/ Himachal Pradesh

9. Himachal Pradesh CM presented ₹56,683-crore budget for FY 2023-24.

  • Chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu presented the budget of Himachal Pradesh for the financial year 2023-24.
  • Himachal Pradesh Appropriation Bill 2023 was passed by voice vote.
  • The ruling party and opposition-held discussions on the budget from 20 to 29 March.
  • The budget is focussed on making HP a green state, emphasis on health, education, road construction, etc.
  • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Bill was also passed.
  • The budget has a revenue deficit of Rs 4704 cores and the estimated fiscal deficit is Rs 9000 crores, which is 4.61 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product.
  • Out of every 100 Rupees spent, Rs 26 will be spent on salary, Rs 16 on pension, Rs 10 on interest payment, Rs 10 on loan repayment, Rs 9 on grants to autonomous institutions, and Rs 29 on other activities.
  • Himachal Pradesh government will provide Rs 1,500 per month to 2.31 lakh women.
  • The Government will restore the Old Pension Scheme. It will benefit 1.36 lakh employees.
  • The Government will give subsidies for promoting solar energy and other green initiatives.
  • The demands related to the public works department and Jal Shakti, health, and education department were discussed and voted.

Topic: Awards and Prizes

10. Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi has announced the fellowships, awards, and Gurupuja Puraskaram of the year 2022.

  • Three artists have been selected for Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi fellowships.
  • Theatre person Gopinath Kozhikode, music director P.S. Vidyadharan, and Chenda/Edakka artist Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan have been selected for the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi fellowships for their contribution in their respective fields.
  • Seventeen persons received the Akademi awards while 22 people were given Gurupuja Puraskaram.
  • The winners of the Akademi awards are given below:

Valsan Nisari (Drama)

S. Noval Raj (Kathaprasangam)

Kalamandalam Rajeev (Mizhavu)

Kalamandalam Radhamani (Thullal)

Vijayan Kovur (Light Music)

N. Lathika (Light Music)

Prakash Ulleri (Harmonium/Keyboard)

Alappuzha S. Vijayakumar (Tavil)

Thiruvizha Viju S. Anand (Violin)

Palakkad Sreeram (Classical Music)

Bijula Balakrishnan (Dance)

Kalamandalam Sheeba Krishnakumar (Dance)

Kottakkal Murali (Drama)

Rajitha Madhu (Drama)

Lenin Edakochi (Drama)

Suresh Babu Sreestha (Drama)

Babu Annur (Drama)

 

  • Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi
    • It was founded on 26 April 1958 under the Department of Culture.
    • It encourages various forms of dance, music, drama and folk arts of Kerala.
    • It is located in Thrissur, Kerala.

Topic: Indian Economy

11. Govt has planned to borrow ₹8.88 Lakh Crore for the first half of the financial year 2023-24.

  • The Government of India has finalized its borrowing program for the first half (H1) of the financial year 2023-24 in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The Union Budget plans to borrow Rs 8.88 lakh crore (57.55%) in the first half (H1) of the estimated Rs 15.43 lakh crore gross market borrowing for FY 2023-24.
  • The borrowing will be spread under 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, 30, and 40 years securities.
  • The share of borrowing under different maturities will be: 3 year (6.31%), 5 year (11.71%), 7 year (10.25%), 10 year (20.50%), 14 year (17.57%), 30 year (16.10%) and 40 year (17.57%).
  • In the second half (H2) of the financial year 2023-24, Sovereign Green Bonds' issuance will be announced.
  • The government will continue the switch operation to ease the redemption profile.
  • To retain an additional subscription of up to Rs 2,000 crore against each of the securities included in the auction notification, the government would continue to exercise greenshoe option.
  • Weekly borrowing through treasury bill issuance in the first quarter (Q1) of fiscal year 2023-24 is expected to be Rs 32,000 crore with net borrowing during the quarter at Rs 1.42 lakh crore.
  • There was a net borrowing of Rs 2.40 lakh crore in the first quarter of the financial year 2022-23.
  • Rs 12,000 crore under 91 DTBs (deposits at traditional banks), Rs 12,000 crore under 182 DTBs and Rs 8,000 crore under 364 DTBs will be released through each of the weekly auctions to be conducted during the quarter.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has fixed the Ways and Means Advance (WMA) limit for H1 of FY 2023-24 at Rs 1,50,000 crore to take care of the temporary mismatch in the account of the government.

Topic: International News

12. Saudi Arabia has joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a dialogue partner.

  • On March 29, Saudi Arabia's cabinet has approved a decision to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
  • With this, Saudi Arabia has joined the group of India, China and Russia, which also includes Pakistan.
  • Despite US security concerns, Saudi Arabia has begun to strengthen its ties with China.
  • Saudi Arabia has approved a memorandum to grant dialogue partner status to the kingdom in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
  • SCO also works in the field of economy, including terrorism, and China's effort has been to prevent western influence in Asia through SCO.
  • Saudi Arabia has become its dialogue partner.
  • Dialogue partner status will be a first step within the organisation before being granted the full membership.
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO):
    • The SCO is a political and security association of 8 countries spanning most of Eurasia, including China, India and Russia.
    • It was formed in 2001 by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which later included, India and Pakistan.
    • Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia are four observer states.
    • SCO’s dialogue partners include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Turkiye.
    • The official working languages of SCO are Chinese and Russian.
    • Its headquarters is located in Beijing, China.
    • India became a full member on 9 June 2017.
    • In 2022, Iran also signed full membership documents.
    • Last year, the SCO summit was held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, which was attended by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi.

Half Yearly Current Affairs 2022 - 2023

Topic: International News

13. Australia passed a law forcing the biggest polluters to cut their emissions.

  • The Australian Parliament has passed a law to reduce emissions from the biggest greenhouse gas polluters.
  • As per this bill, the biggest greenhouse gas polluters have to reduce their emissions or pay for carbon credits.
  • According to the administration, Safeguard mechanisms are necessary to reach the target of reducing emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030.
  • The new reform will become effective from 1 July. It will restrict emissions of 215 most polluting facilities of Australia.
  • It will force polluting facilities to reduce their emission by 4.9% every year or reach the target with carbon credits.
  • Australia imposed a carbon tax in 2012 but it was repealed by the conservative government in 2014.
  • This bill has been passed by the senate with 32 in favour and 26 against. It got the support of the minor Greens party and unaligned legislators.
  • The restrictions on emissions could put a halt on the 58 new coal and gas projects proposed in Australia.
  • The Australian government has stated that without this mechanism, Australia would be only able to reduce emissions by 35% by 2030.

Topic: Indian Economy

14. Government exempted basic customs duty on drugs and food used to treat Rare Diseases.

  • The government has exempted basic customs duty on all drugs and food imported for personal use for the treatment of rare diseases.
  • The exemption of import duty will become effective from 1 April.
  • The Government has also exempted Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) from basic customs duty. It is used in the treatment of various types of cancer.
  • The Central Government has given complete exemption from customs duty to imported drugs and food items for the treatment of all rare diseases listed under the National Rare Disease Policy 2021.
  • Generally, the custom duty on medicine is ten per cent, while for some categories of lifesaving drugs and vaccine, it is five per cent or Nil.
  • Food for Special Medical Purposes is used to provide nutritional support to persons who suffer from a rare disease.
  • To avail the exemption, the importer has to produce a certificate from the Central or State Director Health Services or District Medical Officer/Civil Surgeon of the district.
  • The government is already providing exemptions to drugs for the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
  • These exemptions will reduce the cost of treatment rare diseases, which varies from Rs 10 lakh to more than Rs 1 crore per year.
  • Basic Custom Duty (BCD): It is a type of import duty levied under the Customs Act, 1962.  It is imposed on the value of goods at a specific rate.
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