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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 Mar 2019


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Suspending Denuclearisation Talks

  •  As per reports, North Korea is considering suspending denuclearisation talks with Washington.
  • The North has no intention to yield to the US demands in any form, nor is it willing to engage in negotiations of this kind. 

France Slaps Sanctions on Azhar

  •  France has decided to sanction Masood Azhar at the national level by freezing his assets in application of the Monetary and Financial Code.
  • It is understood that the move was aimed at bringing a national ban on Masood Azhar as this is necessary for barring him and his associates from accessing any EU territory and facilities.
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called the decision a sign of worldwide support for India's fight against terrorism.
  • France will raise this issue with its European partners with a view to including Masood Azhar on the European Union list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts, based on this decree.
  • The action is expected to put more pressure on Pakistan to act against the terror groups based in its territory.
  • India has been demanding tough verifiable action against the terror groups and individuals like Azhar. 

Royal Household Split

  •  Britain's Prince Harry and his pregnant wife Meghan are to set up their own household, breaking away from the joint operation they shared with the Harry's elder brother William and his wife Kate.
  • Harry and Meghan, known officially as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have shared staff with William and Kate since their marriage in May 2018.
  • Queen Elizabeth has now agreed to allow them to set up a new base at Buckingham Palace this Spring.


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Global Ocean is Absorbing More Carbon

  •  The global ocean absorbed 34 billion metric tonnes of carbon from the burning of fossil fuels from 1994 to 2007, a four-fold increase to 2.6 billion metric tonnes per year when compared to the period starting from the Industrial Revolution in 1800 to 1994.
  • A new research finds carbon dioxide emissions have increased in the atmosphere, the ocean has absorbed a greater volume of emissions.
  • Though the volume of carbon dioxide going into the ocean is increasing, the percentage of emissions, about 31 per cent, absorbed by it has remained relatively stable when compared to the first survey of carbon in the global ocean published in 2004.


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NCLAT Refuses to Stay Essar Steel Sale

  •  The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) refused to stay a bankruptcy court order approving steel giant ArcelorMittal's Rs. 42,000-crore takeover bid for Essar Steel and sought a fresh plan for the distribution of bid amount between financial and operational creditors of the debt-laden firm.
  • Essar Steel directors had challenged the Ahmedabad-bench of National Company Law Tribunal's (NCLT) nod to global steel giant ArcelorMittal SA's bid for the debt-laden company on the plea that their offer of Rs. 54,389-crore was superior as it clears 100% outstanding of both financial and operational creditors.
  • Standard Chartered too moved the NCLAT against the plan as its counsel contended that the bank was being given only 1.7% of its total dues from Essar Steel, while other financial creditors, forming part of the Committee of Creditors (CoC), were getting over 85% of their dues. 

ICRA Revises Rating for 6 PSBs

  •  ICRA has revised the ratings outlook of six banks that have received substantial capital infusion from promoters.
  • The lenders are IDBI Bank, Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Punjab and Sind Bank, and Punjab National Bank.
  • Outlook for IDBI Bank, which has now been categorised as private sector lender by RBI following stake buy by Life Insurance Corporation of India from the government, has been changed to 'negative' from 'rating watch with developing implication'.
  • According to the ratings agency, the change in outlook is due to sizeable capital infusion by LIC, as part of its acquisition of a majority stake (51%).
  • With this capital infusion, ICRA expects IDBI's capital levels to remain above the regulatory levels going forward, thereby not posing any challenge for the servicing of its debt capital instruments.

Trade Deficit Narrows

  •  According to data released by the Commerce Ministry, a marginal 2.44% increase in exports as well as lower imports of gold and petroleum products in February, significantly narrowed the country's trade deficit to $9.6 billion.
  • India's merchandise exports rose to $26.67 billion in February from $26.03 in the year-ago month mainly on account of higher shipments in sectors such as pharmaceutical, engineering and electronics.
  • Imports declined by 5.4% to $36.26 billion in January, narrowing the trade deficit to $9.6 billion. The gap between imports and exports was $12.3 billion in February 2018, and $14.73 billion in January 2019.


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Lakshya in Semi-finals

  •  Lakshya Sen defeated fourth seed Zeqi Zhou of China and enter the semi-finals of the China Masters badminton tournament.
  • The Asian junior champion will take on another local star Haichao Liu for a place in the final of the BWF Tour Super 100 tournament.

FIFA Confirms 24-team Club World Cup

  •  FIFA President Gianni Infantino confirmed plans to launch an expanded 24-team Club World Cup in 2021 following a meeting in Miami.
  • The new tournament, which has drawn threats of a boycott from leading European clubs, is to be staged in June-July 2021 instead of the Confederations Cup.

Members of Mumbai Senior Cricket Selection Panel Resign

  •  All members of Mumbai's senior selection committee have resigned, a few hours before the Mumbai Cricket Association's (MCA) ad-hoc committee.
  • The committee was headed by former India pacer Ajit Agarkar and also comprised former India spinner Nilesh Kulkarni, Sunil More and Ravi Thakkar.
  • The selectors resigned a day after the conclusion of the domestic season after the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy ended.
  • The selectors were under pressure after a Special General Meeting of the MCA member units had passed a resolution to sack them.


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CPI(M) Goes Alone in Two States

  •  Taking an aggressive stance, the CPI(M) has decided to contest the Dindori Lok Sabha seat in Maharashtra and Ujiarpur in Bihar.
  • The party had been in talks with the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra and the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar, but both the parties have refused to concede space for the CPI(M).
  • In 2014, the CPI(M) got over 15% of the votes and stood in third position in the constituency.
  • In Ujairpur, the party was in fourth position with 6% votes.

India Resents Pakistan's Offer

  •  A day after India and Pakistan discussed the draft agreement for the Kartarpur corridor at Attari, officials said that despite promising visa-free access to the Sikh shrine, Pakistan through back door wanted to introduce special permits for pilgrims for a fee.
  • India also strongly protested against the encroachment of around 100 acres of land belonging to the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in the Pakistani territory that was donated by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in the 19th century.
  • Pakistan has restricted the duration of the agreement to two years. 

GST Appellate Tribunal in Prayagraj

  •  The Uttar Pradesh government filed an affidavit before the Allahabad High Court stating that a revised proposal had been sent to the Centre to set up a Goods and Service Tax (GST) Appellate Tribunal in Prayagraj and its regional benches in 19 other districts of the state.
  • Earlier, the state government had proposed that the tribunal be set up at Lucknow.


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Indian and Myanmar Armies Conduct Mega Operation

  •  The recent deployment, which reportedly comprised mainly of Assam Rifles units being moved south to the Myanmar border, took place simultaneous to a crackdown by the Myanmar army against rebels who were threatening and trying to extort money from Indian personnel working on the USD 484 million Kaladan multi-modal transit transport project in Myanmar being funded by India.
  • The project aims to connect India and Myanmar by sea and land and is expected to be operational by 2020.
  • While the officers confirmed that India and Myanmar were in touch diplomatically ahead of the operation with the two armies holding several meetings to plan it, it was by no means a cross-border strike as is being portrayed in some reports.
  • India operated in coordination with the Myanmar army and India's main aim was to prevent these elements from moving into India.


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World Sleep Day

  •  World Sleep Day (the Friday before the northern hemisphere vernal equinox) is an annual event organised by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society, formerly World Association of Sleep Medicine (WASM), since 2008.
  • The goal is to celebrate the benefits of good and healthy sleep and to draw society's attention to the burden of sleep problems and their medical, educational, and social aspects, and to promote the prevention and management of sleep disorders.
  • It is estimated that sleep deprivation costs the US over $400 billion a year with Japan losing $138 billion, Germany $60 billion, the UK $50 billion, and Canada $21 billion.
  • The first World Sleep Day was held on 14 March 2008. 
  • The slogan for the 2019 World Sleep Day is 'Healthy Sleep, Healthy Aging'.
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