GK Update 21th & 22nd March 2021

  1. GoI launched “Gram Ujala Scheme” for Rural Areas
  • The government of India has launched the “Gram Ujala Scheme” to provide the cheapest LED bulbs in rural areas. The scheme was launched by the Union power and new and renewable energy minister, Raj Kumar Singh.
  • In the first phase, the scheme was launched from Arrah district in Bihar. In this phase, around 15 million LED bulbs will be distributed in the villages of Arrah (Bihar), Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh), Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), Nagpur (Maharashtra), and western Gujarat.
  • The Gram Ujala Scheme is an ambitious scheme that offers the world’s cheapest LED bulbs in rural areas. This is the first such scheme in India. It provides the LED Bulbs in these areas at a mere ₹10.
  • This scheme also furthers its climate change strategy and strengthen the self-reliance credentials. The scheme does not come with the government’s support or subsidy.

2. Maharashtra farmers start fresh fruit cake ‘movement’

  • Fruit growers in rural Maharashtra have started an innovative ‘movement’ to promote fresh fruit cakes as a healthier option, instead of the traditional bakery-made cakes.
  • According to farmers and agrarian experts, the aim of this ‘spontaneous’ movement is to encourage farmers and their families to increase the intake of fruits in their diet and to find a new way of selling their produce in times of the pandemic.
  • As part of the movement, farmers, their families and various organisations of cultivators are encouraging cakes made locally using fruits like watermelon, muskmelon, grapes, orange, pineapple and banana while celebrating special events.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Maharashtra Governor: Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
  • Maharashtra Capital: Mumbai.
  • Maharashtra CM: Uddhav Thackeray.

3. Jharkhand launches ‘SAAMAR’ campaign to fight malnutrition

  • The state government of Jharkhand has launched a campaign called SAAMAR to tackle malnutrition in the state.
  • SAAMAR stands for Strategic Action for Alleviation of Malnutrition and Anemia Reduction. The campaign has been launched with a 1000 days target, where annual surveys will be conducted to track the progress.
  • The campaign will bring together various departments to identify anaemic women and malnourished children to effectively deal with the problem in a state where malnutrition has been a major problem.
  • Most importantly, the campaign, as per the note, also tries to target Primarily Vulnerable Tribal Groups. Stating that there is no research-based information available on their food and nutritional habits, it encourages research and proposes fellowships on the nutritional behaviour of these groups for effective implementation.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Chief Minister of Jharkhand: Hemant Soren; Governor: Shrimati Droupadi Murmu.

4. Bihar becomes the first state to have its own ethanol policy

  • Bihar Cabinet has approved the Ethanol Production Promotion Policy, 2021, becoming the 1st Indian State to have an ethanol promotion policy.
  • The policy allows the extraction of ethanol, which was restricted to sugarcane, from surplus quantities of maize as well. The new policy would permit ethanol production in Bihar from all feedstocks permitted by National Policy on Biofuels, 2018, and subsequently by the National Biofuel Coordination Committee
  • The Ethanol Production Promotion Policy, 2021, of Bihar promotes new standalone ethanol manufacturing units by providing them additional capital subsidy at 15% of the cost of plant and machinery up to a maximum of ₹5 crores.
  • The new policy also provides an additional subsidy for special class investors like SCs, STs, EBCs, women, differently-abled, war widows, acid attack victims and third gender entrepreneurs.
  • In their case, the capital subsidy will be 15.75% of the cost of plant and machinery up to a maximum of Rs. 5.25 crore. The policy lays significant emphasis on issuing licences and clearances in a timebound manner for new standalone ethanol units.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Chief Minister of Bihar: Nitish Kumar; Governor: Phagu Chauhan.

5. Indian Navy undertakes exercise PASSEX with Royal Bahrain Naval Force

  • Indian Navy on 18th March undertook Passage Exercise (PASSEX) with Royal Bahrain Naval Force Corvette Al Muharraq in the Persian Gulf under Operation Sankalp. PASSEXs are conducted regularly by the Indian Navy with units of friendly foreign navies,
  • whilst visiting each other’s ports or during a rendezvous at sea.
  • The exercises are aimed at fostering interoperability and reflecting the commitments of both, India and Bahrain, to build cooperative partnerships in meeting emergent maritime challenges.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • King of Bahrain: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
  • Bahrain Capital: Manama.
  • Bahrain Currency: Bahraini dinar.

6. Defence Ministry deal with BDL to acquire 4,690 anti-tank guided missiles

  • The Defence Ministry has sealed a deal with the public sector undertaking Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) to acquire 4,960 MILAN-2T anti-tank guided missiles at a cost of ₹ 1,188 crores for the Indian Army.
  • The missiles, having a range of 1,850 metres, are being produced by BDL under license from French defence major MBDA Missile Systems. These missiles can be fired from the ground as well as vehicle-based launchers and can be deployed in the anti-tank role for both offensive and defensive tasks.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Minister of Defence: Raj Nath Singh.
  • Bharat Dynamics Limited Founded: 1970, Hyderabad.
  • Bharat Dynamics Limited Chairman & MD: Siddharth Mishra.

7. India ranks 139th in World Happiness Report 2021

  • India has been placed at 139th position out of 149 countries in the UN World Happiness Report 2021 released. In 2019, India was ranked 140th. The World Happiness Report 2021 has been topped by Finland, for the fourth consecutive year.
  • The 2021 report is the ninth World Happiness Report and focuses on the effects of COVID-19 and how people all over the world have fared.
  • Finland is followed by Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Norway, New Zealand and Austria.
  • People in Afghanistan (149) are the most unhappy with their lives, followed by Zimbabwe (148), Rwanda (147), Botswana (146) and Lesotho (145).
  • The World Happiness Report is issued by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, to rank countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be.
  • The countries of the world are ranked on the basis of questions from the Gallup World Poll. The results are then correlated with other factors, like gross domestic product per person, healthy life expectancy and the opinions of residents.

8. India slips to 56th rank in Global Home Price Index

  • India has moved down 13 spots in the latest global home price index to finish last at 56th rank in the quarter ending December 2020. Against its 43rd rank a year ago, India saw a decline of 3.6% year-on-year (YoY) in home prices, leading to the drop in global position, showed Knight Frank’s Global House Price Index.
  • India was the weakest-performing country during the fourth quarter of 2020, with a decline of 3.6% in home prices, followed by Morocco with a drop of 3.3%. According to the report, markets like New Zealand (19%), Russia (14%), the US (10%), Canada and UK (both 9%) have recorded accelerated growth in rankings in the last three months due to a growth in housing demand.

9. ISSF WC: Yashaswini wins first gold for India

  • Yashaswini Deswal bagged the first gold medal for India in the Women’s 10M Air Pistol final of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun.
  • Deswal accumulated 238.8 points to lead in her category. Another Indian shooter Manu Bhaker won a silver medal with 236.7 points. World number one shooter Divyansh Singh Panwar clinched the bronze medal in 10m Air Rifle (men’s category) and opened India’s medal account in the competition.

10. World Water Day observed globally on 22 March

  • World Water Day is observed globally on 22nd March every year. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis.
  • A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.
  • The theme of World Water Day 2021 is “Valuing water”. The value of water is much more than its economic value – water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Secretary-General of the United Nations: Antonio Guterres.
  • The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945.

11. International Day of Forests: 21 March

  • The International Day of Forests (also known as World Forestry Day) is celebrated every year on March 21.
  • The day is to celebrate to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests, and trees outside forests, for the benefit of current and future generations as well as to increase the public awareness among communities about the values, significance and contributions of the forests to balance the life cycle on the earth.
  • The theme for International Day of Forests 2020 is “Forest restoration: a path to recovery and well-being”. This year’s theme fits into the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), a call for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world.

12. World Down Syndrome Day: 21 March

  • The World Down Syndrome Day is observed globally on 21 March each year, to raise public awareness for the rights, inclusion and well being of people with Down syndrome.
  • This year, the theme for World Down Syndrome Day is “We Decide.” This day was first observed in the United Nation in the year 2012. The 21st day of March (the 3rd month of the year) has been selected to signify the uniqueness of the triplication (trisomy) of the 21st chromosome which causes Down syndrome.
  • Down Syndrome is a condition in which the child is born with an extra 21st chromosome. It comes in the category of a genetic disorder, and it also causes developmental disabilities. The child born with this condition is likely to suffer thyroid or heart-related problems.

13. International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

  • The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on 21 March to remind people about the negative consequences of racial discrimination.
  • This year theme is “Youth standing up against racism”. It engages the public through #FightRacism, which aims to foster a global culture of tolerance, equality and anti-discrimination and calls on each and every one of us to stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes.
  • The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid “pass laws” in 1960.

14. World Poetry Day: 21 March

  • World Poetry Day is celebrated on 21 March every year to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world.
  • The Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. Practised throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.
  • UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • UNESCO headquarters: Paris, France.
  • UNESCO Head: Audrey Azoulay.
  • UNESCO Founded: 16 November 1945.

15. Former Sebi chairman GV Ramakrishna passes away

  • Former Sebi chairman GV Ramakrishna passed away. He was appointed as the chairman of markets regulator Sebi in 1990 when it lacked legal status.
  • He headed that body till 1994 and then became the first chairman of the Disinvestment Commission in 1996.

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