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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

26 Jun 2019


Clash over Nizam of Hyderabad Funds in U.K.

  •  A decades-old legal dispute between India and Pakistan over around £35 million belonging to the Nizam of Hyderabad at the time of Partition and deposited in a London bank account has reached an important stage in the U.K. High Court.
  • The Nizam's descendants, Prince Mukarram Jah — the titular eighth Nizam of Hyderabad — and his younger brother Muffakham Jah, have joined hands with the Indian government in the legal battle against the Pakistan government over the funds lying with the NatWest Bank plc in London. 
  • The dispute revolves around 1,007,940 pounds and nine shillings that were transferred in 1948 from the then Nizam of Hyderabad, Osman Ali Khan, to the High Commissioner in Britain of the newly-formed Pakistan. That amount has since grown into millions. 

Next British PM to be Announced in July

  •  As per reports, the winner of the contest to replace Theresa May as leader of Britain's ruling Conservatives and Prime Minister would be announced on July 23.
  • Former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson is the favourite in the race, battling Britain's current top diplomat, Jeremy Hunt.
  • The two were chosen from a field of 10 by the Conservative party's 313 MPs, and are now seeking to woo an estimated 1,60,000 party members who would make the final choice.
  • Postal ballots would be sent out between July 6, 2019 and 8, and the deadline for returning them was set at 5 p.m. on July 22, 2019.
  • The announcement of the next leader of the Conservative party would be made the next day. 

Sri Lanka's Plan to Revive Death Row after 42 Years

  •  Amnesty International raised fresh concerns that Sri Lanka may soon end a 42-year moratorium on capital punishment and hang 13 men convicted of drug offences.
  • The London-based rights group was alarmed over media reports of preparations to resume hangings although the country still does not have a qualified hangman.
  • Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena must immediately halt his plans to resume executions for at least 13 prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes.
  • Sirisena in February 2019 announced he would carry out the first executions in 42 years within less than two months, but he is yet to sign any death warrant.
  • The President also appealed to human rights organisations not to pressure him on his decision.
  • Criminals in Sri Lanka are regularly handed death sentences for murder, rape and drug-related crimes but since 1976 their punishments have been commuted to life imprisonment.
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DHFL Partially Defaults on CP Repayment

  •  Mortgage lender Dewan Housing Finance Ltd. partially defaulted in repaying its investors of commercial paper. The company could pay only 40% of the aggregate amount.
  • According to a notification to the stock exchanges, DHFL paid 40% of Rs. 375 crore, which is Rs. 150 crore, on a proportionate basis.
  • While DHFL met liability obligations of Rs. 40,000 crore since September 2018, there was no recourse from lenders.
  • The company met all its financial obligations through a combination of internal accruals, sell down of its loan assets and monetisation of non-core assets.

Sinha-led Panel Proposes Stressed Asset Fund

  •  A committee formed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), headed by former SEBI Chairman U.K. Sinha, recommended a Rs. 5,000 crore distressed asset fund for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
  • The fund would assist units in a cluster where there is a change in the external environment such as plastic ban, which had resulted in large number of such entities becoming non-performing.
  • This would be of significant size which makes equity investments that help unlock debt or help revive sick units. It is a variation of venture capital fund, meant for equity investment of Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh in proprietary or partnership MSMEs, which would not or cannot list on the stock exchanges.
  • The structure would recognise that exits will not be big bang but through a percentage of revenues or profits over a period of 3-5 years. The onus of creating this fund would lie with the government.
  • The panel also suggested that the RBI should increase the limit for non-collateralised loans to Rs. 20 lakh, and this would address a significant proportion of the sector needs.
  • In addition, it also suggested revision in loan limit sanctioned under MUDRA by the Finance Ministry to Rs. 20 lakh from Rs. 10 lakh.
  • The committee also recommended banks that wish to specialise in MSME lending, their sub-targets for farm loans under the priority sector lender could be waived off, and instead can be given a target for loans to the SME sector.
  • The targets, committee said, could be of 50% of the net bank credit for universal banks and 80% for small finance banks.

LIC Cuts Stake in Axis Bank

  •  State-owned LIC sold over 5.25 crore shares, representing about 2 per cent stake, of Axis Bank through open market transaction.
  • With the sale of these shares, the stake of LIC (Life Insurance Corporation of India) in the private sector bank has now come down to 10.2 percent from 12.21 percent earlier, as per the BSE filing by Axis Bank.
  • LIC sold 5,25,06,202 shares through open market, the filing said without disclosing the sale value.
  • The total sale value could not be ascertained as the insurer sold the shares over a period of time.
  • The bank's shares closed at Rs 762.85, a piece on BSE, down 1.18 per cent.
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SpaceX Launches Falcon Heavy Rocket

  •  SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying 24 experimental satellites in what Elon Musk's rocket company called one of the most difficult launches it has attempted.
  • The mission, dubbed Space Test Program 2 (STP-2), is the third for the Falcon Heavy rocket, which SpaceX describes as the most powerful launch system in the world.
  • The company put satellites into orbit for agencies including NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), defense department laboratories, universities and a non-profit organisation.

NASA astronauts, Space Station Crew Mates Return to Earth

  •  NASA astronaut Anne McClain, veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and Canadian Space Agency record-holder David Saint-Jacques emerged from the space craft to applause from support crews, after touching down near the Kazakh city of Dzhezkazgan.
  • The trio's launch on December 3, 2018 was the first after a Soyuz rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague failed in October (2018) just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.
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England Openers Script World Cup History

  •  David Warner and Aaron Finch during their group stage encounter against England, the duo became the first opening pair to post five consecutive 50+ scores in World Cups.
  • Earlier, there were four opening pairs who had four consecutive 50+ scores to their name but with yet another 100-run stand at the Lord's, Finch and Warner were able to claim the impressive milestone.

India's 63rd Grandmaster

  •  Girish A. Koushik took the long road there but finally arrived at the destination of his dreams.
  • The 22-year-old from Mysuru became India's 63rd Grandmaster at the 37th Balaton International Chess Festival in Hungary.
  • Girish had completed his second GM norm in Mallorca late in May 2019, and the third in Budapest the following week.
  • Only 11 Elo rating points separated him from the figure of 2500 (live), and he duly crossed the line in Balatonlelle.
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Punjab CM Slams Canada

  •  Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh lambasted the Canadian government for its overt and covert support to the Khalistani movement, warning that Toronto's failure to check anti-India activities being carried out from its soil would be detrimental to its own security in the long run.
  • Citing the findings of the John Major Commission into the 1985 Kanishka bombing as a clear endorsement of Canada's failure to act against the Khalistanis operating from its soil, the CM said that by allowing the conspirators of the mass murder, the Canadian government had exposed its true intent.
  • It was more than apparent that Canada had been extending its support to Khalistanis despite New Delhi's protestations.
  • Mr. Singh had been raising the issue with the Canadian government, Amarinder noted that he had in fact given a list of wanted terrorists in Canada to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the latter's India visit in 2018.
  • The lack of response from their government so far has exposed their intent.

Election to Six Rajya Sabha Seats from Tamil Nadu

  •  According to the Election Commission, Elections to six Rajya Sabha seats from Tamil Nadu would be held on July 18.
  • The term of office of six members, T. Rathinavel, V. Maitreyan, K. R. Arjunan, R. Lakshmanan (all belonging to the ruling AIADMK), D. Raja (CPI) and Kanimozhi (DMK), would expire on July 24, 2019.
  • Ms. Kanimozhi has been elected to the Lok Sabha.
  • Notifications for the elections wouold be issued on July , 2019. The last date for filing nominations is July 8, 2019 and counting would be done on July 18, 2019.
  • The Tamil Nadu Assembly currently has 232 MLAs against its sanctioned strength of 234 following the death of Vikravandi MLA K. Rathamani (DMK) and the resignation of Nanguneri MLA H. Vasanthakumar (Congress), who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kanyakumari.
  • To get elected to the Rajya Sabha, a candidate needs the support of 34 MLAs. Based on the individual strength of the parties, the AIADMK (123 MLAs) and the DMK (100) are likely to send three members each to the Rajya Sabha — the latter with the support of the Congress (7) and the IUML (1). T.T.V. Dhinakaran is the lone Independent MLA.

Andhra Pradesh Disallows Bauxite Ore Mining

  •  The YSR Congress party government in Andhra Pradesh decided not to allow mining of bauxite ore in the Eastern Ghats in Visakhapatnam district, in an attempt to check unrest among tribal communities that have been strongly opposing the mining.
  • Announcing this at a conference of IPS officers in Amaravati, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy said that the controversial government order (GO No. 97) issued by the previous N. Chandrababu Naidu regime in November 2015 allowing the mining, would be scrapped immediately.
  • The GO had permitted AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) to take up bauxite mining in 1,212 hectares spread over 13 stretches in Chintapalli and Gudem Kotha Veedhi revenue blocks in Visakhapatnam district.
  • But the government put the order in abeyance following protests by local tribals and environmentalists.
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New Director General of Indian Coast Guard

  •  Krishnaswamy Natarajan was appointed as the next Director General of the Indian Coast Guard replacing Rajendra Singh, who was the first cadre officer to head the force.
  • Natarajan, the second Coast Guard officer to lead the force, would take over on June 30. He joined the force in January 1984, and holds a Masters Degree in Defence and Strategic Studies from Madras University.
  • Natarajan has held various important Command and Staff appointments, both afloat and ashore.

 New Opposition Leader in Maharashtra Assembly

  •  Senior Congress legislator Vijay Wadettiwar was appointed the new Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly. The announcement was made by state Assembly speaker Haribhau Bagade in the lower house.
  • In April 2019, senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil had resigned from the post. On June 4, 2019, he resigned as a Congress MLA and was inducted as cabinet minister in the BJP-led state government.
  • Wadettiwar, a former Shiv Sena Sena leader, joined the Congress with former chief minister Narayan Rane. He is known for being an aggressive leader and comes from Chandrapur district in Vidarbha.
  • Congress had recently appointed Wadettiwar as group leader in the state Assembly after which both Congress and NCP jointly recommended his name for the post of leader of opposition.

Saudi Arabia's New U.S. Ambassador

  •  Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan has a daunting task as she prepares to take up her role as the kingdom's ambassador to Washington with relations at their lowest point since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
  • Princess Reema, the daughter of former Ambassador to the US Bandar bin Sultan, renowned as one of the most influential Saudi envoys during his 22 years in Washington, the princess arrives with a deep knowledge of US politics and culture and a reputation as an advocate for women's rights.
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International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

  •  The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is a United Nations International Day against drug abuse and the illegal drug trade.
  • It is observed annually on 26th June, since 1989. The observance was instituted by General Assembly Resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987.
  • On 26th June 1987, two important texts (Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control & Declaration of the International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking) were adopted at the International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which was held in Vienna during 17-26 June 1987.
  • The Conference recommended that an annual day should be observed to mark the importance of the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.
  • Both the dates 17 June and 26 June were suggested, and in the later meetings 26 June was chosen and written into the draft and final resolution.
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Liberal Arts at Galgotias University

  •  The School of Liberal Arts (SLA), a flagship of Galgotias University, over the years, established itself as an institution of repute and a Centre of Excellence. The University was awarded five out of five stars in the internationally recognised QS rankings.
  • Renowned academicians and illustrious minds from around the world share their extensive experience in research and teaching with students at the SLA.
  • The School has six departments - Economics, English, Foreign Languages, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology. It offers a range of programmes through its departments, offering students undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral degrees in their areas of specialisation.

Karnataka's Health Index Score Improves

  •  As per NITI Aayog Health Index rankings released for all States and Union Territories in the country, Karnataka's health index ranking improved marginally taking the state to the eighth position in 2017-18 from ninth in 2018.
  • The state's overall score on various parameters rose from 58.70 in 2015-16 to 61.14 in 2017-18.
  • As per NITI Aayog's categorisation, the State was ranked among 21 large States. The states were ranked on parameters including neonatal mortality rate (NMR), under-five mortality rate (U5MR) and full immunisation coverage. 
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