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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

14 Sep 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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U.S. House Subpoenas Envoy to US-Taliban Dialogue

  •  The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee issued a subpoena to the Trump administration's envoy to the U.S.-Taliban talks, demanding that he testify at an open congressional hearing in the fourth week of September 2019.
  • According to Eliot Engel of New York, the Trump administration was accused of keeping Congress and the American people in the dark about the negotiations, which are aimed at opening the way to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 18 years of war.
  • Engel issued the subpoena to compel Zalmay Khalilzad to testify on September 19, 2019. He issued the subpoena because the State Department had refused requests in February, April and earlier in September (2019) for briefings or testimony from Khalilzad.

Boris Johnson Cautiously Optimistic of Brexit Deal

  •   The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that he has made a good deal of progress in his pursuit of a Brexit deal with the EU.
  • As per Boris Johnson, the government is working incredibly hard to get a deal. There is the rough shape of the deal to be done. Johnson has been in talk to various other EU leaders particularly in Germany, in France and in Ireland, and has made a good deal of progress.
  • Johnson is set to travel to Luxembourg for Brexit talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier. 

Taliban Negotiators Arrive in Moscow

  •  Less than a week after President Trump announced that peace talks with the Islamic militant group in Afghanistan were essentially dead, a Taliban negotiating team arrived in Moscow.
  • The trip, led by Mullah Sher Mohammad Stanikzai, was the Taliban's first international visit following the collapse of talks with Washington.
  • The delegation held consultations with Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir Putin's envoy for Afghanistan. The visit was confirmed by a Taliban official.
  • A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the meeting in Russia underlined the necessity of renewing talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, and that the Taliban confirmed their readiness to continuing dialogue with Washington.

ENVIRONMENT

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MMRCL Gets Nod To Cut Trees At Aarey

  •  The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) Tree Authority has issued the final permission letter to the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) for felling and transplanting 2,646 trees in Aarey Colony for construction of the proposed car shed for the Metro 3 corridor.
  • Mumbai has been seeing large scale protests since the Tree Authority of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) decided in August 2019 to allow cutting of 2,185 trees and transplantation of 461 trees.
  • Activists and the Shiv Sena have already moved court against the decision.

COP14: Delhi Declaration Adopted To Combat Land Degradation

  •  Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar  said the 14th Conference of Parties to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification was seamless and flawless.
  • It saw a record number of participants. Delhi Declaration is an ambitious statement of global action by each country on how to achieve land degradation neutrality. 
  • The Conference of Parties 14 of the United Nations convention to Combat Desertification concluded in Greater Noida.
  • The 12-point Delhi Declaration agreed to by the parties at the conclusion of Conference raises ambitious targets with a people's first approach to land restoration.
  • Representatives of 197 countries participated in the conference. India will preside over the conference of parties for 2 years.
  • India has been playing an important role in increasing environmental protection and preventing desertification.

Railways Signs MoU With CII On Green Initiatives

  •  Indian Railways signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Confederation of Indian Industries in New Delhi for the facilitation of green initiatives.
  • The objectives of the MoU is greening of Railway properties and energy efficiency in manufacturing facilities and railway workshops.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State of Railways Suresh Angadi said, concerted efforts are being made to ensure cleanliness and hygiene in trains and on station premises.
  • Railway Ministry officials further said, Railways have undertaken some major green initiatives as part of India's contribution towards mitigation of global warming and combating climate change.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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RBI Panel Pitches For Federal Body Like GST Council In Farm Sector

  •  An RBI panel suggested setting up of a federal body on the lines of the GST Council to implement reforms and boost credit flow in the agriculture sector, besides pitching for direct transfer of subsidy and no farm loan waivers.
  • Among other recommendations, the panel said, banks should develop a management information system (MIS) to flag loans sanctioned against gold as collateral in core banking solution (CBS) platform for effective monitoring of end use of funds.
  • The panel said farm loan waivers should be "avoided" and interest subvention or subsidy given on farm loans should be replaced with Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), which is being implemented in host of government schemes like subsidy on LPG and fertiliser.

RBI Proposes 200 Cr Capital For Small Finance Banks

  •  A SFB is primarily set up to undertake basic banking activities of acceptance of deposits and lending to unserved and underserved sections, including small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries, and unorganised sector entities.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)  proposed a minimum equity capital of Rs 200 crore to set up a small finance bank (SFB) under the 'on tap' licence regime to provide saving vehicles for the unserved and underserved sections of the population and supply credit to small units and small and marginal farmers.
  • Unveiling the draft guidelines for 'on tap' licensing of SFBs in the private sector, the RBI said individuals and professionals with 10 years experience in banking, existing non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), micro finance institutions (MFIs)and local area banks in the private sector, which are controlled by residents, can opt for conversion into SFBs.

Iran Inks Deal to Develop Gas Field in Sensitive Gulf

  •  Two Iranian companies have signed a 440-million Dollars agreement to develop a gas field in the sensitive Gulf.
  • Iran's Oil Ministry said it showed the United States could not stop the country with sanctions.
  • The deal reached between two government-owned firms, Pars Oil and Gas Company and PetroPars, to develop the Balal field, would be the first of many.
  • The Balal gas field is located 90 kilometres south of Lavan island in the Gulf. The deal aims to reach a production rate of 500 million cubic feet of gas per day over a 34-month period. 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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India Gifts Solar Panels to UN

  •  Signifying its commitment to sustainability and climate action, India has gifted solar panels -- one each for the 193 UN member states -- that are being installed on the roof of the United Nations headquarters.
  • The solar panels, which are valued about a million dollars and gifted to all the UN member states in a symbolic gesture, are powered up to reach the max of 50 KW of generation power.
  • India has contributed nearly a million dollars to the ambitious solar project at the world body headquarters that entails installation of solar panels on the roof of the UN building.

SPORTS

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2020 Women's U-17 World Cup

  •  The FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, to be hosted by India, will be held from 2nd to 21st November, 2020.
  • The age group showpiece event of the FIFA will be held in four cities across the country. The Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar has been provisionally confirmed as a venue, pending FIFA approval.
  • Kolkata, Navi Mumbai, Panaji and Ahmedabad are in the running for the other three host cities.
  • India was announced as the host country in March, 2019.
  • Spain are the defending champions, having won the title of the biennial tournament in 2018.
  • As India has got an automatic qualification as hosts, it is not entering the Asian qualification campaign in the AFC U-16 Women's Championship which will be held in Thailand from 15th to 28th September, 2019.

Basketball World Cup: Spain and Argentina to Battle For Title

  •  Argentina will face Spain in the Basketball World Cup final in China after beating France 80-66 in the semi-finals.
  • France could not repeat their quarter-final heroics, when they knocked out the USA, as Argentina dominated.
  • Earlier Spain beat Australia 95-88 in double overtime to claim their place in Beijing final.
  • They were on the verge of going out but Australia missed a foul shot in the dying seconds with the game tied 71-71.
  • Spain took control in the second of two added periods to reach their first final since their 2006 win.
  • Their NBA champion Marc Gasol was his team's top scorer, the Toronto Raptors star hitting 33 points in the comeback victory, while point guard Ricky Rubio contributed 12 assists to go with his 19 points.
  • Patty Mills, the San Antonio Spurs point guard, was Australia's driving force, leading all scorers with 34 points.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Kalaburagi Airport Handed Over To Airports Authority

  •  The Greenfield Kalaburagi Airport was formally handed over to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by the Kalaburagi district administration.
  • Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner B. Sharat handed over the airport to Director for Kalaburagi Airport,  S. Gyaneshwar (AAI) and M. Yadayya (General Manager).
  • The State government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the AAI for development, maintenance and operation of Kalaburagi Airport.
  • Kalaburagi Airport has qualified for operations during Phase III of selections under the Regional Connectivity Scheme — UDAN.
  • The airport has been established on 742.23 acres of land at a cost of Rs. 175.57 crore.

E-Auction of Gifts Presented to PM Narendra Modi Begins

  •  Union Minister for Culture Prahlad Singh Patel inaugurated the exhibition cum E-auction of prestigious and memorable gifts presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  •  Prime Minister has decided to auction all the gifts for a noble cause for conservation and rejuvenation of the Ganga.
  • He said that a letter will be sent from the government to top 20 highest bidders complimenting them for their contribution towards Namami Gange Project.
  • The auction will continue online till 3rd of October (2019) on the portal www.pmmementos.gov.in. 

I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar Flagged Off Jaldoot Vehicle In Pune

  •  Union Minister for Environment and Forest and Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar flagged off a Jaldoot vehicle in a function organized at Collector Office in Pune.
  • The van carrying the 'SAVE WATER' message will travel to different parts of the state.
  • Mr Javadekar also administered a pledge to SAVE WATER on this occasion.
  • An exhibition on 100 days of Union Government has also been organized on the occasion by Regional Outreach Bureau in Pune.

DEFENCE

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Big Leap For Naval Variant Of LCA Tejas

  •  The naval variant of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas made a successful short arrested landing on the Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) in Goa.
  • This is a big step forward in the delayed project for the LCA to eventually operate from an aircraft carrier.
  • The first-ever arrested landing of LCA [Navy] at the shore-based test facility, INS Hansa Goa will pave way for this indigenous platform to undertake aircraft carrier landing demonstration on board INS Vikramaditya.
  • The LCA made its maiden successful trap on the SBTF with the tail hook of the aircraft connecting with the arrestor wire on the deck and coming to halt within a short distance.
  • The naval LCA made its maiden flight in April 2012 and two prototypes have been flying as part of the development.
  • The first prototype (NP1) made a successful first flight from the SBTF in 2014.

Indian Armed Forces To Organise HimVijay Exercise

  •  Indian Armed Forces are planning to deploy their latest American weapons systems including M777 ultra-light howitzers and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters in the war games to be carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, close to borders with China.
  • Codenamed HimVijay, this exercise planned by India in the northeast will mainly test the war fighting abilities of the newly-raised 17 Mountain Strike Corps in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The exercise will also involve the Indian Air Force (IAF) which would provide the aerial elements for the real war-type drills.
  • During the exercise, 17 Mountain Strike Corps would be provided with the M777 Ultra Light Howitzers as they would be in an attack mode against the 'enemy' locations and would require lighter guns.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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NCP MP Udayanraje Bhosale Joins BJP

  •  Nationalist Congress Party MP from Satara and Maharashtra leader Udayanraje Bhosale joined Bharatiya Janata Party in the presence of party president Amit Shah in New Delhi.
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was also present. Earlier, Mr. Bhosale met Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and submitted his resignation.
  • Mr Bhosale said, he agreed with the policies pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will work for Maharashtra as a BJP leader.
  • President Amit Shah said, it was a matter of happiness for BJP that a descendant of the Great Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj has joined the party. He hoped that Bhosale's presence will help BJP in the upcoming Assembly elections.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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Hindi Divas

  •  Hindi Divas is celebrated on 14 September, to commemorate the adoption of Hindi written in Devanagari script as one of the two official languages of the Republic of India by Constituent Assembly of India . 
  • To this end, several people rallied and lobbied pan-India in favor of Hindi, Beohar Rajendra Simha along with Hazari Prasad Dwivedi, Kaka Kalelkar, Maithili Sharan Gupt and Seth Govind Das. As such, on the 50th birthday of Beohar Rajendra Simha on 14 September 1949, the efforts came to fruition following adoption of Hindi as an official language. 
  • This decision was ratified by the Constitution of India that came into effect on 26 January 1950. Under the Article 343 of the Indian Constitution, Hindi written in Devanagari script was adopted as the official language. 
  • In all, there are 22 Scheduled languages of India, of which, two are officially used at Union government of India level: Hindi and English. Hindi is spoken by 250 million people as the original language and it is the fourth language of the world.

World First Aid Day

 World First Aid Day 2019: Theme
  • According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) the theme of World First Aid Day 2019 is "First Aid and Excluded People".
  • Its main aim is to raise awareness of how first aid can prevent injuries and save lives everyday and in crisis situation. It also promotes the accessibility of the first aid.
World First Aid Day: History
  • In 2000, World First Aid Day was started by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
  • More than 100 Red Cross and Red Crescent Society people are made aware of the benefits of first aid in the world. Also, it raises awareness about the need of first aid and the right way to use it.

BJP Launches Seva Saptah To Mark Birthday Of PM Narendra Modi

  •  BJP President and Home Minister Amit Shah launched a week-long programme 'Seva Saptah' to mark the birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 17th September.
  • He launched the campaign by joining cleanliness drive and distributing fruits among the patients at AIIMS in Delhi.
  • During the week-long programme, BJP leaders and workers will organize blood donation and health camps and also visit hospitals and orphanages to provide help and relief to patients. Party MPs, MLAs and other representatives will join the events in different parts of the country.
  • Three pledges will also be administrated among the people related to Swachata Abhiyan, save water and shunning single use plastic.
  • Exhibitions on Prime Minister Modi's life journey and service works will also be organized. 

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Bangladesh School Project Wins Aga Khan Architecture Award

  •  An innovative project for constructing a floating school for marginalised children in Bangladesh has been awarded the prestigious Aga Khan Architecture Award 2019.
  • The award was given away in Kajan, the republic of Tatarstan for the Arcadia Education Project in South Kanarchor of Bangladesh.
  • The project involved the construction of a school in an area which is underwater during the monsoon months.
  • The architect of the project Saif Ul Haque designed a school which remains on the ground during the dry season and floats when the area is submerged in water during monsoon.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Rajasthan Launches 'Jan Soochna Portal'

  •  Rajasthan launched a portal for quick access to information on government departments, claiming that the site is the first of its kind in the country.
  • Launching the 'Jan Soochna Portal' under the Rajasthan Innovation Vision (RAJIV) campaign, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the move will bring transparency and accountability, and empower the right of the people to seek information.
  • Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot claimed that with the launch of the portal, Rajasthan becomes the first state in the country to provide information about a dozen departments on a single platform.
  • The state government has expressed its intention of using technology for transparency and would further strengthen and expand the scope of the RTI law.

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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Railways Removes Flexi-Fare From Humsafar Trains

  •  Railways has removed the flexi-fare scheme from its premium Humsafar trains and has also decided to introduce sleeper class coaches.
  • The relief will be applicable to 35 pairs of Humsafar trains, which currently have only AC 3-tier classes.
  • The tatkal ticket fares of the Humsafar trains have also been decreased. They will now cost 1.3 times of the base fare, instead of 1.5 times.

ART AND CULTURE

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UNESCO To Publish Anthology Of Guru Nanak Dev's Writing In World Languages

  •  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has decided to translate and publish an anthology of the writings of Guru Nanak Dev in world languages to mark his 550th birth anniversary.
  • The government is also holding a series of events and has initiated projects to mark 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.
  • These include the construction of Kartarpur Corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in Punjab to the international border, the development of the historic town of Sultanpur Lodhi as a heritage town on the smart city principle, the upgradation of Sultanpur Lodhi railway station and release of commemorative coins and postage stamps.
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