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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

13 Nov 2019

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Next Round For US Prez Impeachment

  •  The US House of Representatives will begin public  hearings to impeach Trump over allegations that he misused his powers. Whistleblower and insider accounts have emerged claiming that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine till its President agreed to investigate rival democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to damage his campaign. 
  • 15 witnesses have testified in closed-door depositions
  • 3 witnesses will appear in Public hearings 
  • 2 Whistleblowers have come forward so far
  • The hearing will begin with testimonies from two Trump officials: Bill Taylor, US Chief envoy to Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
  • Both have provided accounts of Trump pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open a probe against Biden and his son Hunter.

ENVIRONMENT

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'Climate strike' named Collins' Word of the Year 2019

  •  'Climate strike', a form of protest popularised by the Sweedish teenage activist Greta Thunburg, has been named Collins' Word of the Year 2019. It is formally defined as 'a form of protest in which people absent themselves from education or work in order to join demonstrations demanding action to counter climate change'.
  • Collins Dictionary's lexicographers monitor the 9.5 billion-word Collins Corpus and create the annual list of new and notable words that reflect an ever-evolving culture and the preoccupations of those who use it.

Incredibly Rare 'Mouse Deer' Spotted in Vietnam After Vanishing For Almost 30 Years

  •  A very rare species of small, deer-like animal thought to be on the verge of extinction has been spotted in the northwestern jungle of Vietnam for the first time in nearly 30 years.Known as the silver-backed chevrotain or mouse deer, a specimen was last recorded in 1990.
  • The species, Tragulus versicolor, was first described in 1910 based on several animals found near Nha Trang, about 450 kilometres (280 miles) northeast of Ho Chi Minh City.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Karnataka Gramin Bank Initiates 'Mobile ATMs' To Push Digitisation In Rural Areas

  •  In a move to boost digitisation in rural areas, the Karnataka Gramin Bank (KGB) has launched 'mobile ATMs' in Kalaburagi among several other districts in the state.
  • The special vehicle includes an ATM and a screen to show videos of different banking schemes.
  • The project was assisted by a Financial Inclusion Fund by the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development.
  • The mobile ATMs will go to the doorsteps of the farmers and make them aware of the banking schemes and digital operating systems.

Vodafone's India Ops on Brink of Collapse

  •  Vodafone Idea, India's second-largest telecom company, may be headed for liquidation unless the government eases off on demands for mobile spectrum fees, Nick Read.
  • The company's future in India could be in doubt unless the government stopped hitting operators with higher taxes and charges, after the Supreme Court asked operators to pay over Rs 92,000 crore in past dues. 
  • Read said India, where Vodafone formed a joint venture with Aditya Birla group's Idea Cellular in 2018, had been "a very challenging situation for a long time", but Vodafone Idea still had 30 crore customers or about 30% marketshare.

HSBC and RBS Set To Launch New Digital Banking Platforms

  •  British banking heavyweights HSBC (HSBA.L) and RBS (RBS.L) are launching new digital banking platforms, as competition for digitally savvy customers steps up in the face of a wave of online startups.
  • HSBC rolled out a new app-based business banking service - previously known internally as 'Project Iceberg' and now named 'HSBC Kinetic' - in beta testing mode.
  • While RBS is putting the finishing touches to its new digital bank Bo ahead of a public roll-out later this month.RBS's standalone bank Bo is preparing for a public launch this month from offices in London's West End.The Bo app is designed to encourage customers to budget and save better, alerting them if they overspend.
  • It is targeted at the 16.8 million Britons with less than 100 pounds ($128)of savings.
  • RBS hopes it will bring in lower cost deposits than the bank's main retail brands as it is built on a leaner banking platform, with an estimated cost per consumer of 80 pounds a year, rather than 150-200 pounds at RBS.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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NASA Scientists Detect Huge Thermonuclear Blast Deep in Space

  •  NASA recently detected a massive thermonuclear explosion coming from outer space.
  • The culprit seems to be a distant pulsar, the space agency reports, which is the stellar remains of a star that blew up in a supernova but was too small to form a black hole. NASA spotted the burst because it sent out an intense beam of x-rays that got picked up by the agency's orbital observatory NICER.
  • All in all, it serves as a potent reminder: space is an extremely dangerous, extremely metal place.
  • Astronomers think the thermonuclear explosion was caused by helium that sunk beneath the surface of the pulsar and fused into a ball of carbon.

SPORTS

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Sindhu Advances in Hong Kong Open

  •  World Champion P.V. Sindhu made a positive start to her campaign but Saina Nehwal and Sameer Verma were ousted from the Hong Kong Open after suffering contrasting defeats in the opening round of the USD 400,000 event.
  • Sixth seed Sindhu, who had faltered in the opening round in a couple of recent tournaments, took 36 minutes to see off world no 19 Kim Ga Eun of Korea 21-15 21-16 to progress to the second round.
  • The Olympic silver medallist will face Thailand's Busanan Ongbamrungphan next.

IOCL Retain Beighton Cup

  •  Indian Oil Corporation Limited blanked Punjab National Bank 2-0 to successfully defend their title at the All India Beighton Cup Hockey tournament at SAI Complex.
  • Both the goals came in the third quarter with Karajwinder Singh and Gurjinder Singh scoring in space of three minutes.
  • IOCL drew the first blood in the 41st minute while dragflicker Gurjinder scored through a penalty corner in the 44th minute.

Sri Lanka Becomes First South Asian Nation To Criminalise Offences Related To Match-Fixing

  •  Sri Lanka has become the first South Asian nation to criminalise several offences related to match-fixing as its parliament passed all three readings of a bill labelled "Prevention of Offences Related to Sports".
  • If a person is found guilty of committing an offence related to corruption in sports, then he may find himself jailed for a term up to 10 years and he will also be required to pay various fines.
  • The newest legislation covers all sports and it is believed that the recent investigation by Anti Corruption Unit prompted this bill to be drafted.
  • Sri Lanka's Sports Minister Harin Fernando presented the bill in the parliament and former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga who is a now a cabinet minister supported the new legislation during parliamentary debates.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Haryana Sets Up Economic Advisory Council For 5 Years To Promote Industries

  •  Haryana government led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has constituted an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to promote industries in the state and address issues related to various issues and policies of economic development.
  • EAC will comprise membership-based advisory panel and will be headed by the Chief Minister, while various representatives of the government, industry and academia sector have also been included in the panel.

Speaker's Disqualification Of 17 Karnataka MLAs Upheld

  •  The Supreme Court upheld the disqualification of 17 dissident Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators by then Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law), but held their ouster is no bar from contesting re-polls.
  • The court said Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 does not contemplate such disqualification. It further referred to the provisions introduced in the 91st Constitutional Amendment.
  •  The court said they were brought in specifically to ensure that a legislator disqualified for defection is not appointed as a government Minister or to any remunerative post from the date of his disqualification either till the expiry of his term of office or till he is re-elected to the legislature, "whichever is earlier".
  • In short, the Supreme Court has, with this judgment, paved the way for the ousted legislators to contest the coming by-polls in December 2019 and face their electorate with the "taint" of disqualification on them.
  • The judgment was based on separate petitions filed by the disqualified legislators against their ouster by Mr. Kumar.

President's Rule Should Be Based Only On 'Objective Material'

  •  Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's recommendation for President's rule in the State under Article 356 (1) of the Constitution should have been based on "objective material" and not on a political whim or fancy, if one goes by the Supreme Court verdict in the 1994 S.R. Bommai case.
  • A nine-judge Constitution Bench of the court in the Bommai case, which is the reigning authority on the use and misuse of Article 356, had held that political whim or fancy cannot form the basis for the President to proclaim central rule in a State.
  • Such objective material may be available in the report sent to the President by the Governor or otherwise or both from the report and other sources. Once such material is shown to exist, the satisfaction of the President based on the material is not open to question.
  • Article 356 (1) has been deliberately drafted in a narrow language by the Founding Fathers so that political parties in the Centre does not misuse it to subvert federalism, it had noted.

DEFENCE

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First Indo-US Tri-Service Drill

  •  The first Indo-US tri-service exercise with focus on amphibious humanitarian relief operations began in the Bay of Bengal. 'Tiger Triumph' was announced by US President Trump during the 'Howdy Modi' event. 
  • The exercise will be held off Visakhapatnam and Kakinada till November 21, 2019. 
  • India is fielding its amphibious warships, INS Jalashwa and INS Airavat, survey ship INS Sandhayak, Army troops from the 19 Madras and 7 Guards battalions, and MI-17 helicopters and rapid action medical teams (RAMT) from the IAF.
  • The US, in turn, has deployed its amphibious warship USS Germantown, along with troops from the 3rd Marine Division. 

First Woman Officer Appointed as Defence Attache

  •  The Navy has now selected its first woman officer for the post of a defence attaché abroad, which comes a month after the IAF posted Wing Commander Anjali Singh as the deputy air attaché at the Indian embassy in Moscow.
  • Lt-Commander (equivalent to an Army Major) Karabi Gogoi, a naval engineer currently posted at the Karwar base in coastal Karnataka, has been selected for the post of the assistant naval attaché, also at the Indian embassy in Russia.
  • The appointments of Wing Commander Singh and Lt-Commander Gogoi are the first for woman officers to have been selected for defence diplomacy in the maledominated environs of the armed forces. If the former as an aeronautical engineer specialises in handling fighter jets, the latter has experience in warship construction and maintenance.

DRDO Grants Free Patent Access To Boost Indigenous Production

  •  To boost indigenous production and give a fillip to the 'Make in India' policy, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has decided to grant the Indian industry free access to patents held for technologies developed by it.
  • A new policy formulated by the DRDO recently states that no licence fee or royalty will be applicable on the use of Indian patents held by the research agency. There are hundreds of such patents covering missile technology, aeronautics, naval systems, life sciences, armaments, combat engineering, electronics and communication material.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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President Accepts Arvind Sawant's Resignation, Prakash Javadekar Gets His Portfolio

  •  Union Minister Prakash Javadekar was given additional charge of the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, a day after Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant resigned from the Union Council.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind accepted Sawant's resignation this morning and allocated the portfolio to Javadekar, who heads two other ministries — Information and Broadcasting, and Environment, Forest & Climate Change.

Nita Ambani Elected to the Board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  •  Philanthropist and businessperson Nita Ambani has been elected to the board of The Metropolitan Museum of Art for her "truly exceptional" commitment to preserve and promote India's art and culture.
  • Chairman Daniel Brodsky of the museum, considered as the largest and most visited art museums in the world, announced that Ms. Ambani has been named its Honorary Trustee. Her election took place at the meeting of the board.
  • Nita Ambani, wife of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, is the Founder and Chairperson of the Reliance Foundation, which has supported The Met since 2016, beginning with the exhibition 'Nasreen Mohamedi', which was the first museum retrospective of the artist's work in the United States and was also one of The Met Breuer's inaugural exhibitions.
  • Ms. Ambani is also a member of The Met's International Council. The museum had announced in October 2017 that the Reliance Foundation promised a generous gift" to support exhibitions that explore and celebrate the arts of India. It had not stated the amount of the gift.
  • The museum had then described Nita and Mukesh Ambani as "great champions of The Met."

Anjani Kumar Appointed As The Next Ambassador Of India To The Republic Of Mali

  •  Shri Anjani Kumar has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to the Republic of Mali. 
  • The appointment was announced by the Ministry of external affairs (MEA). Anjani Kumar is an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) Officer of batch 2003. 
  • He will be replacing Pradeep Kumar Gupta.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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UK Observed The 101st Armistice Day On 11 November

  •  The UK observed the 101st Armistice Day since World War One. The day is to commemorate those who died in conflict. It is held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
  • The Royal British Legion called on the nation to put busy lives on pause, set aside differences, and remember those who risked their lives. Politicians marked the day by offering pledges to improve the lives of UK service personnel and their families. 
  • A remembrance service was held at the National War Memorial Cenotaph in Cardiff's Cathays Park. The tradition of a two-minute silence to remember the dead began exactly a year after the end of World War One.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Munin Barkotoki Literary Award announced

  •  The Munin Barkotoki Memorial Trust has chosen young poet Ankur Ranjan Phukan and short story writer Monoranjan Bori for the Munin Barkotoki Literary Award 2019 for their manuscripts Khando-ta and Moh-jokh respectively.  This annual award instituted to encourage young and promising writers in Assamese, carries a cash prize of fifty thousand rupees along with a citation and a plaque.
  • The 25th edition of the award will be given away at a formal function to be held in Guwahati.

Bandana Sen Awards

  •  The inaugural Bandana Sen Awards celebrated libraries and librarians, recognising the best practices in nurturing learning environments.
  • To facilitate world-class libraries across the country, OneUp Library, Bookstudio and Learning Lab launched this one-of-a-kind award in memory of Bandana Sen.
  • The awards aim to motivate and promote library as a space for nurturing young students' imagination, critical thinking abilities and the development of collaborative spirit and innovation.
  • Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi won the award for its junior library while Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai received the award for its senior library.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Gujarat Govt. Grants Approval For CNG Port Terminal At Bhavnagar

  •  The Gujarat government gave its approval for a compressed natural gas (CNG) terminal at Bhavnagar with a proposed investment of ₹1,900 crore.
  • A State government release said the facility, approval for which was given by the Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board headed by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, would be the world's first CNG port terminal.
  • It will be developed jointly by U.K.-headquartered Foresight Group and Mumbai-based Padmanabh Mafatlal Group.

Haryana Brings More Crops Under 'Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojna"

  •  The Haryana government decided to bring more crops under the 'Bhavantar Bharpayee Yojna (BBY)' scheme.
  • The decision was taken at a BBY review meeting which was presided by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
  • In the past two years, the scheme has been very successful and therefore, along with potato, onion, tomato and cabbage, now carrots, peas, kinnow, guava, capsicum and brinjal will also be included under the BBY, Khattar said.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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IL&FS Sells Education Biz to Kota co Career Point

  •  Lenders to the troubled IL&FS have approved the sale of its education business Schoolnet India to Career Point Publications. Headquartered in Kota, Rajasthan, and founded in 1993, Career Point publishes across a range of pre-medical and engineering subjects.
  • The financial bid of Career Point was approved by more than 78% of IL&FS' creditors (by value) through an evoting process that concluded on November 5, 2019.
  •  The transaction for the education business is the second major one after the group concluded the sale of its wind energy assets to Orix of Japan.

ART AND CULTURE

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Suranga Bawadi on World Monument Watch list

  •  Suranga Bawadi, an integral part of the ancient Karez system of supplying water through subterranean tunnels built during Adil Shahi era in Vijayapura, is now set to get funding for restoration. A New York-based non-governmental organisation has included it in the World Monument Watch list for 2020 along with 24 other monuments from across the world.
  • The monument has been selected under the 'Ancient Water System of the Deccan Plateau' by World Monuments Fund [the NGO], which monitors restoration of ancient monuments across the globe.
  • With this, the Suranga Bawadi is expected to get funds for restoration within the next two years.
  • The NGO would also coordinate with the authorities concerned for restoration and creat public awareness on its importance.

India's First Elephant Memorial Comes Up In Mathura

  •  Agra In a unique and heartfelt tribute to honour elephants that lost their lives to illegal trafficking, abuse and cruelty, India-based conservation charity Wildlife SOS unveiled the country's first elephant memorial in Mathura . 
  • The memorial, 20 miles from Taj Mahal, was inaugurated by additional principal chief conservator of forests, UP K Praveen Rao. 
  • The memorial consists of five boulders, each with engraved plaques to commemorate the spirit of the departed elephants, who died while overcoming their physical ailments and psychological wounds sustained through the brutal "breaking" and training process and in captivity. 
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