Current Affairs Today – March 30 2018
1. Egypt’s Fattah al-Sisi re-elected President for second term
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was re-elected for a second term. Sisi secured 92% votes during the three days of polling, although the voter turnout remained around 40%. The former Army chief had first assumed power in 2014 after ousting the country’s first freely elected leader Mohamed Morsi.
2. NASA to send first mission to study ‘heart’ of Mars
NASA is all set to send the first-ever mission dedicated to exploring the deep interior of Mars. Scheduled to launch on May 5, InSight – a stationary lander – will also be the first NASA mission since the Apollo moon landings to place a seismometer, a device that measures quakes, on the soil of another planet.
InSight or the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport mission, carries a suite of sensitive instruments to gather data. Unlike a rover mission, these instruments require a stationary lander from which they can carefully be placed on and below the martian surface.
3. Cabinet approves formulation of a new Integrated Scheme for School Education
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Department of School Education and Literacy to formulate a Integrated Scheme on School Education by subsuming Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) and Teacher Education (TE) from 1st April, 2018 to 31st March, 2020. An estimated allocation of Rs 75,000 crore over the period has been approved which is a 20% increase over the current allocations.
The scheme comes in the backdrop of PM’s vision of Sabko Shiksha, Achhi Shiksha and aims to support the States in universalizing access to school education from classes pre-nursery to XII across the country.
The vision of the Scheme is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education from nursery to senior secondary stage in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goal for Education. The main emphasis of the Integrated Scheme is on improving quality of school education by focussing on the two T’s – Teacher and Technology.
4. Cabinet approves continuation of the Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans Scheme
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval for continuation of Credit Guarantee Fund for Education Loans Scheme and continuation and modification of Central Sector Interest Subsidy Scheme with a financial outlay of Rs. 6,600 crore for period from 2017-18 to 2019-20. This will provide education loans to 10 lakh students during this period.
Under the revised scheme, the number of loans per year are expected to be at least 3.3 lakhs, showing a 20% increase over the previous scheme.
5. Thai Film Festival inaugurated at Films Division, Mumbai
“THE THAI FILM FESTIVAL IN MUMBAI” has been inaugurated. The three-day festival is being held at Films Division Complex situated at Cumballa Hill, Mumbai. The Festival is organized by the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Mumbai, in cooperation with the Films Division, Government of India. Admission to all screenings is free of charge.
6. Vistara introduces male cabin crew
Vistara airline has announced that it has introduced its first male cabin crew as part of its plans to be an ‘equal opportunity employer’. The first set of the male crew took to the skies following the completion of a rigorous three-month safety and service training programme.
The second and third set of the male crew are currently in training and would join the first set soon. Apart from Vistara, Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet have mixed cabin crew.
7. Telangana assembly passes Telangana Panchayat Raj Bill, 2018
The Telangana Legislative Assembly on March 29, 2018 passed the Telangana Panchayat Raj Bill, 2018. The bill is comprehensive and envisages making villages self-reliant, clean and green. The state’s Chief Minister, K Chandrasekhar Rao stated that the villages should have facilities like garbage dump yards, crematorium and burial grounds.
8. Goa government revives controversial Regional Plan 2021
The state government of Goa revived the Goa Regional Plan 2021, nearly six years after it was put on hold due to protests. Announcing the decision, Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai said the developmental activities would be allowed case-wise after following a proper procedure on the lands notified as settlement, commercial, institutional and industrial zones.
The order, however, prohibits development in eco-sensitive areas like low-lying paddy field, water bodies, khazan land, flood-prone areas, lands having slopes with over 25 per cent inclination, and forest lands, including private forests.
The land falling in the buffer zone of wildlife sanctuaries and those in the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) also cannot be developed without the prior permission of Forest department even if they fall under the settlement or developable zones.
9. Darren Lehmann announces his resignation as Australia’s coach
Australia’s head coach Darren Lehmann has announced his resignation from the position and said that Australia’s fourth and the final Test in South Africa would be his last match.
The former cricketer made the announcement during the pre-match press conference ahead of the fourth test that is scheduled to begin on March 30. Lehmann’s resignation follows the ball-tampering scandal that jolted Australian cricket last week, even though he was cleared of any wrongdoing by the investigation undertaken by Cricket Australia.
10. Assam launches toll-free helpline for women
The state government of Assam has launched a women’s helpline to tackle the recent surge in crime in the state. The toll-free helpline, 181-Sakhi, was launched by the state’s Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal at a programme held in Janata Bhawan. The service is presently being launched for one shift and will be open from 9 am to 5 pm. It will soon be made available for 24 hours.
The service has been integrated with women police stations, state commission for women, family counselling centres, NGOs, legal service centres, shelter homes, medical and legal experts.
11. Hot, metallic Earth-sized planet discovered
Scientists have discovered a hot, metallic, Earth-sized planet orbiting a dwarf star located 260 million light years away. Named K2-229b, the planet is almost 20 per cent larger than Earth but has a mass which is over two-and-a-half times greater. It reaches a day side temperature of over 2000 degrees Celsius.
The dense, metallic nature of K2-229b has numerous potential origins, and one hypothesis is that its atmosphere might have been eroded by intense stellar wind and flares, as the planet is so close to its star.
12. Retirement age of Madhya Pradesh govt employees raised to 62 years
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced raising the retirement age of state government employees to 62 years from the current 60 years. The CM did not disclose details of this decision. There are about five lakh regular government employees in the state.
The state government had made a provision for reservation for SC/ST employees in promotion, which was set aside by the Madhya Pradesh High Court.
13. Russia tests new nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile Sarmat
The Russian military says it has successfully tested its latest intercontinental ballistic missile. Sarmat is intended to replace the Soviet-designed Voyevoda, the world’s heaviest ICBM known as “Satan” in the West.
President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month that Sarmat weighs 200 metric tons and has a higher range than Satan, allowing it to fly over the North or the South Poles and strike targets anywhere in the world.
14. From 2022, 70 bullet trains daily from Mumbai to Ahmedabad
The wait for India’s first high-speed bullet train which is slated to run between Mumbai and Ahmedabad is coming to an end soon. The operations for this ambitious project will commence as soon as 2022. The train will have 10 coaches, a seating capacity of 750 passengers and will leave Mumbai for Ahmedabad every 20 minutes.
The bullet train will stop at 12 stations – Mumbai BKC (Bandra-Kurla Complex), Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapu, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anad/Nadiad, Ahmedabad, Sabarmati.
15. India gets first US LNG shipment at Dabhol
India today received its first LNG cargo from the US under a long-term supply deal when a ship carrying super-cooled natural gas arrived at Dabhol in Maharashtra. A charter ship, MV Meridian Spirit arrived at Dabhol after 25 days voyage from Louisiana.
GAIL India has contracted 3.5 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from US energy firm Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction facility in Louisiana. The first cargo from the project arrived at Dabhol, the cite of India’s biggest gas-fired power plant.