1. Saudi women should have choice whether to wear abaya robe: Saudi Crown Prince
• Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has announced that women need not dress in the black abaya often seen as their expected attire throughout the kingdom.
• The Crown Prince indicated that the Sharia law does not dictate that women wear the traditional garment so they could choose their clothing, so long as it is respectful.
• He said Sharia law stipulates that women wear decent and respectful clothing just like men.
• The statement of the reformist Crown Prince is being seen as yet another progressive step towards women's right in the conservative kingdom.
2. First National workshop on Poshan Abhiyaan begins in Delhi
• The first National workshop on Poshan Abhiyaan was held in New Delhi on March 20, 2018 to implement the campaign in a fast track mode across the country.
• The day-long event saw participation from all the states and union territories.
• The Poshan Abhiyaan campaign was launched earlier this month by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan.
• It aims to ensure holistic development and adequate nutrition for pregnant women, mothers and children.
• The programme also targets to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth rate.
3. Russia blocks UN Security Council meeting on human rights in Syria
• Russia has blocked a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the human rights situation in Syria.
• Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, Gennady Kuzmin said that they do not see any justification for the meeting since human rights is not a subject on the agenda of the Council.
• Russia is the largest international backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
• France and six other members had called for the meeting, which was expected to include a briefing from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein.
• China, Bolivia and Kazakhstan voted with Russia to prevent the meeting, while Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia abstained from voting.
• Those who voted in favour of holding the meeting included France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Poland, Holland, the United States, Peru and Kuwait.
4. US prohibits transactions with Venezuela's digital currency
• The President of United States, Donald Trump on March 19, 2018 issued an executive order prohibiting US transactions with Venezuela's digital currency.
• The US blocked all transactions related to, provision of financing for and other dealings in, by a US person or within the US, any digital currency, digital coin, or digital token that have been issued by the Venezuelan government since January 9.
• The new measure has been introduced to counter the latest attempt from the Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s administration to circumvent US sanctions.
• In late February, Venezuela launched the presale of its own cryptocurrency, a type of digital or virtual currency, backed by its crude oil reserves, as a new financing option against financial sanctions imposed by US, which forbid US businesses from lending to the Venezuelan government or the state-run oil and gas company PDVSA.
5. US imposes sanctions on Venezuelan officials
• The US Treasury on March 19, 2018 imposed sanctions on four current and former senior Venezuelan officials, accusing them of alleged economic mismanagement and corruption.
• The designated individuals include a director of the country's National Bank of Housing and Habitat, the head of the body that oversees price controls in Venezuela, the head of the National Treasury of Venezuela, and the former President of the Board of Directors of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Security.
• As a result of the punishment, all assets of the designated persons that are subject to US jurisdiction are frozen and US persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.
• The Treasury's announcement followed an executive order from US President Donald Trump, which prohibited US transactions with Venezuela's digital currency, a move to further block the South American country's access to US financial market.
6. G20 ministerial meeting opens in Buenos Aires
• The first G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors began on March 19, 2018 in Buenos Aires, with the presence of 57 delegations from countries and institutions.
• The summit, held at the capital's Center of Exhibitions and Conventions (CEC), was attended by 22 finance ministers, 17 central bank governors and 10 heads of international organisations including IMF Director-General Christine Lagarde and Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Achim Steiner.
• With Argentina presiding the G20 this year, topics under discussion are likely to be infrastructure and the future of work in the digital arena.
• After the US announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports of 25 and 10 per cent respectively, the delegations are expected to put out a joint statement on the matter.
• This is the first of five such meetings to be held before Argentina hosts the G20 Summit on November 30 to December 1.
7. India hands over last diesel railway locomotive engine to Myanmar
• India on March 20, 2018 handed over the 18th and last diesel railway locomotive engine to Myanmar, thus executing a key project ahead of time as part of efforts to boost ties with the neighbour.
• The 18 locomotives are fitted with microprocessor control-based system, attaining a maximum speed of 100 km per hour and are customised for Myanmar Railways.
• The locomotives have been built by the Diesel Locomotive Works in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
• As per the agreement schedule, all locomotives were to be delivered by September, 2018. However, they have been delivered six months ahead of the schedule.