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National Current Affairs
Kerala to host Asia's largest startup conclave on April 6, 7
Asia s largest startup ecosystem congregation, Huddle Kerala, will be held at Kovalam near here on April 6 and 7.
- The initiative is envisaged to provide a platform for start-ups to pitch their products and interact with a wide array of technology and industry leaders from around the world.
- Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the conclave, being organised by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in association with Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IAMAI Startup Foundation
- The conference would be to pitch in a platform for upcoming startups to showcase their product and business model in front of the entrepreneurs and industry stalwarts.
- Huddle Kerala will primarily focus on the emerging sectors like blockchain, cryptocurrency, internet of things (IoT), gaming and e-sports, cyber security, digital entertainment, augmented reality, virtual reality, e-governance and mobile governance among other latest technologies.
- The philosophy behind Huddle Kerala is to help the next generation world-conquering companies move forward. At the very core of the event is to facilitate founder and investor meetings and build up a huge start-up community.
SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act: Government to File Review Petition
Union law ministry is preparing to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that puts a stop to immediate arrests in complaints filed under its provisions.
- Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was enacted in the year 1989.
- It is a comprehensive law which not only defines atrocities against SCs and STs but also make several rules, regulations etc. for proper protection of these vulnerable classes.
PFMS portal processes ₹ 71, 633.45 cr transactions on a single day
A record amount of ₹ 71, 633.45 crore was digitally transacted/routed through the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) portal on 28th March.
- According to an official release, the total number of transactions were pegged at 98,19,026. This is a historic record of number of digital transactions processed in a single day.
- PFMS is being implemented by the Controller General of Accounts, Ministry of Finance.
- It provides a platform for management of funds through tracking of funds and real time reporting of expenditure and receipts through treasury and bank interface.
- Line ministries/departments utilise this platform to monitor the utilisation of funds provided to the implementing agencies and states governments.
- PFMS is also used for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) payments under MGNREGA and other notified schemes of the Centre.
Permanent Indus Commission meet held in Delhi
The 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) between India and Pakistan was held in New Delhi. Representatives from both sides discussed Indus Water Treaty (IWT) dispute and resolution of outstanding issues.
- India’s Indus water commissioner PK Saxena and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) officials were part of Indian delegation for annual meeting. Pakistan’s six-member delegation will be led by Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah....
- The meeting took place in backdrop of continuing tension between two neighbouring countries over host of issues, including alleged harassment of diplomats...
- Pakistan has been expressing concerns over India’s Pakal Dul (1000 MW), Ratle (850 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) projects — located in Chenab basin – contending they violated IWT, signed in 1960. India, however, has been maintaining that designs of these projects are very much in accordance with IWT
International Current Affairs
Accessible Tourism: Nepal launches its first accessible trekking trail
As a part of three-day international conference on “Accessible Tourism”, Nepal has launched its first accessible trekking trail for differently abled and elders in Pokhara city.
- The three day accessible tourism conference was organized in Nepal from March 29 to 31, 2018.
- The recently inaugurated trek is a 1.3 kilometers section of the 14 kilometer hiking path in the ridge connecting Sarangkot to Naudanda areas.
- The trek offers unmatchable view of Mt. Annapurna, Fisthtail and Manaslu.
- The trail has been equipped with proper signage and washrooms.
Banking & Finance
Allahabad Bank cuts lending rates by 45 bps
Public sector lender Allahabad Bank has reduced the base rate and benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) by 45 basis points each, a move that will lower EMIs for its borrowers.
- The Asset Liability Management Committee (ALCO) of the bank has decided to reduce base rate and BPLR (benchmark prime lending rate) by 45 basis points
- Allahabad Bank has slashed base rate to 9.15 per cent from 9.60 per cent. BPLR has been brought down to 13.40 per cent from 13.85 per cent.
- The revised rates are effective from April 2
Kotak becomes first bank to roll out AI-run voicebot
Kotak Mahindra Bank has launched the country’s first artificial intelligence-powered voicebot in the banking sector. The voicebot has been developed using a library of millions of phone-banking conversations over the past three years.
- The lender has integrated the voicebot Keya, which can understand both Hindi and English, with its phone-banking helpline.
- Keya uses automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding and text-to-speech technology.
- It is powered by Nuance, the technology behind Apple’s Siri. However, the bank is not using voice for biometric authentication.
- The voicebot uses natural language understanding to navigate the customer directly to the destination where he can get his issue resolved. It saves time by bypassing the various options in an interactive voice response system (IVRS).
- Keya has been trained to recognise voice of customers across the country and can covert speech to text irrespective of the accent of the customer.
India becomes World’s second largest mobile phone producer
India has replaced Vietnam to become second largest producer of mobile phones in 2017. This information has been shared by government on the basis of data provided by Indian Cellular Association.
- Currently, China stands at number one in mobile production around the world. The top three mobile producing countries are China, India and Vietnam.
- Annual production of mobile phones in India increased from 3 million units in 2014 to 11 million units in 2017.
- With the rise in mobile phone production, imports of the devices in the country also reduced to less than half in 2017-18.
Appointments & Resigns
Ex-DGP Ajit Singh appointed BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit Head
BCCI has appointed former Rajasthan cadre IPS Singh who had retired as DGP of the state in November 2017 as the head of its Anti-Corruption Unit, replacing former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar.
- Neeraj, though, has been kept in the advisory role in the ACU till May 31, 2018.
- Singh will take charge of the office ahead of IPL and will be based out of BCCI headquarters at Cricket Centre, Mumbai.
Government appoints Vineet Joshi as first DG of National Testing Agency
Government has appointed former chairman of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Vineet Joshi, as the first Director-General (DG) of the National Testing Agency (NTA). He will have tenure of five years.
- Prior to this appointment, he was resident commissioner of Manipur government.
- During his stint as CBSE chairman, he had introduced big changes such as Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) and making Class X board examination optional.
M L Srivastava appointed protem chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi
M L Srivastava, Joint Secretary (Akademies) at the culture ministry has been appointed as the protem chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi
- He will continue to hold the office till a regular chairman is appointed.
Awards & Recognition
Mithali Raj adjudged 'Sportsperson of the Year'
Indian women's cricket team captain Mithali Raj was adjudged 'Sportsperson of the Year' while ace shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu bagged the best senior male and female athletes at the Telangana Sports Journalists Association annual awards for 2017
- Former BCCI president N Shivlal Yadav gave away the 'best senior male athlete' award to Srikanth while tennis star Sania Mirza presented the 'best senior female athlete' award to Sindhu.
- Former Indian cricketer VVS Laxman presented 'best coach of the year' award to Gopichand, who received this award for second time in a row.
- Triple Olympian and former national hockey player N Mukesh Kumar was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award at the event.
- The 'team of the year' award went to Hyderabad Cricket team.
- Ace gymnast B Aruna Reddy was honoured with the outstanding achievement award.
Science & Technology
InSight Mission: NASA’s first mission to explore deep interior of Mars
NASA will send first-ever mission named as InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) dedicated to exxploring the deep interior of Mars.
- InSight will be stationary lander that will be launched in May 2018. It will be first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place seismometer, a device that measures quakes on the soil of another planet.
- InSight is NASA’s Discovery Program mission that aims to place stationary lander equipped with seismometer and heat transfer probe on surface of Mars to study red planet’s early geological evolution.
Isro confirms losing contact with communication satellite GSAT-6A
The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Saturday lost contact with the GSAT-6A + , India’s most powerful communication satellite, in less than 48 hours after it launched.
- While Isro says it is trying re-establish link, sources attributed the failure to a power system failure.
- The agency received data from the satellite for about four minutes after the second orbit raising operation, after which it went blank.
- Initial analysis points to a power system failure, but Isro has not officially confirmed anything.
Interstitium: Scientists discover new organ in human body
Scientists have discovered new organ in human body and have named it as ‘interstitium’. It will be the 80th organ in the human body. It might be might be also the biggest organ in human body.
- It was discovered while doctors were investigating patient’s bile duct, searching for signs of cancer.
- They had noticed cavities of this organ that did not match any previously known human anatomy.
- The discovery of interstitium will help to explain how cancer spreads in body and pave way for new ways to detect and treat the disease.
- The new organ is network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body.
- It is found everywhere in human bodies, acting as shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.
- It lies beneath top layer of skin, but is also in tissue layers lining gut, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles.
Odisha formation day
Odisha Day (Utkal Divas) is celebrated on 1 April in Odisha in the memory of the formation of the state as a separate province on 1 April 1936.
- After losing its complete political identity in 1568 following the defeat and demise of the last Hindu king Mukunda Dev, efforts resulted into the formation of a politically separate state under British rule on linguistic basis on 1 April 1936.
- The main revolution for the separate state was continued for three decades from the very day of formation of Utkal Sammilani that lead the foundation of a separate Orissa Province.
- The newly formed Orissa consisted of six districts namely Cutack, Puri, Baleswar, Sambalpur, Koraput and Ganjam having its capital at Cuttack. Sir John Austin Hubbak took oath of office and became the first Governor of Orissa Province.