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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

11 Jun 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Final Report on Easter Attacks

  •  A three-member committee appointed to probe the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, which killed more than 250 people, submitted its final report to President Maithripala Sirisena.
  • Supreme Court Justice Vijith Malalgoda, who headed the committee, handed over the report to Mr. Sirisena. 

Pakistan Announces Five-year Visa for US Citizens

  •  Pakistan decided to grant five-year, multiple-entry visas to American nationals after the US in March 2019 reduced visa validity for Pakistanis from five years to one year.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised Pakistani diplomatic missions in the US to follow the new policy while issuing visas to American nationals.
  • The five-year visa would benefit the investors and tourists of both countries. The visa policy is according to Prime Minister Imran Khan's vision to improve tourism and business.

Hong Kong Pushes Ahead with Extradition Bill

  •  Hong Kong's leader signaled that her government would push ahead with amendments to extradition laws. A day earlier, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in protest of the proposed measure. It was the city's largest protest in more than 10 years.
  • The bill would mean people charged with crimes could be sent from Hong Kong to mainland China to face punishment.
  • China has a much different legal system than Hong Kong. The possibility of extradition has worried many in Hong Kong, from international business groups to legal experts to pro-democracy parties.
  • Residents have long fought against efforts by China to increase control.
  • Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam described the legislation as important. She said that it would help Hong Kong uphold justice and meet international requirements. Lam also said that she had not received any orders from mainland China to push the bill forward.
  • According to Lam, the bill seeks to prevent Hong Kong from becoming a place for criminals to hide. 

ENVIRONMENT

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Canada to Ban Single-use Plastics

  •  Canada would ban single-use plastics from 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced, declaring it a "global challenge" to phase out the plastic bags, straws and cutlery. 

SDMC Goes for Green Flexes

  •  The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) started using green or biodegradable flexes on its unipole advertisements because of the environmental harm caused by plastic flexes.
  • Flexes refer to vinyl sheets printed in colour so they are flexible, which makes them ideal for banners. These banners are usually made of poly-vinyl chloride (PVC), a synthetic material that does not degenerate.
  • As a result, they can only be dumped in landfills or burnt after they are scrapped. In garbage dumps, such flexes do not degrade for thousands of years and when burnt, release toxic fumes that have serious implications on public health.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Coal India Identifies Assets in Australia

  •  Public sector Coal India Ltd. (CIL) identified assets in Australia, in which it is keen to acquire equity stakes.
  • Accordingly, it is planning to appoint an internationally reputed merchant or investment banker to carry out the financial due diligence.
  • CIL had earmarked about Rs. 6,000 crore for the purpose. 
  • The mine acquisition initiative is in line with CIL's plans to set up overseas businesses involving coking coal and high-grade low-ash thermal coal.
  • Its strategy is to acquire the coal resources, produce them and import the output into India.
  • The production would either be through opening of new mines or through equity participation in working mines on production-sharing basis.

Socure Inc. to Focus on India

  •  New York-based Socure Inc., a provider of digital identity verification technology on real-time basis, is planning to focus more on India for its business growth.
  • So far, Source Inc. had deployed $1 million in Chennai centre in staff, infrastructure and training.
  • By 2021, it plans to double the investment and the number of staff to 60 in India.

UltraTech Cement Gets Green Nod for Project in AP

  •  UltraTech Cement got the Environment Ministry's nod for a Rs. 2,500-crore project in Andhra Pradesh.
  • Under the project, the firm will set up an integrated cement plant at Petnikote in Kurnool district with a clinker capacity of 4 million tonne per annum (MTPA), 6 MTPA of cement, 60 MW of captive power plant and 15 MW of waste heat recovery-based power unit.

SPORTS

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Yuvraj Singh Retires from International Cricket

  •  Legendary all-rounder Yuvraj Singh retired from international cricket, bringing down the curtains on an illustrious career that not only saw him winning some of the biggest trophies including the Cricket World Cup but also defeating the dreaded cancer.
  • The 2011 World Cup hero said that he decided to move on while announcing his retirement at a press conference.
  • Yuvraj Singh last played a Test in 2012 and One Day International (ODI) and T20 in 2017.

Senior National Squash Championship

  •  The 76th Senior National Squash Championship kicked off in Pune at four different venues, for both men's and women's events, till June 16.
  • The competition is organised by the Maharashtra Squash Racket Association under the aegis of the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI).
  • It has also been granted the 'SRFI 7 Star' championship status, and would be governed and played under the Squash Rackets Federation of India national circuit and ranking guidelines.
  • The event carry's valuable ranking points and a total prize money purse of Rs. 12 lakh.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Shiromani Akali Dal Seeks Alliance with BJP

  •  The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is seeking to contest 15 of the 90 assembly seats in Haryana in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming state elections.
  • The assembly polls are due in Haryana in October 2019.
  • The SAD and the BJP have been in alliance in Punjab since the days of the Jan Sangh, the saffron party's parent outfit.
  • However, it would be for the first time that the two parties will be joining hands in Haryana, if the alliance works out.

No Plan for President's Rule

  •  West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, who met Home Minister Amit Shah, said that no discussion was held to impose President's Rule in the State.
  • Mr. Tripathi also apprised the prevailing situation in the State to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Top Tax Officials Told to Retire

  •  The Union government forced 12 senior tax officials to retire from their jobs over allegations of misconduct such as fraud, extortion and sexual harassment, launching an unprecedented clean-up in the bureaucracy that, according to officials familiar with the matter, is likely to be extended to other departments.
  • The 12, all from the Indian Revenue Services (IRS), included seven commissioners – one of the topmost ranks in the Income Tax department; one joint commissioner, three additional commissioners, and an assistant commissioner.

DEFENCE

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Govt. to Buy NASAMS-II

  •  The government is set to acquire the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II) from the US. 
  • As per reports, the Defence Ministry had started the process of acquiring NASAMS-II during the first term of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government at the Centre. 
  • It is expected that the US would seal the deal worth Rs. 6,000 crore within two months. The NASASM-II is capable of neutralising any attack which is launched using an aircraft, drone or missile from a distance of 55 to 180 kilometres.
  • The NASASM-II comes equipped with US-made Sentinel radar and AMRAAM missiles. The state-of-the-art air defence system also boasts of Stinger missiles and advanced gun systems.
  • The NASASM-II will be used as the last line of aerial defence for big cities, including Delhi.
  • NASAMS-II is an upgraded version of the Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace/Raytheon National Advanced Surface to-Air Missile System (NASAMS).
  • It comes equipped with new 3D mobile surveillance radars and 12 missile launchers.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Ajai Kumar Quits Yes Bank Board

  •  Yes Bank has informed the stock exchanges that Ajai Kumar, non-executive director of the bank, has resigned.
  • The former chairman and managing director of Corporation Bank was appointed to Yes Bank board in January 2016.
  • Mr. Kumar was appointed as the bank's interim CEO for a month after Rana Kapoor's term ended in January 2019.
  • After Ravneet Gill took over as the MD and CEO from March 1, 2019, Mr. Kumar ceased to be the Interim CEO of the bank.
  • Prior to joining Corporation Bank, Mr. Kumar was the executive director of another state-run lender, UCO Bank.

Nissan Appoints Sinan Ozkok

  •  Japanese auto major Nissan appointed Sinan Ozkok as the president of its Indian operations.
  • Mr. Ozkok would be based out of Gurugram and responsible for all functions in India, including sales and marketing, R&D and manufacturing, for both Nissan and Datsun brands.
  • He joins India from Nissan Otomotiv A.S. (NOAS), the automaker's national sales firm in Turkey, where he has been MD since 2015. 

Former Chief Minister R.V. Janakiraman Passes Away

  •  Former Chief Minister of Puducherry and DMK leader R. V. Janakiraman passed away.
  • His body will be kept at his residence. The mortal remains will be laid to rest with full State honours at his residence in Alathur near Marakkanam in Tamil Nadu.
  • Mr. Janakiraman was the DMK State convener for Puducherry from 1993 to 2012.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Microsoft's AI for Earth Grant 2019

  •  Mumbai's computer science professor Dr. Nupur Giri was awarded Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Earth Grant 2019 for working on predicting how airborne diseases can propagate based on climate conditions, air quality, and population density in an area.
  • Dr. Giri, professor and head of department of computer engineering at the Vivekanand Education Society's Institute of Technology (VESIT), Chembur, and her team started the project in 2018 to find the correlation between these seemingly disparate factors to predict the propagation of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) in India.
  • Dr.Giri hopes their AI-based model can help predict areas of spread of TB and help agencies tackling the disease focus their efforts in those areas. 

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Jagan Announces Waiver of Interest on Loans

  •  In his first cabinet meeting after assuming office, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy announced waiver of interest on all crop loans to be availed by farmers in the next five years.
  • The government would pay interest to the banks concerned directly.
  • The cabinet also decided to constitute AP Rythu Commission (farmers' commission) to take care of all the needs of the farmers, including supply of inputs besides ensuring remunerative price for their produce.
  • The commission will be headed by the CM and comprise six to seven members, including representatives of farmers and agriculture experts.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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Encephalitis Outbreak in Bihar

  •  At least 23 children have lost their lives in Bihar due to a fresh outbreak of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) and Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in June first week.
  • Muzzafarpur is the worst-affected district as 14 children have been reported dead due to the fatal fever.
  • With the number of children admitted to hospitals with encephalitis symptoms is increasing, Sri Krishna Memorial College Hospital (SKMCH) ensured adequate stocking of oxygen cylinders. Around 40 cylinders are reportedly stocked every day at the hospital.
  • Medical experts suggested that the outbreak occurs only when heat coupled with high-level humidity rises to an extreme level. The disease is controlled with the onset of monsoon.

First Woman to Lead a US Army Infantry Division

  •  The California National Guard announced the appointment of the first woman to lead a US Army infantry division.
  • Brig Gen Laura Yeager would assume command of the 40th Infantry Division in June end at Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California.
  • Yeager currently commands Joint Task Force North, US Northern Command at Fort Bliss, Texas.
  • Yeager was commissioned in 1986 as a second lieutenant from the Reserve Officer Training Corps at California State University, Long Beach.
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