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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

31 Mar 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Australia to Toughen Laws on Social Media

  • Australia pledged to introduce new laws that could see social media executives jailed and tech giants fined billions for failing to remove extremist material from their platforms.
  • The tough new legislation will be brought to Parliament next week as Canberra pushes for social media companies to prevent their platforms from being weaponised by terrorists in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Russia Operating Helicopter Training Centre in Venezuela

  • Russia's arms export company has opened a training centre for military helicopter pilots in Venezuela after Moscow flew in troops and equipment.
  • The centre that trains pilots to fly Russian-built Mil helicopters was built on the basis of a contract between Rosoboronexport and state-run Venezuelan Military Industrial Company Cavim. The announcement came after two Russian military planes landed a week ago at the main airport outside Caracas and offloaded equipment and troops.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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NTPC to Set up Floating Solar Power Plant

  • The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) is setting up a 25 MW floating solar power plant in its water storage reservoir here as part of its diversification into the solar segment. Group general manager of NTPC's Simhadri plant, A. R. Maiti, said that it was also setting up a flue-gas desulphurisation plant.

More Looks to Scale up Operations

  • Aditya Birla Group's retail chain 'More' plans to invest about Rs. 1,000 crore to scale up its operations in the next five years. The retail chain, in which U.S.-based e-commerce major Amazon and Samara Capital jointly invested about Rs. 4,200 crore last year, also expects its turnover to grow threefolds in five years. The company has about 600 supermarkets and 20 hypermarkets.

Cardif Sells Shares in SBI Life Insurance

  • BNP Paribas Cardif, the foreign partner of SBI Life Insurance, sold 5 crore shares of the company for Rs. 2,889 crore. The share sale was undertaken at average price of Rs. 577.93 per equity share. Meanwhile, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has bought 2 crore shares at an average price of Rs. 577.50 per share. The transactions were carried out as bulk deal from one investor to another.

GSP Withdrawal by the U.S.

  • The move by the United States (U.S.) to terminate India's designation as beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme because it no longer complied with the statutory eligibility criteria is likely to affect plastic exports from India.
  • At the Plastic Export Promotion Council (Plexconcil), an analysis was conducted and found that in India's case, the GSP concessions extended by the U.S. amounted to a duty reduction of $30 million per annum on imports of plastic products worth $600 million for the period January to December 2018.
  • Some of the product segments which may face a decline in exports to U.S. due to withdrawal of GSP concessions include plastics raw materials, consumer and houseware items and polyester films.

Iran Seeks Improved Trade Ties with India

  • Amid U.S. sanctions, Iran is exploring ways to increase its bilateral trade with India, including expanding banking channels.
  • Only one bank (UCO Bank) has business relationship with Iran.
  • According to Hamid Reza Fouladgar, head of the seven-member Parliamentary delegation from Iran, there is need to sign free trade agreements with India to reduce customs and tariffs on both sides to improve bilateral trade.
  • The volume of trade between Iran and India stands between $10 billion and $13 billion.

India's Forex Reserves Up

  • India's foreign exchange (forex) reserves increased by $1.02 billion during the week ended March 22.
  • According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)'s weekly statistical supplement, the overall forex reserves rose to $406.66 billion from $405.63 billion reported for the week ended March 15.
  • India's forex reserves comprise Foreign Currency Assets (FCAs), gold reserves, Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and India's reserve position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

SPORTS

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Esha and Sarabjot Strike Gold

  • Esha Singh overwhelmed the field, winning the junior women's air pistol gold by a 5.1-point margin over Yun Seonjeong of Korea in the 12th Asian Airgun Championship.
  • Along with Harshada Nithave and Devanshi Dhama, Esha also won the team silver, seven points behind Korea.
  • In the junior men's event, Sarabjot Singh, who had topped the qualification, won the gold 1.2 points ahead of Kim Woojong of Korea.

India Loses in Shootout

  • Lower-ranked Korea stunned India 4-2 in the penalty shootout to lift the Azlan Shah Cup hockey title after the five-time champions conceded an equaliser in the final quarter to end at 1-1 after regulation time in the summit clash.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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SP MLA Joins BJP

  • Six-time Samajwadi Party MLA and former Minister Chaudhary Virendra Singh joined the BJP.
  • A member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, Mr. Singh joined the BJP in the presence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and State unit chief Mahendra Nath Pandey.

Big Blow to SP-BSP

  • The anti-BJP alliance in Uttar Pradesh led by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party received a setback after a key OBC partner, the Nishad Party, ditched them allegedly for not following alliance dharma and within hours moved towards stitching a deal with the BJP.
  • The changing equations hold significance as it was the Nishad Party's Pravin Nishad who snatched the prestigious Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat from the BJP's grip in a byelection last year on SP symbol with the support of the BSP.

DEFENCE

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Indian Navy Inducts LCU L56

  • The sixth indigenously designed and built transport ship, LCU L56, has been inducted into the Navy. Amphibious operations capability, including transport of troops and equipment, will be enhanced with the addition of this Landing Craft Utility ship.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Mahesh Singh Assumes Charge as Flag Officer

  • Rear Admiral Mahesh Singh NM assumed charge as Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Naval Area (FOK) at a ceremonial parade at Karwar.
  • Rear Admiral Mahesh Singh is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1987 and is a Navigation and Direction specialist.

N. S. Dhillon Appointed Strategic Forces Command Chief

  • Fighter pilot Air Marshal N. S. Dhillon was appointed as the new Strategic Forces Command Chief. The Strategic Forces Command looks after the strategic nuclear arsenal of the country.
  • He graduated from the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla (Pune). Later, he attended Defence Services Staff College in Wellington Cantonment and National Defence College in New Delhi.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Agents to Get Excellence Awards

  • For the first time in 132 years of existence, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), India's internal intelligence agency, is recognising its officers and those in the state intelligence wings for exceptional performance with a medal of its own – Asadharan Aasuchna Kushalta Padak (medal for extraordinary intelligence gathering).
  • Three Indian Police Service (IPS) officers and 34 other intelligence officers were the first recipients of the gallantry medal, awarded for exceptional counter-terror operations, services in Jammu and Kashmir, cracking down on terror funding, and operations against Maoists and militant groups in the north-east, said a senior official who didn't want to be named.
  • Apart from the three IPS officers, 14 officers from the state intelligence wings and 23 officers from IB cadre too were awarded for "exceptional operations.
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