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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

31 Jan 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

MPs Back May to Renegotiate Brexit Deal

  •  As per reports, British Prime Minister Theresa May will return to talks with the European Union (EU), and will attempt to renegotiate Britain's withdrawal agreement, after MPs narrowly voted to endorse a plan to renegotiate the controversial Irish backstop.
  • However, with the EU firmly insisting that the withdrawal agreement is not open to negotiation, the path ahead remains unclear.
  • The Labour Party has also agreed to hold talks with the government over Brexit after MPs supported a non-binding resolution that opposes Britain leaving the EU without a deal.

US Switches to New H-1B System

  •  The United States announced that starting April 1, it will switch to a new system for processing H-1B petitions that will give priority to foreign workers with advanced degrees from an American institution of higher education, over those hired abroad, in India, China and other countries.
  • The switch in the selection process is expected to increase the number of beneficiaries with advanced degrees from US institutions by an estimated 16% (or 5,340 workers). It is in line with President Donald Trump's repeated assertions in support of merit-based immigration.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

No Extension on Anti-dumping Duty on Chinese Paracetamol

  •  The government will not extend anti-dumping duty on imports of Chinese paracetamol, used in medicines, as the domestic industry has failed to provide evidence that the expiry of the levy would result in dumping.
  • After concluding its probe, the Commerce Ministry's investigation arm for dumping of goods, DGTR said that it does not recommend continuation of the anti-dumping duty on the imports of paracetamol from China.

Qatar Fund to Invest in Airtel Africa

  •  The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, will be investing $200 million through a primary equity issuance in Airtel Africa.
  • The proceeds would be used to further reduce Airtel Africa's existing net debt. The transaction will not involve any sale of shares by existing shareholders.
  • Airtel Africa, a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, had in September 2018 raised $1.25 billion from six global investors, including Warburg Pincus, Temasek, Singtel and SoftBank Group International.
  • Airtel is present in 14 countries across Africa, including, Nigeria, Chad, Congo B, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Kenya, Malawi, Seychelles, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda.

Indian Oil Q3 Profit Slides

  •  Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) reported a net profit of Rs. 716.82 crore in the third quarter of this financial year, down 78% from the previous quarter and down 91% from the same quarter of the previous year.
  • As per the company, lower profits in Q3 were due in large part to inventory losses arising out of falling crude oil prices. 
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Centre for Gaganyaan Space Mission

  •  Gearing up for its maiden manned space mission 'Gaganyaan', ISRO unveiled its Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) at ISRO Headquarter campus in Bengaluru.
  • The space agency is gearing up for the human spaceflight programme by 2021-end that is likely to include a woman astronaut.
  • According to the space agency, Gaganyaan is the highest priority for ISRO in 2019, and the plan is to have the first unmanned mission in December 2020 and second for July 2021.
  • Once this is completed, the manned mission will take place in December 2021.
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SPORTS

Shubman Gill 227th ODI Player for India

  •  Young Shubman Gill got to make his debut in the fourth ODI at Hamilton. Gill, who was man of the series in the Under 19 World Cup last, has already received rave reviews from all quarters and was in roaring form in Ranji Trophy.
  • He received his cap from M. S. Dhoni and thus, became the 227th player to represent India in ODI cricket.
  • Shubman Gill replaces Kohli in the fourth ODI.

Table Tennis Rankings

  •  Leading Indian paddler G. Sathiyan rose to a career-high 28 in the world rankings while compatriot Manika Batra became the first female from the country to break into the top-50.
  • Veteran Sharath Kamal, who was conferred with the Padma Shri last week, dropped three places to be 33rd in the men's singles standings.
  • Indian table tennis experienced a historic 2018 when the men's team won the country's first medal at the Asian Games to end a 60-year-wait.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Automatic Listing of Fresh Cases

  •  The Supreme Court launched its new system of automatic listing of fresh cases within three to seven days in a bid to do away with the system of mentioning of matters for urgent listing every day.
  • Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had earlier  said that the Supreme Court was devising a mechanism to do away with the process of mentioning of pleas and to ensure automatic listing of fresh cases for hearing soon after being filed.
  • The new mechanism will come into effect on February 4. 

Rally against Citizenship Bill

  •  Several tribal parties led by the Congress held a joint rally near Agartala to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
  • The unprecedented huge rally took place a day after 11 parties of the Northeast held a convention in Guwahati on the same issue.
  • Led by Congress General Secretary in-charge of Sikkim Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debburman participants in the rally unitedly planned to obstruct the passing of the Bill into an Act.
  • Earlier this month, amid strong opposition by various political parties, including the Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress, the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill but it is yet to approved by the Rajya Sabha.
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DEFENCE

Tranquillity and Peace along Border

  •  India reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity along the border with China to ensure the smooth development of bilateral relations during a meeting of the working mechanism for consultation and coordination on border affairs.
  • At the meeting in New Delhi, both sides reviewed the situation in border areas with a view to ensure peace and tranquillity in accordance with the strategic guidance given by Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping during the Wuhan Summit.
  • This was the 13th meeting of the working mechanism, established in 2012 for consultations and coordination for managing border areas and to strengthen communication and cooperation, including between border security personnel.

India Signs Deal with Russia for Warships

  •  India and Russia signed a contract for construction of two ships with advanced stealth features for the Indian Navy.
  • The two ships are scheduled to be delivered in June 2026 and December 2026.
  • Advanced features of stealth include a special hull design, to limit radar cross-section, low electromagnetic, infrared and underwater noise signatures.
  • The ships would carry highly sophisticated and state-of-art weapon systems and sensors.
  • To support these ships through their life cycle, the Indian Navy has put in place requisite infrastructures for training and maintenance. 
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Bansal Stakes Claim to Ticket from Chandigarh

  •  Four-time MP and senior Congress leader Pawan Kumar Bansal formally staked claim to the party ticket from Chandigarh Lok Sabha constituency.
  • The former Railway Minister, along with his supporters, went to the Congress office and submitted an application for the ticket. 

Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar 

  •  Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar assumed charge as the Vice Chief of the Naval Staff. Vice Admiral P. Ajit Kumar handed over the baton to his successor in a formal ceremony held at the Naval Headquarters in South Block in Delhi.
  • Vice Admiral P. Ajit Kumar will be heading to Mumbai to take over as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command.
  • Vice Admiral Kumar is an alumnus of National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla, Pune. He was commissioned into the Executive Branch of the Indian Navy on 01 July 1982.

Punjab AAP Chief

  •  Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann was appointed the Punjab unit chief of the Aam Aadmi Party.
  • Mr. Mann resigned as party chief in 2018 following AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's apology to former Shiromani Akali Dal Minister Bikram Singh Majithia for levelling allegations of involvement in drugs trade against him.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Martyrs' Day

  •  Martyrs' Day is an annual day observed by nations to salute the martyrdom of soldiers who lost their lives defending the sovereignty of the nation. The actual date may vary from one country to another. Here is a list of countries and Martyrs' Days.
  • Martyrs' Day (India), is observed on January 30, the anniversary of the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi in 1948.
  • Martyrs' day is also observed across the Indian state of Punjab on March 23, on the death anniversary of Bhagat Singh in 193. 30 January is the date observed at the national level.
  • The date was chosen as it marks the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in 1948, by Nathuram Godse.
  • On Martyr's Day the President, the vice president, the Prime Minister, the defence minister, and the three Service Chiefs gather at the samadhi at Raj Ghat memorial and lay wreaths decorated with multi-colour flowers.
  • The armed forces personnel blow bugles sounding the Last Post. The inter-services contingent reverse arms as a mark of respect.
  • A two-minute silence in memory of Indian martyrs is observed throughout the country at 11 AM. 
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

SC Refuses to Stay Amended SC/ST Act

  •  The Supreme Court refused to stay the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act of 2018 which nullified a controversial March 20 judgment diluting the stringent provisions of the Dalit protection law.
  • A Bench led by Justice U. U. Lalit posted the petitions for hearing on February 19. The government brought in the amendments as the Scheduled communities faced the same social stigma, poverty and humiliation which they had been subjected to for centuries.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Hostels Directed to Obtain Licences

  •  District Collector K. S. Kandasamy has asked all the hostels and homes for women and children functioning in the district to obtain licences by February end.
  • Already, the Collector issued a similar request earlier. The directive gains significance in the wake of a Children's Home in Tiruvannamalai being sealed on charges of sexual abuse by one of the staff members. 
  • The Tamil Nadu Hostels and Homes for Women and Children (Regulation) Act, 2014, mandates all homes, hostels or lodging houses that accommodate women or children to obtain licences from the District Collector.
  • A licence is valid for a period of three years.

Centre Hikes Scholarships

  •  The Centre has hiked its popular research scholarship, called the Junior Research Fellowship, to Rs. 31,000 per month, a roughly 25% increase from the existing Rs. 25,000.
  • Research scholars across India had organised protests demanding that the scholarship be hiked as the stipend hadn't been revised since 2014.
  • As per a communiqué from the Department of Science and Technology, which was coordinating the exercise, the Senior Research Fellowships (SRF), given to research students two years into their doctoral studies, had been hiked to Rs. 35,000 per month.
  • Stipends for Research Assistants (who are pursuing post doctoral studies and have at least three years of research experience) would range from Rs. 47,000 to Rs. 54,000 per month. In percentage terms, this is the lowest hike since 2010.
  • The hike will directly benefit over 60,000 research fellows and also provide a template to the States to consider increase in their fellowship rates.

Udaan Scholarship Launched

  •  The rise in educational expenses in India (5.3% YoY increase as reported by MHRD), has resulted in students opting out of higher education programs in India.
  • Meritorious students from economically weaker sections find it hard to arrange for funds to continue their education.
  • Those students who need financial assistance to continue their post-matric (class 10 onwards) education, then HP Udaan Scholarship Program 2018-19 is the right opportunity.
  • This scholarship provides financial assistance to students pursuing education in class 11, class 12; graduation and diploma courses (including ITI courses) for science, arts and commerce streams.
  • This is a means based scholarship which means that students will solely be selected based on their economic backgrounds.
  • The main objective of this scholarship program will be to cater the need of students to get the well-deserved higher education. 
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