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General Awareness - Top Stories

28 Dec 2018


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Zardari to Face Travel Ban

  •  Pakistan announced that it would ban former President Asif Ali Zardari from travelling abroad following allegations of money laundering, as the nation marked 11 years since his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated.
  • According to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Mr. Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur were among 172 people involved in cases of money laundering and use of fake bank accounts. 

Kathmandu's Historic Dharahara Tower

  •  Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone for the reconstruction of the historic Dharahara Tower in the heart of Kathmandu which was destroyed during the 2015 earthquake.
  • A joint venture of Chinese company GIETC and a local firm has won the contract to rebuild the 22-storeyed structure.

UAE to Reopen Its Embassy in Damascus

  •  The United Arab Emirates is set to reopen its embassy in Damascus. This move will mark a big diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad from an Arab state that once supported his opponents.
  • The embassy has been shut since the early months of the Syrian conflict which erupted in 2011.
  • The United Arab Emirates was one of several regional states that backed groups fighting Assad, though its role was less prominent than Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey. 


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PSBs to Receive Rs. 28,615 crore from Centre

  •  The government is likely to infuse Rs. 28,615 crore into seven public sector banks (PSBs) through recapitalisation bonds by the end of this month.
  • The amount infused will help the banks meet regulatory capital requirement.
  • Some of the banks are Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Bank of Maharashtra, UCO Bank and United Bank of India.

GAVS Eyes $200 mn Revenue

  •  GAVS Technology will mainly take the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) route to achieve a revenue of $200 million in three years.
  • Currently, the company is in talks with a couple of companies and the first deal involving a U.S. firm will be completed by March end 2019.
  • Based in Chennai, GAVS is a digital transformation company with focus on artificial intelligence, predictive analytics and robotics-led enterprise solutions and services.

L&T Construction Bagged Orders

  •  Larsen & Toubro's (L&T) construction arm has won orders worth Rs. 2,357 crore. L&T's water and effluent treatment and transportation infrastructure business had secured an order worth Rs. 1,281 crore from APCRDA.
  • The firm's water and effluent treatment business had also secured orders worth Rs. 1,076 crore from the Madhya Pradesh Jal Nigam Maryadit (MPJNM).

NIC Rating Downgraded

  •  ICRA has downgraded the long-term rating for National Insurance Company Limited's (NIC) subordinated debt programme to AA from AA+ due to weak underwriting performance.
  • The rating takes into account NIC's continued weak underwriting performance driven by a high combined ratio, resulting in pressure on profitability, and the high portfolio concentration in the motor and health segments, leading to a weak solvency ratio below the regulatory minimum.


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Google to Shift Messages Web App

  •  As per reports, Google is planning to shift its Messages web app, which allows users to manage SMS/MMS messages on their phone from another device, from to
  • According to, the move is seen as Google's plan to minimise the use of the word 'Android'.
  • The Android Messages web app has long been hosted at the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of ''.
  • But in the coming weeks, the service could be shifted to ''. 


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AFC Asian Cup Squad Named

  •  The Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine announced the final 23-member squad for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
  • India has been drawn in Group A along with host UAE, Thailand and Bahrain.
  • The Blue Tigers will play their first match against Thailand on January 6, 2019, followed by the face-off with UAE and Bahrain on Jan. 10 and Jan. 14.

Rahul Dravid's Overseas Record Broken

  •  Indian skipper Virat Kohli snapped former captain Rahul Dravid's long-standing record of most runs scored by an Indian in a calendar year overseas.
  • Scoring 82 on day two of the third Test against Australia, Kohli now has 1,138 runs to his name. Dravid held the record for scoring 1,137 runs in Tests away from home in 2002.
  • Besides Kohli and Dravid, Mohinder Amarnath notched up 1,065 runs in 1983 while Sunil Gavaskar had scored 918 runs in 1971 to make the top four in the list.


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Plastic Ban in Tamil Nadu

  •  A ban on plastic, sparing a few products such as packaged foods, will come into force across Tamil Nadu on New Year's Day after the Madras High Court dismissed a petition challenging the order.
  • A vacation bench comprising justices S. Vaidyanathan and P. T. Asha dismissed a legal challenge brought by the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Plastics Manufacturers Association, clearing the decks for the ban.
  • The judges also suggested a total ban on all sorts of plastic.

Niti Aayog's Achiever District List

  •  The NITI Aayog released the second delta ranking of the districts of the country reflecting the incremental progress made by them between June and October with Tamil Nadu's Virudhunagar emerging as the top performer.
  • As per the think-tank, the districts have been ranked on parameters including health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources, financial inclusion and skill development and basic infrastructure.
  • Nuapada in Odisha, Siddharthnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Aurangabad in Bihar and Koraput in Odisha were ranked from 2nd to 5th respectively on top performers' list.
  • In its first such ranking released in June, Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara came at the bottom while Gujarat's Dahod topped the chart in terms of improvement made by them.

Portfolios in Rajasthan Cabinet

  •  The newly inducted Ministers in Rajasthan were allocated portfolios by Governor Kalyan Singh on the advice of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
  • Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot was given the portfolios of Public Works, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. Various departments were distributed among the 13 Cabinet Ministers and 10 Ministers of State.
  • According to the orders issued by the Cabinet Secretariat, Mr. Gehlot has been allocated Finance, Home and Justice, Excise, Planning, Policy Formulation, Personnel, General Administration and Information Technology departments and the State Bureau of Investigation. 

Six Months Extension to Complete NRC Updation

  •  The Centre has given an extension of six months to complete the ongoing exercise for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by June 30.
  • On December 6, 2013, the government had issued the first notification setting a deadline of three years for completion of the entire NRC process.
  • However, since then, five extensions were given by the government in regular intervals as the exercise has not yet been completed.


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The S-400 Air Defence System Successfully Tested

  •  China has successfully tested the advanced S-400 air defence system imported from Russia.
  • It was the first time the People's Liberation Army (PLA) tested the system since it received the last shipments of the weaponry from Russia in July under a USD 3 billion contract signed in 2015.
  • S-400 is known as Russia's most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.


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 Triple Talaq Bill Cleared

  •  The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2018 was passed by the Lower House with 245 MPs voting in favour and 11 opposing it.
  • The Congress legislators, the AIADMK, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Samajwadi Party MPs walked out.
  • The Centre now faces an uphill task in pushing the bill through the Upper House, where the NDA doesn't have a majority. 
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