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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

30 Mar 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Red Cross to Send Aid to Venezuela

  • The Red Cross announced that it would begin impartially distributing humanitarian aid in crisis-torn Venezuela in two weeks and would not allow any political interference in the operation.
  • According to Francesco Rocca, head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, the organisation would begin distributing aid that President Nicolás Maduro has to date refused to allow into the country, leaving it stockpiled since mid-February on the borders with Colombia and Brazil.

Cash for Information on Illegal Religious Groups

  • A southern Chinese city is offering cash rewards for information about illegal religious groups as the ruling Communist Party continues to tighten its grip over faith communities.
  • As per a notice posted on the official website of the Guangzhou Department of Ethnic and Religious Affairs, up to 10,000 yuan ($15,000) would be paid for verified information and assistance in hunting down key members and leaders of illegal foreign religious groups.

Alaa Abdel Fattah Released

  • Egypt's most prominent pro-democracy activist, Alaa Abdel Fattah, was released on probation after five years in prison on charges of organising an illegal protest. The outspoken dissident and blogger was an iconic figure of the Arab Spring revolution that unseated Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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PNB to Part-sell Stake

  • PNB has entered into agreements in relation to two independent transactions for sale of 1,08,91,733 equity shares held in PNB Housing Finance (PNBHF) to General Atlantic Group at Rs. 850 per share for Rs. 925.80 crore, and the same number of shares to VardePartners for Rs. 925.80 crore, PNB said in a regulatory filing.
  • State-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) would partially sell its stake in PNB Housing Finance to global private equity firm General Atlantic Group and alternative investment firm Varde Partners for Rs. 1,851.6 crore.
  • As per PNB, these transactions are subject to satisfaction of customary conditions and post these transactions, it would continue to hold strategic stake of 19.78% of the paid-up capital of the housing finance subsidiary.

L&T to Focus on Going Digital and Automation

  • As per reports, engineering and construction major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) plans to transform itself into a digital and automation powerhouse.
  • The $18-billion firm launched L&T-Nxt, a new vertical to focus on artificial intelligence (AI), IoT (Internet of things), virtual reality, augmented reality, geo-spatial solutions and cyber security and leverage the experience that L&T has garnered over the decades.

Interest Rate on Small Savings Remains Same

  • The government has left unchanged the interest rates on small savings schemes for the first quarter of the financial year 2019-20.
  • The Public Provident Fund and the National Savings Certificate will continue to yield an interest rate of 8%. The Kisan Vikas Patra will have an interest rate of 7.7%. The interest rate for the five-year Senior Citizens Savings Scheme will remain at 8.7%, and that on on savings deposits will remain at 4%. The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana accounts will continue to offer an 8.5% interest rate. Term deposits of 1-5 years will yield an interest rate in the range of 7-7.8%.

Growth Rate Highest Since Liberalisation

  • According to Chief Economic Adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian, the average growth rate of 7.5% achieved in the last five years is the highest for any government since liberalisation, despite global headwinds.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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Debris from Anti-satellite Test

  • The satellite targeted with an Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile under Mission Shakti has broken up into at least 270 pieces, most of which are expected to disintegrate within 45 days.
  • One of them is a large piece that has been deorbited and is estimated to be completely degraded by April 5," the official said. The rest of the pieces are estimated to disintegrate in less than 45 days, he stated.
  • Being in the Low Earth Orbit, the debris would fall towards Earth and burn up as soon as they enter the atmosphere.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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India Fears Misuse of Kartarpur Corridor

  • A senior government official said that reports had surfaced about the association of anti-India elements with the Kartarpur Corridor such as Bison Singh, Kuljit Singh, Maninder Singh, and others.
  • On the role of Gopal Singh Chawla, aide of terrorist Hafiz Saeed, in the managing committee of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, as announced by Pakistan, the official said this raised concerns about the misuse of the corridor for anti-India activities.
  • The official said that to expedite the infrastructure development for the corridor, India has proposed to hold another meeting of technical experts in mid-April to resolve outstanding issues at the "zero point.

DEFENCE

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Russia to Explore Export Possibilities of Sukhoi Su-57

  • Russia is keen to cooperate with and explore the possibilities of exporting its latest Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter to India.
  • As per Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, the twin-engine multirole fifth-generation air superiority and attack fighter is the latest supersonic stealth jet in the world and several countries would be interested in having the lethal aircraft in their arsenal.
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