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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

09 Jan 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Vote on Bretix

  •  British MPs are set to hold a critical vote on January 15 on the Brexit agreement negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May with the European Union.
  • The House of Commons will resume a debate on the deal that was halted in December when Ms. May postponed the vote in the face of opposition.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Another Waiver from US Sanctions

  •  Iran expressed hope that India will seek another waiver from US sanctions to continue buying its crude oil, noting that it is the world's fastest-growing major economy's most reliable energy provider.
  • India in November last year won a six-month waiver to buy crude oil from Iran after it agreed to cut imports and escrow rupee payments.
  • Under the 180-day exemption, India is allowed to import a maximum of 3,00,000 barrels a day of crude oil.

India Will Remain the Fastest Growing Economy

  •  According to the World Bank, India's economy is forecast to expand by 7.5 per cent during the 2019-20 fiscal year and retain its position as the fastest growing major economy in a world of slowing growth.
  • The Bank`s Global Economic Prospects (GEP) latest report kept the forecasts made for India in its June report for the next fiscal year and the 7.3 per cent estimate for the current fiscal year, up from 6.7 per cent recorded in 2017-18.

Additional Fund Infusion

  •  As per a report, the government's decision to infuse Rs. 41,000 crore more capital into state-run banks is positive for these lenders as it will help them lower their losses on dud loans.
  • In December last year, the government had sought lawmakers' approval for infusion of an additional Rs. 41,000 crore, taking the total fund infusion to Rs. 1.06 trillion in FY19.
  • The current round of recapitalisation would enhance the lending capacity of these banks and help them come out of the Reserve Bank's prompt corrective action (PCA) framework.
  • As many as 11 of the total 21 state-run banks are under the PCA framework, which imposes lending restrictions on weak banks.
  • After the merger of Dena and Vijaya Bank with BoB, the number of public sector banks will come down to 19.
  • The 11 banks are Allahabad Bank, United Bank of India, Corporation Bank, IDBI Bank, Uco Bank, Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Dena Bank and Bank of Maharashtra. 

SPORTS

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International Cricket Council's 105th Member

  •  The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced USA Cricket as its 105th member. The development is a historical milestone for the governing body established in 2017 to unify and develop the cricket community in the United States following the expulsion of USACA.
  • As a Member of the ICC, USA Cricket is now eligible to receive funding in accordance with the ICC Development Funding Policy and can sanction domestic and international cricket in the United States.

Khelo India Youth Games 2019

  •  Uttar Pradesh's Mohammed Rafey and West Bengal's Prathista Samanta became the first gold medal winners of the Khelo India Youth Games 2019, emerging victorious in the men's and women's under-17 all-round artistic gymnastics events respectively in Pune.

DEFENCE

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China Deployed Cannons in Tibet along Border with India

  •  China has equipped its forces in Tibet, which has a long border with India, with new vehicle-mounted howitzers to improve combat capability at high altitudes.
  • It is the same cannon used by an artillery brigade during the 73-day Sino-India border standoff at Doklam (Donglang in Chinese), indicating that since then it has been inducted in high-altitude brigades on a wider scale in the border areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
  • The deployed weapon is said to be the rarely seen PLC-181 vehicle-mounted howitzer cannons, capable of firing and then rapidly changing positions.
  • It is said to be a new addition in the arsenal of the PLA ground forces (PLAGF).
  • The howitzer has 52-caliber cannon with a range of over 50 kilometres and shoots laser-guided and satellite-guided projectiles. It will boost the high-altitude combat capability of the PLA in Tibet. 

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Sabyasachi Bhattacharya Passed Away

  •  Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, one of Bengal's erudite academics, passed away.
  • A history professor at the JNU (1976-2003) and Vice-Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University (1991-1995), among other positions, Prof. Bhattacharya edited Indian Historical Review, co-published by the Indian Council of Historical Research.

Alok Verma Back

  •  Alok Verma, reinstated conditionally by the Supreme Court, will take charge as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director again.
  • His first act may be to rescind the transfer orders of some of his key people.

RBI Appointed Nandan Nilekani

  •  The Reserve Bank of India appointed Nandan Nilekani as chairman of the high-level committee to assess the digitisation of payments in India with a view to encourage digitisation of payments and enhance financial inclusion through digitisation.
  • The five-membered team will comprise other members – HR Khan, Former RBI Deputy Governor; Kishore Sansi, Former MD and CEO Vijaya Bank,  Aruna Sharma, Former Secretary, Ministry of Information Technology and Steel; and  Sanjay Jain, Chief Innovation Officer, Center for Innovation, Incubation & Entrepreneurship (CIIE), IIM Ahmedabad.
  • Nilekani along with the team will review the existing status of digitisation of payments in the country, identify the current gaps in the ecosystem and suggest ways to bridge them.
  • The Committee shall submit its report within a period of 90 days from the date of its first meeting. 

Madhya Pradesh Elected Assembly Speaker

  •  Congress legislator N. P. Prajapati was elected speaker of the Madhya Pradesh assembly in the absence of Opposition MLAs who walked out of the House to protest the pro tem speaker's refusal to allow them to propose BJP MLA Vijay Shah's name for the post.

Mahila Congress Appointed First Transgender

  •  Transgender activist Apsara Reddy was appointed as Congress general secretary and in-charge of Mahila Congress, making her the first transgender person to be appointed as an office-bearer in the party.
  • Before plunging into transgender activism, Reddy was a journalist and had worked with BBC, The Hindu, The New Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle and Provoke, a lifestyle magazine.
  • She studied graduation and post graduation in journalism from Monash University and the City University, London.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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DNA Technology Bill

  •  The Lok Sabha passed a bill that allows regulated use of DNA technology to establish the identity of certain defined categories of persons, including offenders, suspects and under-trials.
  • The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill allows the use of the technology to establish the identity of persons in matters of crime, parentage dispute, emigration or immigration and transplantation of human organs.

Citizenship Bill Passed in Lok Sabha

  •  A proposed law to give citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan was passed by Lok Sabha amid vigorous dissent by several opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left Front.
  • Most parties from the northeast, even those that were allies of the BJP, have also strongly opposed the Bill, and said that it is against the fundamental aspects of the Indian constitution.
  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will amend the laws governing citizenship, formed in 1955, to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled religious persecution from the three neighbouring countries and entered India before December 31, 2014.

Quota Bill for Economically Weak Passed

  •  A landmark Bill seeking to provide 10 per cent reservation in jobs and education for the general category poor was passed by the Lok Sabha, with most parties backing the measure, described by the government as "historic" and in the country's interest.
  • As many as 323 members voted in support of the Bill and only three voted against.
  • Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi were present in the House when the Bill was passed. The government will table the Bill in the Rajya Sabha in a day.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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Maharashtra Board Exams

  •  Starting this year, students with special needs appearing for Class 10 and 12 board exams in the state will get answer sheets with 'divyang stickers'.
  • The Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education decided to implement the initiative from the February-March 2019 exams.
  • The board provides special facilities to 'divyang students', which include allotting additional time and offering several vocational subjects. Having a special sticker on answer sheets will help segregate their papers at the exam centre itself.
  • The board will issue guidelines to all exam centres across nine divisions informing them about the stickers.
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