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Weekly Current Affairs March 2024 (26th to 01st Apr 2024)

 

 

Current Affairs March 2024

 
Read this post to know about Weekly Current Affairs in short for the Week March 26 to 01st April, 2024. If you’re getting ready for entrance exams in India, it’s really important to know what’s happening around you. Whether you want to study UPSC, SSC, Bank Exams, Defence Exams or something else, keeping up with current events is a must. The exams often have questions about what’s going on in the world – like news about our country, other countries, or new discoveries. Being aware of these things not only helps you do well in the exams but also makes you smarter in general. It’s like having a wider view of the world, which is good for interviews and discussions too. So, it’s not just about passing the exams but also about being informed and ready for whatever comes your way.
 
In this post, you can see the headlines of current happenings categorised for your convenience. The categories of weekly current affairs of Week 4 of March are given below:

 

 
Weekly Current Affairs Update

For the Week: March 26 to April 1, 2024

HEADLINES

 

 

Section A: INDIA

  • Advisory boards have to consider if detention is needed in eyes of law: SC
  • Over 79,000 violations reported on EC’s C-Vigil app since announcement of LS elections
  • Sadanand Vasant Date appointed new DG of National Investigation Agency
  • MDMK MP A. Ganeshamurthi dies at 76

 

Section B: INDIA & THE WORLD

  • UN: India launches new database on crimes against peacekeepers
  • India provides funding for GyalSung Project to Bhutan
  • IAF discloses reasons behind accidental BrahMos missile firing into Pakistan in Dec 2022
  • UNICEF India, IIT Mumbai launch digital course for healthcare professionals
  • India summons US diplomat over Kejriwal comments
  • Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba visits India
  • India renews agreement to export electricity to Nepal
  • Indian Navy rescues hijacked Iranian fishing vessel ‘Al Kambar’
  • UK’s Royal Navy ships arrive for maintenance in India for the first time
  • EAM Jaishankar visits ICJ ship in Philippines
  • PMs of India, Belgium talk
  • Abhay Thakur appointed country’s next Ambassador to Myanmar
  • New envoys
  • Indian-origin mathematician T N Subramaniam dies in US
  • Indian appointed UN’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction

 

Section C: WORLD

  • Households across the world waste 1 billion meals a day, says UN report
  • Russian veto ends UN panel that monitored North Korea nuclear sanctions
  • China sends glacier water from Tibet to Maldives
  • Bulgaria and Romania partially join Europe’s Schengen area
  • French parliament moves forward with ban on hair discrimination
  • ICJ orders Israel to ‘ensure urgent humanitarian assistance’ in Gaza
  • UNSC demands immediate ceasefire in Gaza
  • Five dead in PNG earthquake
  • Cargo ship collides with bridge in Baltimore
  • Pakistan: Five Chinese among six killed in suicide bombing
  • Pakistan naval air base in Balochistan attacked
  • Japan approves plan to sell fighter jets to other nations
  • Russia to target western bases hosting Ukraine F-16s
  • 14 killed after Cyclone Gamane makes landfall in Madagascar
  • International Day of Zero Waste observed on March 30
  • Bassirou Diomaye Faye elected new President of Senegal
  • UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths stepping down
  • Peru: President’s residence raided
  • Actor Louis Gossett Jr dies in US at 87
  • Daniel Kahneman, Nobel-winning psychologist, dies at 90
  • US sculptor Richard Serra dies at 85

 

Section D: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

  • ISRO to hold training sessions in educational institutions
  • Asteroid named after Indian scientist

 

Section E: AWARDS

  • Hockey India Awards 2023
  • ENBA Lifetime Achievement Award

 

Section F: BANKING & FINANCE 

  • India Inc.’s mop-up via IPOs rises 19% to ₹61,000 cr. in FY24
  • World’s fastest stock settlement starts in India
  • Govt updates list of banks authorised to import gold, silver during FY25
  • LIC, GIC Re and New India Assurance Company retain the ‘D-SII’ tag
  • LIC world’s strongest insurance brand: Brand Finance Insurance Report
  • Nidhu Saxena named MD & CEO of Bank of Maharashtra
  • FSIB selects CMDs for New India Assurance, United India

 

Section G: ECONOMY

  • Wages for rural jobs guarantee scheme MGNREGS increased by 4-10%
  • April-February fiscal deficit at 86.5% of revised annual target
  • India’s CAD narrows to 1.2% of GDP in Q3 due to higher service costs
  • Growth of eight core sectors at 6.7% in Feb as against 4.1% in Jan
  • issues advisory against calls impersonating DoT
  • Wheat stock limit expires on March 31
  • Essential medicines to cost slightly more from April 1
  • DGFT notifies policy for export of goods under SCOMET category
  • India needs more employment intensive growth and good quality jobs, says ILO
  • India’s forex reserves up by $140 mn to $642.63 bn as of March 22
  • India to reimpose restrictions on procurement of solar modules from April 1
  • GeM turnover crosses ₹4-lakh crore in 2023-24
  • Forex reserves rise $32.9 billion in April-December

 

Section H: CORPORATE

  • S. court orders India to pay Deutsche Telekom $132 mn in Devas case award
  • Infosys to receive tax refund of Rs 6,329 crore
  • Google launches AI model for AnthroKrishi for farmers
  • X users with over 2,500 verified followers to get Premium service for free
  • Volvo ends production of diesel cars; to go fully electric by 2030
  • RRP electronics to invest Rs 5,000 crore investment in Maharashtra semiconductor facility
  • RIL, Adani Power sign 20-year power purchase agreement
  • Tata ties up with HPCL for public charging stations
  • Former HUL CEO Sanjiv Mehta teams up with PE fund L Catterton
  • Panasonic to form JV with Indian oil for lithium-ion batteries
  • Adani Ports acquires Odisha’s Gopalpur Port
  • LatentView Analytics to acquire 70% of Decision Point for $39.1 million
  • Kotak Bank acquires Sonata Finance for Rs 537 cr
  • Home Depot to buy supplier SRS Distribution for $18.25 billion
  • ZF Rane India acquires 100% stake in TRW Sun Steering
  • Donald Trump’s social media company lists
  • Torrent’s Mehta family pledges Rs 5,000 crore to UNM Foundation
  • Mumbai has most billionaires in Asia: Hurun
  • Sam Bankman-Fried sentenced to 25 years in prison for FTX fraud
  • Arnab Banerjee elected ATMA Chairman

 

 

 

 

 

Section I: STATES

  • 60 traditional products from across India granted GI tag
  • MHA extends AFSPA for 6 month in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland districts
  • Arunachal Pradesh: Walkovers for 10 BJP MLAs, CM included
  • AFSPA extended in four districts of Assam
  • Hovercraft maintenance unit of Indian Coast Guard inaugurated in Gujarat
  • 8 Naxalites killed in encounter with security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur
  • Delhi Court extends ED custody of CM Arvind Kejriwal till April 1
  • UP: Gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari dies at 63
  • Ramakrishna Mission president dies at 95
  • Tamil actor Daniel Balaji dies at 48

 

Section J: SPORTS

  • Miami Open tennis
  • Spain Masters badminton
  • Japan’s Keita Nakajima wins Indian Open 2024 golf
  • Table Tennis: Top ranked Indian players
  • India lose to Afghanistan in FIFA World Cup Qualifier
  • Sreejesh and Camila Caram appointed as co-chairs in FIH Athletes Committee

 
 

Section A: INDIA

 

Advisory boards have to consider if detention is needed in eyes of law: SC

The Supreme Court has held that advisory boards under draconian preventive detention laws should not behave like mere “rubber-stamping authorities” for the government, but act as safety valves that stand between the capricious use of power by the state and the right to personal liberty.

 

“An advisory board must consider whether the detention is necessary not just in the eyes of the detaining authority but also in the eyes of law,” a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, J.B. Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra observed in a recent judgment.

 

Article 22 of the Constitution makes it mandatory for preventive detention laws to form advisory boards consisting of persons qualified to be High Court judges.

 

Justice Pardiwala, who wrote the judgment, said the requirement to have people qualified to become High Court judges was not an empty formality, but a careful measure to ensure that a detention order of the government was put to robust scrutiny.

 

These boards, under the various laws, have to review detention orders every three months to see whether there was sufficient cause or not.

 

The boards should consider material placed before them; call for further information; hear the detenu; and submit a report explaining whether or not detention was justified.

 

The judgment from the top court came in an appeal filed by a man ordered by the Telangana police to be detained as a ‘goonda’ under the Telangana Prevention of Dangerous Activities Act, 1986.

 

The police claimed the man was a threat to “public order”. He was a cause of panic and fear among women. The appellant was accused of making a habit of snatching the mangalsutras of his victims in broad daylight.

 

Justice Pardiwala said it was unfair to deny someone his personal liberty on a mere hypothesis that he was likely to commit a crime, as in the past, which may adversely affect the maintenance of public order. The top court said the State had not provided any material to show that the appellant was a threat to public order.

 

Justice Pardiwala distinguished between ‘public order’ and ‘law and order’. A problem of ‘law and order’ affected only a few individuals, but an issue of public order influenced the community or the public at large or even the country.

 

“Inability on the part of the State’s police machinery to tackle the law and order situation should not be an excuse to invoke the jurisdiction of preventive detention,” the court said. Quashing the detention order, Justice Pardiwala said none of the FIRs against the appellant named him.

 

Over 79,000 violations reported on EC’s C-Vigil app since announcement of LS elections

The cVIGIL app of Election Commission of India is a tool in the hands of people to flag election code violations. Since the announcement of General Elections 2024, over 79,000 complaints have been received as of March 29, 2024. Over 99% complaints have been resolved, according to EC. More than 58,500 complaints (73% of the total) received are against illegal hoardings and banners.  More than 1400 complaints received pertain to money, gifts and liquor distribution. Close to 3% of the complaints (2454) pertain to defacement of property Out of the 535 complaints received for display of firearms and intimidation, 529 have already been resolved. 1000 complaints reported were for campaigning beyond the prohibited period including use of speakers beyond permitted time.

NEWSMAKERS

 

Sadanand Vasant Date appointed new DG of National Investigation Agency

Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Sadanand Vasant Date was on March 26, 2024 appointed as the Director General of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), according to a Personnel Ministry order. Date is a 1990-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of Maharashtra cadre. He has been appointed for tenure up to his superannuation on December 31, 2026. He will succeed Dinkar Gupta, who is due to superannuate on March 31.

 

Meanwhile, IPS officer Piyush Anand, a 1991-batch officer from the Uttar Pradesh cadre, has been assigned as the head of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), replacing Atul Karwal.

 

Currently serving as the Special DG of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Anand will hold the position for a period of two years from assuming office.

 

In another key appointment, IPS officer Rajeev Kumar from the Rajasthan cadre has been named as the Director General of the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D). Kumar’s tenure will be extended until June 30, 2026, or until further notice, as the current Director General of the BPR&D, Balaji Srivastava, is set to retire on March 31st.

 

MDMK MP A. Ganeshamurthi dies at 76

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) MP A Ganeshamurthi, who allegedly attempted suicide recently, died at a hospital in Coimbatore at the age of 76 on March 28, 2024. The MDMK leader, who fought the last Lok Sabha elections on a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) ticket from Erode constituency in Tamil Nadu, was hospitalised on March 24 after he allegedly attempted to end his life by consuming pesticide. Prior to his win from Erode in 2019 on a MDMK ticket, Ganeshamurthi was elected to the Lok Sabha twice on MDMK ticket, first from Palani in 1998 and then from Erode in 2009.
 

 

Section B: INDIA & THE WORLD

 

UN: India launches new database on crimes against peacekeepers

In a bid to promote accountability for crimes against peacekeepers, the India-led Group of Friends (GOF) comprising 40 member states, convened its second meeting to deliberate on strategies to strengthen legal frameworks against perpetrators of malicious acts targeting peacekeepers, focusing on supporting measures for ensuring accountability, an official release said.

 

At the meeting, India launched a new database designed to record crimes against peacekeepers and monitor progress in holding perpetrators accountable.

 

The database is designed to serve as an online repository, empowering the Secretariat and member states to monitor and address cases of malicious acts against Peacekeepers.

 

At the meeting, India’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj highlighted the GOF’s progress over the past year, emphasising the insights gained into challenges surrounding accountability, particularly in strengthening the rule of law within Mission areas. She expressed confidence in leveraging these insights to enact impactful measures advancing accountability for crimes against peacekeepers.

 

India provides funding for GyalSung Project to Bhutan

India handed over the second tranche of INR/Nu Five billion for the development of infrastructure related to the GyalSung Project to Bhutan on March 26, 2024. Ambassador of India to Bhutan, Sudhakar Dalela, handed over the tranche to Bhutan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Lyonpo D.N. Dhungyel. The first tranche of INR/Nu Five billion was released on January 28, 2024.

 

An MoU signed in January 2024, provides a framework for the disbursal of INR/Nu 15 billion as concessionary financing to the Government of Bhutan for infrastructure development related to the GyalSung academies.

 

This financing arrangement is in addition to the Government of India’s Plan Assistance to the Royal Government of Bhutan.

 

The MoU builds on the earlier collaboration between the Indian government and GyalSung when, in February 2023, the Government of India extended a grant assistance of INR/Nu two billion for the DeSuung for GyalSung programme.

 

IAF discloses reasons behind accidental BrahMos missile firing into Pakistan in Dec 2022

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has for the first time disclosed reasons behind the accidental firing of a BrahMos combat missile which landed in Pakistan in March 2022.

 

In a reply filed before the Delhi High Court, the IAF has said that combat connectors of the BrahMos missile “remained connected to the junction box” which led to the accidental firing of the missile.

 

Sharing relevant findings of the Court of Inquiry held in March 2022 to probe the incident, the IAF has further submitted that the convoy commander of a road convoy, which was to move to location as part of inspection “failed to ensure safe transit of convoy by not ensuring disconnection of combat connectors of all missiles loaded” on the mobile autonomous launcher prior to the movement.

 

UNICEF India, IIT Mumbai launch digital course for healthcare professionals

UNICEF India, in collaboration with the International Institute of Health Management Research, New Delhi, and IIT Bombay on March 27, 2024 unveiled a digital course to equip healthcare professionals with the skills to drive the digital transformation of India’s healthcare sector. According to a statement issued by UNICEF, the course spanning 10 weeks targets a diverse audience, including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, healthcare administrators, policymakers, IT professionals and individuals involved in healthcare technology implementation. The ‘Digital Health Enterprise Planning Course,’ scheduled to commence on April 17, aims to equip healthcare professionals with the necessary skills to drive the digital transformation of India’s healthcare sector, it added.

 

India summons US diplomat over Kejriwal comments

India on March 27, 2024 summoned a senior US diplomat and lodged a strong protest against a US state department official’s remarks on the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Ministry of External Affairs officials summoned the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Gloria Berbena at its office in South Block in New Delhi. The meeting lasted for more than 30 minutes.

 

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba visits India

EAM S. Jaishankar held talks with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba in New Delhi on March 29, 2024. They discussed bilateral ties as well as cooperation on regional and global issues of mutual interest. The visit comes days after a telephonic conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on March 20 in which the two leaders discussed ways to further strengthen the India-Ukraine partnership in various spheres.

 

India renews agreement to export electricity to Nepal

India on March 29, 2024 renewed the agreement to export electricity to Nepal as per the Himalayan nation’s request two days before the expiry of the pact on March 31. Under the agreement, Nepal in total can import 554 MW of electricity from India between 6 am and 6 pm. The Himalayan nation can import 500 MW of electricity from the Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur cross-border transmission line and 54 MW through Tanakpur.

 

Indian Navy rescues hijacked Iranian fishing vessel ‘Al Kambar’

Indian Navy ships INS Sumedha and INS Trishul on March 29, 2024 rescued a hijacked Iranian fishing vessel ‘Al Kambar’ and its crew of 23 Pakistani nationals, 90 nm from Socotra Archipelago in the Indian Ocean near the Gulf of Aden. The Navy said that this was achieved after more than 12 hours of “intense coercive tactical measures” as part of an anti-piracy operation at sea.

 

UK’s Royal Navy ships arrive for maintenance in India for the first time

For the first time, 2 ships of United Kingdom’s Royal Navy named RFA ‘Argus’ and RFA ‘Lyme Bay’, arrived for maintenance in India, at L&T Shipbuilding’s facility at Kattupalli near Chennai on March 29, 2024.

NEWSMAKERS

 

EAM Jaishankar visits ICJ ship in Philippines

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Indian Coast Guard ship Samudra Paheredar, a specialised Pollution Control Vessel, which is in Manila Bay in the Philippines as part of an overseas deployment to the ASEAN countries, on March 26, 2024. The ICG ship arrived at Manila Bay on March 25 on a three-day visit. Currently, China and the Philippines are engaged in a bitter row as the coast guard ships of both countries jostled to assert their claim over the Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, which both claim as part of theirs. Jaishankar said that India supports the Philippines’s sovereignty, a comment that sparked a response from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which called on “third countries” not to “interfere”. Jaishankar met Philippines President Bongbong Marcos and Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo.

 

PMs of India, Belgium talk

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation on March 26, 2024 with Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium. Modi congratulated De Croo on recent successful hosting of the First Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels. On March 21, Brussels hosted the first-ever Nuclear Energy Summit, co-chaired by the Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi. Several world leaders joined the summit to highlight the role of nuclear energy in addressing climate change.

 

Abhay Thakur appointed country’s next Ambassador to Myanmar

Senior diplomat Abhay Thakur, who is at present an Officer on Special Duty in the Ministry of External Affairs, has been appointed as the country’s next Ambassador to Myanmar, the MEA said on March 26, 2024.

 

New envoys

President Droupadi Murmu accepted credentials from the Ambassadors/High Commissioner of Philippines, Uzbekistan, Belarus, Kenya and Georgia at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on March 27, 2024). Those who presented their credentials were: Josel Francisco Ignacio: Ambassador of Philippines, Sardor Rustambaev: Ambassador of Uzbekistan, Mikhail Kasko: Belarus, Peter Maina Munyiri: High Commissioner of Kenya, Vakhtang Jaoshvili: Ambassador of Georgia.

 

Indian-origin mathematician T N Subramaniam dies in US

Dr. T N Subramaniam, a distinguished mathematician of Indian origin known for creating Route One company and the server for General Motors, passed away in Michigan at the age of 76 on March 26, 2024. Subramaniam, who moved to the US in 1979, was initially employed by General Motors to develop mathematical models for GM cars. Subsequently, he established Route One company, which manages auto-financing for all GM cars and GPS systems. He was also the mastermind behind the server for the General Motors site in Troy, Michigan, in the US.

 

Indian appointed UN’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on March 27, 2024 the appointment of Kamal Kishore of India as Assistant Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). Currently Head of Department of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India (since 2015), Kishore brings to the position nearly three decades of experience in disaster risk reduction, climate action and sustainable development at the global, regional, national and local levels, having worked in government, the United Nations and civil society organizations.
 

 

Section C: WORLD

 

NEWS ROUND UP

 

Households across the world waste 1 billion meals a day, says UN report

Households across the globe wasted over one billion meals a day in 2022, even as 783 million people struggled with hunger and a third of humanity faced food insecurity, according to the Food Waste Index Report 2024, a study jointly authored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme), a U.K.-based non-profit.

 

The report, released on the occasion of the International Day of Zero Waste (March 30), noted that in 2022, there were 1.05 billion tonnes of food waste generated (including inedible parts), amounting to 132 kilograms per capita and almost one-fifth of all food available to consumers. “Out of the total food wasted in 2022, 60% happened at the household level, with food services responsible for 28%, and retail 12%,” the report observed.

 

The report stressed the importance of expanding and strengthening data infrastructure to enable the tracking and monitoring of food waste, pointing out that “many low- and middle-income countries continue to lack adequate systems for tracking progress to meet Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 of halving food waste by 2030, particularly in retail and food services”. At present, only four G-20 countries (Australia, Japan, U.K., U.S.) and the European Union have food waste estimates suitable for tracking progress to 2030.

 

Contrary to popular perception, food waste was not a “rich country problem”, the report stated, with observed average levels of household food waste for high-income, upper-middle, and lower-middle-income countries differing by just 7 kg per capita. “Hotter countries appear to generate more food waste per capita in households, potentially due to higher consumption of fresh foods with substantial inedible parts and a lack of robust cold chains,” the report noted.

 

Detailing the link between food waste and climate change, the report found that food loss and waste generated “8%-10% of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions — almost five times that of the aviation sector — and significant biodiversity loss by taking up the equivalent of almost a third of the world’s agricultural land”. It estimated the toll of both food loss and waste on the global economy at $1 trillion.

 

Another trend revealed by the data was that compared to urban areas, rural ones generally wasted less food, due to “greater diversion of food scraps to pets, livestock, and home composting”. The report urged governments to “raise climate ambition by integrating food loss and waste” into their Nationally Determined Contributions.

 

Russian veto ends UN panel that monitored North Korea nuclear sanctions

A veto on March 28, 2024 by Russia ended monitoring of U.N. sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program.

 

The veto came during a vote on a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have extended the mandate of a panel of experts monitoring sanctions on North Korea for a year, but which will now halt its operation when its current mandate expires at the end of April.

 

The vote in the 15-member council, with 13 in favor, Russia against, and China abstaining, has no impact on the actual sanctions against North Korea, which remain in force.

 

Russia had never before tried to block the work of the panel of experts, which had been renewed annually by the U.N. Security Council for 14 years and reflected global opposition to North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapon program.

 

 

China sends glacier water from Tibet to Maldives

China has sent more than a million bottles of water from melting Tibetan glaciers to the Maldives, a gift from the world’s highest mountains to a low-lying archipelago threatened by rising seas. The Indian Ocean nation of 1,192 tiny coral islands is on the frontlines of the climate crisis, with salt levels seeping into the land and corrupting potable water, leaving it dependent on desalination plants. The Maldives Foreign Ministry said the water was a gift from Yan Jinhai, the chairman of the Xizang Autonomous Region, or Tibet, lying more than 3,385-km away on the far side of the world’s highest mountain range. The consignment of mineral water packed into 90 sea containers arrived recently. “The government of Maldives has decided to utilise the water to provide assistance to islands in case of water shortage,” it said. New Delhi considers the Indian Ocean archipelago to be within its sphere of influence but the Maldives has shifted into the orbit of China — its largest external creditor.

 

Bulgaria and Romania partially join Europe’s Schengen area

Bulgaria and Romania joined Europe’s vast Schengen area of free movement on March 31, 2024, opening up travel by air and sea without border checks. A veto by Austria however means the new status will not apply to land routes, after Vienna expressed concerns over a potential influx of asylum seekers. Despite the partial membership, the lifting of controls at the two countries’ air and sea borders is of significant symbolic value. With the joining of Bulgaria and Romania, the Schengen zone will comprise 29 members — 25 of the 27 European Union member states as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Created in 1985, the Schengen area allows more than 400 million people to travel freely without internal border controls.

 

French parliament moves forward with ban on hair discrimination

France’s National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, passed a bill on March 28, 2024 that would prohibit workplace discrimination rooted in hair texture and style. The bill was approved 44-2, with many members not voting. It must now pass the Senate. Advocates of the proposed legislation argue that it seeks primarily to safeguard the rights of Black women who choose to wear their hair in a natural style.

 

ICJ orders Israel to ‘ensure urgent humanitarian assistance’ in Gaza

The International Court of Justice on March 28, 2024 ordered Israel to “ensure urgent humanitarian assistance” in Gaza without delay, saying “famine has set in”. The ICJ also said “Israel shall… take all necessary measures to ensure, without delay… the unhindered provision… of urgently needed basic services” in Gaza.

 

UNSC demands immediate ceasefire in Gaza

The United Nations Security Council on March 25, 2024 passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. United States abstained from the vote. The remaining 14 council members voted for the resolution, which was proposed by the 10 elected members of the body.

 

Five dead in PNG earthquake

At least five people were killed and an estimated 1,000 homes destroyed when a magnitude 6.9 earthquake rocked Papua New Guinea on March 24, 2024. Several villages nestled on the banks of the country’s famed Sepik River were already battling soaking floods when the quake struck. Earthquakes are common in Papua New Guinea, which sits on top of the seismic “Ring of Fire” — an arc of intense tectonic activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin. Although they seldom cause widespread damage in the sparsely populated jungle highlands, they can trigger destructive landslides.

 

Cargo ship collides with bridge in Baltimore

A cargo ship named the Dali collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge on the Patapsco River in Baltimore on March 26, bringing a part of the structure crashing down together with some people and cars on the bridge. The bridge’s collapse dropped eight people through 50 feet into the Patapsco River. While two people were fished out soon after, the Coast Guard postponed the search for the other six who were later reported dead.

After departing from the port of Baltimore at 12.28 a.m. local time, the 300-metre-long cargo ship was headed for Colombo, Sri Lanka, with several containers of oil and some hazardous material. At 1.27 a.m. local time, the Dali mowed into a pillar and brought down a segment of the bridge.

 

Dali had an all-Indian crew and belongs to the Danish shipping giant Maersk and flies a Singapore flag. It is managed by the Synergy Marine Group, headed by Rajesh Unni. The Synergy Marine Group said in statements that all crew members were safe.

 

Pakistan: Five Chinese among six killed in suicide bombing

A suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle on March 26, 2024, killing five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver. The attack happened in Shangla, a district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. The five killed were construction workers and engineers heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.

 

Pakistan naval air base in Balochistan attacked

Armed Baloch militants made attempts to infiltrate one of the main naval air bases in Pakistan’s Balochistan province on March 25, 2024. Security forces thwarted the attack and killed at least six terrorists. The attack took place at the PNS Siddique Naval Air Base in Turbat, a restive district. Balochistan, situated near Iran and Afghanistan, has been plagued by a prolonged violent insurgency. Various Baloch insurgent factions have targeted the high-value CPEC projects, accusing China and Islamabad of exploiting the province’s resources — a claim authorities refute.

 

Japan approves plan to sell fighter jets to other nations

Japan’s Cabinet on March 26, 2024 approved a plan to sell future next-generation fighter jets that it’s developing with the UK and Italy to other countries, in the latest move away from the country’s post-war pacifist principles. The contentious decision to allow international arms sales is expected to help secure Japan’s role in the joint fighter jet project and part of a move to build up the Japanese arms industry and bolster its role in global security. The Cabinet also endorsed a revision to Japan’s arms equipment and technology transfer guidelines to allow coproduced lethal weapons to be sold to countries other than the partners. Japan is working with Italy and the UK to develop an advanced fighter jet to replace its aging fleet of American-designed F-2 fighters, and the Eurofighter Typhoons used by the UK and Italian militaries.

 

Russia to target western bases hosting Ukraine F-16s

Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 27, 2024 warned that any Western air base hosting U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets that are slated for deployment in Ukraine would be a “legitimate target” for his military. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in 2023 that 42 F-16s had been promised. Ukrainian pilots have been training in the West for months on how to fly the warplanes. The F-16s require a high standard of runways and reinforced hangars to protect them from bombing attacks when they are on the ground. It’s not clear how many Ukrainian air bases can meet those requirements, and Russia would be certain to quickly target a few that could accommodate them once the jets arrive.

 

14 killed after Cyclone Gamane makes landfall in Madagascar

Fourteen people were killed and three others injured after tropical Cyclone Gamane landed in Madagascar, with three more people still missing, Madagascar’s meteorological authorities said. Gamane made landfall on the northern tip of Madagascar on March 27, 2024, packing average winds of 150 km per hour and gusts of more than 210 km per hour, accompanied by heavy rains, said Madagascar’s National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC).

 

International Day of Zero Waste observed on March 30

The International Day of Zero Waste was observed on March 30, 2024. On 14 December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution at its seventy-seventh session to proclaim 30 March as International Day of Zero Waste, to be observed annually.

NEWSMAKERS

 

Bassirou Diomaye Faye elected new President of Senegal

Presidential elections were held in Senegal on March 24, 2024. Incumbent president Macky Sall was ineligible to pursue a third term due to term limits in the country’s Constitution. 44-year-old opposition leader Bassirou Diomaye Faye won 58.24% of votes to become the youngest President of the West African nation. Amadou Ba, who was chosen by President Macky Sall to be the candidate of the United in Hope coalition, got 35.7% of votes.

 

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths stepping down

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths is stepping down for health reasons after nearly three years of trying to tackle mounting humanitarian crises in Ukraine, Gaza and Africa, the United Nations announced on March 25, 2024. U.N. Secretary- Griffiths took on the job of U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator in July 2021 as crises were escalating around the globe and funds for humanitarian aid were shrinking. A veteran British diplomat and seasoned negotiator with wide global experience, he served as the U.N. special envoy for Yemen for three years before taking on the U.N.’s top humanitarian post.

 

Peru: President’s residence raided

Peruvian authorities on March 29, 2024 raided the home of President Dina Boluarte as part of an investigation into possible illicit enrichment after she was spotted wearing luxury watches at public appearances. The National Police, including members of the High Complexity Crime Investigation Division and some prosecutors searched her home in the Surquillo district of the capital Lima. The raid lasted more than five hours, and the authorities later searched the government palace. On April 30, Boluarte’s top aide, Prime Minister Gustavo Adrianzen, called the actions “disproportionate and unconstitutional”. Peruvian prosecutors had launched a preliminary investigation into whether Boluarte enriched herself illegally in office, citing her wearing of Rolex watches. Boluarte became Peru’s president in December 2022.

 

Actor Louis Gossett Jr dies in US at 87

Louis Gossett Jr., the first Black man to win a supporting actor Oscar and an Emmy winner for his role in the seminal TV miniseries ‘Roots,’ died in US on March 29, 2024 at the age of 87. Gossett broke through on the small screen as Fiddler in the groundbreaking 1977 miniseries ‘Roots,’ which depicted the atrocities of slavery on TV. Gossett won Oscar in 1993 in supporting actor category for his performance as the intimidating Marine drill instructor in “An Officer and a Gentleman”. He also won a Golden Globe for the same role.

 

Daniel Kahneman, Nobel-winning psychologist, dies at 90

Nobel prize winner US psychologist Daniel Kahneman died at the age of 90 in US on March 27, 2024. He was known for his work in behavioral economics, for which he was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences shared with Vernon L. Smith. Kahneman upended assumptions about rationality that had dominated economics for decades. He was able to show the logic behind a number of puzzling behaviors – why people refuse to sell stocks that have lost value, or why they will drive to a distant store to save money on a small item, but not to make the same saving on an expensive one.

 

US sculptor Richard Serra dies at 85

US sculptor Richard Serra, known for steel sculptures, died in US on March 26, 2024 at the age of 85.

 

 

Section D: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

 

ISRO to hold training sessions in educational institutions

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will conduct the Space Science and Technology Awareness Training (START) 2024 programme during April and May.

 

In this connection, ISRO solicits Expression of Interest (EoI) to host START-2024 in educational institutes, universities, colleges within India who are offering UG and PG courses in physical sciences and technology.

 

The main objective of the training programme is to attract the youngsters to the fields of space science and technology.

 

The training modules will comprise introductory level topics on various verticals of space science and technology. In addition to these, there will be sessions on Indian space exploration programmes and research opportunities.

 

Post-graduate students and final year undergraduate students of physical sciences (physics and chemistry) and technology (e.g. electronics, computer science, mechanical, applied physics, radiophysics, optics & opto-electronics, instrumentation and other associated subjects) studying in educational institutes, universities and colleges within India are eligible to be considered for the training.

 

Last date for online registration of EoI through by institutes, colleges, universities is April 2.

 

Student registration opens on April 8 and ends on April 12.

 

Asteroid named after Indian scientist

An asteroid has been named after Indian Professor and distinguished scientist Jayant Murthy. He is known for his work in space missions, ultraviolet astronomy, and interstellar medium. Previously cataloged as 2005 EX296, the asteroid has now been designated as (215884) Jayantmurthy. The announcement was made by the International Astronomical Union (IAU)’s Working Group, the authority responsible for naming small objects in the Solar System. MW Buie discovered the asteroid (215884) Jayantmurthy in 2005 at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, USA. It completed a full orbit of the Sun between Mars and Jupiter every 3.3 years.
 

 

Section E: AWARDS

 

Hockey India Awards 2023

Hardik Singh and Salima Tete were named the men’s and women’s Player of The Year, respectively at the Hockey India Awards 2023 in New Delhi on March 31, 2024.

 

Indian men’s team vice-captain Hardik Singh was a part of the bronze medal-winning hockey team at the Tokyo 2023 Olympics and won the Asian Games 2023 gold medal last year. The 25-year-old also won the Midfielder of the Year award.

 

Munich 1972 Olympic bronze medallist Ashok Kumar was honoured with the Hockey India Lifetime Achievement Award, named after his father Dhyan Chand, for his contribution to the sport. Kumar had also scored the winning goal that secured the gold medal for India in the final of the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.

 

PR Sreejesh was felicitated with the prestigious Hockey India Baljit Singh Award for Goalkeeper of the Year. Sreejesh was presented with a trophy for earning his 300th international cap.

 

Hockey India Awards 2023 winners:

  • Hockey India Major Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award: Ashok Kumar
  • Hockey India Balbir Singh Sr Award for Player of The Year (Men): Hardik Singh
  • Hockey India Balbir Singh Sr Award for Player of The Year (Women): Salima Tete
  • Hockey India Baljit Singh Award for Goalkeeper of the Year: PR Sreejesh
  • Hockey India Pargat Singh Award for Defender of the Year: Harmanpreet Singh
  • Hockey India Ajit Pal Singh Award for Midfielder of the Year: Hardik Singh
  • Hockey India Dhanraj Pillay Award for Forward of the Year: Abhishek
  • Hockey India Asunta Lakra Award for Upcoming Player of the Year (Women – Under 21): Deepika Soreng
  • Hockey India Jugraj Singh Award for Upcoming Player of the Year (Men – Under 21): Araijeet Singh Hundal

 

ENBA Lifetime Achievement Award

Vineet Jain, managing director of the Times Group, received the Exchange4Media News Broadcasting Awards (ENBA) Lifetime Achievement Award 2023 for his contributions to Indian television news on March 30, 2024. The award citation commended Jain for his instrumental role in founding the group’s TV platform, the Times Network, which includes the channels Times Now, ET Now, Mirror Now, Times Now Navbharat and ET NOW Swadesh.
 

 

Section F: BANKING & FINANCE

 

India Inc.’s mop-up via IPOs rises 19% to ₹61,000 cr. in FY24

The funds mobilised by India Inc. through the Initial Public Offering (IPO) route in this financial year was up 19% to ₹61,000 crore compared with ₹52,116 crore raised in FY23, according to Prime Database.

 

Given the buoyancy in the economy, 75 companies hit the primary market in FY24 compared with 37 in FY23. The average deal size reduced significantly to ₹815 crore in this fiscal from ₹1,409 crore in FY23 due to a higher number of companies tapping the market.

 

Mankind Pharma was the largest IPO with ₹4,326 crore, followed by JSW Infrastructure at ₹2,800 crore. The smallest IPO was that of Plaza Wires, which raised ₹71 crore.

 

With the key benchmark indices hitting a new high, the average listing gains rose to 29% in FY24 against 9% in the previous financial year.

 

Of the 75 IPOs, 48 delivered a return of over 10%. Vibhor Steel delivered the biggest return of 193% on debut, followed by BLS E-Services (175%) and Tata Technologies (163%). Over 50 of the 75 IPOs are currently trading above the issue price with an average return of 65%.

 

Of the 75 IPOs that hit the market, 54 issuances were subscribed over 10 times, out of which 22 IPOs were subscribed more than 50 times while 11 IPOs were subscribed more than three times. The other 10 IPOs were oversubscribed between 1 and 3 times.

 

The response of retail investors was also higher compared to the previous financial year.

 

The average number of retail applications rose to 1.3 million from about 0.6 million in the previous financial year. Tata Technologies, the first Tata Group IPO in two decades, saw the highest number of retail applications with over 50 lakh applications, followed by DOMS Industries (41 lakh) and INOX India (37 lakh).

 

In FY24, 96 companies filed their offer documents with the market regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) compared to 75 in the previous financial year. However, 37 companies planning to raise ₹59,000 crore let their approval lapse, while two looking to raise ₹1,000 crore withdrew their documents. SEBI returned the offer documents of five looking to raise ₹2,500 crore.

 

World’s fastest stock settlement starts in India

The world’s fastest stock trading and settlement system commenced in India on March 28, 2024, with 136 trades from 73 brokers for a majority of the 25 stocks that are allowed in the segment over two bourses, NSE and BSE. On the BSE, 49 investors closed their trades and settled through the T+0 settlement system by evening. On the NSE, the corresponding number was 41 investors.

 

“The T+0 settlement stands as a pioneering attempt across the globe and this rollout involved active collaboration between regulators, exchanges, clearing corporations, depositories, and the member community at large,” a BSE release said.

 

Under the T+0 settlement system, stocks bought and sold between 9:15 am and 1:30 pm are settled by the end of the same day, with buyers getting the stocks they bought in their demat account and sellers seeing the amount credited in their bank accounts the same day.

 

This system is slotted to run parallel to the currently used T+1 settlement system under which buyers get the stocks in their demat accounts on the next working day after the day of trade. Similarly, sellers get the funds in their bank accounts one working day after the day of trade.

 

“This (T+0 settlement system) is a significant step towards greater efficiency and reduced risk in our market,” said Sundararaman Ramamurthy, MD & CEO, BSE.

 

Govt updates list of banks authorised to import gold, silver during FY25

The government on March 28, 2024 updated the list of banks authorised to import gold and silver during 2024-25. As per the list, 11 banks, including HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank, have been authorised by the Reserve Bank of India to import gold and silver for 2024-25 with effect from April 1.

 

The authorisation will be valid up to March 31 next year.

 

“List of banks authorised to import gold/silver…has been updated,” the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a public notice.

 

Three banks — Indian Overseas Bank, Punjab National Bank, and Union Bank of India — have authorised by the RBI to import only gold for 2024-25 with effect from April 1 this year.

 

Gold imports rose 38.76 per cent to USD 44 billion during April-February this fiscal.

 

However, silver imports dipped 11.53 per cent to USD 4.62 billion during the period.

 

LIC, GIC Re and New India Assurance Company retain the ‘D-SII’ tag

The public sector insurance companies – Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC Re) and the New India Assurance Company continue to be identified as Domestic Systemically Important Insurers (D-SIIs) by the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI).

 

“LIC, GIC Re, and New India continue to be identified as Domestic Systemically Important Insurers (D-SIIs), as in the 2022-23 list of D-SIIs,” IRDAI said.

 

D-SIIs are insurance companies which are perceived as ‘too big or too important to fail’ (TBTF) based on their size, market importance, and domestic and global interconnectedness.

 

LIC and New India are the largest life and general insurance companies in the country, respectively. Meanwhile, GIC Re is the sole Indian reinsurer.

 

The distress or failure of these D-SIIs would lead to a significant dislocation in the domestic financial system. Therefore, the continued functioning of D-SIIs is critical for the uninterrupted availability of insurance services to the national economy.

 

The perception and the perceived expectation of government support by these entities is likely to amplify risk-taking, reduce market discipline, create competitive distortions and increase the possibility of distress in the future.

 

It is due to these considerations that D-SIIs are subjected to additional regulatory measures to deal with systemic risks and moral hazard issues with an increased level of corporate governance and the need for these insurers to identify all relevant risks and promote a sound risk management framework and culture.

 

 

LIC world’s strongest insurance brand: Brand Finance Insurance Report

Insurance behemoth Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has emerged as the strongest insurance brand globally, according to a report Brand Finance Insurance 100 2024.

 

The report said that LIC’s brand value remains steady at USD 9.8 billion, accompanied by a brand strength index score of 88.3 and an associated AAA brand strength rating.

 

Following LIC, the rankings highlight Cathay Life Insurance as the second strongest brand, experiencing a 9 per cent increase in brand value to USD 4.9 billion, closely followed by NRMA Insurance, which saw an 82 per cent rise in brand value to USD 1.3 billion, according to a statement by Brand Finance Insurance.

 

Notably, Chinese insurance brands maintain dominance in the global rankings, with Ping An leading with a 4 per cent increase in brand value to USD 33.6 billion, followed by China Life Insurance and CPIC defending their 3rd and 5th positions, respectively, it said. Allianz from Germany and AXA from France retain their spots in the 2nd and 4th positions to complete the Top 5.

NEWSMAKERS

 

Nidhu Saxena named MD & CEO of Bank of Maharashtra

Bank of Maharashtra on March 28, 2024 announced the appointment of Nidhu Saxena, Executive Director, Union Bank of India as its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD & CEO). The appointment, it said, is for a period of three years with effect from the date of assumption of office, that is, from March 27, 2024 or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

 

FSIB selects CMDs for New India Assurance, United India

Financial Services Institutions Bureau (FSIB), the head-hunting agency for public sector banks and insurance firms, has selected Girija Subramanian, Chairperson and MD of Agriculture Insurance Company (AIC), and Bhupesh Sushil Rahul, AIC General Manager, as the next CMDs of New India Assurance and United India Insurance, respectively. The post of CMD at United India Insurance is vacant as S Tripathy retired in February. The top post at New India Assurance will fall vacant after Neerja Kapur retires in April end. These names will be sent to the DFS which will send them to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by PM Narendra Modi for the final approvals.
 

 

Section G: ECONOMY

 

Wages for rural jobs guarantee scheme MGNREGS increased by 4-10%

The Centre has raised wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) by 4-10% for different states.

 

The wage revision was notified by the Union rural development ministry on March 27, 2024 after clearance from the Election Commission as the Model Code of Conduct is in force for the Lok Sabha polls.

 

The increases have been made on the 2023 wage rates under the flagship rural jobs scheme. Goa has seen the highest wage rate increase of Rs 34 to Rs 356 per day in the state, according to the notification.

 

In Andhra Pradesh, the wage rate has been increased by Rs 28 a day to Rs 300. Haryana has the highest wage rate for unskilled workers under the scheme at Rs 374 a day, although it has been increased by just 4%, while Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have the lowest wage rate at Rs 234, as per the notification.

 

The wage rate under MGNREGS in West Bengal increased Rs 13 to Rs 250 per day, while the increase in Tamil Nadu is Rs 25 to Rs 319, Telangana has seen a rise of Rs 28 to Rs 300 and in Bihar it is Rs 17 to Rs 228.

 

Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka and Telangana have registered about 10% increase in wage rate under the scheme, showed an analysis of the data.

 

April-February fiscal deficit at 86.5% of revised annual target

The central government’s fiscal deficit in the first 11 months of 2023-24 stood at ₹15 lakh crore, 86.5% of the revised target for this financial year, according to official data released on March 28, 2024.

 

By February-end, the Centre had spent ₹37.47 lakh crore in this fiscal, 83.4% of the revised expenditure target for the year.

 

The fiscal deficit in absolute terms was revised down to ₹ 17.35 lakh crore or 5.8% of gross domestic product (GDP) from the earlier budget estimate of ₹17.87 lakh crore.

 

Revenue expenditure at the end of February was ₹29.41 lakh crore, out of which the Centre had spent ₹8.80 lakh crore on interest payments and ₹3.60 lakh crore on major subsidies.

 

The government’s total receipts stood at ₹22.45 lakh crore, including net tax revenue of ₹18.49 lakh crore, ₹3.60 lakh crore non-tax revenue and non-debt capital receipts of ₹36,140 crore.

 

India’s CAD narrows to 1.2% of GDP in Q3 due to higher service costs

India’s current account deficit (CAD) narrowed to 1.2 per cent of GDP in the October-December quarter largely due to higher service exports, the Reserve Bank of India said on March 26, 2024.

 

The current account deficit stood at $10.5 billion in the third quarter of financial year 2023-24 compared with $11.4 billion or 1.3 per cent of GDP in the preceding quarter.

 

The merchandise trade deficit at $ 71.6 billion was marginally higher than $ 71.3 billion during Q3:2022-23.

 

Services exports grew by 5.2 per cent on a y-o-y basis on the back of rising exports of software, business and travel services. Net services receipts increased both sequentially and from a year ago that helped cushion the current account deficit, said the central bank.

Net outgo on the primary income account, primarily reflecting payments of investment income, increased to $13.2 billion from $12.7 billion a year ago.

 

Private transfer receipts, mainly representing remittances by Indians employed overseas, amounted to $ 31.4 billion, an increase of 2.1 per cent over their level during the corresponding period a year ago.

 

In the financial account, foreign direct investment recorded a net inflow of $ 4.2 billion as compared with a net inflow of $ 2.0 billion in Q3:2022-23.

 

During the third quarter of 2023-2024, there was an increase in foreign portfolio investment, with a net influx of $12.0 billion, surpassing the $4.6 billion recorded in the same period of the previous fiscal year.

 

In the third quarter of 2023-24, external commercial borrowings directed towards India experienced a net deficit of $2.6 billion, slightly higher than the net outflow of $2.5 billion seen in the corresponding period one year prior.

 

Non-resident deposits recorded a higher net inflow of $ 3.9 billion than $ 2.6 billion a year ago.

 

There was an accretion of foreign exchange reserves (on a BoP basis) to the tune of $ 6.0 billion in Q3:2023-24 as compared with an accretion of $ 11.1 billion a year ago.

 

The current account deficit as a percentage of GDP for the second quarter of 2023-24 was revised upwards to 1.3 percent from the previous estimate of 1.0 percent. This revision was attributed to an upward adjustment in customs data related to merchandise imports.

 

Growth of eight core sectors at 6.7% in Feb as against 4.1% in Jan

The growth rate of eight core sectors in India increased by 6.7 per cent in February on an annual basis, the Ministry of Commerce & Industry said on March 28, 2024.

 

The index had grown by 4.1 per cent in January 2024 and 4.9 per cent in December 2023. Meanwhile, in February 2023 the growth stood at 7.4 per cent.

 

The production of Coal, Natural Gas, Cement, Steel, Crude Oil, Electricity and Refinery Products recorded positive growth in February 2024.

 

The coal sector increased by 11.6 per cent as against 9 per cent in the year-ago period. Likewise, the crude oil sector witnessed a growth of 7.9 per cent against a dip of 4.9 per cent YoY.

 

While Natural Gas increased by 11.3 per cent in February 2024 from 3.1 in February 2023, Refinery Products saw a dip from 3.3 per cent last year to 2.6 per cent in the previous month.

 

Even fertilizers sector saw a slowed growth of -9.5 per cent in the last month as against 22.2 per cent in the year-ago period.

 

Steel and electricity sectors growth decreased to 8.4 per cent and 6.3 per cent from 12.4 and 8.2 per cent YoY respectively. However, the cement grew by 10.2 per cent in February 2024 from 7.4 per cent in February 2023.

 

The index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) measures the combined and individual performance of production of eight core industries namely cement, coal, crude oil, electricity, fertilizers, natural gas, refinery products and steel. These industries comprise 40.27 percent of the weight of items included in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP).

 

 

Govt. issues advisory against calls impersonating DoT

Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Ministry of Communications, on March 29, 2024 issued an advisory to citizens that calls are being received by the citizens wherein callers, in the name of DoT, are threatening that all of their mobile numbers would be disconnected or their mobile numbers are being misused in some illegal activities. The DoT has also issued advisory about WhatsApp calls from foreign origin mobile numbers (like +92-xxxxxxxxxx) impersonating government officials and duping the people.

 

Cyber criminals through such calls try to threat/steal personal information to carry out cyber-crime/financial frauds. The DoT does not authorise anyone to make such call on its behalf and has advised people to stay vigilant and asked not to share any information on receiving such calls.

 

The DoT has advised citizens to report such fraud communications at ‘Chakshu-Report Suspected Fraud Communications’ facility of Sanchar Saathi portal (www.sancharsaathi.gov.in). Such proactive reporting helps DoT in prevention of misuse of telecom resources for cyber-crime, financial frauds, etc.

 

Wheat stock limit expires on March 31

With stock limit on wheat expiring on March 31, the government on March 29, 2024 directed wholesalers, retailers, and processors to declare their stock position of wheat as part of its efforts to prevent hoarding and keep prices under check. The stock limits on wheat were imposed on June 12 last year and was applicable till March 31, 2024 to manage the overall food security and to prevent hoarding and unscrupulous speculation.

 

With effect from April 1, traders/wholesalers, retailers, including big chain retailers, and processors in all states and Union Territories (UTs), will have to declare their stocks on a portal.

 

Thereafter, they have to declare every Friday. Traders have already been told to declare rice stocks on the portal.

 

In a statement, the Department of Food and Public Distribution said it is maintaining a close watch on the stock position of wheat and rice to control prices and ensure easy availability of these grains in the domestic market.

 

To prevent hoarding and unscrupulous speculation, the department said the “government has decided that traders/wholesalers, retailers, big chain retailers and processors in all states and UTs have to declare their stock position of wheat on the portal ( with effect from April 1 and then, on every Friday till further orders”.

 

All the respective legal entities to ensure that stock are regularly and correctly disclosed on the portal, it added.

 

Essential medicines to cost slightly more from April 1

Prices of essential medicines, including painkillers, antibiotics and anti-infectives, are set to see a minuscule increase from April 1. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) announced an annual change of 0.0055% increase in prices of drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), in line with the annual change in the wholesale price index.

 

DGFT notifies policy for export of goods under SCOMET category

The commerce ministry on March 27, 2024 notified a policy for general authorisation for the export of certain telecommunication-related and information security-related items under a SCOMET category to grant one-time bulk licences. A detailed procedure for these authorisations has also been notified by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

 

Special chemicals, organisms, materials, equipment and technologies (SCOMET) items are dual-use goods.

 

The applicant exporter will have to submit an application for getting a one-time license through the online SCOMET portal and attach the information in the prescribed format.

 

India needs more employment intensive growth and good quality jobs, says ILO

India needs to make its growth and production more employment intensive while improving the quality of jobs, the International Labour Organisation said in the India Employment Report 2024 compiled in association with the Institute for Human Development.

 

Outlining the five most critical policy issues that need intervention at the national and state levels for addressing the decent work deficits faced by youth in the country, the report said that India also needs to overcome labour market inequalities, make systems for skills training and active labour market policies more effective and bridge the deficits in knowledge on labour market patterns and youth employment.

 

“India remains poised to take advantage of its demographic dividend with strong improvements in education levels, which are a key determinant of accessing better quality jobs,” ILO said.

 

“At the same time, youth’s aspirations are evolving, which needs to be matched with the type of employment available in the labour market,” it added.

 

The India Employment Report 2024 is the third in a series of regular publications by the ILO and IHD on labour and employment issues. This edition examines the challenge of youth employment in the context of the emerging economic, labour market, educational, and skills scenarios in India and changes over the past two decades and is primarily based on analysis of data from the National Sample Surveys and the Periodic Labour Force Surveys.

 

As per the report, India has the world’s largest youth population and stands to benefit from its demographic dividend for at least another decade. This translates into 7-8 million youth entering the labour market annually.

 

“The creation of decent and productive jobs in manufacturing and other sectors will be critical in meeting the needs of youth in the coming years,” Sher Verick, head, employment strategies for inclusive transformation (ILO) said.

 

India’s forex reserves up by $140 mn to $642.63 bn as of March 22

India’s foreign exchange reserves rose for a fifth straight week and stood at $642.63 billion as of March 22, Reserve Bank of India data showed on March 29, 2024. The reserves rose by $140 million in the reporting week. Previously, forex reserves expanded by $6.4 billion to $642.49 billion for the week ended on March 15, 2024.

 

According to the Weekly Statistical Supplement released by the RBI, Foreign currency assets (FCAs) dipped by $123 million to $568.26 billion. Expressed in dollar terms, the FCAs include the effect of appreciation or depreciation of non-US units like the euro, pound and yen held in the foreign exchange reserves.

 

Gold reserves rose by $347 million to $51.49 billion, whereas SDRs were down by $57 million to $18.22 billion.

 

Reserve position in the IMF decreased by $27 million to $4.66 billion.

 

It can be noted that in October 2021, the country’s forex kitty had reached an all-time high of USD 645 billion. The reserves have been declining as the central bank deploys the kitty to defend the rupee amid pressures caused majorly by global developments.

 

Typically, the RBI, from time to time, intervenes in the market through liquidity management, including through the selling of dollars, with a view to preventing a steep depreciation in the rupee.

 

The RBI closely monitors the foreign exchange markets and intervenes only to maintain orderly market conditions by containing excessive volatility in the exchange rate, without reference to any pre-determined target level or band.

 

India to reimpose restrictions on procurement of solar modules from April 1

The government on March 29, 2024 said restrictions on import of solar modules will be reimposed from April 1, a measure aimed at fostering local capacity.

 

It had earlier exempted solar projects commissioned by March 31, 2024, from the mandatory requirement of procuring solar modules from the approved list of models and manufacturers (ALMM) for 2023-24.

 

The mandate, introduced in 2021, required solar project developers to buy modules from the approved list as a non-tariff barrier to boost domestic manufacturing.

 

The government is bringing back the order as it is of the view that domestic capacities had come up and needed to be supported, said people familiar with the matter.

 

India’s cumulative solar module manufacturing capacity reached 64.5 GW, and solar cell manufacturing capacity totalled 5.8 GW, as of December 2023, according to Mercom India Research.

 

GeM turnover crosses ₹4-lakh crore in 2023-24

The government’s online public procurement platform, Government e Marketplace (GeM), has doubled its Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) to ₹4-lakh crore in fiscal year 2023-24, compared with the previous fiscal, said GeM CEO P K Singh at a media briefing on March 29, 2024. GeM has over 1.5 lakh government buyers and 21 lakh sellers and service providers. It has integrated 89,421 panchayats and over 760 co-operatives within its procurement ecosystem. All Central government and State government ministries/ departments,  including its attached/ subordinate offices, Central and State autonomous bodies, Central and State public sector units and local bodies etc, are allowed to buy through this portal.

 

Forex reserves rise $32.9 billion in April-December

Excluding valuation effect, foreign exchange reserves increased $32.9 billion against a depletion of $14.7 billion during April-December 2022. Foreign exchange reserves in nominal terms (including valuation effects) increased $44 billion, as against a decrease of $44.6 billion in the corresponding period of the preceding year. The valuation gain, reflecting the depreciation of the US dollar against major currencies, lower bond yields and higher price of gold, amounted to $11.1 billion during April-December 2023 as against a valuation loss of $29.9 billion during April-December 2022, the RBI said.
 

 

Section H: CORPORATE

 

U.S. court orders India to pay Deutsche Telekom $132 mn in Devas case award

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has confirmed a $132-million award to Deutsche Telekom (DT) against India. The German firm had petitioned the court to confirm this award even as India had countered the petition to get the award dismissed.

 

The award by the UN Commission on International Trade Law Arbitration had found India in violation of the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between Germany and India. The reason cited was that it had held that the government of India had terminated a spectrum deal between state-owned Antrix and Devas in 2011. Deutsche Telekom was a shareholder in Devas.

 

DT had sought enforcement of the award in the U.S. India had tried to get this petition dismissed on two counts. First, that the U.S. was not the appropriate jurisdiction. Second, that DT did not have sufficient evidence to claim the award. The court said DT met its burden of proof.

 

Infosys to receive tax refund of Rs 6,329 crore

Infosys will receive a tax refund of Rs 6,329 crore, including interest from the income tax department, for assessment years 2007-08 to 2018-19, the company said in an exchange filing on March 29, 2024.

 

Google launches AI model for AnthroKrishi for farmers

Google is piloting projects in Telangana and Maharashtra to validate the accuracy of its AI-driven innovation AnthroKrishi. It can help detect field boundaries and boundaries of water to enable sustainable farming practices and improve crop yields.  AnthroKrishi uses AI systems to analyse satellite imagery to map the boundaries of individual farms and monitor crops, yields, and farming activities.

 

X users with over 2,500 verified followers to get Premium service for free

Elon Musk on March 28, 2024 announced that X users with over 2,500 verified subscriber followers will get Premium services for free, while those with over 5,000 followers will be able to access Premium+ services free of charge. The subscription plans provide an ad-free experience and enable users to edit their tweets, among other features. The Premium+ service will also allow users to access GrokAI, Musk’s ChatGPT-style chatbot.

 

Volvo ends production of diesel cars; to go fully electric by 2030

Volvo Car AB produced its last automobile with a diesel engine recently, ending an era for the manufacturer that plans to only make electric vehicles by 2030. The XC90 sport utility vehicle rolled off the line at the Torslanda plant in Sweden on March 25, 2024. Volvo Car is phasing out diesel engines, though it’ll still make cars with gasoline engines.

 

RRP electronics to invest Rs 5,000 crore investment in Maharashtra semiconductor facility

RRP Electronics, a company supported by former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, revealed its plan on March 26, 2024 to invest Rs 5,000 crore in a semiconductor facility located in Maharashtra over the next five years. The company did not disclose specifics regarding Tendulkar’s contribution or other shareholders. The announcement came alongside the unveiling of a 25,000 square feet facility in Navi Mumbai on March 23. The event was attended by Tendulkar, retired nuclear physicist Anil Kakodkar, and the company’s founder, chairman, promoter, and chief executive Rajendra Chodankar.

 

RIL, Adani Power sign 20-year power purchase agreement

Reliance Industries (RIL) and Adani Power have signed a 20-year power purchase agreement for 500 MW, marking a rare, strategic collaboration between conglomerates led by the two prominent industrialists. The Mukesh Ambani company will invest ₹50 crore for a 26% stake in a 600MW unit of Mahan Energen’s thermal power plant. The latter is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gautam Adani-led Adani Power. Mahan is located in Singrauli district of Madhya Pradesh. Mahan Energen, which was incorporated in 2005, has a total capacity of 1,200 MW currently. The unit was formerly owned by Essar Power. Adani Power completed the acquisition for Rs 4,250 crore in March 2023.

 

Tata ties up with HPCL for public charging stations

Tata Passenger Electric Mobility announced tie up with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd to set up 5,000 public charging stations across the country by the end of the year. The collaboration will leverage Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL’s) fuel station network and company’s insights from over 1.2 lakh Tata EVs on Indian roads, to set up chargers at locations frequently visited by Tata EV owners, Tata Passenger Electric Mobility (TPEM), a unit of Tata Motors, said in a statement.

 

Former HUL CEO Sanjiv Mehta teams up with PE fund L Catterton

Former Hindustan Unilever chief executive Sanjiv Mehta has teamed up with consumer-focused investment firm L Catterton to launch an India-focused investment vehicle. Mehta headed Hindustan Unilever (HUL) for ten years till 2023. He will serve as the executive chairman of India for the vehicle from April 4 onwards.

 

Panasonic to form JV with Indian oil for lithium-ion batteries

Panasonic Group will form a joint venture with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL), the nation’s biggest oil firm, to manufacture cylindrical lithium-ion batteries. Panasonic Energy Co Ltd, a group firm of Japan-based multinational electronics company, has signed a binding term sheet and initiated discussions with IOCL “to draw a framework for the formation of a joint venture” to manufacture cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, said a statement on March 31, 2024.

 

Adani Ports acquires Odisha’s Gopalpur Port

Gautam Adani-run Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) will buy a 95% stake in Odisha’s Gopalpur Port (GPL) for an equity value of Rs 1,349 crore and enterprise value of Rs 3,080 crore to boost its east coast presence, the company said in a press release on March 26, 2024. APSEZ, India’s largest private port operator, will be acquiring a 56 per cent stake in Gopalpur Port from real-estate conglomerate Shapoorji Pallonji Group (SP Group) and a 39 per cent stake from Orissa Stevedores. The port, located on India’s east coast, can handle around 20 MMTPA. The Odisha government in 2006 awarded a 30-year concession to GPL, with the provision of two extensions of 10 years each. The port currently handles a diverse mix of dry bulk cargo, including iron ore, coal, limestone, ilmenite, and alumina.

 

LatentView Analytics to acquire 70% of Decision Point for $39.1 million

LatentView Analytics Ltd, a Chennai-based digital analytics consulting and solutions firm, will acquire 70 per cent of Decision Point’s outstanding equity capital for $39.1 million. The remaining 30 per cent equity is to be acquired over the next two years with a pay-out based on agreed valuation principles. Established in 2012, Decision Point provides AI-led Business Transformation and Revenue Growth Management (RGM) solutions. It has over 300 employees worldwide. The acquisition of Decision Point will bolster LatentView’s existing expertise in data engineering, data science, and data visualisation, as well as consulting and advisory services for analytics and GenAI readiness.

 

Kotak Bank acquires Sonata Finance for Rs 537 cr

Kotak Mahindra Bank on March 28, 2024 said it has acquired NBFC Sonata Finance Pvt Ltd for Rs 537 crore. The NBFC is operating in 10 states through 549 branches and has an Asset Under Management (AUM) of Rs 2,620 crore as of December 31, 2023. With this acquisition, Sonata has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kotak Bank.

 

Home Depot to buy supplier SRS Distribution for $18.25 billion

Home Depot Inc. said it would buy building-products distributor SRS Distribution Inc. for about $18.25 billion in a bid to bolster the company’s professional services business. The deal would further the world’s largest home-improvement retailer’s focus on professional contractors, a more lucrative target than do-it-yourself consumers. SRS, based in McKinney, Texas, serves professional roofers, landscapers and pool contractors with a sales force of over 2,500 people at more than 760 branches across 47 US states.

ZF Rane India acquires 100% stake in TRW Sun Steering

ZF Rane Automotive India Pvt. Ltd., a joint venture between the ZF Group in India and the Rane Group, has acquired a 100% stake in TRW Sun Steering Wheels Pvt. Ltd. (TSSW), which is Gurugram-based domestic steering wheels and occupant safety equipment manufacturer, for an undisclosed sum.

 

Donald Trump’s social media company lists

Donald Trump’s social media company Truth Social (Trump Media & Technology Group) was listed on NASDAQ on March 26, 2024. Shares of Trump Media and Technology Group closed at $57.99, up 16.1%, giving the company a market value of $7.85 billion. Trump’s stake in the company, which is nearly 60%, is worth about $4.6 billion.

 

Torrent’s Mehta family pledges Rs 5,000 crore to UNM Foundation

Pharmaceuticals-to-energy Torrent Group’s Mehta family has pledged to donate Rs 5,000 crore over the next five years to the philanthropic foundation set up in name of the group’s founder U N Mehta as part of his birth centenary celebrations, the group said on March 31, 2024. Torrent Group celebrated the birth centenary of its founder late Uttambhai Nathalal Mehta (January 14, 1924 to March 31, 1998).

 

Mumbai has most billionaires in Asia: Hurun

Mumbai has swiftly emerged as Asia’s billionaire hub, surpassing Beijing for the first time, according to Hurun Research’s 2024 Global Rich List. The financial capital of India now boasts 92 billionaires, edging past Beijing’s 91, despite China having a higher overall count of 814 billionaires compared to India’s 271. This places Mumbai third globally in terms of billionaires, with New York leading with 119 billionaires, followed by London with 97.

NEWSMAKERS

 

Sam Bankman-Fried sentenced to 25 years in prison for FTX fraud

Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a judge on March 28, 2024 for stealing $8 billion from customers of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange he founded, the last step in the former billionaire’s dramatic downfall. A jury found Bankman-Fried, 32, guilty on Nov. 2 on seven fraud and conspiracy counts stemming from FTX’s 2022 collapse in what prosecutors have called one of the biggest financial frauds in U.S. history.

 

Arnab Banerjee elected ATMA Chairman

Arnab Banerjee, MD and CEO of CEAT Ltd, has been elected as the new Chairman of Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association (ATMA).
 

 

Section I: STATES

 

60 traditional products from across India granted GI tag

Over 60 traditional products from across India have been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag. This is the first time that such a large number of products have been given the GI tag at one go.

 

Assam

Six traditional crafts Asharikandi terracotta craft, Pani Meteka craft, Sarthebari metal craft, Jaapi (bamboo headgear), Mishing handloom products, and Bihu dhol — have bagged the GI tag. Also given GT tag are: Bodo Dokhona, the traditional attire of Bodo women; and Bodo Eri silk, referred to as the fabric of peace or ahimsa (non-violence), which comes from the silkworm Samia ricini that feeds mostly on the leaves of the castor plant (Ricinus communis), and cassava. Bodo Jwmgra (a traditional scarf), Bodo Gamsa (traditional dress of Bodo men), Bodo Thorkha (a musical instrument), and Bodo Sifung (a long flute) are also on the list.

 

UP

The famous Banaras Thandai, a drink made by blending milk with a mix of nuts, seeds and spices, also got the tag. The Banaras Tabla, Banaras Shehnai, Banaras Lal Bharwamirch, and Banaras Lal Peda are among the products that walked away with GI tags in this region.

 

Tripura

The Tripura region secured two tags — one for the Pachra-Rignai, which is a traditional dress worn on special occasions, and the other for the Matabari Peda, a sweet preparation.

 

Meghalaya

Meghalaya Garo Textile weaving, which is linked to socio-cultural and religious rituals, Meghalaya Lyrnai Pottery, and Meghalaya Chubitchi also secured the tag.

 

MHA extends AFSPA for 6 month in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland districts

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in certain districts of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh for another six months with effect from April 1.

 

The AFSPA was extended in 8 districts – Dimapur, Niuland, Chumukedima, Mon, Kiphire, Noklak, Phek, and Peren – and 21 police station areas in five other districts of Nagaland, which has 16 districts.

 

The AFSPA has been extended for another six months in Tirap, Changlang, and Longding districts in Arunachal Pradesh as well as areas under the jurisdiction of Namsai, Mahadevpur, and Chowkham police stations in Namsai district, bordering Assam.

 

This was done following a review of the law-and-order situation in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. The AFSPA empowers the Army, para-military, and other security forces to arrest a person without a warrant, enter or search premises without a warrant, along with some other actions.

 

Arunachal Pradesh: Walkovers for 10 BJP MLAs, CM included

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won 10 seats without a contest in the 60-member Arunachal Pradesh Assembly.

 

While no Opposition parties fielded candidates in five constituencies, rivals of the BJP withdrew their nominations in five more by March 30, the last day of withdrawal of candidature.

 

Among those who won uncontested were State Chief Minister Pema Khandu from Mukto and Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein from Chowkham.

 

The other winners are Ratu Techi from Sagalee, Jikke Tako, Tali; Nyato Dukam, Taliha; Mutchu Mithi, Roing; Hage Appa, Ziro-Hapoli; Techi Kaso, Itanagar; Dongru Siongju, Bomdila; and Dasanglu Pul, Hayuliang.

 

AFSPA extended in four districts of Assam

The Assam government has extended the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), 1958 in four districts for six months from April 1. The State government’s Political Department issued a notification, stating that the ‘Disturbed Area’ under the AFSPA has been extended in areas covering Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo and Sivasagar districts.

 

Hovercraft maintenance unit of Indian Coast Guard inaugurated in Gujarat

Defence Secretary Giridhar Aramane on March 29, 2024 inaugurated a hovercraft maintenance unit of the Indian Coast Guard at Okha in Gujarat’s Devbhumi Dwarka district. Hovercrafts are used in amphibious operations. Director General of the Indian Coast Guard Rakesh Pal and other senior ICG officials were also present at the inaugural ceremony.

 

8 Naxalites killed in encounter with security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur

Six Naxalites, including two women cadres, were killed in an encounter with security personnel in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district on March 27, 2024. The gunfight took place in the forest area located along the Talperu river near Chipurbhatti village under Basaguda police station area, when a joint team of security personnel was out on an anti-Naxal operation. The operation involving personnel belonging to the District Reserve Guard (DRG), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and its elite unit CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action), was launched based on inputs about the presence of Naxalites from People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) platoon no. 10 of Maoists.

NEWSMAKERS

 

Delhi Court extends ED custody of CM Arvind Kejriwal till April 1

A Delhi Court, on March 28, 2024 extended the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) custody of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal till April 1 in a money laundering case registered in connection with the Delhi Excise Policy case.  Kejriwal was arrested on March 21.

 

Allegations

The case arose from a report submitted by Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar to Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Vinai Kumar Saxena in July 2022 alleging that there were procedural lapses in the formulation of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22, which came into force in November 2021 but was later scrapped in July 2022.

 

The Chief Secretary alleged that kickbacks received by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders from operators of alcohol businesses for preferential treatment were used to “influence” the 2022 Assembly elections in Punjab and Goa. Subsequently, the ED claimed that the scam involved giving wholesale liquor businesses to private entities with a fixed margin of 12% for a 6% kickback.

 

Contending that Kejriwal was the “kingpin and key conspirator” of the scam, the agency in its remand application said that the excise policy was drafted “considering the favours to be granted to the South Group”, a group of influential persons from South India who purportedly secured undue favours to establish wholesale businesses and paid the political party ₹100 crore in return. On March 15, K. Kavitha, Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader was arrested for allegedly being part of this group. After her arrest, the ED for the first time alleged that Kejriwal was also a conspirator in the case.

 

Others accused in the case include Raghav Magunta, Ongole MP Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy’s son, and P. Sarath Chandra Reddy, the son of P.V. Ramprasad Reddy and co-founder ofHyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma. Both later turned approvers in the case.

 

Defence

During the proceedings before the High Court, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Kejriwal, contended that his arrest was solely based on the statements made by accused persons who later turned approvers in the case. He further underscored that the ED had failed to rely on any independent evidence to corroborate these statements, as required by law.

 

UP: Gangster-politician Mukhtar Ansari dies at 63

Politician and convicted gangster Mukhtar Ansari passed away on March 28, 2024 night at the age of 63 in Banda (UP). He had been lodged in jail and was serving life imprisonment. Ansari was a five-term MLA from Mau, representing the Bahujan Samaj Party twice, his own party Quami Ekta Dal once and contesting as an independent twice. Ansari started his political career in the 1990s as a student leader in Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi and was elected as an MLA for the first time in 1996 from Mau on a BSP ticket. In April 2023, Mukhtar Ansari was convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai. He was sentenced to life in prison on March 13, 2024, in connection with a fake arms license case.

 

Ramakrishna Mission president dies at 95

Ramakrishna Mission president Swami Smaranananda passed away in Kolkata on March 26, 2024 at the age of 94. Smaranananda became the 16th president of the mission in 2017.

 

Tamil actor Daniel Balaji dies at 48

Tamil actor Daniel Balaji, known for his roles in Tamil and Malayalam cinema, passed away at the age of 48 in Chennai on March 29, 2024. He began his journey as a unit production manager in Kamal Haasan’s ‘Marudhunayagam’ and later made his television debut in Radikaa Sarathkumar’s ‘Chithhi’ where his character was christened Daniel, leading to his screen name, Daniel Balaji. His silver screen debut came in 2022 with the Tamil film ‘April Madhathil’.
 

 

Section J: SPORTS

 

Miami Open tennis

Italy’s Jannik Sinner won the men’s singles title at Miami Open tennis in Florida (US) on March 31, 2024. He defeated Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the final 6-3, 6-1. Women’s singles title was won by Danielle Collins (US) by defeating Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the final 7–5, 6–3. India’s Rohan Bopanna and Australia’s Matthew Ebden won the men’s doubles title by defeating Croatia’s Ivan Dodig and American Austin Krajicek in the final 6(3)-7(7), 6-3, 10-6. Sofia Kenin & Bethanie Mattek-Sands of US won women’s doubles title by defeating Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski & New Zealand’s Erin Routliffe in the final 4–6, 7–6(7–5), [11–9].

 

Spain Masters badminton

Loh Kean Yew of Singapore won men’s singles title at 2024 Spain Masters badminton tournament in Madrid on March 31, 2024 by defeating Toma Junior Popov of France in the final 21-11, 15-21, 22-20. Women’s singles title was won by Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon who defeated her compatriot Supanida Katethong 21-12, 21-9 in the final. Mixed doubles title was won by Rinov Rinaldy & Pitha Haningtyas Mentari of Indonesia who beat Cheng Xing & Zhang Chi of China in final 17-21, 21-12, 21-13. Women’s doubles title was won by Rin Iwanaga &  Kie Nakanishi of Japan who defeated Febriana Dwipuji Kusuma & Amallia Cahaya Pratiwi of Indonesia in the final 12-21, 21-8, 21-16. Men’s doubles title was won by Sabar Karyaman Gutama & Moh Reza Pahlevi Isfahani of Indonesia who beat Junaidi Arif & Roy King Yap of Malaysia in the final 21-18, 17-21, 21-19.

 

Japan’s Keita Nakajima wins Indian Open 2024 golf

Japan’s Keita Nakajima won the Indian Open 2024 golf tournament at the DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurugram on March 31, 2024. Nakajima secured a comprehensive victory as a 73 in the final round proved enough to hand him a four-shot win with a total of 17 under-par. India’s Veer Ahlawat, Johannes Veerman of US and Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg, who all finished tied-second.

 

Table Tennis: Top ranked Indian players

  1. Sathiyan on March 26, 2024 leapfrogged 43 places to 60th while Sreeja Akula rose to a career-high 40th in the ITTF world rankings, following their WTT Feeder Series title triumphs in March 2024. Sathiyan, who has a career-best ranking of 24, had dropped out of the top-100 recently. The title in Beirut earned him 125 points. Veteran Sharath Kamal, who dropped a place to 35th, continues to be the top-ranked Indian. Manav Thakkar and Harmeet Desai also find themselves in the top-100. Manika Batra held on to the 38th spot in the women’s singles while Archana Kamath advanced 13 places to 99th.

 

India lose to Afghanistan in FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Lower-ranked Afghanistan shocked India 2-1 as the home team suffered one of its most embarrassing defeats in recent years despite skipper Sunil Chhetri’s 94th international goal in his 150th match, in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Guwahati on March 26, 2024. Chhetri scored from penalty kick in the 37th minute. Afghanistan equalized as Rahmat Akbari restored parity in the 71st minute. Gurpreet Singh was shown a yellow card and Sharif Mukhammad converted the resultant penalty (88′) to give his team a 2-1 lead. India and Afghanistan drew the first leg 0-0 in Abha, Saudi Arabia on March 22.

 

Sreejesh and Camila Caram appointed as co-chairs in FIH Athletes Committee

Indian men’s team’s goalkeeper PR Sreejesh and defender Camila Caram from Chile women’s side are the two players appointed as co-chairs of the International Hockey Federation’s new FIH Athletes Committee.
 

 

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