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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

05 Sep 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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US Imposes Sanctions On Shipping Network Run By Iran's Revolutionary Guards

  •  The United States has imposed sanctions on a shipping network; it said was run by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The US blamed that shipping network sold millions of barrels of oil to benefit Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
  • The sanctions on 16 entities, 10 people and 11 vessels by the US were announced just as Iran was threatening to cut further its commitments under a nuclear deal unless the United States eases its pressure.

Bangladesh bans Two International NGOs over Rohingya Repatriation Issue

  •  Toughening its stance further, Bangladesh banned two more international NGOs for allegedly instigating Rohingya refugees to oppose repatriation to Myanmar. 
  • The NGO Affairs Bureau of Bangladesh issued a circular banning the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Al Markaz-ul-Islami for their role in organising a rally of Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar area on 25 August, 2019 on the second anniversary of fleeing from Myanmar.

Chief Executive Of Hong Kong Announces To Withdraw Extradition Bill

  •  Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam will withdraw the controversial extradition bill which triggered three months of unprecedented pro-democracy rallies in the country. 
  • The proposal, introduced in April 2019, would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
  • The bill was suspended in June 2019 when Ms Lam called it dead, but she stopped short of withdrawing it. Full withdrawal is one of the five key demands of protesters, who are also calling for full democratic rights. 
  • Ms Lam also announced that two senior officials would join an existing inquiry into police conduct during the protests. 
  • An independent investigation into alleged police brutality against protesters is another of the activists' demands.

ENVIRONMENT

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Lata Mangeshkar Joins List of Celebrities Opposing Proposed Felling Of Over 2,600 Trees in Aarey

  •  Singer Lata Mangeshkar has joined the list of celebrities opposing the proposed felling of over 2,600 trees in Aarey to make way for a Metro car shed.
  • The Tree Authority of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had recently approved cutting of over 2,600 trees for a Metro car shed in the Aarey Colony adjoining sub-urban Goregaon, which is known as the major green lung of Mumbai. 

Centre To Take Indian Army's Help To Protect, Breed Great Indian Bustard In Rajasthan

  •  The Centre will seek the help of the Indian Army to conserve the population of critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (GIB) found in the Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan.
  • The decision was taken in the second meeting of the steering committee formed under the Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican Conservation Breeding and Research Programme held in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
  • Some population of the GIB is found in Pokhran Field Firing Range, Jaisalmer.
  • It was informed that the population in the firing range is undisturbed and efforts should be made to get support from the Army in conservation efforts for protection of the bird.
  • According to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the GIB population has been reduced by 75 per cent in the last 30 years, with only 150 members of the species left.

Food Ministry To Ban Single-Use Plastic Products

  •  Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan announced a blanket ban on all types of single-use plastic products in his Ministry and its all PSUs from 15th September.
  • The decision was taken in a high-level meeting with Secretaries of both the Departments and with other senior officials of the Ministry.  
  • According to an official release, Mr  Paswan has asked the officials to make alternate arrangements to ensure that the ban is effective.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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CBDT Enters Into 26 APAs

  •  The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into 26 advance pricing agreements (APAs) in the first five months of the 2019 financial year.
  • The total number of APAs now stands at 297, which includes 32 bilateral APAs. Of these 26 APAs, one is a bilateral APA with Britain and the remaining 25 are unilateral APAs.
  • The APAs pertain to various sectors and sub-sectors of the economy like information technology, banking, semiconductor, power, pharmaceutical, hydrocarbon, publishing, and automobiles.
  • The international transactions covered under these agreements include contract manufacturing, provision of software development services, back-office engineering support service, provision of back-office (ITeS) support services, provision of marketing support services, payment of royalty for use of technology and brand, trading and distribution, payment of charter charges, corporate guarantee, intra-group services and interest on financial instruments.

CRISIL Cuts GDP Growth To 6.3% In Fiscal 2020

  •  Rating agency CRISIL cut India's fiscal year 2020 GDP growth forecast to 6.3% from its earlier forecast of 6.9%, after the economy grew 5% in the first quarter, it's slowest in almost 6 years.
  • The agency said that lower GDP growth forecast corroborates that India's economic slowdown is deeper and more broad-based than suspected.
  • A plunge in domestic private consumption demand, slump in manufacturing, halving of merchandise exports growth, and a high-base effect from 2018 have gnawed away at first-quarter growth.
  • Private consumption growth – the bulwark of India's growth story in recent years – registered a scant 3.1% in the first quarter, a four-year low.

RBI Makes Mandatory For Banks To Link Retail Loans With External Benchmarks

  •  RBI has made it mandatory for banks to link all new floating-rate loans for housing, auto and MSMEs to external benchmark like repo from October 1, 2019, a move aimed at ensuring faster transmission of policy rate cuts to borrowers.
  • Industry and retail borrowers have been complaining that banks do not pass on the entire RBI's policy rate (repo rate) reduction to them.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said it has been observed that due to various reasons, the transmission of policy rate changes to the lending rate of banks under the current marginal cost of funds based lending rate (MCLR) framework has not been satisfactory.
  • Therefore, it has now decided to make it mandatory for banks to link all new floating rate personal or retail loans and floating rate loans to MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) to an external benchmark effective October 1, 2019.

SPORTS

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Srihari Nataraj , Shivani Kataria Named Best Swimmers

  •   Srihari Nataraj walked away with four individual golds, three meet records and the best male swimmer award at the 73rd Glenmark National senior aquatic championships at the Prakash Tarun Pushkar pool.
  • The 18-year-old from Bengaluru had eight golds in all, including four in the relay, and topped the final day with a meet record in the 100m backstroke, an event where he looks to qualify for 2020  Tokyo Olympics.
  • Olympian Sajan Prakash, won three individual events in the five-day meet, including two in the butterfly.

Indian Boys Settle for Silver at Asian Junior Championships

  •  In Table Tennis, the Indian boys team has settled for a silver medal after losing the final 0-3 to top seed China at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships held at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. 
  • However, the second-place helped Indian boys qualify for the World Junior Championships to be held at Korat, Thailand in November, 2019.

Bianca Becomes 1st Teen US Open Semi-Finalist

  •  Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu became the first teen US Open semi-finalist in a decade defeating Belgium's Elise Mertens to set up a battle with Belinda Bencic for a spot in the final.
  • The 15th-seeded 19-year-old from suburban Toronto rallied past 25th seed Mertens 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach a clash against fellow Slam semi-final debutante Bencic.  Andreescu, a winner in 2019  at Indian Wells and Toronto, is the first teen in the US Open's last four since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009.
  • She could become the first teen to win a Grand Slam title since Maria Sharapova captured the 2006 US Open and she would be the youngest US Open champion since Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2004.
  • Serena Williams, seeking her 24th Grand Slam singles title to match Margaret Court's all-time record, faces Ukraine's fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina in the other semi-final.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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CBI's 1st National Conference On Cybercrime Investigation Inaugurated

  •  CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla  inaugurated the 1st National Conference on Cyber Crime Investigation and Cyber Forensics at CBI Headquarters in New Delhi. 
  • The two-day conference covers one of the mandates of CBI which is to investigate crimes with inter-state and international ramifications. 
  • Director CBI, Rishi Kumar Shukla stressed the need to create capacity building and creation of a pool of competent investigators, digital forensic analysts, prosecutors and judicial officers who are digitally aware. 
  • Around 50 officers including DGPs, ADGPs, and SPs dealing with cybercrime, officials and academia are participating in the Conference.

Rajasthan HC Strikes Down Law For Life-Long Govt House

  •  The Rajasthan High Court  struck down a 2017 law that provided government accommodation and a staff of 10 to former full-term chief ministers for their entire lives.
  • A division bench of Chief Justice Ravindra Bhat annulled the Rajasthan Ministers' Salaries (Amendment) Act, 2017 giving the "extra facilities" to former chief ministers, on a petition by journalists Milap Chand Dandiaya and Vijay Bhandari.
  • There can be no question of life-time allotment of residential accommodation to former chief ministers, irrespective of their tenure of office, whether it was for one term or less than a term of five years.
  • The court held that section 7BB and 11 (2) of the Act, which gave former chief ministers a life-long entitlement to a free government accommodation, a telephone and chauffeur-driven car along with a team of 10 staffers to serve them were "arbitrary" and "contrary to Article 14" (the right to equality) of the Constitution.

National Conference Organized By The Indian Council Of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi

  • Emphasising that India never interferes in the internal matters of another country, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu  said for centuries the country has been advocating peace and follows the dictum of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' (the world is one family).
  • India wants good relations with all, including its troublesome neighbour, provided it stops interfering in India's internal affairs.
  • India's policy towards world remains "share and care" and in an apparent reference to Pakistan suggested the neighbour should work for the betterment of its country.
  • In his capacity as the Chairman of the ICWA, Naidu was delivering the valedictory address at the two-day national conference on "India-Africa partnership in a changing global order — priorities, prospects and challenges'' organised by the think-tank.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Kumari Selja Will Be Congress Haryana Unit Chief

  •  Former Union Minister and Congress MP, Kumari Selja will be the Congress Haryana unit chief, while Former state Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has been appointed as Congress legislature party leader and chairman of the state election committee.
  • The announcement in this regard was made by Party Haryana in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad in New Delhi. 

Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi and Masood Azhar declared terrorists under UAPA

  •  India's most wanted Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi and Masood Azhar have been declared terrorists under the recently amended - Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act. 
  • They have been declared individual terrorists under the amended terror law by the government. 
  • In a notification, Home Ministry said, all these were involved in terrorist activities. 
  • Masood Azhar is designated as a global terrorist by the United Nations under the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 on the 1st of May in 2019.
  • Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi are also designated as global terrorists by the United Nations in December 2008. 
  • Dawood Ibrahim who is also designated as a Global terrorist by the United Nations executed a series of bomb blasts with his associates in Mumbai in March 1993.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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September 5 - Teacher's Day

  •  Every year September 5 is celebrated as Teachers' Day in the country. A day dedicated to teachers and their contributions in shaping one's life, it commemorates the birth anniversary of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, a Bharat Ratna recipient and the first Vice President and second President of independent India. Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born on September 5, 1888.
  • A revered academician, he was one of India's most distinguished twentieth-century scholars of comparative religion and philosophy.
  • The author of The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore, Dr Radhakrishnan had a master's degree in philosophy and was responsible for attracting global attention to Indian philosophy.
  • His illustrious career saw him work in Madras Presidency College, University of Mysore, University of Calcutta, University of Oxford and University of Chicago.

International Day of Charity

  •  The International Day of Charity is observed annually on 5 September. It was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012.
  • The prime purpose of the International Day of Charity is to raise awareness and provide a common platform for charity related activities all over the world for individuals, charitable, philanthropic and volunteer organizations for their own purposes on the local, national, regional and international level.
  • The International Day of Charity was conceived as a Hungarian civil society initiative supported by the Hungarian Parliament and Government in 2011, to enhance visibility, organize special events, and in this way to increase solidarity, social responsibility and public support for charity. September 5 was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the "Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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BS Koshyari Accorded Ceremonial Guard Of Honour

  • Maharashtra's Governor-designate Bhagat Singh Koshyari was accorded the ceremonial Guard of Honour at Raj Bhavan.
  • Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis, Minister of Higher Education and Technical Education Vinod Tawde, Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta and Director General of Police Subodh Jaiswal were present on the occasion.
  • The swearing in ceremony of the new Governor will be held at Raj Bhavan.

Prof Muhammad Yunus Conferred 'Lamp Of Peace Of Saint Francis ' Award By Vatican

  •  Nobel Laureate from Bangladesh Professor Muhammad Yunus was conferred the 'Lamp of Peace of Saint Francis ' award by the Vatican for his contribution towards establishing peace and harmony. The award is a recognition for distinguished work by an individual for promoting peace and dialogue among people.
  • The ceremony took place at the historical Papal Basilica of Assisi in Italy. In his acceptance speech Professor Yunus said that extreme concentration of wealth, environmental degradation and rise of artificial intelligence threaten the existence of mankind.
  • The Lamp of Peace award was first given to the Polish trade union leader Lech Walesa in  1981. Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev and Angela Merkel are a few other prominent persons who received this award earlier.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Rs 125 Crore Allotted To IIT-Kharagpur For Centre's SATHI Initiative

  •  IIT Kharagpur has been selected for setting up a Sophisticated Analytical and Technical Help Institute (SATHI), a Department of Science and Technology initiative of the Centre, for which Rs 125 crore has been earmarked over a period of three years.
  • The primary objective of the state-of-the-art, professionally managed science and technology infrastructure facility will be to extend help to the academic institutes in the neighbouring regions.
  • Research establishments and industries, particularly start-ups and manufacturing units, will also be able to use the sophisticated instruments in a few select areas.
  • IIT Kharagpur will treat the SATHI Centre as its Social Scientific Responsibility (SSR) programme to promote the culture of science-based entrepreneurship and start-ups in the country.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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'Prerna App' To Monitor Schools

  •  Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath  inaugurated an important app related to the education system. Its name is Prerna App and Prerna Web Portal.
  • Through this, the attendance of teachers and students in the schools of Basic Education Council can be monitored from the mid-day meal.
  • CM launched it at Indira Gandhi Foundation. Project Director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Vijay Kiran Anand said that teachers have to register school attendance through Prerna App.
  • They have to take selfie with the children and upload it on the app. Assessment of students 'learning output in council schools and Kasturba Gandhi Girls' Schools will also be done through the portal.
  • Through the portal, the Chairman and Vice President of the School Management Committee will also upload photos of other activities including regular meeting of the committee, prayer meeting, sports and uniform distribution through the app. Officers inspecting schools will also have to upload photos on the portal and the app.

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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India Ranked 34th On World Travel, Tourism Competitiveness Index

  •  India has moved up six places to rank 34th on world travel and tourism competitiveness index, driven by rich natural and cultural resources and strong price competitiveness, according to WEF report. 
  • India's ranking improved from 40th to 34th, the greatest improvement over 2017 among the top 25 per cent of all countries ranked in the report.
  • India, which accounts for the majority of South Asia's T&T (travel and tourism) GDP, remains the sub-region's most competitive T&T economy, moving up six places to rank 34th globally.
  • As per the report, China, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil and India -- which are not high-income economies but rank in the top 35 in the overall list -- stand out in the Cultural Resources and Business Travel Pillar through their combination of rich natural and cultural resources and strong price competitiveness.
  • From a sub-regional perspective, the nation (India) has better air infrastructure (33rd) and ground and port infrastructure (28th), international openness (51st) and natural (14th) and cultural resources (8th).
  • Compared to global benchmarks, the country can also add price competitiveness (13th) to its roster of strengths.

Most Liveable City 2019

  •  For the second year in a row, Vienna, Austria has been ranked the most liveable city in the world, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
  • The Austrian capital had almost perfect scores for stability, culture and environment, education and infrastructure and health care. 
  • Melbourne, Australia took the second-place spot, following close behind Vienna's score. Vienna had taken the top spot from Melbourne in 2018 after seven consecutive years at No. 1.
  • Sydney, Australia; Osaka, Japan; and Calgary, Canada make up the remaining top five on the annual Global Liveability Index of 140 cities around the world.
  • Atlanta has risen 17 places due to a major upgrade in its stability score, while Seattle rose by 10 places.
  • Despite being rated highly for culture, New York only ranked 58th. The city's rank lagged due to lower scores in infrastructure and stability, with a higher perceived risk of crime and terrorism.
  • The index considers more than 30 qualitative and quantitative factors spanning five broad categories, weighted as follows: stability (25%), healthcare (20%), culture and environment (25%), education (10%), and infrastructure (20%).

ART AND CULTURE

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Kartarpur Corridor: India, Pakistan Agree On Visa-Free Travel Of Indian Pilgrims To Gurdwara

  •  India and Pakistan reached an understanding on visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims based on their faith but no formal agreement could be signed.
  • However, owing to certain differences on a few key issues, an agreement could not be finalised.
  • Pakistan has insisted on charging a service fee for allowing pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, which is not agreeable in the spirit of smooth and easy access through the corridor.
  • Pakistan has also shown its unwillingness to allow the presence of Indian consular or protocol officials at the gurdwara premises. Pakistan side has been urged to reconsider its position.
  • The third round of talks on the modalities for operationalisation of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was held at Attari checkpoint in Punjab.
  • The Indian delegation was led by Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Pakistani delegation led by Director General (South Asia and SAARC), Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • The corridor will be operational throughout the year, seven days a week. An understanding was reached and pilgrims will have a choice to visit as individuals or in groups, and on foot.
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