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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

05 Oct 2019


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Trump Aides Pushed Ukraine to Commit to Investigating Biden

  •  Two top envoys of President Trump's to Ukraine worked on a statement for the country's new president in August 2019 that would have committed Ukraine to pursuing investigations sought by Mr. Trump into his political rivals.
  • Their work on the statement is new evidence of how Mr. Trump's fixation with conspiracy theories linked to Ukraine began driving senior diplomats to bend American foreign policy to the President's political agenda in the weeks after a July 25  (2019) call between the two leaders.
  • The statement was worked on by Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union, and Kurt D. Volker, then the State Department's special envoy to Ukraine. 

In a First, U.S. Lawmakers Take a Step against India on Kashmir

  •  In what could become the first step towards legislative action by American lawmakers against India on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations added an appeal to end what it calls a "humanitarian crisis" in Kashmir in its report ahead of the annual Foreign Appropriations Act for 2020.
  • The amendment was proposed by Senator Chris Van Hollen, who visited Delhi as a part of a congressional delegation that discussed the Kashmir situation as well as India-U.S. bilateral relations, trade ties and defence purchases with key officials.
  • According to the report, which was submitted to the Senate by Lindsey Graham, senior Senator and key Republican leader known for his close ties to President Donald Trump, the committee on Appropriations notes with concern, the current humanitarian crisis in Kashmir and calls on the Government of India to: 
  1. fully restore telecommunications and Internet services; 
  2. lift its lockdown and curfew; 
  3. release individuals detained pursuant to the Government's revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

North Korea-US Nuclear Talks to Resume

  •  As negotiators for the US and North Korea resume talks over Pyongyang's nuclear programme, analysts say that the leaders of both countries face increased incentives to strike a deal, but that it is far from clear they will find common ground after months of deadlock and increased tensions.
  • The meeting in Stockholm would be the first formal working-level talks since US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in June 2019, vowing to restart negotiations that had stalled after their failed summit in February 2019.
  • Since June 2019, however, American officials have struggled to persuade North Korea to return to the table.
  • North Korea now abruptly announced that it had agreed to hold talks.


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India's First E-waste Clinic To Come Up in Bhopal

  •  The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have joined hands to set up the country's first e-waste clinic in Bhopal. CPCB will offer technical support.
  • The clinic is being conceived in compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • This would enable segregation, processing and disposal of waste from both household and commercial units.
  • Electronic waste would be collected door-to-door or could be deposited directly at the clinic in exchange for a fee. Door-to-door collection will happen in two ways.
  • Either separate carts for the collection of e-waste would be designed, or separate bins would be attached to existing ones meant for solid and wet waste.
  • A three-month pilot project, the clinic, if successful, would be replicated elsewhere in the country.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is New Durga Puja Mantra

  •  Two tall pillars decorated with crushed soft drink cans welcome everyone entering the Durga Puja pandal at Aradhana Park in IP Extension. Inside, Goddess Durga and deities Kartik, Ganesha, Lakshmi, and Saraswati appear uniquely silver-tinged.
  • Durga's face was made of material from an old gas cylinder, her ten arms were made of shock absorbers, and the rest of the idol was made from material cut out of discarded canister drums.
  • Themed on recycled scrap material, the pandal's (tent) message is that recycling and reusing waste in creative ways is one of the most efficient means of saving the environment.
  • As per Pinaki Ranjan Saha, one of the organisers of the puja at IP Extension, in the day and age that we live, if we do not make the best possible use of garbage, we will not be able to save our future.
  • Saving the environment is a recurring theme of Durga Puja in Delhi this year, with most pandals placing a strict ban on the use of plastic and thermocol.

Tree Cutting Begins at Aarey

  •  The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation employees started cutting trees at Aarey Colony at the proposed car shed spot, following the Bombay High Court order.
  • The Bombay high court dismissed four petitions challenging the decision of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) tree authority permitting the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (MMRCL) to cut 2,646 trees to construct a metro car-shed in Aarey colony.
  • A division bench of chief justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice Bharati Dangre dismissed petitions filed by activist Zoru Bhathena and Shiv Sena corporator Yashwant Jadhav, who is also a member of the tree authority.


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Microfinance Limits Raised

  •  Reserve Bank of India raised the micro loan limits to ensure higher flow of funds to the economically weaker section as their role in the economy has grown over the years with the government's inclusive agenda.
  • In a twin-move, the regulator raised the household income limit for availing micro loans while enhanced the lending limit to Rs. 1.25 lakh per eligible borrower from Rs. 1 lakh earlier.
  • The decisions would provide a shot in the arm to the country's microfinance sector as they could cater to a wider market now. The income and loan limits to classify an exposure as eligible asset were last revised in 2015.
  • As per RBI, borrowers with annual household income up to Rs. 1.25 lakh in rural areas would now be eligible to take micro loans while the threshold limit was Rs. 1 lakh earlier.
  • Similarly, income limit has been raised to Rs. 2 lakh from Rs. 1.6 lakh for borrowers in urban and semi urban pockets. 

UAE to Invest $5 Billion in Oil Refinery Project in Pakistan

  •  The United Arab Emirates would invest a whopping USD 5 billion in an oil refinery project in cash-strapped Pakistan by the end of the year.
  • According to UAE Ambassador to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al-Zaabi, this project would show the strength of UAE-Pakistan relations and how the UAE is focusing on investment and future of Pakistan.
  • It is going to be an investment venture between Mubadala Petroleum Company of Abu Dhabi, Pak Arab Refinery Limited (Parco) and OMV (OMV Pakistan Exploration Gesellschaft).

RBI's Rate Cut Leaves Market Disappointed

  •  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) delivered another rate cut — the fifth in as many policy review meetings to boost a slowing economy. However, the move failed to cheer the market which was betting on a bigger rate reduction.
  • The six-member monetary policy committee decided to cut interest rates by 25 basis points (bps) to 5.1% with five members voting in favour of the quantum while R. H. Dholakia voted for a 40 bps cut. [100 bps = 1 percentage point]
  • The MPC also decided to continue with an accommodative stance as long as it is necessary to revive growth, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target.
  • The central bank also revised its growth forecast for the current financial sharply, from 6.9% projected in the August policy, to 6.1%. Growth forecast for the first quarter of the next financial year was also trimmed to 7.2% from 7.4%.
  • Inflation forecast for the second half of FY20 has been retained at 3.5-3.7%.


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Say Goodbye to This Ocean-Monitoring Satellite

  •  The Jason-2/Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM), the third in a U.S.-European series of satellite missions designed to measure sea surface height, successfully ended its science mission on Oct. 1, 2019.
  • NASA and its mission partners made the decision to end the mission after detecting deterioration in the spacecraft's power system.
  • Jason-2/OSTM, a joint NASA mission with the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) was launched in June 2008.
  • The mission extended the long-term record of sea surface height measurements started by the NASA-CNES TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 missions. Jason-2/OSTM's 11-year lifetime well exceeded its three-year design life.
  • These measurements are being continued by its successor, Jason-3, launched in 2016.
  • Jason-2/OSTM provided unique insight into ocean currents and sea-level rise with tangible benefits to marine forecasting, meteorology and our understanding of climate change. 


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ATP Challenger: Sumit Nagal Moves into quarter-finals

  •  In Tennis, Sumit Nagal entered into the men's singles semi-finals of ATP Challenger Campinas in Brazil. He would face Argentinian Juan Ficovich, who defeated Nicolas Alvarez of Peru in another quarter-final.
  • Sumit Nagal defeated 13th seed Francisco Cerundolo in the quarter-final of the ATP Challenger. With the win, Nagal now has the highest number of semi-final appearances on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2019.
  • At the back of this win, Nagal also moved to the world No.129 spot in the ATP live rankings. After winning the Challenger title in Argentina, Nagal had moved to a career-best ranking of 135. 

Dalilah Muhammad Breaks 400m Hurdles World Record

  •  Dalilah Muhammad of the United States set a new world record as she powered to victory in the 400 metres hurdles at the IAAF World Athletics Championships 2019.
  • Olympic champion Muhammad took gold with a time of 52.16 seconds at the Khalifa Stadium, bettering her own world record of 52.20 set at the US Trials in Iowa in July 2019.
  • Sydney McLaughlin of the United States took silver with a time of 52.23 while the bronze medal went to Rushell Clayton of Jamaica in a time of 53.74.


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Mumbai Airport Gets Three Breathalyser Stations

  •  Mumbai airport has set up three breathalyser stations at the airside to comply with directives of the aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which require random breath analyser examination of officials on a daily basis.
  • The DGCA circular mandates that at least 10% of the individuals employed in their respective organisations engaged in safety-sensitive functions pertaining to airside operations are randomly subjected to breath analyser examination on a daily basis, when they report for duty at the airport.
  • The breath analyser examination has been mandated by DGCA for the personnel engaged in aircraft maintenance, Air Traffic Control (ATC) services, aerodrome operations and ground handling services for detecting consumption of alcohol.

India Criticises Turkey, Malaysia for Kashmir Remarks

  •  India reacted sharply to statements by President of Turkey and PM on Malaysia delivered at UNGA on the Kashmir issue and suggested that both friendly countries to obtain a proper understanding of the situation on the ground.
  • The MEA called upon the Turkish government to get a proper understanding of the situation before making any further comments.
  • As per the MEA spokesperson, the current developments in J&K and Ladakh were purely an internal matter of India and did not involve any third country.

NIA to Probe Recovery of Arms Sent Through Drones

  •  The Centre decided to hand over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) the probe related to the recovery of huge arms, ammunition and communication hardware in Punjab, suspected to have been delivered through drones from across the border.
  • The decision was taken following Punjab government's request in the wake of the state police's claim to have busted a terror module of the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), backed by a group based in Pakistan and Germany, in September 2019.
  • According to Punjab Police, the terror group was conspiring to unleash a series of strikes in Punjab and adjoining states.
  • As per a Home Ministry order, the central government is of the opinion that scheduled offences under the National Investigation Agency Act 2008 have been committed and having regard to the gravity of the offence which include conspiracy to carry out terrorist activity to create communal tension, instability and revival of terrorism in Punjab, these are required to be investigated by the NIA in accordance with the Act.


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World Teachers' Day

  •  World Teachers' Day, also known as International Teachers Day, is an international day held annually on October 5. Established in 1994, it commemorates the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which is a standard-setting instrument that addresses the status and situations of teachers around the world.
  • This recommendation outlines standards relating to education personnel policy, recruitment, and initial training as well as the continuing education of teachers, their employment, and working conditions.
  • World Teachers' Day aims to focus on "appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world" and to provide an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching.
  • The theme for the 2019 edition of World Teachers' Day is 'Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession'. 


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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Launched the 'YSR Vahana Mitra' Welfare Scheme

  •  Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy launched the 'YSR Vahana Mitra' welfare scheme in Eluru town of West Godavari district.
  • The scheme provides an annual cash incentive of Rs. 10,000 to drivers of autos, taxis and maxi-cabs, who also own their vehicles.
  • The amount is meant to meet maintenance expenses, and for obtaining insurance and fitness certificates among other documents. The scheme was a promise made by Jagan during his padayatra before the election in the same town.
  • According to Jagan, the YSR Vahana Mitra scheme would provide Rs. 50,000 to self-employed drivers in the next five years.


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Decline in Representation of Women in Haryana Elections

  •  From 116 women who ran for election to the Haryana assembly in 2014, the October 21, 2019 polls would see a near 50% dip in the number of female contestants after frontline political parties picked just 60 women to join the fray.
  • Of the women candidates who contested the 2014 polls, 13 won — the highest since 1966, when the state of Haryana was carved out of Punjab.
  • For the 90-member Haryana assembly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chose 12 women to run on the party ticket against 15 in 2014. The Congress chose nine women candidates, one short of the 10 it fielded the last time.
  • Similarly, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), which had promised 33% of seats to women, selected only fifteen.
  • Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), an offshoot of the INLD, nominated seven women against its promise of 27 seats.
  • The Aam Aadmi Party fielded 8 women and the Bahujan Samaj Party six while the Loktantra Suraksha Party allotted tickets to only three.

AIIMS, JIPMER to be Included in NEET-UG

  •  Union Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan announced that the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER) would be included under the umbrella of the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET).
  • These institutions used to conduct separate entrance exams for admission into the under-graduate medical course (MBBS) earlier.
  • Harsh Vardhan also said that the formation of the National Medical Commission 2019 is taking place at a fast pace.
  • According to Harsh Vardhan, NMC would consist of 33 members, including nine members from the State Medical Councils (SMCs) and ten Vice-Chancellors (VCs), who will be rotated every two years. 

Finish Certificates' Audit by Oct 10: DU to Colleges

  •  Following complaints of students taking admission using fake certificates from non-existent education boards, Delhi University's (DU) admission committee has asked all colleges to submit a report of the forensic verification of documents submitted by students enrolled in 2019.
  • The colleges were asked to submit the reports by October 10, 2019.
  • According to a member of the admission committee, the admission committee also found a case of a fake board certificate submitted by a student who wanted to change colleges.
  • The admission of the student was cancelled and an internal inquiry initiated in the matter.
  • The university administration had, in 2019, recommended that colleges conduct forensic checking of mark sheets and certificates of candidates during admission.
  • The directions were given based on 2018's incident when the graduation degree of former DU student union president Ankiv Baisoya was found to be forged.


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Muthiah's Book on TN Sports' Modern History Launched

  •  Tamil Nadu's Quest For Gold, a book that provides a comprehensive look into the modern history of sports in the State, by the late historian and chronicler S. Muthiah was launched.
  • Vinod Kumar Tiwari, director - International & NOC Relations, Olympic Council of Asia, released the book.
  • The book is an initiative of the Tamil Nadu State Olympic Association (TNOA) president N. Ramachandran.
  • The book provides a commentary on 32 major sports. Each chapter (43 in all) intends to give an insight into the origin of a sport, the journey of its development and infrastructure, the remarkable events and achievements of the sportspersons, their coaches and the diligent administrators.
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