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Current Affairs (29th March, 2023)

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First person to swim from Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves

  • Krishna Prakash, an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, swam from the Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves in Mumbai as part of the 'Drowning Prevention Awareness' campaign.
  • He became the first person in history to complete the 16.20 km expedition in 5 hours 26 minutes.

Elephanta Caves:

  • Elephanta Caves are a group of Hindu and Buddhist caves located approximately 10 kilometers from Mumbai. It is on Elephanta Island, which is also called Gharapuri Island.
  • Seven rock-cut caves make up the group, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Five of the seven caves are devoted to the Hindu deity Shiva, and the remaining two are constructed in a Buddhist style.

Hike in interest rate on employees’ provident fund

  • For the fiscal year 2022-23, the Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) has increased the interest rate on EPF deposits.
  • The rate hike decision was taken at the ongoing two-day meeting of EPFO’s Central Board of Trustees (CBT) in New Delhi.
  • The surplus is protected by the suggested interest rate of 8.15 percent, which also guarantees increased member income.

EPFO’s Central Board of Trustees (CBT)

  • The apex decision making body of the EPFO, is headed by the Union Labour and Employment Minister Bhupender Yadav.

World Bank approves loan for Assam’s flood management project

  • The World Bank’s Executive Board of Directors approved a loan of $108 million (around 889 crores of rupees) to Assam’s Integrated River Basin Management Project which aims to enhance its flood forecasting and disaster preparedness.
  • The multilateral bank claims that this project, which is part of a larger $500 million state investment program, will benefit approximately 6 million people.

Assam Integrated River Basin Management Project

  • The project will help the state reduce vulnerability to floods and river erosion by building green infrastructure in the Beki and Buridehing river basins, protecting around 100,000 people.

Committee to relook pension reforms in India

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the formation of a committee to look into improving the system of pension for government employees.
  • The committee will be headed by Finance Secretary T V Somanathan, will work on an approach that will strike a balance between employees’ needs and fiscal prudence, with any changes proposed to be adopted by both Central and state governments.

First joint conference of army chiefs of India and African countries

  • Indian Army Chief General Manoj Pandey and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will attend the inaugural joint conference of Indian and African army chiefs in Pune.
  • 10 army chiefs and 31 representatives from African countries will attend this conference.
  • Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign, a defence exhibition will be held and the aim of the exhibition is to target African countries as a market for defence products.

UK Sinha, a former SEBI Chairman, and Dipali Goenka are appointed as Independent Directors by NDTV

  • Based on the recommendations of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee, Upendra Kumar Sinha and Dipali Goenka have been appointed Independent Directors of NDTV for a period of two years beginning March 27, 2023.
  • This appointment is contingent on the approval of shareholders and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
  • Upendra Kumar Sinha has likewise been assigned as Non-Chief Executive of NDTV.

India to host SCO-National Security Advisors meeting

  • India, as the current chair of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), is set to host a meeting of National Security Advisors (NSA) and top officials in New Delhi on 29th March 2023, with China and Pakistan expected to attend virtually.
  • Ajit Doval, the Indian National Security Adviser, will give the opening remarks, followed by discussions between SCO national security advisers and top officials.
  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is an intergovernmental organization established in 2001 and it comprises eight member states, namely, India, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • India joined SCO in 2017 and in 2022, India assumed the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Chairship for 2023.

Marburg virus disease outbreak

  • After 5 people died and 3 others were diagnosed with Marburg viral disease (MVD) at a local hospital, the leaders of Tanzania have declared the north-western Kagera region an epidemic zone.
  • Through contact tracing, the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that 161 people are at risk of contracting the virus.
  • Marburg virus disease is an epidemic-prone disease associated with high case-fatality rates (CFR 24-90%). It is caused by the same family of viruses (Filoviridae) as Ebola virus disease and is clinically similar.
  • Marburg virus infection often results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies.
  • It can spread through human-to-human transmission via direct contact with the blood, secretions or other body fluids of infected or deceased people.

Literary award to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

  • For his trilogy of books, which includes The Unfinished Memoirs, The Prison Diaries, and the New China 1952, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh received a one-of-a-kind literary award from the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL).

NPCI recommends PPI charges for UPI payments

  • A circular issued by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) states that for transactions exceeding Rs 2,000, merchants using Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPI) on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) will be subject to an interchange fee of 1.1%.
  • The interchange charges introduced are only applicable for the PPI merchant transactions and there is no charge to customers, and there are no charges for the bank account to bank account-based UPI payments.

Aliya Mir honoured with Wildlife Conservation Award 2023

  • Ms. Aaliya Mir, Education Officer and Programme Head, Jammu & Kashmir – Wildlife SOS, was felicitated with an award by the Department of Forest, Ecology and Environment of the Jammu & Kashmir government in recognition of her commendable efforts spanning diverse aspects of wildlife conservation.
  • She became the first woman from Jammu & Kashmir to receive an award for efforts towards wildlife conservation in the region.
  • The prestigious award was presented to her by Lt. Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Mr. Manoj Sinha, at an event organised for the occasion.