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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

20 Sep 2019


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US Expels Two Cuban Diplomats to The UN in New York

  •  The US has expelled two Cuban diplomats to the UN in New York, accusing them of conducting "activities harmful to US national security."
  • All of Cuba's UN mission are now restricted to Manhattan where the UN is headquartered.
  • The US has yet to provide details about the alleged actions.
  • Cuba's foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez called the move "categorically unjustified".

Statue of Lord Buddha Inaugurated at Gandan Monastery

  •  Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his official residence at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg. Prime Minister Modi and the Mongolian President jointly unveiled a statue of Lord Buddha at Gandan Monastery in Ulaanbaatar through video-conferencing.
  • Mr. Battulga will meet Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu. He will also participate in an India-Mongolia Business Forum in New Delhi.
  • In the evening, the visiting dignitary will meet President Ram Nath Kovind at Rashtrapati Bahavan where India and Mongolia are expected to sign and exchange agreements in different fields.
  • A Banquet will be hosted by President Kovind in honour of the visiting President.
  • Mr. Battulga was accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind welcomed the visiting dignitary.
  • Later, Mr. Battulga paid tribute to Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.

PM Modi To Inaugurate Gandhi Solar Park & Gandhi Peace Garden During UN Visit

  •  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a 50 kilowatt Gandhi Solar Park and Gandhi Peace Garden during his visit to the United Nation in the next week.
  • At a contribution of about one million dollars, India has gifted solar panels that have been installed on the roof of the United Nation Headquarters, one panel each for every 193 member states.
  • Mr. Modi will also inaugurate the Gandhi Peace Garden during a special commemorative event on 24th September, 2019 marking Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary.
  • On this occasion, a special United Nation postal stamp on Gandhi's 150 years will also be released.
  • This garden is spread in 600 acres and dedicated in the memory of Gandhi wherein people adopted trees in the memory of their loved ones.


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Industry Players Join Hands To Launch Packaging Waste Management Venture, Aim To Mobilise Rs 1k Cr

  •  To address the growing concern of plastic waste in India, 32 companies including PepsiCo India, Coca-Cola India, Bisleri, Diageo and Reliance Industries have come together to launch a packaging waste management venture and aim to mobilise over Rs 1,000 crore for the purpose.
  • Developed and incubated by the Packaging Association for Clean Environment (PACE), as part of the venture, the participating companies will mobilise and converge assets, resources and investment upwards of Rs 1,000 crore, which will include the existing infrastructure of the member companies and fresh investments.
  • The vision of this venture is to ensure that no recyclable packaging material ends up in landfills by 2025.


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DSCI, MeitY and Google India join hands for 'Digital Payment Abhiyan'

  •  Nasscom's Data Security Council of India (DSCI) has collaborated with the electronics and IT ministry (MeitY) and Google India to launch a nationwide awareness campaign 'Digital Payment Abhiyan'.
  • Communications and Electronics & IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched the campaign that will educate end-users on the benefits of making digital payments and urge them to adopt security and safety best practices.
  • The campaign was launched at the Google for India event.
  • To drive the campaign objectives and amplify outreach to users across all states, DSCI has onboarded various digital payments ecosystem partners.

Factory Investment At 3-Year Low Of Rs 3.31 Lakh Cr In 2017-18: Survey

  • Factory investment in 2017-18 hit a three-year low of Rs 3.31 lakh crore in actual terms, according to the annual survey of industries by the Statistics and Programme Implementation Ministry. 
  • Factory investment measured in terms of gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) was Rs 3.79 lakh crore and Rs 3.69 lakh crore in 2015-16 and 2016-17, respectively, provisional estimates of the survey for 2017-18 showed.

Government Notifies 8.65 % Interest Rate For Over 6 Crore EPFO Members For 2018-19

  •  The Central Government has approved 8.65 per cent interest rate on employees provident fund for 2018-19, which will now be credited into the accounts of over 6 crore subscribers of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).
  • The EPFO has been settling EPF withdrawal claims at 8.55 per cent interest rate, approved for 2017-18. Now, the EPFO will settle accounts on higher rate of 8.65 per cent for 2018-19.


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Bajrang Punia, Ravi Dahiya Qualify For 2020 Tokyo Olympics

  •  Bajrang Punia and Ravi Dahiya qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics winning their respective quarterfinal matches in World Wrestling Championships at Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan.
  • However, they lost their semi-final bouts in the men's freestyle category.  
  • Bajrang lost the semi-final to the home wrestler Daulet Niyazbekov while  Ravi Dahiya lost his match to reigning world champion Zaur Uguev from Russia.

B Sai Praneeth To Take On Anthony Sinisuka Ginting In China Open

  •  In China Open Badminton, B Sai Praneeth will take on Indonesian seventh seeded Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in men's singles quarter-finals.
  • World Championship bronze medalist Praneeth is the only Indian left in the fray. In the pre-quarter finals, he defeated Lu Guangg Zu of China in straight set 21-19, 21-19.
  • In the pre-quarterfinals, the reigning world champion PV Sindhu and Parupalli Kashyap lost their matches.


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Open Defecation Down By 47% In India Between 2000-2017: WHO-UNICEF Report

  •  As much as 43 per cent of Indians have gained access to basic sanitation, while the practice of open defecation decreased by 47 per cent in the country between 2000 and 2017, says a WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) report.
  • "Since 2000, one-third of the population of Nepal and Lao People's Democratic Republic, over half of the population of Cambodia and Ethiopia, and nearly half of the population of India have stopped practicing open defecation," the report reads.
  • The report says that the stated facts not only indicate a significant reduction in inequality in these countries but also point to a transformational shift in social norms and public health.
  • Between 2000 and 2017, 91 countries reduced open defecation by a combined total of 696 million people, with Central and Southern Asia accounting for three-quarters of this reduction.

Parents With More Than 2 Children Can Contest Panchayat Polls, Rules Uttarakhand HC

  •  In a setback to the state government, the Uttarakhand High Court allowed parents with more than two children before July 25, 2019, to contest the panchayat elections.
  • Hearing on a petition filed by Panchayat Janadhikar Manch, a division bench of Justices Ramesh Ranganathan and Alok Kumar Verma modified a law framed by the state government, which disqualified parents with more than two children to contest panchayat polls.
  • The bench ruled that the law would apply only to the people who became parents of a third child or more after July 25, 2019.

Punjab and Haryana HC Allows Registration Of Marriage Where Man Was Below 21 Yrs Of Age

  •  A Marriage below the age of 18 for a woman and 21 for a man is "voidable at the instance of minor party" but "there is nothing illegal in getting married at the age of 18", the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said.
  • A single bench of Justice Rajiv Narain Raina made the observation while setting aside an order of the Registrar of Marriages refusing registration of a marriage of a couple from Haryana's Sonepat on the ground that the man was less than 21 years age at the time of marriage in 2011.


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2nd Scorpene-Class Submarine 'Khanderi' To Be Commissioned On September 28

  •  India's second Scorpene-class submarine INS Khanderi that has superior stealth and other major combat capabilities will be commissioned into service by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on September 28, 2019 in Mumbai.
  • INS Nilgiri, the first ship of the the P-17A frigates, would be launched on the occasion. An aircraft carrier drydock would also be inaugurated by the minister.
  • The aircraft carrier drydock housed within the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, is capable of docking India's largest ship, INS Vikramaditya, and has the ability to maintain ships for decades to come.
  • The three events lined up for September 28, 2019 are in line with  Prime Minister's vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region).

DRDO Successfully Flight Tests Air-To-Air Missile Astra From Su-30 MKI

  •  Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully flight tested the Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) 'Astra' from Su-30 MKI platform off the coast of Chandipur in Odisha.
  • The trails were held between September 16-19, 2019 which were conducted by Indian Air Force (IAF) against Jet Banshee target aircraft simulating all possible threat scenarios.
  • The five trials conducted during this period tested missiles in different configurations.


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Tunisia's Ousted Ex-President Dies in Exile Aged 83

  •  Tunisia's former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali has died in exile aged 83.
  • Ben Ali led the country for 23 years and was credited with delivering stability and some economic prosperity.
  • But he received widespread criticism for suppressing political freedoms and for widespread corruption.
  • In 2011, he was forced from office following mass street protests. This triggered a wave of similar uprisings across the Arab world.
  • At least half a dozen countries in the region saw their president fall or conflicts break out in the wake of the former Tunisian leader's downfall, in what became known as the Arab Spring.

Film-Maker Shyam Ramsay Passes Away At 67

  •  Director Shyam Ramsay, one of the seven Ramsay brothers, passed away. He was 67.
  • The film-maker, known for cult horror films, was suffering from pneumonia and had been admitted in a hospital in Mumbai where he died. He is survived by two daughters Sasha and Namrata.
  • Born on May 17, 1952, he directed over 30 films including 'Bandh Darwaza', 'Veerana'. He was also known for the TV series 'Zee Horror Show'.
  • The Ramsay Brothers were synonymous with horror films in Bollywood, having made a number of successful movies in that genre in the 1970s and 1980s.

RKS Bhadauria Appointed as IAF Chief

  •  The Modi government appointed Bhadauria as the next Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief. He was scheduled to retire on September 30, 2019, the day the incumbent Chief Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa also superannuates.
  • Bhadauria will take over after Dhanoa retires. Services chiefs have a tenure either for three years or until 62 years of age, whichever comes first.
  • The chairman of the Indian negotiating team for the 36 Rafale jets deal with France, Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, the current Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force, will take over its reins by the end of September, 2019.
  • Bhadauria has played a major role in the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme.


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55th ITEC Day Celebrated In Dhaka

  •  The 55th Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Day was celebrated at the High Commission of India in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Around 300 ITEC alumni from all walks of life, attended the programme.
  • Over 4,000 young Bangladeshi professionals have undergone specialized short and medium term courses in India under the ITEC programme since 2007.
  • ITEC offers opportunities to participants to avail short and medium term courses in premier institutions like IITs and IISCs in India.
  • It was instituted in 1964 as part of India's Development Assistance offering for developing countries.

World Bamboo Day Celebrated In Imphal

  •  The Bamboo Forum of India celebrated World Bamboo Day under the theme 'Bamboo for sustainable development goals' at Lamyanba Shanglen, Palace Compound.
  • Lok Sabha MP RK Ranjan, Deputy Chairman Planning and Chairman MHHDC S Rajen Singh, Former President WBO and CF, SABF Kamesh Salam and Chairperson Manipur State Minorities Commission Anwar Hussain amongst others were seen at the event.
  • The World Bamboo Day was first celebrated on September 18, 2009, at Prachan Buri, Thailand during the World Bamboo Congress in Bangkok. It is observed every year to increase awareness of bamboo globally to protect natural resources and the environment.
  • The main aim behind the celebration is to ensure sustainable utilization and promote the cultivation of bamboo for industries in regions around the world, as well as promote its usage locally for community economic development.


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Fish Waste-Based Alternative to Plastic Wins Dyson Award

  •  A biodegradable bioplastic made from red algae and waste products from the fishing industry has won the UK section of the 2019 James Dyson Award.
  • Created by Lucy Hughes, MarinaTex is an alternative to the single-use plastics such as those used in sandwich packets.

National Geoscience Awards

  •  The National Geoscience Awards 2018 were conferred to 22 scientists across India for outstanding contributions in the field of geosciences, mining and allied areas.
  • Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi conferred the awards on September 19, 2019.
  • The National Geoscience Awards were conferred in ten disciples covering groundwater exploration, mineral exploration, mineral beneficiation, mining technology, basic and applied geosciences, sustainable mineral development, natural hazards investigation and geo-environmental studies.


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Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana Reaches One Crore Beneficiaries

  •  Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), a flagship scheme of the Government for pregnant women and lactating mothers has achieved a significant milestone by crossing one crore beneficiaries.
  • The total amount disbursed to the beneficiaries under the scheme has crossed Rs. 4,000 crores.
  • Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Rajasthan are the top five States/UT in the country in implementation of PMMVY. Odisha and Telangana are yet to start implementation of the scheme. 
  • The Women and Child Development Ministry has recently organized regional workshops with state officials in Guwahati, Jaipur, and Chandigarh to prepare roadmap for faster implementation of the scheme.
  • Implementation of the scheme is closely monitored by the central and state governments through PMMVY-CAS, a web based software application.
  • The application is interoperable with UIDAI and Public Financial Management System (PFMS) for authentication of unique beneficiaries and their Bank Accounts. 


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Book 'Himalayan Odyssey' Written By Shri M.P. Veerendra Kumar Released

  •   The book 'Himalayan Odyssey', the English translation of the award-winning Malayalam original - 'Haimavathabhuvil', written by Shri M.P. Veerendra Kumar, Member of Parliament and Chief Managing Director of Mathrubhumi, was released in New Delhi. 
  • The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu launched the book.


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Vagina Museum In London Aims To 'Banish Shame'

  •  The world's first museum dedicated entirely to vaginas is set to open in the UK.
  • The London-based Vagina Museum will open its doors for the first time on November 16, 2019 following a £50,000 crowd funding campaign.
  • The museum aims to educate and raise awareness of vaginal and vulval health and fight stigmas.
  • Its founder describes it as "the world's first bricks and mortar museum dedicated to gynaecological anatomy."
  • The museum will feature art exhibitions, plays, workshops and comedy nights all centred around vaginas.
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