Weekly Current Affairs Update 17/03/2018
1. Suresh Prabhu assumes additional charge as Civil Aviation Minister
• Commerce and Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu was on March 10, 2018 given the additional charge of the Civil Aviation Ministry
• The Minister assumed the role soon after the resignation of Ashok Gajapathi Raju of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) was accepted by President Ram Nath Kovind.
• Soon after taking charge, he held a meeting with senior officials from the ministry, DGCA, AAI, Air India and Pawan Hans among others.
• The minister said a lot of work had been done in the aviation sector in the last four years.
• Prabhu has assumed charge at a time when the government is in the process of finalising the modalities for strategic disinvestment of national carrier Air India.
2. Amnesty India launches website to track hate crimes
• A global human rights body Amnesty India on March 15, 2018 launched ‘Halt the Hate’ website to track alleged hate crimes in India against marginalised people such as the Dalits, Adivasis, religious minority groups and transgenders.
• The initial reference point for tracking crimes was the incident of September 2015, when Mohammad Akhlaq was killed in Dadri for allegedly storing and consuming beef.
• The website documents 141 incidents of alleged hate crimes against Dalits and 44 against Muslims in 2017 including 69 incidents of killings where at least 146 people were killed.
• Over 35 incidents were found where women from these groups or transgender persons faced sexual violence.
3. LaQshya program to benefit every pregnant woman delivering in Public Health Institutions
• Considering that there is a need to improve the quality of care in Labour rooms especially on the day of birth for maternal and neonatal survival, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in December 2017 launched ‘LaQshya’ Initiative- ‘Labour Room Quality Improvement Initiative’
• It is expected to improve the quality of care provided to the pregnant mother in the Labour Room and Maternity Operation Theatres with an aim to prevent undesirable adverse outcomes associated with childbirth.
• It will be implemented in government Medical Colleges (MCs) besides District Hospitals (DHs), and high delivery load Sub- District Hospitals (SDHs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs).
4. Book signed by Tagore auctioned for USD 700
• The hardcover copy of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘The King of the Dark Chamber’ – the English translation of his famous Bengali play ‘Raja’ – has been sold for USD 700 at an auction in the United States.
• Signed on the introductory page in fountain pen by Tagore, the Bolpur edition of the book was published by the Macmillan Company in 1916.
• The play revolves around a mysterious, unseen, omniscient king, who is both benevolent and efficient.
• His reluctance towards being seen causes most of the drama in the story, rattling his beautiful wife and the kings of nearby kingdoms.
• Tagore became the first Indian to win a Nobel Prize (Literature) in 1913.He wrote successfully in all literary genres, but was first and foremost a poet, publishing more than 50 volumes of poetry.
5. Trump fires Rex Tillerson as secretary of state
• US President Trump on March 13, 2018 fired his secretary of state, Rex W Tillerson, naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his replacement.
• The President also named Gina Haspel to become the CIA’s first female director.
• Tillerson had a series of public rifts with the White House since he was appointed last year.
• The Deputy Secretary of State, John J Sullivan would be taking over all the responsibilities from Tillerson till Pompeo formally takes charge.
6. Bidya Devi Bhandari re-elected President of Nepal for second term• Nepal’s first woman President Bidya Devi Bhandari was re-elected for a second term in office with an overwhelming majority on March 13, 2018.
• The Left alliance candidate defeated her opponent Kumari Laxmi Rai from Nepali Congress with more than a two-thirds majority, as she secured 39,275 votes while Rai was able to gather just 11,730 votes.
• The 56-year-old had become Nepal’s first woman President in 2015.
• Before that, she was elected twice in the country’s parliamentary elections in 1994 and 1999.
7. Haryana to make drunk driving causing death non-bailable offence
• The Haryana Government is planning to make drunk driving that leads to death a non-bailable offence in order to take a tougher stand against road accidents caused by inebriated drivers.
• Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said the government was considering making drunk driving, resulting into the death of the victim, a non-bailable offence to keep a check on the increasing number of road accidents.
• He was replying to a calling attention motion during the ongoing budget session of the assembly here.
• In 2017, around 14,668 criminal cases were registered in the state against people indulging in illicit liquor trade.
• Further, around 2,247 criminal cases were registered against narcotic drug criminals during this period.
8. WHO lists ‘Disease X’ among priority diseases: Report
• WHO listed “Disease X”, which could potentially trigger a deadly global epidemic in the near future, among priority diseases, calling for urgent measures to tackle it.
• The report seeks to enable cross-cutting research and development preparedness for an unknown ‘Disease X’.
• Besides Disease X, the seven other potential global disease threats each lacking an effective drug or vaccine includes Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF); Ebola virus disease and Marburg virus disease; Lassa fever; Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS); Nipah and henipaviral diseases Rift Valley fever (RVF) and Zika.
9. Angela Merkel re-elected as German Chancellor for the fourth term
• Angela Merkel was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany for a fourth term on March 15, 2018 after lawmakers voted to re-elect her as a leader in a close vote.
• In a secret ballot, 364 of the 709 members voted in favour of Merkel. While 35 MPs from the parties governing under Merkel did not vote to re-elect her.
• Merkel’s victory will be a stepping stone on the path to Germany’s new government which will be a renewal of the grand coalition ‘GroKo’ between the Chancellor’s Christian Democratic Union alliance and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
• The former leader of the SPD, Martin Schulz had initially ruled out GroKo, pledging to take his party into opposition, but was forced to change his stance later.
10. Environment Ministry approves Neutrino Observatory Project
• The Ministry of Environment and Forests gave environmental clearance to India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project to be established in Bodi West hills in Tamil Nadu.
• It was clarified that there will be no impact of blasting on any habitation in the vicinity due to INO project.
• It was informed also that there was no scope for radioactivity and leaching of water.