Daily Current Affairs 19-20 March 2018

Hello and welcome to exampundit. Here are the Daily Current Affairs of March 19 and 20, 2018. These are important for the upcoming SBI Clerk Examination.


Finance and Banking


SBI, IMGC sign MOU to offer mortgage guarantee backed home loan

  • India’s largest lender SBI and India Mortgage Guarantee Corporation (IMGC) today signed a pact to offer mortgage guarantee scheme for prospective non-salaried and self-employed home loan customers.
  • The offering will help increase home loan eligibility up to 15 per cent within the regulatory norms, the State Bank of India (SBI) said in a statement.
  • “With the rising demand in affordable housing segment, this product aims to provide home finance to select target audience at better terms,” it said, adding that SBI would be the bank to provide mortgage backed home loan product to non-salaried class.
  • “MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between SBI and IMGC is a strategic initiative which will enable us to improve housing loan volumes in non-salaried segment.
  • SBI further said the MoU with IMGC will pave the way for the bank to introduce many more products in the mortgage guarantee backed home loan segment to fulfil the needs of Indians of buying their dream homes.

Punjab National Bank launches Mission Parivartan

  • Punjab National Bank (PNB) has embarked on Mission Parivartan, a 10-pronged transformation strategy to strengthen one of the oldest public sector banks in India on all counts.
  • The strategy includes profit maximization, improvement of asset quality and recovery, increasing productivity, new ideas for augmenting retail business, innovative vigilance practices and reducing error and complaints.
  • In a letter written to the employees, PNB managing director Sunil Mehta said an independent think tank named “Mission Parivartan Division” will act as the catalyst to ensure the 3Cs—Commitment, Collaboration and Communication—bring together all internal stakeholders.
  • As part of the participative approach, the bank has created the “Lead the Parivartan” portal to engage all in the transformation process and involves crowd-sourcing of suggestions and ideas from all PNBians.
  • The think-tank will provide both directional and policy inputs and also act as a platform to enhance ownership, commitment and involvement of HO Divisions and all internal stakeholders in the policymaking process using the bottom-up approach, the letter said.

Swiggy ties up with ICICI Bank to offer digital payment solutions to its delivery fleet

  • Food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy has partnered with ICICI Bank to roll out two digital solutions to facilitate a convenient and hassle-free way for its delivery partners to transfer funds.
  • Through the partnership, Swiggy has enabled Unified Payment Interface (UPI)-based solution for instant fund transfers on-the-go and an option for facilitating cash deposits at automated Cash Deposit Machine (CDM) available at ICICI Bank branches and ATM locations across the country.
  • By integrating UPI, Swiggy’s delivery partners will have their own UPI handle (VPA) to which they can link their savings bank account and start transacting by using UPI-enabled apps like BHIM, ICICI Pockets, Google Tez, PhonePe, PayTM among others.
  • ICICI Bank will credit Swiggy’s account instantly as well as send the delivery partner’s details to Swiggy, enabling it to update the collection against the delivery partner instantly. An immediate payment confirmation of the transfer of money is sent to the delivery partner as well.

Government launches Sand Mining Framework

  • To help states deal with the issue of sand mining, including demand-supply deficit and illegal extraction, the government on Tuesday launched a framework prepared after intensive consultations with all stakeholders.
  • The Sand Mining Framework was launched by Union Minister of Mines Narendra Singh Tomar at the third National Conclave on Mines & Minerals in New Delhi.
  • The framework addresses the issues of state objectives, demand-supply assessment, measures to sand availability, allocation model, transportation and monitoring mechanisms. Besides, it also includes suggestions for faster clearances /approvals and using its interventions in complete process chain of sand mining.
  • The framework also lays emphasis on the possible alternatives of sand, including its import.
  • Union Minister of State for Mines Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary was also present at the event, along with senior Union and state government officials and industry players.


NITI Aayog releases SATH-E project roadmaps

  • NITI Aayog on March 17, 2018 released comprehensive roadmaps and detailed timelines for its initiative ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E)’ project in New Delhi.
  • The forward-looking roadmaps were released by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant in the presence of the Chief Secretaries of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha at the conclusion of the first meeting of the National Steering Group (NSG), the governing body for the project, which is chaired by Kant.
  • The main objective of the SATH-E project is to make the entire governmental school education system responsive, aspirational and transformational for every child.
  • The comprehensive roadmaps are for the coming two years, from 2018 to 2020.
  • The prints lay out detailed interventions that will be taken up by the three participating states- Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha – which aim to become ‘role model states’ in school education.
  • These roadmaps present the first-of-its-kind, customised, action-oriented programmes, outlining interventions at the individual, district and state level.
  • The plans were jointly prepared by NITI Aayog, the three States and the knowledge partners of the SATH Initiatives, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Piramal Foundation for Education Leadership (PFEL).

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.
  • 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.
  • The government’s think tank also highlighted multiple challenges across indicators that need to be disentangled, in order to transform these Aspirational Districts across India.
  • 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.
  • The collaboration is for a duration of four years, with the option to continue, based on mutual agreement.

India’s first elevated railway track coming up in Haryana’s Rohtak

  • India’s first ever elevated railway track projected launched in Rohtak! Recently, the nation’s first elevated railway track project has been launched in Rohtak, Haryana.
  • The first ever elevated railway track project was launched by Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar.
  • The project is expected to be complete in the next 18 months. It is being said that the new elevated railway track will control and diminish the major problem of traffic jams across Rohtak.
  • The project which has been implemented in order to provide road safety whilst easing life of Rohtak residents, will be constructed at a cost of Rs 315 crore. Out of Rs 315 crore, Rs 90 crore will be spent by Indian Railways while the rest of the amount will be spent by the state government of Haryana.
  • The elevated Railway Line on the Rohtak – Gohana stretch will be constructed by eliminating 5 busy level crossings, which link residential colonies of the region.
  • The project, which will be set up to facilitate smoother traffic in roads across Rohtak, will also lead to flexible railway operations.

Airbnb ties up with NEC, NEDC to boost tourism in Northeast India         

  • Online hospitality service provider Airbnb on March 19, 2018 signed four Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the North Eastern Council (NEC), the North East Tourism Development Council (NETDC).
  • These four MoUs were signed under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Development of North East Region (DoNER). Kum Hong Siew, Regional Director of Airbnb Asia Pacific signed the MoUs on behalf of Airbnb, one of the world’s leading community-driven hospitality companies.
  • The MoUs aim at creating hospitality micro-entrepreneurs across key destinations in the North East India.
  • These MoUs are expected to double tourist growth rate in the next three years, by creating more sustainable accommodation options and by enhancing the hospitality service standards.
  • Under the MoUs, the NEC, NETDC and Airbnb agree to expand tourism in the North East India through Airbnb’s global platform.
  • It seeks to improve the quality of homestay facilities and unique properties in the North East India.
  • It will provide and promote outstanding tourism resources in the North East India.
  • All the signatories will cooperate to improve the regulatory environment for home sharing in the region.

Karnataka Government approves ‘religious minority’ status for Lingayats

  • The state cabinet of Karnataka on March 19, 2018 decided to recognise Lingayats as a ‘religious minority’ and include the Veerashaivas who follow Basavanna as a group within the community, approving recommendations of the HN Nagamohan Das Committee.
  • Now the proposal will be sent to the Union Government for the final approval.
  • The development is significant, especially with the state’s assembly polls around the corner.
  • By taking the decision, the Congress-led Karnataka Government has put the BJP-led Centre in a difficult situation.
  • The BJP had opposed the move on the grounds that it would split society further and introduce more cleavages in the social-religious fabric.

India hands over last diesel railway locomotive engine to Myanmar

  • India on March 20, 2018 handed over the 18th and last diesel railway locomotive engine to Myanmar, thus executing a key project ahead of time as part of efforts to boost ties with the neighbour.
  • The 18 locomotives are fitted with microprocessor control-based system, attaining a maximum speed of 100 km per hour and are customised for Myanmar Railways.
  • The locomotives have been built by the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
  • As per the agreement schedule, all locomotives were to be delivered by September, 2018. However, they have been delivered six months ahead of the schedule.

SC directs Centre to frame model scheme for welfare of construction workers

  • The Supreme Court of India on March 19, 2018 directed the Union Government to frame a model scheme to address issues concerning the welfare of construction workers including education, health, social security and pension within six months, by September 30.
  • The ruling was passed by a bench of Justices comprising M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who stated that the construction workers do not just build infrastructure but also the nation.
  • The model scheme is expected to include the issues and concerns of education, health, social security, old age and disability pension and other benefits that are necessary for living a life of dignity as mandated by the Constitution of India.
  • The court stated that it expects the model scheme to be framed and publicised within a specified time-frame to be decided by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, preferably within six months, on or before September 30, 2018.

Indo-French Naval exercise Varuna 2018 begins

  • The first phase of Indo-French joint naval exercise Varuna 2018 began on March 19, 2018 at the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) in Vasco da Gama, Goa.
  • The exercise is being held in the Arabian Sea, off the Goa coast.
  • French submarine and frigate Jean de Vienne and Indian destroyer INS Mumbai and frigate Trikand with their integral helicopters will be participating in the exercise.
  • Moreover, Indian submarine Kalvari, P8-1 and Dornier Maritime Patrol Aircraft and a Mig 29K fighter aircraft will also be participating in the exercise.
  • The first phase of the exercise will conclude on March 24, 2018.

UK-US firms create largest genomics project to study Indian population

  • A UK-based genomics data platform Global Gene Corp (GGC) and an American genetics company Regeneron Genetics Center (RGC)collaborated to create the world’s largest project of its kind to study Indian population.
  • Both the companies will work to find innovative diagnosis and therapies for rare diseases.
  • Scientists will sequence the exomes of people from the Indian subcontinent in order to gain insights into alternative forms of genes architecture and specified diseases.

First National workshop on Poshan Abhiyaan begins in Delhi

  • The first National workshop on Poshan Abhiyaan was held in New Delhi on March 20, 2018 to implement the campaign in a fast track mode across the country.
  • The day-long event saw participation from all the states and union territories.
  • The Poshan Abhiyaan campaign was launched earlier this month by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.
  • It aims to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.
  • The programme also targets to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth rate.


Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands wins Abel Prize

  • Canadian mathematician Robert Langlands on March 20 won the prestigious Abel Prize for developing a programme connecting representation theory to number theory, Norway’s Academy of Sciences and Letters said.
  • “The programme has enlisted hundreds of the world’s best mathematicians over the last 50 years. No other project in modern mathematics has as wide a scope, has produced so many deep results, and has so many people working on it,” the Academy said in a statement.
  • The so-called Langlands programme dates back to 1967, when the then-associate professor at Princeton University wrote a letter to renowned French mathematician Andre Weil outlining his new theory.
  • It suggested deep links between two areas, number theory and harmonic analysis, which had previously been considered unrelated.


Katrina Kaif appointed ambassador of International NGO ‘Educate Girls’

  • Indian actress Katrina Kaif has been named as the new ambassador of the international award-winning non-profit organisation, Educate Girls.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Safeena Husain, Founder of Educate Girls said that it is a moment of immense honor for Educate Girls to have Katrina Kaif as an Ambassador. With Katrina as an advocate, the NGO hopes to unite voices and amplify conversations on the subjects of gender equity and girls’ education. It also hopes to contribute to the national mission of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’.
  • Through her association with Educate Girls, Kaif attempts to bring renewed focus to girl child education and gender equality.

Sony India appoints Sunil Nayyar as MD

  • Sony India announced the appointment of Sunil Nayyar as its Managing Director (MD) in place of Kenichiro Hibi.
  • Hibi, who was MD of Sony India from 2012 till 2018, has now been appointed as President for Sony Brazil.
  • Nayyar is the first Indian to be appointed as Managing Director for Sony India. He presently holds the position in Sony North America as head of Retail Experience.

China appoints Yi Gang as Governor of People’s Bank of China

  • China appointed American-trained economist Yi Gang as Governor of People’s Bank of China.
  • Yi is currently serving as Deputy to incumbent central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan.
  • Yi’s appointment was approved during the ongoing session of 13th National People’s Congress.

Aamir Khan replaces Ranveer Singh as Vivo India’s Brand Ambassador

  • Chinese smartphone maker Vivo appointed Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador for India, replacing actor Ranveer Singh.
  • Aamir Khan’s films “Dangal” and “Secret Superstar” fetched unprecedented success in China.
  • Aamir will soon be seen in a full-fledged marketing campaign of the upcoming products and a new TV commercial.


World’s last male northern white rhino Sudan dies at 45

  • Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino who lived at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died at the age of 45. He was put to sleep on Monday because of his extensive health complications which made him unable to even stand and go through massive pain in his last 24 hours.
  • At 45, Sudan’s age was the equivalent of a 90-year-old human’s and he had extensive skin wounds, degenerative problems in his muscles and bones, and a bad wound on one of his hind legs.
  • His great pain made the veterinary team from the Dvur Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta, and Kenya Wildlife Service collectively take the decision to euthanize the white rhino.
  • The death of the world’s last male northern white rhino leaves behind just two female specimens from the subspecies on Earth — Sudan’s daughter named Najin, and Najin’s daughter Fatu.

US prohibits transactions with Venezuela’s digital currency

  • The President of United States, Donald Trump on March 19, 2018 issued an executive order prohibiting US transactions with Venezuela’s digital currency.
  • The US blocked all transactions related to, provision of financing for and other dealings in, by a US person or within the US, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token that have been issued by the Venezuelan government since January 9.
  • The new measure has been introduced to counter the latest attempt from the Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s administration to circumvent US sanctions.
  • In late February, Venezuela launched the presale of its own cryptocurrency, a type of digital or virtual currency, backed by its crude oil reserves, as a new financing option against financial sanctions imposed by US, which forbid US businesses from lending to the Venezuelan government or the state-run oil and gas company PDVSA.

G20 ministerial meeting opens in Buenos Aires

  • The first G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors began on March 19, 2018 in Buenos Aires, with the presence of 57 delegations from countries and institutions.
  • The summit, held at the capital’s Center of Exhibitions and Conventions (CEC), was attended by 22 finance ministers, 17 central bank governors and 10 heads of international organisations including IMF Director-General Christine Lagarde and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Achim Steiner.
  • With Argentina presiding the G20 this year, topics under discussion are likely to be infrastructure and the future of work in the digital arena.
  • After the US announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports of 25 and 10 per cent respectively, the delegations are expected to put out a joint statement on the matter.
  • This is the first of five such meetings to be held before Argentina hosts the G20 Summit on November 30 to December 1.


World Sparrow Day observed on 20 March with theme “I Love Sparrows”


Jnanpith awardee Kedarnath Singh passes away

  • Eminent Hindi poet and Jnanpith awardee Kedarnath Singh passed away on March 19, 2018 in New Delhi following a prolonged illness. He was 84.
  • Kedarnath Singh was among India’s most prominent modern Hindi poets, besides being an essayist and a well-known critic.



Team Exampundit