Today Current Affairs 21st March 2017

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The World  Poetry Day was celebrated on 21 March 2017 across the globe. The objective behind the day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression as well as to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their societies. The day also provides an occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry.The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999. How World Poetry Day is celebrated : Each country is invited to celebrate the day in its own manner with the active participation of National Commissions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and public and private institutions concerned.  For its part, UNESCO will endeavour to encourage and support national initiatives designed, inter alia, to - i. Further the introduction of poetry as an important feature of arts education in school curricula ii. Raise awareness in schools so that World Poetry Day will be celebrated in the most interdisciplinary way possible by and in schools iii. Encourage the award of poetry prizes iv. Mobilize municipal authorities so that they will contribute actively to the preparation and celebration of World Poetry Day v. Promote the creation of a network of prizes in each Member State vi. Elaborate an electronic repertoire of poetic institutions

Maggie MacDonnell, a Canadian teacher was named the winner of the annual Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony conducted on 19 March 2017 at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai. Maggie who teaches at the Ikusik School in Salluit, an Inuit village deep in the Canadian Arctic, was awarded for her achievements within the local community that survives amidst harsh conditions and her effort in helping to reduce teenage suicide rates.  She was awarded a cash prize of US $1m. She received the honour from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Emir of Dubai. Highlights  : Maggie was among the 10 finalists, chosen from over 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries across the globe. The winner’s name was announced through a video link by an astronaut on the International Space Station. The inuit village, where Maggie teaches, is known to have a high suicide rate.  Maggie herself has witnessed over 10 suicides and she described at the event how it felt to be a teacher after the suicide of a student. The region is also infamous for teenage pregnancies and high levels of sexual abuse. To help curb the same, Maggie created life-skills programme specifically for the young girls in the region. Maggie has also been a temporary foster parent in the indigenous community. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Maggie on her win through a video message and thanked her along with other teachers teaching in the village, which is located in one of the world’s most remote regions, surrounded by snow and ice that has no roads and is only accessible by air. Global Teacher Prize : The prize is US $1 million award, which is presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.  It aims to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them. The prize is paid in instalments and requires the winner to remain a teacher for at least five years.The Nobel-like award was set up three years ago by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation under the leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Last year’s award went to a Palestinian teacher, Hanan al-Hroub, for her work in countering violent behaviour among her students through the means of play in the West Bank. The judging panel includes head teachers, journalists, entrepreneurs, public officials, scientists, company directors and entertainment industry figures from across the world.

Indo-Nepal joint military exercise Surya Kiran XI concluded on 20 March 2017 at Pithorgarh in Uttarakhand. The exercise culminated with a 48 hour outdoor exercise in which troops of both the countries carried out a cordon and search operation in a mock village. Highlights of Surya Kiran XI : It was the 11th edition of the Surya Kiran exercise. The 14-day long exercise began on 7 March 2017. The EKTA SHAKTI Battalion of the Punjab Regiment of Indian Army and the DURGA BAHSH Battalion of Nepalese Army participated in the joint military exercise.The aim of the exercise was to train troops in counter insurgency operations and enhance defence cooperation and military relations between the two countries. The Surya Kiran XI provided an ideal platform for the personnel of the two armies to share their experiences. The training was conducted in the hills adjoining Pithoragarh to give a realistic environ to the contingents to practice and rehearse drills. The exercise formally incorporated issues related to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Management (HADR). Surya Kiran : Surya Kiran refers to a series of annual joint military exercises that are alternatively conducted in India and Nepal.It seeks to enhance defense cooperation and military relations between both the countries. In the series of military training exercises undertaken by India with various countries, Surya Kiran is considered as the largest in terms of troop’s participation.

The International Day of Happiness was celebrated on 20 March 2017 across the world. To mark the occasion, the United Nations released the World Happiness Report 2017, which ranked 155 countries by their happiness levels. In the report, while Norway was adjudged as the happiest country in the world, India was ranked 122, much behind most of the SAARC nations including Pakistan and Nepal.  International Day of Happiness : The General Assembly of the United Nations created the International Day of Happiness through a resolution on 12 July 2012. Consequently, the annual day was celebrated for the first time in 2013.20 March was declared as the day of International Happiness following a Bhutanese concept that was coined by the fourth king of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1970’s.  It was when the country for the first time replaced the Gross National Product (GNP) with the concept of Gross National Happiness (GNH) to measure the living standards of its population. On this day, the United Nations invites Member States, international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the day in an appropriate manner. The day also provides an occasion for the policy makers to organize public awareness-raising activities about the importance of happiness in our lives.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its release on 20 March 2017 said, “All branches of State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur (SBBJ), State Bank of Hyderabad (SBH), State Bank of Mysore (SBM), State Bank of Patiala (SBP) and State Bank of Travancore (SBT) will function as branches of State Bank of India from 1 April 2017. The release said that customers including depositors of all these associate banks will be treated as customers of the State Bank of the India from 1 April 2017. Earlier in February 2017, the proposed merger of the five subsidiaries of the State Bank of India (SBI) with the bank was approved by the Union Cabinet. For this purpose, the union government also issued acquisition orders of these banks. The acquisition orders for these banks were • Acquisition of State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur Order 2017 • Acquisition of State Bank of Travancore Order 2017 • Acquisition of State Bank of Patiala Order 2017 • Acquisition of State Bank of Hyderabad Order 2017 • Acquisition of State Bank of Mysore Order 2017 The orders dated 22 February 2017 issued by the Union Government were published under Extraordinary Part II-Section 3-Sub-section (i) in the Gazette of India sanctioning the Acquisition of State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Patiala and State Bank of Travancore by State Bank of India in terms of sub-section (2) of Section 35 of the State Bank of India Act, 1955 (23 of 1955).\With this merger, SBI will turn up to be a lender of global proportions. Its asset base after the merger with its associate banks will be about Rs 37 lakh crore (about Rs 37 trillion or USD 555 billion).It will have 22500 branches and 58000 ATMs across India and the world. This number of branches and ATMs will help the bank in handling its customer base which will be more than 50 crores in numbers. Post merger, the employees of all associate banks, with exceptions, will become employees of SBI. Exceptions will be of the board of directors and executive trustees of the associate banks. At present, SBI has about 20000 branches of which 191 are foreign offices across 36 countries. Of the five subsidiary banks, only SBBJ, SBM and SBT are listed. Besides, the union government on the day of RBI’s notification announced that the Bharatiya Mahila Bank will also be merged with SBI.

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was observed globally on 21 March 2017 with the theme 'Racial profiling and incitement to hatred, including in the context of migration'. Racial and ethnic profiling is defined as a reliance by security and border control personnel on race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin as a basis for subjecting persons to detailed searches, identity checks and investigations.Refugees and migrants are in particular the targets of racial profiling and incitement to hatred. In September 2016, the United Nations launched an initiative titled 'Together' to promote respect, safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. For the same purpose, UN launched other initiatives as well including Let's Fight Racism! and the International Decade for People of African Descent. Moreover, the UN Human Rights Office also launched a campaign 'Stand up for Someone's Rights Today' to encourage and support actions in our daily lives to defend the human rights of others.  The Day was proclaimed based on the events of 21 March 1960 when police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid pass laws in Sharpeville, South Africa. Following this, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination and proclaimed the day in 1966.

Tamil Nadu on 20 March 2017 won the Vijay Hazare Trophy of Cricket, for the fifth time. In the Final played at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi, they defeated Bengal by 37 runs. It was Tamil Nadu's third victory over Bengal in the final of this competition.Opting to bat, Tamil Nadu posted 217, riding on a century by Dinesh Karthik. He made 112. In reply, they bundled out Bengal for 180 in 45.5 overs. Aswin Crist, Rahil Shah and M. Mohammad bagged 2 wickets each, while for Bengal, Sudip Chatterjee top scored with 58. Man of the match: Dinesh Karthik Vijay Hazare Trophy : The Vijay Hazare Trophy is a domestic 50-over competition of Cricket played in India. It is also known as the Ranji One Day Trophy. The tournament started in 2002-03 involves state teams from the Ranji Trophy plates. It is named after the famous Indian cricketer Vijay Hazare. Jharkhand won the trophy in 2011, beating Gujarat in the finals at Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore. Bengal won it on 2011-12.  

The Supreme Court (SC) on 21 March 2017 advised the concerned parties in Ram Temple dispute case to resolve the matter outside the court. This came following the appeal of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who sought an urgent hearing on the Ayodhya dispute on the claims that it is a sensitive matter. The case is pending since last six years. In his petition filed under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, Swamy contended that the pendency of the appeals in the Supreme Court has restricted his fundamental right to worship and enjoy dignity of life under the Constitution. Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Khehar in response asked him to mention the matter on or before 31 March 2017 while advising Swamy to sort out issue outside the court through negotiations that would be agreed upon by all petitioners and respondents. However, the apex court also ruled that it would intervene if the negotiations fail and will appoint a mediator for resolution.’ The Supreme Court is also hearing the appeals challenging a 2010 Allahabad High Court's decision fixing the exact birth place of Lord Ram at the disputed Ayodhya site. A three-judge Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court in September 2010 had given a unanimous decision that Lord Ram was born under the central dome of the makeshift temple and Hindus have the right to worship there. Subsequently, the Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the High Court's decision soon after. The case has remained halfway ever since then. The issue of Ram Mandir Dispute dates back to 1992, when hundreds of commoners demolished the 16th century mosque in Ayodhya amid claims that it was the birthplace of Hindu deity Lord Rama and the mosque was constructed on the holy land of Hindus.  This triggered widespread Hindu-Muslim violence. Here is a timeline of the dispute: 1528: The Babri Masjid, a mosque in Ayodhya, was constructed by Mir Baki on the orders of Mughal emperor Babar.  • 1949: Towards the end of December 1949, idols of Lord Ram appeared inside the mosque, allegedly put there by Hindus. It led to widespread protests and both communities filed cases. The government declared the site as disputed and locked the gates to it. • 1950: Mahant Paramhans Ramchandra Das, the chief of Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas, and Gopal Singh Visharad filed case seeking permission to pray before the installed idols, which was allowed  though the inner courtyard gates remain locked. • 1961: Sunni Central Board of Waqfs in Uttar Pradesh filed a case claiming the mosque. • 1984: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad constituted a group with the leader L K Advani to continue the campaign against the mosque. • 1986: Faizabad district judge ordered the gates of the structure be opened for Hindus to offer prayers.  • 1990: LK Advani launched a rath yatra (pilgrimage procession) from Somnath to Ayodhya to galvanise support for the issue countrywide. His rath was stopped and he was arrested in Samastipur, Bihar.  • 1992: The disputed structure was brought down by followers and a makeshift temple was placed in its place.  • 2003: The Allahabad High Court ordered the Archeological Survey of India to excavate the disputed site in order to determine whether a temple existed where the mosque stood. The ASI submitted its report saying that it had found features of a 10th century temple beneath the site of the masjid.  • 2010: The Allahabad High Court pronounced its verdict on the long-standing Ayodhya Ram janmabhumi-Babri Masjid issue and ruled for a three-way division of the disputed area, between the Sunni Waqf Board, the Nirmohi Akhara and the party for Ram Lalla. • 2016: The Supreme Court permitted BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to intervene in the pending matters relating to the Ayodhya dispute with his plea seeking construction of Ram temple at the site of the demolished disputed structure.  

In an unprecedented move, the Centre has swapped the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of state-owned Indian Bank and IDBI Bank. Mahesh Kumar Jain, who was Managing Director & CEO at Indian Bank, has been appointed as Managing Director & CEO of IDBI Bank, which is now in some financial trouble and faced with several legacy issues. Jain was named Indian Bank chief in November 2015. Kishore Piraji Kharat, who was appointed as IDBI Bank CEO in August 2015, has now been appointed as Managing Director and CEO of Indian Bank. Jain will assume charge of IDBI Bank at a challenging time when the bank's morale is down following the recent arrest of some of its top officials. Also, the huge Rs. 2,255 crore loss in December quarter has also made things difficult for this PSB. Till now, one could mostly see chief executives of smaller public sector banks getting elevated to larger public sector banks. This is the first time a swap of CEOs between almost equal sized banks is being undertaken, say banking industry observers Some banking industry observers are also dismayed at sidestepping of good governance norms as enunciated in Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements (LODR) and absence of Boards involvement in the decision making process.

Roger Federer (Switzerland) claimed his fifth BNP PARIBAS OPEN, ATP Indian Wells Masters title after defeating Stan Wawrinka in California, USA. Federer joined Novak Djokovic as the only men to win five Indian Wells titles, adding to those he won in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012. At 35, Federer is also the oldest ATP player to win one of the elite Masters titles, surpassing Andre Agassi who was 34 when he won in Cincinnati in 2004.

Coming in support of weak and non-performing public sector banks (PSBs), the Finance Ministry has chalked out a turnaround-linked Rs 8,586-crore capital infusion plan for 10 PSBs. The Top five capital gaining banks are IDBI Bank (Rs 1,900 crore), Bank of India (Rs 1,500 crore), UCO bank (Rs 1,150 crore) and Andhra Bank and Indian Overseas Bank with Rs 1,100 crore each. The capital inflow in 10 different PSBs is given as follows-

Reliance Communications has received approval of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for the demerger of its wireless division into Aircel Ltd and Dishnet Wireless Ltd.  Reliance Communications Ltd has received an approval of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for the proposed Scheme of Arrangement for demerger of the Wireless division of the company into Aircel Ltd and Dishnet Wireless Ltd  Reliance Communications and Aircel in September last year announced the merger of their wireless operations to create a combined entity with assets worth Rs 65,000 crore.  Post closing, the company and the present shareholders of Aircel Ltd will hold 50 per cent each in Aircel Ltd  The company has already received approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), stock exchanges BSE and NSE for the deal and has filed an application with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for the same.  The transaction will reduce RCom's debt by Rs 20,000 crore (USD 3 billion), while Aircel's debt would go down by Rs 4,000 crore (USD 600 million) on closing in 2017, the two companies had said last year.  Both the companies will transfer Rs 14,000 crore of debt each to the joint venture, taking the total debt of the new company to Rs 28,000 crore.  The Competition Commission of India's nod to RCom and Aircel merger comes amid a massive consolidation drive in the telecom sector, intensified by the disruptive entry of newcomer Reliance Jio.  Earlier today the board of Idea Cellular approved its amalgamation with telecom operator Vodafone India and Vodafone Mobile Services, to create the country's largest telecom service provider. 

Private sector bank ICICI Bank Ltd on Monday announced the launch of a unique mobile banking app 'Mera iMobile' for rural customers that will allow them to access banking services as well as information on agri services. The app allows users in rural areas to avail as many as 135 services, some of which are unprecedented in the industry. It will enable the users to save the time and cost of visiting a branch to avail these services. The list of services include Kisan Credit Card, Gold Loan, Farm Equipment Loan and loans to Self-Help Groups (SHGs). The app also enables them to undertake an array of frequently used banking services from their smartphone, without using mobile internet services. Additionally, it is the first banking app to offer agriculture related information like crop-wise mandi prices of nearly 230 crop varieties across 460 mandis. It also displays taluka-wise weather update for close to 3700 talukas across and over 300 districts, aiding farmers to plan their sowing and harvesting activities conveniently and in an informed manner. The Mera iMobile app is specially created to be 'light' to enable customers in rural and semi-urban markets to download and run it easily even with low internet speed. To further aid quick download of the app, the bank will introduce 'WiFi enabled posters' at its rural and semi-urban branches. The key services of 'Mera iMobile' includes integrated offering of rural banking accounts in the app. It also enables value- added services of agri-information: Users can avail information on weather and prevailing crop prices from the app. It is the first banking app to offer these additional services. Anyone, including non ICICI Bank customers can download the app to avail the advisory related services. To begin with, this information will be available in agri-dominant districts. Availability of services without using mobile internet services. It offers 14 frequently used banking services which can be used without using mobile internet services. These SMS based services that can be done from 'Mera iMobile' are a marked improvement over the SMS Banking services available in feature phones. Available as pre-formatted templates, customers can conveniently complete their frequent transactions by simply adding few details. These services include fund transfer, bill payment, cheque book request, recharges and balance enquiry among others. The app is available in eleven Indian languages and English. The languages include Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Odia, Assamese and Punjabi.  

Essar's Nand Niketanat Hazira has become India's first private sector township to go cashless, using the mobile wallet for performing digital transactions. A Mumbai-based tech company was roped into provide smartphone based application for mastercard-enabled mobile wallets. Till now around 8,000 prepaid cards have been issued in the Nand Niketan township to the employees, merchants and shop owners operating within its precincts. An average of Rs 2 lakh worth of digital transactions are being executed every day. All Essar employees now get a nominal part of their salary as a credit into their mobile wallets. Our cashless efforts have been appreciated by the district collector as well.   

Five Indians, have made it to the World Economic Forum's 100 Young Global Leaders list.  Vijay Shekhar Sharma - Founder and CEO Paytm  Shruti Shibulal - The Tamara Hospitality, Ambarish Mitra Founder - CEO Blippar, a mobile phone app business valued at USD 1.5 billion;  Hindol Sengupta Editor- at large  Fortune India   Rwitwika Bhattacharya - Agarwal Founder and CEO Swaniti Initiative. There were nine global leaders from South Asia, out of which five are from India. Besides, there are some persons of Indian origin in the US and Europe were also named in the list. Each year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) selects 100 young leaders, under the age of 40, who are tackling the world's most complex challenges with innovative approaches. The Class of 2017 features two of the world's top scientists on genome editing: Luhan Yang, chief scientist at eGenesis Biosciences, and Feng Zhang, a core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. From the public sector, the list features Aja Brown the youngest mayor to be elected in Compton, California. Among those representing the private sector is Katie Hill, an innovator who leads Apple's ambitious new clean energy programme, converting the company's manufacturing worldwide to renewable energy. 

E-commerce firm Snapdeal has announced the appointment of Jason Kothari as the Chief Executive Officer of its digital payment platform FreeCharge and a commitment to invest an additional $20 million in the company. In addition to taking on the role of CEO, Jason will continue his key leadership role as Chief Strategy and Investment Officer at Snapdeal. Most recently, Kothari was CEO of Softbank-backed online real estate company Housing.Com, where he led the successful turnaround of the company from a position of distress to a market leader in one-and-a half years using organic and inorganic growth. Prior to joining Housing.Com, Kothari was CEO and Vice Chairman of character-based entertainment company Valiant Entertainment. Kothari said the digital payments space in India is forecasted to be over $1 trillion by 2025.

British telecom major Vodafone and Aditya Birla group-run Idea Cellular today announced the merger of their operations, creating the largest mobile operator by customer and revenue market share. The merged entity, which will come into force over the next two years, will be headed by Kumar Mangalam Birla as Chairman. Vodafone will have its nominee as the chief financial officer, its CEO Vittorio Colao said here at a press meet, which was also attended by Birla. The all-share merger for both partners excludes Vodafone’s 42 per cent stake in Indus Towers and will be effected through issuing new shares in Idea to Vodafone and result in Vodafone deconsolidating Vodafone India. Vodafone will own 45.1 per cent in the new company after transferring 4.9 per cent to the Aditya Birla group for Rs. 3,874 crore in cash concurrent with completion of the merger. Idea will hold 26 per cent of the combined entity, while the rest will be owned by public shareholders. Idea and Vodafone said the merged entity will be jointly controlled by Vodafone and the Aditya Birla group as per shareholders’ agreement.  

The Union Government will soon launch country’s first-of-its-kind Indian Sign Language (ISL) dictionary which aims to bring uniformity in sign languages used by hearing and speech impaired people.  It is being developed in both print and video format by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training Centre (ISLRTC).   It will give an uniform language to 50 lakh hearing and 20 lakh speech impaired people in the country. ISL dictionary will contain graphic representations of popular signs used by the hearing impaired and also their regional variations.  It will also have legal, technical and medical terms It will help bridge the communication gap by promoting the use of sign language for hearing impaired students at schools and colleges.  It will also enable government officials, teachers, community leaders, professionals and the public at large to learn and use sign language.  It will enable the public utility organisations like hospitals, banks, courts, airports, and others to utilise the services of interpreters. So far, it has compiled 6,032 Hindi and English words and their corresponding graphic representation of the signs which are used in daily life.

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the four Goods and Services Tax (GST) related bills. These Bills were earlier approved by the GST Council after clause by clause, discussion over 12 meetings in past 6 months. The passage of these four GST related bills will pave the way for the biggest reform in the area of Indirect Taxes in the history of the country. The Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (CGST Bill): It makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services for both by the Union Government. The Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (IGST Bill): It makes provisions for levy and collection of tax on inter-state supply of goods or services or both by the Union Government. The Union Territory Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2017 (UTGST Bill): It makes provisions for levy on collection of tax on intra-UT supply of goods and services in the UTs without legislature. It is akin to States Goods and Services Tax (SGST) that will enacted by state legislatures for levy and collection of tax by the States/UTs on intra-state supply of goods or services or both. The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to the States) Bill 2017 (The Compensation Bill): It provides for compensation to states for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the GST for a period of five years as per section 18 of the Constitution (One Hundred and First Amendment) Act, 2016. The Union Government is trying for early introduction of GST, one of the biggest taxation reforms in the country as early as possible. GST Council headed by Union Finance Minister earlier had set 1 July 2017 as the date of commencement of GST. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his 2017-18 Budget Speech had mentioned that country-wide outreach efforts will be made to explain the provisions of GST to Trade and Industry. GST  : GST regime will amalgamate large number of Central and State indirect taxes into a single tax. It will mitigate cascading or double taxation in a major way and pave the way for a common national market. It will help in the realization of the objective of “One Nation, One Tax” and improve the Ease of Doing Business in the country.  It will also indirectly benefit people of the country by reducing the tax burden especially on the daily consumer items. The GST will bring in more transparency and efficiency by minimizing of human interface in the tax administration in the country.  It is also likely to lead to a reduction in tax evasion as a result of the computerization of the taxation process. It will in turn lead to increase in revenue collection for the Centre and the States.  

The Uttarakhand High Court has recognized the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers as so-called living entities. It is for the first time any court in India has recognized a non-human as a living entity. The two rivers are sacred for the Hindus, sustain millions of people in the country but have seen years of damage at the hands of humans. The HC Division Bench comprising Justice Alok Singh and Justice Rajiv Sharma gave a landmark judgment while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition filed by one Mohammad Salim in 2014. Uttarakhand HC verdict :  Ganga and Yamuna, all their tributaries, streams are declared as legal persons [or] living persons in order to protect the recognition and the faith of society.  They will have the status of a legal person with all corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person in order to preserve and conserve them.  State government failed to fulfil its responsibility regarding the rivers. Central government must constitute Ganga Management Board to look into the issue of cleaning and maintaining these rivers.  The Director, Namami Gange project and the Chief Secretary and the Advocate General of Uttarakhand have been charged to protect, conserve and preserve the rivers and their tributaries. In India, animals, for instance, are not considered living entities by law. Only humans are. But recognizing these rivers as a living entity, grants them new legal identity and all rights laid out in the Constitution of India. Thus, they have the right to be legally protected and not be harmed and destroyed. They also can be parties to disputes as their rights can be used to protect the interests of the rivers. It also means that if someone pollutes these rivers, the law will see it equal to harming a human being. Earlier in March 2017, New Zealand Parliament passed a bill declaring 145km long Whanganui River as ‘legal person’, making it first river to get this status. Ecuador was first country to recognize Rights of Nature in its Constitution adopted in September 2008. The new Ecuadorian Constitution includes a Chapter: Rights for Nature.

India ranked at 122 out of 155 countries in the World Happiness Report 2017 published by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network on the eve of International Day of Happiness (20 March). The rankings are based factors such as  inequality, life expectancy, GDP per capita, public trust (i.e. a lack of corruption in government and business), and social support. Together they are used to generate a happiness score of country on a scale from 1 to 10.This year it is fifth such report since the first was published in 2012. 10 Happiest Countries: Norway (1), Denmark (2), Iceland (3), Switzerland (4), Finland (5), Netherlands (6), Canada (7), New Zealand (8), Australia (9) and Sweden (10). 5 Saddest Countries: Rwanda (151), Syria (152), Tanzania (153), Burundi (154) and Central African Republic (155). The entire top ten were wealthier developed nations. But the report mentioned that money is not the only ingredient in the recipe for happiness. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and those hit by conflict were ranked lower. India was placed behind the majority of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations, apart from war-ravaged Afghanistan (141). In the previous edition of the report, India ranked 118. Eight SAARC nations: Pakistan (80), Nepal (99), Bhutan (97), Bangladesh (110) and Sri Lanka (120). Maldives did not figure in the report. BRICS Countries: Brazil (17), Russia (56), China (79), South Africa (116) and India (122).

Justice Navanithi Prasad Singh was on 20 March 2017 sworn in as the new Chief Justice of Kerala High Court. The Governor of Kerala Justice (retd) P Sathasivam administered the oath of office to Justice Singh at a function held at the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram. Justice Navanithi Prasad Singh : After doing schooling from Scindhia School in Gwalior, he did graduation and LL.B. from the Delhi University. He practiced in commercial, taxation and constitutional matters in Patna and Jharkhand High Courts. His private corporate clients include State Bank of India, Lalit Narain Mithila University and other statutory authorities.He was designated as a Senior Advocate on 11 December 2004 by the Patna high court. He was elevated as a Judge of the Patna High Court on 6 March 2006.  Justice Navaniti Prasad Singh was born on 6 November 1955. Related Constitutional Provisions : Article 214 (High Courts for States): There shall be a High Court for each State. Article 216 (Constitution of High Courts): Every High Court shall consist of a Chief Justice and such other Judges as the President may from time to time deem it necessary to appoint. Article 217 (Appointment and conditions of the office of a Judge of a High Court): The Chief Justice of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Governor of the State.  

The Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Vijay Goel on 20 March 2017 designated the following 14 Olympians as ‘National Observers’ for 12 sports disciplines. Sports Discipline-Name of National Observer(s) Athletics-PT Usha,Anju Bobby George Archery-Dr Sanjeev Kumar Singh, Badminton - Aparna Popat Boxing- Mary Kom,Akhil Kumar Hockey-Jagbir Singh Shooting-Abhinav Bindra Tennis-Somdev Devvarman Weightlifting-Karnam Malleshwari Wrestling-Sushil Kumar Football-I M Vijayan Swimming-Khajan Singh Table Tennis- Kamlesh Mehta Responsibilities of National Observers :  The National Observers will assist the Government, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and National Sports Federations (NSFs) and the Indian Olympic Association in their functioning. Their functions include all aspects of the sports including selection policy, quality specifications for national camps, long term athlete development plan, coaching development, development of technical officials and monitoring and evaluation of athlete performance. Apart from providing inputs for their respective disciplines, the National Observers would also to be consulted as a group on cross cutting issues impacting sports development in the country. The National Observers would be playing a key role in the implementation of action plans for Mission Olympics 2020, 2024 and 2028. Following are some of the recent initiatives of the Union Government to promote sports in the country. On 30 January 2017, the government constituted a Task Force to prepare an action plan for 2020, 2024 and 2028 Olympic games. On 5 February 2017, the foundation stone of the boundary wall of the first-ever Centre of Excellence for differently-abled sportsmen was laid at Sector-25 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. On 10 February 2017, the Mission XI Million initiative was launched to promote football among school children. On 14 March 2017, Hockey India announced the appointment of four new Scientific Advisors for men and women, both senior and junior teams.

India and Mauritius on 20 March 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to execute a USD 20 million social housing project in Mauritius. The MoU was signed in the presence of the Union Minister of Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu and the visiting Mauritius’s Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Housing and Lands Showkutally Soodhun. As per the MoU, the NBCC (India) Limited of the Union Government will undertake construction of 700 duplex type houses with 50 square meters net floor area. Each house consists of two bedrooms, living and dining rooms, kitchen, bathrooms and toilets.  NBCC (India) Limited : NBCC (India) Limited, formerly known as National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd., is a blue-chip Government of India Navratna Enterprise under the Ministry of Urban Development. The company has registered a substantial 32 per cent growth in top line during FY 2015-16 as compared to the previous year.It has posted a profit of Rs 311 crore, white its total income has surged to Rs 5838 crore during FY 2015-16. Certified with ISO 9001:2008 from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in respect of Project Management and Consultancy, the company’s’present areas of operations are categorized into three main segments. The three segments are - Project Management Consultancy (PMC), Real Estate Development and EPC Contracting. The Company is planning to launch a new business venture of e-Commerce to cater to the sale of built-up properties of NBCC’s real estate.NBCC ventured into overseas operations in the year 1977. It has executed projects of diverse nature in countries like Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Nepal, Maldives, Mauritius, Turkey and Botswana. Under various schemes of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the company is participating in execution of bio-digester toilets in village schools at various locations of the country. At present, the company has operations in Maldives, Turkey, Mauritius and Botswana. In early March 2017, the NBCC was entrusted with the responsibility to execute the construction project of new supreme court building in Port Louis, Mauritius.The USD 33 million project is expected to be completed by March 2019.