16th March 2016

A.ICICI Bank launches NFC-based contactless mobile payment solution Touch & Pay

1.India’s largest private sector lender ICICI Bank has launched new contactless mobile payment solution Touch & Pay based on Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. 

2.The payment solution will enable the bank’s credit and debit customers to make in-store contactless payments by waving their smartphones near an NFC-enabled merchant terminal. 

3.With this, ICICI Bank becomes first financial institution in the country to leverage the Host Card Emulation technique which creates virtual cards for physical debit or credit cards of the bank. 

4.On every payment done using this service at a merchant store, one-use unique token will be generated by the Bank’s server which will be sent via encryption to the merchant in order to ensure security of the card details. 

5.Touch & Pay facility will be available at the end of March 2016 at more than 60000 merchants across the country. It will be also incorporated into the existing Pockets application of the bank. 

About Near Field Communication (NFC) technology 
NFC is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology. It basically is a set of protocols that enable two electronic devices to establish radio data communication with each other by bringing them closer typically, 10 cm (4 inches) from each other.

B.UN suspends Maria Sharapova as Goodwill Ambassador after doping allegations

1.The United Nations (UN) has suspended Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova as Goodwill Ambassador of the organisation after she was tested positive on doping allegations. 

2.She was suspended by New York based UN Development Programme (UNDP) until the outcome of the investigation into her case is known. 

3.However, UNDP has mentioned that they are grateful to Maria Sharapova for her support to their work, especially around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster recovery. 

4.Earlier in March 2016, the five times Grand Slam champion and the highest-paid female athlete Maria Sharapova had announced that she tested positive for a drug called meldonium, at the Australian Open earlier in January 2016. 

What is Meldonium? 
1.Meldonium also known as Mildronate is a medical drug given to patients suffering from heart and circulatory conditions for enhancing their physical capacity and mental function. 

2.Its use mainly leads to production more red blood cells (RBCs) in the body in order to increase oxygen supply to muscles for enhancing endurance. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had added the drug to the Prohibited List of 2016.

C.Union Government imposes anti-dumping duty on Plastic-Processing imports


1.Union Government has imposed anti-dumping duty of up to 44.7 per cent on import of plastic-processing machines from Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam for five years.


2.The anti-dumping duty will be levied on imports of all kinds of plastic-processing or injection-moulding machines, also known as injection presses. 


3.The move is aimed at protecting the domestic industry from cheap in-bound shipments from these 4 countries. 

Background 
The Directorate General of Anti-dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) during its investigation had found that the cheap in-bound shipments of ‘Plastic Processing Machines or Injection Moulding Machines’ from these countries at dumped prices are hampering performance of the domestic industries. 

What are Anti-dumping measures? 
1.These are taken to ensure fair trade and provide a level-playing field to the domestic industry. 

2.They are not a measure to restrict imports or cause an unjustified increase in cost of products. 

D.Haryana New Secretariat Building gets first Earthquake Warning System in country

1.Haryana’s New Secretariat Building in Chandigarh has become first building in the country to have an early Earthquake Warning and Security system (onsite). 

2.The system was installed by New Delhi based Terra Techcom Private Limited and Secretary Electronics GmbH, Germany. 

Key facts 
1.The system can provide crucial seconds for evacuation in event of an earthquake and is already being used in 26 countries around the world. 

2.It works on the principle of detection of primary and secondary seismic waves of an earthquake. 

3.The primary waves are fastest kind of seismic wave and are the initial vertical movements beneath the earth that do not cause any damage. 

4.They are soon followed by secondary waves that travel beneath the earth horizontally and have the potential to cause damage. They are generally known to us as an earthquake.

15th March 2016


A.15 March: World Consumer Rights Day

1.Every year World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) is being observed on 15 March for celebration and solidarity within the international consumer movement. 

2.Significance of Day: 
It provides 
(i) an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers 
(ii) demand those rights that must be respected and protected and 
(ii) for those  protesting against the market abuses and social injustices. 

2016 Theme: “Antibiotics off the menu”. 
1.The theme is a campaign to stop the sale of meat raised with the use of antibiotics important to human medicine. 

2.It seeks to spread awareness about antibiotic resistance driven by overuse of antibiotics in agriculture to promote faster growth and to prevent diseases rather than treat diseases. 

About World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 
1.WCRD is observed on 15 March to commemorate the historic address given by the then US President John F Kennedy to the US congress in 1962. 

2.In his historic address he had outlined the definition of consumer rights for the first time. 

3.He was the first world leader to formally define ‘consumer rights’. The first WCRD was observed on 15 March 1983 and has since become an important occasion for mobilizing citizen action. 

B.Renowned British author Anita Brookner passes away

1.Renowned British author and art historian Anita Brookner passed away. She was 87.

2.Brookner had won the Booker in 1984 for her novel Hotel du Lac and was a bestselling author who had written around 25 books. 

About Anita Brookner 
1.Born on 16 July 1928 in London, United Kingdom. She was the first woman to hold the prestigious Slade Professorship of fine art at Cambridge University. 

2.She also taught at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Her first novel, A Start in Life was published in 1981 at the age of 53. 

Awards and Honours: 
She was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1990. She also had won James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 2010.

C.Indian scholar H Deep Saini appointed VC of Canberra University

1.Noted Indian scholar and plant physiologist H Deep Saini (60) has been appointed as the fifth Vice Chancellor of the prestigious University of Canberra, Australia. 

2.He will succeed Vice Chancellor Stephen Parker in September 2016 who will step down from the post in July 2016 after over nine years in the service. 

About H Deep Saini 
1.He is internationally experienced university leader and a notable plant physiologist. 

2.He had completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the Ludhiana based Punjab Agricultural University and doctorate (PhD) in plant physiology from the University of Adelaide. 

3.Currently he is serving as the Vice-President of the University of Toronto and Principal of the University of Toronto Mississauga campus in Canada. 

4.He has received a number of awards and honours including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

D.Union Government fixes Maximum Sale Price of Bt Cotton Seed

1.The Union Government has notified maximum sale price (MSP) of Bt cotton seed for the year 2016-17. 

2.It was announced by the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh. In this regard, Union Government has issued notification as per the Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015 under the Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. 

3.As per the notification Price of BG-I version of Bt cotton hybrid has been fixed at 635 rupees. Price of BG-II version of Bt cotton hybrid was fixed at 800 rupees. 

Background 
1.The MSP of Bt cotton seed for the year 2016-17 was notified based on the recommendation of nine-member committee set up by the Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry. 

2.It had fixed the MSP taking into consideration the seed value, trade margins licence fees including one-time and recurring royalty (trait value) and other taxes. 

3.The committee was constituted after it was found that multinational companies (MNCs) largely control the Bt cotton seed market in India and they were charging exorbitant prices that consequently was cause of concern for small and marginalized cotton growing farmers. 
E.More than 50 animal species critically endangered in India: Government

1.Union Government has announced that out of 96,000 animal species found in India more than 50 animals have been assessed as critically endangered (CR) and 310 as endangered (EN). 

2.It was announced by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

Key Facts
1.The assessment studies were conducted by Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) and it has recorded 96,000 species of animals from India. 

2.International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed 50 animal species as “critically endangered”. 

3.It includes 18 species of amphibians, 14 varieties of fish, 13 birds and 10 mammals. IUCN also has assessed 310 animal species as endangered that includes 69 fish, 38 mammals and 32 amphibians. 

F.ExoMars 2016 spacecraft successfully launched by Europe and Russia

1.An unmanned spacecraft named ExoMars 2016 was successfully launched jointly Europe and Russia to search for biosignatures on Mars (or Martian life) in past or present. 

2.The spacecraft was launched on a Proton-M rocket operated by Russia’s Roscosmos from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. 

3.ExoMars 2016 is the first of a two-phase of ExoMars (Exobiology on Mars) program.

About ExoMars program 
ExoMars program is an astrobiology mission of European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). 

Primary Goal: 
1.To address the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars. 

2.The program comprises two missions: 
ExoMars 2016 and ExoMars 2018. 
ExoMars 2016: It consists of the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) and Schiaparelli, an entry, descent and landing demonstrator module. 

3.Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO): Its sole purpose is to search (trace) evidence of methane (CH4) and other atmospheric gases that could be signatures of active biological or geological processes on Mars.

G.Htin Kyaw elected as first civilian President of Myanmar

1.Myanmar’s Parliament elected Htin Kyaw (69) as the first civilian (non-military) President of the country after 53 years of military rule. 

2.He was candidate of National League for Democracy (NLD) party and was elected after securing 360 of the total 652 casted votes. 

3.Military-nominated Myint Swe received 213 votes and stood second and was followed by the other NLD candidate, Henry Van Thio at third position who got 79 votes. 

4.They will serve as first vice-president and second vice-president of the country. 

About Htin Kyaw 
1.Htin Kyaw is a close aide and adviser of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who is the leader of NLD party that has majority in the parliament. 

2.He will replace Thein Sein as President who will step down at the end of March 2016 i.e. after end of five years of army-backed rule. 

3.He was born on 20 July 1946 and his father was a legendary writer and early member of the NLD. In a varied career, he had worked as a university teacher and also held positions in the Myanmar’s Ministry of Industry in the late 1970s and 1980s 

H.Mother Teresa to be canonised as Saint

1.Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic religious sister and missionary will be elevated to Sainthood i.e. will be made a saint of the Roman Catholic Church on September 4, 2016. 

2.In this regard, Pope Francis has approved a decree recognising a second miracle attributed to Mother Teresa’s intercession with God. 

3.Earlier in 2003, Mother Teresa was beatified by then late Pope John Paul. Beatification requires one miracle and is the last step before sainthood. 

4.The second miracle of Mother Teresa has been attributed to the intercession which is required for canonisation. 

5.It involved the inexplicable healing of a man who was suffering from a deadly brain disease.  

About Mother Teresa 
1.Mother Teresa was born as AnjezĂ« Gonxhe Bojaxhiu on 26 August 1910 in Skopje (Now in Macedonia) then part of the Kosovo Vilayet in the Ottoman Empire. 

2.She was the founder of Kolkata based Missionaries of Charity that helps poor on the streets of Kolkata. 

3.Through the charity organisation, she had spent around 45-years serving the poor, sick, orphaned and dying on the streets of Kolkata. She had died at the age of 87 in 1997 in Kolkata. 

Awards and Honours: 
Ramon Magsaysay Award (1962), Padma Shri (1962), Nobel Peace Prize (1979), Bharat Ratna (1980) etc. Canonisation Process T