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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

29 Aug 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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US To Launch Space Command In a Bid To Expand Military Outreach

  •  The United States will officially launch the Space Command on August 29, 2019 with a White House ceremony hosted by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Air Force General John Raymond, commander of SPACECOM, are also expected to attend. SPACECOM is US military's 11th combatant command.
  • The launch of the Space Command will accelerate what has been a decades-long effort to reorganise and improve the US military's technological capabilities in space.
  • The creation of the new combatant command is the first step towards the creation of a full-up Space Force, an idea that has been heavily pushed by President Donald Trump.

Dharmendra Pradhan Meets Australian Minister Matthew Canavan

  •  Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan  held a meeting with Australian Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Senator Matthew Canavan in New Delhi.
  • Both Ministers stressed on the importance of energy and resources in the bilateral relationship, and agreed to expand the scope of cooperation given that India offers a large energy market and Australia is rich in natural resources particularly coal and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG), apart from Uranium. India is the largest importer of Australian metallurgical coal.

US Sets Up Diplomatic Mission For Venezuela In Colombia

  •  The United States has opened a diplomatic mission for Venezuela in Colombia, months after suspending its embassy in Caracas as Washington seeks to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
  • The Venezuela Affairs Unit, located inside the US embassy in Bogota, will focus on supporting Juan Guaido, the opposition leader whom the United States and most other Western and Latin American countries consider the interim president.
  • The unit will continue to work for the restoration of democracy and the constitutional order in that country, and the security and well-being of the Venezuelan people.
  • The US diplomatic presence in Venezuela will still be sharply curtailed. A US official said the unit in Bogota would not provide consular services such as issuing visas.
  • The United States suspended operations at its embassy in Caracas in March 2019 and pulled out all remaining staff as the political crisis intensified following years of severe deterioration of the economy.

ENVIRONMENT

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Cabinet Approves Establishment Of International Coalition For Disaster Resilient Infrastructure

  •  Union Minister Prakash Javadekar  announced that the Cabinet has approved establishment of an International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch CDRI during UN Climate Summit in New York on September 23, 2019.
  • Organized by the UN Secretary General, this event will bring together the largest number of Heads of States to generate commitments for combating the effects of climate change and resulting disasters, and will provide the high-level visibility required for the CDRI. 
  • The government has given in-principle approval to provide Rs 480 crore (approx USD 70 million) to CDRI for corpus required to fund technical assistance and research projects on an on-going basis, setting up the Secretariat office and covering recurring expenditures over a period of 5 years from 2019-20 to 2023-24.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Microsoft To Train 5000 Govt Employees On AI Cloud

  •  Microsoft India launched a scheme to provide 5000 government employees on AI (artificial intelligence) and cloud computing skills. The program, called 'Digital Governance Tech Tour', will comprise of physical and virtual workshops. 
  • The program was inaugurated by Amitabh Kant, chief executive of NITI Aayog, the government's policy think-tank and Ajay Prakash Sawhney, secretary, MeITY (The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology).  
  • The program will be open to technocrats and IT professionals across the government, including employees of Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), government partners as well as solutions/systems integrators, and is free of cost. 
  • Under the program, developers can earn the AZ-900 Certification, which demonstrates foundational level cloud computing skills on the spot at no cost, after clearing an exam. 
  • The power of AI, cloud services, and data analytics needs to be brought to bear in core sectors for inclusive economic growth.

Review Capital Framework Every Five Years, Says Jalan Committee

  •  The Bimal Jalan Committee, set up to review the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI's) economic capital framework, has suggested that the framework may be periodically reviewed after every five years.
  • The panel recommended to align the central bank's accounting year with the financial year which could reduce the need for paying interim dividend.

Renault Launches Seven-Seater Triber In India

  •  French auto major Renault launched its compact seven-seater multi purpose vehicle Triber priced between Rs 4.95 lakh and Rs 6.49 lakh.
  • Triber is the second model from the company after Kwid which has been specifically designed and developed for the Indian market.
  • It is powered by a one-litre petrol engine and comes equipped with various features including four airbags.
  • The new model would bridge the gap between Kwid and company's other SUV offerings like Duster and Captur.
  • It has a robust strategy to build its presence in rural markets which offers significant growth potential.

SPORTS

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Vismaya Wins Gold At Josef Seckr Memorial

  •  Indian sprinter V K Vismaya produced a personal best timing of 52.12s to clinch the gold medal in the women 400m run at the International Athletic Meeting -- Josef Seckr Memorial (MJS) in Brno, Czech Republic.
  • The 22-year-old Indian won the yellow metal, while compatriots Poovamma Machettira and Subha Venkatesan finished second and third with timings of 53.47s and Sudha 53.67s respectively.
  • Vismaya, who had earlier scored a personal best of 52.48 at Nov Mesto nad Metuj (CZE), along with the quartermilers has been in Europe for sometime.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Amit Shah Attends 49th Foundation Day Of BPR And D As Chief Guest

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah attended the 49th Foundation Day of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR and D). Shah was the chief guest at the event.
  • Shah lighted a lamp to inaugurate the event. Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy was also present at the event.

India Launches World's First Ever Facial Bio-Metric Data Based Seafarer Identity Document

  •  India has become the first country in the world to issue Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID), capturing the facial bio-metric data of seafarers. 
  • Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, MoS (I/C) Shipping and Chemical & Fertilizers launched the project in New Delhi. He also handed over the new BSID cards to five Indian seafarers.
  • The new facial biometric technology is a marked improvement over the two finger or iris based bio-metric data, with modern security features.
  • It will make the identification of the SID holder more reliable and efficient, while protecting their dignity and privacy. India had made a presentation on this technology at ILO .

DEFENCE

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IMD Hands Over Unused Radar Building To Navy

  •  A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Navy and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) at the Naval Base  for the handing over of the Cyclone Detection Radar (CDR) building by the IMD.
  • Rear Admiral R.J. Nadkarni, Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command, and Dr. D. Pradhan, Scientist 'G', Additional Director General of Meteorology (Instruments), IMD, Delhi, signed the MoU.
  • It will enable the Navy to utilise the CDR building within the naval premises in Kochi for meteorological purposes.
  • The CDR building was constructed during 1983-86 inside the Naval Base, having an S-band Cyclone Detection Radar installed by Bharat Electronics Limited.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Shri Pavan Kapoor Appointed As The Next Ambassador Of India To The United Arab Emirates

  •  India  appointed Pavan Kapoor as its next Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.
  • The 1990 cadre IFS officer will replace Navdeep Singh Suri, who has been heading the Indian mission in UAE since October 2016. 
  • Pavan Kapoor is 1990 lFS (Indian Foreign Service) cadre.
  • He will take up the assignment shortly.

Ferdinand Piëch Died At The Age Of 82

  •  Piech, the grandson of sports car and VW Beetle pioneer Ferdinand Porsche, died on Sunday in Rosenheim, Bavaria at the age of 82.
  • Piëch, the son of Ferdinand Porsche's daughter Louise, spent nearly his whole life holding posts within VW Group.
  • His engineering career began at Porsche before then-CEO Ferry Porsche ordered his dismissal along with all other family members from the company.
  • He moved to Audi before heading up VW Group as its CEO from 1993 to 2002. Following his CEO role, he became VW Group chairman and retired from the position in 2015.
  • Famously, Piëch stopped a hostile takeover of VW by Porsche in 2008. Following former Porsche chairman Wendelin Wiedeking's announcement that he intended to acquire 75% of VW shares during the course of 2009, Piëch swooped in.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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National Sports Day 2019

  •  To commemorate the birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand, National Sports Day is celebrated across the country on 29 August.
  • Stressing the need to stay fit and healthy, this day is observed to spread awareness on the importance of sports and daily activities in every individual's life.
  • On this day, President of India honours eminent sports personalities with major awards including Khel Ratna, Arjuna Awards, Dronacharya Awards and Dhyan Chand Award.

12th India Security Summit on "Towards New National Cyber Security Strategy"

  •  The 12th India Security Summit on the theme "Towards New National Cyber Security Strategy" was held in New Delhi. 
  • During the conference, many issues were discussed such as protection of critical national infrastructure, emerging cyber threats: incidents, challenges and response.

International Day Against Nuclear Tests: 29 August 

  •  On 2nd December 2009, the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests by unanimously adopting resolution 64/35.
  • The resolution calls for increasing awareness and education "about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world."
  • The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors with a view to commemorating the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991.
  • 2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. In each subsequent year, the day has been observed by coordinating various activities throughout the world, such as symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, lectures, media broadcasts and other initiatives.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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IPS Officer Aparna Kumar To Be Conferred Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award 2018

  •  IPS Officer Aparna Kumar will be honoured with the Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award 2018 in the 'Land adventure' category.
  • The names of the winners of Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards 2018 were announced by the government on August 27, 2019.
List of winners:
1. Aparna Kumar - Land Adventure category
2. Late Shri Dipankar Ghosh- Land Adventure category
3. Manikandan K - Land Adventure category
4. Prabhat Raju Koli – Water Adventure category
5. RameshwerJangra - Air Adventure
6. Wangchuk Sherpa - Life Time Achievement
  • The Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards are the highest national awards for adventure sports in India, at par with the Arjuna award.
  • The awards were conferred by the government based on the recommendations of the National Selection Committee.
  • The committee chaired by Secretary (Youth Affairs) had experts from the field of adventure as members.    

Kalinga-FCC Awards For Excellence In Journalism For 2019 Presented In New Delhi

  •  Journalists from media organisations such as Reuters, BBC, and Germany-based European Press Photo Agency (EPA) won big at the Kalinga-FCC Awards for Excellence in Journalism for 2019.
  • The awards were presented to the winners by former president Pranab Mukherjee. Teams of journalists from international news agency Reuters bagged two of the five top prizes.
  • The BBC of the UK, Germany-based European Press Photo Agency (EPA), and PBS News Hour of USA shared the other three awards.
  • The awards, the first of their kind in India, are aimed at encouraging extensive and informed coverage in the global media of India and seven other countries in South Asia that constitute the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The region accounts for a fourth of the global population.
  • Each awardee received a cheque for Rs 1,00,000, a trophy, a medal and a certificate of merit.
  • The Print Journalist of the Year Award went to the nine-member Team Reuters for the exhaustive coverage of the Rohingya issue in Myanmar and Bangladesh.
  • The Digital Journalist of the Year Award went to another eight-member Team Reuters for the excellent coverage of pollution in India's capital New Delhi with detailed graphics. Harish Tyagi of EPA won the Photo Journalist of the Year Award for his painstaking photographic documentation of how pollution is killing River Yamuna.
  • Rakesh Nagar of PBS News Hour received the Video Journalist of the Year Award for 'Music in the Mountains', a documentary about how a Jesuit priest is bringing about change by teaching music to poor children in Kalimpong.

India Bags Four Medals In Worldskills Kazan Competition

  •  The Indian team created history by winning one gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the 45th WorldSkills Kazan 2019 competition, in Russia. It has been the country's best performance since it first participated at the event in 2007.
  • S Aswatha Narayana won the gold medal in water technology. Pranav Nutalapati won silver medal in web technologies. Sanjoy Pramanik and Shweta Ratanpura won one bronze medal each in Jewellery and graphic design technology. 

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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Bangladesh To Remove The Word 'Virgin' From Muslim Marriage Certificates

  •  The word "virgin" must be removed from Muslim marriage certificates in Bangladesh, the country's top court has said, a landmark verdict after campaigners challenged the "humiliating and discriminatory" term.
  • Under the South Asian country's Muslim marriage laws, a bride has to select one of three options on the certificate – whether she is a Kumari (virgin), a widow or divorced.
  • In a brief verdict, the court ordered the government to remove the term and replace it with "unmarried."
  • The court is expected to publish its full verdict by October 2019, with the changes to the certificate expected to come into effect then.

HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Launches Integrated Web Portal For School Education 'Shagun'

  •  Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank  launched a web portal 'Shagun' to provide all-inclusive information on school education including the results of students through a single platform.
  •  Shagun is a comprehensive initiative to improve the school education system by creating a junction for all online portals and websites relating to various activities of the Department of School Education and Literacy in the government of India and all States and Union Territories.
  • The word Shagun is coined from two different words- 'Shala' meaning Schools and 'Gunvatta' meaning quality and this online junction of different websites and portals into a single platform will enhance the accessibility of information relating to schools and will ensure a holistic approach to transform education sector.

Kerala, TN, Himachal Top India's Child Well-Being Index

  •  Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry topped the charts in the child well-being index, a tool designed to measure and tracks children's well-being comprehensively. Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh featured at the bottom, as per a report released by the non government organisation World Vision India and research institute IFMR LEAD. 
  • The report is an attempt to look at how India fairs on child well-being using a composite child well-being index. The dimensions of the index include healthy individual development, positive relationships and protective contexts.
  • One of the primary objectives of this index is to garner attention to the under-researched theme of child well-being in India, and inspire further academic and policy conversations on related issues. 

ART AND CULTURE

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S Jaishankar Unveils Mahatma Gandhi Statue At Indian Embassy In Moscow

  •  External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar  unveiled a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Indian embassy in Moscow. Mr Jaishankar arrived in Moscow on a two-day visit.
  • He also addressed the Valdai Discussion Club, a Moscow-based think tank, on "India's perspective on the Indo-Pacific."
  • The minister is scheduled to meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to further advance bilateral cooperation and prepare grounds for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's upcoming visit to the country.
  • PM Modi will be the chief guest at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok which will be held from September 4 to 6, 2019.
  • The two leaders will discuss a range of regional and international issues of mutual interest, including trade, investment, military, science and technology cooperation, the use of national currencies for mutual payments and prospective projects in space exploration and energy.
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