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TNPSC Current Affairs and GK Today - March 19-20th 2017 (English)

1. President of India presents KCK International Award for excellence in print Journalism 

The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee presented the KCK International Award for Excellence in Print Journalism organized by Rajasthan Patrika in New Delhi today (March 20, 2017)

2.World Sparrow Day - March 20th 

World Sparrow Day is a day designated to raise awareness of the house sparrow and then other common birds to urban environments, and of threats to their populations, observed on 20 March. It is an international initiative by the Nature Forever Society of India in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation (France) and numerous other national and international organisations across the world. The Nature Forever Society (NFS) was started by Mohammed Dilawar, an Indian conservationist who started his work helping the house sparrow in Nashik, and who was named one of the "Heroes of the Environment" for 2008 by Time for his efforts.

3. Union Cabinet approves four GST Bills 

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the following four GST related bills:

  • The Central Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The CGST Bill)
  • The Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The IGST Bill)
  • The Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill 2017 (The UTGST Bill)
  • The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to the States) Bill 2017 (The Compensation Bill)
CGST Bill: The CGST Bill makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services for both by the Central Government. On the other hand, IGST Bill makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on inter-state supply of goods or services or both by the Central Government.

UTGST Bill: The UTGST Bill makes provisions for levy on collection of tax on intra-UT supply of goods and services in the Union Territories without legislature. Union Territory GST is akin to States Goods and Services Tax (SGST) which shall be levied and collected by the States/Union Territories on intra-state supply of goods or services or both.

Compensation Bill: The Compensation Bill provides for compensation to the states for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the goods and services tax for a period of five years as per section 18 of the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016.

GST Background: The Government is committed to early introduction of GST, one of the biggest reforms, in the country as early as possible. GST Council has decided 1st July as the date of commencement of GST. The Finance Minister in his Budget Speech has mentioned that country-wide outreach efforts will be made to explain the provisions of GST to Trade and Industry.

4. National Conference on “Empowering Deaf Through Indian Sign Language” Begins in New Delhi

A two day (March 20th to 21st 2017) National Conference entitled “Empowering Deaf through Indian Sign Language” was inaugurated by Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

5. National Dental and Oral Health Information IVR Portal Launched with toll free number 

Unveils communication material to raise awareness on oral health, on the‘World Oral Health Day’(20.03.2017), Shri Faggan Singh Kulaste launches National Dental and Oral Health Information IVR Portal, toll free number (1XXX-XX-2032) for addressing oral health queries. 

6. 15th “All India Meet of State Legal Services Authorities” held in New Delhi

The 15th edition of “All India Meet of State Legal Services Authorities” has started at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra (PBK) in New Delhi from March 18, 2017 to review the work of legal services authorities across the country. The two-day event is organized by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) in collaboration with Delhi State Legal Services (DSLS).

7. "India’s Longest Surface Tunnel" is complete

India’s longest surface tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district is complete. The 9-km-long tunnel at Chenani passes through the lower Himalayan mountain range on Jammu- Srinagar National Highway. It will be open to traffic soon, following successful completion of trial runs for peak and off-peak hours. It reduces travel distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 kilometres and save time by three to four hours. The road distance from Chenani and Nashri will now be 10.9 km, instead of present 41 km. It is India’s first tunnel equipped with world class integrated tunnel control system through which ventilation, signals, fire control, communication and electrical systems are automatically actuated. 

8. International Buddhist Conference in International Buddhist Conference

The three days International Buddhist Conference was held at the Rajgir International Convention Center (RICC) of Nav Nalanda Mahavira Deemed University, Rajgir, Bihar from March 17-19, 2017. The conference was inaugurated by His Holiness, The Dalai Lama jointly with the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Dr. Mahesh Sharma by lighting a ceremonial lamp. The event was organized by Ministry of Culture and Nava Nalanda Mahaviahra Deemed University.

9. National University of Singapore (NUS) topped the Times Higher Education (THE)’s Asia University ranking 2017

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has topped the full list of the top 300 institutions in the Times Higher Education (THE)’s Asia University ranking 2017. From India, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore ranked at 27th while IIT Bombay secured 42nd rank. The most-represented nation in the rankings is Japan, with 69 institutions followed by China with 54 institutions. For the first time, India has become the 3rd most-represented nation with 33 universities in the ranking.

10. Indian-American "Indrani Das" won the prestigious 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) Award

Indrani Das, an Indian-American high school student, has won the prestigious 2017 Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) competition of $250,000 for her research on treating brain injuries and diseases. It is the oldest US science competition for students and is now sponsored by the medical company “Regeneron” in association with the Society for Science and the Public (SSP).

11. India’s first indigenously built "Medha Rake Train" on Mumbai's Western Corridor 

India’s first home made train (first indigenously built 'Medha' rake on the western corridor for Western Railway Fleet, Medha was flagged off for its maiden run by the Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, via videoconferencing from Dadar to Borivali at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus on March 18, 2017. The 12-coach, made-in-India train, halted at Bandra and Andheri stations during the transit. Currently there are two rakes of Medha which will run on the Western Railway network. Medha has been manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai. The train has been installed with LED lighting to reduce energy consumption. The seats of these trains are ergonomically designed for better seating comfort of the passengers. The cost of each Medha rake is Rs 43.23 crore, as against Rs 44.36 crore spent for Bombardier rakes.

12. Nepal to strap world's highest peak Mt. Everest climbers with GPS device

Hundreds of climbers are expected to attempt to climb the world's highest peak in April and May in every year, Climbers attempting to scale Mount Everest will be strapped with a GPS device. The devices will track the movement of the climbers while they are on Everest. This has been done for for the climbers safety and to prevent false claims of reaching the summit.

13. President Pranab Mukherjee invokes Nalanda, Taxila to bat for free atmosphere on campuses

President Pranab Mukherjee (20.03.2017) invoked Nalanda and Taxila, the ancient centres of learning, to pitch for an atmosphere free of prejudice and violence on the university campuses .

14. 113th Meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) with India and Pakistan

The two-day meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) on 20th March 2017, will discuss the design aspects of Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and Miyar hydroelectric plants being constructed by New Delhi and other water related matters between Pakistan and India.The 113th Meeting of Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) is being held on March 20-21 after a gap of almost two years - last such meeting took place in May 2015 in New Delhi.