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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

26 Aug 2019


PM Modi Meets UN Secretary General Antonio Gueterres

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres  held "fruitful discussions" on a wide range of subjects in  French town of Biarritz.
  • Their meeting came against the backdrop of the Indian government revoking the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories.
  • The two leaders are in Biarritz to attend the G-7 Summit. 
  • Modi arrived in Biarritz from Bahrain after concluding his three-nation tour to France, the UAE and Bahrain.
  • Earlier in August 2019, Guterres urged India and Pakistan to exercise "maximum restraint" and refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • He had also highlighted the Simla Agreement which rejects any third-party mediation on the issue after Islamabad asked him to play his "due role" following New Delhi's decision on Kashmir.
  • A rare closed-door consultation on Kashmir by the Security Council ended without any outcome or statement from the powerful 15-nation UN organ, dealing a huge snub to Pakistan and its all-weather ally China to internationalise the issue, which an overwhelming majority stressed is a bilateral matter between New Delhi and Islamabad.

India-US Hold a Round Of Bilateral 2+2 Intersessional Meeting

  •  India and the United States held a round of the bilateral 2+2 Intersessional meeting  in Monterey, California. The Indian delegation was led jointly by Shri Gourangalal Das, Joint Secretary in Ministry of External Affairs and Shri V. Anandarajan, Joint Secretary in Ministry of Defence. 
  • The U.S. delegation was led jointly by Ambassador Alice Wells, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs and Mr. Randall Schriver, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs. 
  • The two sides reviewed the progress and development of bilateral relations in cross-cutting defence, security, and foreign policy areas since the inaugural 2+2 Ministerial meeting of September 2018, and explored further possibilities of cooperation in these fields based on common interest.
  • They also discussed regional developments, and agreed to pursue their quest for a free, open, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific. 

G-7 Summit

  •  The 45th G7 summit is being held from August 24–26, 2019, in Biarritz, France. In March 2014, the G7 declared that a meaningful discussion was currently not possible with Russia in the context of the G8. Since then, meetings have continued within the G7 process.
  • Attendees of the 45th summit of the G7 includes the leaders of the seven G7 member states as well as representatives of the European Union.
  • The President of the European Commission has been a permanently welcome participant at all meetings and decision-making since 1981, but is not attending due to surgery.
  • The President of the European Council has been the EU's co-representative since the 36th G8 summit hosted by Canada in June 2010.
  • This is the first G7 summit for the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. It is also the last summit for Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conteand Council President Donald Tusk.
  • The President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron invited the Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister of SpainPedro Sánchez and the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi to attend the outreach session of the G7 Summit in Biarritz as special invitees.
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RIL Plans Diwali Launch Of 'New Commerce' Venture

  •  New commerce is Reliance Retail's offline-to-online initiative, which would link producers, traders, small merchants, brands and consumers through technology. The company, the retail arm of Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), has been working on its new commerce plan for nearly two years. Currently, it operates neighbourhood stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets, wholesale, speciality and online stores.
  • Reliance Retail is planning to launch its e-commerce venture in two phases—one, a soft launch around Diwali, and then a full-fledged launch by December-January 2019. A Diwali Dhamaka launch plan may entail discounts that other online retailers also offer.
  • RIL is initially looking at the consumption basket which includes daily staples, soaps, shampoos and other household items.
  •  The company is signing up local merchants offering them an online-to-offline (O2O) marketplace, a business model pioneered by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
  • Under the O2O model, a consumer searches for the product or service online, but buys it from a physical store.
  • This allows the company to consolidate merchants, who in turn, will cater to the local demand but also help Reliance Retail save costs and enter areas currently outside the purview of online retailers.

CVC Sets Up Panel To Examine Bank Fraud Above Rs 50 Cr

  •  The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has constituted Advisory Board for Banking Frauds (ABBF) headed by former Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin to examine bank fraud over Rs 50 crore and recommend action. 
  • The panel in its previous avatar called the Advisory Board on Bank, Commercial and Financial Frauds. 
  • The ABBF, formed in consultation with the RBI, would function as the first level of examination of all large fraud cases before recommendations or references are made to the investigative agencies by the respective public sector banks (PSBs).
  • The four-member board's jurisdiction would be confined to those cases involving the level of officers of General Manager and above in the PSB in respect of an allegation of a fraud in a borrowal account 

India Slips 5 Spots On Henley Passport Index

  •  The new Henley Passport Index is out, and there has been a major shuffle in the global ranking of the world's passports. 
  • In the beginning of 2019, 27 countries were in the top 10 positions on the index, but in august, 2019, 4 more countries were added to the list. 
  • Several countries climbed the list to have most powerful passports, while few slipped from their positions, including India. 
  • The ranking is determined on the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. It is based on the exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association, which maintains the world's largest and most accurate database of travel information. Japan retained its top spot as the world's most powerful passport in 2019 for the second time in a row .
  • However, Singapore also shared the top spot with Japan in becoming the world's most travel-friendly passport due to the document's access to 189 countries.
  • India slipped to 86th spot from the previous 79th place with access to 58 countries. The country shared the spot with Mauritania, and Sao Tome and Principe.
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Chandrayaan 2 Sends First Moon Picture

  • Chandrayaan 2, a day old in its orbit around the moon, started undergoing phased manoeuvres to shorten the elliptical orbit in preparation for the September 7, 2019 landing. ISRO compressed the current elliptical orbit to 4,412 km at the far end from the moon. 
  • ISRO chief K. Sivan said the crucial process of taking up soft landing of the Vikram Lander will be taken up in the early hours of September 7, 2019.
  • Elaborating about the complexity involved, he said the speed of the spacecraft needs to be brought down to "zero".
  • The Mare Orientale basin and Apollo craters are identified in the picture.
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Manashi Joshi Wins Women's Para World Badminton

  •  India had more than one victory at the World Badminton Championships as Manashi Joshi, also training at Pullela Gopichand's academy, won the women's singles SL3 final, defeating compatriot and three-time champion Parul Parmer 21-12 21-7.
  • Joshi, who lost her left leg in an accident in 2011, rallied from 2-7 down in the first game on her way to victory.
  • Pramod Bhagat and Manoj Sarkar won the men's doubles SL3-4 title defeating compatriots Nitesh Kumar and Tarun Dhillon 14-21, 21-15, 21-16 in the final.
  • World No 1 Bhagat is in line for a double as he also reached the men's singles SL3 final. Dhillon made it to the SL4 category final. India are assured of 12 medals.

P.V. Sindhu Becomes First Indian To Win World Championships

  •  Ace shuttler P.V. Sindhu  became the first Indian to win the BWF World Championships, crushing Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in just 36 minutes in a one-sided final.
  • Sindhu's gold is the second medal that India won at the Championships in 2019, with Sai Praneeth winning a bronze in men's singles category.
  • The last time Sindhu and Okuhara met in a World Championships final was in 2017. In a pulsating encounter that lasted nearly two hours and involved a 73-shot rally, Okuhara emerged victorious in the end. Sindhu again reached the final in 2018, only to go down to Carolina Marín of Spain.
  • However, she finally broke the jinx this time, brushing aside her opponent with a dominant show from start to finish.

China's Zheng/Huang To Defend Mixed Doubles Title At Badminton Worlds Final

  •  Defending champions Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong of China beat Japan's Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino to reach the mixed doubles final of the Badminton World Championships in Basel, Switzerland.
  • The victory came as their fastest in history as the Chinese couple swept their rivals 21-11, 21-15 in 37 minutes, just one step away from defending their championship.
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International Dialogue on South-South and Triangular Cooperation Addressed by Commerce and Industry Minister

  •  Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, Shri Piyush Goyal addressed the International dialogue on South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
  • The event was held in New Delhi. The World Trade Organisation(WTO) was the key topic addressed. 
  • South-South and Triangular Cooperation was organised by Research and Information System (RIS) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation(UNOSSC).
  • The member countries of WTO have to engage in rule-based, transparent, and non-discriminatory governance required for free trade in a non-discriminatory manner, keeping in mind the interests of member countries with disparate (essentially different in kind) GDP. 
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is the target by the year 2030. 
  • The term South-South cooperation is used by policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries, also known as countries of the Global South as it is a broad framework of collaboration among countries in the south.
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GRSE Launches Fifth FPV For Coast Guard

  •  Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) has launched a fifth Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) for the Indian Coast Guard (ICG).
  • Named Kanaklata Barua after a freedom fighter from Assam, the vessel is the last of the five FPVs built by GRSE for the Coast Guard.
  • The entire design of the ship was developed in-house by GRSE as per the requirement of the ICG.
  • The ship was launched by Veena Ajay Kumar, wife of Ajay Kumar, Secretary Defence (Production), in the presence of Rear Admiral VK Saxena (Retd), Chairman and Managing Director, GRSE and Inspector General Rajan Bargotra, Commander Coast Guard Region (North-East) among others.
  • The vessel is 50 metres long and 7.5 metres wide with a displacement of around 308 tonnes. It is equipped with three main engines, advanced communication and navigational systems.

IAF Chief Dhanoa To Visit Thailand To Attend Indo Pacific Chiefs Of Defence Conference

  •  Air Chief Marshal and Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, Birender Singh Dhanoa will pay a three-day visit to Thailand beginning August 26, 2019 where he will attend the 2019 Indo Pacific Chiefs of Defence (CHOD) Conference in Bangkok.
  • Chiefs of Defence of more than 33 countries are scheduled to attend the conference.
  • The theme for the conference is "Collaboration in a free and Open Indo - Pacific".
  • The conference will provide perspectives on common challenges faced by attending nations and elicit open discussions on the same.
  • Indian Coast Guard held a high-level meeting with Sri Lankan Coast Guard and agreed to strengthen cooperation in addressing various maritime issues concerning safety and security.
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Arun Jaitley dies at 66

  •  Arun Jaitley, the former finance minister and a stalwart of the Bharatiya Janata Party, passed away at AIIMS hospital in New Delhi. He was 66 years old.
  • Arun Jaitley was rushed to All India Institute of Medical Sciences on August 9, 2019 after he complained of breathlessness and restlessness. He was kept under observation at the Cardio-Neuro-Centre of the hospital, however, his condition kept on deteriorating.
  • Jaitley, 66, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), stepped down as finance minister in January 2019 due to ill health, just months before elections that returned Modi's Hindu nationalists to power.

    Arun Jaitley's achievements
  • Jaitley, the lawyer-turned politician was an important part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet in the BJP government's first term.
  •  Before opting out of the new Modi government in 2019, he looked after the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.
  •  He was also the Minister of Defence 2014-2017, and the Minister of Information and Broadcasting from 2014-2016.
  •  Arun Jaitley's biggest achievements as the finance minister in Modi Cabinet were the successful implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), both of which formalised the Indian economy. 
  • He also laid the roadmap for direct tax reforms and extensively worked toward opening up the economy by easing out foreign direct investment (FDI) rules.

Ajay Kumar Appointed New Defence Secretary 

  •  Ajay Kumar was  appointed the new Defence Secretary. He will replace Sanjay Mitra whose term ends on August 23, 2019.
  • Subash Chandra, IAS (of 1986 batch), Special Secretary, Department of Defence, is the new Secretary, Department of Defence Production. He will take over from Ajay Kumar, IAS (1985 batch). 
  • Brij Kumar Agarwal, IAS (1985 batch) has been appointed Secretary to the Lokpal in the rank and pay of Secretary to the Government of India. 

Alejandro Giammattei Elected Guatemala President

  •  Conservative Alejandro Giammattei was elected as Guatemala's President, defeating former first lady Sandra Torres in a run-off.
  • Giammattei will succeed corruption-tainted outgoing President Jimmy Morales, who leaves office in January, 2020.
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September- Month Of Nutrition

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced to celebrate September as a month of nutrition. In his Mann Ki Baat programme, Mr. Modi laid emphasis on creating awareness to fight malnutrition among children, particularly the girl child.
  •  Gujarat Government launched a pilot project, Poshan Abhiyan which is a statewide mission to eradicate malnutrition among children. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had also launched 'Purna' project to eliminate malnutrition among the girls in the age group of 14 to 18. 
  • Gujarat Government had allocated Rs. 270 crore for this pilot project. PURNA project is also known as Prevention of under Nutrition and Reduction of Nutritional Anaemia among Adolescent Girls.
  • Now, the awareness campaign during the September will further boost the Poshan Abhiyan in the states.

Women's Equality Day

  •  Women's Equality Day is observed every year on August 26 to celebrate the passage of the 19th Amendment in the United States of America that provides voting rights to the women. This amendment was first introduced in 1878. Later, the US Congress designated August 26 as Women's Equality Day.
  • Now, it has become an international celebration and women across the world celebrate this day as an equality day.  In India, various institutions organise debates, competitions, get-together etc to celebrate this day.
  • This day calls attention to women's continuing efforts toward full equality.
History of Women's Equality Day:
  • August 26 was designated as  "Women's Equality Day in 1971 by the US Congress.
  • This day was selected to commemorate the 1920's certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. It was for the first time in the USA when women of America were first given the right to vote.
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Shri Prabhakar Singh ,Director  General, CPWD Chosen For 'Eminent Engineer  Award- 2019' 

  •  Shri Prabhakar Singh ,Director General, Central Public Works Department has been chosen for the 'Eminent Engineer Award for the Year 2019' by the Institution of Engineers (India) for his distinguished and exemplary Service in the field of Engineering and Technology. 
  • This Elite and Prestigious Award shall be conferred to him on the 'Engineers Day' on September 15, 2019 in New Delhi.
  • Shri Prabhakar Singh is an IIT Graduate and MBA from one of the Premier Business Institute of the Country.
  • His enormous contributions and dedicated Service to the Nation as an Eminent Technocrat has been instrumental in transforming the Premier Engineering Organisation of the Central Government – CPWD.  

Narendra Modi Awarded 'The King Hamad Order Of The Renaissance' In Bahrain

  •  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been awarded the King Hamad Order of the Renaissance by Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa in recognition of his efforts to strengthen bilateral relations.
  • Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit Bahrain, received the honour when he called on the King of Bahrain.
  • The Indian PM arrived in the capital city of Manama after concluding his UAE visit where he was conferred with highest civilian award.
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Cabinet Approves Bill For Speedy Eviction Of Unauthorised Occupants

  •  In a crackdown on unauthorised occupants of residential accommodations in public premises, the Union Cabinet has approved introduction of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019.
  • The amendments will facilitate smooth and speedy eviction of unauthorised occupants from government residences and the vacant residences will be available for allotment to eligible persons on maturity of their turn in the waiting list. It will decrease the waiting time for availing the facility of residential accommodation.
  • The new Bill comes in place of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2017 and will be introduced in the coming session of the Parliament.
  • The Bill seeks amendments in Section 2, Section 3 and Section 7 of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971.
  • The proposed amendments would enable an estate officer to apply summary proceedings for evicting unauthorised occupants from residential accommodations and to levy damage charges for accommodation held during the period of litigation.
  • Under the proposed Bill, the estate officer will not have to follow elaborate proceedings like serving notice, show cause and inquiry. Rather, he or she can initiate summary eviction proceedings.

Rajya Sabha Passes NID Amendment Bill

  • The Rajya Sabha  passed the National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which declares the four National Institutes of Design (NID) in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, and Haryana as institutions of national importance. 
  • Currently, these institutes are registered as Societies under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and do not have the power to grant degrees or diplomas. On being declared institutions of national importance, they will be able to grant degrees and diplomas. 
  • Moreover, this will help them become socially inclusive and address the needs of design in various sectors including agriculture, health care, and transportation. 

LS Secretariat Bans Use Of Plastics In Parliament Complex 

  •  The Lok Sabha Secretariat banned the use of non-reusable plastic water bottles and other plastic items within the Parliament complex.
  • All officers and staff of the Secretariat and other allied agencies working in the Parliament House Complex have been asked to comply with the directions. 
  • They have also been advised to use environment friendly biodegradable bags and other material.
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Nicotine Is Now a Class A Poison In Karnataka

  •  Karnataka Government steps in to curb illegal sale, smuggling of nicotine cartridges, e-cigarettes
  • To strengthen enforcement of the ban on production and sale of electronic cigarettes, the State government has amended the Karnataka Poisons (Possession and Sale) Rules 2015, notifying nictoine as Class A poison under the rules.
  • Highly toxic chemicals, which even in very small quantities as gas or vapour in the air are dangerous to life (such as cyanogen, hydrocyanic acid, nitrogen peroxide, and phosgene), are notified under Class A. A gazette notification was published in July 2019 and the new rules are now called the Karnataka Poisons (Possession and Sale) Rules 2019.
  • Electronic cigarettes are small battery-operated devices that vapourise liquid nicotine to provide the same experience as smoking tobacco.
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ASI Revealed The Evidence Of An Iron Age Settlement In The Vidarbha Region

  •  The recent excavation carried out by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) at Maharashtra's Phupgaon has revealed evidence of an Iron Age settlement in the Vidarbha region. The excavation at the site was taken up between December, 2018 and March, 2019.
  • The team of ASI took up an intensive survey in the region between Chandur Bazar to Dariyapur of Purna basin at Phupgaon (N 21° 24' 00.6" E 77° 54' 11.6"), Amravati district of Maharashtra.
  • The site is situated in the vast meander of the river Purna, a major tributary of Tapi, which used to be a perennial river, but at present is completely dried-up due to the dam construction in the upper stream.
  • The site is situated about 20 m away from the river bed and its one-third portion has been subjected to frequent erosion during the heavy water current in the earlier times.

PM Modi Launches $4.2 Million Redevelopment Project Of Iconic Hindu Temple In Bahrain

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi  launched the $4.2 million redevelopment project of the 200-year-old Lord Sri Krishna temple in Manama and said it manifests the strong ties between India and Bahrain.
  • PM Narendra Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the key Gulf nation, offered prayers at the Shreenathji Temple in Manama, the oldest temple in the region, and also the 'prasad' that he bought with the RuPay card after launching it in the UAE .
  • This is among the oldest temples in the region and manifests the strong ties between India and Bahrain.The $4.2 million redevelopment project will be on a piece of land measuring 16,500 square feet and the new four-floor structure covering 45,000 square feet will have an overall height of 30 meters.
  • The heritage and the 200-year-old legacy of the temple will be highlighted in the redevelopment and the new iconic complex will house the sanctum sanctorum and prayer halls.
  • There are also facilities for traditional Hindu marriage ceremonies and other rituals, promoting Bahrain as a wedding destination and boosting tourism.
  • The temple corridors will be adorned with paintings by various Indian and Bahraini artists and people of all faiths are welcome.
  • Around 350,000 Indian nationals, mostly from Kerala, live in Bahrain. The Indian community comprise a third of Bahrain's total population of 1.2 million.
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