Current Affairs Current Affairs March 2020

  On March 6, 2020, India joined the Indian Ocean Commission as the fifth observer. The other four observers in the grouping are Malta, China, European Union and OIF (International Organization of La Francophonie).
  • Highlights
It is important for India to join as an observer at the Commission because, it will help India in expanding its plans in Western Indian Ocean. The Western Indian Ocean strategically connects South Eastern Coast of Africa. However, this move is not connected with the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean. This is purely to support India interests in the western flanks of the Indo-Pacific region. The move will also support India in its SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region) policy. In the last two years, India has made several high-level visits and signed significant defence agreements with the member countries of Indian Ocean Commission.
  • Indian Ocean Commission
The Indian Ocean Commission was created in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius. It comprises of 5 African Indian Ocean Nations namely Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros, Reunion (France) and Seychelles.

 Every year, March 8th is marked as International Women’s Day. It was first proposed by the Socialist Party of America in 1909. However, it was pertained to New York City. The first International Women’s Day was marked first in 1909.
  • Theme
This year the International Women’s Day (ITW) is marked under the theme
  • Theme: An Equal World is an Enabled World
The United Nations began celebrating Women’s Day in 1975.
  • Women’s Day in India
For the first time in Indian history, women visiting monuments under Archaeological Survey of India are to be provided with free pass. This is being done to signify Indian Culture’s respect for women. Women are being worshipped as goddess in Indian Culture. PM Modi is to provide access to his social media account on IWD to inspiring women. The GoI has also initiated serious of actions including telecasting 14 women-oriented films, commemorating women members of constituent assembly, etc.

 On March 6, 2020, Ghojadanga of West Bengal and Agartala of Tripura were designated as land immigration check posts. They are located in Indo-Bangladesh border.
  • Highlights
The Government of India has designated Agartala and Ghojadanga to check all classes of passengers entering to and exiting from India. The immigration posts will check travel documents of the passengers.
  • Legislation
The check posts were authorized under Passport rules, 1950.
  • India-Bangladesh
Bangladesh is one of the strongest trading partners of India. Today, the trade between the countries stand at 10 billion USD. Also, Bangladesh is the largest contributor of tourism to India. Also, the visas issued by Indian high commission in Bangladesh is the highest of all the Indian missions. It issues more than 1 million visas annually.
  • LCS And Customs Ports
The movement of Goods and people are both routed through Land Customs Stations, immigration check posts and inland custom ports. India has adopted the policy of “Guarding and Securing” in order to secure its boundary at Bangladesh border.

 On March 6, 2020, the Ministry of AYUSH released digital platform called AYUSH GRID. The grid provides facilities associated with AYUSH hospitals and laboratories and promote traditional health care.
  • AYUSH GRID
There are more than 12,500 AYUSH centres in India. The “AYUSH GRID” platform aims to digitize entire AYUSH sector. The Ministry has launched AYUSH Hospital Information Management System, Yoga locator application, Tele-medicine, case registry portal, bhuvan application earlier. These projects are to be linked with AYUSH GRID at later stages.
  • National Ayurveda Morbidity Codes
The Ministry of AYUSH has developed National Ayurveda Morbidity Codes. These codes classify diseases described in Ayurveda. In the first phase of the initiative 4 disease conditions have been identified namely KAsa, Kushtha, Jwara and Shwasa.
  • AYUSH-Backbone of Ayushman Bharat
Ministry of AYUSH is the backbone of Ayushman Bharat Yojana. The GoI prescribed cross-pathy under the scheme. The ministry has also collaborated with Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to set up traditional knowledge digital library.

 On March 7, 2020, India officially shared two SARS-CoV-2 with the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID).
  • Highlights
The Pune based National Institute of Virology has shared two sequences of novel corona virus with Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data. It is important to study the genome sequences of the virus as it will help in epidemiological investigations. These include how the virus spreads and where the virus has come from, etc.
  • GISAID
The GISAID promotes international sharing of influenza virus sequences.
  • Corona Virus update
More than 100,000 are infected globally due to Corona Virus and spread across 90 countries. Around 31 people are currently infected with Corona Virus. It includes 16 Italian nationals as well. India has so far imposed travel restrictions to Iran, Italy and South Korea. Also, India has suspended issue of e-visas to Italy, Japan, Iran and South Korea.

 The United Nations Global Compact conducted a study recently and found that female labour participation has decreased from 34% in 2006 to 24.8% in 2020. The study also says that out of the 153 countries surveyed, India is the only country where economic gender gap is greater than political gap.
  • Key Findings
The Study says that if women labour participation has been the same as that of men, the GDP of the country shall be boosted by 27%. Globally 38.7% of employed women are working in forestry, agriculture and fisheries. However, only 13.85 of them are landholders.
  • Suggestions
The study suggests that corporate policies and public policies in India should ensure effective solutions. They should adapt life changes with their employees including dual career couples, maternity and changing care needs.
  • United Nations Global Compact
The United Nations Global Compact states 10 principles on human rights, anti-corruption, environment and labour. It encourages businesses world wide to adopt socially responsible policies.

  Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), the retirement fund body has lowered the interest rate from 8.65% to 8.50% on provident fund deposits for the financial year 2019-20. The announcement of the reduced interest rate was made by Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar. The decision was taken during the meeting of the EPFO apex decision making body-the Central Board of Trustee, held in New Delhi.

  The Union Government of India is envisaging to replace all level crossings on National Highways by Over/under Bridges. The replacement of all the level crossings on National Highways by Road Over Bridges or Road Under Bridges will be executed under the Setu Bharatam scheme. GoI aims to ensure safe and smooth flow of traffic and to decrease the road fatalities by 50% by 2020 with the replacement of All level crossings on NH by Over/under Bridges. The whole replacement work will be executed by Road Transport and Highways Ministry.
  • About Setu Bharatam Scheme:
The Setu Bharatam Scheme was launched by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 4th March in 2016. The scheme aims to build rail over-bridges or underpasses for safe and seamless travel on National Highways and to make all National Highways free of railway level crossings in order to prevent the frequent accidents and loss of lives at level crossings.

  The annual festival of St Antony’s Shrine begins in Katchatheevu Island of Sri Lanka. The festival began with the traditional flag hoisting ceremonies. St Antony is being worshiped by the devotees as the patron saint of sea farers. The St shrine is the only structure on the Katchatheevu island. Priests from both India and Sri Lanka conducts the mass and car procession in connection with the festival. The festival celebrations also featured the participation of more than 3,000 devotees from India. As per an agreement between the two governments, Indians are not required to possess an Indian passport or Sri Lankan visa for visiting Kachchatheevu.

  E-commerce giant Amazon has partnered with the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) under Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The partnership aims to facilitate e-marketing of products which are made by Self Help Groups (SHGs) across the nation in urban areas. It also aims to provide access of the products made by SHGs to the wider customer base. It will also strengthen the mission of creating sustainable livelihoods in urban areas. The partnership is also having an underlying narrative of women empowerment which will be instrumental in unleashing the natural entrepreneurial capability of urban women. The collaboration will also help in documenting and preserving the unique traditional art and crafts of different states. This kind of partnership was also done by DAY-NULM with Flipkart in the past.
  • About Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM):
DAY-NULM was launched under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to reduce poverty and vulnerability of the urban poor households. This programme enable the urban poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities. This accessibility to self-employment results in an appreciable improvement in their livelihoods on a sustainable basis.


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