Current Affairs News in Brief (11-20 March 2018)


In Tennis, Juan Martin del Potro ended world number one Roger Federer’s 17-match unbeaten run and bagged the Indian Wells Masters title in California. The eighth-seeded Argentine beat the veteran Swiss, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 in a thrilling Final.

India hosted the Informal WTO Ministerial Meeting on 19-20 March,2018. A cultural program, “Sangam”, showcasing India’s classical dance forms was presented during the meeting. The grand finale showcased India’s tribal dance “Chhau” of east, “Kalbelia” and the playful dance “Dandiya” of the west. The cultural evening was followed by dinner. The cultural program was an icebreaker for tomorrow’s informal discussions.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has greeted the Kashmiri Pundits on the occasion of Navreh on March 19, 2018.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has greeted the Sindhi Community on the occasion of Cheti Chand on March 19, 2018. During the festival people worshiped Lord Jhulelal.

To further boost the cooperation between India and Myanmar, Shri Rajen Gohain, Minister of State of Railways attended the formal handing over ceremony of 18th AC-DC 1350 HP diesel electric locomotive to Myanmar Railways, supplied by RITES and manufactured by Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi, India on March 19. These 18 locomotives are fitted with micro-processor control based system.

Seventh-seeded Chinese Shi Yuqi  defeated  Lin’ Dan by  21-19, 16-21, 21-9 to clinch the All-England Open Badminton title (Men). Tai Tzu Ying, the World No. 1 from Chinese Taipei, became the first women’s player in more than a decade to defend her title. She beat Akane Yamaguchi 22-20, 21-13.

Gauri Sheoran emerged the lone individual gold medallist for India, which finished third in the medals table with three gold, two silver and three bronze, in the World University shooting championship that concluded Kualalumpur on March 18. Italy topped the tally from among 24 teams, while Korea was second.

According to the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, women in Saudi Arabia need not wear headcover or the black abaya — the loose-fitting, full-length robe — as long as their attire is “decent and respectful”.

Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (TeH), headed by 87-year-old Syed Ali Geelani, on March 19 announced that Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, 78, is the new chairman of the separatist amalgam, clearing the decks for a “smooth transition” of leadership.

The Kerala High Court has ruled that women contract employees in government-funded projects are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave as applicable to women employees under the service rules.

Eminent Hindi poet and Jnanpith awardee Kedarnath Singh passed away in New Delhi on March 19 following a prolonged illness. He was 84. He was awarded Gyanpeeth Award in 2013. 

Turkish-backed forces have taken full control of the centre of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that units of the Free Syrian Army took control of Afrin on March 18.

‘Ugadi’, the Telugu New Year, was celebrated in Andhra Pradesh with traditional fervour and enthusiasm jon March 18 across Andhra Pradesh State. The festival is celebrated with people consuming ‘Ugadi pachadi’ (chutney) after taking head bath in the early hours of the day. The ‘pachadi’ is made of neem flowers, pieces of raw mango, tamarind juice and jaggery and bananas. The Ugadi pachadi symbolises that life is a mixture of different experiences and they should be taken with equanimity. Telugu speaking people start their day with Shadruchula Ugadi Pachadi across the continents.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, along with former Chief Minister and presently MP from Pauri Garhwal Major Gen(retd) Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri and Army chief Bipin Rawat inaugurated the Garhwal rifle war memorial hostel for boys and girls at Daanda Lakhaund, Dehradun on March 18.

Odisha’s largest freshwater lake, Ansupa, which silted up following drastic reduction of water inflow from the Mahanadi, may soon get a new lease of life. Chilika Development Authority, the nodal agency, has taken up restoration measures under funding from National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems. Authority is proposing to dredge the mouth of Huluhala Nullah, the lifeline of the lake, connecting Ansupa with Mahanadi and also maintain the gradient of the water channel to ensure flow of Mahanadi water into the lake.

Experts were puzzled by the death of around 40 pelicans at Kokkrebellur near Mandya. The deaths of the migratory birds have taken place over the last few months. Scientists and veterinarians have attributed the deaths to nematode (round worm) infestation, caused by ingesting contaminated water and fish.

Nitrogen polluton is a new threat to the Loktak lake. The health of the lake also affects the Phumdis, or the unique ‘floating islands’, on the lake. There are signs of calcium anomalies in some of the mollusc and other aquatic life in the lake.

The forest fire at Kurangani on the Western Ghats at Theni in Tamil Nadu has damaged the habitats. The Forest fires may be caused by different factors like natural causes, including lightning, but 99% of the fires in the forests are man-made.

A Falcon 9 rocket launched by Space X in 2017 punched a hole in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, temporarily disrupting GPS navigation. The hole was caused by a circular acoustic shock wave, seen for the first time, generated by the rocket’s peculiar nearly vertical trajectory.

The oldest nuclear DNA from Africa ever has been discovered in eastern Morocco, adding new clues to the world’s understanding of human history. The sequenced DNA dates back to approximately 15,000 years ago. This is the second major archaeological achievements made in Morocco in a year.

A new experiment indicates that marmoset calls may actually be part of a string of sequential segments, like words in a human language. The study was published in Current Biology.

Well known Malayalam writer M Sukumaran passed away on March 16. He was 76. Sukumaran was the recipient of the Kendra Sahitiya Akademi and Keral Sahitiya awards in 2006 and 1976. His short stories ‘Sangaganam’ and Unarthupattu’ have been made into films.

Escherichia coli, a pathogen seen in over 90% of Egyptian vultures that migrate to northwest India to spend the winter, tend to show significant difference in resistance to antibiotics within a single season, a study has found. The findings of the study, published in the journal Infection Ecology and Epidemiology, are significant because migrating wild birds can spread drug-resistant pathogens and cause disease. The resistance to multiple antibiotics was as high as about 71.5% in E. coli collected from vultures. 

The Uttar Pradesh government will purchase 40 lakh metric tonnes of wheat at minimum support price of ₹1,735 per quintal. A decision to this effect was taken at a Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on March 16.

Bollywood star Irrfan Khan, known internationally for his roles in blockbusters Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire, shocked fans  by revealing he has a rare tumour. Mr. Khan said he has been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour. The disease affects the body’s hormonal messaging system and studies suggest it afflicts just 35 in 1,00,000 people.

Infosys, India’s second-largest software exporter, on March 15 announced that it would open a technology and innovation hub in Hartford, Connecticut and hire 1,000 American workers in the State by 2022. The Connecticut hub would focus on insurance, healthcare and manufacturing.

The current account deficit (CAD) rose to 2% of the GDP or $13.5 billion in the December quarter, up from $8 billion or 1.4% in the year-ago period, on the back of higher trade deficit, according to Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The CAD, which shows the difference between foreign exchange earned and spent, stood at $7.2 billion or 1.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the preceding September quarter, according to the data released by the central bank on 16 March.

India’s trade deficit narrowed to $12 billion in February, its lowest in five months, amid concerns that a global trade war could hit its exports because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to hike import taxes on steel and aluminum. India’s merchandise exports are expected to touch $300 billion in the current fiscal year ending this month compared with $275.8 billion, mainly driven by a rise in commodity prices and strong demand in the U.S. and Europe.

The United States has challenged India’s export subsidy programmes at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The move comes close on the heels of a string of statements accusing India of “unfair” trade practices, by President Donald Trump. The USTR listed the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme; Export Oriented Units Scheme and sector specific schemes, including Electronics Hardware Technology Parks Scheme; Special Economic Zones; Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme, and a duty free imports for exporters programme as distorting trade in a way that allows Indian exporters “to sell their goods more cheaply to the detriment of American workers and manufacturers.

Canada’s top Sikh tycoon Bob Dhillon has donated Canadian $10 million to the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. The university has renamed its business school after him. It will henceforth be called the Dhillon School of Business. Calgary-based Bob (Navjeet) Dhillon is the president and CEO of the real estate giant Mainstreet Equity Corporation, which he started from the back of his car in the 1980s. 

The much-awaited vehicle scrap policy was given ‘in-principle’ approval at a high-level meeting at the PMO on March 16 to pave the way for mandatory disposal of commercial vehicles (CV) that are more than 20 years old from April 1, 2020.

Space travel caused lasting changes to 7% of genes of astronaut Scott Kelly, according to a NASA study which compared his DNA to that of his identical twin brother, who remained on the earth. NASA has a grasp on what happens to the body after the standard-duration six-month missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS), but Scott Kelly’s one-year mission is seen as a stepping stone to a three-year mission to Mars.

More than 50,000 MW of stressed power projects, worth more than ₹2.5 lakh crore, with bank exposure of more than ₹1.75 lakh crore, are likely to face bankruptcy proceedings as, among others, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had scrapped all loan restructuring programmes in February.

Prominent Lebanese novelist and women’s rights activist Emily Nasrallah has died at the age of 87. Her latest book, published just this week and entitled The Beautiful Times, is a journey through Lebanon in the 1950s.

Indonesians could be jailed for criticising national politicians under a new law which came into force on March 15. The Bill passed the Parliament in February 2018 but has just become official, over the objections of President Joko Widodo. It opens to the door to pressing charges against anyone who disrespects Parliament or its members. 

The Finance Ministry has declined a recommendation from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence to have a fixed allocation of 3% of GDP for the Defence Ministry.

Rebel AIADMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran on Thursday floated a political party, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) and unveiled its flag that retained the ruling party’s black, white and red stripes but replaced the image of late C.N. Annadurai in the centre with that of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The Pranab Mukherjee Foundation was formally launched in New Delhi on March 15. The foundation will initiate, support and execute projects that will create and use knowledge, creativity and innovation to improve the quality of life in rural, semi-urban and urban areas and contribute to the building of an inclusive India.

A species of spotted marsupial, the eastern quoll devastated by foxes has been returned to the wild in mainland Australia for the first time in almost 50 years, in a rare and landmark conservation success story. The eastern quoll — a furry carnivore about the size of a domestic cat — disappeared from the mainland in the 1960s, but clung on in the island state of Tasmania. They have now been reintroduced to their native environment on the country’s east coast after a 15-year project to bring feral predators in one area under control.

Poseidon (Jagadeesh up) won the Governor’s Trophy, the chief event of the races held on  Mar 16. The winner is owned by Mr. H.K. Lakshman Gowda, Mrs. Divyajyothi C.M., Mrs. Shruthiba L. Gowda and Mr. V. Lokanath and trained by Lokanath.

Former Delhi batsman Prem Bhatia passed away on 13 March following prolonged illness. He was 78. In the inaugural Irani Cup match (March 18, 19, 20; 1960) at the Railway Stadium, Bhatia turned out for Rest of India against Bombay and made scores of 22 (batting at No. 9) and 50 (batting at No. 3). Interestingly, he was named 12th man for Rest of India but was allowed to bat on the insistence of Lala Amarnath, who was also a National selector.

The Delhi Police on March 16 booked Jawaharlal Nehru University Professor Atul Johri on charges of sexual harassment after seven students approached the police.

The Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) claimed  that a cloned Assamese buffalo male calf has been born for the first time on March 15 in Hisar, Haryana.

The government has released ₹3,633 crore between 2014-15 and 2016-17 for cleaning the Ganga and beautifying ghats along it, the Lok Sabha was informed on on March 15. The construction and beautification of 228 of the total 361 ghats sanctioned have been completed till now under the Centre’s Namami Gange programme. Of these, 189 ghats are located along the river’s stretch in West Bengal. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand works on 20, 16, two and one ghats have been completed till date respectively.

 The Maharashtra government on March 15 decided to banned  all kinds of plastic bags, irrespective of its thickness across the state. Besides plastic bags other items made of plastic and thermocol and all kinds of cutlery items will also be banned.  The ban is likely to come in force from March 18.

The Haryana assembly on March 15 passed a Bill to make amendments to Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections pertaining to sexual offences against women and children in the state. The Criminal Law (Haryana amendment), Bill 2018 entails enhancement of punishment, including the death penalty for those convicted of raping girls up to 12 years of age.

The Haryana Assembly on March 15 passed a Bill to set up Maharishi Balmiki Sanskrit University at Kaithal. Maharishi Balmiki Sanskrit University, Kaithal Bill, 2018 was unanimously passed by the House to establish and incorporate a teaching-cum-affiliating university at Kaithal to facilitate and promote higher education with special emphasis on Sanskrit literature, vedas, philosophy, Indian culture and Indic languages.

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, on March 16,   laid the Foundation Stone of the National Sports University in Manipur.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has asked Australia to become a full member of the Association of South East Asian Nations, ASEAN.  Australia has been a dialogue partner of ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, since 1974. They began biennial leaders’ summits in 2016, with the first in Vientiane.

Qatar has announced a 50 million Dollars donation to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The donation was made during the extraordinary ministerial meeting of UNRWA held in Rome, Italy in the presence of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Qatar also announced that it has continued to finance projects implemented by the UNRWA, especially in the education and health sectors. Qatar is facing a nine-month boycott by its Gulf allies, which accused Doha of supporting extremist political movements in the Middle East, including Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas. 

A Patiala court on March 16, 2018 convicted singer Daler Mehndi in a human trafficking case and was sentenced to two years imprisonment. 

The Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly on March 15 passed the Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill 2018. Now the state will have two-tier Panchayati Raj System. The 73rd amendment of the constitution allows states having population of less than 20 lakh to have a two-tier Panchayati Raj system, instead of a three. Arunachal Pradesh has a population of around 14 lakh only.

Union minister Nitin Gadkari on March 16, 2018  inaugurated the 5th Nadi Mahotsava at Bandrabhan of Hoshangabad District of Madhya Pradesh. He addressed people saying that the pioneering event like Nadi Mahotsava started by late Union Minister Anil Madhav Dave will not only revive rivers, but also improve the condition of people living on their banks. 

Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on March 16, 2018 signed a $120 million loan agreement for completion of works for double-tracking and electrification of railways tracks along high-density corridors to improve operational efficiency of Indian railways. The tranche 3 loan is part of the $500 million multi-tranche financing facility for Railway Sector Investment Program approved by the ADB Board in 2011. The loan amount will be used to complete the ongoing works commenced under earlier tranches.

AIADMK leader and MLA from R.K. Nagar constituency of Tamil Nadu, TTV Dhinakaran has announced the name of his new party. He named it Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam after late J Jayalalithaa.

As per the Supreme Court directive issued last month, closure of iron ore extraction activity in Goa will be effective from midnight (15 March).

Nepal’s powerful judicial council has removed the country’s Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli for holding office despite crossing the retirement age.  The judicial council said Chief Justice Parajuli’s date of birth mentioned in his identity papers and academic certificates did not match. The retirement cut-off for state officials in Nepal is 65. The council said, Chief Justice Parajuli should have retired seven months ago.

According to the new study, the famous dino-bird Archaeopteryx was fully capable of flying despite key skeletal differences from its modern cousins, though not exactly gracefully. Think Wright Brothers, not F-22 fighter jet. Scientists examined Archaeopteryx’s wing architecture using state-of-the-art scanning and compared it to a range of birds, closely related dinosaurs and the extinct flying reptiles called pterosaurs. They concluded it could fly in bursts over relatively short distances like pheasants, peacocks and roadrunners.

NASA has announced a global cloud observation challenge — inviting citizen scientists to observe and track clouds using their smartphones. From March 15 through April 15, citizen scientists of all ages can make up to 10 cloud observations per day using the GLOBE Observer app.

Pop superstar Madonna has announced that she will direct a biopic about Michaela DePrince, a war orphan from Sierra Leone who overcame overwhelming odds to become a successful ballerina. Taking Flight, taken from the name of DePrince’s 2014 autobiography, will be the musical icon’s third time as a feature film director after Filth and Wisdom in 2008 and W.E. in 2011.


United States has challenged Indian export subsidies schemes at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) saying these programmes harm American workers by creating an uneven playing field. The US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer has alleged that at least half a dozen Indian programmes provide financial benefits to Indian exporters, which allow them to sell their goods more cheaply to the detriment of American workers and manufacturers. 

According to the ATP World Tour Ken Flach, one of the best doubles players has died. He won the 1987 and 1988 Wimbledon titles and the 1988 Olympic gold with long-time partner Robert Seguso. He also U.S. Open titles with Seguso (1985) and Rick Leach (1993) and partnered Kathy Jordan for the mixed doubles crowns at the French Open and Wimbledon in 1986.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar has resigned, hours after the Supreme Court annulled the result of a September referendum that approved a 1-billion-euro railway project, the centre-left government’s biggest investment programme. Former law professor Cerar, 54, took office in 2014 when his SMC party scored a stunning electoral victory just one month after being created, having vowed to lead Slovenia back from the edge of economic crisis.

U.S. President Donald Trump has picked economic analyst Larry Kudlow, who worked under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, to replace Gary Cohn as the top White House economic adviser.

American pop-rock band OneRepublic, best known for their songs Apologize, Secrets and Good Life, will in  perform in Mumbai on April 21. 

Sarveshwar Foods t is only the second company from the state of Jammu & Kashmir to be ever listed on Indian exchanges. The last — effectively the first as well — company from J&K listed on the bourses was in 1998 when Jammu & Kashmir Bank went public.

The World Bank forecasts India’s economic growth will accelerate to 7.3% in 2018-19, from 6.7% in the current financial year, before gathering momentum to a 7.5% pace in 2019-20. The Central Statistics Office has projected GDP growth for the 12 months ending March 31, at 6.6%.

The National Green Tribunal on March 14 directed the Chief Secretary of Uttarakhand to present himself before it and explain the steps taken by the authorities to clean the Ganga in the stretch between Gomukh and Haridwar.

According to the recent  study by Orb Media, tests on more than 250 bottles from 11 brands reveal contamination with plastic, including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

German lawmakers voted on March 14, 2018 to re-elect Angela Merkel as Chancellor for a fourth term. They voted by 364 to 315, with nine abstentions, in favour of re-electing her.

The Madhya Pradesh government on March 14 told the Legislative Assembly that it has set an October 2 target to end open defecation in the State.

The Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala has demonetised note bundles with a total face value of about ₹25 crore. The scrapped currency in the denomination of ₹1,000 .

Nearly 1,680 cases of custodial deaths were registered by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the last 10 months in the country. 1,530 deaths in judicial custody and 144 under police custody were registered.

The Majlis Park-Durgabai Deshmukh South Campus section of Delhi Metro’s Pink Line was inaugurated on March 14, 2018.

The single-storey shrine of Baba Farid, a 13th Century Sufi saint revered by Muslims and Sikhs equally on both sides of the Line of Control, was “extensively” damaged due to lightning in Kashmir’s Baramulla district on 14 March.

The Lok Sabha on March 14passed the Finance Bill, 2018, with 21 amendments, some of which had to do with the long-term capital gains tax on equity announced in the Budget speech by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The amended Finance Act also made changes to the rules regarding how start-ups can avail of tax deductions on profits.

The Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) 2017, which uses 150 parameters to judge 23 cities, has placed Pune at the top and at the bottom of the rankings. While Pune scored 5.1 out of a maximum score of 10, got just 3. But Indian cities lagged behind global cities like New York and London, which scored 8.8.

Britain decided to expel 23 Russian diplomats and withdraw an invitation for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to visit the country as the first concrete actions in response to the unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom. The moves come in response to the poisoning of the former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury earlier earlier March 2018. 

Bidya Devi Bhandari was re-elected as Nepal’s president for a second term on 14 March. She was the candidate of the ruling Left Alliance, and was supported by two major Madhesi parties. She defeated Kumari Laxmi Rai of the main opposition Nepali Congress. Bhandari got 39,275 votes while Rai couild muster only 11,730 votes.

Noted film and television actor Narendra Jha passed away on March 14 following a heart attack. He was 55. The actor best is known for his performances in films such as “Raees”, “Kaabil” and “Haider”.

Researchers in Chennai have developed an online database of 960 phytochemicals identified in Indian medicinal plants, making them potential candidates for creating new drugs.

Indian tea exports touched a record high in 36 years at 240.68 million kgs in the year 2017. The previous high of 241.3 million kgs was achieved in the year 1981.

The Union Cabinet  has given its ex-post-facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Iran for cooperation in the field of agriculture and allied sectors. The MoU was signed on 17th February, 2018 during the visit of the President of Iran to India. The MoU provides for cooperation in the areas of agricultural crops, agricultural extension, horticulture, machinery, post harvest technology, plant quarantine measures, credit and cooperation. 

The Union Cabinet  has given its ex-post-facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Iran on cooperation in the field of Health and Medicine. The MoU was signed on 17th February, 2018 during the visit of the President of Iran to India. The MoU will encourage cooperation between the two countries and strengthen bilateral ties between them. (14 March)

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between India and Iran in the field of Traditional Systems of Medicine (14 March, 2018)

The Union Cabinet  has been apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Sri Lanka for promoting cooperation in the field of Information Technology and Electronics.  The MoU was signed on 15th January, 2018 during the visit of Minister of Law & Justice and Electronics & Information Technology, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad to Sri Lanka. (14 March)

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income between India and Iran. (March 14).

A study of two meteorites, which fell in Assam and Rajasthan over a span of 13 hours in 2017, by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has concluded that they may contain significant clues to the origins of life. On June 5, 2017 a meteorite weighing 3.014 kg fell in Natun Balijan village in Tinsukia, Assam. Thirteen hours later, early on June 6, another meteorite, weighing 2.23 kg, fell in Mukundpura village under Sadiya subdivision near Jaipur.

Gina Haspel, Deputy Director of the CIA, will succeed Mr. Pompeo as CIA director. She will become the CIA’s first woman director.

Mike Pompeo, now Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), will replace Rex Tillerson as U.S. Secretary of State, President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday. Mr. Pompeo will take charge once his appointment is confirmed by the Senate.

The Supreme Court indefinitely extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile phones and tatkal passports and for opening bank accounts from March 31, 2018, till the Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, pronounces its final verdict on the validity of the Aadhaar scheme. However March 31, 2018, continues to be the deadline for linking Aadhaar to subsidies, benefits and services prescribed under Section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016.

V.K. Jain, adviser to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had said that he had witnessed the alleged assault on Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash at Mr. Kejriwal’s residence in February 2018, has resigned on March 13..

India’s largest power generator NTPC Ltd. has commissioned 3rd unit of the 800 MW Kudgi Super Thermal Power Station with effect from March 12, 2018. With this, the total capacity of Kudgi Super Thermal Power Station has gone up to 2400 MW. With this commissioning, the capacity of NTPC and NTPC group stands at 45300 MW and 52191 MW respectively. NTPC has 20 coal based, 7 gas based, 11 solar PV, two Hydro, one wind and 8 Subsidiaries / Joint Venture power stations. The company is currently building an additional capacity of over 20,000 MW at multiple locations in the country.

Matt Wallace of United Kingdom became  the first Englishman to win the $1.75 million Hero Indian Open title in Gurugram on 11 March. Golfer Shubhankar Sharma finished tied 7th at the Indian Open – another top-10 finish for him on the European Tour, of which he is No 1 on the order of merit.

Beneath the elegant curves of the roof on the Seirinji Buddhist temple in Japan’s Fukushima region hangs an unlikely adornment: a Geiger counter collecting real-time radiation readings. The machine is sending data to Safecast. It has now built the world’s largest radiation dataset, thanks to the efforts of citizen scientists like Seirinji’s priest Sadamaru Okano.

Scientists have identified 36 new genes linked to heart failure, paving the way for novel personalised drug therapies to treat or prevent the deadly condition. Researchers from Northeastern University in the U.S. confirmed that one of those genes plays a causal role in cardiac hypertrophy — abnormal thickening of the heart muscle — which can lead to heart failure.

Russia on March 11  successfully launched a hypersonic missile, one President Vladimir Putin earlier this month called “an ideal weapon”. The high-precision Kinzal (Dagger) missile was launched from a MiG-31 interceptor jet that took off from an airfield in the South Military District in Russia’s southwest.

In a new initiative by the Narendra Modi government, a band of Indian officials posted to three missions in the United States now promote ‘Indian culture’ as part of diplomacy. Designated as ‘Yoga and Indian Culture Acharya’, the three officials in Washington DC, New York and Chicago are experts in Sanskrit, Yoga and Hindu scriptures. They were selected by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) through a special recruitment process and have diplomatic passports and offices in Indian missions.

The country’s first national academy to train police forces in effectively safeguarding the Indian shoreline will start functioning in Devbhumi Dwarka district of Gujarat from next month. The Union Home Ministry recently sanctioned the launch of the National Academy of Coastal Policing (NACP) from a campus of Gujarat’s Fisheries Research Centre located in coastal Okha. To be run by a team of paramilitary and defence forces, the academy will sharpen the skills of marine forces of coastal States.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) will revise its guidelines for child participants of television shows, following the recent controversy over singer Angarag Papon Mahanta kissing a minor contestant of a reality programme. The guidelines were framed in 2011 before the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015, the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act of 2012, and the Child Labour Act of 2016. So guidelines will be revised as per the new laws.

The question paper packets of the West Bengal Secondary Examinations  have been fitted with a microchip which will send an alert to its server as soon as the seal is broken. As per the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education chief, the microchip will be put on a sticker on the sealed envelope containing the question papers. The specially designed envelopes will be GPS-enabled, enclosed by a seal. If the seal is broken, the data will be passed on to the central server at the control room at the Board office.

Minister for Ladakh Affairs, Chhering Dorjay on March 11, 2018 inaugurated a national workshop named “DRDO Initiative of Women Augmenting Services” (DIWAS – 2018) in Leh. The workshop is being organized to celebrate the International Women’s Day by Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), the Leh based premier Life Sciences cluster laboratory of DRDO.

India’s Akhil Sheoran has clinched the gold medal in men’s 50 metre rifle 3 position at the ISSF World Cup in Mexico. In the event being held at Guadalajara, Sheoran shot 455.6 in the final on 11 March to pip Austria’s Bernhard Pickl to second place with 452. Sheoran’s gold was India’s fourth of the competition and makes it almost certain that the country would finish on top of the medals tally for the first time in an ISSF World Cup.

Reigning Asian champion Navjot Kaur has become world No 2 in the women’s 65 kg category in the latest rankings released by the United World Wrestling. Navjot became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the recent Asian Championship in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. This is Navjot’s career-best ranking. The pole position in the 65 kg category belonged to 2015 World Championship silver medallist Petra Olli of Finland. Both Olli and Navjot have 18 points each.

The luxury train ‘Palace on Wheels’ of Rajasthan, popular among foreign tourists, has bagged the ‘Tourist Train of the Year’ award of the Pacific Area Travel Writers’ Association. State Director (Tourism) Pradeep Kumar Borar received the award from Union Minister of State for Tourism K.J. Alphons.

John Sulston, a Nobel Prize-winning British scientist who helped decode the human genome, has died. He was 75. Sulston shared the Nobel in 2002 for his contribution to work unravelling how genes control cell division. He traced the adult nematode worm, C. elegans, to decipher how cells divide and create something new, findings the Sanger Institute said were key to understanding how cancers develop.

In a first, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has started collating data on online child sexual abuse.The move comes after a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs chaired by P. Chidambaram pulled up officials for not reporting the cases.

Vietnam’s Nguyen Huong Giang has been crowned this year’s “Miss International Queen” in Thailand at one of the world’s top beauty pageants for transgender women. The winner fended off 26 competitors, from different parts of the world, to clinch the coveted crown in the seaside town of Pattaya, where the popular contest has been running since 2004.

According to the chief election commissioner OP Rawat, as many as 32 crore Aadhaar numbers have been linked to voter ID cards.  Another 54.5 crore will be done as soon as we get a nod from the Supreme Court.  He told reporters on the sidelines of the 14th National Conference of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an NGO, in Bengaluru. 

On the 59th anniversary of Tibetan Uprising Day, US Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on March 10 sought to re-energise international efforts to ensure meaningful autonomy for Tibet. 

The Delhi Women’s Commission had launched a satyagraha ‘Rape Roko Movement’ after an eight-month-old child was raped in the Capital. On February 23, the commission had written to all MPs asking them to extend their support to the movement which aims at urging the Centre to introduce stringent punishment to those accused of raping minors.

A Turkish court sentenced 24 journalists to prison on March 9 for alleged links to a religious sect that the government calls a terrorist group and that has been blamed for a failed coup attempt in 2016. Most of the journalists worked for news outlets considered friendly to Fetullah Gulen, a cleric living in Pennsylvania. 

An Ohio hospital (US) where approximately 2,000 frozen eggs and embryos may have been damaged by a storage tank malfunction has apologised to patients. The unexplained rise in temperatures in a liquid nitrogen tank occurred  at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center’s suburban fertility clinic.

The new WHO guide, titled ‘Tobacco product regulation: Building laboratory testing capacity’, and a collection of country approaches to regulation of menthol in tobacco products, presented in the publication, titled ‘Case studies for regulatory approaches to tobacco products — Menthol in tobacco products’, were launched at the 2018 World Conference on Tobacco or Health recently.

17th edition of Bangla Boi Mela (Bengali Book Fair) and Literary Festival will be held in New Delhi from March 12. The book fair which is touted as the third largest outside West Bengal will have more than 60 stalls, from West Bengal, Tripura and Delhi and Bangladesh. 

The Hyderabad police on March 10 detained several activists and leaders, including Prof. M. Kodandaram, who sought to take out the ‘Million March’ to supposedly commemorate the first such march that took place in 2011 as part of the agitation for a separate Telangana.

Commerce and Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu was on March 10 given additional charge of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, a day after the resignation of TDP’s Ashok Gajapathi Raju was accepted by President Ram Nath Kovind.

The World Health Organisation says that 423,000 Indians die each year of tuberculosis (TB), which is about 1,159 people a day. As standard TB-drug treatments are ineffective for nearly 1,30,000 of the 2.8 million TB patients in India, two relatively-new and powerful drugs, bedaquiline and delamanid, could benefit such patients with drug-resistant (DR) TB. With a success rate of approximately 70%, these drugs are now being called ‘magic bullets’. The Indian government says that nearly 13,000-20,000 patients qualify for treatment with these drugs.

The irritable bowel disease refers to a group of disorders stemming from inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Now, colitis, a type of IBD, has been linked to a gene Clorf106 by researchers from Canada and the U.S., in Science. Modulation of this gene may now hold a cure for IBDs, including colitis. 

High-altitude areas have increased rates of suicide and depression, suggests a review of research evidence in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. This might be explained by blood oxygen levels due to low atmospheric pressure, say the authors of the report. Moreover, the areas investigated were largely sites in the United States. 

Suresh ‘Bhaiyyaji’ Joshi was on 10 march re-elected as the sarkaryavah (general secretary) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh by the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the highest decision-making and policy formulation body of the organisation, at its annual meeting in . He will hold the post for three years.

The Pranab Mukherjee Foundation, which aims to work in the field of research, education, and rural development, will be inaugurated on March 15 in New Delhi. 

The absence of a protein critical to the control of inflammation may lead to rapid and severe bone loss. Further, when the gene needed to produce the protein tristetraprolin (TTP) was removed from healthy mice, the animals developed the bones of much older rodents. 

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have been successful in keeping tomatoes fresh and without any microbial spoilage for as long as 30 days. This was possible thanks to the food packaging material developed by a two-member team led by Dr. Mudrika Khandelwal from the institute’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering. The food packaging material is made of bacterial cellulose impregnated with silver nanoparticles. Bacterial cellulose was first prepared by using Gluconacetobacter xylinus bacteria to produce semicrystalline cellulose nanofibre from a standard glucose media.

Using cryo-electron tomography, researchers at Sweden and the U.S. have visualized the nanostructure of the human sperm’s tail, a part without which it cannot navigate. They found that it is made of thousands of microtubules which contain thousands of motorproteins which help it move.

An illegal gold mine near town of Devala in the Nilgiris, around 70 km from Udhagamandalam was in the enws recently. 

Current News in Brief (1-10 March 2018)

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