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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

26 Nov 2019


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Democracy Backers Sweep Hong Kong Polls

  • Democracy supporters were emboldened by capturing most of the seats in local elections, but Beijing and its allies are reluctant to compromise.
  • In the run-up to local elections in Hong Kong, Beijing and its allies in the city were portraying the vote as a way to hear the voice of a silent majority after nearly six months of increasingly violent antigovernment protests.
  • The city's Beijing-backed establishment camp suffered a staggering defeat in elections for district councils as democracy advocates swept 87 per cent of the seats, up from less than a third. Beijing and its supporters in Hong Kong, including the city's embattled leader, Carrie Lam, must now reckon with a resounding, very public display of support for the democracy camp and the protest movement.
  • According to Cary Lo, a newly elected district councilor supporting democracy, this election is not just about livelihood issues, but also a direct referendum regarding the justifiability of this regime. It has indicated that Carrie Lam's government has lost its legitimacy.

Sri Lanka Won't Do Anything that Will Harm India's Interests

  •  Days ahead of his first State visit abroad to New Delhi, Sri Lanka's newly-elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that his government will not do anything that would threaten India's security.
  • President Gotabaya is scheduled to visit New Delhi on November 29, 2019 following an invitation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was the first senior foreign official to meet the newly-elected President in Colombo, to hand over the PM's invitation.
  • The newly-elected Sri Lankan President's visit signals a full circle in diplomatic ties between New Delhi and the Rajapaksas in the last decade — with relations shifting from close cooperation to heightening tensions and now, to what appears a thaw.

New Leak Reveals How China Runs Xinjiang Camps

  •  Leaked government documents outlining the need to prevent escape, double lock doors and constantly monitor detainees in China's network of internment camps in Xinjiang refute Beijing's defence of vocational education centres.
  • Obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and published by 17 media outlets worldwide, the documents show the strict protocols governing life in the camps in Xinjiang, where an estimated one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim minorities are held.
  • In one document, local officials are told to monitor inmates at all times -- including during toilet breaks -- to prevent escape.
  • Staff are also banned from befriending inmates and engaging in personal interactions" to prevent "collusion.
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Greenhouse Gas Concentrations Again Break Records

  • The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that the increase in CO2 was just above the average rise recorded over the last decade.
  •  Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases once again reached new highs in 2018.
  • Levels of other warming gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, have also surged by above average amounts.
  • Since 1990 there's been an increase of 43% in the warming effect on the climate of long lived greenhouse gases.
  • The WMO report looks at concentrations of warming gases in the atmosphere rather than just emissions.

Coal: Is This the Beginning of the End?

  •  The fuel that powered the industrial revolution may be in decline at last.
  • 2019 looks set to see the largest fall in electricity production from coal on record.
  • The reduction is estimated to be more than the power generated from coal in Germany, Spain and the UK combined.
  • It is projected to drop by 3% - which is a fall of 300 terawatt hours.
  • The record drop raises the prospect of a slowing of global CO2 emissions growth in 2019.
  • But the authors warn that, even with this decline, coal use and emissions remain far higher than the level required to keep the global temperature rise below 2C.
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WhatsApp to Offer Start-ups in India with $250,000 Worth of Facebook ad Credits

  •  Messaging giant WhatsApp will provide 500 DPIIT-approved start-ups with USD 500 (around Rs. 35,840) each of Facebook ad credits, a move aimed at helping Indian entrepreneurs connect with customers and grow their businesses.
  • With the ad credits, the start-ups can create ads that invite customers to click to open a chat on WhatsApp so they can deepen connections and increase sales.
  • The announcement comes after the Start-up India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge under which facebook-owned company had awarded a grant worth USD 50,000 (about Rs. 35 lakh) each to five entrepreneurs who have developed India-specific solutions with socio-economic impact.

WhatsApp to Offer Start-ups in India with $250,000 Worth of Facebook ad Credits

  •  Messaging giant WhatsApp will provide 500 DPIIT-approved start-ups with USD 500 (around Rs. 35,840) each of Facebook ad credits, a move aimed at helping Indian entrepreneurs connect with customers and grow their businesses.
  • With the ad credits, the start-ups can create ads that invite customers to click to open a chat on WhatsApp so they can deepen connections and increase sales.
  • The announcement comes after the Start-up India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge under which facebook-owned company had awarded a grant worth USD 50,000 (about Rs. 35 lakh) each to five entrepreneurs who have developed India-specific solutions with socio-economic impact.

Louis Vuitton acquires US Jeweller Tiffany

  •  Louis Vuitton SE, also known as LVMH, and US jewellers Tiffany announced a $16.2-billion tie-up that is the French luxury group's biggest-ever acquisition and will bolster its presence in the US. The deal comes after LVMH spent more than a month wooing Tiffany, the most iconic of US luxury brand known for its wedding rings and diamonds.
  • The companies have entered into a definitive agreement whereby LVMH will acquire Tiffany for $135 per share in cash, in a transaction with an equity value of approximately 14.7 billion euros or $16.2 billion. The deal adds Tiffany to LVMH's extensive stable of luxury brands that include Louis Vuitton, Dior and Moet & Chandon and will strengthen its position in the jewellery sector.
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Researchers Report First Recording of a Blue Whale's Heart Rate

  •  The largest heart on earth — a 400-pound blood-pumping machine — beats about 13 times a minute.
  • That's according to scientists' first recordings of the heart of a blue whale. The research team documented the rhythms thanks to a few suction cups that kept a heart rate monitor attached to a whale swimming and diving around California's Monterey Bay. 
  • This is the first heart rate recording of any wild large whale, and the biggest one to boot: Blue whales are the largest animals ever known to have lived on Earth. And the recordings might hint at a biological limit for heart size in mammals. Based on their recordings, the researchers believe blue whales' hearts might be just about as big as they come.
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Sharon Maria and Kunal Kaushik Set Meet Records

  •  Sharon Maria (Nilgiris) and Kunal Kaushik (Dadri) set new meet records in the girls' under-16 200m and boys' under-16 shot put events, respectively on the final day of the 17th Milo National inter-district junior athletics meet at Tarakarama Stadium (SV University).
  • The 15-year-old Sharon was third behind Soumita Paul (Chandranagore) and Simran Kaur (Chandigarh) at the top on the bend but was able to sustain her pace till the finish.
  • Shot putters Kunal Kaushik, Jaidev Dekka (North West Delhi) and Maurya Ganapathi (Mysuru) each went past the existing meet mark of 16.91m set by Mankirat Singh (Ropar) in Haridwar in 2014 as the trio logged throws past the 17m mark. 
  • However, Kunal Kaushik was a clear winner with a best effort of 17.91m, improving on the 16.76m that fetched him bronze in Guntur.

Saurabh, Divyansh, Elavenil to Get ISSF's Golden Target Award

  •  Three Indians have finished as No.1 in the year-end World rankings and will receive the International Shooting Sports Federation's (ISSF) 'The Golden Target' award.
  • From this year, ISSF has started the Golden Target award for the top ranked athletes. The awards will be given to top shooters from 12 categories on December 7, 2019 in Munich.
  • Divyansh Singh Panwar and young Elavenil Valarivan have topped the men's and women's 10m air rifle categories, respectively, while pistol ace Saurabh Chaudhary has ended the year as No. 1 in men's 10m air pistol event.
  • Out of the 12 Olympic categories (individual), India has maximum No. 1s, followed by China and USA (2 each). 
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J&K Leaders Refuse to Sign Release Bonds

  •  The Jammu and Kashmir administration opened channels of communication with 32 detained political prisoners of the regional parties, but put riders on their release. Meanwhile, two leaders, Jammu and Kashmir People Democratic Front's Hakeem Yaseen and Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) Mohammad Ashraf Mir, were released, indicating a move to release the leaders in a phased manner.
  • In the past 10 days, a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM)-level officer visited senior leaders of the National Conference (NC), the PDP, the Peoples Conference (PC) and the J&K Peoples Movement (J&KPM) more than three times and discussed ways and means to ensure their release.As per Mr. Sagar and Mr. Akhtar, told the government point man that such bonds were aimed at "curtailing the rightful political space of regional players, discredit the local leadership in front of the eyes of the locals and were being publicised later only to add to the political vacuum post August 5."
  • The bonds, which the leaders were being asked to sign, reads: "He/she will not make any comment or issue statement or make public speeches or participate in the public assembly related to recent event for a period of one year from the date of signature of the bond."

Jagan Launches Anti-corruption Helpline

  •  In a bid to encourage people to report corruption cases, Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy-led Andhra Pradesh government launched a dedicated call centre to receive complaints regarding corruption in the state.
  • Lauding the move, Anti-Corruption Bureau Director General, Kumar Vishwajeet, urged people to come forward with complaints and "make Andhra Pradesh a corruption-free state".
  • The Chief Minister launched a toll-free number -- 14400 -- to receive complaints related to corruption. Anyone in the state can call on this number and report about any corruption related activity in any government department.
  • The government has also taken a progressive step by roping in IIM Ahmedabad, which is going to do a study on several departments. Their procedural aspects will be taken into account and all the loopholes in the system will be closed so that corruption does not take place.

Centre Introduces Bill to Amend SPG Act in Lok Sabha

  •  Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy introduced the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, amid din in the Lok Sabha as the House erupted in protests against political developments in Maharashtra.
  • The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill said that it is "considered to amend the Act to focus on core mandate, as the security of the Prime Minister, as Head of the Government, is of paramount importance for Government, governance and national security."
  • As per the Bill, "SPG shall provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his immediate family members residing with him at his official residence."
  • The SPG Act was enacted in 1988 to provide for the constitution and regulation of the SPG as an armed force to provide proximate security to the Prime Minister and his/her immediate family members. The Act was amended in 1991, 1994, 1999 and 2003 to extend SPG cover to former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members for different periods of demitting office.
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India, Afghanistan Agree To Extradite Pakistani Terrorists

  • In a move to counter terror in the region, India and Afghanistan formalised operation of extradition treaty that will enable extradition of Pakistani terrorists operating out of Afghan territory. 
  • The extradition treaty was first signed in 2016 when President Ashraf Ghani visited India. The operationalisation of will enable India to extradite Pakistan-origin terrorists from banned groups who operate from Afghan soil. Backed by Pakistan Army and ISI, LeT and Jaish terrorists takerefuge in Afghanistan.
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Subhash Chandra Resigns as Chairman of Zee Entertainment Enterprises

  •  Media mogul Subhash Chandra resigned as chairman of his flagship company Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL), with immediate effect.
  • While accepting his resignation, the board said that this is in line with the SEBI Listing Regulations that prohibit chairperson of the board from being related to the managing director or the chief executive officer of the company.
  • The firm also said that its board has been reconstituted and three new independent directors R. Gopalan, Surendra Singh and Aparajita Jain have been appointed in lieu of two independent and one nominee directors of Essel Group, promoter of Zee Entertainment.
  • The reconstituted board consists of six independent directors and two members from the Essel Group.
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LBSIM, Delhi, to Celebrate Silver jubilee

  •  Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management (LBSIM), Delhi, will celebrate its silver jubilee in the year 2020. 
  • It has been imparting value-based education in management and technology. The institute has been nurturing and grooming business leaders with a global outlook, supported by strategic national and international partnerships. 
  • It has maintained its tryst with social realities by engaging students to develop special plans for improving the quality of life of underprivileged through a dedicated and specially designed social and rural immersion programme at the national level. 

Celebrating The Constitution

  • They reflected the idealism as well as the pragmatism of the times. The proceedings were a lesson in how to conduct debates with utmost civility. 
  •  On November 26, 1949, the Constituent Assembly ratified the Constitution of India after three years of high-quality deliberations. 
  • The process itself should make Indian citizens proud of their legacy. And so, 70 years ago to the day, India finally had a modern vision for its future.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

  •  International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is observed on November 25 every year. The 2019 theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is 'Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape'. 
  • Historically, the date is based on the date of the 1960 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic; the killings were ordered by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo (1930–1961). In 1981, activists at the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentros marked November 25 as a day to combat and raise awareness of violence against women more broadly; on December 17, 1999, the date received its official United Nations (UN) resolution.  
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American Music Awards 2019: Taylor Swift Takes Artist Of The Decade In Record-Breaking Haul

  •  Taylor Swift reflected on a year of highs and lows as she was named both artist of the year 2019 and artist of the decade at the American Music Awards. 
  • The pop superstar won six awards at this year's AMAs, taking her all-time total to 29 surpassing Michael Jackson's record of 24. 
  • The artist of the decade honour was announced well before the ceremony, but Swift also scooped the biggest prize of the night, artist of the year, from Drake, Ariana Grande, Halsey and Post Malone.
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Apex Court Allows Ravidas Temple in Tughlaqabad

  • The Supreme Court allowed the construction of a permanent temple dedicated to Guru Ravidas at Tughlaqabad in south Delhi.
  • A plea filed by Congress leader Ashok Tanwar seeking modification of the court's earlier order was allowed by a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Surya Kant.
  • As per the court's earlier order, the new structure which was proposed to be built in place of the demolished structure was to be a porta cabin made of wood. The court has now agreed to the proposal that the new structure can be a permanent one.
  • This new temple will come up at the same spot where the earlier temple demolished by DDA, was located.
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Food Samples Analysed in 2018-19 Found Unsafe

  •  Food regulator FSSAI said that over 1.06 lakh food samples were analysed last fiscal, of which 3.7 per cen were found to be unsafe and 15.8 per cent sub-standard.
  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) reported 36 per cent rise in civil cases to 2,813 and 86 per cent increase in criminal cases to 18,550.
  • FSSAI released the data on enforcement efforts by states/UTs in the country. The released data includes samples analysed, non-conforming samples, cases launched, convictions and penalties by states/UTs during the year 2018-19.

Management, IT, Engineering Studies Losing Steam

  •  Engineering, information technology and management — the most sought after professional courses seem to be losing their popularity among students in India. 
  • And the cost of school education is rising at a faster rate than that of higher education — a clear indication that private schools are tapping into the growing desire of parents of all economic classes to make early investments in their children's education. These are among the findings of a report released by the National Statistical Office (NSO).
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