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Evening News Digest : 20 March 2018

World Sparrow Day: 20 March

  • Every year 20th March is observed as the World Sparrow day. World Sparrow Day is an international initiative started by Nature Forever Society (NFS) in India to raise awareness about the house sparrow and other such birds
  • Aim: The rationale for celebrating World Sparrow Day is not only to commemorate the event for a day but to use it as a platform to underscore the need to conserve sparrows as well as the urban biodiversity.
  • Theme: Every year a theme is assigned to the celebration of the world sparrow day. All the events, campaigns and activities are organised according to the theme. The theme for world sparrow day 2018 is “I LOVE Sparrows” which is pictured as this I ♥ Sparrows.

Informal World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting Begins

  • Informal World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting Begins in New Delhi on 19 March 2018. Delegates from as many as 52 countries, including the US and China, are participating in the informal meeting of the WTO.
  • The delegations from 52 countries including WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo are participating in the discussions. Ministers and Vice Ministers from 27 countries are part of the delegations.
  • The meeting will provide opportunity to the participating countries to engage in free and frank discussions. The meeting assumes significance as the global trade appears fragile with certain developed countries threatening to retaliate the duty hike on steel and aluminium products by the Trump administration.

Indian Navy to host Bilateral Exercise 'Varuna' with French Navy

  • The Indian Navy and the French Navy have conducted bilateral maritime exercises since May 1993. Since 2001, the exercises have been named VARUNA and there have been fifteen editions of the same till date. The last edition of VARUNA was conducted off the French Coast in Apr 2017.
  • In 2017, VARUNA was conducted in three sea areas in the European waters. This year too VARUNA-18 would be conducted in three sea areas, namely, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and South Western Indian Ocean.
  • The first phase, being conducted in the Arabian Sea, will see the participation of a French submarine and frigate Jean de Vienne from the French side.
  • The Varuna Series provides an opportunity to both Navies to increase interoperability and learn from each other’s best practices.

Four MoUs signed under aegis of DoNER for promotion of tourism in North-East

  • Four MoUs were signed under the aegis of the Ministry of Development of North East Region (DoNER) to boost North East India.
  • One of the world’s leading community-driven hospitality companies Airbnb have signed these MoUs with an aim at creating hospitality micro-entrepreneurs across key destinations in the North East of India, Cooperate to improve the regulatory environment for home sharing in the North East of India.
  • MoUs were also signed for strategic partnerships by the NERLP and NERCORMP with Airbnb to generate technology-enabled livelihood opportunities in tourism and hospitality for micro-entrepreneurs in the North East of India, and to help low-income families monetize their existing assets through home sharing.

Eminent Hindi poet Kedarnath Singh passes away

  • Eminent Hindi poet and Jnanpith awardee Kedarnath Singh passed away recently at the age of 84.
  • A Jnanpith and Sahitya Akademi awardee, Singh was known for his simple style of writing, often inspired by objects of everyday life.
  • Some of his best known works include the award-winning poetry collection Akaal Mein Saras, Bagh, Abhi Bilkul Abhi, Zameen pak Rahi Hai, Yahan se Dekho, Tolstoy aur cycle among many others.

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India hands over last diesel railway locomotive engine to Myanmar

  • New Delhi's Neighbourhood First policy, India handed over the 18th diesel electric locomotive to Myanmar, thereby completing the first project under the current Indian line of credit (LoC) to the eastern neighbour.
  • Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain attended the formal handing over ceremony in Nay Pyi Taw of 18th AC-DC 1350 HP diesel electric locomotive to Myanmar Railways, supplied by RITES and manufactured by Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi.
  • These 18 locomotives are fitted with microprocessor control-based system, attaining a maximum speed of 100 km per hour and are customised for Myanmar Railways. As per the agreement schedule, all locomotives were to be delivered by September 2018. They have been delivered six months ahead of the schedule.

India, EU sign an agreement on sharing earth observation data

  • In a boost to cooperation between India and Europe in the area of space, India's Department of Space and the European Commission signed a cooperation agreement related to sharing of earth observation satellite data.
  • The pact was inked in Bengaluru by Philippe Brunet, director for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence, on behalf of the European Commission and by PG Diwakar, scientific secretary.
  • The Copernicus programme provides a wide range of applications like climate change, land, ocean and atmosphere monitoring as well as support in the forecasting, management and mitigation of natural disasters.
  • The new agreement envisages technical assistance for the establishment of high bandwidth connections with ISRO sites, in particular through setting up of mirror servers, data storage and archival facilities.

President releases commemorative coins on Nabakalebar festival

  • President Ram Nath Kovind released Rs 1,000 and Rs 10 commemorative coins on the occasion of Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebar festival.
  • The government had announced the release of the coins marking the festival which is a symbolic recreation of sibling deities.
  • Puri: Puri was one of the four ‘dhams’ for Hindus, where the saints and spiritual leaders like Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanuj, Chaitanya and Guru Nanak visited and established their mutts to be in services of Lord Jagannath. Puri is also called the ‘Kashi’ of eastern region in India.

Sony India appoints Sunil Nayyar as MD

  • Sony India announced the appointment of Sunil Nayyar as its new Managing Director with effect from April 1. Nayyar will be the first Indian Managing Director of Sony India.
  • Nayyar will replace Kenichiro Hibi, who held the position of MD of Sony India from 2012-2018. Hibi has now been appointed as President for Sony Brazil effective April 1.

SBI, IMGC sign MoU to offer mortgage guarantee backed home loan

  • The State Bank of India (SBI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the India Mortgage Guarantee Corporation (IMGC) to offer mortgage guarantee scheme for prospective non-salaried home loan seekers.
  • With the rising demand in affordable housing segment, this product aims to provide home finance to select target audience at better terms.
  • "The offering will help increase home loan eligibility up to 15 per cent within the regulatory norms.

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