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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

27 Jun 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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India Virtually Seals Bid for UNSC Seat

  •  India virtually sealed another stint on the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member after a 55-member bloc of United Nations member countries, including China and Pakistan, unanimously picked it as its sole contender for one of the five seats that go under a General Assembly vote int June 2020.
  • The Asia-Pacific Group, one of the five regional bodies of the United Nations, conveyed its endorsement of India's candidature by acclamation at a monthly meeting chaired by Tuvalu.
  • The UN general assembly votes every year around June to elect five of the 10 non-permanent members to the Security Council, picked according to regional quota and vacancies, and India is running for the 2021-22 term, polling for which will take place in June 2020. India would succeed Indonesia if elected.

Back to 2008 in Zimbabwe

  •  For Zimbabwe's government, the reintroduction of the national currency a decade after its demise is a return to normalcy.
  • For most of the country's citizens, it's a bitter reminder of years of hyperinflation, which destroyed their savings and left them bartering for daily basics.
  • The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said that starting immediately, currencies such as the U.S. dollar and South African rand would no longer be legal tender.
  • Instead, a quasi-currency known as bond notes, which can't be traded outside the country, and their electronic equivalent, the RTGS$, will be termed the Zimbabwe dollar.
  • By reintroducing it, the government is taking the risk that more people will be driven into the black market, further starving the economy of already insufficient state revenue.
  • That could leave the state struggling to pay government workers, who account for about 90% of its budget, and with little money to shore up creaking infrastructure.

ENVIRONMENT

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Greenland Ice Sheet

  •  Scientists have identified more than 50 new lakes of liquid water lying under the Greenland Ice Sheet.
  • Only four had previously been detected.
  • Antarctica hides some 470 lakes beneath its ice but this latest UK/US study proved the northern polar region also has its share.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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RBI Begins Monitoring HFCs

  •  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) started monitoring the liquidity position, asset-liability gap and repayment schedules of housing finance companies (HFCs) on a daily basis after the liquidity crisis hit these firms, resulting in defaults.
  • Mortgage lenders are regulated by the National Housing Bank. But the central bank is of the view that since the liquidity crisis of the HFCs could have a spill over effect on the other segments in the financial sector, including banks, and hence, could affect financial stability, it was necessary to monitor these entities on a regular basis.
  • The move to monitor HFCs on a daily basis comes after some mortgage lenders started feeling the pressure to meet their financial obligations.

Acquia to Set Up Delivery Unit at Pune

  •  Boston-based Acquia Global, an open source digital experience company with a revenue of $200 million, announced plans to develop Pune as its global delivery centre, to support innovation and its clients over the world.
  • The company, which provides technology to leading brands and helps them in their digital drive, opened a new office in Pune to expand its presence in India and Asia-Pacific, a high-growth region for the company.
  • Acquia plans to grow its staff across multiple departments in Pune and deploy people in product development.
  • This move positions Pune to become a part of one of the fastest growing digital experience centres globally.
  • Acquia Global has been in the India for over five years. 

Fonterra Enters Indian Dairy Market

  •  Fonterra Future Dairy Pvt. Ltd., a joint venture between New Zealand's dairy nutrition company Fonterra and Kishore Biyani's Future Consumer, entered the value-added dairy products market in India with its new brand Dreamery targeted at youth and urban families.
  • The Dreamery range, comprising dahi (curd), ultra-high temperature (UHT) toned milk, and chocolate and strawberry milkshakes would be available in markets across western India in the first phase, followed by the south and then the rest of India.
  • The company plans to have pan-India distribution in two years and targets 5% market share of value-added dairy products in five to seven years.

Investors Oust FundsIndia.com Founders

  •  C.R. Chandrasekar and Srikanth Meenakshi, founders of Wealth India Financial Services Private Limited that runs online financial services platform, FundsIndia.com, were ousted from the company following differences of opinion with the firm's private equity investors.

Foreign Firms can Process Abroad, but Must Store Data in India

  •  According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), foreign payment firms such as Mastercard and Visa can process transactions made in India outside of the country but the related data should be brought back for local storage within 24 hours.
  • The announcement was made to clarify the central bank's directive in April 2018 that mandated foreign firms to store their payments data only in India for unfettered supervisory access. 

L&T Completes Mindtree Takeover 

  •  Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) gained a controlling interest in Mindtree Ltd, raising its stake to 60% in the Bengaluru based company and successfully concluding India's first hostile takeover of a software developer.
  • L&T completed buying the 31% additional stake it targeted to acquire in Mindtree for Rs. 4,988.82 crore through an open offer as large investors rushed to sell their holdings.
  • The offer to purchase 50.9 million shares of Mindtree from public shareholders was subscribed 1.2 times.
  • The 60% stake in Mindtree gives L&T complete control over the software company's board and management.

SPORTS

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India Submits Bid to Host 2023 IOC Session in Mumbai

  •  India proposed to host the 2023 International Olympic Committee session in Mumbai, which is expected to choose the host city for the 2030 Winter Olympics.
  • Indian Olympic Association President Narinder Batra and IOC member Nita Ambani submitted the formal bid to the IOC chief Thomas Back on the sidelines of the governing body's 134th session.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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INLD's Lone RS MP Joins BJP

  •  One more Rajya Sabha member from the Opposition joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after four did so earlier in June 2019, helping the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) steadily improve its position in the Upper House, where it is still in a minority.
  • Ram Kumar Kashyap, the lone Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MP from Haryana, became the latest to join the BJP ranks in the Rajya Sabha.
  • He and two-time former MP from Kannur in Kerala, AP Abdullakutty, who was in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress, joined the party in the presence of its working president Jagat Prakash Nadda.
  • The BJP now has 75 MPs in the Rajya Sabha, whose current strength is 235.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Amitabh Kant Gets Extension

  •  The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved extension of tenure of Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog for a further period of two years beyond June 30 2019 i.e. up to June 30 2021, on the same terms and conditions, as approved earlier.
  • Kant was appointed as the CEO of the government think tank in February 2016, for a fixed two-year term. Kant was later given an extension till June 30, 2019.
  • Before taking over as the CEO of Niti Aayog, he was secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, which was rechristened as the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade.

Arvind Kumar Named New IB Director

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government appointed chiefs of two key intelligence units of the country, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
  • Two senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers of the 1984 batch were appointed to the key positions. 
  • The government appointed Samant Goel as the RAW chief and Arvind Kumar as the Director of the Intelligence Bureau.
  • Goel would replace Anil Dhasmana as the chief of the Research and Analysis Wing.
  • Arvind Kumar would replace current director Rajiv Jain.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Bill Barring Candidates with over 2 Children

  •  The Uttarakhand assembly passed a bill barring people with more than two children from contesting Panchayat, or village council, elections in the state.
  • The bill also stipulates minimum educational qualifications for Panchayat poll contestants.
  • General category men would now need to have passed the class 10 examination to contest the village council elections.
  • People from the scheduled castes and tribes and women can contest the polls if they have cleared their class 8 exam. The bill also prohibits a person from holding two posts in a local body.
  • The Uttarakhand Panchayati Raj Act 2016 (Amendment) Bill was passed with a voice vote on the last day of the state assembly session.
  • The bill would now be sent to governor Baby Rani Maurya for her approval.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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UT Health Index

  •  According to the NITI Aayog's Health Index Report 2019, Delhi fell by two positions to be ranked fifth among the seven Union territories on overall healthcare performance.
  • The score is calculated on 23 parameters, including key health issues such as sex ratio, neonatal mortality, immunisation coverage, and data captured, infrastructure and availability of human resources.
  • Among the seven Union Territories, Chandigarh topped the index.
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