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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

21 Sep 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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India, Mongolia to Explore Space Together

  •  India and Mongolia signed MoUs on space cooperation and disaster management that will provide a new dimension to the India-Mongolia strategic partnership.
  • The agreements would allow India to support Mongolia in resource management and satellite communication.
  • A joint statement said the space cooperation would allow "peaceful exploration" of outer space and include remote sensing and weather forecasting.

Trump Sanctions Iran's Central Bank in Wake of Strikes on Saudi Oil Facilities

  •  Just days after an attack on Saudi oil facilities that the U.S. blamed on Iran, President Trump announced a new round of sanctions targeting the country's central bank and sovereign wealth fund.
  • The U.S. had called the Saudi oil attack an "act of war," with high-ranking officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury of Secretary Steve Mnuchin accusing Tehran of orchestrating the strikes.
  • The sanctions, which Trump called "the strongest sanctions ever put on a country," target Iran's central bank and national development fund. 
  • Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran would respond to a U.S. or Saudi military strike with "an all-out war."

India to Leverage Its Strategic Energy Partnership With US

  •  India and US plan to further strengthen their Strategic Energy Partnership that was launched in New Delhi in April in 2018.
  • This may include larger energy imports from the US by the world's third-largest oil importer' state run firms such as Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL).
  • This comes in the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the energy resource rich country where he will be addressing an energy round table in Houston.
  • US secretary of state Michael Richard Pompeo has promised India of adequate crude oil supplies even as India.

ENVIRONMENT

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Ambitious Climate Pledge To Make Amazon Carbon Neutral By 2040

  •  Amazon will become the first signatory of the newly formed "Climate Pledge," a pact announced by company founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years early. 
  • The pledge would require companies to implement decarbonization strategies in line with the Paris agreement and calls on signatories to be at net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040.
  • Any remaining carbon emissions would be neutralized with quantifiable and permanent offsets to achieve the pledge's goal.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Govt. Cuts Corporate Tax To Spur Investment

  •  In its boldest gambit yet to stir up the economy, the government issued an ordinance to reduce the corporate tax rate for domestic firms and new manufacturing units by 10 to 12 percentage points, effectively bringing India's tax rates on par with its competing Asian peers.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the effective tax rate for domestic corporates, inclusive of surcharges, will fall from 34.94% to 25.17% if they stop availing any other tax sops.
  • For new manufacturing firms set up after October 1, 2019 and commencing operations by March 31, 2023, the effective tax rate will fall from 29.1% to 17%.

SEBI Sets Up Panel to Suggest Norms for Social Stock Exchanges

  •  The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has constituted a working group on Social Stock Exchanges (SSE) under the chairmanship of Ishaat Hussain, Director, SBI Foundation.
  • The other members of the working group are TV Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Manipal Global Education; Roopa Kudva, MD, Omidyar Network India; Amit Chandra, Chairman, Bain Capital; Saurabh Garg, Principal Secretary to Government of Odisha; Shamika Ravi, Director of Research, Brookings India; Vineet Rai, Founder and MD; and Aavishkaar Venture Management Services among others.

In Liquidity Push, PSBs Plan 'Loan Melas' In 400 Districts

  •  In a bid to dispel the notion that only the banks have liquidity and it is not flowing to the NBFCs and the customers, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that all scheduled banks will hold large gatherings in a total of 400 districts, where customers can come and take any type of loan they want from the banks and the NBFCs partnering with them.
  • The Finance Ministry, in a release, added that banks had already entered into 14 tie-ups with NBFCs for co-originating loans, with another 36 such tie-ups in the pipeline. 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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Chandrayaan-2 Is 98% Successful, Gaganyaan Our Next Priority: ISRO Chief K Sivan

  •  Chandryaan-2 has achieved 98 per cent of mission objectives and India's next space priority is the launch of crewed orbital spacecraft Gaganyaan by end of 2020, chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K Sivan said.
  • In his inspiring address at the 8th convocation of IIT Bhubaneswar, Sivan said Gaganyaan is an extremely important mission for India as it will give the much-needed boost to science and technology besides making the country a space superpower.

SPORTS

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World Wrestling Championships 2019: Bajrang Punia, Ravi Kumar Seal Bronze Medals

  •  India's Bajrang Punia put behind the disappointment of a heartbreaking semi-final defeat to finish with a bronze at Wrestling World Championships in Nur-Sultan.
  • Bajrang defeated Mongolia's Tulga Ochir 8-7 in the bronze medal match of 65kg freestyle category.
  • Bajrang Punia now has 3 World Championships medals, including podium finishes in successive editions.
  • The Asian Games gold medallist had won his first World Championships medal -- a bronze in 2013. He finished with a silver in 2018 in Budapest.

World Boxing Championships

  •  India's Amit Panghal has created history by becoming the first Indian male boxer to reach the final of AIBA World Boxing Championships.
  • Panghal has assured himself of at least a silver medal after defeating Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov by split decision (3-2) in the 52kg semi-final in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
  • Amit Panghal, the Asian Games gold medallist, has thus surpassed World Championships bronze medalists of the likes of Vijender Singh, Vikas Krishan, Shiva Thapa and Gaurav Bidhuri after becoming the first Indian male boxer to breach the semi-final barrier.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Transport Ministry Issues SOP For Transport-Related Information Presented In e-Form

  •  Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued detailed Standard Operating Procedure-SOP for acceptance of Driving License, Registration Certificate and other transport related information presented in electronic form.
  • According to the amended Central Motor Vehicles Rules, carrying hard copy of relevant documents is not necessary now as they can be carried in electronic form.
  • However, it is necessary that they are available on DigiLocker or mParivahan app to be legally recognized at par with the original documents.

Shah Launches Citizen Centric Services in Chandigarh

  •  Union Home Minister Amit Shah launched three citizen-centric services of the Chandigarh Police. 
  • The services include the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS-Dial 122), e-Beat Book' and e-Saathi' mobile application.
  • Shah observed that the beat officer system has been the cornerstone of the Indian Policing system for ages and through such Citizen Centric Services, a SMART Police force can be built in the country. 
  • He congratulated Chandigarh Police to have taken a lead in introducing such Citizen-Centric Services in Policing.

DEFENCE

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Indian Army Conducts Massive Exercise Near China Border In Eastern Ladakh

  •  The Indian Army conducted a massive rare exercise involving all its arms and services including tanks, artillery and helicopters, in Eastern Ladakh bordering China, for testing and improving its war-fighting capabilities.
  • The integrated exercise named 'Chang Thang' was conducted at a high altitude area in the region.
  • It involved the use of infantry, mechanised forces, T-72 tanks, with force multipliers such as artillery guns and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
  • The army's aviation assets were used. Parajumping of troops also took place. The air force was also roped in the exercise.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Fernando Ricksen: Ex-Rangers Player Dies Aged 43

  •  Former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen has passed away at the age of 43 following a battle with motor neuron disease.
  • Ricksen, who won 12 caps for the Dutch national team, had been battling the disease for six years after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in October 2013.
  • The former defender spent six years at the Glasgow club, where he won the domestic cup double in 2002 and the treble in 2003.

Madhukar Kamath Elected Chairman of Audit Bureau Of Circulations

  •  Madhukar Kamath, chairman emeritus of DDB Mudra group and mentor of Interbrand India, has been elected chairman of the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) for 2019-20.
  •  Kamath has also been the president of Advertising Agencies Association of India.

Ex-PTI Correspondent B R Vats Passes Away

  •  Bhagat Ram Vats, a former PTI senior correspondent who travelled extensively with first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and covered the country's maiden Lok Sabha polls, passed away on at the age of 97. 
  •  He started his career with The Statesman, New Delhi, and later joined the Press Trust of India. Vats travelled with Nehru for 14 years, covering his activities in India and abroad, especially his election tours in 1952, 1957 and 1962.
  • He spearheaded the opening of the PTI bureau in Moscow in the early 1960s. 
  • For half a decade, Vats reported from the erstwhile USSR and was given a lifelong Russian press accreditation.
  • He authored a book -- 'Foreign Intrigue Against India' -- on different aspects of the country's Partition and its neighbours. 

DAYS AND EVENTS

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World Alzheimer's Day

  •  September 21 every year is observed as World Alzheimer's Day while the whole month is dedicated to bringing awareness about Alzheimer's and other dementia conditions that over 50 million people worldwide suffer.
  • According to ALZ or Alzheimer's Disease International, a new dementia case is registered every 3.2 seconds totalling up to 9.9 million cases worldwide per year. 

International Day Of Peace 2019

  •  United Nations International Day of Peace recognises the efforts of those people who have worked hard to end the conflicts and promote peace. It is also a day of ceasefire, personal or political. This day focuses on building peaceful and sustainable world.
  • The theme of International Day of Peace 2019 is 'Climate Action for Peace'.
  • The theme focuses on the need of combating climate change as a way to protect and promote peace throughout the world. 
  • According to UN, climate change causes clear threats to international peace and security. 
  • Due to natural disasters millions of people are forced to leave their homes and seek safety. Food security is also hampered by the salinization of water and crops which on the other hand impact public health. 
  • If we want to achieve peace, than it is necessary to take an action to combat climate change.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Sonu Nigam Bags Magnificent Performing Arts Award At 21st Century Icon Award In UK

  •  Popular Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam has been honoured with the Magnificent Performing Arts Award at the annual 21st Century Icon Awards in London.
  •  Nigam was among a host of winners across a range of categories at a gala awards ceremony, devised as a celebration of dynamic entrepreneurs and successful individuals chosen from hundreds of nominations from around the world.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Civil aviation minister directs setting up mechanism to monitor airfare

  •  Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has ordered setting up a mechanism to regularly monitor airfares in the country.
  • The government currently does not have any intention to regularise the fares.
  • "I have ordered for setting up a mechanism in the Civil Aviation Ministry and the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) to monitor air fares on a regular basis. We will use this data (obtained) to discuss with them (airlines)," the minister told.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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IIT Bombay Top Indian Institute in QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020

  •  The Indian Institute of Bombay (IIT-B) leads India's representation in the latest QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020 with a 111-120 band ranking, up from 141-150 band in 2019.
  • At 151-160 band and 171-180 band, IIT Delhi and IIT Madras formed the three best ranked Indian institutes in the latest rankings.
  • The rankings covers world's top 500 universities and explores how employable a university is.
  • To explore the university-employability relationship, QS uses a unique five-metric method that captures each institution's regard among 44,000 employers worldwide, alma mater data from 29,000 highly successful individuals, institutional industry partnerships, employer presence on campus, and location-adjusted graduate employment rate.

Ola Drivers To Get Healthcare Benefits Under Ayushman Bharat

  •  Government's healthcare scheme — Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) — has partnered with Ola, a mobility platform, to extend the welfare to its drivers.
  • An MoU has been signed to extend the benefits of the Centre-sponsored healthcare scheme.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

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Pictorial Biography to Chronicle Modi's Journey

  •  A pictorial book traces the journey of Narendra Modi from his days as a young boy from Vadnagar in Gujarat to New Delhi's 7, Lok Kalyan Marg as the 14th prime minister of India.
  • 'Turbulence & Triumph: The Modi Years', jointly authored by Rahul Agarwal and Bharathi S Pradhan, is replete with anecdotes from family, friends, colleagues, associates, testimonials of leaders from India and the world across party lines, publisher Om Books announced on September 17, 2019.
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