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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

18 Apr 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Global Contest to Replace Notre-Dame Spire

  •  France announced it would invite architects from around the world to submit designs for replacing the spire of Notre-Dame Cathedral after a devastating blaze, as the government braced for a mammoth restoration challenge.
  • According to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, the contest would decide whether the monument should have a new spire at all and if so, whether it should be identical to the fallen 19th-century model or be a wholly new design.

Widodo Set for Re-election

  •  Indonesia's Joko Widodo was on track to be re-elected leader of the world's third-biggest democracy as unofficial results put him in a comfortable lead over firebrand ex-General Prabowo Subianto after voting closed across the 17,000-island archipelago.
  • While official results are not due until May, a series of so-called "quick counts" by pollsters showed Mr. Widodo as much as 11 percentage points ahead.

Trump Vetoes Bill

  •  President Donald Trump vetoed a resolution from Congress directing him to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, the second such move of his presidency.
  • The resolution was a harsh bipartisan rebuke to Mr. Trump that took the historic step of curtailing a President's war-making powers, a step he condemned in a statement announcing his veto.
  • Mr. Trump argued that U.S. support for the bloody war between the Saudi-backed Yemeni government and Iran-aligned Houthi rebels was necessary for a variety of reasons, first and foremost to protect the safety of  more than 80,000 Americans who reside in certain coalition countries. 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Mindtree Joins $1-billion Club

  •  Twenty years after it was founded, mid-tier IT firm Mindtree crossed $1 billion in revenue during the fiscal ended March 31, 2019.
  • Amid a hostile takeover bid from Larsen & Toubro, the board of directors of Mindtree has declared an interim dividend of 30% (Rs. 3 per share that will be paid before May 10).
  • The board also recommended a final dividend of 40% and special dividend of 200% (Rs. 20 per equity share of face value of Rs. 10 each) to celebrate the twin achievements of exceeding $1 billion annual revenue milestone and the company turning 20.
  • For the payout of the final and special dividends, the company will seek shareholders' approval in June-July period, after L&T's open offer closes on May 27.

Crisil Board Clears Transfer of Rating Business

  •  The board of directors of Crisil has approved the transfer of the ratings business to a 100% subsidiary of Crisil.
  • This has been done to comply with the rules laid down by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which states that rating and non-rating businesses of credit rating agencies have to be segregated.
  • This segregation will have no impact on Crisil's businesses and the financial value to Crisil's shareholders will remain unchanged.

RIL Arm Ink Pact with MOL

  •  Reliance Ethane Holding Pte. Ltd. (REHPL) has entered into a binding definitive agreement with Mitsui O.S.K Lines Ltd. (MOL) of Japan and a minority investor for strategic investment in six special purpose limited liability companies, each owning a very large ethane carrier (VLEC) of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).
  • The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals. Post deal closure, the special purpose vehicles shall be jointly controlled by REHPL and MOL.
  • According to said P.M.S. Prasad, ED, RIL, MOL is currently the operator of all the six VLECs, investment by MOL will deepen our relationship with them and ensure continued safe and efficient operations of the VLECs.

 ArcelorMittal to Sell Steel Assets

  •  ArcelorMittal received approval from the European Commission to sell steel-making assets in Europe to Liberty House Group.
  • The assets included within the divestment package are ArcelorMittal Ostrava in Czech Republic, ArcelorMittal Galati in Romania, ArcelorMittal Skopje (Macedonia), ArcelorMittal Piombino (Italy), ArcelorMittal Dudelange (Luxembourg) and several finishing lines at ArcelorMittal Liège (Belgium).

Etihad Airways-IBS Software Sign Contract

  •  Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE and IBS Software (IBS) have signed a contract to enhance the airline's operations.
  • IBS, a leading provider of new generation IT travel solutions, was selected to replace the airline's existing network control system and develop a hub management system, allowing the airline's staff to move away from manual processes to highly intuitive technology.

Saudi Aramco Eyes stake in RIL's Refinery

  •  Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil exporter, is in talks to buy a stake in Reliance Industries' oil refineries and petrochemical complex.
  • Aramco opened talks with Reliance as the $44-billion mega refinery-cum-petrochemical complex, where it was taking a 50% stake along with UAE's ADNOC, got delayed after the government scrapped plans to acquire land for the project in coastal Maharashtra.

Cashless Claim Settlement of Motor Cover

  •  Policybazaar.com, an insurance comparison portal, has launched a new initiative to help its motor insurance customers get assured cashless settlements at the time of claims.
  • Called cashless assurance, the new initiative allows customers to opt for cashless approvals of claims across all garages in India within few hours.
  • In the past, this service had been provided through a select insurer of network-garages.
  • With the latest initiative of Policybazaar, policyholders can avail this service at any garage across the country without paying the money upfront and filing for reimbursement thereafter.
  • Insurers such as New India Assurance Co., The Oriental Insurance Company, IFFCO Tokio General Insurance and DHFL General Insurance have partnered Policybazaar.com to offer customers easy access to cashless settlement options.

RIL in Talks to Buy Hamleys

  •  Reliance Industries is in talks to buy centuries-old British toy retailer Hamleys as the company expands its presence in the consumer space.
  • Currently, Reliance Industries' retail arm Reliance Retail has the licence to sell Hamleys' products in India.
  • In 2015, China's C.banner International had acquired Hamleys in a £100-million deal. In October 2018, Sky News reported that C.banner International, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, had launched a strategic review of the loss-making Hamleys and was looking to sell it.

SPORTS

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TCS World 10K Ambassador

  •  Four-time Grand Slam singles champion and former World No.1 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario was announced as the International Event Ambassador of the TCS World 10K to be held on May 19.
  • Sanchez Vicario, who won the French Open in 1989, 1994 and 1998, and the US Open in 1994, is the second women's tennis star to be named the Event Ambassador after Mary Pierce in 2018.

Rayudu and Pant Named Stand-bys

  •  Ambati Rayudu (batsman) and Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper) have been named as standbys for the Indian team at the World Cup.
  • Ishant Sharma will be the first choice replacement for an injured fast bowler while the replacement for a spinner will be left-armer Axar Patel.
  • Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed and Avesh Khan will travel as net bowlers.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Sadhvi to Take On Digvijaya

  •  The BJP named Malegaon blasts case accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh as its candidate for Bhopal to take on Congress veteran Digvijaya Singh.
  • The contest in Bhopal, a stronghold of the BJP, has become a battle of prestige for both BJP and Congress. The Sangh Parivar and the Congress have taken special interest in the seat, which the BJP bagged after the emergence of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in 1989.
  • The Ram Rath Yatra by then BJP president L. K. Advani in 1990 that touched the Bhopal constituency decisively changed its political direction.
  • Since then, the BJP has held its ground by unfurling strong Hindutva sentiments in this Lok Sabha seat that has sent 16 MPs.
  • The other candidates are Dr. K.P. Yadav for Guna, Raj Bahadur Singh for Sagar and Ramakant Bhargav for Vidisha. The four seats go to the polls on May 12.

AAP-Cong Talks Stall

  •  Alliance talks between the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress failed, with the Congress agreeing to a tie-up in Delhi but refusing to include a seat-share in Haryana.
  • AAP leader Sanjay Singh, who was heading the alliance talks for the Aam Aadmi Party, said that the Congress was not in a mood for an alliance.

Madras HC Upholds Decision to Cancel Election

  •  The Madras High Court upheld the decision of the Election Commission of India to cancel the election to the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency.
  • Dismissing a petition moved by AIADMK candidate AC Shanmugam and independent candidate K Sugumar, the High Court upheld the ECI decision which was taken in view of excess use of money power seen in the constituency.
  • ECI had taken note of reports of money power being used in the Vellore Lok Sabha constituency and had recommended that the election scheduled for April 18 - be cancelled.
  • It was a recommendation that was upheld by President Ram Nath Kovind also.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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TIME's 2019 list of 100 most influential people

  •  Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani and public-interest litigators Arundhati Katju and Menaka Guruswamy, who spearheaded a historic legal battle for LGBTQ rights in India, are among the Indians who have been named by TIME magazine in its prestigious list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
  • The list includes Indian-American comedian and TV host Hasan Minhaj, US President Donald Trump, Pope Francis, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, iconic golfer Tiger Woods and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Veteran RJD leader Quits Party

  •  The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) suffered a setback as senior leader and former MP M. A. A. Fatmi resigned from the party and announced his intention to contest from the Madhubani seat.
  • Fatmi resigned from the RJD after almost 30 years of association with the party.
  • Earlier, he had joined hands with RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in 1989 and made his way to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1991 from the Darbhanga parliamentary seat.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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World Heritage Day

  •  The International Day for Monuments and Sites also known as World Heritage Day is an international observance held on 18 April each year around the world with different types of activities, including visits to monuments and heritage sites. 
  • The International Day for Monuments and Sites was proposed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites on 18 April 1982 and approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983.
  • The aim is to promote awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage of humanity, their vulnerability and the efforts required for their protection and conservation.
  • The theme for 2019 is Rural Landscapes
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