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General Awareness

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General Awareness - Top Stories

18 Sep 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Sri Lanka Unveils South Asia's Tallest Tower, Funded By China

  •  Sri Lanka unveiled South Asia's tallest tower, costing over $100 million, 80% of which has been funded by China under the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • The 350-metre-tall 17-storey Lotus Tower, located in the heart of Colombo city, comprises a television tower, a hotel, a telecommunications museum, restaurants, auditorium, an observation deck, a shopping mall and a conference centre.
  • The tower, spread over an area of 30,600 sq. metres, was constructed at a cost of over $100 million, 80% of which was funded by China.

China Extends Influence in Pacific As Solomon Islands Break With Taiwan

  •  The Solomon Islands' government has voted to sever its longstanding ties with Taiwan and take up diplomatic relations with Beijing.
  • The move is a huge blow to self-ruled Taiwan, which has lost six allies since 2016, and to Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen. It has sparked protests in the Solomon Islands.
  • The Solomon Islands, a country of about 600,000 people in the south Pacific, is the latest country to switch allegiance to China since Tsai came to office in 2016, following Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, São Tomé and Príncipe, Panama and El Salvador.

Facebook Briefly Blocks Israel's PM Benjamin Netanyahu Chatbot On Election Day

  •  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at Facebook after the social network blocked a "chatbot" from his right-wing Likud party's account for violating election day rules.
  • The function, a type of automated software that simulates a conversation with a user, was running again within a few hours.
  • Israel's Central Elections Committee said the chatbot had been used to publish poll data in contravention of regulations.

At 17.5 million, Indian Diaspora Largest in the World

  •  India was the leading country of origin of international migrants in 2019 with a 17.5 million strong diaspora, according to new estimates released by the United Nations, which said the number of migrants globally reached an estimated 272 million.
  • The International Migrant Stock 2019, a dataset released by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on September 18, 2019 provides the latest estimates of the number of international migrants by age, sex and origin for all countries and areas of the world.

Taliban Suicide Bombers Strike Kabul And Rally For Afghan President

  •  Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani stepped out of an armored car, accepted bouquets from costumed schoolgirls and strode onto the stage of an outdoor campaign rally.
  • Beaming and raising his arms as thousands of people cheered and waved miniature Afghan flags.
  • Moments later, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated outside the entrance to the event, a quarter-mile away, killing 26 people and wounding more than 30. 
  • Ghani and his running mate in the elections, Amrullah Saleh, were unharmed.
  • Less than an hour afterward, in Kabul, the capital 35 miles south, a second suicide bombing near the U.S. Embassy and the Afghan Defense Ministry killed 22 people and wounded 38.
  • The attacks, both claimed by Taliban insurgents, made 17 September, 2019 as  the deadliest day for civilians in Afghanistan.

New York Becomes Second US State to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

  •  New York became the second US state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, following several vaping-linked deaths that have raised fears about a product long promoted as less harmful than smoking.
  • A health council passed emergency legislation proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo outlawing flavored vaping products amid an outbreak of severe pulmonary disease that has killed seven people and sickened hundreds.
  • The ban comes into force with immediate effect. Michigan became the first state to declare a ban earlier in September 2019, but that law has yet to be implemented.

Saudi Arabia Joins US-led Maritime Coalition After Attack

  •  Saudi Arabia said that it has joined a United States-led coalition to secure the Mideast's waterways amid threats from Iran after an attack targeting its crucial oil industry.
  • The kingdom's decision to enter the International Maritime Security Construct came ahead of a planned visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. 

ENVIRONMENT

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2019 Ozone Hole Could Be Smallest In Three Decades

  •  The ozone hole over Antarctica in 2019 could be one of the smallest seen in three decades, say scientists.
  • Observations of the gas's depletion high in the atmosphere demonstrate that it hasn't opened up in 2019 in the way it normally does.
  • The EU's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) says it's currently well under half the area usually seen in mid-September.
  • The hole is also off-centre and far from the pole.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Bengaluru-Based Nitesh Estates Inks Pact With Garden City

  •  Real estate firm Nitesh Estates has entered into a joint development agreement with realtor Garden City for three of its residential assets in the city. The move will help it pare debt by Rs 200 crore.
  • Bengaluru-based Nitesh Estates, which has been struggling with projects amid the slump in sale of residential units, had brought down its net debt of Rs 1,500 crore by Rs 450 crore earlier in 2019 by selling land in the city and exiting a joint venture mall project with Goldman Sachs.

Govt Waives 3-Year Lock-In Period On Investments Made By NRIs In IDF Bonds

  •  The government has waived the three-year lock-in period on investments made by non-residents in infrastructure debt funds (IDFs), to promote funding in the infrastructure sector.
  • A notification in this regard has been issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
  • With an aim to accelerate and enhance flow of long-term debt in infrastructure projects, amendments in the tax laws were made to provide exemption from income tax to infrastructure debt funds (IDFs) in 2011.

Govt Allows SAIL To Sell 25% Of Iron Ore Output

  •  Ministry of Mines has allowed Steel Authority of India Limited, SAIL to offload in a year up to a quantity equivalent to maximum 25 per cent of total iron ore production in the year 2018.
  • It will be subject to clearance from the respective State Governments, where the mines are located, after following due procedure.
  • It is valid for a period of 2 years. Around 7 Million tonnes of iron ore, produced at its different mines in the States of Jharkhand, Odisha and Chattisgarh, can be offloaded by SAIL to the domestic market after getting necessary clearance from the State Governments.
  • This will enable SAIL to not only fulfill its own requirement, but also to partially cater to shortfall in domestic iron ore requirement. 

Acewin Agriteck May Raise ₹300 cr

  •  Acewin Agriteck Ltd., a Chennai-based software and digital solutions provider, has drawn up plans to enter into prawn hatchery and dairy farming, for which it is planning to raise ₹300 crore. 
  • They are planning to set up two integrated projects covering aquaculture, agriculture, poultry and dairy farming at about ₹300 crore by early 2020.

Mahindra And Mahindra Incorporates MBPL As Wholly-Owned Subsidiary

  •  Home-grown auto major M&M said it has incorporated Mahindra Bangladesh Private Limited (MBPL) as its wholly owned subsidiary. MBPL has been incorporated in Dhaka, Bangladesh under the laws of Bangladesh, The Companies Act (Act XVIII) of 1994.
  • The objective of the move is to carry on the businesses of trading, distributing, supplying, storing, exporting, importing, servicing, manufacturing, developing, assembling, leasing, selling on hire-purchase or installment systems, research and development, of all kinds of passenger, transportation and utility vehicles including but not limited to tankers, tractors, agricultural machinery, multi-utility vehicles, trailers, lorries, trucks, buses, motor cars, motor cycles, three wheelers or others.

Airtel Payments Bank Launches 'Bharosa' Savings Account

  •  Airtel Payments Bank launched "Bharosa" savings account services, designed for deepening the financial inclusion in the country.
  • Along with convenient banking services, Bharosa savings account would offer Rs 5 lakh personal accident insurance on maintaining balance of Rs 500 along with one debit transaction per month.

Commerce And Industry Minister Launches Steel Import Monitoring System

  •  Union Minister of Commerce & Industry and Railways, Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce & Industry, Hardeep Singh Puri launched Steel Import Monitoring System (SIMS) in New Delhi. 
  • The system has been developed in consultation with Ministry of Steel on the pattern of US Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis (SIMA) system.
  • The SIMS will provide advance information about steel imports to Government and stake holders including, steel industry (producers), steel consumers (importers) to have effective policy interventions.

Allahabad Bank Board Approves Merger with Indian Bank

  •  The board of Allahabad Bank approved the merger proposal with Indian Bank, making the amalgamated entity the seventh largest public sector lender of the country.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on August 30, 2019 announced the consolidation of 10 state-run banks into four large-scale lenders.
  • In terms of SEBI (listing obligations and disclosure requirements), the board of directors in a meeting considered and accorded its in-principle approval for amalgamation of Allahabad Bank into Indian Bank.
  • Meanwhile, employees and officers of Allahabad Bank staged a demonstration in front of its headquarters here to protest against the merger.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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ISRO, DRDO Ink MoUs To Provide Technologies For Human Space Mission

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)  joined hands with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for development of human-centric systems for the Human Space Mission to demonstrate its human space flight capabilities.
  • The purpose behind the development is to provide technologies for human-centric systems and technologies specific to the Human Space Mission.

SPORTS

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Saina Nehwal Crashes Out Of China Open

  •  Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal crashed out of the China Open Super 1000 tournament after being defeated by Thailand's Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the Women's Singles opening round at Changzhou in China.
  • The London Olympic bronze medalist lost 10-21, 17-21 at the hands of the World No. 19 Ongbamrungphan. The match lasted for 45 minutes.
  • Later, World champion P V Sindhu will start her campaign with a match against China's Li Xuerui.
  • In Men's Singles, B Sai Praneeth will take on Suppanyu Avihingsanon of Thailand while P Kashyap will face Brice Leverdez of France. 
  • Kidambi Srikanth and H S Prannoy are not playing due to health issues. 

Four Indian Boxers Enter Quarters of AIBA Men's World Boxing C'ships

  •  Four Indian boxers advanced to the quarterfinals with impressive victories in an all-win outing at the AIBA  Men's World Boxing Championships  in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
  • They are Amit Panghal (in 52kg category), debutant duo of Manish Kaushik (in 63kg category) and Sanjeet Singroha (in 91kg category) and Kavinder Bisht (in 57 kg category). 
  • Panghal is Asian Games gold-medallist while Kaushik is Commonwealth Games silver-winner. 
  • The International Boxing Association or the AIBA is the sole worldwide governing body for the sport of boxing in all its forms.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Hyderabad-Karnataka Region Renamed 'Kalyana Karnataka'

  •  Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced that Hyderabad - Karnataka has been renamed as 'Kalyana Karnataka.' 
  • A separate secretariat would be established for its development.

Amit Shah Chairs The 46th National Management Convention

  •   Shri Amit Shah chaired  and addressed distinguished members of the industry and management field on the topic of 'New India, Great India', at the 46th National Management Convention held by All India Management Association (AIMA), in New Delhi.
  • AIMA's flagship annual event - The National Management Convention – 46th in the series, is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on 17 – 18 September, 2019 at Hotel Le Meridien, New Delhi.
  • The National Management Convention (NMC) focuses on a topical theme of national importance and is addressed by eminent speakers from different spheres of life who share their views with participants through interactive sessions.
  • The Convention traditionally attracts close to 800 delegates from Industry, Government, Media and Academia from across the country.

All Six Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs in Rajasthan Join Congress

  •  In a setback to the Bahujan Samaj Party, all its six MLAs in Rajasthan joined the ruling Congress.
  • The move surprised the BSP camp as the party has already been extending outside support to the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan. 
  • The MLAs — Rajendra Guda, Jogendra Singh Awana, Wazib Ali, Lakhan Singh Meena, Sandeep Yadav and Deepchand Kheria — met assembly speaker CP Joshi and informed him about their decision to join the Congress.
  • BSP chief Mayawati termed the development as a "betrayal of the BSP movement by the Congress."

SAD To Contest Haryana Assembly Polls

  •  The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) announced to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in Haryana, where its ally -- BJP -- is in power.
  • A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the party's Core Committee (CC). 
  • Party chief Sukhbir Singh Badal presided over the meeting.

Surat Baker Makes 700-Ft-Long Cake to Celebrate PM Modi's Birthday

  •  To celebrate the 69th birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Breadline Bakery, located in Gujarat's Surat will be baking a cake that is 700-feet-long. The ginormous birthday cake weighing 7,000 kilos is set to make a record as one of the biggest cakes ever made.
  • As an ode to PM Modi's fight against corruption, the owner of the famous bakery decided to choose 'corruption' as the theme design.
  • Nitin Patel, the owner of Breadliner Bakery announced that the serpentine cake will be prepared at the Sarsana convention centre on September 17 (2019) and it will be cut by 700 'honest people' hailing from Surat. 

DEFENCE

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DRDO's 'Rustom-2' Drone

  •  An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation crashed during a trial at Karnataka's Chitradurga district.
  • The incident took place at Jodi Chillenahalli village in the district during a test run of the drone. 

Air-To-Air Missile Astra Test-Fired From Sukhoi-30 MKI

  •  India successfully flight-tested its indigenously developed air-to-air missile Astra, off the coast of Odisha.
  • The state-of-the-art missile was launched from Sukhoi-30 MKI as a part of user trials by the Indian Air Force. Various radars, Electro-Optical Tracking System (EOTS) and sensors tracked the missile and confirmed its engagement with target.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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ADB's President Resigns

  •  Asian Development Bank's President Takehiko Nakao has announced his resignation which will be effective from January 16, 2020.
  • He became the President of ADB on April 28, 2013.
  • The new president will be elected in accordance with an open, transparent and merit-based procedure.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina receives Dr Kalam Smriti International Excellence Award

  •  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh is conferred with the Dr Kalam Smriti International Excellence Award 2019 in Dhaka. The award has been instituted in the memory of former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
  • The award citation lauded Prime Minister Hasina for her vision of a peaceful and prosperous South Asia, free of tension, conflicts and terrorism. It acknowledged her contribution in fostering cooperation between India and Bangladesh.
  • Chief Adviser of the Dr Kalam Smriti International Advisory Council former Ambassador T.P. Sreenivasan handed over the award to Sheikh Hasina.

Documentary Film Based On Life Of Uttarakhand Farmer Nominated For Oscars

  •  A documentary film based on life of a Uttarakhand farmer has been nominated for Oscars. The documentary film named Moti Bagh is based on the life of Vidyadutt, a farmer living in Pauri Garhwal region of the state.
  • The state Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat congratulated the director, Nirmal Chander Dandriyal, and said it will inspire youths to stay in their villages and work for their communities.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Sports Ministry Sanctions Rs 5 Crore For Anju Bobby George's Academy

  •  Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju sanctioned Rs 5 crore to athlete Anju Bobby George's Athletics Academy at Bengaluru.
  • George is the only Indian to win a World Athletics Championships medal. 
  • She clinched a bronze medal in the long jump at Paris in 2003.

Govt Inks Allotment Pact With West Bengal Power Development Corp For a Coal Block

  •  The coal ministry inked an agreement with West Bengal Power Development Corporation Ltd for allotment of Deocha Pachami Dewanganj-Harinsingha coal block.
  • The project is expected to address the immediate and future coal and power requirements of the region.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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10 Crore Beneficiaries Received E-Cards For Cashless Treatment Under Ayushman Bharat: Govt

  •  Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has said that 22 thousand health and wellness centres have been made functional and 10 crore beneficiaries have received e-cards under the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
  • The Ayushman Bharat - Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana provides cashless and paperless access to services for the beneficiary at the point of service.
  • It provides a health assurance cover of 5 lakh rupees per family per year for secondary and tertiary care for serious and catastrophic illnesses.
  • Since the launch of the scheme, over 45 lakh patients have been admitted to hospitals to receive treatment under the programme.
  • The Minister said, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana is completing its first year of launch on 23rd September 2019 and is being celebrated as Ayushman Pakhawada since 15 September, 2019.

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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Indian Railways Launches Massive Shramdaan Across The Country

  •  Chairman Railway Board, Shri Vinod Kumar Yadav  participated in Shramdaan at New Delhi Railway Station.
  • As part of Swachhta Pakhwara, a massive Shramdaan was carried out by Railways throughout Indian Railway premises.
  • Charitable Organizations like SNCF and others also participated in Shramdaan.
  • A Swachhta pledge and a pledge of curbing single use plastic was administered to all present.
  • Cloth bags to be used as replacement to plastic bags were also distributed to passengers and stall owners.

ART AND CULTURE

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London Police Returns Stolen 12th Century Buddha Statue

  •  A 12th century Buddha statue stolen from the ASI Museum at Nalanda in 1961 was returned to the Indian High Commission by the London Met. Police. 
  • Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was handed over the statue.
  • The 12th Century AD Bronze image of Buddha seated in the Bhumipasara mudra was amongst the 19 bronze statues stolen from the Archaeological Survey of India's (ASI) Nalanda site museum in August 1961.
  • After a gap of nearly 57 years, in early 2018, the image was spotted by Art enthusiasts at an auction organised by a London based dealer.
  • On receipt of the information, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) through its attache posted in High Commission of India, London, UK took up the matter with the ASI, UK Customs and London Metropolitan Police.
  • The ASI confirmed the findings and provided documentary evidence including an FIR which was filed in 1961.

5th International Ramayan Festival Organized In New Delhi

  •  The 5th International Ramayan Festival organized by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is being held from 17-19 September, 2019 in New Delhi. The maiden day of festival was presided by Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah as Chief Guest.
  • The festival is being organized for 5th year in row, during which 17 countries have participated with their artists and rendered their versions of  Ramayan.
  • The ICCR was established with the vision of propagating Indian culture and its values to the whole world and organizing Ramayan festival is one way to realize this vision.
  • Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad who was independent India's 1st Education Minister.

₹ 50 Cr. For Anubhavamantapa In Kalaburagi

  •  Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa has promised to provide Rs. 50 crore from the Exchequer for the construction of Anubhava Mantapa in Kalaburagi.
  • Addressing a public meeting of heads of various mutts, most of which belonged to Veerashaiva-Lingayat communities, at the S.M Pundit Rangamandir, Mr. Yediyurappa said that he would release ₹ 20 crore within 20 days.
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