1. The Government Of India Has Slashed The Interest Rates On Provident Fund , Kisan Vikas Patra And On Small Saving Schemes
i. The government on Friday slashed interest rates on small-savings schemes, including the Public Provident Fund and Kisan Vikas Patra.
ii. The decision is aimed at aligning these administered interest rates closer to the market rates. The new rates will come into effect on April 1 and will be valid till June 30.
iii. After the decision taken last month to revise the interest rates on small savings every quarter, the rate under the Public Provident Fund scheme will be cut to 8.1 per cent for the period from April 1 to June 30 from 8.7 per cent, said a Finance Ministry order.
iv. While the interest rate on the KVP will be cut to 7.8 per cent from 8.7 per cent, that on post office savings is retained at 4 per cent. The rates on term deposits of duration varying from one to five years have been cut.
v. The five-year National Savings Certificates will earn interest at the rate of 8.1 per cent as against 8.5 per cent now. A five-year Monthly Income Account will fetch 7.8 per cent as opposed to 8.4 per cent now. The girl-child saving scheme, Sukanya Samriddhi Account, will have an interest rate of 8.6 per cent as against 9.2 per cent. The senior citizen savings scheme of five years will earn 8.6 per cent compared with 9.3 per cent. The rates on the post office term deposits are being cut from 8.4 per cent to 7.1 per cent for one-year time deposits, 7.2 per cent for two-year time deposits and 7.4 per cent for three-year time deposits.
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2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurated Krishi Unnati Mela in New Delhi
i. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurate three-day ‘Krishi Unnati Mela’ providing information on new farm schemes and technologies that will help farmers double their incomes within the next few years.
ii. National fair, from March 19-21, will have separate workshops on key schemes like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana, e-agriculture marketing, integrated farming system, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojan, soil health and livestock issues.
iii. In this fair live demonstration of agriculture and horticultural crops, animal husbandry, innovative technologies and farm mechanisation in big plots.
iv. Both public and private companies will display their farm inputs and technologies in over 500 stalls.
v. The plan additionally calls for bringing ministries, offices, organizations, research and financial institutions occupied with creation and recycling of water under one platform so that an exhaustive and holistic outlook of the whole water cycle is considered.
3. SC Allows Pictures of governors, chief ministers and minister in govt advertisements
i. Supreme Court allowed now use of pictures of Chief Ministers, Governors and Cabinet ministers in the government’s media advertisements.
ii. The SC had earlier ruled that the advertisements could only have pictures of the President, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India.
iii. The earlier order was aimed at removing the association between government policy and politicians.
iv. Chief Ministers and Ministers both at Centre and states had become “nameless and faceless” in government advertisements after the apex court had in May last year held that only photos of three functionaries-President, Prime Minister and Chief Justice–would be published in advertisements.
v. The Centre in its petition argued that it is for the government to decide whose photographs should be published and what the content of advertisements should be.
4. Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan launched FCI’s Depot Online System
i. Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan on 17 March 2016 launched the Online Depot System in New Delhi to automate all the operations of Food Corporation of India (FCI) depots.
ii. The key objective of the Depot Online System is to align with Digital India vision for transformation of food distribution supply chain in India.
iii. The system, which efficiently captures data online on a real time basis, will bring total transparency in the working of FCI.
iv. Besides it will also help in better monitoring and supervision to reduce leakages and losses.
v. The Depot Online System will be rolled out in all 554 FCI-owned godowns by July 2016.
5. Indian Overseas Bank Has Become The 1st Bank To Sell Indian Gold Coins
i. Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) has become the first bank to commence the sale of Indian Gold Coin (IGC) in the domestic market.
ii. It has tied up with Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) for the sale of IGC of 24 carat purity.
iii. The Indian Gold Coin has the national emblem “the Ashok Chakra” engraved on one side and the face of Mahatma Gandhi on the other side.
iv. The coin also carries advanced anti-counterfeit features and comes in tamper proof packaging. It’s very safe and easily recyclable.
v. The current denominations available in the coins are 5, 10 and 20 gm. The Indian Gold Coin is the first ever national gold offering by the Center. This was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 5, 2015. The IGC in Delhi was launched in the presence of Alok Pande, Director in the Department of Financial Services, Finance Ministry, and Anand Trivedi, Director (PMS), MMTC, besides other senior officials.
6. India And Bangladesh Enter New Era Of Bilateral Petroleum Trade
i. India and Bangladesh entered into a new era of petroleum trade with a special goodwill train loaded with High Speed Diesel rolling down from India to Bangladesh.
ii. The 42 wagon rail rake is loaded with around 2500 MT High Speed Diesel. It started off from Siliguri station to Parbatipur station over 516 kms.
iii. It is a symbolic gesture of friendship and cooperation that exists between India and BangladeshIndia and Bangladesh. This is the first major petroleum consignment from India.
iv. It is a part of the Sale-Purchase Agreement signed between NRL and Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation(BPC)
v. The agreement also includes joint initiative for construction of a 135 km long pipeline, with a capacity of 1 million Metric Ton per annum(MMTPA) from Siliguri to Parbatipur. Presently Bangladesh gets its imports from Chittagong port and the new agreement is cost effective for Bangladesh. The expansion of NRL refinery from 3 MMTPA to 9MMTPA will leave India enough stock to supply Bangladesh
7. Turkey and EU reach landmark deal on refugees
i. Turkey and the EU have reached a controversial deal European leaders hope will stop the flow of refugees to the continent in return for political and financial concessions for Ankara.
ii. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and EU President Donald Tusk confirmed the agreement, which will come into force on Sunday, at a press conference in Brussels after three rounds of talks.
iii. The accord aims to close the main route by which a million people poured across the Aegean Sea to Greece in the last year before marching north to Germany and Sweden.
iv. Leaders of the bloc had agreed on Thursday on a common plan under which Turkey would be given financial and political concessions in return for taking back all refugees who reached Greek islands off its coast.
v. Under the agreement, Ankara would take back all refugees and others, including Syrians, who cross to Greece illegally across the sea. In return, the EU would take in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and reward it with more money, early visa-free travel and faster progress in EU membership talks.
8. India, Australia Ink Pact To Avoid Double Social Security Contribution
i. India and Australia ink pact to avoid double social security contribution Under this agreement, employees of India deputed to Australia and vice versa will not have to make double social security contribution.
ii. Under this agreement Australia has become the 14th country with which India has a social security agreement in force.
iii. The others in the list include Korea, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungry, Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. iv. India signed loan agreement of 35 Million dollars with the world bank for Madhya Pradesh citizen access to responsive services project.
v. The objective of the project is to improve access and quality of public services in the state.
9. Russia gets its own Rating Firm – ACRA
i. Vladimir Putin’s homegrown credit-ratings firm is up and running and foreign competitors are already feeling the heat.
ii. Moody’s last week announced it would shutter its joint venture in Moscow of 12 years and Fitch said it will probably stop issuing local ratings on Russian companies, the same day ACRA, which stands for Analytical Credit Rating Agency, applied for a license to operate in Russia.
iii. In the past three weeks, Moody’s Investors Service Inc. and Fitch Ratings Ltd. have said they plan to stop issuing local ratings rather than agree to having their Moscow branches regulated by the Russian government at the cost of breaking international sanctions.
iv. Russia is squeezing the business of foreign-ratings assessors since downgrades it condemned as politically motivated last year pushed the sovereign below investment grade for the first time in more than a decade.
v. The Bank of Russia announced plans to start a company immune to “geopolitical risks” in July after S&P and Moody’s cut Russia’s rating to junk amid a slump in oil prices and sanctions imposed over Ukraine. ACRA’s board is headed by an American, Karl Johansson, who advised the Russian government while at Ernst & Young LLP in Moscow. Ekaterina Trofimova, a former banking analyst for Russia and former Soviet states at S&P, will run the new venture.
i. Tata Steel is in discussion with foreign companies for investments up to Rs 20,000 crore in heavy industries over the next five years at its Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project at Gopalpur in Odisha.
ii. Tata Steel is the anchor tenant for the multi-product 2,970-acre SEZ at Gopalpur in Odisha.
iii. The UK-based Midget Corporations is setting up an assembly plant for “unmanned aerial vehicle targets” which are used by army for firing practices.
iv. Singapore consultant Subrana Jurong has completed the SEZ’s masterplan with all land cleared for leasing within the 30 square km boundary.
v. Tata Steel SEZ will invest between Rs 2,000 and Rs 2,500 crore by 2020 in the Gopalpur SEZ, for which a Tata Power power plant proposal is also on the drawing board. The company is also discussing a possible investment in expansion of Gopalpur port, about five kms away from the zone.
11. Pfizer Appoints S. Sridhar As New MD For 5 Years
i. Pfizer, the pharmaceutical major has announced the appointed of Mr. S Sridhar as its new Managing Director (MD) with immediate effect for a period of five years.
ii. The announcement came at the time of BSE filings and applied with the immediate effect from 18th March, 2016.
iii. Mr. S. Sridhar has been working with Pfizer from past 10 years. He joined the company in the year 2003 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the company and later in the year 2013 he was appointed as the Executive Director on the Board.
iv. Prior to this these appointment with Pfizer, Mr. S. Sridhar has worked with Diageo India Pvt Ltd as the Finance Director.
v. Pfizer Inc. is an American global pharmaceutical corporation. It is among the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Pfizer develops and produces medicines and vaccines for a wide range of medical disciplines, including immunology, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, and neurology.
12. Sudhir Raheja Has Given Extra Charge As AAI Chairman
i. The Airport Authority Of India (AAI) has given the additional charge of Chairman to Mr. Sudhir Raheja.
ii. This is the 2nd time when Mr. Raheja has been entitled with the task of heading the national airport company.
iii. Raheja was given the additional charge following the repatriation of the then acting Chairman Alok Sinha to his parent cadre, Uttar Pradesh in August , 2014.
iv. Mr. Raheja’s appointment announced in a very sudden manner when Mr. R K Srivastava tenure has been curtailed by the authorities. Srivastava, a 1984 batch Jharkhand-cadre IAS officer, was removed from the post by the government, nearly 15 months after he was brought at the helm for a five-year term. However, this is not for the first time that an AAI Chairman has been shown the door. In January 2014, the then UPA government had abruptly removed V P Agarwal.
v. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation is responsible for creating, upgrading, maintaining and managing civil aviation infrastructure in India.
13. Indian Professor Appointed 56th President Of International Studies Association
i. An Indian Professor has become the president of a scholarly group in the US dedicated to international studies.
ii. Professor TV Paul took over as the 56th president of International Studies Association (ISA), at its annual convention at Atlanta, Georgia this week.
iii. In his address, which among others was attended by former Canadian Prime Minister, Joe Clarke, Mr Paul called on international relations scholars to explicitly deal with grand strategies of peaceful change more effectively, especially in the context of the rise of new powers such as China and India.
iv. Born in Kerala, Mr Paul in his speech encouraged scholars with historical understanding to offer ideas for policy makers about which strategy produced conflict and which strategy generated unnecessary violence.
v. The James McGill Professor of International Relations at McGill University, Montreal, Canada he is a leading scholar of international security, nuclear proliferation, and South Asia.
14. Tikka Shatrujit Singh knighted with top French award
i. Tikka Shatrujit Singh, chief representative in Asia for French multinational LVMH (Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton) and advisor to the chairman of Louis Vuitton, has spearheaded the development of Louis Vuitton’s business in India.
ii. Tikka Shatrujit Singh, the royal scion of Kapurthala’s Ahluwalia dynasty, has been conferred with the prestigious Knight of the Legion of Honour for his “extraordinary work in the exchanging the French lifestyle and Indian culture with each other.”
iii. Singh is also known for his endeavours to preserve the tangible and intangible heritage of Kapurthala, which is a blend of Indo-French architectural styles.
15. Tenth Asian Film Awards : Complete List of Winners
i. The 10th edition of Asian Film Awards (AFA), which was held at the Venetian Theatre in Macau, China, honoured diverse talents across Asian cinema.
ii. The prestigious awards ceremony was graced by a spectacular gathering of celebrities and industry professionals from different cities of Asia.
iii. Awards won by Assassin- Assassin wins more than half of the 15 awards presented in the Asian film awards :- Best Film: The Assassin, Best Director: Hou Hsiao-Hsien for The Assassin, Best Actress: Shu Qi for The Assassin, Best Supporting Actress: Zhou Yun for The Assassin, Best Cinematography: Mark Lee Ping-bing for The Assassin, Best Production Design: Hwarng Wern-ying for The Assassin, Best Original Music: Lim Giong for The Assassin, Best Sound: Chu Shih-yi, Tu Duu-chih and Wu Shu-yao for The Assassin.
iv. Others Awards presented- Best Actor: Lee Byung-hun for The Inside Men, Best Newcomer: Jessie Li for Port of Call, Best Supporting Actor: Tadanobu Asano for Journey to the Shore, Best Screenplay: Jia Zhangke for Mountains May Depart, Best Editing: William Chang Suk-ping, Chu Ka-yat, Liao Ching-sung, Wong Hoi, Philip Yung for Port of Call, Best Visual Effects: Prasad Sutar for Bajirao Mastani, Best Costume Design: Lee Ji-yeon and Shim Hyun-seob for The Throne.
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