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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

15 Oct 2019

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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WTO gives US Final Authorisation To Impose Tariffs On EU products

  •  The World Trade Organisation (WTO) gave the United States final authorisation to impose tariffs on EU products in retaliation for illegal subsidies given to Airbus.
  • Earlier in October 2019, a WTO arbitrator gave Washington the green light to slap tariffs on 7.5 billion US dollars worth of European Union imports.
  • The move comes as a landmark moment in the 15-year legal battle between Airbus and American plane-maker Boeing.
  • The arbitrator's award- the largest in the organisation's history- was rubber-stamped by the WTO's Dispute Settle Body (DSB) at a special DSB meeting.
  • If those negotiations fail to produce a deal, Brussels will get the chance to impose its own WTO-approved tariffs on US products, after convincing WTO judges that Boeing had benefited from illegal US government subsidies. An arbitrators award in that case is due in 2020.

Tunisia Election: Kais Saied To Become President

  •  Retired academic Kais Saied is set to become Tunisia's next president after a landslide victory in 2019 vote.
  • The electoral commission announced that the former law professor, 61, secured 73% of votes in the run-off election.
  • He was up against media mogul Nabil Karoui, 56, who had campaigned from prison after being arrested on charges of money laundering and tax fraud.
  • Exit polls suggested that Mr Saied benefited from huge support among young voters.

India and Netherlands Launch 2nd Phase Of LOTUS-HR For Sewage Treatment

  •   India and the Netherlands launched second phase of the Local Treatment of Urban Sewage streams for Healthy Reuse (LOTUS-HR) program jointly by the royal couple Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and the Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan.
  • The launch programme was held during the visit of Dutch King and Queen to the India-Netherlands water laboratory at the Barapullah drain in Delhi.
  • LOTUS-HR was initiated in July 2017 and aims to demonstrate a novel holistic waste water management approach that will produce clean water which can be reused for various purposes.
  • The innovative pilot scale modular plant upon commissioning will treat 10,000 L sewage water per day and will showcase a self-sustaining model for the end user.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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World Bank Says India Faces Severe Slowdown, Cuts GDP Forecast

  •  The World Bank cut India's economic growth forecast by the most among South Asian nations, below the outlook pegged by the nation's central bank for 2019, mainly because of a deceleration in domestic demand.
  • India's gross domestic product growth is projected at 6% in the fiscal year started on April 1, 2019 compared with 7.5% forecast in April and 6.8% recorded a year earlier, the bank said in its latest South Asia Economic Focus report.
  • Growth is expected to gradually recover to 6.9% in 2020-21 and to 7.2% in the following year (2020).
  • India's cyclical slowdown is severe, the report said. The weakness is mostly due to a deceleration in local demand, according to the bank.
  • In such a weak economic environment, structural issues surface and the weak financial sector is becoming a drag on growth.

RBI Enhances Withdrawal Limit Of PMC Bank's Customer To Rs 40,000

  •  In further relief to customers of troubled Punjab & Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank, the Reserve Bank enhanced withdrawal limit to Rs 40,000 per account from Rs 25,000 per account earlier for six months.
  • This is the third time the regulator has increased the withdrawal limit since it clamped down on PMC Bank on September 23, 2019 capping withdrawals at Rs 1,000 per customer, which led to a lot of distress and criticism.

IHMCL, GSTN Inked Pact To Link FASTag with GST e-Way Bill System

  •  The Indian Highways Management Company Ltd (IHMCL) and Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) signed a memorandum of understanding for integration of FASTag with GST e-way bill system.
  • The memorandum of understanding (MoU) will be inked at the 'One Nation, One FASTag' conference, which will be inaugurated by Road Transport and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari.
  • FASTag is a simple to use, reloadable tag which enables automatic deduction of toll charges and lets vehicle pass through toll plaza without stopping for cash transaction.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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IIT Guwahati To Organise International Symposium On Advances In Sustainable Polymerse

  •  Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati in collaboration with Kyoto Institute of Technology is organizing an International Symposium on Advances in Sustainable Polymers (ASP-19) from October 14 to 18, 2019 at Kyoto Institute of Technology, Matsugasaki, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan.
  • ASP-19 is the fifth international symposium of the ASP series following ASP-17 (Guwahati, India), ASP-16 (Kyoto, Japan), ASP-15 (Guwahati, India), and ASP-14 (Guwahati, India).
  • ASP-19 will also host the following three bilateral symposia as part of the symposium:
  1. Industrial Forum - Biobased Materials Developed by World-wide Industries
  2. Second India-Nepal-Japan Trilateral Joint Symposium
  3. IITG-KIT Joint Symposium

SPORTS

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Simone Biles Sets World Championship Medal Record

  •  Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history when she won the beam and floor finals in Stuttgart to take her career tally to 25 medals while Great Britain's Joe Fraser took a stunning gold medal on the parallel bars.
  • Biles arrived on the final day of competition with gold medals in the team, all-around and vault finals.
  • For most gymnasts that would have been sufficient, but Biles had a point to prove on the balance beam.
  • At the Rio Olympics she took bronze after losing her balance and grabbing hold of the beam, and  in 2018, she fell off the beam in the all-around final at the world championships.
  • This time Biles produced one of the greatest beam routines of her career, taking gold with a score of 15.066 and not a single wobble.
  • The most remarkable part of her enduring success is that, after 25 medals, 19 of them gold, she is only getting better.

DEFENCE

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Two Indigenous Sniper Rifles By Bengaluru-Based Firm

  •  In line with the central government's push to make India a major defence manufacturing hub, a firm based in Karnataka's Bengaluru has developed the country's first indigenous sniper rifle prototypes that are meant for use by the Indian armed forces.
  • SSS Defence, which has developed two sniper rifles, is hoping to lead the way for India to become an arms manufacturing and exporting hub.
  • The 61-year-old company earlier used to manufacture components (mainly springs) for the automotive industry.
  • The company is also constructing an 80,000 sq ft arms factory in Jigani for its manufacturing unit.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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Third India Energy Forum of CERAWeek organised in New Delhi

  •  The third India Energy Forum by CERAWeek has been organised in association with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas from October 13 to 15, 2019. 
  • The Summit, gives a platform to examine the fundamental challenges and opportunities to provide sustainable, secure and affordable energy choices to the people of India.

World Students' Day

  •  World Students' Day is marked as the birthday of A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. It is observed on Kalam's birthday, 15 October.
  • In 2010 the United Nations declared 15 October as "World Students' Day".

White Cane Safety Day

  •  White Cane Safety Day is a national observance in the United States, celebrated on October 15 of each year since 1964.
  • The date is set aside to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and the important symbol of blindness and tool of independence, the white cane.
  • On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, H.R. 753, was signed into law as Pub.L. 88–628, and codified at 36 U.S.C. § 142. This resolution authorized the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day".
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the first White Cane Safety Day proclamation within hours of the passage of the joint resolution.
  • In 2011, White Cane Safety Day was also named Blind Americans Equality Day by President Barack Obama.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo: The Nobel couple fighting poverty

  •   Abhijit Banerjee, 58, and Esther Duflo, 46, won the Nobel Prize in Economics, along with economist Michael Kremer, for their "experimental approach to alleviating global poverty". More than 700 million people live in extreme poverty, according to World Bank.
  • Both Mr Banerjee and Ms Duflo are professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Ms Duflo is the second woman to be awarded a Nobel in economics.
  • The Indian-born Mr Banerjee and Paris-born Ms Duflo grew up in completely different worlds.

UNESCO Awards

  •  Mumbai dominated UNESCO's Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation held in Malaysia, with efforts to restore the city's monuments winning three awards.
  • The Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue in Fort and Our Lady of Glory Church in Byculla received awards of merit while Flora Fountain received an honourable mention.
  • Ahmedabad's Vikram Sarabhai Library won the award of distinction.
  • The UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme recognises the efforts of private individuals and organisations that have restored and conserved structures of heritage value in the region. 
  • This year marked 20 years of the awards and the jury met in August 2019 to review 57 entries from 14 countries across the Asia-Pacific.
  • At least 16 projects from five countries, Australia, Bhutan, China, India and New Zealand, were recognised by the international jury of conservation experts in this year's awards.
  • The renewal of the historic Tai Kwun — Centre for Heritage and Arts in Hong Kong won the Award of Excellence.

Dalai Lama Receives Honorary Doctorate

  •  "Imbibe kindness and affection as it brings humanity together," said the Dalai Lama at Chitkara University, where he was felicitated with an honorary doctorate for his invaluable contribution to humanity, world peace and education, and in recognition of his outstanding achievements in promoting peace globally and for his inspirational spiritual guidance and leadership.
  • The Tibetan spiritual leader believes that the shape of the future is in our hands – the 21st century teachers and learners: "You, who belong to the present century, can create a world that will be happier and more peaceful," he said.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Andhra govt launches water grid project

  •  The Andhra Pradesh government has launched an ambitious project to provide a drinking water connection to every household in the state by 2022.
  • Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Minister P Ramachandra Reddy said that the statewide water grid project would ensure supply of clean drinking water to every household from 2022 for at least next 30 years.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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Centre Plans 'Vigyan Jyoti'

  •  Alarmed by the low percentage of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the Centre has planned a programme to help girl students inculcate interest in these areas and also fund them if they get into any top institute for pursuing these underrepresented subjects.
  • The programme 'Vigyan Jyoti' aims to tap 100 girl students in 550 districts from 2020-2025. The students will be chosen based on their percentile.
  • The initiative is likely to be launched by the end of October 2019.

Health Ministry has finalised 25 members of National Medical Commission

  •  Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has finalised 25 members of the National Medical Commission (NMC), which will replace the Medical Council of India (MCI).
  • A draw of lots took place for selecting the members of NMC which include ten Vice-Chancellors (VCs) from different states, nine members from the State Medical Councils (SMCs) and four part-time members from the autonomous boards.
  • The exercise took place in the presence of Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Chowbey, in which 10 VCs were chosen from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Dagar and Nagar Haveli, Punjab, and Haryana.

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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Railways to launch new Sewa Express trains from Delhi, Coimbatore, Bengaluru

  •  In a big stride towards achieving last-mile connectivity for people travelling between small towns and major cities, the Indian Railways will launch 10 'Sewa Service' trains on 15th October.
  •  Out of these, 5 trains will run on a daily basis, whereas the rest of them will have 6 days a week service.
  • The Ministry of Railways had recently approved 10 trains under its 'Sewa service' initiative for better connectivity between smaller towns and important cities.
  • The Ministry of Railways has decided to introduce daily Sewa Express trains between Delhi and Shamli, Bhubaneswar and Nayagarh town, Murkongselex and Dibrugarh, Kota and Jhalawar City and Coimbatore and Palani.
  • It will run as a daily train with effect from October 15, 2019. Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal will start the 'Sewa Service' trains by inaugurating Delhi-Shamli daily passenger train from New Delhi. He will also flag off other trains through video-conferencing.

ART AND CULTURE

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10th National Cultural Festival To Be Held In MP

  • In Madhya Pradesh, the 10th edition of the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav-National Cultural Festival is being organized by the Union Ministry of Culture from 15th October to 21st October, 2019 under the 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat' campaign.
  • Governor Lalji Tandon and Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel will be present at the inaugural ceremony of the Festival being held in Jabalpur.
  • The National Cultural festival will display diverse forms of folk, art and culture of 22 states. The concept of National Cultural Festival was conceived in the year 2015. So far, the Ministry of Culture has organized nine such Festivals.
  • The festival is being organized in Madhya Pradesh for the second time. This time the festival will be held in Sagar and Rewa apart from Jabalpur.
  • Many famous artists like Suresh Wadkar, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Sabri Brothers, Shovana Narayan, Roopkumar and Sonali Rathore will perform during the Jabalpur leg of the festival.

New York's Museum Of Modern Art Set To Reopen

  •  New York's heralded Museum of Modern Art reopens in October 2019 after a multi-million-dollar makeover that will allow curators to display hundreds more works every year.
  • The museum has been closed for four months but will open again on October 21, 2019 following the latest renovations which increase the venerated institution's capacity.
  • MoMA, which moved to its current location in 1939, has undergone remodeling in 1950, 1962, 1980 and 2001 to cope with a growing collection and increased footfall.
  • Space was expanded by a third this time and director Glenn Lowry says the layout has been reinvented to reflect the philosophy of the museum's first director, Alfred Barr.
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