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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

08 Jan 2019


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Third Consecutive Term for Hassina

  •  Sheikh Hasina was sworn in as Bangladesh's Prime Minister for a record fourth term after her Awami League registered a landslide victory in the recent election.
  • President Md. Abdul Hamid administered the oath of office to Ms. Hasina at the Bangabhaban for a record third consecutive term. Ms. Hasina was first elected Prime Minister in 1996 and then again in 2008 and 2014.
  • The President then administered the oaths for the new Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers who will form the Cabinet.
  • Ms. Hasina, who had included representatives from the Awami League's allied parties in the previous cabinets, has not picked any of them in her new Cabinet.

Syria Pullout 

  •  President Donald Trump sought to end fears of an abrupt U.S. pullout from Syria, and said that the fight against the Islamic State group was not over and that withdrawal would be done in a prudent manner.
  • The President has come under withering pressure both at home and in allied capitals after previous statements indicating that he considered the IS group vanquished and that he wanted U.S. troops out of Syria imminently.
  • Mr. Trump's new statement follows a trip by his National Security Adviser John Bolton to Israel in which he told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the withdrawal would not happen before the ISIS is defeated and not able to revive itself.

UK Visas Get Costlier

  •  The overall cost of a UK visa for Indian and non-EU citizens will rise from January 8 as part of plans to raise the immigration health surcharge (IHS), which is payable when students, professionals and family members apply for the visa.
  • The IHS, introduced in 2015, enables migrants to access the National Health Service (NHS) during their stay in the UK. Since 2015, the surcharge has raised over £600 million from Indian and non-EU citizens with UK visas valid for over six months.
  • The surcharge will rise from £200 to £400 per year, with the discounted rate for students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme increasing from £150 to £300.
  • The hike will affect all visa applicants from India: professionals, students as well as family members. 


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Gruh Finance to Merge with Bandhan Bank

  •  HDFC arm Gruh Finance will be merged with Bandhan Bank. The move would help the latter to cut promoter stake from 82.3% to 61%.
  • According to the deal, 568 equity shares of face value of Rs. 10 each of Bandhan Bank is to be issued for every 1,000 equity shares of a face value of Rs. 2 each of Gruh.
  • The deal is subject to regulatory approvals. The swap ratio implies a 2.05% premium to the shareholders of Gruh. The combined entity is valued at Rs. 84,000 crore.
  • Post the deal, HDFC will have 14.9% stake in Bandhan Bank. According to norms, any entity will need to take RBI approval for holding more than 10% stake in a bank.

Essar Global Repays Loans

  •  Essar Global Fund Ltd. , the holding company for the Essar group of companies, repaid a debt of Rs. 12,000 crore to its various Indian and foreign lenders.
  • This is in addition to the Rs. 30,000 crore that it had repaid in August 2017 to various lenders.
  • Essar Global has now repaid approximately Rs. 6,300 crore to ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.
  • With this, these banks have been repaid their entire facility of Rs. 31,500 crore. The loans had been provided to Essar Global to fund its capital expenditure programme between 2008 and 2014.
  • The only continuing lender to Essar Global now is VTB.

IDBI Bank Ratings off CreditWatch

  •  Global ratings agency S&P affirmed 'BB' long-term and 'B' short-term foreign currency issuer credit ratings on IDBI Bank, while removing them from CreditWatch, after the capital infusion from LIC.
  • The bank announced it had received Rs. 14,500 crore in fresh capital from LIC on December 28.
  • This is part payment for LIC's proposed acquisition of  5% controlling stake in the bank.
  • The total infusion is likely to be Rs. 17,000-20,230 crore, more than the bank's total capital of Rs. 13,860 crore as of September 30, 2018.

Direct Tax Collections Up

  •  According to the Finance Ministry, direct tax mop-up grew 14.1% to Rs. 8.74 lakh crore during April-December 2018.
  • Refunds amounting to Rs. 1.3 lakh crore have been issued from April to December, 2018, which is 17% higher than refunds issued in the year-earlier period.
  • The provisional figures of direct tax collections up to December, 2018 show that gross collections are at Rs. 8.74 lakh crore which is 14.1% higher than the gross collections for the corresponding period of last year.

Lupin Got USFDA Nod

  •  Drug maker Lupin received approval from the U.S. health regulator to market Lurasidone Hydrochloride tablets in the U.S.
  • The firm can sell its product, which is a generic version of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s Latuda tablets, in strengths of 20 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg and 120 mg. 


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Robots for Health Care and Retail Stores

  •  Samsung Electronics Co. showed off robots at the CES technology conference in Las Vegas, including one for retail stores and another in the health care space.
  • The Bot Care can measure blood pressure and heart rate, detect falls and administer medicine.
  • The Bot Retail communicates with consumers in stores, while the Bot Air robot detects air quality. Samsung didn't say when it intends to release the robots or how they would be priced.


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AGP Quits Assam Coalition

  •  Mr. Mahanta said that the party would step up opposition to the anti-Assam Bill and fight for the proper implementation of the Assam Accord.
  • The Accord, signed in 1985, had ended a six-year agitation against illegal migrants.
  • The announcement was made by AGP president and Agriculture Minister Atul Bora in New Delhi, who said that he saw no point in continuing with the alliance.
  • The row over the Citizenship Bill had put a strain on the relationship between the AGP and BJP, seen as natural allies with Congress as the common enemy.
  • The AGP was under pressure from student organisations and NGOs to pull out as the Bill was against the very issue, saving Assam from illegal migrants, it was formed to uphold.


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Sale of BrahMos Cruise Missile

  •  India is exploring the possibility of selling the BrahMos cruise missile to Indonesia, and a team from the Indo-Russian joint venture that makes the weapon system visited a state-run shipyard in Surabaya last year to assess the fitting of the missile on Indonesian warships.
  • Besides the BrahMos, India has offered to supply coastal defence radars and marine grade steel to Indonesia and to service the Russian-made Su-30 combat jets flown by the Indonesian air force as part of efforts to deepen bilateral defence and military cooperation. 

Riot Gear for Women Officers

  •  A riot gear for women police personnel and paramilitary officers, taking into account their different bodily measurements has been designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • The suit, dubbed to be the "first of its kind", was displayed in Jalandhar at an exhibition organised on the sidelines of 106th Indian Science Congress, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The gear, made using a novel fire and acid resistant material that DRDO is in the process of patenting, comes in three sizes--small, medium and large. 
  • The new suits also provide protection against blunt impact.


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Jim Yong Kim to Step Down

  •  World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced that he would step down next month, more than three years before his current term was due to expire.
  • The decision ends Mr. Kim's six-year tenure and may give U.S. President Donald Trump decisive influence over the future leadership of the global development lender.
  • Mr. Kim became President in 2012.
  • World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva will serve as interim President.

Deepak Sawant Resigned

  •  Failing to get re-elected to either of the two Houses, Public Health Minister Deepak Sawant tendered his resignation.
  • Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has handed over the additional charge of Sawant's portfolio to Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde, the Public Works Department (public utilities) Minister.
  • Sawant's term as a member representing the Mumbai division's graduates constituency in the Maharashtra legislative council ended in July 2018.
  • He had six months to get re-elected to the lower or the upper house of the state legislature.

Gita Gopinath Joins IMF

  •  Gita Gopinath has joined International Monetary Fund as its chief economist. She is the first woman to occupy the top IMF post.
  • Gopinath succeeded Maurice (Maury) Obstfeld as Economic Counsellor and Director of the IMF's Research Department. Obstfeld retired December 31.


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Book 'Newspaper English' Released

  •  'Newspaper English', a book on lucid journalistic writing was released by Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan, vice chairman of University Grants Commission.
  • The book has been authored by Kiran Thakur.
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