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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

02 Mar 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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S. Korea to Help U.S. and N. Korea

  • South Korea's President said that South Korea will work with the U.S. and North Korea to ensure they reach agreement on denuclearisation, a day after talks between the U.S. and North Korean leaders collapsed over sanctions.
  • A second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Vietnam, was cut short after they failed to reach a deal on the extent of sanctions relief North Korea would get in exchange for steps to give up its nuclear programme.
  • South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has been an active supporter of efforts to end confrontation on the Korean peninsula, meeting Mr. Kim three times last year and trying to facilitate his nuclear negotiations with the U.S.

More Support for Maduro

  • Russia vowed to maintain support for the embattled regime of its Venezuelan friend President Nicolas Maduro, including with humanitarian aid supplies.
  • Battered by an economic meltdown, Venezuela descended into political crisis when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim President in January and asserted that Maduro was no longer legitimate.
  • Mr. Maduro and his allies — including Russia — have accused Washington of attempting to carry out a coup against his government.
  • The U.S. has recognised Mr. Guaido and led a diplomatic campaign in support of his leadership.

Sudanese President Steps Down

  • Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has handed his powers as chief of the country's ruling party to his deputy, Ahmed Harun, after more than two months of protests against his nearly three-decade rule.

ENVIRONMENT

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Himachal Pradesh Winter

  • This winter has been the harshest and the wettest one in Himachal Pradesh in a quarter of a century. The hill state experienced 13 spells of snow and a 43% increase in rainfall in January and February over the normal average, triggering avalanches, damaging roads and disrupting electricity supplies. The abundance of rain and snow has, however, delighted farmers.
  • Experts say the snow will be beneficial to crops and for hydropower generation in the state as the thawing of glaciers that feeds Himalayan rivers. Snowfall had been scanty last year, resulting in a water shortage. The state capital Shimla faced its worst water crisis last year.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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SEBI Slashes Regulatory Fee

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has lowered the regulatory fee that it charges market intermediaries, a move that is expected to bring down the overall trading costs for investors.
  • The fee that brokers have to pay to SEBI has been reduced by 33.33%, while the fees levied on agri-commodity brokers has been cut by 93.33%.
  • The regulatory fee paid by stock exchanges has also been lowered by 80%. The move assumes significance as India has always featured among the most-expensive countries globally in terms of trading costs in the capital market.

EverSource, NIIF, CDC to Invest in Ayana Renewable

  • EverSource Capital along with National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India (NIIF) has partnered U.K. government's CDC Group to invest $330 million in Ayana Renewable Power (Ayana), the renewable energy platform founded by CDC.
  • EverSource Capital, a joint venture between Everstone Capital and Lightsource BP, manages Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF) that has NIIF and the U.K. government as anchor LPs (limited partners or investors).
  • Ayana was launched to develop utility-scale solar and wind generation projects across growth States in India.

Carlyle Group Picks Up Stake in SBI Life

  • Private equity fund The Carlyle Group has picked up 9% stake in the life insurance arm of State Bank of India, SBI Life Insurance, for an undisclosed amount.
  • Carlyle's equity for this investment came from CA Emerald Investments, an affiliated entity of Carlyle Asia Partners V, Carlyle's flagship $6.55 billion fund focused on buyout and strategic investments across a range of sectors in Asia Pacific. Following this transaction, BNP Paribas Cardif and CA Emerald Investments now own 12.8% and 9% of the company, respectively, while SBI remains the majority shareholder with a 62.1% stake.
  • As per Sunil Kaul MD of the Carlyle Asia Buyout advisory team. the life insurance industry in India has strong growth potential thanks to favourable demographics and an increasing focus on financial savings.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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CAPF Retirement Age Anomaly

  • The Union Home Ministry has asked the chiefs of the Central Armed Police Forces to conduct a data analysis and assess long-term age profile issues of combat units once the retirement age of their troops is raised from 57 years to 60 in the wake of a court order to fix an existing anomaly.
  • A meeting was held in the Ministry on the subject in the wake of the Delhi High Court order that called the current policy of different age of superannuation in the four forces — CRPF, BSF, ITBP and SSB — as discriminatory and unconstitutional which created two classes in these uniformed forces.

Congress Divided on a Tie-up with AAP

  • The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) could work out an alliance for the seven Lok Sabha seats of Delhi as early as next week if the central leadership of the former can convince the Delhi unit of the party.
  • If the deal is sealed, each party could contest three seats and support a common candidate for another. Names that are being discussed include BJP rebels Shatrughan Sinha and Yashwant Sinha as the common candidate.
  • Surveys and polls done by both the parties indicate that if the AAP and the Congress contest separately in Delhi, the BJP could sweep the Lok Sabha polls.

Vijayakanth Set to Join NDA

  • The Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), led by actor-turned politician Vijayakanth, is all set to join the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) front in Tamil Nadu for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
  • The move comes after the DMDK's attempts to make an alliance with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which has already entered into a pre-poll alliance with the Congress and several others, failed.

DEFENCE

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US Navy's F-35 Jet Ready for Combat

  • The US Navy's version of the F-35 stealth fighter jet is ready for combat, marking another milestone in the development of the most expensive weapons program ever.
  • The addition of the weapon system into the arsenal of Carrier Strike Groups significantly enhances the capability of the joint force.
  • Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in US history, with an estimated cost of some $400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Abhinandan Varthaman Freed

  • Indian Air Force fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was freed by Pakistan, two days after his MiG-21 fighter jet came down in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was handed over to India as per standard operating procedure of the IAF.
  • He was taken for a detailed medical checkup because the officer has had to eject from an aeroplane, which could have put his entire body under great stress.

Gill Takes Over as MD & CEO of Yes Bank

  • Former India chief of Deutsche Bank Ravneet Gill took charge as the managing director and chief executive officer of private sector lender Yes Bank. He will have a three-year term.
  • Mr. Gill succeeds Rana Kapoor, the co-founder of the bank, whose term ended on January 31, 2019. Mr. Ajai Kumar, one of the board members, was appointed as the interim CEO after Mr. Kapoor's term ended. Yes Bank decided to search for a new chief executive after the RBI declined to extend Mr. Kapoor's tenure beyond January 31, 2019, though the board had endorsed a three-year extension.

Adhia Appointed as Non-executive Chairman

  • Former Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia was appointed as non-executive chairman of State-run Bank of Baroda for three years. Dr. Adhia superannuated as Finance Secretary in November 2017.
  • His appointment in the Bank of Baroda comes in midst of the bank's merger with two other state lenders, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank.
  • The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) issued notification for Dr. Adhia's appointment after the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared his name.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Ayushman Bharat Cover for Uber Cab Drivers

  • The Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) has joined hands with Uber to extend health cover to their driver and delivery partners.
  • The facility will not be available in Delhi, Odisha and Telangana, States that have not joined AB-PMJAY. About 30-40% of the driver partners would be eligible for healthcare services under the health insurance scheme.
  • Under the agreement, Uber, under its Uber CARE initiative, will help set up common service centres (CSCs) at Partners Seva Kendras. This is a pilot study. The CSC's entrepreneurs will verify eligibility and issue e-cards to drivers with benefits worth Rs. 5 lakh to each family per year.
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