Current Affairs of 8th March 2016

1. Budget proposal to tax EPF withdrawn
1. Bowing to all round attack, especially from the salaried middle class, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday announced the withdrawal of Budget proposal on the controversial Employee Provident Fund (EPF) tax.
2. Jaitley however said that the 40 per cent exemption accorded to National Pension System (NPS) in this year's Budget at withdrawal stage would remain.
3. The 2016-17 Budget had proposed to bring 60 per cent of the EPF monies to tax at the withdrawal stage if the subscriber opts not to invest these monies in annuity plan.
4. This had stirred a controversy with many among the salaried class contending that such a proposal was a harsh one given that EPF monies were currently tax exempt at all three stages of contribution, accumulation and withdrawal..

2. South Korea, US began largest ever military exercises
1. The US and South Korean troops began their largest ever military exercises off the coast of the Korean peninsula. The bilateral exercises come just days after the UN passed new sanctions against Pyongyang, North Korea following its recent nuclear test and rocket launch.
2. The 8-week long drill will involve about 300000 South Korean troops and 15000 US personnel. These are being conducted near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas and off the eastern coast of South Korea.
3. Drills will include ground, air, naval and Special Operations components apart from the computer-simulated training.

3. Union Government launched online marketing platform Mahila e-Haat
1. Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Sanjay Gandhi  launched Mahila e-Haat portal in New Delhi.
2. The Mahila e-Haat portal,, is an online marketing platform. It will provide access to markets to thousands of women who make products and are spread all over the country.
3. Features of Mahila e-Haat
• It is a unique initiative since this is the first time that the government will help women to sell products online.
•  It allows women entrepreneurs to leverage technology for showcasing products made or manufactured or sold by women entrepreneurs. This facility is also available to services, like tailoring, also.
• The product, along with photograph description, cost and mobile no./address of the participants will be displayed on the e-Haat enabling direct contact between sellers/service providers and buyers.

4. Sri Lanka Cricket Board constituted Arvinda de Silva-led National Cricket Selection Panel
1. Sri Lankan Cricket Board (SLCB)  constituted a new National Cricket Selection Panel headed by former cricketer Arvinda de Silva. Other members of the panel are Kumar Sangakkara (retired from international cricket recently), Romesh Kaluwitharana, Lalith Kaluperuma and Ranjith Madurasinghe.
2. The panel will succeed the Kapila Wijegunawardena-headed selection committee which was appointed in April 2015. Wijegunawardena selection panel was sacked by Sri Lankan board ahead of the 2016 ICC World T20, which will begin with the qualifiers on 8 March 2016 in India.
3. They were sacked in the wake of the national team’s poor performances in the just-concluded Asia Cup in Bangladesh and the preceding bilateral series in India. In January 2016, Sri Lanka had also lost its No 1 ICC Twenty20 ranking after they lost to New Zealand.

5. Indian Railways forms SPV to execute Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project
1. Indian Railways has formed a new Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to implement the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Bullet Train project. The entity has been named the National High Speed Rail Corporation (NHSRC) Limited.
2. The high speed bullet rain project aims to introduce trains running at operating speeds over 320 kilometers per hour and maximum speed of 350kmph. 
3. The bullet train project is expected to cover the 5O8 kilometers between Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat). It will cover the journey distance in about two hours from current seven hours to cover the same distance.

6. Telangana, Maharashtra ink MoU for five irrigation projects
1. Telangana and Maharashtra Governments have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) to set up an inter-state water board construct 5 barrages across Godavari and Pen Ganga rivers. 
2. The MoU was signed at a high level meeting held in Mumbai in which Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took part.

7. Maria Sharapova provisionally suspended after failing drugs test at Australian Open
1. Former world number one female tennis player Maria Sharapova (28) from Russia has revealed that she failed a drugs test at the Australian Open. Due to this failure the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has provisionally suspended her till further action from Tennis for violating Anti-Doping Rule.
2.  She has been tested positive for meldonium, a substance that has been added in the forbidden list by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on 1 January 2016. The Russian star tested positive for meldonium, a substance, she has been taking since 2006 for health issues. 
3. She had provided the anti-doping sample day after she had lost to Serena Williams (United States) in the Australian Open quarter finals.

8. MoEFCC releases Four Colour Classification Scheme for industries based on Pollution Index
1. The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has released a new Four-colour Classification Scheme for industries based on their pollution potential. 
2. The four-colour classification scheme of industrial sectors based on the Pollution Index (PI) which is a function of the (i) Emissions (air pollutants) (ii) Effluents (water pollutants) (iii) hazardous wastes generated and (iv) Consumption of resources.
Based on the on ‘Range of Pollution Index‘, industrial sectors have been categorised into four colours category. 
Under the new categorisation system, 
Red category: PI score of 60 and above. These are severe polluting industries. Total 60 industries including sugar, thermal power plants, paints and others are under in it. 
Orange category: PI score of 41 to 59. They moderately polluting industries. Total 83 industries like coal, washeries and automobile servicing are placed under it. 
Green category: PI score of 21 to 40. They are significantly low polluting industries. Total 63 industries are under in it. 
White category: PI score below and upto 20. They are non-polluting industries. Total 30 industries are under in it. These industries are exempted from requirement of environmental clearance.

9. International Women's Day observed with campaign theme #PledgeForParity
1. International Women's Day was observed across the world on 8 March 2016. This year's theme for the Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. The campaign theme for the day is #PledgeForParity.
2. United Nations observance and the idea of this theme reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals.
3. The special focus is on Goal Number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls; and Goal Number 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.