Current Affairs Weekly(15-21 March-2021)

National

New Delhi is world’s most polluted capital for third straight year: IQAir study

  • According to IQ Air, New Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital for the third straight year in 2020.
  • IQ Air is a Swiss group that measures air quality levels based on the concentration of lung-damaging airborne particles known as PM2.5.
  • India was home to 35 of the world’s 50 most polluted cities, according to IQ Air’s 2020 World Air Quality Report which gathered data for 106 countries.
  • The findings were based on the country’s annual average of particulate matter PM2.5, airborne particles with less than 2.5 microns in diameter.
  • Prolonged exposure to PM2.5 can lead to deadly diseases, including cancer and cardiac problems.
  • In 2020, New Delhi’s average annual concentration of PM2.5 in a cubic meter of air was 84.1, more than double the level of Beijing, which averaged 37.5 during the year, making it the 14th most polluted city in the world.
  • Despite an 11% reduction in the annual average of PM2.5 levels due to nationwide coronavirus lockdown curbs imposed last year, India emerged as the world’s third most polluted country after Bangladesh and Pakistan.

National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021 passed by Lok Sabha

  • Lok Sabha has passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill 2021.
  • The Bill amends the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991 which provides a framework for the functioning of the Legislative Assembly and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
  • The Bill amends certain powers and responsibilities of the Legislative Assembly and the Lieutenant Governor.
  • It further seeks to ensure that the Lieutenant Governor is necessarily granted an opportunity to exercise the power in select category of cases, in emergency.
  • The Bill also gives powers to LG to make rules in matters which fall outside the preview of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.
  • It has a provision that all executive action will be expressed to be taken in the name of the Lieutenant Governor.

Aadhaar is no longer mandatory for pensioners

  • According to the new rule notified by the government, Aadhaar is no longer mandatory for pensioners to get digital life certificate, Jeevan Pramaan, that is required to collect their pensions.
  • The government has also made its verification voluntary for its instant messaging solution ‘Sandes’ and attendance management at public offices under the Aadhaar Authentication for Good Governance (Social Welfare, Innovation, Knowledge) Rules, 2020.

Energy Swaraj Yatra Bus

  • Energy Swaraj Yatra’ bus which has been built by the professor of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, Dr Chetan Singh Solanki.
  • The professor has been travelling on the bus to raise awareness regarding the use of solar power since the year 2020.
  • Dr Solanki has initiated the “Energy Swaraj Yatra” mission in the year 2020 to raise awareness regarding the adoption of solar energy.

Gram Ujala Scheme Launched

  • India has launched the “Gram Ujala Scheme” on March 19, 2021 to provide the cheapest LED bulbs in the rural areas.
  • The scheme was launched by the Union power and new and renewable energy minister, Raj Kumar Singh.
  • The Gram Ujala Scheme is an ambitious scheme which offers the world’s cheapest LED bulbs in rural areas.
  • This is the first such scheme in India. It provides the LED Bulbs in these areas at a mere ₹10.
  • The scheme does not come with the government’s support or subsidy.
  • The scheme proposes for distributing some 600 million LED at rupees 10 in the rural areas.
  • It will be financed entirely through the carbon credits which will be claimed under the “United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)”. The revenue from the carbon credit will contribute to Rupees 60 per LED.
  • In the first phase, the scheme was launched from Arrah district in Bihar.

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) celebrates its 82nd Raising Day

  • The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) celebrated its 82nd anniversary on March 19, 2021.
  • A parade was organised at the CRPF Academy, Gurugram to mark the occasion.

Mobile Seva Appstore

  • India has developed its first indigenously developed App Store called “Mobile Seva Appstore”.
  • The app store hosts some 965 live apps of several domains and categories of public services.
  • This Indian App Store will be available for free of cost in the initial phases.
  • It is an innovative initiative which has been launched by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
  • It is implemented by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC).

Naval Landing Craft Utility L58 Commissioned

  • Indian Naval Landing Craft Utility (LCU) L58, which is the eighth and last ship of the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mark IV Class, was commissioned into the Indian Navy at Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • It has been Indigenously designed and built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd (GRSE), Kolkata.

Passage Exercise in Persian Gulf

  • Indian Navy on March 17, 2021 undertook Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Royal Bahrain Naval Force Corvette Al Muharraq in the Persian Gulf under Operation Sankalp.
  • PASSEXs are conducted regularly by the Indian Navy with friendly foreign navies, whilst visiting each other’s ports or during a rendezvous at sea.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan: Chairman of ‘Stop TB Partnership Board’

  • The Union Health Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, has been appointed as the chairman of “Stop TB Partnership Board”.
  • This appointment was made to recognise his outstanding contribution towards the movement of eradicating Tuberculosis (TB) from India by 2025.
  • He will be serving the global body for a three-year term from July 2021.
  • Stop TB Partnership established in 2000, is an international body which is having the power to align the nations to fight against TB.
  • The body observes the participation of a wide range ofconstituencies which provides credibility to this body.
  • The body works with the vision of a “TB-free world”.

New Vehicle Scrapping Policy

  • The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, has introduced the Vehicle Scrapping Policy on March 18, 2021 in the Lok Sabha which will come into effect from April 1, 2021.
  • The policy was introduced with the aim of creating an ecosystem to phase out the unfit, old and polluting vehicles.
  • Under the policy, personal vehicles will have to undergo the fitness tests at the automated centres after 20 years.
  • On the other hand, the commercial vehicles will have to undergo the fitness test after 15 years.
  • If the vehicles failed to pass the fitness test for three times, the owner would not be able to drive it on the road.

Book titled “Battle Ready for 21st Century” released at CLAWS

  • A book titled “Battle Ready for 21st Century” co-edited by Lt Gen AK Singh, was released by Gen Bipin Rawat, CDS and Gen Deepak Kapoor, Former Chief of the Army Staff at Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), New Delhi.

IAF’s MiG-21 Bison aircraft crashes

  • A Group Captain of the Indian Air Force was killed in an accident involving a MiG-21 Bison aircraft at an airbase in central India on March 27, 2021.
  • The accident took place when the aircraft was taking off for a combat training mission.

Bill raising upper limit to 24 weeks for abortions passed by Parliament

  • Parliament on March 16, 2021 passed The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which increases the upper limit for abortions from 20 to 24 weeks for certain categories of women.
  • The Lok Sabha had passed the bill in March 2020. It also provides for setting up the state-level Medical Boards to decide if a pregnancy to be terminated beyond 24 weeks in cases of foetal abnormalities.

NGT sets up Committee to prevent unscientific mining in Meghalaya

  • The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has established an oversight committee on March 15, 2021 to prevent the unregulated and Unscientific mining in Meghalaya.
  • The committee was established after the NGT observed that rat-hole mining is so often in Meghalaya despite the government has put ban on it.

International

China has the strongest military force in the world

  • According toa study released by the Defence website Military Directon March 21, 2021, China has the strongest military force in the world while India stands at number four.
  • The USA, despite their enormous military budgets, comes in 2nd place with 74 points, followed by Russia with 69, India at 61 and then France with 58.
  • China has the strongest military in the world, scoring 82 out of 100 points in the index.

Pabbi-Antiterror-2021 exercise

  • India, Pakistan, China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will hold a joint anti-terrorism exercise this year.
  • The decision to hold the joint exercise “Pabbi-Antiterror-2021” was announced during the 36th meeting of the Council of the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on March 18.

World Happiness Report 2021

  • Finland was again titled as the World’s happiest country because the overall rankings remained similar to the index of 2020 in the recently released World Happiness Report 2021.
  • The other countries that performed well on the rankings are Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and Netherlands. United States was ranked at 19th position.
  • Afghanistan was titled as the ‘Least Happy’ country.
  • India was ranked at 139th position out of 149 countries.
  • India was ranked at 144th position out of 156 countries in the “world happiness report, 2020”. 
  • The United Nation Sustainable Development Solutions Network has released its annual report called “World Happiness Report, 2021”.
  • The report was presented ahead of “World Happiness day” which is observed on March 20.

European Union joins India’s CDRI

  • The European Union (EU) comprising of 27 members has joined the “Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) initiative” of India.
  • The CDRI Initiative was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the year 2019.
  • The EU joined this initiative following its endorsement of the charter of the CDRI.
  • CDRI is an international coalition of countries, United Nations (UN) agencies, private sectors, multilateral development banks and academic institutions.
  • The initiative aims to promote the disaster-resilient infrastructure.

Spain Passes Law to legalise Euthanasia

  • The Parliament of Spain has passed and voted in favour of law that legalises the euthanasia on March 18, 2021.
  • The Spanish legislation will allow the passive euthanasia in which the medical staff will intentionally end a life to relieve the suffering.
  • This will be done by halting the life serving medical treatment. The law has also allowed the assisted suicide in which the patient will carry out the procedure of ending life.
  • In order to go through this procedure, the patient must be a Spanish national or a legal resident.

Afghan Peace Meet

  • Russia has hosted the “Afghan Peace Meet” on March 18, 2021.
  • The meeting was organised to bring together the government representatives and the Taliban adversaries.
  • It was the first meeting among the three planned international conferences.
  • Three meeting have been planned ahead of the deadline of May 1, 2021 for the final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan.
  • This date for the withdrawal of the troops from Afghanistan was fixed in an agreement between U.S. and Taliban that was signed in 2019.

AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine safe

  • The European Union’s drug regulatory agency said on March 18, 2021 that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not linked to an overall increase in the risk of blood clots.
  • Several European countries had suspended the use of the vaccine over the past week following reports of rare types of blood clots occurring in a small number of the millions of people who had received the shot across the continent.

Italy joins International Solar Alliance

  • The Italian has signed the framework agreement of ISA following the amendment made to the framework agreement of ISA which came in to effect on January 8, 2021.
  • This amendment had opened the membership in the Solar Alliance to all the members of the United Nations.
  • ISA is a treaty-based intergovernmental alliance comprising of 121 countries.
  • The establishment of the alliance was initiated by India.
  • Most of the member countries are the sunshine countries.
  • These countries are located either completely or partly in between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

European Commission proposes Covid-19 certificate

  • The European Commission, on March 17, 2021, has proposed for a Covid-19 certificate called “Digital Green Certificate” covering the details regarding the Covid-19 vaccination, testing and recovery.
  • This decision was taken in order to reopen the European Union (EU) for travel in a safe, sustainable and predictable manner.
  • The Covid-19 certificate is an approach by European Union to issue, verify and accept the certificates so as to facilitate a free movement within the European Union.

Sinatra Doctrine

  • The Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) member countries have accepted the “Sinatra Doctrine” as a counter to the increasing China’s aggressiveness to undermine the unity of the European Union through the divide and rule policy.
  • The policy is based on continuing cooperation with China with respect to address the global challenges like covid-19, climate change & regional conflicts and strengthening the strategic sovereignty of European Union.

Russia deploys Giant Space Telescope in Lake Baikal

  • Russian scientists have launched one of the biggest underwater space telescopes of the world on March 13, 2021.
  • This underwater space telescope was deployed deep into universe from pristine waters of Lake Baikal.
  • The telescope has been named as “Baikal-GVD”.

Venezuela rolls out new, larger-denomination banknotes

  • Venezuela week is rolling out larger-denomination banknotes as hyperinflation batters the crisis-stricken South American country’s bolivar currency.
  • Annual inflation in the once-prosperous OPEC nation was running at 2,665% in January, contributing to chronic shortages of cash.

Climate change clause in French constitution

  • The lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, on March 16, 2021 voted in favour of amending the country’s constitution with provisions that include climate and biodiversity protection.
  • The 391-47 vote on the climate bill marks the first step towards a referendum on the constitutional amendment.

EU blacklists Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Uighur minority

  • The European Union (EU) has agreed to blacklist Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Uighur Muslim minority.
  • It is the first sanctions against Beijing since an EU arms embargo in 1989 following the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
  • The 1989 EU arms embargo on China, its second-largest trade partner, is still in place.
  • EU ambassadors approved the travel bans and asset freezes on four Chinese individuals and one entity on March 17, 2021.

World’s Largest Floating Solar Farms being built in Singapore

  • The largest floating solar farm of the world is being built in Singapore.
  • The country has resorted to set up the energy plants off the coasts and reservoirs across it.
  • This floating solar farm is being set up in the light that despite being one of the smallest countries across the world, it is one of the biggest per capita carbon dioxide emitters.

Economy

USAID & DFC to Finance Renewable Energy in India

  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) have announced for a $41 million-loan guarantee program in order to finance the investment in the renewable energy solutions by Indian Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
  • It will also help in furthering the progress towards clean energy transition and climate change mitigation in India.

Bill to increase FDI in insurance sector to 74% passed

  • A bill to increase foreign direct investment limit in the insurance sector to 74 per cent from the current 49 per cent was passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 18, 2021.
  • Foreign investment will supplement domestic long-term resources with a view to further insurance penetration in the country.

India’s economy to contract by 6.9% in 2020; grow by 5% in 2021

  • India’s economy, estimated to contract by 6.9 per cent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, is forecast to record a “stronger recovery” in 2021 and grow by 5 per cent, according to a UN report which said the country’s current fiscal year budget points to a shift towards demand-side stimulus, with an uptick in public investment.
  • The report, ‘Out of the frying pan into the fire?’ published on March 18, 2021 as an update to the Trade and Development Report 2020 by UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Cabinet clears DFI with capital infusion of Rs 20000 crore

  • Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has cleared the proposal of setting up of the “Development Finance Institution (DFI) with the capital infusion of rupees 20,000 crore.
  • This proposal was approved in a bid to boost the infrastructure development in country.

RBI imposes Rs 2 crore penalty on SBI

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has announced on March 16, 2021 that it has fined India’s largest lending bank “State Bank of India (SBI)” with Rs 2 crore after it failed to follow the regulations in payment of remuneration to its employees through the commissions.

US Becomes India’s Second Biggest Oil Supplier

  • 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.

Awards

Grammy Awards 2021

  • 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 Stallion and Harry Styles.
  • 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.

Persons/places

Nawal Saadawi:Nawal Saadawi, a renowned Egyptian feminist, psychiatrist and novelist, whose writings have stirred controversy for decades in an overwhelming conservative society, died at the age of 89 in Cairo on March 21, 2021.

Lloyd James Austin III: US Secretary of Defence Lloyd James Austin III, was on an official visit to India, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on March 19, 2021.

Arindam Bagchi: He has been appointed as new Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The outgoing spokesperson Anurag Srivastava will now be joint secretary (north). Bagchi is a 1995-batch Indian Foreign Service officer.

G.V. Ramakrishna:The first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) after it became a statutorily empowered markets regulator, passed away on March 20, 2021. He was also the first chairman of the Disinvestment Commission and a member of the Planning Commission.

Appointments

SamiaSuluhu Hassan —first female president of Tanzania

SamiaSuluhu Hassan was sworn in on March 19, 2021 as Tanzania’s first female president after the demise of incumbent John Magufuli.

Katherine Tai- chief trade negotiator

The US Senate on March 17, 2021 unanimously approved the nomination of Katherine Tai as President Joe Biden’s chief trade negotiator.

M. A. Ganapathy appointed Director General of National Security Guard

  • Senior IPS officer M. A. Ganapathy was on March 16, 2021 appointed Director General of National Security Guard.
  • Ganapathy, a 1986 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Uttarakhand cadre, is currently Director General, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).

Kuldeep Singh appointed new Director General of Central Reserve Police Force

  • Senior IPS officer Kuldeep Singh was on March 16, 2021 appointed Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
  • Singh, a 1986 batch IPS officer of the West Bengal cadre, is presently the Special DG, CRPF.

Sports

All England Open Badminton Championships concludes in Birmingham

  • Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia won the Men’s Singles title while Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara won the Women’s Singles title at the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships 2021 that concluded in Birmingham on March 21, 2021.
  • Men’s Doubles title was won Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe.
  • Women’s Doubles title was won by Japan’s Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara. Mixed Doubles title was won by Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.

Kamalpreet Kaur breaks 9-year-old national record

  • Kamalpreet Kaur broke 9-year-old national record in women’s discus throw at Federation Cup athletics in Patiala on March 19, 2021.
  • The previous record of 64.76m was held by Krishna Punia. Kamalpreet also qualified for the Olympics where the qualifying mark is 63.50m.

India win gold in both team events in 10m air pistol in Shooting World Cup

  • A dominant India claimed both the gold medals on offer by some distance in the men’s and women’s 10m air pistol team events on the third competition day of the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi on March 21, 2021.
  • First, the trio of Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Manu Bhaker and Shri Nivetha won the top prize in the women’s team 10m air pistol event.
  • Then, the team of Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma and Shahzar Rizvi bagged the yellow metal in the men’s event.
  • India’s Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Deepak Kumar and Pankaj Kumar combined to win the silver medal in the men’s team air rifle event.
  • Gold was won by the US team of Lucas Kozeniesky, William Shaner and Timothy Sherry.

‘Girl Gang’ —-Official song of ICC Women’s World Cup 2022

  • Girl Gang, a track by New Zealand singer Gin Wigmore, has been announced as the official song of the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup.
  • The tournament is set to be hosted in New Zealand from March 4 to April 3, 2022. The International Cricket Council (ICC) made the announcement in an event on March 18, 2021.

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