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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

22 Aug 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Zambian Prez In India

  •  Edgar Chagwa Lungu visited Hyderabad House in New Delhi . India and Zambia signed six agreements in key sectors such as mineral resources and defence. 
  • PM Modi announced that the Indian military training teams will be deployed in the African nation to help enhance the capabilities Zambian armed forces. 
  • The MoU signed on defence cooperation would strengthen military cooperation. 
  • Lungu is the first head of an African country to visit India after the formation of the new government.

PAK To Raise J&K Issue At UNHRC

  •  Pakistan plans to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN Human Rights Council.
  • Briefing the Senate Committee on Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Faisal said that consultation was going on various options including to use the forum of the UN Human Rights Council. 
  • Another platform available for Pakistan was to raise the issue in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's foreign ministers' meeting. 

India, Russia Agree On 'Territorial Integrity'

  •  India and Russia reiterated their position of mutual support for "principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference of third parties" during a meeting between national security adviser Ajit Doval and his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow.
  • The statement is significant as it came a day after US president Donald Trump repeated his offer to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
  • India and Russia also reaffirmed their intention to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation during the meeting of the two officials.
  • Both sides reiterated their "longstanding position" on the importance of bilateral consultations and mutual support for principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference of third parties.

ENVIRONMENT

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Rare Species Of Bear, Deer Spotted In Remote HP Valley

  •  Himachal Pradesh's forest department has found rare species of Himalayan brown bear and white-bellied musk deer during a census conducted at Pangi's 390-sq km Sechun Tuan Nalla Wildlife Sanctuary, which remains cut off for eight months in a year. 
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature has categorised brown bear as a critically endangered species and musk deer as endangered.

Forest Fires Singe Amazon

  •  Venezuela ranked second with 26,453 fires and Bolivia with 16,101 fires in Amazonian rainforests under their territory.
  • There has been a surge in forest fires in the Amazon in 2019 with activists and some foreign governments blaming the Brazilian administration for rampant destruction of one of the greenest regions in the world.
  • National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said there have been nearly 73,000 fires in rainforests in Brazil till August, 2019 compared with 39,759 in all of 2018.
Factors causing fire:
  • Forest fires tend to intensify during the dry season, which usually ends in late October or early November, as land is cleared to make way for crops or grazing – similar to farm fires in India.
  • This year's fires, however, are also being attributed to deforestation – which has led to a lack of rain and, consequently, moisture in soil.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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China To Soon Launch Its Own Cryptocurrency

  •  The People's Bank of China (PBoC) is "close" to issuing its own cryptocurrency.
  • The bank's researchers have been working intensively to develop systems, and the cryptocurrency is "close to being out."
  • The digital currency would replace M0, or cash in circulation, rather than M2, which would generate credit and impact monetary policy.
  • The digital currency would also support the yuan's circulation and internationalization.
  • PBoC is inching toward formally introducing a digital currency of its own after five years of research.
  • Facebook Inc.'s push to create cryptocurrency Libra has caused concerns among global central banks, including the PBoC. The digital asset must be put under central bank oversight to prevent potential foreign exchange risks and protect the authority of monetary policy.

Gaming Firm Nazara Tech Acquires Sportskeeda

  •  Mobile gaming platform Nazara Technologies has acquired a majority stake in sports content website Sportskeeda.com, continuing its string of acquisitions and investments in the sports and internet space. 
  • Nazara has invested ₹44 crore for a 67% stake, valuing the popular sports content portal at about ₹65 crore. 

 ITC Weighs Buying Stake In Coffee Day

  •  ITC Ltd is considering a bid to buy a stake in Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd as the nation's biggest cigarette maker seeks to diversify its businesses.
  • The maker of Classic and Gold Flake cigarettes has been given access to Coffee Day's assets and financial for due diligence.
  • ITC could be vying with CocaCola Co., which has evaluated India's biggest cafe chain.
  • Shares of ITC closed 2.01% lower in Mumbai, while Coffee Day rose 4.97%, extending its three-day winning streak to almost 16%.
  • A successful bid will help ITC further diversify its business to reduce dependence on cigarettes as India raises taxes on tobacco and restricts smoking in public places.
  • Coffee Day is under pressure to pare borrowings after its founder VG Siddhartha took his own life as debt strains began to emerge in his companies.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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Power Minister Launches State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index

  •  Power Minister R K Singh launched the State Rooftop Solar Attractiveness Index -SARAL in New Delhi. Karnataka has been placed at the first rank in the Index followed by Telangana and Gujarat that evaluates states based on their attractiveness for rooftop development. 
  • It will incentivise rooftop solar by creating healthy competition among the States. He encouraged all States to adopt the best practices being followed by the top-ranking States.  
  • SARAL encourages each state to assess the initiatives taken so far and to improve its solar rooftop ecosystem. 
  • The Ministry has set a target of 175 giga watt of renewable energy capacity by 2022, of which 100 giga watt solar power is to be operational by March 2022.      

US Tests Medium-Range Cruise Missile In The Wake Of INF Treaty Exit

  •  The Pentagon said on Monday that it had tested a conventionally configured ground-launched cruise missile with a range of more than 500 km (310 miles), the first such test since the US pulled out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
  • The United States formally withdrew from the landmark 1987 pact with Russia on Aug. 2, 2018 after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty.
  • The treaty, which was negotiated by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 to 5,500 km).
  • In a statement, the Pentagon test took place at San Nicolas Island, California, and the missile hit its target after more than 500 km of flight.

SPORTS

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Paytm Retain BCCI Title Rights, To Pay ₹3.80cr Per Game

  •  One 97 Communications Pvt Limited, owners of Paytm,  retained the sponsorship rights for the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) international and domestic matches with a winning bid of ₹3.80 crore per match.
  • The BCCI  announced the deal with the Paytm, which had previously acquired the rights in 2015 for a four-year period which ended in 2019.

CISF Wins 10 Medals At 'World Police And Fire Games' In China

  •  CISF sports personnel have won 10 medals, including five gold, at the recently-concluded 'World Police and Fire Games' in China's southwestern Sichuan province.
  • The 'World Police and Fire Games-2019', an Olympic-style competition with 10,000 athletes representing law enforcement, fire-fighters and officers from corrections, probation, border protection, immigration and customs from over 70 countries competing in more than 60 sports, were held from August 8 to 18, 2019 in Chengdu city.
  • The CISF sports personnel represented India in different sporting events and won five gold, three silver and two bronze medals.

Nataraj Achieves 'B' Qualification For Tokyo

  •   Indian teenager Srihari Nataraj has achieved the 100m backstroke Olympic 'B' qualification mark, clocking a national record 54.69secs in the semi-finals at the World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest, Hungary. The 18-year-old went on to finish seventh final, clocking 54.85 secs.
  • Nataraj finished sixth in the semi-finals after improving his national record. The Bengaluru swimmer also holds the national records in the 50m backstroke (25.83 secs) and 200m backstroke (2:02.08 secs)—both marks were set at the senior worlds in Gwangju, South Korea, in July 2019.
  • Three other Indians have achieved 'B' qualification marks—Sajan Prakash (200m butterfly), Advait Page (1500m freestyle) and Kushagra Rawat (800m freestyle).

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Yediyurappa Inducts 17 Ministers In First Cabinet Expansion

  •  Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa expanded his ministry by inducting 17 persons. The expansion came 25 days after he took oath as chief minister.
  • Governor Vajubhai Vala administered oath to the newly inducted ministers at a programme held in Raj Bhavan.
  • The list of the newly-inducted ministers is a blend of seniors and a few new faces. The striking feature is that the party has rewarded its political support base of Lingayat community by including seven members from it in addition to Mr. Yediyurappa. Similarly, it has provided a lion's share to Bengaluru by including four MLAs from the city into the ministry.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Arrested By CBI

  •  Congress leader P. Chidambaram was arrested by the CBI at his residence where some officers scaled walls to gain entry, hours after the former Union finance minister failed to get reprieve in the INX Media case from the Supreme Court.
  • Shortly after Chidambaram, 73, made an appearance at the AICC headquarters and addressed a news conference to profess his innocence, the Congress leader was picked up by CBI sleuths an hour after he reached his residence and taken to the nearby headquarters of the agency for questioning.
  • The CBI and the ED earlier  had issued a look-out circular to prevent any attempt by him to leave the country.
  • Chidambaram is accused of money laundering and of getting kickbacks in the INX Media case. 

Srinagar, Jammu Mayors Get Status Equivalent To MoS

  •  The mayors of Srinagar and Jammu civic bodies have been granted status equivalent to that of Minister of State (MoS).
  • The order, issued by additional secretary Subash Chhibber, said the hospitality and protocol department shall make necessary insertion in the J&K State Warrant of Precedence with the approval of the competent authority.
  • Sanction is hereby accorded to the grant of status equivalent to Minister of State (MoS) to the Mayors of SMC (Srinagar Municipal Corporation) and JMC (Jammu Municipal Corporation) within their territorial jurisdiction.
  • The elections for the municipal corporations were held in four phases in October, 2019 after a gap of 13 years.
  • People's Conference leader Junaid Maattu and BJP leader Chander Mohan Gupta are the mayors of SMC and JMC, respectively.

DEFENCE

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Restructuring Of Army's HQ Gets Go-Ahead From Centre

  •   Union defence minister Rajnath Singh has given his go-ahead to the restructuring of the Army headquarters (HQ) as part of a larger transformation plan of the force to become a deadlier fighting machine fully prepared for future wars.
  • The decisions taken by the minister include relocating 206 officers from the HQ to field areas are three major generals, eight brigadiers, nine colonels and 186 lieutenant colonels and majors, the creation of a separate vigilance cell under the Indian Army chief, and a new branch under the vice chief that will focus on human rights issues.
  • The army has conducted four comprehensive studies to change the complexion and direction of the 1.2 million strong force, and make it a leaner and meaner fighting machine.
  • Apart from Reorganisation of the Army Headquarters, the remaining three are the Reorganisation and Right-sizing of the Indian Army, Cadre Review of Officers, and Review of Terms of Engagement of Rank and File.

China To Target U.S. Firms Over F-16 Sale To Taiwan

  •  China  blasted a huge planned U.S. arms shipment to self-ruled Taiwan and threatened to sanction firms involved in the sale of F-16 fighter jets.
  • The U.S. State Department  approved the transfer of 66 Lockheed Martin-built F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan in a $8 billion deal.
  • The deals come as ties between Washington and Beijing and are already strained by a punitive multi-billion dollar trade war.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Rajiv Gauba Appointed New Cabinet Secy

  •  Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba was appointed Cabinet Secretary for a two-year tenure. Gauba, a 1982 batch IAS officer of the Jharkhand cadre, will join as Officer on Special Duty in the Cabinet Secretariat before taking charge of the top bureaucratic post from PK Sinha.
  • Gauba (60) has previously served as secretary in the urban development ministry and additional secretary in the home ministry.
  • In another order, Ajay Kumar was appointed the new Defence Secretary.

Former MP CM Babulal Gaur Dies At 89 In Bhopal

  •  Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Babulal Gaur passed away at a private hospital in Bhopal, where he was admitted around a fortnight back.
  • He was 89.
  • Gaur's body was kept at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s state office before he was cremated with full state honours .
  •  As Minister and CM of Madhya Pradesh he undertook many efforts to transform the state. 

DAYS AND EVENTS

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Modi Event In US Sold Out, 50K People Register

  •   "Howdy, Modi!", the community event to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the United States has been sold out with over 50,000 people registering for the programme.
  • "Howdy", short for 'How do you do?', is a friendly greeting commonly used in southwestern United States.
  • Over 50,000 supporters have already registered for the mega community summit in September,2019 at the NRG Stadium.
  • The live audience will be the largest ever for an Indian Prime Minister in North America and also the largest for a foreign leader in the US other than Pope Francis.
  • PM Modi is scheduled to visit the US in September 2019  to attend the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, 2019 prior to which he will travel to Houston to meet the leading businesses, political and community leaders here in Houston, the fourth largest city with a population of over 130,000 Indian-Americans.
  • The summit, with the tagline of 'Shared Dreams, Bright Futures' will highlight the contributions of Indian-Americans to enrich American life as well as the key role it has played in strengthening relations between the two nations.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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 Heftier Penalties For Traffic Violations Under Amended MV Act

  •  As many as 63 clauses of the newly amended Motor Vehicle Act pertaining to heftier penalties for traffic violations will be implemented from September 1, 2019. 
  • The Motor Vehicle Bill, 2019, aimed at amending the Motor Vehicle Act 1988, was passed by Parliament, following which President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to it.
  • The new Act has substantially increased penalties for traffic violations such as ₹10,000 for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs from the earlier ₹2000, ₹10,000 for not giving way to emergency vehicles while drivers without helmets will be fined ₹1000 instead of the present ₹100 .
  •  It also recommends that the parents of a juvenile caught for traffic offences be jailed for three years and fined ₹25,000.
  • The newly amended law mandates that a juvenile accused of violations would be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act.

Allahabad High Court Bans DJs In Uttar Pradesh For Flouting Noise Rules

  •  The Allahabad High Court  banned DJs all across Uttar Pradesh. If someone violates the order, he or she can be sentenced up to five years and may have to pay a hefty fine of Rs 1 lakh.
  • Announcing its verdict, the court has asked the state government to ensure that no noise pollution rules are violated in the state.
  • The decision was given by a bench of Justice P.K.S. Baghel and Justice Pankaj Bhatia on a public interest litigation filed by advocate Sushil Chandra Srivastava, an Allahabad resident.
  • The court said that violation of noise pollution laws were a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens, and directed all district magistrates to ensure compliance of the court order in their respective districts.
  • The order is significant in view of the upcoming festive season that includes Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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HRD Minister Launches Teachers Training Programme 'Nishtha'

  •  Human Resources Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' launched the Integrated Teachers Training Programme, NISHTHA, National Initiative for School Head's and Teachers' Holistic Advancement, in New Delhi. 
  • The integrated programme aims to build the capacities of around 42 lakh participants covering all teachers and Heads of the school at the elementary level in all government school, faculty members of state councils of Educational Research and Training and other educational departments of all States and Union Territories. 
  • The integrated training will motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students, handle diverse situations and act as first level counsellors.

New body to rank colleges soon

  •  The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry is considering setting up a specialised body, India Rankings Society, to rank Indian education institutions and help them improve in areas where they are found lagging.
  • The All India Council of Secondary Education approved this in a meeting.
  • In 2015, the HRD ministry launched the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) to address the need for an authentic ranking mechanism for educational institutions.
  • In the absence of a specialised body, the National Board of Accreditation was given the task(NBA). 

 Kerala: In a First, Women Can Drive Govt Vehicles

  •  The Kerala government  decided to appoint women drivers in government departments and public sector undertakings, a post so far reserved for men.
  • Directions have given to all government departments and PSUs to make the driver post gender neutral. This has been done in accordance with the state government's policy on gender equality. This will benefit many women.
  • In Kerala, barring the State Road Corporation, women were not allowed to apply for driver posts in any other department and many women's organisations have asked the government to lift this ban.
  • In contrast, women were driving private buses, cars registered with taxi aggregators and autorickshaws in the state.
  • Many organisations like All India Democratic Women's Association and Mahila Congress have hailed the move. Of  400 autorickshaw drivers here, only 24 are women.

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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Govt Opens 137 Peaks For Foreign Nationals

  •  Mount Kailash and Kangchenjunga are among the 137 mountains that the Centre has opened up to foreigners for trekking and mountaineering. The peaks are spread across Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim. J&K has 15 peaks.
  • Recommendation was made by union tourism minister Prahlad Patel to union home minister Amit Shah following a long term demand from the adventure tourism industry. 
  • Among the 137 mountains, Uttarakhand has 51 peaks, Sikkim 24 and Himachal Pradesh, 37. 
  • These include Dunagiri (7,066 m) and Hardeol (7,151 m) in Uttarakhand; Kabru South (7000 m) and North (7000 m) in Sikkim; and Mulkila (6,571 metre) in Himachal Pradesh.
  • The state ministers were asked to issue guidelines for adventure tourism in line with the Indian Adventure Tourism Guidelines 2018, which covers land, air and water-based activities including mountaineering, trekking, bungee jumping, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving among other sports.

New five-year e-tourist visa to be introduced

  • With the aim of attracting more foreign travellers to the country, it has been proposed to reduce the e-visa fee while also offering the option of a short-term as well as long-term tourist e-visa.
  • The Tourism Ministry has proposed to introduce a short duration e-visa for tourists with one month validity at a charge of $25. However, this will be applicable during peak tourism season between July and March.
  • To attract more tourists during the lean period, the visa fee is proposed to be reduced to as low as $10 between April to June.
  • The information was given by Tourism minister Prahlad Patel .

ART AND CULTURE

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Madame Tussauds Has a New Entrant - a Burger

  •   After housing the biggest of the superstars, the best of the sportsmen, and the greatest of the historical leaders, Madame Tussauds, in an unexpected reveal, made way for its newest entrant - a burger. 
  • The international wax museum's Delhi attraction unveiled the wax figure of a larger than life Zinger burger by KFC, which according to the authorities is no less than a "celeb".
  • The installed wax burger is "1.5 times bigger" than the edible one.

Michael Jackson Art Show Opens In Finland Despite Controversy

  •  An Exhibition of art inspired by Michael Jackson opened in Helsinki with organisers insisting it was not a "celebration" of the singer, still dogged by abuse allegations a decade after his death.
  • The Wall brings together old and new works depicting the iconic pop star and his impact on popular culture, by artists including Andy Warhol, American photographer David LaChapelle and British potter Grayson Perry.
  • The show of 90 works first hung in London's National Portrait Gallery in 2018 to widespread critical acclaim.
  • It then toured in Paris and Bonn before coming to the Finnish capital.
  • The German and Finnish shows come after a new raft of allegations that Jackson groomed and sexually assaulted children, detailed in the 2018 documentary, Finding Neverland.
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