Weekly Current Affairs Update: March 19 – 24, 2018

Weekly Current Affairs Update: March 19 – 24, 2018

Great Pacific Garbage Patch is rapidly accumulating plastic: Scientific Reports

As per a new study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports on March 22, 2018, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean, contains up to 16 times more waste than previously thought.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch now occupies an area three times the size of France in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii with 79000 tons of plastic debris in the form of 1.8 trillion pieces.

The study revealed that the fishing nets account for 46 per cent of the trash and the majority of the patch is composed of other fishing industry gear including ropes, oyster spacers, eel traps, crates and baskets. It is estimated that 20 per cent of the debris is from the 2011 Japanese tsunami.

Venezuela to eliminate three zeros off currency to counter economic crisis

Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan President, has decided to remove three zeros off the Venezuelan currency Bolivar in the midst of a hyperinflation and crippling economic crisis.

This is considered as an economic measure to guarantee commercial activities and it will come into effect from June 4, 2018.The President has therefore decided to take out of circulation the current bills and put into circulation new bills.

The move comes as Venezuelans struggle to find food, medicine and cash in the worst economic crisis ever to strike the oil-rich country.

Union Government launches India’s first sign language dictionary

The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot on March 23, 2018 launched the first Indian Sign Language (ISL) dictionary containing 3000 words at a function in Delhi.

The dictionary has been developed by Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLR&TC) under Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

The main aim of developing the dictionary is to remove the communication barriers between the deaf and hearing communities, as it is focused on providing more information in Indian sign language.

Union Cabinet approves Ayushman Bharat- National Health Protection Mission

The Union Cabinet on March 21, 2018 approved the launch of the Centrally sponsored ‘Ayushman Bharat -National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM)’.

The scheme has the benefit cover of Rs 5 lakh per family per year. This cover will take care of almost all secondary care and tertiary care procedures.

The scheme aims to target over 10 crore families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 (SECC) database. There will be no cap on family size and age in the scheme.

Cambridge Analytica controversy: Explained

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on March 21, 2018 apologised for the data debacle that has dragged the social media giant into a huge controversy and said that he was ready to testify before the Congress.

After the news of analytics company Cambridge Analytica scandal and facebook’s alleged data breach erupted, politicians called on the social media founder to testify before their legislative bodies within five days.

The analytics company is alleged to have a hand in assisting with Donald Trump’s victory in US Presidential Elections 2016, by using unethically gathered data to manipulate voter behaviour.

President Ram Nath Kovind confers Padma Awards

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind on March 20, 2018 presented the Padma awards to 43 eminent personalities at a Civil Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

This year, the second highest civilian award- the Padma Vibhushan was conferred upon three personalities including music composer Illaiyaraja, classical musician Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan and Hindutva thinker P. Parameswaran.

UGC grants autonomy to 60 higher educational institutions

University Grants Commission on March 20, 2018 made a historic move by granting autonomy to 60 higher educational institutions that have maintained high academic standards.

The 60 higher educational institutions that have been granted autonomy include 5 central universities, 21 state universities, 24 deemed universities and 2 private universities and 8 autonomous colleges.

Some of the names include renowned institutions such as Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University, NALSAR, National Law University Delhi, Anna University, Symbiosis International and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

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.

Vladimir Putin wins historic fourth term

Vladimir Putin, who has literally been at the helm of Russian politics since the turn of the century, cruised through another historic victory by winning a fourth term in Russia’s Presidential elections on March 18, 2018.

Putin, who has ruled Russia for almost two decades, recorded his best election performance with 76.67 per cent of the vote in the preliminary results. The thumping mandate gives Putin another six years of power. The leader, however, rejected the possibility of staying in power indefinitely.

India clinches Nidahas Trophy in last-ball thriller

India on March 18, 2018 pulled off an unforgettable chase beating Bangladesh by four wickets in the Nidahas T20 tri-series final at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The nerve-breaking victory came as a result of an incredible performance by wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik who came in at the fag end of India’s batting, with the team needing 34 off the last two overs.

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