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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

13 Sep 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Sri Lanka's New Luxury Train, Pulathisi Express Launched

  •  The President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena along with the country's Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Arjuna Ranatunga and Taranjit Singh Sandhu, High Commissioner of India flagged off the new train- Pulathisi Express.
  • Sri Lanka launches 'Make in India' swanky train which was flagged off from Fort railway station in Colombo to Polonnaruwa.
  • The swanky and luxurious new train set has been supplied to Sri Lanka Railways by RITES Limited under Indian Line of Credit. 
  • RITES Limited is a PSU, under the aegis of Indian Railways which specializes in the field of transport infrastructure.

ENVIRONMENT

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Drought-Forecasting Toolbox Unveiled At UNCCD Event

  •  A UN body has unveiled a toolbox that will not only warn of an impending drought, but also suggest means to mitigate the adverse impact of acute water scarcity.
  • The ongoing 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)  witnessed the official release of the Drought Toolbox, which can be used by countries to assess drought risks in their regions much in advance, and prepare to deal with the water scarcity.
  • The drought toolbox, which uses 30 parameters, including soil moisture, rainfall data and temperature data of the present and past, can accurately evaluate the vulnerability of different geographic regions to drought. Already 70 countries have shown interest in making use of the toolbox.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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RBI Reduces Risk Weight For Consumer Credit To 100%

  •  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said it has reduced the risk weight requirement for consumer loans to 100 per cent, a move that will reduce cost of such loans.
  • Currently, the risk weight requirement for such loans is 125 per cent. The relaxed requirement would not be applicable to credit cards. Risk weight refers to the capital banks keep aside as provisioning to cover any loan defaults.
  • The RBI's move is likely to boost consumer spending in the coming festive season. Under the standardised approach for credit risk management, all unsecured consumer credit, including personal loans and credit card receivables, which are both unsecured lending, attract a higher risk weight of 125 per cent or higher, if warranted by an external rating of the counter-party.

SBI Launches OFS to Sell Stake in Life Insurance Biz

  •  State Bank of India (SBI), India's largest lender, launched a two-day offer for sale (OFS) to sell a 4.5% stake in SBI Life Insurance Co. Ltd.
  • Stock exchange filings show that SBI is looking to sell up to 3.5% through the OFS, with an option to sell an additional 1%.
  • SBI Life started as a joint venture between the public sector lender and France's BNP Paribas Cardif.

IFC Collaborates With FIDC For Training NBFCs

  •  The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Finance Industry Development Council (FIDC), a representative body of asset and loan Financing NBFCs, to collaborate on training of NBFCs in the country.
  • As per the agreed terms, training programs for NBFCs would be conducted on "Commercial Credit Reporting" aimed at building capacity of NBFCs to enhanced reporting and enquiring on Commercial Credit Information Data from the Credit Bureaus.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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India Joins Global Antimicrobial Resistance R&D Hub

  •  India has become a member of the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Development (R&D) Hub. The announcement was made by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology in New Delhi on September 12, 2019.
  • With India's inclusion, the Global Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Development hub now has 16 member nations. The hub also has the European Commission, two philanthropic foundations as members and four international organisations as observers.
  • The partnership works to address challenges and improve coordination and collaboration in the global antimicrobial resistance research and development.
  • The issue of antimicrobial resistance requires global action with active participation from all world regions and One Health sectors.

Scientists Create First Ever Color-Changing 'Skin'

  •  Researchers have created a chameleon-inspired smart skin that changes color when exposed to heat and sunlight, hoping that the new flexible material could find applications in camouflage, signaling, and anti-counterfeiting. 
  • Besides chameleons, many other creatures such as the tetra fish have evolved the ability to change colour. But the colouration is not based on pigments, but on tiny particles in a repeating pattern, known as photonic crystals.
  • When light reflects off of these microscopic surfaces, it interferes with other beams of reflected light and produces a color, whose shade is altered when the distance between photonic crystals fluctuates.

Cryodrakon Boreas, The Largest Flying Animal Was a Plane-Sized Reptile

  •  Scientists unveiled a new species of pterosaur, the plane-sized reptiles that lorded over primeval skies above T-rex, Triceratops and other dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous.
  • With a wingspan of 10 m and weighing 250 kg, Cryodrakon boreas rivals another pterosaur as the largest flying animal of all time.

SPORTS

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Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium Renamed After Arun Jaitley

  •  The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) rechristened Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium as Arun Jaitley Stadium in a renaming ceremony which was held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah was the chief guest for the function, where a new pavilion stand at the stadium was also dedicated to India skipper Virat Kohli, to recognise his outstanding achievements in the field of cricket.
  • Bishan Singh Bedi and Mohinder Amarnath are the two other Delhi players who have stands after their names but the honour came their way after their retirements.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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PM Modi Inaugurates New Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha Building

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the New Jharkhand Vidhan Sabha building at Kute gram in Ranchi.
  • The three-storey building has been constructed at a cost of Rs 465 crore.
  • It is dubbed as the first paperless Assembly in the country.

Gujarat Again Tops Perception Based National Logistics Index

  • Gujarat has one again topped a perception-based index of mobility of goods and efficiency of logistics chain, closely followed by Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.
  • The state has been ranked the highest in the second edition of the Logistics Ease Across Different States (LEADS) index which is based on indicators such as infrastructure, services, timelines, traceability, competitiveness, security, operating environment and efficiency of regulation.
  • The index is developed by the commerce and industry ministry along with Deloitte.
  • Himachal Pradesh stood last on the chart. Bihar ranked at 20th position.
  • Among the union territories, Chandigarh occupied the top position followed by Delhi and Puducherry. Chandigarh has replaced Daman and Diu in the latest logistics performance index.
  • As regards the hilly states, Tripura retained the top spot. It was followed by Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Centre To Bring Ordinance to Ban e-Cigarettes in Country

  •  The Union Cabinet is likely to approve an ordinance prohibiting the manufacture and sale of e-cigarettes in the country. The law would make production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution or advertisements of e-cigarettes a cognizable offence.
  • Anti-tobacco health experts are calling it a move in the right direction but the tobacco industry and its allies state that if enforced, this would be a "draconian law hitting at the livelihood of many."

DEFENCE

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India, Thailand Joint Military Exercise From September 16

  •  MAITREE, the joint military exercise between India and Thailand, will be conducted at Foreign Training Node, Umroi, in Meghalaya, from September 16 to 29, 2019.
  • A Defence Ministry release said that Indian and Royal Thailand Army (RTA) contingents comprising 50 soldiers each will participate in the exercise with an aim to share experience gained during various counter-terrorism operations.
  • MAITREE is an annual training event which is being conducted alternatively in Thailand and India since 2006.

Indian, Chinese Soldiers Face-Off In Ladakh

  •  Tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) flared up following a face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh.
  • The Indian and Chinese troops were reportedly engaged in a confrontation near the northern bank of the Pangong Lake in Ladakh, two-thirds of which is controlled by China.
  • Tensions escalated when Indian troops on patrol were confronted by the soldiers of the People's Liberation Army of China. This resulted in a scuffle with the two sides sending more soldiers to the area.
  • Tensions were, however, defused after delegation-level talks between the two sides. This comes around a month ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on October 10-12, 2019 near Chennai.
  • Line of Actual Control (LAC) stability and trade ties are likely to be the focus of discussion when PM Modi meets Xi Jinping.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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UN Appoints Veteran Indian Officer to Lead Mission in Yemen

  •  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres  appointed a veteran Indian Army official as the head of the world body's observer mission in Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.
  • Lieutenant General (retired) Abhijit Guha has been appointed as the Chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) and head of the UNMHA.
  •  He will succeed Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, who served as RCC Chair and head of UNMHA from January 31 to July 31, 2019.
  •  Guha brings to this position 39 years of national and international military experience. He served from 2009-2013 as the Deputy Military Adviser and the Military Adviser within the Office of Military Affairs of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, while also establishing the Office of Peacekeeping and Strategic Partnerships in 2013.
  • He has also previously served as a Military Observer as part of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia during 1992-93.

Hima Das Appointed as Brand Ambassador for Gatorade

  •  PepsiCo India has roped in star athlete Hima Das as the brand ambassador for its sports drink brand Gatorade. She joins ace shuttler PV Sindhu and javelin star Neeraj Chopra as the brand's ambassadors in the country.
  • Gatorade India will also work with Hima Das during the period of partnership to understand her training and race-day nutrition better.
  • Tarun Bhagat, Director-Marketing, Hydration and Cola, PepsiCo India welcomed Hima Das into Gatorade's family of athletes.

Tonga's Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva Dies Aged 78

  •  Tonga's Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva has died at the age of 78. Mr Pohiva was medically evacuated from the capital, Nuku'alofa, to a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Mr Pohiva had served as Tonga's Prime Minister since 2014, and was Tonga's longest serving member of Parliament, coming into office in 1987.
  • He spent years campaigning against royal involvement in the island kingdom's politics, and in 2014 became the first commoner to be elected Prime Minister by Tonga's Parliament.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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International Day For South-South Cooperation On 12 September

  • South-South cooperation is a broad framework where the South Countries have collaborated in various domains including political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and technical domains.
  • The day celebrates the political, social and economical developments made by regions and countries in the south in recent years.
Aim:
  • South-South Cooperation works towards achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). 
  • It aims to boost the progress towards implementing the SDGs. It raises the awareness of the efforts taken by the United Nation to work on technical cooperation among developing countries.
Theme:
  • The theme for the 2019 South-South Cooperation is From Commitment to Action — Follow up to Buenos Aires Plan of Action+40.
  • It is a follow up to the Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation (BAPA+40) which was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 20-22 March 2019.
  • The theme focuses on implementing the commitments adopted in the summit.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Chhaya Sharma To Receive Asia Society Game Changer Award

  •  Indian woman police officer Chhaya Sharma, who led the investigation into the brutal 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape, has been chosen along with six others for the 2019 Asia Society Game Changers award for redefining the role of female police officers.
  • The awards, which were announced by the city-based leading cultural organisation Asia Society will be presented at a special ceremony in October 2019.
  • Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among people, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context.
  • Sharma, who serves as the deputy inspector general at the National Human Rights Commission of India, is among the awardees.

Indian Peacekeepers in South Sudan Awarded Medals For Service

  •  Seventeen Indian peacekeepers deployed with the UN mission in South Sudan have been awarded medals in recognition of their service to the people in the world's youngest country.
  • The Indian police officers have served the UN and the people of South Sudan for almost a year. Their duties included protecting displaced civilians, community policing and building local police skills.
  • The 17 Indian men and women police officers were awarded the UN service medals during a special ceremony at the UN House in Juba.
  • India is among the largest troop contributing countries in the world to UN peacekeeping missions. 
  • As of March 2019, India is the second highest troop contributor to the UNMISS, with 2,337 troops deployed with the mission. 
  • In addition, India contributes 22 police personnel to the UNMISS.

UAE Honours Outgoing Indian Envoy With Order Of Zayed II Award

  •  The UAE has conferred the outgoing Indian Ambassador Navdeep Singh Suri with the First Class Order of Zayed II award, recognizing his efforts to strengthen the relationship and cooperation between the two nations.
  • His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan bestowed the award upon Suri, who has been serving as the Indian ambassador to the Gulf nation since October 2016.
  • During his tenure, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE  twice.
  • The Order of Zayed is the country's highest civil decoration named after Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
  • UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan presented the honour to Suri during a meeting in Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Abdullah also lauded his role in bolstering the UAE-India ties.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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NGT Forms Committee to Stop Illegal Groundwater Extraction

  •  The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set up a committee to formulate steps required to prevent its unauthorised extraction.
  • A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel directed the committee to evolve a robust mechanism to ensure that groundwater is not illegally extracted and to monitor manning and functioning of the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).
  • The committee comprises joint secretaries of Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR), Central Ground Water Board, National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, National Remote Sensing Centre and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Rawat Launches Dal Poshit Yojana

  •  Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat launched a scheme under which ration card holders in the state will get two kgs of pulses at subsidised rates every month.
  • Launching the 'Mukhya Mantri Dal Poshit Yojana' by distributing pulse packets among the beneficiaries, Rawat said it will help in achieving the Prime Minister's vision of a healthy India.
  • 23.32 lakh ration card holders of the state will benefit from the scheme.
  • They will get two kgs of Chana dal (chickpeas split) at the rate of Rs 44 per kg in September (2019). Chana dal comes at Rs 65-Rs 70 per kg in the open market.

PM Modi Launches Pension Schemes

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in the Jharkhand's capital Ranchi, launched ambitious pension schemes for farmers, shopkeepers and self-employed persons.
  •  'Swarojgar' pension scheme was also rolled out for self-employed persons. Beneficiaries between 18 and 40 years will get Rs 3,000 per month after completing 60 years of age.
  • The beneficiary can opt to become member of the Scheme by subscribing to a Pension Fund, managed by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC). 
  • Also, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Kisan Man Dhan Yojana (KMDY) in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
  • He is also scheduled to inaugurate 400 Eklavya Model Residential Schools for Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in tribal-dominated areas of the state.
  • The scheme shall secure the lives of 5 Crore Small and Marginal Farmers by providing a minimum pension of Rs 3,000 per month, to those who attain 60 years of age.
  • The government has budgeted Rs 10,774.50 crore to implement the scheme for the first three years, starting this fiscal.
  • Further, the scheme is voluntary and contributory in nature, which means that farmers will have to pay a monthly contribution between Rs 55 and Rs 200, depending upon the age of the farmer.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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MHRD Introduces Study of AI at School Level

  •  Ministry of Human Resource and Development has prepared a module to introduce the study of Artificial Intelligence at the school level by joining hands with the technology leaders like Intel.
  • Addressing the Central Board of Secondary Education's Teachers Awards 2018-19, Union Human Resource and Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishak said, it is a big leap in our education system that artificial intelligence which was otherwise taught at the college level, is now been introduced from class 8th.
  • During the event, 34 teachers were felicitated for their outstanding and innovative contribution in the field of teaching. Along with the award ceremony, three initiatives were also announced.

HRD Minister Launches Initiatives Of MIC and AICTE to Boost Research And Innovation

  •  Union Human Resource Development Minister, Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' attended the First Annual Innovation Festival of the MHRD's Innovation Cell (MIC).
  • MIC organized the first Annual Innovation Festival in coordination with AICTE. During this festival, Innovation cell showcased more than 70 top students' innovations from across India.
  • Minister of State for HRD, Shri Sanjay Dhotre was also present on the occasion.
  • Union Minister also launched the Smart India Hackathon 2020, Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020, and Institution's Innovation Council 2.0. 
  • The event also witnessed the release of the Start-Up Policy Document and SIH Report, launch of Technical Teacher's Training Module, ATAL Academies, Protsahan Mudra Scheme, Vishwakarma Award and the Vice Chancellor's Meet on the Student Induction Programme, which has bridged the gap between students and teachers through creatively designed programs that have unveiled the best potential of a student outside of the book curriculum.
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