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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

05 Jan 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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US Shutdown Continues

  •  In a sign of how far apart Republicans and Democrats remained on the border wall funding, the White House has announced that President Donald Trump will even not sign the bills that the newly constituted Democratic-controlled House of Representatives had passed for the reopening of the shuttered federal agencies.
  • According to a statement by the White House, if either of the two legislative measures "were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend that he veto the bill", hours before the House passed two separate legislative measures to end the partial shutdown and reopen the affected departments.

Norway Sees India as a Key Partner

  •  According to Norwegian ambassador Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, Norway sees India as a key partner for upholding international law and norms as part of a rules-based order for sea lanes of communication and sea-based trade.
  • Speaking ahead of the first visit to India by a Norwegian premier in a decade, Kamsvag said that there is considerable potential for boosting bilateral trade from the current level of $1.2 billion.
  • India could particularly benefit from Norway's development of environment-friendly technologies in transport, construction and waste recycling.
  • Norway is very much dependent on trade and has the fifth biggest merchant fleet. It is very much dependent on international law and norms being upheld. 

Peace Treaty with Russia

  •  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to push forward towards a World War Two peace treaty with Russia, which has been stymied for decades by a territorial row, during a summit in Russia later this month.
  • Abe will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for discussions aimed at ending the row over a group of windswept islands seized by Soviet troops in the final days of the war. 
  • As per Abe, reaching an agreement would be difficult, he wanted to make as much progress as possible.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Customer Liability in Fraudulent PPI Transactions Limited

  •  The Reserve Bank of India has decided to limit the liability of customers in case of unauthorised electronic payment transactions in Prepaid Payment Instruments (PPIs) issued by non-banks.
  • Under new norms on customer liability, frauds due to third-party breach where neither the customer nor the PPI issuer is at fault, there cannot be any liability for the customer, in case the incident is reported within three days.
  • If the fraud is reported between three and seven days, customer liability will amount to the transaction value or Rs. 10,000, whichever is lower.
  • For over seven days, the liability of the customer will be according to the board-approved policy of the PPI issuer.

PMI Slipped in December

  •  According to the Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index, service sector activity expanded strongly in December, albeit with a marginally lower reading than in the previous month.
  • Despite falling to 53.2 in December, from 53.7 mid-quarter, the seasonally adjusted Nikkei India Services Business Activity Index pointed to an expansion in sector output that was among the strongest recorded in the past two years.
  • The figure contributed to the highest quarterly average seen since Q4 FY 2015-16.

Norms for Commodity Exchanges

  •  Commodity derivatives exchanges will now have to disclose the quantum of trading done by farmers and other commodity market participants like millers and wholesalers on the exchange platform, as the capital market regulator has tweaked the disclosure norms for such bourses.
  • In a circular issued, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) directed commodity bourses to disclose the open interest and turnover of various categories of participants like farmers, farmers producer organisations (FPOs), value chain participants, proprietary traders, foreign participants, and domestic financial institutional investors.
  • Value chain participants include processors, commercial users like dal and flour millers, importers, exporters, physical market traders, stockists, cash and carry participants, producers and wholesalers among others.

Telcos Fined for Call Drops

  •  Financial disincentives of about Rs. 58 lakh were imposed on telecom companies, including Idea and BSNL, for not complying with the benchmark to measure the drop call rate.
  • These penalties were imposed during the six-month period from January 2018 to June 2018.
  • As per the latest report of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for the quarter ending September 2018, all telecom services providers are complying with drop call rate (DCR) benchmarks despite rapid increase in traffic volume and more stringent benchmarks, except Idea in Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and North East; and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in West Bengal.

Indonesian Ship Brings Cargo

  •  An Indonesian cargo vessel from Aceh, laden with 150 tonne commercial goods, docked at Port Blair in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, marking the first step in an effort to forge business connectivity between the two regions.
  • The voyage by the vessel is part of the implementation of the "Statement on Shared Vision of India-Indonesia Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific" by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joko Widodo during the Indian leader's visit to Indonesia last May.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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Chinese Lunar Rover Named As Yutu 2

  •  China has named the lunar rover, successfully deployed to carry out a string of experiments on the unexplored far side of the moon, as 'Yutu 2'.
  • Analysts say that China's lunar probe is part of its 'Made in China-2025' project, which focuses on advanced technology, including space applications.

SPORTS

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Rishabh Pant Scripted History

  •  India's Rishabh Pant scripted history by becoming the first wicket-keeper from the country as well as the first Asian wicket-keeper to score a century in Australia during the fourth and final Test between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
  • Pant has also become the second-highest scorer in the ongoing series in Australia, surpassing skipper Virat Kohli's 282 runs.
  • He now only trails Cheteshwar Pujara, who fell just seven runs short of a double ton in the Sydney Test to amass a total of 521 runs so far. 

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Women MPs Push for Quota

  •  Women members in the Rajya Sabha urged the government to ensure the passage of the women's reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha.
  • The Bill, which proposes a 33% reservation for women in Parliament and State legislatures, was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 but has been stuck in the Lower House for nine years.
  • The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, commonly known as the women's reservation Bill, needs to be approved by the Lok Sabha in order to become law.

DEFENCE

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Mother of All Bombs Tested

  •  China has tested its most powerful non-nuclear weapon, dubbed as "Mother of All Bombs" by official media in a reference to a U.S. munition used in Afghanistan.
  • The bomb, whose strength is only second to that of a nuclear weapon was dropped by a Chinese H-6K bomber.
  • According to military analyst Wei Dongxu, the bomb is five to six metres long, but weighs less than the American version.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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The Next Secretary of Defence

  •  US President Donald Trump is reportedly considering appointing former Secretary of the Navy, James Webb, as the next Secretary of Defence.
  • Webb will be replacing James Mattis, who resigned from the post in December last year, citing differences with Trump on major defence policies.
  • Webb, a former Democrat Senator from Virginia may be asked to overlook the US troop exit from Syria and Afghanistan, if appointed to the post.
  • Currently, Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive has been overlooking operations at the Pentagon as the acting US Secretary of Defence.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award

  •  S. Vijay Kumar, Senior Deputy Editor with The Hindu in Chennai was presented the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for Investigative Reporting (Print category).
  • The award for Investigative Reporting in the broadcast category was won by Anand Kumar Patel of India Today TV.
  • The awards for Political Reporting went to Brajesh Rajput of ABP News Network and Sushant Kumar Singh of the Indian Express.
  • M. Gunasekaran with News18 Tamil Nadu (broadcast) and Nishant Dattaram Sarwankar and Sandeep Ashok Acharya both with Loksatta (print) bagged the awards in the Regional Languages category.
  • The awards in the Environmental Reporting category were presented to Sushil Chandra Bahuguna of NDTV and Sandhya Ravishankar of the online magazine The Wire.
  • Awards were presented to 29 journalists across India in various categories.
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