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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

14 Aug 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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London Tops Global Best Student City Rankings

  •  UK's capital London has been named as the world's best city for students for the second consecutive year, beating international cities like Tokyo and Melbourne that came second and third respectively on a new worldwide rankings.
  • Students from India coming to study in London registered a hike of 20% in 2017-18.
  • The 'QS Best Student Cities Ranking' compiled by global education consultancy QS Quacquarelli Symonds highlights each city's performance across six categories – the number of top-ranked universities; the proportion of a city's population made up of students; quality of life on offer; job opportunities available after graduation; affordability; and the feedback of the students themselves.
  • According to the rankings, India's best student city is Bangalore (81st), followed by Mumbai (85th), Delhi at 113 and Chennai at 115 out of a total of 120 cities ranked in the list.

Bangladesh Signs Uranium Supply Deal With Russia

  •  Bangladesh signed a deal with Russia for the supply of uranium for its 2,400 MW Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP). 
  • Under the deal, Russia will supply the nuclear fuel needed for the plant during its entire life cycle. 
  • The deal was signed in Dhaka between the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and Russian Nuclear Fuel Supply Company (TVEL). 
  • Work on the two units of the plants, each producing 1200 MW of electricity is scheduled to be completed in 2022 and 2024 respectively.
  • The two countries have also signed 'spent fuel sent back' agreement in 2017 for management of the nuclear waste of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP).

India Contributes US$ 5 Million To UNRWA

  •  The Government of India has contributed US$ 5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of the Agency's core programmes and services, including education, health care, and relief and social services. 
  • The contribution was presented to UNRWA by the Representative of India to the State of Palestine, H.E. Mr. Sunil Kumar. 
  • India has increased its annual financial contribution to UNRWA from US $1.25 million in 2016 to US$ 5 million in 2018 and 2019

India Signs UN Convention on International Settlement

  •  The United Nations Convention on International Settlement Agreements (UNISA) was signed by India's High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf, representing the Government of India.
  • Forty-six countries signed the treaty named Singapore Convention on Mediation.
  • Singapore Minister of Home Affairs and Law, K Shanmugam, appreciated the strong support shown by the 70 countries represented at the signing ceremony.
  • He highlighted the participation by the world's three largest economies - the USA, China and India.

Newly Discovered Lake In Nepal Likely To Become World's Highest

  •  A newly-discovered lake in Nepal is likely to set a new record of being the world's highest lake replacing Tilicho, which is situated at an altitude of 4,919 metres in the Himalayan nation and currently holding the title.
  • The Kajin Sara lake in Manang district was discovered about a few months ago by a team of mountaineers. It is located at Singarkharka area of Chame rural municipality.

Wells Welcomes Bilateral Removal Of Restrictions On Pakistan, US Diplomats

  •  United States Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice Wells has welcomed the bilateral move by Islamabad and Washington to remove travel restrictions on each other's diplomats.
  • The State Department had announced that it removed travel restrictions placed on Pakistani diplomats based in the United States.
  • The State Department further said the government of Pakistan has also reciprocated with a similar measure in relation to its diplomatic personnel assigned to its Embassy and Consulates in Pakistan.

ENVIRONMENT

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Northeast States Crowds List Of States With Most Dense Tree, Forest Cover

  •  According to the data by the Ministry of Environment,Forest and Climate Change,a quarter of India's geographical area which is 24.49% is under forest and tree cover.
  • The lowest forest and tree cover in the country is in Haryana at 6.79 % of its geographical area.Punjab follows with 6.87 %.Further,Rajasthan's forest and tree cover is over 7.26 % of its geographical area.
  • The highest forest and tree cover in terms of % is at Lakshadweep at 97 %.Among the six states with the highest forest and tree cover,four are in the Northeast which are Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
  • The highest forest and tree cover in terms of geographical area is in Madhya Pradesh with 85,487 sq km.Further,Goa and Kerala are two other states with more than 50 % of their geographical area under forest and tree cover.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Housing Finance Firms To Be Treated As NBFCs

  •  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that housing finance companies (HFCs) will be treated as non-banking financial companies, adding that it will release a revised norms for these entities. 
  • HFCs will henceforth be treated as one of the categories of NBFCs for regulatory purposes. RBI will carry out a review of the extant regulatory framework applicable to the HFCs and come out with revised regulations in due course. 
  • HFCs shall continue to comply with National Housing Bank's (NHB's) directions till RBI issues a revised framework. 
  • NHB will continue to carry out supervision of HFCs and they will continue to submit various returns to NHB. The grievance redressal mechanism with regard to HFCs will also continue to be with the NHB.

Amazon Nears Deal To Acquire Up To 10% Stake In India's Future Retail

  •  Amazon.com Inc. is in late-stage talks to acquire as much as 10% of India's Future Retail Ltd.
  • The US company moves to bolster its brick-and-mortar presence in one of the world's fastest-growing retail markets.India's No. 2 retailer by turnover. 
  • Future is seeking a valuation of about Rs. 2,000 crore ($281 million) from Amazon for the stake.
  • The sale is likely to be routed through a holding company and will give Amazon the option to buy more shares from Kishore Biyani, Future Retail's founder and chairman.
  • The deal with the Mumbai-based company, which operates its flagship "Big Bazaar" grocery store chain, will give Amazon more exposure to the business after it bought Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion in 2017 and secured a foothold in the US food retailing segment.

Jio's First Day First Show Plan Spooks Multiplex Stocks

  •  Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani's audacious plan to home-deliver movies on the day of their release could transform movie-watching and reshape India's Rs. 10,000 crore multiplex industry, provided Jio manages to deftly navigate a landscape of producers, exhibitors and top actors, key stakeholders in the entertainment industry.
  • Shares of multiplex operators plunged after Ambani said premium users of JioFiber, a feature-rich wired broadband service, will get to watch the latest movies on the first day itself.
  • On BSE, shares of PVR Ltd and Inox Leisure Ltd, India's largest and second-largest multiplex operators with 800 and 600 screens, respectively, fell more than 4% each. 
  • JioFiber will start offering the First Day First Show service from mid 2020.

MS Dhoni Invests In Used-Car Company Cars24

  •  Cars24, one of India's fastest growing tech enabled used-car companies, has announced a strategic partnership with cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in a move to strengthen the brand as it continues to expand across markets.
  • As part of this partnership, MS Dhoni will own equity in Gurugram-based Cars24 and will act as its brand ambassador. His investment is part of the series D round of funding.

KKR Set To Buy Eurokids Chain

  •   Global private equity major KKR & Co. is set to acquire about 92% of the preschool and school chains that comprise EuroKids, Kangaroo Kids and Billabong High for about Rs. 1,500-2,000 crore in what will be one of the largest foreign investments in India's educational sect  

DDA Nod For Launching Online Scheme For Commercial Properties On First-Come-First-Serve Basis

  •  The Delhi Development Authority approved a proposal for launching an online running scheme for 225 commercial built-up properties on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • The decision was taken during an authority meeting of the urban body at the Raj Niwas, chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, also the chairman of DDA.
  • In its meeting, the authority also approved disposal of residential plots for group housing societies through "e-auction mode".
  • Individuals, partnership firms, private and public limited, or consortium, which have sufficient funds to purchase the land and develop the project, can be part of it.
  • The developer will require to develop group housing in terms of Master Plan of Delhi 2021, with 15 per cent of floor area ratio (FAR) for community service personnel, and lower category housing, and this economically weaker section (EWS) component will be over and above the permissible FAR.

With $1-b Revenue, Australia 3rd Largest Market for Infosys

  •  Infosys' Australia revenue has crossed $1 billion, making it the third-largest export market for the company.
  • The Bengaluru-based firm gets 85% of its revenue from the US and European markets. 
  • They have also built strategic partnerships in Japan and Singapore.

Government Won't Go Ahead With New CSR Rules

  •  The government will not operationalise the new corporate social responsibility (CSR) provisions in the recently amended Companies Act that make violations punishable by jail, following intense lobbying by a panicked India Inc. 
  • The government will not issue followup rules required to implement the provisions that had drawn sharp criticism. 

HPCL Finally Recognises ONGC As Its Promoter

  •  Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPCL) finally recognised its majority owner ONGC as its promoter in public filings, following a harsh directive from the market regulator. 
  • The state-owned company had ignored directives from the government as well as the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), forcing the latter to take "appropriate action."  
  • This forced the HPCL management to act quickly.
  • Sebi had also ordered HPCL's company secretary to place the letter containing its directives before the board of directors and disseminate the letter to stock exchanges.
  • HPCL  needed more regulatory clarity for recognising ONGC as promoter, without ever giving details on what was really unclear to the management.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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Country's First 3-D Smart Traffic Signal

  •  In a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, Mohali traffic police have launched 3-D Smart Traffic Signal devised by the students of Chitkara University Incubated Start-up.
  • The wireless system, called 'Intelights', has been installed at the traffic crossing near Quark City on Airport Road, Mohali, on pilot project basis, and will regulate traffic signals with a smart bird's eye view wireless sensor system. 
  • The system was launched by Sharad Satya Chauhan, ADGP - Traffic.
  • The system, which was devised by the students of Chitkara University over three years of intensive research, was in the test trial phase for the last eight months before its final launch. 

SPORTS

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Argentine World Cup Winner Jose Luis Brown Dies

  •  World Cup winner Jose Luis Brown, who scored Argentina's opening goal in the 1986 World Cup final against West Germany, has died at the age of 62. 
  • Affectionately referred to by his nickname' Tata', Brown spent most of his playing career at Estudiantes, making close to 300 league appearances for the club.

Aishwarya Pissay First Indian To Claim Motorsports World Title

  •  Aishwarya Pissay became the first Indian to claim a world title in motorsports, annexing the FIM World Cup in the women's category after the final round of the championship.
  • The 23-year old from Bengaluru also finished second in the FIM Junior category.
  • Aishwarya, who won the first round in Dubai and was placed third (Portugal), fifth (Spain) and fourth (Hungary) in the subsequent outings, finished with a tally of 65 points, just four ahead of Portugal's Rita Vieira in the final overall standings for women.
  • She was placed second in the junior category with 46 points, behind championship winner Tomas de Gavardo (60) of Chile.
  • Going into the Hungarian Baja, Aishwarya (52) and Vieira (45) were the top contenders for the World Cup. 

Women's T20 Cricket Included At Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

  •  In a historic move, the International Cricket Council and Commonwealth Games Federation confirmed the inclusion of women's T20 cricket at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
  • As many as 8 international teams will compete in the 2022 Commonwealth Games after a joint bid by the ICC and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). All matches will be played at the Edgbaston cricket ground.
  • This is the first time cricket has been included in the Commonwealth Games since 1998 in Kuala Lumpur when South Africa won the Gold in the men's 50-over competition.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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RFID Tags Must For Vehicles To Enter Capital

  •  From August 16,2019, commercial vehicles not equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags will have to pay fines to enter the national capital from the 13 high tech toll plazas, according to a Supreme Court-appointed panel on air pollution.
  • Commercial vehicles without the tags will have to shell out twice the Environment Compensation Charge and the toll tax. 

Metro Ropes In Celebs For 25th Anniversary

  •  As part of the Delhi Metro's 25 year anniversary celebrations, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has roped in celebrities, social activists and healthcare experts in an effort to encourage citizens to ditch private vehicles for the Metro.
  • A series of video messages are being circulated via the DMRC's Twitter and Facebook pages as part of its #25YearsOlderAndWiser initiative, which includes quizzes, games and facts about the metro.
  • Padma Shri awardee and president of Heart Care Foundation of India, Dr KK Aggarwal, fashion designer Ritu Beri, senior journalist Rahul Dev, noted athlete Deepa Malik, rally driver Bani Yadav and actor Aparshakti Khurana are part of the video series.

Chhattisgarh Recognises Forest Rights Claims

  •  Chhattisgarh has become the second state in the country after Odisha to give recognition to forest lands acquired by scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers.
  • So far, 400,000 individual and 24,000 community forest rights certificates have been distributed in the state while according recognition to 342,000 hectares of land in individual claims and 950,000 hectares of land in community claims.

SC Rules Out Reopening NRC

  •  The Supreme Court ordered maximum security for National Register of Citizens (NRC) data and ruled out any re-verification or future reopening of the exercise that is currently underway in Assam to identify illegal immigrants.
  • A bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice RF Nariman directed NRC coordinator Prateek Hajela to adopt a security regime as provided for protection of Aadhaar data.
  • The judges ordered that the list of exclusions from the list shall be published on August 31, 2019 only online and family-wise.
  • The bench said only after an "appropriate security regime" for NRC data is in place, the list of inclusions and exclusions shall be made available to the state and central governments and the registrar general of India.

10 SDF Legislators Switch Over To BJP

  •  Ten legislators of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)  joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi. The SDF, a former ally of the BJP, ruled Sikkim for 25 years until it was ousted from power by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) .
  • The ruling SKM is part of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance. The SDF won 15 seats while SKM won 17 in the 32-member assembly in the elections.
  • Two of its leaders got elected from two seats and now, they have to vacate one seat each.

 NGT Stalls Andhra Lift Irrigation Schemes

  •   The National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed that the Andhra Pradesh government stall the existing lift irrigation schemes of Pattiseema and Purushottapatnam on the Godavari river, constructed by the previous TDP government, pending completion of the Polavaram major irrigation project.
  • The principal bench of NGT headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, acting on a petition filed by former Congress minister Vatti Vasanth Kumar and 12 others, also ruled that another lift irrigation scheme at Chintalapudi on Godavari river also be stopped forthwith. 
  • It further directed the state government not to proceed with the Rs. 84,000-crore GodavariKrishna-Penna river inter-linking project proposed by the TDP regime.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Manmohan Files RS Nomination

  •  Former prime minister Manmohan Singh filed his nomination for the August 26, 2019 bypoll to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan.
  • The seat fell vacant after the death  of Madan Lal Saini of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), also a former state party president. Rajasthan has 10 Rajya Sabha seats, so far all held by the BJP.
  • After filing his nomination, the 87-year-old leader thanked the Congress for nominating him. 

INSA Gets First Woman President

  •  Former director of the National Institute of Immunology Chandrima Shaha has been elected as the first woman president of the reputed Indian National Science Academy (INSA).
  • Shaha, who will head INSA from 2020, said  her priority would be to make efforts to further popularise science among the masses, and she would also focus on more collaborations with foreign institutes.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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14  August- Youm-e-Azadi (Pakistan Independence Day) 

  •  Independence Day observed annually on 14 August, is a national holiday in Pakistan. It commemorates the day when Pakistan achieved independence and was declared a sovereign state following the end of the British Raj in 1947. 
  • Pakistan came into existence as a result of the Pakistan Movement, which aimed for the creation of an independent Muslim state in the north-western regions of South Asia via partition.
  • The movement was led by the All-India Muslim League under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. 
  • The event was brought forth by the Indian Independence Act 1947 under which the British Raj gave independence to the Dominion of Pakistan which comprised West Pakistan (present-day Pakistan) and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). 

Rural Innovators Conclave At NIRDPR

  •  National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) is all set to host the 3rd edition of Rural Innovators Startup Conclave (RISC) on 27-28th September 2019 at the Institute campus in Rajendranagar, Hyderabad. 
  • The two-day unique conclave will serve as a platform to showcase a wide array of budding entrepreneurs, rural innovators and aspirant startups to demonstrate their design ideas, innovations, technologies, pitch, and get an opportunity to receive learning and mentoring support.
  • Being introduced in the memory of late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, RISC-2019 seeks to provide a platform to innovators and entrepreneurs to showcase their innovations and connect them with potential funding and network support. 
  • The themes of the conclave are Agriculture & Allied Activities, Green Energy Solution, Waste to Wealth, Health & Elderly Care, Drinking Water & Sanitation, Sustainable Housing, and Sustainable Livelihood.
  • The best innovations and startups identified will be awarded cash prizes of one lakh rupees for startups and fifty thousand rupees for innovators, besides a fellowship for one-year to participate in tailor-made workshops on themes such as design, packaging, marketing, to be organized by NIRDPR.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Painter Vasudev Wins French Cultural Award

  •  Leading film scholar, editor and painter Aruna Vasudev was presented the Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters), one of France's highest cultural honours, for her contribution to cinema and arts. 
  • French ambassador Alexandre Ziegler conferred the award on Vasudev at a ceremony.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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Breakthrough In Ebola Cure

  •   Scientists are a step closer to finding the first effective treatments for the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever after two potential drugs showed encouraging survival results in a clinical trial in DR Congo.
  • Two experimental drugs Regeneron's REGN-EB3 and a monoclonal antibody called mAb114 - were both developed using antibodies harvested from survivors of Ebola.
  • They showed "clearly better" results in patients in a trial of four potential treatments being conducted during the world's second largest Ebola outbreak in history, now entering its second year in DR Congo.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

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"Sridevi: Girl Woman Superstar" a Book On The Life Of Sridevi

  •  The book, titled 'Sridevi: Girl Woman Superstar' will be launched on Sridevi's 56th birth anniversary.
  • The book is written by author-screenwriter Satyarth Nayak. The book will be published under the Ebury Press imprint of Penguin Random House in October 2019.

ART AND CULTURE

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Parliament Shines In New Light After PM Inaugurates Dynamic Facade Lighting

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a special dynamic system of over 800 LED lights that have been installed on the facade of Parliament House.
  • Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla presided over the event.  Among other dignitaries were Union Ministers, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha Harivansh; Members of Parliament and former Members of Parliament.
  • There are 875 energy-efficient LED light fixtures (water and dust resistant), which have been installed in the Complex, allowing a significant reduction of power consumption.
  • The long-lasting, excellent intensity LED bulbs are capable of creating 16 million colour combinations and the LED lighting is programmable and electronically controlled through computers.
  • The whole facade of Parliament House building has been covered for dynamic facade lighting and porches of Building Gates have also been highlighted.
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