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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

30 Apr 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Sirisena Replaces Police Chief

  • President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a former Army commander to the post of Defence Secretary, and named a new police chief, as part of his promised effort to overhaul Sri Lanka's security establishment in the wake of the Easter blasts that killed over 250 people.
  • General S. H. S Kottegoda was appointed the Secretary of Defence, after Hemasiri Fernando resigned from the post.
  • President Sirisena also named Deputy Inspector-General Chandana Wickramaratne as the acting police chief. The incumbent Pujith Jayasundara, who Mr. Sirisena had earlier asked to resign, was asked to go on compulsory leave after he refused to resign.
  • As per Sri Lankan law, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) can be removed from the post only with a parliamentary resolution backed by a majority and based on a subsequent inquiry by a committee.

Ultimatum to Netanyahu

  • Israel's Attorney-General has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a week's time to confirm that he wants a formal hearing to defend himself before corruption charges are filed against him.
  • Avichai Mandelblit said that Mr. Netanyahu's lawyers that if he wants to exercise his right to defend himself before possible indictment, he must notify authorities by May 10. The hearing itself must then take place no later than July 10. Mr. Netanyahu's lawyers have been protesting non-payment of their fees and are refusing to collect the case files until they are paid, the letter said. Mr. Netanyahu, who won a fifth term in office, faces the prospect of becoming the first sitting Premier to be indicted.

Socialist Party of Spain Wins Election

  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists have won snap elections, without the necessary majority to govern solo, in a fragmented political landscape marked by the far-right's entry into parliament. The results raise the spectre of another period of instability for Spain, with Mr. Sánchez depending on alliances with hostile rivals in an environment that has soured since Catalonia's failed secession bid in 2017.

China and Pakistan Sign Agreement on Space Cooperation

  • China and Pakistan have signed an agreement on joint space exploration including manned missions. This agreement marks a new phase of cooperation between the two all weather allies.
  • The agreement will serve as a high-level foundation for cooperation in space science and exploration. Both nations will conduct scientific and technological experiments, astronaut training, along with manned space applications and achievement transformation.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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India Notifies Pact with US

  • India has notified the inter-governmental agreement with the US for exchange of country-by-country (CbC) reports on multinational companies regarding income allocation and taxes paid in order to help check cross-border tax evasion.
  • The agreement, which was signed by Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman P. C. Mody and US ambassador to India Kenneth Juster in March, was notified by the revenue department in April.
  • This agreement for exchange of CbC reports, along with the Bilateral Competent Authority Arrangement, will enable both the countries to automatically exchange CbC reports filed by the ultimate parent entities of multinational enterprises (MNEs) in the respective jurisdictions, pertaining to the years commencing on or after January 1, 2016.

Max Offers Exit to Investors

  • Analjit Singh's Max India Ltd said that it would offer an exit opportunity to public shareholders as the company plans to enter new businesses after selling its hospitals and health insurance arms.
  • Max India is currently in the midst of selling a 51% stake in its health insurance joint venture, Max Bupa, to private equity firm True North. The process is likely to be completed in the next six months.
  • Max India is also preparing to demerge into two listed entities. The first entity will be created by the merger of Max Healthcare Institute Ltd with the KKR backed hospital operator Radiant Life Care Pvt. Ltd. The combined entity will be India's third largest corporate hospital chain, with more than 3,200 beds and 16 hospitals and will be listed on the stock exchanges.
  • Radiant Life Care agreed to buy a majority stake in Max Healthcare from Max India in December last. According to the company's statement, Max India's other demerged entity named Advaita will own the group's retirement homes business, Antara Senior Living. It will also manage a corpus of over ₹500 crore received from the sale of Max Bupa.

China Shores up Projects

  • China is shoring-up its connectivity projects with Nepal and Myanmar, including a trans-Himalayan network, a cross-border railway venture and an economic corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • The Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network, including the Nepal-China cross-border railway, have been named under the list of projects under the BRI.
  • The naming of the bilateral projects with Nepal coincided with Beijing dropping the BCIM or the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Corridor from the BRI projects' list.
  • Instead, China has now named the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor under the BRI, an indication that Beijing will go ahead with infrastructure projects in south Asia bilaterally.

SPORTS

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2024 World TT

  • Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) has decided to bid for the 2024 edition of the biennial World Team Championships.
  • According to TTFI secretary M.P. Singh, the time has come for India to host a high-profile event. The last time India hosted a World Championships was way back in 1987.

Bajrang and Vinesh Nominated for Khel Ratna

  • The Wrestling Federation of India recommended Asian Champion Bajrang Punia and last year's Asian Games gold-medallist Vinesh Phogat for the country's highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
  • The National shooting federation has suggested the names of pistol ace Heena Sidhu and trap shooter Ankur Mittal for the Khel Ratna.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Mumbai Records a Turnout of 55.11%

  • Mumbaikars maintained their track record of a low turnout in general elections with an estimated 55.11% voting registered for its six Lok Sabha seats. This however, is the highest since 1991, and nearly 4% more than 51.59% in 2014.
  • Mumbai's polling percentage has been consistently low with 41.41% turnout in 2009, 47.15% in 2004, 44.86% in 1999, 50.26% in 1998, 45.10% in 1996, and 41.60% in 1991.

Supreme Court Seeks Response from Election Commission

  • The Supreme Court sought a response from the Election Commission to a plea to decriminalise the act of reporting "deviant behaviour" manifested in electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) sytems during polling.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued notice to the Commission to explain the requirement for Rule 49 MA of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 read with Section 177 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises the reporting of malfunctioning of EVMs and VVPATs.

Left Front Demands Fresh Polls in West Tripura

  • The Opposition Left Front in Tripura took out rallies across the West Tripura constituency demanding that the Election Commission order fresh election in the Lok Sabha seat.
  • The Left Front alleged that large-scale rigging and violence had taken place during the April 11 election in the constituency.

DEFENCE

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Army Invokes Emergency Powers

  • The Army is in the process of procuring Spike-LR Anti-Tank Missiles from Israel and Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence Systems (VSHORAD) from Russia through a set of new financial powers for emergency procurements sanctioned by the Defence Ministry earlier this month.
  • Under the latest emergency financial powers, armed forces have been given a free hand to procure equipment worth up to Rs. 300 crore on a priority basis.
  • Under the emergency route, the Army is looking to procure about 12 launchers and around 250 missiles for each system.

Defence Ministry Awards Contract to GRSE

  • The defence ministry awarded a Rs. 6,311-crore contract to public sector shipyard Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Limited (GRSE) to supply anti-submarine warfare boats to the navy.
  • Of the eight anti-submarine warfare shallow water craft (ASWSWC) on order, the yard will deliver the first ship in 42 months followed by two boats every year. The current projects being executed by the yard include stealth frigates, anti-submarine warfare corvettes and survey vessels for the navy and fast patrol vessels for the coast guard.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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Ayushman Bharat Diwas

  • Ayushman Bharat Diwas is celebrated across the country on April 30. The Ayushman Bharat programme seeks to provide easily available and affordable medical facilities in the remote parts of the country. The Scheme has the benefits cover of 5 lakh rupees per family per year. Through the scheme, the families belonging to poor and vulnerable population based on Socio-Economic Caste Census database will be benefited. A beneficiary will be allowed to take cashless benefits from any public and private empanelled hospitals across the country. The Ayushman Bharat has twin missions. The first is to create a network of Health and Wellness Centres to deliver comprehensive primary health care close to the community. In the second, it aims to provide insurance coverage to 40% of India's population for secondary and tertiary care, including hospitalization costs.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Committee to Oversee Clean Air Programme

  • The Union Environment Ministry has constituted a committee to implement the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
  • The committee will be chaired by the Secretary, Union Environment Ministry and has among its members the Joint Secretary (Thermal), Ministry of Power; Director-General, The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), the Delhi-based think-tank; and Professor Sachidananda Tripathi, Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K).
  • The committee would be headquartered in New Delhi.
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