Current Affairs Current Affairs March 2020

  The 35th edition of AAHAR – the Food and Hospitality fair began in New Delhi. This fair is being organized by India Trade Promotion Organisation, ITPO, with support of the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Agriculture and Processed Food Products Development Authority and several apex industry associations. This year, the fair will feature a wide range of food products, machinery, hospitality, Food and Beverage Equipment and Decoration items, and Confectionery items from over 750 participants from India and overseas. In the foreign category, the fair will witness participation from countries, including Hong Kong, Israel, Indonesia, Japan, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, UK and UAE. The event will also offer an insight into operational and food safety concerns and innovations to become energy-efficient, finding budget-friendly raw materials boosting productivity, while still aiming for greater profitability.

  Luxembourg, the 7th smallest country in Europe, has been made public transport free to reduce traffic pressure on the road. It becomes the 1st country in the world to make public transport free. It abolished fares for trains, trams and buses. The main reason is to have a better quality of mobility, and then the side reason is clearly also environmental issues. All standard-class journeys on public transport in the tiny and wealthy European country are now free of charge, compared to an annual pass worth 440 euros ($485) before. Travellers can still pay for first-class, at a cost of 660 euros a year. Luxembourg has just over 600,000 inhabitants, but 214,000 more travel in for work every day from neighbouring Germany, Belgium and France, causing heavy traffic jams as the majority of workers commute by car. More than half of Luxembourg’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. It is expected that more than 65% of people in Luxembourg use their car to go to work in 2025, down from 73% in 2017.

  According to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the exercise of consolidation of 10 public sector banks (PSBs) into four is on course and the merger will come into effect from the new financial year 1st April 2020. The Union Cabinet has given a go-ahead for the merger proposal. The Central government has been in regular touch with these banks. Finance Minister stated that the merger of Public Sector Banks’ merger is on course and decisions have already been taken by the respective bank boards. In the biggest consolidation exercise in the banking sector, the union government in August 2019 had announced four major mergers of public sector banks, bringing down their total number to 12 from 27 in 2017.
As per the plan, PSBs will be merged into:-
  • 1. United Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce will be merged with Punjab National Bank
  • 2. Syndicate Bank will be merged with Canara Bank
  • 3. Allahabad Bank will be amalgamated with Indian Bank
  • 4. Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank will be consolidated with Union Bank of India
The Plan had been first publicly mooted in December 2018 when Central Bank of India (RBI) stated that India could create some global banking majors if the then ongoing mergers of some state-owned banks achieve the desired impact of creating stronger and well-capitalized lenders of international level. In 2019, Mumbai based Dena Bank and Bengaluru based Vijaya Bank were merged with Bank of Baroda. Prior to this, the central government had merged five associate banks of State Bank of India and Bharatiya Mahila Bank with the State Bank of India effective from 1st April 2017.

 Former Indian cricketer Sunil Joshi becomes the new chairman of the national selection panel by the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) in Mumbai. The CAC also select former Indian cricketer Harvinder Singh for a place in the five-member group. The CAC, comprising Madan Lal, RP Singh and Sulakshana Naik, select the two selectors with Joshi replacing South Zone representative MSK Prasad. Harvinder Singh was chosen from the railway zone and replaces Gagan Khoda in the 5 member panel. The CAC will review the panel’s performance after one year and make recommendations accordingly.

  The Ministry of External Affairs announced Senior diplomat Sanjay Kumar Panda has been appointed as India’s Ambassador to Turkey. He will succeed Sanjay Bhattacharya. He is a 1991 Indian Foreign Service officer, is presently Consul General, Consulate General of India, San Francisco. He is appointed to the post when India- Turkey relations are under strain.

 Government of India appointed the current Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey as the new Finance Secretary. Pandey replaces current Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment. He had earlier worked as chief executive officer of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the organization behind the Aadhaar.
The senior-most bureaucrat among all secretaries in the Finance Ministry is designated as the finance secretary.
  • Atanu Chakraborty, a 1985 batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, is present secretary, Department of Economic Affairs. The new one rupee notes will have his bilingual signature.
  • Tuhin Kant Pandey, a 1987 batch IAS officer of Odisha cadre, is secretary of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management.
  • T V Somanathan, a 1987 batch IAS officer from Tamil Nadu cadre, is secretary, Department of Expenditure.
  • Debasish Panda is financial services secretary.

 The fourth edition of the Women Transforming India Awards 2019 will be organised on the occasion of International Women’s Day i.e. on 8 March 2020. The Women Transforming India Awards 2019 will be organised by the Women Entrepreneurship Platform of the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India). The WTI awards will be conferred by the Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh to the exceptional women change makers from across India.
  • About the Women Transforming India Awards:
To recognize and celebrate stories of exceptional women change makers, NITI Aayog instituted the Women Transforming India Awards four years ago. The WTI recognizes the inspiring stories of women entrepreneurs who are breaking the glass ceiling.
  • About the Women Entrepreneurship Platform:
The Women Entrepreneurship Platform aims to transform the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women in India. It unites the stakeholders to provide information and services which can resolve the existing information asymmetry. It was framed on three pillars namely: Iccha Shakti, Gyan Shakti and Karma Shakti. It provides incubator support, mentorship, funding avenues, compliance and taxation support and peer learning to established as well as aspiring women entrepreneurs.

  The state government of Uttarakhand has announced that “Gairsain” will be the summer capital of Uttarakhand. Gairsain is a tehsil located in Chamoli district. The historic announcement was made by the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat on the conclusion of his budget speech during the assembly session held in Gairsain. The state Assembly of Uttarakhand is located in Dehradun while assembly sessions are also held in Gairsain. Uttarakhand was formed on the 9th November 2000 when it was carved out as a separate state from Uttar Pradesh. It became the 27th State of India. After the formation of the state, Dehradun was stated as the provisional capital of Uttarakhand. Garsain was always demanded by the statehood activists as the permanent capital of the state.

 Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath inaugurated and laid foundation stones for 23 development projects worth Rs 2,821 crore at Gautam Buddh Nagar in Noida on 3rd March 2020. Among the 23 projects, 13 projects were inaugurated at the total worth of Rs 1,452 crore, while foundation stones were laid for 10 projects worth Rs 1,369 crore.
The various project setting up:
  • India’s biggest multi-level parking with space for 7,000 vehicles at Sector 38A, Rs 500 crore.
  • Underground parking for 276 cars and 42 two-wheelers at Sector 5, Rs 32.25 crore.
  • A government hospital in Sector 39, Rs 344 crore.
  • Three power substations at Sector 148, Rs 366 crore.
  • Two power substations at Sector 38A, Rs 98.45 crore and Rs 10 crore.
  • A foot-over bridge at Sector 145 metro station (Rs 10.81 crore), another in Sector 62 (Rs 5 crore), one between Sector 71 and 72 (Rs 5 crore) and four pink toilets in sectors 16, 15, 28 and 74 (altogether costing Rs 0.76 crore).

 The International Advanced Research for Powder Metallurgy & New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad has developed a fuel cell technology called Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells (PEMFC). The ARCI, Hyderabad is an autonomous R&D Centre of Department of Science and Technology (DST). It has developed an in-house PEMFC systems in the power range of 1 to 20 kiloWatt (kW) for Disaster Management.
  • About Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells:
The Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cells has been developed by ARCI in the power range of 1 to 20 kiloWatt (kW). The in-house PEMFC system has operational capability at low-temperatures with applications in decentralised power generation systems. It has been observed that when an Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) would be backed with 10 kW system along with fuel cell stack, air moving sub systems, power control devices and control and monitoring system will perform as a natural disaster management measure. This system backing EOC is expected to provide immediate support during the Golden Hour of the disaster. The Fuel cell systems provides sustainable electricity using hydrogen gas without the need of grid power as required by conventional battery backup systems.

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