National News- Daily Digest: 8 Key Updates

1. To end VIP culture, Punjab abolishes beacon lights

The Punjab cabinet decided to put an end to the VIP culture in the State, besides setting a Special Task Force (STF) to deal with the drug menace. It also formed a group of experts to assess the quantum of agriculture debt of farmers in the State. Beacon lights on all vehicles except emergency hospital, ambulance, fire brigade vehicles, the chief justice and the judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court would be abolished

2. Section 144 in Gurugram

With the Jats calling for a march towards Delhi on March 20, the Gurugram administration has imposed Section 144 across the district, prohibiting the assembly of five or more persons. Also, petrol pumps have been directed to not provide fuel to tractors in bulk. The order also prohibits tent shop owners and bamboo shop owners from providing tents to protesters without prior approval from the Sub-Divisional Magistrate.

3. Marking empowerment with ‘sindoor’

In a break with social customs on widowhood, an NGO in Telangana’s Warangal district arranged an ‘empowerment programme’ at which ‘sindoor’ was applied to the forehead of widows by women local body representatives and activists. The NGO, Bala Vikasa, wanted to send out a message against the stigma of applying ‘sindoor’-the vermilion mark-and also presented flowers to be worn by the widows.

4. First fully India-made suburban train makes debut

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu flagged off the first fully India-made suburban train ‘Medha’. The train will save foreign exchange worth ₹32 crore per rake along with 25% saving in the manufacturing cost. It can run at a maximum speed of 105 km per hour, and has been fitted with LED lights and GPS-based passenger information system.

5. Ten elephant corridors in Odisha viable for restoration

Ten of the 14 proposed elephant corridors identified to facilitate unhindered movement of jumbos and prevent their inbreeding have been found viable for restoration in Odisha.
Prof. Raman Sukumar has been roped in by the State government to prepare a management plan for elephant reserves, assess carrying capacity of forests with respect to elephant population and firm up an action plan for the future.

6. Maharashtra tables budget for 2017-18 with revenue deficit at Rs 4,511 cr

The government in Maharashtra presented its annual Budget for 2017-18, projecting a revenue deficit of Rs4,511 crore, up from Rs3,645 crore in 2016-17. In his speech, state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar proposed to raise Rs 396 crore through various tax proposals. The proposals include increase in value-added tax (VAT) on liquor to 25.93%, from 23.08%, and rise in lottery tax on weekly lotteries to Rs1 lakh from Rs70,000.

7. ICRISAT, ICAR join hands for crop improvement

In a bid to benefit small farmers in India and globally, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) would work together on crop improvement and agronomy programmes for grain legumes and dryland cereals.
ICAR and ICRISAT, recently signed an agreement in New Delhi, in which climate smart crops, smart food and digitalisation of breeding database were identified as some of the core areas of research. The ]other areas of focus over the next three years include – integrating systems modelling tools for upscaling climate resilient agriculture, developing genetic and genomic resources of finger millet and enhancing genetic gains for priority traits.

8. Punjab to provide 33% reservation for women in govt jobs

Punjab cabinet has decided to provide 33% reservation for women in all government jobs. The cabinet also decided to increase representation of women in the Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies from the present 33% to 50%.

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