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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

05 Apr 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Brunei's LGBT Community

  • Transgender woman Zoella Zayce fled her native Brunei last year as the country shifted towards hard-line Islam, and thinks more of the LGBT community will follow after the death penalty for gay sex was introduced.
  • The absolute monarchy on tropical Borneo Island, ruled by a sultan who has been on the throne for over five decades, implemented tough new Islamic laws, including death by stoning for sex between men, and adultery.

MPs Pass Legislation to Rule out No-deal Brexit

  • British MPs, by a majority of one vote, passed emergency legislation that instructs Prime Minister Theresa May to seek an extension to Article 50 that triggered the Brexit process.
  • The Bill, which was opposed by the government, received support from 313 MPs with 312 voting against it. It was put forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Conservative MP Oliver Letwin in an attempt to rally MPs across the political spectrum.
  • It comes as Ms. May and the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, embarked on a second day of talks to try to find the road ahead. The Bill will still have to pass through the House of Lords before it comes into force.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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SEBI Panel for More Players

  • A panel constituted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has recommended opening the commodity derivatives segment to all categories of institutional investors in a phased manner, to enhance the depth and liquidity of the commodity market.
  • The Commodity Derivatives Advisory Committee (CDAC), which has been formed to review the commodity segment and suggest measures to improve the depth and efficiency of the market, has suggested that the capital markets regulator should adopt a 'calibrated approach' before opening up the segment to overseas investors. The panel is of the view that in the next phase, institutional investors like foreign portfolio investors, banks, insurance companies and pension funds should be allowed in the commodity derivatives segment.

Micromax Co-founder to Make AI-based Electric Motorcycle

  • Rahul Sharma, one of the co-founders of homegrown mobile handset maker Micromax, introduced an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based electric motorcycle that will hit the roads in June this year.

Neuberg Diagnostics to Foray into Europe and U.S.

  • Neuberg Diagnostics, founded by healthcare entrepreneur GSK Velu two years ago, is planning to foray into Europe and the U.S. by investing in local pathological labs to access know-how in the area of genetic diagnostics.
  • In Europe, the company will set up a base in Germany while the location in the U.S. is yet to be finalised. This will be part of the company's Rs. 200 crore expansion plan.

Tanishq Eyes Mid-format Stores

  • Tata group's jewellery brand Tanishq is betting on mid-format stores and region-specific brand ambassadors to sustain growth.
  • Sandeep Kulhalli, senior V-P, retail and marketing, jewellery division, Titan Company Ltd. Said that they have about 290 stores in 174 cities of which 10 are large-format stores, they are planning to enter B & C towns by setting up mid-sized stores (between 3,500 sq.ft. and 4,000 sq.ft.) as they are economical and offer good returns.

Groupe PSA to Export Gear Boxes

  • French auto major Groupe PSA will start making gear boxes at Hosur from next month onwards for exports.
  • So far, PSA has selected 120 suppliers for making engines and gear boxes in Hosur. PSA will start making gear boxes, followed by engines. Over 250 suppliers attended India Suppliers Summit hosted by the firm. They would have access to Groupe PSA's business opportunities worldwide.

GMR Raises $300 m Bond

  • GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd. has priced a $300 million bond in the international market. The company entered into a purchase agreement to issue and allot $300 million senior secured notes of five-year tenure at a coupon rate of 5.375%. The proceeds would be used to fund the expansion of the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.

India's Rating at 'BBB-'

  • Fitch retained India's sovereign rating at 'BBB-', the lowest investment grade, with stable outlook, and said that a weak fiscal position continues to constrain its rating.
  • This is the 13th year in a row that global rating agency Fitch has rated India at 'BBB-'. It had last upgraded India's sovereign rating from 'BB+' to 'BBB-' with a stable outlook on August 1, 2006.

RBI Cuts Interest Rate

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut key interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, its second reduction in two months, seeking to lift economic growth and consumer spending and lower borrowing costs in a move that comes just a week before the start of polling in the seven-phase general election.
  • RBI's monetary policy committee (MPC) reduced the repo rate at which it lends short-term money to commercial banks, to 6% from 6.25%. The central bank lowered the reverse repo rate, at which it borrows money from commercial lenders, to 5.75% from 6%. It maintained a neutral policy stance, meaning that it's not in favour of either increasing or lowering the interest rates.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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Carbon Dioxide at its Highest Level

  • According to a study, the levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere are higher today than ever before in the past three million years.
  • For the first time, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany succeeded to do a computer simulation that fits ocean floor sediment data of climate evolution over this period of time.
  • Today, it is the increase of greenhouse gases due to the burning of fossil fuels that is fundamentally changing our planet.

Verizon's First 5G Mobile Service

  • Verizon Communications Inc. in a tight race with AT&T Inc. and Sprint Corp. has claimed bragging rights as the first U.S. carrier to offer fifth-generation mobile-phone service.
  • Verizon customers with unlimited data plans in parts of Minneapolis and Chicago can get speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second on a limited number of phones for an extra $10 a month. The initial launch is part of a 30-city goal for 5G service this year.
  • Verizon is only able to offer the service to customers who own a Motorola Z3 handset and pay $50 extra for a snap-on 5G module.
  • Manufacturers including Motorola and Samsung Electronics Co. are expected to deliver more 5G phones later this year. Apple Inc. is sitting out the race this year and is expected to hold off on introducing a 5G iPhone until at least 2020.

SPORTS

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Malaysia Open

  • India's Kidambi Srikanth made it to the men's singles quarterfinal but P. V. Sindhu went down in straight games in women's singles competition at the USD 750,000 Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Eighth seeded Srikanth, who had reached the finals of a BWF World Tour event after 17 months at the India Open last week, defeated Thailand's Khosit Phetpradab to set up a meeting with Olympic champion and fourth seed Chen Long of China.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Nishad Party Switches to NDA

  • In a fillip to the caste arithmetic of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the Nishad Party joined the NDA, less than a week after it walked out of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance.
  • Gorakhpur MP Praveen Nishad, who won the seat in a bypoll on a SP ticket in 2018 with BSP support, was also inducted into the BJP. He is the son of Sanjay Nishad, the founder and president of the Nishad Party.

No Kartarpur Meet

  • India and Pakistan are not expected to hold any more meetings on the Kartarpur corridor before the country's general elections as Islamabad is yet to respond to issues raised by New Delhi.
  • On March 29, India called off the second meeting with Pakistan to discuss modalities for the corridor, which was scheduled for April 2, over the inclusion of pro-Khalistan activists such as Gopal Chawla and Bisan Singh in a Pakistani committee to facilitate Sikh pilgrims.

DEFENCE

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Indian Navy Eyes 6 Lethal Submarines

  • The Indian Navy has initiated the process to acquire six lethal submarines under the ambitious Project-75 India likely to cost over Rs. 50,000 crore.
  • The Navy has initiated the tender process by issuing the initial Expression of Interest to foreign vendors willing to take part in the mega programme.
  • Under Project 75-India, the Navy wants to build six conventional diesel-electric submarines which would be almost 50 per cent bigger than the under-construction Scorpene class submarines being built at the Mazagon Dockyards Limited in Mumbai.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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National Maritime Day

  • India celebrates National Maritime Day on 5th April, which is dedicated to the country's glorious maritime history. It was on this day in 1919 when SS Loyalty, the first ship of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd, set sail for the United Kingdom from Mumbai (then British Bombay).
  • This marks a crucial step for India shipping history as the sea routes then were controlled by the British. The day is being observed since 1964.
  • The theme of the National Maritime Day 2019 celebrations is "Indian Ocean-An Ocean of opportunity".

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Top UAE Honour for Modi

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with United Arab Emirates's highest civilian decoration, the Order of Zayed, awarded to those who contribute to international leadership in strengthening relations with the country.
  • Among the past recipients of this award are Russian President Vladimir Putin, former US President George W. Bush, French leader Nicolas Sarkozy and German politician Angela Merkel.

Presidential Award of Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman

  • Vice-President of India M Vainkaiya Naidu gave the 'Presidential Award of Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman' to Dr. Gyanaditya Shakya in New Delhi. He was honoured with Rs. 1,00,000 Award and a certificate.
  • He was conferred the award for his outstanding contribution in the field of Pali language and literature. He was selected for the award by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India for his five books i.e. Bauddha Dharma Darshan Mein Brahmavihara Bhavana, Anagatavasa, Chakesadhatuvasa, Pañcagatidipani and Gandhavasa.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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BIS Inks an MoU with IIT, Delhi

  • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi to collaborate in the field of standardisation and conformity assessment.
  • BIS and IIT Delhi have also agreed to set up a Centre of Excellence in the field of standardisation, testing and conformity assessment.
  • According to the MoU, IIT Delhi will provide infrastructure support for research and development projects of relevance to standardisation and BIS will provide financial support to IIT Delhi for projects.

ART AND CULTURE

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Beijing Film Fest

  • One of China's top film festivals has clubbed five Indian films, including Satyajit Ray's 1955 landmark, Pather Panchali, under the category of movies from countries that are seemingly aligned with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • The high-profile Beijing International Film Festival (BIFF) that is scheduled to be held between April 13 and April 20 is organised by the Beijing municipality government.
  • The five Indian movies included in the "Belt and Road" category are the three Ray movies comprising the famous Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar), the romantic comedy Love per Square Foot, the thriller Ittefaq, and the Mumbai-based movie, Sir, which explores the ties between a domestic help and her young and wealthy employer.
  • Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's Zero is the designated closing movie at the festival.
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