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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

23 May 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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May's Reworked Deal

  • Prime Minister Theresa May implored British MPs to back her reworked EU divorce deal but saw pro-Brexit Conservatives and Opposition parties savage her bid for a compromise to end months of political crisis.
  • Ms. May urged lawmakers, who have repeatedly rejected her plan, to vote for it in early June so that the country can finally leave the bloc later in the summer. "The opportunity of Brexit is too large and the consequences of failure too grave to risk further delay," the Prime Minister, who has vowed to stand down following the crunch parliamentary vote, told the House of Commons. "Reject it and all we have before us is division and deadlock."

Rampahosa Re-elected South African President

  • South African lawmakers re-elected Cyril Ramaphosa as the nation's President, two weeks after the ruling ANC party returned to power in legislative elections. Mr. Ramaphosa was the only name nominated by lawmakers in Cape Town.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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SEBI Mulls Buy-back Norms' Review

  • Regulator SEBI proposed changes to share buy-back norms for companies having non-banking financial companies and housing finance companies as subsidiaries.
  • A discussion paper was issued to seek suggestions relating to the review of conditions for buy-back of securities.
  • According to the discussion paper, the committee had proposed that post buy-back, debt to capital and free reserves ratio of 2:1 should be considered on consolidated basis, excluding subsidiaries that are regulated and have AAA ratings.

U.K. and Japan Begin to Turn Away from Huawei

  • Google's decision to cut off support to Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant blacklisted by the Trump administration, is rippling across the globe as companies suspend ties to the handset-maker.
  • In Britain, where Huawei is one of the most popular cellphone brands, two of country's biggest mobile networks, EE and Vodafone, announced they would stop offering Huawei phones to 5G customers as a result of Google's decision.
  • In Japan, the three largest cellphone companies also said that they were reconsidering plans to sell a new series of Huawei smartphones.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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Country's Largest Liquid Hydrogen Tank

  • ISRO Chairman K. Sivan flagged off the country's largest liquid hydrogen storage tank at Sri City.
  • VRV Asia Pacific manufactured the storage tank with a Liquid Nitrogen shield in a collaborative effort with the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The tank can store 120 kilolitres of liquid hydrogen, which is used as fuel for satellite launch vehicles.

SPORTS

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FIFA Drops Plans for 48-team 2022 World Cup

  • FIFA shelved a proposed expansion of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to 48 teams, dealing a blow to the world football body's president Gianni Infantino.
  • The 2022 tournament in the Gulf state will now be played with 32 nations taking part.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Senior NCP Leader Quits Party

  • Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA from Beed and former minister Jaydutta Kshirsagar joined Shiv Sena in the presence of president Uddhav Thackeray at Sena Bhavan. Mr. Kshirsagar was a minister of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) in the previous Congress-NCP government.

AFT Asks Defence Ministry to Produce Original Records

  • The Armed Forces Tribunal asked Defence Ministry to produce original records relating to the navy chief's appointment while hearing a petition by Vice Admiral Bimal Verma, who has challenged appointment of his junior Vice Admiral Karambir Singh to the top job.
  • Verma's lawyer Ankur Chhibber said that the matter would come up for hearing on May 29, three days before current navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba retires. The AFT is hearing the matter after the Defence Ministry last week rejected Verma's statutory complaint challenging Singh's appointment as the next chief.

Centre Clears Names of Four Judges

  • The Centre cleared the names of four judges to be elevated to the Supreme Court, a week after the collegium disagreed with the department of justice for the second time in a year over the issue of judicial appointments.
  • With the appointments of justices Aniruddha Bose, A. S. Bopanna, B. R. Gavai and Surya Kant, the number of judges in the apex court will go up to a full strength of 31.

DEFENCE

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Successful Test Fire of Aerial Version of BrahMos

  • The IAF successfully test fired the aerial version of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile from a Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft. The 2.5 tonne air-to-surface missile has a range of around 300 km.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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First Woman Pilot of IAF to be Qualified

  • Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth became the first woman pilot of the IAF to be qualified to undertake combat missions on a fighter jet. Flight Lieutenant Kanth completed the operational syllabus for carrying out combat missions on Mig-21 Bison aircraft during day time.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Arabic Novel Wins Man Booker International Prize

  • Celestial Bodies, a family saga set against Oman's transition from slave trading centre to oil producer, became the first novel originally written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize.
  • The book's author, Jokha Alharthi of Oman, shares the award of £50,000 pounds (about $63,000) with its translator, Marilyn Booth. The prize, given each year to the best book translated into English and published in Britain, is widely seen as the world's most significant award for translated fiction.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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US Student Visa Fee to Cost More

  • The US announced a $150 hike in fees for processing student visa, up from the current $200 to $350, marking a 75% rise that will make US education even costlier for applicants and hopefuls, many of whom come from India.
  • The new fees, which apply to F (academic) and M (non-academic, vocational) visa categories of students go into effect on June 24. Fees will go up also for other services under the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) such as exchange visitors under J category and SEVP-certified schools for processing applications and site inspections.
  • For some J visas the fee goes from $180 to $220; and the SEVP school certification petition fee rises from $1,700 to $3000.
  • India is the second biggest source of international students for US colleges and universities, at 196,271 or 17% of 1.09 million in 2017-2018, second only to China which topped with 363,341, according to Open Doors, a resource on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions.

Argentina and Algeria Certified Free of Malaria

  • Argentina and Algeria joined 36 other countries and territories that have been certified Malaria-free by the World Health Organisation.
  • The countries were officially recognised as Malaria-free in the ongoing 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. The certification is granted when a country proves it has interrupted indigenous transmission of the mosquito-borne disease for at least three years.
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