1. Air India to begin direct flight service between India to Israel
- The state-run carrier Air India has introduced a direct thrice a week flight from New Delhi to Tel Aviv, Israel. It will be a new beginning in the people-to-people contact and diplomatic ties between India and Israel.
- The Air India will be operating its 256-seater Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route on every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday.
- Earlier, Saudi Arabia has permitted the airline to use its airspace, enabling it to take a shorter route.
2. Summary of Important Cabinet Approvals : 21st March 2018
- The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given the following set of approvals. The important Cabinet Approvals are given as follows-
- The Cabinet has approved-
1. Opening of Missions in Africa to implement commitments of India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS-III).
2. Ayushman Bharat – National Health Protection Mission, Benefit cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year, More than 10 crore families to be covered.
3. Revision of the Agreement between India and Qatar for the avoidance of double taxation and for the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.4. Cabinet apprised of an MoU between India and Guyana on cooperation in Renewable Energy.
5. Closure of India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians.
6. Formation of 100% owned C Corporation of Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. (TCIL) in USA.
7. Continuation of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) – National Higher Education Mission.
8. Central Sector “Integrated Scheme for Development of Silk Industry” for sericulture sector.9. North-East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS) 2017.
3. IRCTC introduces billing through POS machines in trains
- Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has introduced billing through Point of Sale (POS) hand-held machines in trains to check overcharging by vendors.
- This will help not only making passengers aware of relevant information but also in improving the passenger satisfaction.
- The POS billing machines will be introduced in trains in a phased manner.
- Earlier, IRCTC has introduced POS machines in ‘New Delhi -Karnataka Express’ on a pilot basis.
- Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is a subsidiary of the Indian Railways that handles the catering, tourism and online ticketing operations of the Indian railways.
- It’s tagline is “Lifeline of the nation“.
- M. P. Mall is the Chairman & Managing Director of IRCTC.
4. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on a Five-Day visit to India
- German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in New Delhi on a five-day visit to India.
- The German President will be accompanied by a delegation of CEOs, Indologists, and media persons.
- Mr. Steinmeier will visit Varanasi, New Delhi and Chennai.
- Germany is India’s largest trading partner in Europe and the 6th largest trading partner in the world.
- The Federal President of Germany is the Head of state of Germany.
- Germany has a parliamentary system of government in which the Chancellor is the nation’s leading political figure and de facto chief executive.
- Germany Capital- Berlin, Currency- Euro, Chancellor- Angela Merkel.
5. Punjab Government decided to Impose Permanent Ban on Hookah Bars
- The Punjab government decided to impose a permanent ban on hookah bars in the state instead of issuing temporary orders against them every two months.
- The state cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, approved an amendment to the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA), 2003 for the prevention and control of diseases caused by the use of tobacco products.
- VP Singh Badnor is the present Governor of Punjab.
6. Union Cabinet approves the launch of NHPM ‘Ayushman Bharat’
- The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister ‘Narendra Modi’ has approved the launch of National Health Protection mission ‘Ayushman Bharat’.
- The Scheme has the benefits cover of 5 lakh rupees per family per year.
- The target beneficiaries under the scheme will be over 10 crores poor and vulnerable, families.
- A beneficiary will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public and private empaneled hospitals across the country.
- The scheme will subsume the ongoing centrally sponsored schemes- Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana and senior citizen health insurance scheme.
- JP Nadda is the present Health and Family Welfare Minister of India.
7. Govt. launches free wi-fi service for Sansad Adarsh Gram, Udwada in Valsad district of Gujarat
- The Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Communication Minister Manoj Sinha jointly launched through video conferencing, free wi-fi service for Sansad Adarsh Gram, Udwada in Valsad district of Gujarat.
- Under Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana 16.48 lakh rupees was allotted for providing Wi-Fi facility by BSNL in Udwada village.
- Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is a rural development programme broadly focusing on the development in the villages and spread motivation among the people on the social mobilization of the village community.
8. Kerala Govt. declares Jackfruit as official fruit of the state
- The Kerala government has declared jackfruit as its official fruit to promote as a brand in markets across the country and abroad.
- Kerala has been producing around 320 million jackfruits every year.
- The agricultural office in Ambalavayil in Wayanad will be used as a research station for jackfruit.
- Jackfruit is also the national fruit of Bangladesh and the state fruit of the Indian states of Tamil Nadu.
- Kerala CM- Pinarayi Vijayan, Governor- Palaniswamy Sathasivam.
9. The World Water Day being observed : 22nd March
- The World Water Day is observed on 22nd March every year, to raise awareness about the importance of water.
- The theme this year is, ‘Nature for Water’, exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges the world faces in the 21st century.
- There are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home.
- An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro.
- The United Nations General Assembly approved to celebrate 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
10. Bihar celebrates 106th foundation day : 22nd March
- Bihar is celebrating its 106th foundation day, a number of programmes have been organized throughout the state on the occasion.
- The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Centenary of Champaran Satyagraha and Elimination of Dowry and Child Marriage”.
- Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has inaugurated a three-day Bihar Diwas celebration in Patna.
- Mr. Naidu has also released four books ‘Ek Tha Mohan’, ‘Bapu Ki Chiththi’, ‘Champaran Ki Kahani’ and ‘Neel Ke Dhabbe’ on this occasion.
- On this day in 1912, the State was carved out of a United Bengal.
Banking & Finance
11. The government sets up task force to draft new Direct Tax legislation
- The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has constituted a task force to review the Income Tax Act, 1961 and to draft a new Direct Tax Law in consonance with the economic needs of the country.
- The Finance Ministry has also sought suggestions and feedback from stakeholders and general public in the format provided on the departmental website.
- Direct Tax is the tax directly paid to the Government by the taxpayers.
- It is imposed directly by the Government and cannot be transferred to any other entity for payment.
- Examples of Direct Taxes in India: (i) Income Tax (ii) Wealth Tax (iii) Corporation Tax
Honours & Awards
12. Canadian Mathematician Robert Langlands Wins prestigious Abel Prize
- Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands won the prestigious Abel Prize for developing a programme connecting representation theory to number theory. The programme has enlisted hundreds of the world’s best mathematicians over the last 50 years.
- Now aged 81, Langlands will be awarded the 6.0-million-kroner Abel Prize by Norway’s King Harald in Oslo on May 22.
- Abel Prize has been named after the 19th-century Norwegian mathematician Niels Henrik Abel.
- The prize was established by the Norwegian government in 2002.
Science & Defence
13. India successfully flight-tests supersonic cruise missile ‘BrahMos’ at Pokhran
- India successfully flight-tested its precision strike ‘BrahMos’ weapon at Pokhran test range, Rajasthan.
- The sleek supersonic cruise missile flies at almost three times the speed of sound, at Mach 2.8.
- The BrahMos is a medium-range ramjet supersonic cruise missile can be launched from submarine, ships, aircraft, or land.
- The BrahMos has been developed as a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) of India and the Federal State Unitary Enterprise NPO Mashinostroyenia (NPOM) of Russia under BrahMos Aerospace.
- The missile is named after two rivers, the Brahmaputra and the Moskva.
14. Pulitzer Prize Winner journalist Les Payne Dies
- Les Payne, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and columnist for Newsday who fiercely championed racial equality has passed away.
- He was 76. He won Pulitzer Prize for “Heroin Trail” series in 1974.
15. West Indies qualify for 2019 World Cup by defeating Scotland
- The West Indies qualified for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup after defeating defending champions Scotland by five runs via the Duckworth-Lewis (DL) Method in a Super Six fixture of the World Cup Qualifier.
- Scotland were 125 for five in 35.2 overs when a heavy downpour prevented further play in the match.
- The Windies innings was wrapped up for 198 in 48.4 overs.
- Now, Windies finished the Super Six with maximum eight points and qualified for the World Cup.