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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

10 Apr 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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China-financed Railway Line

  •  Sri Lanka has opened a new railway line, built with China's assistance, connecting its coastal city of Matara and Beliatta in Hambantota, a move that will boost passenger traffic into the island nation's deep south.
  • The 26.75-km long Matara-Beliatta railway extension is the first to be constructed in Sri Lanka since 1948.
  • The railway extension was financed by the Export-Import Bank of China and the contract was awarded to the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation. 

British MPs Endorse Brexit Delay

  •  British lawmakers endorsed Prime Minister Theresa May's request to the European Union (EU) to delay Brexit until June 30 in a vote in Parliament.
  • The majority of Ms. May's Conservative Party voted alongside the Opposition Labour Party to back the Prime Minister's approach by 420 votes to 110.
  • As per government Solicitor-General Robert Buckland, it is all about making sure we leave the EU in a timely and orderly way and that means leaving with a deal. 

China to Join FAA's Review Panel

  •  According to an official at the Chinese aviation regulator, China has decided to accept an invitation to join the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) review panel on the Boeing 737 MAX.
  • The FAA said it was forming an international team to review the safety of the aircraft, grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes, in Indonesia in October and in Ethiopia in March, that killed nearly 350 people.
  • China was the first to ground the newest version of Boeing's work horse 737 model in March, following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, prompting a series of regulatory actions by other governments worldwide.
  • Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore have already confirmed that they will join the panel. 

ENVIRONMENT

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Glaciers Shrinking Much Faster

  •  Earth's glaciers are melting much faster than scientists thought. A new study shows they are losing 369 billion tonnes of snow and ice each year, more than half of that in North America.
  • The most comprehensive measurement of glaciers worldwide found that thousands of inland masses of snow compressed into ice are shrinking 18 percent faster than an international panel of scientists calculated in 2013.
  • The world's glaciers are shrinking five times faster now than they were in the 1960s. Their melt is accelerating due to global warming, and adding more water to already rising seas. 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Lending Rates Being Slashed

  •  Equated monthly instalments (EMIs) are set to fall with banks announcing a cut in their lending rates.
  • The country's largest lender, State Bank of India (SBI) led the way cutting the interest rate on its loans by 5 basis points (bps).
  • As a result, the one year marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) of SBI, to which most loans are linked, will now drop to 8.5%.

Tata Sponge Iron Ltd. Completes Acquisition

  •  Tata Sponge Iron Ltd. (TSIL), a Tata Steel subsidiary, has announced the completion of its acquisition of the steel business of Usha Martin Ltd.
  • TSIL said that it completed the acquisition, which included UML's steel business undertaking along with captive power plants.
  • The acquired business comprises a one million tonne per annum (mtpa) alloy-based long products making facility in Jamshedpur, an operational iron ore mine, a coal mine under development, and captive power plants.

TechM to Buy Stake in lnfotek and Vitaran

  •  Tech Mahindra will acquire 18.1% stake each in Infotek Software and Systems (ISS) and Vitaran Electronics for a consideration of up to Rs. 13 crore.
  • Tech Mahindra intends to leverage the presence of the firms in the radio-frequency identification (RFID) space in building a strong footprint in the asset monitoring, tracking and automated billing solutions space.
  • The investment will also help expand Tech Mahindra's solution portfolio to cater to the smart city projects.

SPORTS

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Senior National-ranking Tournament

  •  Kerala's biggest badminton event, the senior National-ranking tournament, will be held at Kozhikode's V. K. Krishna Menon indoor stadium from April 16 to 21.
  • Competitions for men and women in singles, doubles and mixed doubles will be conducted in the tournament which carries a total prize fund of Rs. 5 lakh.
  • The qualifying rounds will be played on April 16 and 17 and the main draw will start on April 18.
  • Thiruvananthapuram will host the junior National-ranking tournament at the Sports Hub-Yogendran International Badminton Academy from May 28 to June 2 with the qualifying rounds on the first two days.
  • Meanwhile, the Kerala Badminton Association has allotted the State senior championships to Thrissur and it will be held from August 28 to September 1.

Manpreet and Suman Slapped Four-year Ban

  •  International women athletes, shot-putter Manpreet Kaur and javelin thrower Suman Devi, have been handed a four-year ban by the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) after being caught for doping in 2017.
  • The Punjab shot-putter, who returned positive results an extraordinary four times, can appeal before NADA's Anti Doping Appeal Panel for reduction of her punishment.
  • The ban will be imposed with retrospective effect. Her suspension will start from July 20, 2017.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Phase 1 Campaign Ends

  • Campaigning ended for the first phase of polling for the 17th Lok Sabha election scheduled for 11/04/2019.
  • Ninety-one Lok Sabha constituencies across 20 States and Union Territories will vote in the first of the seven phases. Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and parts of Odisha will be voting to elect new Assemblies also.
  • Counting of votes of all phases will be on May 27.

Centre Denies RTI Plea

  •  The Centre has denied a Right to Information (RTI) request for details of the ongoing recruitment process for four vacancies in the Central Information Commission (CIC), despite a recent Supreme Court order mandating that such information be made public.
  • The CIC is the RTI Act's highest appellate body.

Body Scanners to Replace Metal Detectors

  •  According to the aviation security regulator, starting in April 2020, air travellers will be examined by body scanners at Indian airports, which has directed airport operators to replace metal detectors with superior technology.
  • The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) asked airport operators and security agencies to install the devices at pre-embarkation security check points of all airports in a phased manner.
  • Body scanners detect objects being carried by a traveller without the need for physical contact such as frisking.
  • The government communication does give air travellers the option of refusing to go through body scanners.
  • In that case, the traveller will be subjected to a full pat-down search. Air travellers with medical conditions will also be exempt from security screening by body scanners.
  • They will be screened using door frame metal detectors (DFMDs).

DEFENCE

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Range of Brahmos to Be Increased

  •  India's supersonic cruise missile BrahMos is all set to get an enhanced range to hit targets 500 kilometres away. BrahMos currently has a maximum range of 400 kilometres and work has already started on increasing its range.
  • While the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy have BrahMos in their arsenal, the current range limits their ability to hit targets deep inside the enemy territory.
  • A newer and lighter version of the missile called BrahMos NG (Next Generation) is also in the pipeline. BrahMos NG is likely to be test fired in the next two to three years with the missile expected to join active service in about four years.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Algerian Lawmakers Choose New President

  •  Lawmakers named Abdelkader Bensalah, the Speaker of the Upper House, as Algeria's first new President in two decades, after the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika following mass protests.
  • The election of Abdelkader Bensalah as interim president follows constitutional rules but goes against the demands of demonstrators, who have pushed for him and other top politicians to stand down.

Netanyahu Wins Fifth Term in Office

  •  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Israeli national election, securing a record fifth term in office.
  • With 96 per cent of the votes counted, Netanyahu's right-wing Likud won 37 of Knesset seats, against 36 for centrist Blue and White, headed by Netanyahu's rival, former general Benny Gantz.
  • Though neither party captured a ruling majority in the 120-member Knesset, the results, published eight hours after voting ended, put Netanyahu in a strong position to form a coalition government with right-wing factions.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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World Homeopathy Day

  •  Homeopathy is a system of medicine based on the principle of triggering the body's own healing responses. It has been around for more than 200 years, and its popularity shows no signs of waning.
  • Homeopathy was discovered by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, who himself was a doctor practicing western medicine. Every year April 10, his birth anniversary, World Homeopathy Day is celebrated as a tribute to Hahnemann. 

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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Dost Education Bags Global Tech Prize

  •  India's education technology startup 'Dost Education' has bagged a $25,000 tech prize along with two other winners from Tanzania and Egypt.
  • The Next Billion Edtech Prize 2019, run by UK-based Varkey Foundation, recognises the most innovative technology destined to have a radical impact on education in low income and emerging world countries.
  • Dost was awarded for its ability to empower parents to take charge of their child's early education by creating short, friendly audio content that is sent to them via their mobile phones.
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