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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

12 Dec 2019


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China Jailed More Journalists than Any Other Country

  • A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) showed that China imprisoned at least 48 journalists in 2019, more than any other country, displacing Turkey as the most oppressive place for the profession.
  • According to the report, which the committee compiles annually, at least 250 journalists were imprisoned worldwide in 2019. The total last year (2018) was 255.
  • China's total rose by one since last year. The report noted that the number has steadily increased since President Xi Jinping consolidated political control of the country.

US Suspends Training of Saudis

  • The US suspended flight training for Saudi military personnel in light of the shooting at a Florida naval facility by a Saudi Royal Air Force lieutenant. Pentagon called the move a "safety stand-down" measure. It will affect 900 Saudi military students across the US.

Bougainville Votes to Become World's Newest Country

  • The South Pacific region of Bougainville voted overwhelmingly to become the world's newest nation by gaining independence from Papua New Guinea.
  • Bougainville Referendum Commission Chairman Bertie Ahern announced that more than 98% of valid ballots favored independence. The other option in the vote was greater autonomy from Papua New Guinea.
  • The referendum is nonbinding, and independence will need to be negotiated between leaders from Bougainville and Papua New Guinea. The final say would then go to lawmakers in the Papua New Guinea Parliament. The process of becoming a separate nation could take years to achieve.
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EU Leaders to Consider Climate Neutrality Pledge

  • European Union leaders gathered in Brussels amid a push to commit to making the 28-member bloc climate neutral by 2050.
  • Some Eastern European countries want financial guarantees before they agree to the EU cutting to zero its net amount of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • But the new head of the EU's executive body, Ursula von der Leyen, placed it at the heart of a new "Green Deal".
  • Billions of euros would be added to the EU budget to move from fossil fuels.
  • The so-called "Just Transition Mechanism" would also include funding from the European Investment Bank and would support states such as Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, which are among the EU member states most reliant on the coal industry.
  • The new head of the European Council, Charles Michel, said that he wanted EU leaders to agree on a commitment to the bloc becoming climate-neutral by 2050.
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Qatar Investment Authority to invest in Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd

  • Adani Transmission Ltd (ATL), Adani Electricity Mumbai Ltd (AEML) and a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) have signed definitive agreements for the sale of a 25.1 per cent stake in AEML to QIA and for a shareholder subordinated debt investment by QIA in AEML.
  • The total QIA investment in AEML will be about Rs. 3,200 crore. AEML is the licensee for an integrated power distribution, transmission and generation business that currently serves more than 30 lakh consumers across a license area of 400 square kilometres in Mumbai.
  • AEML`s market share of Mumbai is 87 per cent by license area, 67 per cent by consumers served and 55 per cent by electricity supplied.As part of the transaction, ATL and QIA have agreed definitive plans to ensure that over 30 per cent of the electricity supplied by AEML is sourced from solar and wind power plants by the year 2023.

Alstom to Double Manufacturing Capacity in India

  • French train set and related systems manufacturer Alstom is planning to double its manufacturing capacity in Sri City, in Andhra Pradesh, to 480 train sets per annum in near future. The company will be increasing its headcount from current 5,000 people to 8,000 by March 2023.
  • However, the company is unhappy as it is being restricted from participating in certain tenders based on conditions put forth by funding agencies, and that it is not being considered as an Indian company.

Nippon Express Gets Nod to Acquire Stake in Future Supply

  • The country's competition watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved Nippon Express's proposed acquisition of 22 per cent stake in Kishore-Biyani-led Future Supply Chain for Rs. 641 crore.
  • This is the second time in two weeks that the CCI has given its nod to a foreign investment in a Future Group company.
  • In November 2019, the CCI had approved Amazon's proposed Rs. 1,500-crore deal to acquire 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons, a Future Retail promoter entity. The transaction will give Amazon a 3.5 per cent stake in Future Retail.
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ISRO Launches Radar Imaging Satellite RISAT-2BR1

  • In a big boost to India's space-based surveillance, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Radar Imaging Satellite RISAT-2BR1 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota. This was PSLV's fiftieth mission. With RISAT-2BR1, PSLV is also carrying nine other commercial foreign satellites from countries such as the US, Italy, Japan and Israel under a commercial contract with New Space India Limited (NSIL). The 628 kg Earth observation satellite is set to be positioned at an orbit of 576km altitude.
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CSA Appoints Smith as Acting Director of Cricket

  • Former captain Graeme Smith accepted the role of Cricket South Africa's (CSA) acting director of cricket.
  • The CSA's acting CEO Jacques Faul said that Smith will remain on the post until the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2020.
  • According to Faul, Graeme is statistically the most successful Test captain in the history of the game.

Aleem Dar Set to Break Steve Bucknor's Record

  • Pakistan's Aleem Dar will surpass Steve Bucknors record for officiating in most Test matches as an umpire when the first Test match between Australia and New Zealand in Perth.
  • The 51-year-old, who took up umpiring after a decade of playing first-class cricket in Pakistan, stands in his 129th Test match as on-field umpire since his debut in Dhaka in 2003 during England's tour of Bangladesh.
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Green Signal to Tamil Nadu Civic Polls

  • The decks for elections to the local bodies in Tamil Nadu have been cleared by the Supreme Court's order to hold the December 27 and 30 polls as per the 2011 census.
  • The opposition parties in Tamil Nadu led by the DMK had petitioned the Supreme Court seeking postponement of the civic polls alleging the state Election Commission had used 1991 census data for the delimitation and other poll-related determinations like reservations in wards etc, when the 2011 census data should have been used.
  • A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde gave the nod to elections after the Tamil Nadu government confirmed using the 2011 census figures for all relevant exercises linked to the upcoming panchayat elections in the state.
  • This order would serve the ends of justice and the cause of free and fair local bodies' elections in the state.

Parl Panel: New Car Owners Must Prove Parking Space

  • In view of the increasing pressure on Delhi's roads by private vehicles, a parliamentary committee recommended that registration of such vehicles be allowed only after owners dispose of their old vehicles, and show that they have parking space.
  • The panel also suggested that insurance premiums be linked to drivers' traffic violation record, which would entail a higher premium for each offence on the roads.
  • The 31-member department-related parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, headed by Rajya Sabha member Anand Sharma submitted its report titled 'The Management of Worsening Traffic Situation in Delhi' with 107 recommendations to make the city's roads safer for commuters.

Gujarat Government Gets Clean Chit in 2002 Riots

  • The final report of the Commission of Inquiry headed by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice G. T. Nanavati, probing the Godhra train burning incident of February 2002 that left 59 'kar sevaks' dead, the subsequent communal riots that broke out in Gujarat over the following three months, and the role of the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, along with other ministers and the police, was tabled in the state assembly, and found no pre-meditation or conspiracy in the riots that left over 1,200 people dead.
  • Giving a clean chit to the current Prime Minister, the 2500-page, nine-volume report stated: "There is no evidence to show that these attacks were either inspired or instigated by any minister of the state."
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Indian Army Starts Inducting 1st Batch of Sig Sauer Assault Rifles

  • Indian Army started inducting the 1st batch of 10,000 Sig Sauer assault rifles for counter-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir. The Defence Ministry had signed a contract in February 2019 to procure 72,400 7.6mm Sig Sauer assault rifles under fast-track procedures to equip the armed forces with more capable guns.
  • The Sig Sauer assault rifles are already being used by armed forces in the US and several European countries.

Pakistan Working on Its Own Fifth Generation Stealth Fighter Jet Program

  • Pakistan is working on having its very own Fifth Generation Stealth Fighter Jet program, under the highly ambitious Project Azm that started back in 2017.
  • The aim of Pakistan is to keep up with the rapid advancements in the defense and avionics industry around the world. In the project, advanced weapon systems and MALE UAVs will be developed as well.
  • Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production's (MoDP) yearbook 2017-2018 revealed that the Aviation Research, Innovation, and Development (AvRID) Secretariat has completed the first of four cycles of the conceptual design phase.
  • The first configuration that was designed based on the challenging performance requirements of PAF will go through three more cycles within the conceptual design using higher fidelity analysis tools and codes.
  • Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan said that he does not expect the stealth jet to be functional for another decade.
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Hafiz Saeed Indicted on Terror-Funding Charges

  • A Pakistani anti-terrorism court indicted Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, and three Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) leaders on terror-financing charges.
  • The court ordered the government's prosecution team to summon witnesses to pursue the case.
  • The other three are Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Salam bin Muhammad and Muhammad Ashraf. The three are officials of the JuD, declared a front of the LeT by the United Nations and the US.

Greta Thunberg Time Person of the Year for 2019

  • Greta Thunberg was named Time magazine's Person of the Year for 2019.
  • Greta is the youngest person to be chosen by the magazine in a tradition that started in 1927.
  • Speaking at a UN climate change summit in Madrid before the announcement, she urged world leaders to stop using "creative PR" to avoid real action.
  • Last year, the teenager started an environmental strike by missing lessons most Fridays to protest outside the Swedish parliament building. It sparked a worldwide movement that became popular with the hashtag #FridaysForFuture.
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Rajya Sabha Passes the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

  • The parliament passed a bill granting citizenship to religious minorities from three Muslim-majority countries in India's neighbourhood, as the government rushed troops to the North-east to contain protesters who went on a rampage against the controversial legislation that opposition parties called divisive and unconstitutional.
  • After a seven-hour debate, the Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, or CAB, 125-99. The Lok Sabha had cleared the bill earlier. It will become law once President Ram Nath Kovind formally gives his assent to the bill.
  • The CAB seeks to amend the 1955 Citizenship Act by bestowing citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Jains who entered India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014. This was a key election promise of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014 and 2019.

LS Passes Bill to Set Up Unified Authority

  • The Lok Sabha passed a bill to set up a unified authority for regulating all financial activities in international financial services centres (IFSCs) in the country.
  • The first IFSC in India was set up at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
  • The unified authority will act as a single-window for regulating various financial activities in the IFSC.
  • All the laws of land, including the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, will apply, the unified authority which will be independent would be subject audit by the CVC and the CAG.
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Three Sanskrit Deemed Universities to Become Central

  • A bill to set up central Sanskrit universities was introduced in the Lok Sabha. The bill, moved by HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', seeks to convert three Sanskrit deemed universities presently functioning in the country into central universities.
  • The three Sanskrit deemed universities that will be converted into central universities are:
       1. Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan
       2. Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth
       3. Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth in Tirupati
  • Earlier there were no central Sanskrit universities in the country.

Second B-school to Get Triple Accreditation

  • The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore was awarded the EFMD Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) accreditation by EFMD, the globally recognised international organisation for management development. IIM Indore is now the second B-school in the nation to receive triple accreditations, after IIM Calcutta.
  • The institute claims to receive all the three prominent accreditations — Association of MBAs (AMBA, UK); The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB, USA); and EQUIS, European Union. This combination of accreditations is held by less than one per cent of business schools in the world. As of March 2019, the 'Triple Crown' was received by only 90 business schools globally.
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Tamil Community is Present in Singapore for over 2000 Years Now: Book

  • The Tamil community has been present in South East Asia and Singapore for more than 2,000 years, according to a new book which explores the lesser-known aspects of Tamil history and heritage.
  • Titled 'From Sojourners To Settlers - Tamils in Southeast Asia and Singapore', the book was launched by Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran.
  • It explores the lesser-known aspects of Tamil history and heritage in South East Asia and Singapore, examining evidence of Tamil connections with the region for more than 2,000 years.
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