Current Affairs in Short: 21 March 2018
India Post has paid tribute to theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking by issuing a special cover on him. The postal department released the special cover in all of its 22 circles. Hawking died at the age of 76 on March 14.
1. Union Government to set up Plastic Park in Deoghar
• The Government of India on March 20, 2018 approved the setting up of a Plastic Park in Deoghar District, Jharkhand.
• The project would be set up at a cost of Rs 120 crores in an area of 150 acres.
• A range of polymer products including woven sacks, moulded furniture, water tanks, bottles, pipes and mosquito nets would be manufactured at the park.
• The project is expected to provide direct employment generation to about 6000 people and indirect employment to over 30000 people.
2. USCIS to accept petitions for H-1B visa from April 2
• The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will accept petitions for H-1B visa from April 2, 2018.
• The federal agency, however, said it has suspended premium processing of all H-1B petitions which is expected to last until 10th September this year.
• The H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that enables US companies to employ foreign workers in jobs that require theoretical or technical skills.
• Technology companies mostly use this visa to hire thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
3. Myanmar's first democratically elected President resigns
• President of Myanmar, Htin Kyaw, on March 21, 2018 announced his retirement from the post amidst concerns about his health over the last few months.
• Htin Kyaw was the country's first civilian president after Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy, won the historical elections in March 2016, ending the decades of military dictatorship.
• With constitution barring Aung San Suu Kyi from holding the post of the president, she nominated her childhood friend and close confidante Htin Kyaw as the country's president.
• His resignation has come at a time when Myanmar and State Consellor Aung San Suu Kyi, are facing heavy backlash due to the alleged military violence in the Rakhine state, leading to an exodus of tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to bordering Bangladesh.
• The 72-year-old President was a supporter of India's Act East Policy and was also the first Myanmar president to visit India in 2016.
4. India Post releases special cover on Stephen Hawking
• India Post on March 20, 2018 paid tribute to theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking by issuing a special cover on him.
• The postal department paid tribute to the legendary scientist by releasing the special cover in all its 22 Circles.
• Hawking died at the age of 76 on March 14 in his home in Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
5. Canada proposes tightening controls on gun sales
• Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced a legislation on March 20, 2018 that requires the gun retailers in the country to keep records of firearms inventory and sales for at least 20 years.
• The proposed bill would also expand the scope of background checks for those who want to acquire a gun. For example, the personal history questions on a license application would cover a person's entire lifetime instead of five years.
• The legislation would also require purchasers of rifles and shotguns to present a valid license.
• Currently, license verification is voluntary for non-restricted firearms like rifles.
6. French President launches drive to boost French, 'language of liberty'
• French president Emmanuel Macron on March 20, 2018 unveiled his plan to boost French, the 'language of liberty' around the world.
• Macron aims to spend hundreds of millions of Euros boosting the French language worldwide, in a push to overtake English in Africa, increase the use of French online and teach French to more European officials to loosen the grip of the English language on Brussels.
• French was long dominant at the European Union headquarters in Brussels but recent times saw growth in popularity of English in European institutions, especially since the eastern European members joined the bloc in 2004.
• French is the sixth most spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic.
• There are now more French speakers outside France than inside it.
7. Rajasthan cabinet to soon notify openings for 1.08 lakh government jobs
• The state cabinet of Rajasthan has decided to release notification for one lakh eight thousand government jobs in various departments by next month.
• The notification of 108 types of jobs will be released by April end and recruitment process will be completed by July.
• State Cabinet also gave its nod for setting up a transgender welfare board, which will frame policies for the third gender to ensure equality. The board will be headed by the minister of Social Justice and Empowerment department along with 15 government and six non-government officials.
• The cabinet also approved five per cent reservation to ex-army personnel in Group-A and B of government services apart from age limit relaxation.
8. Free Wi-Fi service launched in Valsad district of Gujarat
• Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani and Communication Minister Manoj Sinha on March 21, 2018 launched free wi-fi service for Sansad Adarsh Gram, Udwada town in Valsad district of Gujarat through video conferencing.
• The Union Ministers also interacted with people of the area. Speaking on the occasion, Smriti Irani said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Digital India is being fulfilled.
• Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said that one lakh gram panchayats have been linked digitally so far. He said the Optical Fibre Cable has been increased to 14 lakh kilometres.
9. India, Europe sign landmark space cooperation agreement
• India's Department of Space (DoS) and the European Commission on March 19, 2018 signed a cooperation agreement related to sharing of earth observation satellite data.
• Under the agreement, the European Commission will provide India with free, full and open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections from data hub to data hub.
• India on the other hand, will provide the Copernicus programme and its participating states with a free, full and open access to the data from ISRO's earth observation satellites including historical data sets.
• This comprises data from land, ocean and atmospheric series of ISRO’s civilian satellites (Oceansat-2, Scatsat-1, Megha-Tropiques, SARAL, INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR) with exception of commercial high-resolution satellites data.
• The agreement also envisages technical assistance for establishment of high bandwidth connections with ISRO sites, in particular through setting up of mirror servers, data storage and archival facilities.