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General Awareness - Top Stories

17 May 2019


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Saudi Warplanes Bomb Yemeni Capital

  • Saudi-led coalition warplanes bombed Yemeni rebel targets including in the capital following insurgent drone strikes on a key oil pipeline that Riyadh said were ordered by its arch rival Tehran.
  • The new bombardment came after the UN envoy, who has been spearheading efforts to end more than four years of conflict in the Arab world's poorest country, warned it still faced the threat of plunging into all-out war.
  • The Saudi Deputy Defence Minister warned that the attack by Yemeni rebels on a major pipeline in the kingdom was tightening the noose around peace efforts.

Technology Ban Escalates U.S.-China Tensions

  •  China warned the U.S. against further harming trade ties after President Donald Trump effectively barred Chinese telecom giant Huawei from the U.S. market, escalating tensions between the world's top economic powerhouses.
  • The spat over Huawei adds to the uncertainty over efforts to revive a deal that would end a bruising U.S.-China trade war after the two sides hiked tariffs in recent days.
  • This has caused the China-U.S. economic and trade talks to suffer a serious setback.
  • Mr. Trump stepped up the U.S. battle against Huawei when he signed an executive order prohibiting the purchase or use of equipment from companies that pose "an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States" or the safety of the American people.


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ICICI Probe Widens

  •  The Enforcement Directorate (ED), investigating links between former ICICI Bank managing director and chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar and the Videocon Group, has expanded its probe into a total of 24 loans aggregating to Rs. 7,862 crore that, it believes, were loaned illegally and criminally by the bank to the conglomerate when she was in charge between 2009 and 2018.

RBI Mandates Risk Officers

  •  The RBI has asked all shadow banks with a size of over Rs. 5,000 crore to appoint chief risk officers (CROs) with clearly specified roles and responsibilities.
  • The CRO shall be a senior official in the hierarchy of an NBFC (non-banking finance company) and shall possess adequate professional qualification/experience in the area of risk management.
  • The CRO should be appointed for a fixed tenure with the approval of the board.
  • Removal or transfer will need the board's approval and has to be reported to the regulator.

Reliance-BP Combine Bids for Oil Block

  •  Reliance Industries and its British partner BP Plc have made their first bid for an oil and gas exploration acreage in over eight years by bidding for one of the 32 blocks up for auction in the latest licensing round that saw mining major Vedanta putting in as many as 30 bids while state-owned ONGC bid count went to 20.
  • Bidding for 14 blocks on offer in the Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) round-II and another 18 oil and gas blocks and 5 coal-bed methane (CBM) blocks on offer under OALP-III closed on 15 May 2019.
  • As per reports, Vedanta, which had won 41 of the 55 blocks offered under OALP-I in 2018, bid for 30 areas. Oil and Natural Gas Corp. bid for 20 blocks while Oil India Ltd. bid for 16. Indian Oil Corporation, GAIL (India) and SunPetro bid for 2 blocks each.


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SpaceX Postpones Starlink Satellite Launch

  •  A SpaceX launch already scrubbed once due to inclement weather was postponed again nearly 24 hours later, this time for about a week, in order to update satellite software and triple-check everything.
  • The delayed mission is designed to carry into low-Earth orbit an initial batch of 60 satellites for Musk`s new Starlink global internet service, a venture intended to generate cash for the rest of the billionaire entrepreneur`s space exploration ambitions.


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First Indian in CPL Players' Draft

  •  Irfan Pathan created history after becoming the first Indian cricketer to be included in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) players' draft.
  • The player draft for CPL 2019 was announced with Irfan being the only Indian in the list.
  • If Irfan does manage to find a buyer in the auctions then he will also become the first Indian cricketer to play in a major overseas T20 league.
  • Over the years, BCCI has maintained a tough stance in not allowing Indian cricketers to participate in T20 leagues like BBL, CPL, BPL, Ram Slam T20 but all of that is set to change with Irfan's inclusion in the CPL 2019 players' draft.


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India and Iran Discuss Visa Extension

  •  Two days after the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, India held the 11th Consular Committee Meeting with Iran which dealt with smoothing visa and legal matters essential for bilateral ties.
  • Both sides went ahead with the talks, even as Saudi Arabia blamed Tehran for a drone attack on Saudi oil installations.
  • Both sides discussed issues of mutual interest, including early conclusion of Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance on civil and commercial matters, extending longer duration of e-Visa for each others' nationals on reciprocity and visa facilitation for greater people-to-people contact.

Re-polling in Four Kerala Booths

  •  The Election Commission has decided to conduct a re-poll in four polling booths, three in the Kasaragod Lok Sabha constituency and one in the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency, where bogus votes were cast in the April 23 election.


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India Gives 2 Attack Copters to Afghanistan

  •  India handed over two Mi-24 attack helicopters to Afghanistan.
  • These helicopters are a replacement for the four attack helicopters gifted by India to Afghanistan in 2015.
  • The Mi-24 helicopters shall boost the capability of the Afghan Air Force (AAF) and enhance the effectiveness of the Afghan National Defence and Security Force in combating the scourge of terrorism.
  • The helicopters were formally handed over by Indian Ambassador Vinay Kumar to the Minister of National Defence of Afghanistan, Asadullah Khalid, at the Kabul Air Force base. The helicopters were purchased from Belarus.


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World Telecommunication Day

  •  World Telecommunication Day (WTD) has been celebrated annually on 17 May since 1969.
  • The date marks the anniversary of the founding of ITU on 17 May 1865, when the first International Telegraph Convention was signed in Paris.
  • In 1973, the event was formally instituted at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Malaga-Torremolinos, Spain.
  • Every year a topical theme is chosen and events celebrating that theme take place around the world.
  • With the growth in importance of information technology alongside telecommunications – especially the Internet – it was recognised that the topic also needed to be brought to public attention.
  • In 2005, the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) called upon the United Nations General Assembly to declare 17 May as World Information Society Day (WISD).
  • The aim was to focus on the importance of these technologies and the wide range of related social and economic issues that had been raised by the summit.
  • The UN General Assembly resolved in March 2006 that World Information Society Day (WISD) would indeed take place every year on 17 May.
  • Later in 2006, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey, decided to combine both celebrations as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD).


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New DTU Courses

  •  Delhi Technical University (DTU) is going to start five new courses at the postgraduate level from this session.
  • Three courses will be of science faculty, while two will be started in the management faculty.
  • According to information from DTU, MSc Physics, MSc Maths, MSc Biotechnology, MBBS in Business and Entrepreneurship and MBS Innovation and Venture Development Course are to be started from 2019 session.
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