Daily GK Updates 20th & 21st March 2016, Important Current Affairs

1. 21 March: International Day of Forests

Every year 21st March is being observed as International Day of Forests to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests. 
ii. The observance of the day is also used to communicate the vital role forests play in to sustain and protect us i.e. in environmental sustainability, food security and poverty eradication. 
iii. Theme for 2016: “Forests and water”. The theme highlights importance of forests as key factor to the planet’s supply of freshwater, which is essential for life. It also marks the joint celebration of the International Day of Forests and World Water Day (22nd March).

2. HS Prannoy wins 2016 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold badminton title

i. Ace Indian shuttler HS Prannoy (World no 13) has won the prestigious 2016 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament in the men’s single category.
ii.  In the final match played at Basel, Switzerland, he defeated Marc Zwiebler (World no 7) of Germany 21-18, 21-15 score. It was his second Grand Prix Gold title after the Indonesia Open Grand Prix Gold won in 2014.
iii. Women’s Single: He Bingjiao from China won the title by defeating Wang Yihan from China by 21-16, 21-10 score. 
iv. Men’s Doubles: Denmark pair of Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen won the title by defeating Chinese Taipei pair of Lee Sheng-mu and Tsai Chia-hsin by 21-15 and 21-8 score. 
v. Women’s Doubles: Japanese pair of Shizuka Matsuo and Mami Naito won the title by defeating Japanese pair of Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao by 21-16, 12-21 and 21-12 score.
vi.  Mixed Doubles: Chinese pair of Wang Yilu and Chen Qingchen won the title by defeating Thailand pair of Bodin Issara and Savitree Amitrapai by 21-19, 16-21 and 15-21 score.

3. Yogeshwar Dutt wins Gold medal in Asian Olympic Qualification tournament

i. Star Indian grappler Yogeshwar Dutt has won a Gold medal in the Asian Olympic Qualification tournament in the 65 kg freestyle category. 
ii. In the final match held at Astana in Kazakhstan, he defeated Katai Yeerlanbieke from China in the 65 kg freestyle category. With this victory he secured an Olympic quota place for India. 
iii. He is second Indian wrestler after Narsingh Yadav to secure berth in the 74 kg freestyle category for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In the 2012 London Olympics, Yogeshwar had won bronze in men’s 60kg freestyle category. 
iv. But later he had moved up to 65kg category after the international governing body FILA had re-jigged the weight classes at the end of 2013.

4. March 20: World Sparrow Day

i. The world sparrow day is being observed every year on March 20 to raise awareness of the house sparrow and other common birds to urban environments and threats to their populations. 
ii. The day was celebrated globally by carrying out different activities and events like awareness campaigns, art competitions and the sparrow processions. 
iii. The rationale for celebrating the Day is to use it as a platform to underscore the need to conserve sparrows as well as the urban biodiversity.
iv.  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on the occasion of this day inaugurated a sparrow conservation programme at school levels.
v.  The sparrow, especially the common house sparrow is one of the oldest companions of human beings. But its population is declining for various reasons such as destruction of its habitat, lack of insect food for the young and the increasing microwave pollution from mobile phone towers.

5. EU, Turkey Agreement to tackle migrant crisis comes into effect

i. The agreement between the European Union (EU) and Turkey to tackle the migrant crisis has formally come into effect. Under this agreement, migrants arriving in Greece will be sent back to Turkey if their asylum claim is rejected.
ii. All irregular migrants into Greece crossing from Turkey from 20 March 2016 will be sent back. Henceforth migrants’ arrival will be individually assessed by the Greek authorities.
iii. The EU will resettle Syrian migrant for each Syrian returned to Turkey. In this case priority will be given to those who have not tried to illegally enter the EU.
iv. By June 2016, it will be mandatory for Turkish nationals to have access to the Schengen passport-free zone. It will not be applicable to non-Schengen countries like Britain.
v. The EU is to speed up the allocation of €3 billion ($3.3 billion) in aid to Turkey to help migrants’ crisis.
vi. Both signatory sides have agreed to re-energise Turkey’s bid to join the European Union (EU) bloc. In this regard formal talks will begin in July, 2016.

6. ICC suspends Bangladesh bowlers Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny for illegal bowling action

i. The International Cricket Council (ICC) has suspended Bangladesh bowlers Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny for bowling with an illegal action with an immediate effect. 
ii. They were suspended after independent assessments have found that their bowling actions of is illegal. Their international suspensions will also be recognized and enforced by all the members for domestic cricket events played in their own jurisdiction.
iii.  The assessments were performed at the ICC-accredited testing centre at the Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai. In the assessment it was found that Sunny’s (left-arm spinner) elbow extension for a majority of his deliveries exceeded the 15 degrees level of tolerance permitted under the ICC Regulations. Taskin’s (pace spearhead) most of the deliveries were also found illegal.

7. Earth Hour 2016 observed across the World on 19 March 2016

i. The tenth edition of World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF’s) Earth Hour was observed across the World on 19 March 2016 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time. Earth Hour 2016 encouraged people to explore and adopt a cleaner and more sustainable lifestyle by embracing renewable energy solutions.
ii. In the 2016 edition of Earth Hour, millions of people around the world took part in the event for the global climate change awareness campaign. 
iii. Over 178 countries and territories participated in the event and more than 1,200 landmarks along with 40 UNESCO world heritage sites observed the Earth Hour. 
iv. For India, the country-specific theme was to encourage usage of solar energy by individuals and organizations. 
v. Paris’s iconic Eiffel Tower, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and Hong Kong’s famed skyline also participated in the Earth Hour by switching off their lights for 1 hour from 8:30pm local time. In India, Rashtrapati Bhavan also participated by switching off lights for 1 hour.

8. Tikka Shatrujit Singh knighted with Knight of the Legion of Honour

i. Tikka Shatrujit Singh (54), the royal scion of Kapurthala’s Ahluwalia dynasty, has been conferred with the prestigious Knight of the Legion of Honour by the French Government. 
ii. He was presented with this honour by the French ambassador to India Francois Richier in a ceremony held in New Delhi. He was bestowed with this prestigious award for his extraordinary work in the exchanging the French lifestyle and Indian culture with each other.

9. S Sridhar appointed as MD of Pfizer India

i. Pfizer India has appointed S Sridhar as the managing director (MD) of the company. His appointment will be subject to approval of the company’s shareholders at the annual general meeting. S Sridhar is a chartered accountant by profession and has over 20 years of experience. 
ii. Earlier he had served Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Pfizer India for a period of seven years. He had concurrently led the Pfizer India’s distribution function for three years. 
iii. Prior to this appointment he was heading Pfizer’s anti-infective, cardio-vascular and ophthalmology business. Before joining Pfizer, Sridhar has worked as finance director of Diageo India. He had also worked on the board of Wyeth Limited.

10. Modi: No change in reservation policy

i. Making it clear that there will be no change in the reservation policy for Dalits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asserted that nobody can snatch their right even as he accused his opponents of spreading “untruths” on the issue.
ii. The Prime Minister also compared Constitution architect B R Ambedkar to Martin Luther King who had fought for the rights of blacks.
iii. Delivering the Ambedkar Memorial Lecture here, Modi said, “Nothing has ever happened to the reservation for Dalits, tribals, when we are in power but still lies are being spread to mislead people. “When Vajpayeeji became PM, a campaign was run saying reservation will be abolished. He was the Prime Minister for two terms and nothing of that sort happened.
iv. “BJP has ruled in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Haryana for many years and the quota policy never suffered a scratch. Yet untruths are being spread. People, who are only interested in doing politics, fail to come out of it,” Modi said.


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