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Evening News Digest : 17 March 2018

INDIA and ADB Sign $120 Million Loan to Improve Rail Infrastructure

  • Government of India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $120 million loan agreement for completion of works for double-tracking and electrification of railways tracks along high-density corridors to improve operational efficiency of Indian railways.
  • The project is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the rail infrastructure through electrification, introduction of modern signaling system, and doubling rail tracks on key routes in the country. 
  • The program will help develop energy efficient, safe, and reliable railway systems that will result in reduced travel time along project rail routes and also reduce annual accident rate.
  • The investment program is targeting busy freight and passenger routes in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Odisha, including the “Golden Quadrilateral” corridor that connects Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi.

RBI released 80th round of the Industrial Outlook Survey (IOS)

  • The RBI released the results of the 80th round of the Industrial Outlook Survey (IOS) conducted in October-December 2017 which captures qualitative assessments of the business situation by companies in the Indian manufacturing sector for Q3:2017-18 and their expectations for Q4:2017-18.
  • As per the latest data released by the CSO, CPI inflation declined from 5.07% in January 2018 to 4.44% in February 2018. CPI food inflation also declined from 4.70% to 3.26% for the same period.
  • Industrial Outlook Survey : The Industrial Outlook Survey with a good size/industry representation gives an insight into the perception of the public and private limited companies engaged in manufacturing activities about their own performance and prospects.

NITI Aayog releases SATH-E project

  • NITI Aayog released comprehensive roadmaps and detailed timelines for its initiative ‘Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital in Education (SATH-E)’ project in New Delhi
  • These roadmaps, which operate between 2018 to 2020, lay out detailed interventions which will taken by the three participating States- Jharkand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha – aiming to become ‘Role Model States’ in school education.
  • These roadmaps present the first-of-its-kind, customized, action-oriented programmes, outlining interventions at the individual, district and State level.
  • The SATH- E project mainly aims to introduce a system – wide governance transformation in school education.

Four nations recommended for graduation from UN's least developed country

  • Bhutan, Kiribati, Sao Tome and Principe and Solomon Islands are set to move up from the ranks of poorest nations due to their increasing national earning power as well as access to better health care and education.
  • The United Nations Committee for Development Policy (CDP) announced today that the four countries will be recommended for graduation from the least developed country (LDC) category.
  • The Committee found that while Nepal and Timor-Leste also met the criteria for graduation, they were not recommended for graduation at this time due to economic and political challenges.

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Malayalam writer M Sukumaran passes away

  • Well known Malayalam writer M Sukumaran passed away at the age of 76. His short stories 'Sangaganam' and Unarthupattu' have been made into films. 'Pithrutharpan' and 'Sheshakriya' are his other well-known short stories.
  • Sukumaran was the recipient of the Kendra Sahitiya Akademi and Keral Sahitiya awards in 2006 and 1976.

Arunachal Pradesh passes 'AP Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill 2018'

  • The Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill 2018. Now the state will have two-tier Panchayati Raj System.
  • The 73rd amendment of the constitution allows states having population of less than 20 lakh to have a two-tier Panchayati Raj system, instead of a three.
  • In two tier panchayati raj system, planning and execution of schemes will be faster. It will even reduce the strength of elected members, thus helping to save money for conducting polls and functional costs on Anchal Samities.

Nitin Gadkari inaugurates 5th Nadi Mahotsav at Bandrabhan in MP

  • Union Minister for Water Resources, Nitin Gadkari inaugurated the 5th 'Nadi Mahotsava' in Hoshangabad District of Madhya Pradesh.
  • At the occasion, Nitin Gadakari, said that said that Water scarcity is not the problem in the country but uplifting downtrodden residing in villages on the banks of rivers is a challenge.
  • The two day mahotsava with various sessions of discussion is taking place for the conservation of Narmada River.

Sach-Gaurav: India’s first cloned Assamese buffalo born

  • A cloned Assamese buffalo male calf has been born for the first time, the Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) claimed in Hisar.
  • The calf was born to a Murrah buffalo. It was also the first to be born in the field, 100 kms from the cloning laboratory at Hi Tech Sach Dairy Farm in Hisar.
  • CIRB cloning team head PS Yadav said that they used unique methods and produced this clone calf, Sach-Gaurav, on December 22, 2017 through a normal delivery.
  • About the calf: the birth weight of the calf was 54.2 kg and it was in good health. It had normal physiological parameters and blood profile. It was India’s first cloned Assamese buffalo calf and the embryos were transported for about two hours before being transferred into the recipient mothers.

China develops artificial heart with rocket technology

  • Chinese scientists have developed an artificial heart using rocket technology and it is currently undergoing testing after thorough experiments on animals.
  • The heart was developed jointly by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) and the Teda International Cardiovascular Hospital in North China's Tianjin.
  • The artificial heart uses magnetic and fluid levitation from a rocket system, and the "aerospace heart" is expected to move to clinical trials during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). This technology used can reduce damage to the blood and enable the blood pump to work longer.

Environment Ministry gives nod to Neutrino project

  • The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project has got a fresh lease of life with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) taking it up as a special case and granting it environmental clearance to set up the lab in Bodi West hills.
  • It was informed that there was no scope for radioactivity and leaching of water and these have been explained to the courts. The project proponents clarified that studies showed there would be no impact of blasting on any habitation in the vicinity.
  • The project aims at building a world class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approximately 1200 meter. The project also envisages construction of 50,000 tonne magnetized iron calorimeter detector.

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