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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

07 Dec 2019


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French Government Sticks by Pension Reforms

  • The French government expressed determination to plough ahead with far-reaching pension reforms in the face of the biggest strikes in years, which have brought public transport in much of the country to a standstill.
  • With Macron not yet speaking publicly about the strikes and seeking for now to rise above the fray, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe insisted that the government would not abandon a plan which would require the French to work a bit longer.
  • He pledged to work with trade unions to introduce a single fairer, points-based pension scheme for all, scrapping the 42 more advantageous plans currently enjoyed by train drivers, soldiers and a host of other workers in the process.

China Imposes Reciprocal Restrictions on U.S. Diplomats

  • China took reciprocal measures against U.S. diplomats in the country, ordering them to notify the Foreign Ministry before meeting with local officials.
  • Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that China had notified the U.S. embassy of the new measures, which were a countermeasure to Washington's decision in October to restrict Chinese diplomats.

Cash-strapped Pakistan Gets $1bn Lifeline

  • Cash-strapped Pakistan availed a $1.3-billion loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to support the country's public finances and shore up the slowing economy.
  • Pakistan is facing a serious economic crisis with short supplies of foreign currency reserves and stagnant growth in recent years.
  • The ADB's quick dispersing special policy-based loan is part of a multi-donor economic reform programme led by the IMF to stabilise Pakistan's economy after a major deterioration in its fiscal position in 2018.
  • According to ADB director general for Central and West Asia Werner Liepach, ADB is committed to providing wide-ranging support to strengthen Pakistan's economy and reduce the risk of external economic shocks.
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Saturn's Moon May Help Decode Climate Change on Earth

  • Researchers found that Saturn's largest moon Titan undergoes significant seasonal changes in its energy budget—the amount of solar energy it absorbs, and the heat it emits—an advance that may lead to new insights about climate fluctuations on the Earth.
  • It is to be noted that Titan is the only body in the solar system, other than Earth, with a significant atmosphere and liquid surface lakes.
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SEBI Asks LIC, SBI and BoB to Pare Stakes in UTI MF

  • SEBI directed three public sector financial institutions -- LIC, SBI and Bank of Baroda to dilute their stakes to below 10 per cent in UTI Asset Management Company (AMC) by December 2020.
  • In the case of non-compliance with directions, the shareholding and voting rights of these entities in UTI AMC and UTI Trustee in excess of 9.99 per cent and corporate benefits will be frozen till the time they comply with the orders.
  • Currently, LIC, SBI and BoB each have a 18.24% stake in UTI AMC. Incidentally, the earlier deadline for the three entities to bring down their holding in the mutual fund entity was March 12, 2019.

Promoters of Welspun Buy Stake in Firm

  • The family office of the promoters of Welspun Group announced the acquisition of a majority stake in One Industrial Spaces, an integrated fund, development and asset management firm focussed on the warehousing sector in India.
  • The unspecified investment was made by the promoters in their personal capacity through a family office investment vehicle.
  • One Industrial Spaces, which was founded in July 2019 by Anshul Singhal, will now be rebranded as Welspun One Logistics Parks.

E-commerce Companies to File FDI-compliance Report Annually

  • The government made it mandatory for e-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart to submit FDI policy compliance report by statutory auditor by September 30 every year, a move aimed at ensuring that they follow all the norms properly.
  • Section 15 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) deals with e-commerce entities.
  • This decision will help in ensuring compliance of FDI policy in the e-commerce sector.
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ISRO to Launch RISAT-2BR1 Surveillance Satellite

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing to launch an earth observation satellite named RISAT-2BR1 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on December 11, 2019.
  • The RISAT-2BR1 is the second satellite in the RISAT-2B series and the launch of this satellite will boost the capability of Indian security agencies to carry out the surveillance of earth from the space.
  • ISRO had launched the first satellite in the RISAT-2B series on May 22, 2019 to replace the ageing RISAT-2.
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South Asian Games

  • Shuttlers led the way as India clinched 41 medals, including 19 gold and 18 silver, on the fifth day of the 13th South Asian Games. India's tally now reads 165 medals (81 gold, 59 silver, 25 bronze).
  • The badminton stars won four gold and two silver on the day, while table tennis players took gold and silver in both men's and women's singles. Weightlifters also added to the tally with three gold and a silver.
  • Track and field athletes, who were leading the Indian charge in the past few days, fetched the maximum 12 medals but just two were gold.
  • In shot put, Tejinder Pal Singh Toor broke the Games record with an 20.03m effort, while Abha Khatuwa won the women's event.

Praggnanandhaa Youngest Indian to Cross 2,600 Rating

  • R. Praggnanandhaa crossed the Elo rating of 2,600 at the age of 14 years, 3 months and 26 days, becoming the youngest Indian ever to get past the 2,600 milestone, and the second-youngest in the world.
  • Praggnanandhaa achieved this career-high rating at the London Chess Classic. Praggnanandhaa, who is also India's second-youngest Grandmaster, broke Nihal Sarin's record of being the youngest Indian to cross 2,600 — Sarin did it at the age of 14 years and 10 months in June 2019. Sarin had beaten the record set by Parimarjan Negi in 2009. The youngest-ever player to reach the 2,600-mark in Elo is USA's John Burke, who rose to 2601 in September 2015 at the age of 14 years and 2 months.
  • Viswanathan Anand remains the top Indian player at world No. 15, with an Elo rating of 2,757. Chess's rating system is named after its creator Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor.
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Rajya Sabha Discusses Bill to Scrap Poll Spend Limit

  • The Rajya Sabha discussed a private member's Bill that proposed to amend the Representation of the People Act to remove the limit on expenditure by candidates during an election. The Bill was opposed by the BJP MPs, who said the proposed change would only work to the advantage of wealthy candidates.
  • The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was introduced by Congress MP Rajeev Gowda on the ground that the ceiling on election expenses ends up being counterproductive and encourages candidates to under-report their expenditure.
  • A candidate contesting Lok Sabha polls can spend up to Rs. 70 lakh and up to Rs. 28 lakh in an assembly election depending on the state in which he/she is contesting polls.

Booth App to Show Voter Turnout in Delhi

  • Delhi will be the first place in which the Booth App, a mobile application by the Election Commission of India, will inform voters about the turnout in their polling stations.
  • The app will provide the status of electors waiting in queue to the public, who can plan their visit to the polling station accordingly as per their convenience. The app will also provide voter turnout on a real time basis on polling day.

PMs of India and Japan to Hold Annual Summit

  • India said that the annual summit of the Prime Ministers of India and Japan will be held during December 15-17 but other details such as the venue and the agenda for the meeting were not announced.
  • The meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe will be held in Guwahati city and the two leaders will also travel to the Manipur capital Imphal to visit the Peace Museum, which commemorates on the fiercest battles of World War 2 in 1944 in which thousands of Japanese troops were killed.
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Ordnance Factories Unable to Meet Army's Ammunition Demand: CAG

  •  The ordnance factories, which supply around 80 per cent of its total production items to Indian Army, are unable to meet significant quantity of army's demand for some principal ammunition thus adversely affecting their operational preparedness, exposes Comptroller And Auditor General (CAG) in its report on (Defence Services) Ordnance Factories presented in the Parliament.
  • The reports also point that factories achieved the production targets for only 49 per cent of items. They also highlight that the exports by ordinance factories have decreased by 39 per cent in 2017-18 over 2016-17.
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Jairam Sridharan Resigns as CFO

  • Axis Bank's Jairam Sridharan resigned from the post of Chief Financial Officer of Axis Bank to pursue other career opportunities.
  • Jairam Sridharan will continue to serve as the Group Executive & Chief Financial Officer of the Bank under his notice period of three months.

K. Vijay Kumar Appointed Senior Security Advisor in MHA

  • Former advisor to the Governor of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, K. Vijay Kumar has been appointed as a senior security advisor in the Union Home Ministry headed by Amit Shah.
  • The 1975-batch officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) will advise the ministry on security related matters of Union Territory of JK and Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected States.
  • Kumar served as the Director General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Director of the National Police Academy in Hyderabad and his most talked about stint was as the chief of the Tamil Nadu police special task force that killed forest brigand Veerappan in 2004.

Girish Chandra Chaturvedi New Chairman of NSE

  • The National Stock Exchange of India Ltd, or NSE, received SEBI's approval to appoint Girish Chandra Chaturvedi, a retired IAS officer and former secretary, Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, as its chairman.
  • The chairman's post had fallen vacant after Ashok Chawla stepped down on January 11, 2019 amid allegations of his involvement in the Aircel-Maxis case.
  • He is currently on the board of ICICI Bank and a member of the government-appointed board of Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS).
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Armed Forces Flag Day

  • The Armed Forces Flag Day or the Flag Day of India is a day dedicated to India towards collection of funds from people of India for the welfare of the Indian Armed Forces personnel. It has been observed annually in India on December 7 since 1949. Over the years, it has become a tradition to commemorate this day as an honour to the soldiers, sailors and airmen of India.
  • Immediately after India achieved independence, a need arose for the government to manage the welfare of its defence personnel. On August 28, 1949, a committee set up under the defence minister decided to observe a Flag Day annually on December 7. The idea behind observing a Flag Day was to distribute small flags to the general population and in return collect donations. Flag Day gains more significance as it considers that it is the responsibility of the civilian population of India to take care of the families and dependents of the armed forces personnel who fight for the country.
  • The Flag Day is mainly observed to serve three basic purposes
           1) Rehabilitation of battle casualties
           2) Welfare of serving personnel and their families
           3) Resettlement and welfare of ex-servicemen and their families

International Civil Aviation Day

  • In 1996 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that 7th December was to be the International Civil Aviation Day.
  • The day has been celebrated by the International Civil Aviation Organization since 7th December 1994, the 50th anniversary of the signing the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The purpose of the day is to recognize the importance of aviation, especially international air travel, to the social and economic development of the world.
  • The theme for International Civil Aviation Day 2019 is "75 years of connecting the world".
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Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad Signs Agreement with Japanese Institutions

  • Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IITH) will take up more studies on earthquakes and smart cities in collaboration with Japanese Institutes and companies.
  • In a major boost to Indo-Japanese research ties, the IITH will work with four Japanese Institutes in areas including earthquake engineering, besides joint doctoral programmes.
  • IIT Hyderabad, signed the MoUs with four Institutions. The four institutions are: National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience; Shizuoka University on Doctoral Degree Sandwich Program; Saitama University on Academic Exchange of faculty, students and implementation of cooperative Research Projects and National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) to strengthen Research collaboration.
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Delhi Govt. Launches Booklet on Teachings of B. R. Ambedkar

  • To teach students about B. R. Ambedkar's contribution to the country, the Delhi government launched a booklet on his life and teachings for students of class 6-8 in government schools.
  • The booklet was launched on Ambedkar's 63rd death anniversary by CM Arvind Kejriwal.
  • The three-part booklet will explore the life and education of Ambedkar, his social reforms initiatives, contribution to women empowerment and writing the Constitution of India and his contributions to social and gender justice. The booklet was prepared by the social welfare department of the Delhi government with the help of three scholars and experts from Delhi University, Mani Sagar, Shashi Rani, and N. Sukumar.
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Statue of Unity Beats Statue of Liberty

  • In just over a year of its unveiling, the Statue of Unity surpassed the footfall at the 133-year-old Statue of Liberty in the US, with an average of over 15,000 tourists visiting the monument in Gujarat daily.
  • With 74% increase over the daily average of the first year, that is, November 1, 2018 to October 31, 2019 the daily average of 15,036 is now registered in the first month of this second year. This has further increased to 22,430 on weekend days. The Statue of Liberty of New York, United States, attracts around 10,000 visitors a day.
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