Current Affairs in Short: 16 March 2018
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico officially resigned, less than three weeks after the murder of an investigative reporter Kuciak and his fiancee Kusnirova.
Pranab Mukherjee Foundation launched to help improve quality of life of people
• Pranab Mukherjee Foundation was launched on March 15, 2018 to initiate, support and execute projects aimed at improving the quality of life of people.
• The foundation was launched at a function at the official residence of former President where Pranab Mukherjee and Tata Group head Ratan Tata jointly inaugurated the foundation.
• The foundation will also undertake research and consultancy projects to strengthen India's Constitution.
• The foundation will work to find the "lasting solutions" to the challenges being faced by communities in India.
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.
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).
Angela Merkel re-elected as German Chancellor for 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 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.
Slovakia’s PM Robert Fico resigns
• Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico officially resigned, less than three weeks after the murder of an investigative reporter Kuciak and his fiancee Kusnirova.
• Fico ran the Slovak government for 10 years.
• Following the resignation, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, a member of the outgoing premier’s Smer-SD party, was asked to form a new government.
China develops artificial heart with Rocket Technology
• Chinese scientists developed artificial heart using Rocket Technology and it is currently undergoing testing experiments on animals.
• The heart was developed jointly by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) and Teda International Cardiovascular Hospital in North China’s Tianjin.
• The artificial heart uses magnetic and fluid levitation from rocket system.
• This technology used can reduce damage to the blood and enable pumping of blood to work longer.
India ranks 78th on WEF Energy Transition Index
• India was ranked at 78th among 114 countries on World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Energy Transition Index (ETI) released as part of report titled Fostering Effective Energy Transition.
• Top 10 countries in Energy Transition Index were Sweden (1st), Norway (2nd), Switzerland (3rd), Finland (4th), Denmark (5th), Netherlands (6th), the UK (7th), Austria (8th), France (9th) and Iceland (10th).
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.
Lok Sabha passes Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017
• The Lok Sabha passed the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2017 to empower government to fix period of maternity leave and tax-free gratuity amount with an executive order.
• The Bill seeks to amend the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.
• It allows for payment of gratuity to employees in any establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port, railways, company, or shop employing 10 or more workers.
• The Bill removes the existing ceiling of Rs 10 lakh amount of gratuity payable to an employee and states that the ceiling may be notified by the central government.