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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

27 Nov 2019

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Pakistan SC Suspends Decision to Extend Qamar Bajwa's Tenure

  •  In an unprecedented move, Pakistan's Supreme Court suspended the notification granting a three-year term extension to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The move came just ahead of Bajwa's retirement on November 29, 2019.
  • Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa after suspending the government's notification adjourned the hearing.
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 19 had approved an extension in the tenure of General Bajwa for another three years.
  • Khosa during the hearing said that only the President of Pakistan can extend the tenure of the Army Chief. He also observed that when the matter was discussed in the Cabinet, only 11 out 25 members approved the extension.

Lam Admits to Public Discontent with Her Government

  •  Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam renewed her appeals for peace in the Chinese-ruled city but failed to offer any concessions to anti-government protesters despite a resounding victory for pro-democracy parties in local elections.
  • Lam spoke a day after results showed democratic candidates secured almost 90% of 452 district council seats in Sunday's elections, which were widely seen as a barometer of the opposition to the Beijing-backed politician following months of unrest.
  • China, which has blamed foreign forces for fomenting unrest, has not directly commented on the results, and news outlets in its tightly controlled media largely avoided detailed reporting of how Hong Kongers voted.

Pakistan Opposes India's Candidacy to UNSC Membership

  •  Pakistan opposed India's candidacy to the UN Security Council's permanent and non-permanent membership, citing the Kashmir issue. Addressing the world body, Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram said that "at least one of the G4 does not in our view qualify for membership of the Security Council - permanent or non-permanent." 
  • The G4 nations comprising Brazil, Germany, India, and Japan support each other's bids for permanent seats on the Security Council.
  • Akram, without naming India, said the country was in "blatant violation of resolutions of the Security Council," referring to Kashmir issue. 

ENVIRONMENT

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Slash Emissions Now or Miss 1.5 Degree Celsius Goal, UN Warns

  • The world will miss its chance to avert climate disaster without an immediate and all-but-impossible fall in fossil fuel emissions, the UN said in its annual assessment on greenhouse gases.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme said that global emissions need to fall by 7.6 percent, each year, every year until 2030 to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.
  • The harsh reality is that emissions have risen on average 1.5 percent annually over the last decade, hitting a record 55.3 billion tonnes of CO2 or equivalent greenhouse gases in 2018 -- three years after 195 countries signed the Paris treaty on climate change.
  • The World Meterological Organization said that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations hit an all-time record in 2018.
  • The Paris deal committed nations to limit temperature rises above pre-industrial levels to "well below" 2C, and to a safer 1.5-C if at all possible.
  • Yet the UN found that even taking into account current Paris pledges, the world is on track for a 3.2C temperature rise, something scientists fear could tear at the fabric of society.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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RBI Deputy Governor Red-flags Rising Stress in Mudra Loans

  •  Reserve Bank of India deputy governor M. K. Jain raised red flags over rising non-performing assets (NPAs) in loans disbursed under the government's Mudra Loan Scheme and urged banks to monitor the repayment capacity of borrowers before disbursement.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana is a central government scheme under which small businesses can avail collateral-free working capital loan up to Rs. 10 lakh. The scheme was flagged off in 2015 by PM Modi to ease the credit flow to India's MSME sector.
  • The Mudra is a case in point while such a massive push would have lifted many beneficiaries out of poverty, there has been some concern at the growing level of non-performing assets among these borrowers. Interestingly, this is the second such warning by a senior central banker this year to banks over rising delinquencies in these loan accounts. 

CUB in Pact With Fizwizard Tech For MF Investments

  •  City Union Bank Ltd. (CUB) tied up with Finwizard Technology Pvt. Ltd. to help its customers invest in mutual funds (MFs) through its 'all-in-one' mobile application. A senior bank official said that with the new app, the bank's customers can invest in MFs through simple, guided interaction. CUB tied up with Finwizard Technology to provide the mutual fund [investment] facility which is integrated with mobile banking.
  • The new app comes with multi-lingual interactive chatbot and will be available on Google Playstore.
  • This app has important features such as optimised user interface, e-wallet, unified payments interface, conversational bot, m-passbook, set card limit and cardless withdrawals among others.

Marriott International to Open 54 Hotels in India

  • Marriott International, one of the world's largest hotel chains that hosts over a million guests per night around the globe, is betting high on India.
  • The hospitality major, which currently manages 120 hotels under 17 brands across the country, will open 54 new hotels by 2025, to add 15,000 fresh rooms to its existing bunch of 24,000 keys.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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Cartostat-3 is Most Advanced Satellite Developed in India

  •  Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K. Sivan termed Cartostat-3 the most complex and advanced satellite India has ever developed.
  • It is also the satellite with the highest-ever resolution that the ISRO has developed till date.
  • Mr. Sivan said that the 26-hour countdown for the launch of PSLV-C47, which will carry the Cartostat-3 as well as 13 other customer satellites, has brgun.
  • Cartostat-3 is mainly an earth observation satellite, which will provide various spatial, spectral and temporal data for various fields including urban planning, agriculture, water resource management, environment and disaster management.

SPORTS

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FIFA Inspection Team Arrives in India

  •  An eight-member FIFA delegation started the inspection process to determine venues for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, which will be held in India from November 2 to 21 next year.
  • Beginning with Kolkata, which hosted the under-17 men's World Cup final in 2017, the FIFA delegation will inspect Guwahati (on November 28), Bhubaneswar (Nov. 29), Ahmedabad (Nov. 30) and Navi Mumbai (Dec. 1).
  • World Cup project leader Oliver Vogt said that besides the infrastructure and training sites, we are interested in plans the different venues have for further development of women's football in the country.
  • As per Oliver Vogt, a final decision on the venues will be taken in the first quarter of 2020.

Gambhir Finally Has Stand Named after Him

  • Gautam Gambhir finally saw a stand named after him at the Feroz Shah Kotla but the felicitation became more of a sideshow with the former India opener lamenting the current mess in DDCA and even questioning president Rajat Sharma.
  • Gambhir, who played all his domestic cricket for Delhi and was also captain for a long time, rued the state of affairs in DDCA. He also questioned president Sharma for the delay in naming the North Stand after him.
  • Current India captain Virat Kohli also has a stand named after him at the Kotla, alongside greats such as Mohinder Amarnath and Bishan Singh Bedi. Virender Sehwag has a gate named after him and so has former India women's team captain Anjum Chopra.

India's Pace Battery Storms into History

  •  Holding, Garner, Marshall and Walsh, or Bumrah, Sharma, Yadav and Shami?
  • India's fast bowlers, who have rapidly changed the rules of engagement between their teams and others at home or away, bounced to a new high in 2019 by collectively averaging an astonishing 15.16 runs per wicket in eight Tests this calendar year—the lowest in the 142-year history of Test cricket.
  • This year, the leader of the Indian quartet, Jasprit Bumrah, missing five home Tests due to back injury didn't seem to matter as Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav were relentless even without him on pitches that were far from seam-friendly. The three shared 19 wickets Indian bowlers took in Kolkata in the pink-ball Test against Bangladesh last week—the first time the spinners didn't take any in a home match that saw a result. In all, the Indian pacemen took 95 wickets between them in 2019—Bumrah 14 at 13.14, Sharma 25 at 15.56, Shami 33 at 16.67 and Yadav 23 at 13.65.
  • The World No 1 team is now way ahead atop the World Test Championship table after extending their world record for consecutive series wins at home to 12. The seventh Test win in a row is also India's best, with the Kolkata Test wrapped up in 161.2 overs making it the shortest finished game in India.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Government Plans to Merge 2 UTs

  • The government introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha to merge two Union Territories -- Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli into one.
  • The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Union Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy.
  • The move comes three months after Jammu and Kashmir was divided into two UTs -- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • The merged Union Territory is likely to be named as Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and its headquarters could be Daman and Diu.
  • The country currently has nine Union Territories after the creation of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. However, with the merger of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the number of UTs will come down to eight.

Lokpal Logo and Motto Released

  •  Anti-corruption ombudsman Lokpal got its logo and motto after receiving over 6,000 entries through an open competition.
  • A total of 2,236 entries were received for logo and 4,705 for motto or slogan from people of varied age group and from different parts of the country in response to the open competition.
  • While the design of the logo was selected from among the entries, the personnel ministry said that none of the entries for motto or slogan were found suitable and it was selected by the Lokpal itself.
  • On the basis of a three-stage selection process, the design of Prashant Mishra from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh was selected for adoption as the logo of Lokpal.
  • The logo is based upon the literal meaning of Lokpal -- 'Lok' meaning people and 'pal' meaning caretaker, i.e. caretaker of people.
  • The logo symbolises how Lokpal protects and cares for the people of the country by establishing justice as per law.

Uddhav Thackeray Formally Chosen as New Maharashtra CM

  • Shiv Sena President Uddhav B. Thackeray was unanimously elected as chief of the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi', paving the way for his becoming the new Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
  • Thackeray's name was proposed by Nationalist Congress Party state President Jayant Patil and Congress state President Balasaheb Thorat at a meeting of all the parties in the 'Maha Vikas Aghadi'.
  • The fast-paced developments came barely hours after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar abruptly resigned, a day before the special session of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly was to be convened as ordered by the Supreme Court. 

DEFENCE

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HAL Bids again for Chopper Project 'Reserved' for Private Companies

  •  In a last-ditch effort to make an entry into a Rs. 21,000 crore project to manufacture naval helicopters, state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has written to the Defence Ministry requesting that its bid also be considered.
  • The mega project under the strategic partnership (SP) model had been 'reserved' for the private sector, with the navy already having shortlisted four companies that would be eligible to tie up with a foreign vendor to manufacture 111 Naval Utility Helicopters domestically.
  • While Tata, Mahindra, Adani and Bharat Forge have been identified as companies that meet the financial and technical criteria required, HAL has been rejected as the bid documents had clearly mentioned that only private sector companies are eligible. 
  • The HAL bid is likely to be strongly opposed by the navy that does not want any delays to impact the critical plan. The helicopter bid is also the pilot project under the SP model and would impact the fate of all other plans. 

Russia Hopes to Agree a New S-400 Missile Deal with Turkey

  •  According to the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheev,  Russia hopes to seal a deal to supply Turkey with more S-400 missile systems in the first half of 2020.
  • Turkey's purchase of the S-400 missiles has already drawn the ire of the United States, which has suspended Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, which it was a buyer and producer of, to punish it.
  • Washington has also warned of possible U.S. sanctions, saying the missiles are not compatible with NATO defences.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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Conference on Info Security

  •  The 10th International Conference on Applications and Techniques in Information Security, the first Indian edition was held from 22-23 November at TIFAC core, SASTRA Deemed University, Thanjavur. It was jointly organised by SASTRA and Deakin University, Australia.
  • The conference was inaugurated by Prof. V. Kamakoti, Member, National Security Advisory Board, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, IIT-Madras in the presence of Prof. Lynn Batten and Dr. Gang Li from Deakin University, Australia, Prof. A.Umamakeswari, Dean, School of Computing, SASTRA, and Prof. V.S. Shankar Sriram, Associate Dean, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, SASTRA.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Kharjan TE Receives Best Tea Garden School Award

  •  Apeejay Tea's Kharjan Tea Estate bagged the award for the Best Tea Garden School at the Shramik Kalyan Divas, 2019, held at Kotalgoorie Tea Estate Field, Mariani, Jorhat. The manager of Kharjan TE received the award presented by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
  • Shramik Kalyan Divas 2019 organised by the Labour Welfare Department in association with the Assam Labour Welfare Society in commemoration of the birth anniversary of Santosh Kr. Topno, a prominent labour leader of Assam.
  • The company's annual award ceremony, three school head teachers, and teams received the coveted Chairman's Trophy as well as a cash award for the remarkable improvement in Gunotsav, 2018 rating. 
  • The Kharjan three schools -Kharjan LP School established in 1903, Kanjikhowa LP School, established in 1949, and Diglibari LP School.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

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Transgender Persons Rights Bill Passed in RS

 The Rajya Sabha passed a bill which seeks to provide a mechanism for social, economic and educational empowerment of transgenders.
The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019, was moved for consideration and passage in Rajya Sabha by Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot on November 20, 2019.
At the time of introduction, Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan had requested for the revision of the bill, saying that it segregates transgender from other people.
The bill seeks to define the expression "transgender person", prohibit discrimination against them, confer them right to self-perceived gender identity and provide that no establishment shall discriminate against them in matters of employment, recruitment, promotion and other related issues.
It also provides for grievance redressal mechanism, establishing a National Council for Transgender Persons and providing punishment for contraventions of the provisions of the proposed legislation.
The bill was first introduced in Lok Sabha in July 2019 and was passed on August 5, 2019.

National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill Gets Nod

  •  The parliament gave its nod to a Bill which seeks to declare four National Institutes of Design in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Haryana as institutions of national importance.
  • Several amendments to the Bill moved by opposition members were defeated by voice vote.
  • The National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha by a voice vote.
  • The Rajya Sabha had cleared the Bill during the previous session. Earlier, these institutes came under the Societies Registration Act and did not have the power to issue degrees or diplomas.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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CBSE Moots New Question Paper Pattern

  •  The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) would introduce major changes in the pattern of question papers for classes 10 and 12 by 2023 to boost creative, critical and analytical thinking among students.
  • While this year, students of Class 10 will get 20% objective questions and 10% questions based on creative thinking, by 2023, question papers for classes 10 and 12 will be based on creative, innovative and critical thinking. Vocational subjects do not find takers in India.
  • There is also a need to promote proper linkages and bonding among key stakeholders in the schooling system including infrastructure, teachers, parents and students.
  • As per CBSE Secretary Anurag Tripathi, the new education policy, he said it aims at bridging the gap between vocational and main subjects.

New AIDS Infections Falling Globally

  •  According to a new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), there were 37.9 million people living with HIV in 2018 worldwide, up from 37.2 million in 2017.
  • The report also says 24.5 million infected people using antiretroviral therapy (ART) are living healthier and longer lives, indicating that there has been a drop in death rate.
  • Annual new infections, which indicate whether an epidemic is growing or ebbing, reduced to 1.7 million in 2018, down from 1.8 million the year before, according to the report.
  • Though new infections have declined by 40% worldwide since the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1997, it is critical to reach out to all, including high-risk groups, to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.
  • In India, new HIV infections declined by 27% between 2010 and 2017, the last year for which data is available. The number people living with HIV fell from 2.30 million to 2.14 million during that period despite a 1.24% annual rate of increase in the country's population that stands at 1.36 billion.

ART AND CULTURE

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Boycott of Sangai Festival to Continue

  •  Notwithstanding the hour-long talk in New Delhi on November 25 between Union Home Minister Amit Shah and the 18-member team from Manipur representing several civil organnisations, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) formed by five organisations announced that the boycott of the international Sangai festival underway in Imphal would continue.
  • The COCOMI has been quarterbacking various forms of agitations demanding protection of Manipur's integrity after signing the Naga pact. It has also announced its opposition to the Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2016, contending that the indigenous people will be swamped by outsiders once the Bill was enacted.

Sonepur Mela 2019

  •  While we are mostly attending events and fairs in big cities, parts of rural India also have some fascinating fairs, or as the locals call them, melas. The Sonepur Mela 2019 is one such fair, promising a wholly different experience to anyone who would like to see the other side of India. The festival is a mix of entertainment, animal trade, spirituality, and more, with thousands of performers and visitors coming in each day.
  • Also known as the Sonepur Cattle Fair, this is the biggest cattle fair in India and attracts visitors from across Asia. It can be traced back to the 4th century BC, to the Mauryan Empire. According to historical records, the festival was not always held here at Sonepur. It was during the rule of Aurangzeb that the venue got shifted to Sonepur.
  • Sonepur is also home to the Harihar Nath Temple, which is believed to have been built by Lord Rama himself. Then, there is also a legend that says Lord Vishnu had intervened to end a discord between a crocodile and an elephant, and this fair commemorates that event.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

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Book Offers a Peek into RS Functioning

  •  A commemorative volume on the role of Rajya Sabha, released, not only provides insights into the functioning of the Upper House, but showcases sharp comments from members on changes in the functioning of the House over the decades.
  • In the book, released during the 250th session of the House of Elders, the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, cites the British Raj to question the ruling National Democratic Alliance government's reluctance to send some bills for deeper parliamentary scrutiny. Trinamool Congress floor leader Derek O'Brien, on the other hand, takes jibes at some parties for changing their policies on a "day-to-day basis".
  • In the book, Azad recalls that, in Colonial India, the "Champaran Agrarian Bill" was introduced in then Bihar-Orissa legislative assembly, several members demanded that it should be referred to a select committee. The Bill had come in the wake of Mahatma Gandhi's Champaran Satyagraha and the British rulers requested Gandhi to review it. Later, most of Gandhi's suggestions were accepted and the Bill was enacted in 1918. "If the British government was amenable to the suggestions of the members of the Assembly to send a draft bill to a Select Committee, then why is the government of India unwilling, after more than seven decades of Independence, to subject legislative proposals to detailed scrutiny?"

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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Special Developments for Kurukshetra to Put it on World Map

  •  Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar announced that Kurukshetra will be developed as an international tourist destination. As per reports, the state government will give plots, measuring 1500 sq m to 2000 sq m, at discounted prices to states intent on building bhawans or rest houses for pilgrims coming to the ancient, pilgrimage city.
  • The Centre approved INR 9734.70 lakhs under the Krishana Circuit Phase I for developing tourism infrastructure at sites related to Mahabharata era in Kurukshetra. In addition, 12 sites have been included for approval under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme with an approximate project cost of INR 9706 lakhs.
  • The CM also added that a Bharat Mata Temple would be made in an area of five acres in Kurukshetra at a site between Jyotisar and Brahma Sarovar.
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