Daily Current Affairs - 22nd Mar 2018

62 higher educational institutions granted full autonomy

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted full autonomy to 62 higher educational institutions, including five central and 21 state universities, which maintained high standards.
  • These quality institutions will get complete autonomy by which they can start new courses, new departments, new programmes, off campuses, skill courses, research parks, appoint foreign faculty, take foreign students, offer variable incentive packages, introduce online distance learning.
  • The list includes JNU, BHU, AMU, TERI and University of Hyderabad, English and Foreign Languages University, Telangana, which have maintained high standards of excellence.
  • The state universities which have been granted the autonomous status are Jadavpur University, Andhra University, Algappa University, National University of Law, Utkal University, Kurukshetra University, Osmania University, Guru Nanak Dev University, University of Jammu, University of Mysore, Anna University, Panjab University and University of Madras, among others.

China building world's fastest hypersonic wind tunnel to develop super fast aircraft

  • China has announced it is building the world's fastest hypersonic wind tunnel to develop a new generation of super-fast airplanes that could fly from Beijing to New York within two hours. The 265-metre-long tunnel can be used to test hypersonic aircraft that can travel at speeds of up to Mach 25 (30,625 kph), 25 times the speed of sound.
  • The current wind tunnel could simulate flights ranging from Mach 5 to 9. Researchers from CAS in Beijing have successfully tested one hypersonic plane in a wind tunnel at such speeds.
  • The new tunnel will aid the engineering application of hypersonic technology by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights.
  • Wind tunnels test how air will pass over a solid object, helping designers improve aerodynamics or reduce stress points for objects as they reach high speeds.

EU unveils new plans to make big tech companies pay more taxes

  • European Union has unveiled new plans to make big tech companies pay more taxes. The move, if endorsed, would hit big online US firms like Google and Facebook. It would be a concern for any country where it’s annual revenue exceeds $8.6 million, or has more than 100,000 users or more than 3,000 digital service business contracts in a tax year.
  • The European Commission estimates that up to 150 companies could be affected, around half of them from the US.
  • It further said that EU member countries should be able to tax firms that make profits on their territory even if they aren't physically present.
  • European Union
  • The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
  • Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
  • Currency: Euro

Government approves Plastic Park to be set up in Deoghar District, Jharkhand

  • Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers has approved the setting up of a Plastic Park in Deoghar District, Jharkhand. The project would be set up at a cost of Rs. 120 crores in an area of 150 acres and a range of polymer products including woven sacks, moulded furniture, water tanks, bottles, pipes mosquito nets, etc would be manufactured.
  • It has great potential for attracting investment for setting up an ecosystem for plastic industry and generate employment opportunities for the local populace,
  • Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar

Government launches Sand Mining Framework to check illegal extraction

  • Union Minister of Mines has launched a "sand mining framework" to help states act against illegal mining. The suggestions in the framework will provide a roadmap to the states helping them frame their policies and act as a check on illegal mining of sand.
  • The framework was prepared by the Ministry of Mines after a study in various states and intensive consultations with institutions, including National Council for Cement and Building Materials, Cement Manufacture Association and other stakeholders.
  • Union Minister of Mines Narendra Singh Tomar

Greece launches its own space agency betting on economic benefits

  • Greece launched its first space agency as an effort to rebuild the ailing economy as it exits a severe eight-year debt crisis. Space Exploration Pioneer DrTom Krimigis appointed Chairperson of the Board of the newly established organisation which aspires to attract investment and showcase innovation and scientific excellence in Greece.
  • Greece has been a member of European Space Agency (ESA) since 2005 and has invested millions of euros in ESA's research programmes but was one of the few member states lacking a national institution.
  • Greece
  • President: Prokopios Pavlopoulos
  • Prime Minister: Alexis Tsipras
  • Capital:Athens
  • Currency:Euro

India release special postal cover on British physicist Stephen Hawking

  • A special postal cover on Stephen Hawking was issued by the India Post to pay tribute to the renowned theoretical physicist and cosmologist. The special cover has been released in Mumbai by the state-owned postal service, nearly a week after his death. The physicist, known for his ground-breaking work on black holes and relativity, passed away at his home in Cambridge, Britain.

Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education Signs MOU With Technology Information, Forecasting & Assessment Council for Supporting Forest Based Communities

  • The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehradun isgned an MoU with Technology Information, Forecasting & Assessment Council (TIFAC), New Delhi with an objective to provide livelihood opportunities and augment income of the forest based communities.
  • Through this collaboration, TIFAC shall help ICFRE to refine and up-scale the technologies developed, take technologies to the end users including farmers, State Forest Departments, forest based industries and forest dependent communities in a more effective manner.
  • Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan

Indian Oil Corp starts doorstep delivery of diesel on a pilot basis in Pune

  • Government-owned Indian Oil Corp (IOC) has launched home-delivery of diesel on a pilot basis in Pune and plans to expand doorstep delivery of the fuel to other parts of the country in near future. It has mounted a diesel dispenser, similar to the one seen at petrol pumps, on a midsized truck along with a storage tank for delivering the fuel at customers doorsteps in Pune.
  • IOC became the first company to have started doorstep delivery after receiving clearance from the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO).
  • The doorstep delivery has been launched on a pilot basis in Pune and it would be expanded to other cities based on the response it gets during the three-month trial period.
  • IOC, Chairman: Sanjiv Singh

India’s NCAA Becomes the World’s First Trusted Digital Repository

  • National Cultural Audiovisual Archives (NCAA) project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, implemented by Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) has been certified as the world’s first Trusted Digital Repository as per ISO 16363:2012 standard, granted by Primary Trustworthy Digital Repository Authorisation Body Ltd. (PTAB), United Kingdom.
  • Further the plan for the next phase is to integrate about three lakh hours of audiovisuals materials, a corpus estimated based on a scoping survey conducted in 25 cities across the country, on this platform over the next five years.
  • The primary objective of the NCAA is to identify and preserve the cultural heritage of India available in audiovisual form through a process of digitization and making it accessible to the people.

IRCTC introduces billing through Point of Sale 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. IRCTC has already introduced POS machines in New Delhi -Karnataka Express on a pilot basis.
  • In next phase, 100 POS machines will be commissioned on 26 trains. The corporation is also deploying its officials onboard on these trains for the purpose of monitoring the catering services.

MSDE - Ministry of Agriculture inks MoU for skill development training programs

  • In a bid to facilitate skill development among the rural population of the country, The Ministry of Agriculture signed an MoU with Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship recently.
  • Under the newly signed MoU, skill development training programmes for agriculture and allied sectors will be conducted on a regular basis to support the 690 Krishi Vikas Kendras and ensure that the market relevant skills are imparted.
  • MSDE will facilitate the MoA & FW through Agriculture Skill Council of India (ASCI) for identification of new job roles and aligning the ongoing courses with the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF).

NITI Aayog, Piramal Foundation ink agreement to transform Aspirational Districts

  • The NITI Aayog and Piramal Foundation entered into a Statement of Intent (SoI) to work closely with the District Collectors and Key officers of 'Aspirational Districts' to support their transformation in terms of healthcare, education and nutrition. The collaboration is for a duration of four years, with the option to continue, based on mutual agreement.
  • Under the SoI with NITI Aayog, Piramal Foundation will work in close conjunction with the district administration, State Prabhari Officers, Central Prabhari Officers, state government and concerned Central ministries in improving the identified indicators by strengthening the existing public systems specifically in the health and nutrition and education sectors.
  • Earlier this year, NITI Aayog ranked 115 Aspirational Districts selected by the Government on six socio-economic parameters, pertaining to health and nutrition, education, financial inclusion and skill development, agriculture and water resources and basic infrastructure.

Sports ministry partnered with professionals in creating world-class sports facilities in country

  • Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Col Rajyavardhan Rathore has said that his ministry has partnered with professionals in creating world-class sports facilities in the country. He appreciated the efforts of NGOs, Corporate sector, Olympians and sports lovers for investing their time and money for creating world-class infrastructure in the country for the next generation.
  • He also pointed out that Khelo India, Khelo India school games and target Olympic podium scheme have helped broad basing of sports in the country and opened up new opportunities for sports persons to improve excellence.

Swiggy Partners With ICICI Bank, Launches UPI-Based Digital Payment Service

  • Swiggy, online food ordering and delivery platform has partnered with ICICI Bank to roll out two innovative digital solutions to facilitate a convenient and hassle-free way for its delivery partners to transfer funds.
  • This includes a Unified Payment Interface (UPI) based solution for instant fund transfers on-the-go and an option for facilitating cash deposits at automated Cash Deposit Machines (CDM) available at ICICI Bank branches and ATM locations across the country
  • Swiggy operates with a fleet of over 20,000 delivery persons delivering food from over 25,000 restaurants across 12 cities
  • Founder: Sriharsha Majety

U.S. Federal Reserve raises key interest rate, expects 2 more hikes this year

  • The Federal Reserve raised the key lending rate for the first time this year to its highest level in a decade, citing a stronger outlook for US economic growth. New Fed Chairman raised the federal funds rate to 1.5-1.75 per cent, a move that will affect all types of loans, from homes to cars to student debt.
  • The Fed said it expects to raise rates twice more this year. At the same time, it increased its estimate for rate hikes in 2019 from two to three, reflecting more optimistic expectations for growth and low unemployment.
  • The Fed’s latest rate hike marks its sixth since it began tightening credit in December 2015, after having kept its benchmark rate at a record low near zero for seven years to help nurture the economy’s
  • Federal Reserve chairman: Jerome Powell.

West Indies books World Cup berth

  • The West Indies took a spot at next year’s ICC World Cup by edging to a five-run victory over Scotland on DLS method. Chasing 199 for a place in the next year's World Cup, Scotland were 125 for five in 35.2 overs when a heavy downpour prevented further play in the match.
  • Afghanistan and Ireland are now back in contention if rain affects today's match between the United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.

World's Most Liveable City Report- Vienna tops the list, Baghdad worst

  • The Austrian capital Vienna has been named the world’s best city to live in for the ninth consecutive year, while Iraq’s capital Baghdad remains the worst in an annual survey from consulting firm Mercer.
  • Vienna is followed by Switzerland’s Zurich and then New Zealand’s Auckland and Germany’s Munich in joint third. Vancouver, ranked fifth.
  • Singapore at 25 and Montevideo at 77 topped the Asian and Latin American places. The best African entry on the list was South Africa’s Durban in 89th place.
  • Europe has eight of the world’s top 10 most pleasant cities: Germany and Switzerland each have three cities in the top 10, while New Zealand, Canada and Australia each have one.
  • Mercer’s survey of 231 cities helps companies and organizations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. Its criteria include political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.