- The fourth 'International Day of Forests' is being observed today.
- This day was initiated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and trees.
- As per the UN, around 1.6 billion people, including over 2,000 indigenous cultures, depend on forests for their livelihood.
- Theme for 2016 : Forests and water
- Today (21st March) is World Puppet Day.
- World Poetry Day is being observed today.
- This day was declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1999.
- The purpose of the day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world.
- World Down Syndrome Day is being observed today.
- International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination observed across the world today.
- On this day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid pass laws.
- Proclaiming the day in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
- China today agreed to build the first ever rail link to Nepal.
- The nations also signed a transit trade deal.
- The deal, and nine other agreements aimed at reducing landlocked Nepal's total dependence on India, were signed during Nepal PM KP Oli's China visit.
- This came after a nearly six-month long "unofficial blockade" due to Madhesi protests crippled Nepal.
- United States President Barack Obama is on a visit to Cuba.
- He is the first US President to visit the country in 88 years.
- Obama met Cuban President Raúl Castro today and discussed economic and democratic reforms.
- The National Food Security Act (NFSA) will be implemented in 10 more states from April 1 this year, said Union Minister of Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan today.
- Important Note : With this, the total number of states implementing NFSA will be 21.
- India has distributed scholarships to over 800 Bangladeshi students under the 'Muktijodha Scholarship Scheme'.
- Important Points to Note :
- The Indian Government in 2006 initiated the scholarship scheme to strengthen the historic legacy that both countries share in fighting and winning the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War against Pakistan.
- Under the scheme, descendants of freedom fighters get selected on merit basis to pursue undergraduate studies.
- It is estimated that over 9500 students have been benefited from the scheme so far.
- Under the scheme, more than 130 million takas have been distributed so far.
Places in News
- India's Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve has been added to UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserve among 20 new sites.
- Located in the Western Ghats, the site was established in 2001.
- It includes peaks reaching 1,868 metre above sea level and is home to 2,254 species of higher plants.
- Of the 18 biosphere reserves in India, nine are included in UNESCO's network.
- Former Prime Minister of Denmark Anker Joergensen (93) passed away.
- He served as the Prime Minister of the country from 1972 to 1973 and again from 1975 to 1982.
- Fashion designer Ritu Beri has been appointed as the advisor to the union government's statutory body Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) for promotion of khadi within India and globally.
- US President Barack Obama has decided to nominate Air Force General Lori J Robinson to lead all military forces in North America.
- With this move, she will be the first woman to lead a military combatant command.
Science & Technology
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched 'Kisan Suvidha' app for farmers to provide information on weather, market prices, seeds, fertilisers, crop protection and agricultural machinery.
- The app will also send extreme weather alerts to farmers.
- Market prices of commodities in the nearest market and the maximum price in state as well as India will also be available on the app.
- A new drug to treat multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), Bedaquiline, will be made available from today.
- Bedaquiline became the first TB drug to get a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in over 40 years.
- The drug will be available in six public hospitals across India.
- Important Note : India has the highest prevalence of TB in the world.
- Hockey India today announced the 18-member Indian Hockey team that will take part in the 25th edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
- While Sardar Singh will lead the team as Captain, SV Sunil will be supporting him as the Vice-Captain.
- Note : The tournament will be held in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia from 6 to 16 April.
- 'Bharat Kesri Dangal', a freestyle wrestling tournament, began in Gurgaon today.
- A total of 78 wrestlers will participate in the three-day competition, which is being organised by the Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs Department to commemorate the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.
- A total of 91 matches will be played for the ₹1 crore top prize.
- Akhilesh Das Gupta, the president of the Badminton Authority of India (BAI), announced a ₹5 lakh prize for HS Prannoy, who won the men's singles title at the Swiss Open in Basel on Saturday.
- Note : Prannoy, who won his career's second Grand Prix title at the Swiss Open, now has a chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
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