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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

17 Dec 2019


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Turkey Deploys Surveillance Drone in Northern Cyprus

  • Turkey dispatched a surveillance and reconnaissance drone to the breakaway north of ethnically divided island nation of Cyprus amid tensions over offshore oil and gas exploration.
  • The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone took off from an airbase in Dalaman, Turkey, and touched down at the airport in Gecitkala — known as Lefkoniko in Greek, on Cyprus.
  • The Turkish deployment would be limited to unarmed drones as there was "no need" for armed ones.

Qatar Hopeful of Ending Rift with Saudi Arabia

  • Qatar's Foreign Minister voiced optimism over ending a bitter rift with Saudi Arabia, and said that early talks had broken a stalemate but Doha was unwilling to alter ties with Turkey as a pre-condition.
  • Saudi Arabia along with its allies the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut all diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017.
  • The four nations accused Doha of backing radical Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and seeking closer ties with Saudi arch rival Tehran -- allegations Qatar vehemently denies.

Johnson Set to Welcome Lawmakers, Get Brexit Rolling

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is ready to give a pep talk on Monday to a new group of Conservative Party lawmakers as he begins his push to secure parliamentary approval for his Brexit deal.
  • Mr. Johnson will welcome 109 newly elected colleagues, many of them coming from parts of the country that were once strongholds of the opposition Labour Party.
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ArcelorMittal Forms JV with Nippon Steel

  • ArcelorMittal SA formed a joint venture with Nippon Steel Corp to run Essar Steel, the bankrupt Indian steel company that ArcelorMittal took over.
  • India's Supreme Court had cleared the way for ArcelorMittal to take over Essar Steel following a legal tussle that dragged through multiple courts for over two years. ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel had bid jointly for Essar, which has a capacity of 10 million tonnes of steel per year.
  • ArcelorMittal holds 60% stake in the new venture - ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India Ltd - the world's biggest steelmaker.
  • The new company aims to export up to 15 million tonnes of finished steel.
  • Essar Steel, which had debts of nearly 500 billion rupees ($7 billion), was among twelve large steel and infrastructure companies that were referred to India's bankruptcy court in 2017.

Legacy Arms Help Air India

  • At a time when Air India (AI) is striving to keep the operations going despite serious financial crunch, several of its arms are helping it stay afloat.
  • These institutions, namely its engineering division, now called Air India Engineering Services Ltd. that runs MRO services, its security department with 3,600 personnel as well as its Aviation Security Training Institute, in-house crew training institute and simulator facility are helping it to manage operations in a cost-effective manner.
  • The government has cut the financial lifeline to the loss-making national carrier which is being sold or dis-invested through a listing.

BYD Plans to Make India a Hub

  • V. Rishi Kumar BYD Co Limited, the diversified business conglomerate based in Shenzhen, China, is on expansion mode in India through the 'Make in India' drive.
  • It is in the process of stepping up its engagement in India in the entire electric mobility chain and electronics, while also seeking to transform it as a hub for the region.
  • The company is evaluating the possibility of introducing pure electric passenger vehicles and exploring business prospect for rail transit.
  • Build Your Dreams, set up in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in 1995, has made its India entry with a tie up with Olectra Greentech (Goldstone) for supply of electric buses. It is now looking at expanding its manufacturing base in Chennai, where it manufacturers electric buses.
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Europe's Cheops Telescope Will Profile Distant Planets

  • Europe launched a space telescope to study far-off worlds.
  • Called Cheops, it's a different kind of mission to previous efforts in that it won't be trying to find new planets.
  • Rather, it's going to follow up the discoveries of others, to see if it can reveal new insights - such as whether these distant objects are likely to be rocky or gas-rich.
  • The telescope rode to orbit on a Russian Soyuz rocket from French Guiana.
  • Cheops (short for CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite) is a joint endeavour of 11 member states of the European Space Agency (ESA), with Switzerland in the lead.
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DDCA Forms 3-member CAC

  • The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) appointed a three-member Cricket Advisory Committee for the 2019-20 domestic season.
  • The committee comprises of former players Robin Singh Jr, Parwinder Awana and Sumit Narwal.
  • As per the terms, the panel will be responsible for picking up various selection committees as well as the coaching staff of teams representing DDCA in domestic cricket.

Tamil Nadu to Host First-ever Women's State League

  • Tamil Nadu will host its first-ever women's state league with seven teams – Sethu FC, Sethu FA, Minerva FC, Thamizhachi FC, Football +, Wow Women and Tamil Nadu Police – participating in the tournament. The winner will qualify for the Indian Women's League (IWL) – the top-flight of women's football – next year.
  • IWL champion Sethu fielded two teams – senior side Sethu FC and its academy squad Sethu FA. Initial matches will be held between December 19 and December 31, with the League resuming later in January after the All India Inter-University tournament (Odisha) and Khelo India Games (Guwahati).
  • The league's inaugural matches will be held at the SDNB Vaishnav Women's College in the city, whereas the rest of the tournament will be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium's B Ground.

Momota Trumps Badminton Greats with Record-smashing Year

  • Kento Momota was banned from badminton for gambling in 2016. Fast forward to 2019 and the Japanese enjoyed one of the most successful years in the sport's history.
  • Momota cleaned up in men's badminton over the past 12 months, winning a record 11 titles including the World Championships, Asia Championships and All England Open.
  • No men's badminton player, not even Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei or Chinese great Lin Dan, has won as many tournaments in a season.
  • Malaysia's Lee won 10 titles in 2010.
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Appoint Info Commissioners in Three Months

  • The Supreme Court directed the Centre and state governments to appoint information commissioners within three months in the Central Information Commission (CIC) and the State Information Commissions (SICs), and said that there was a need to evolve guidelines to stop misuse of the Right to Information Act. It also directed authorities concerned to put on website the names of members of the search committee, meant for selection and appointment of CIC's information commissioners (ICs).
  • A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde took note of the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for activist Anjali Bhardwaj, that the Centre and various states have not complied with the February 15 judgment of the apex court asking them to appoint ICs in the CIC and the SICs within 1-6 months in a transparent manner.

Panel to Fast-track POCSO Cases

  • Chief Justice of India S. A. Bobde set up a two-judge committee of Justice Subhash Reddy and Justice M. R. Shah of the Supreme Court of India to monitor, supervise and make suggestions for expeditious trial in cases relating to rape and POCSO across the country.
  • The committee initially will ask for all details of all first information reports (FIRs), charge sheets and trials pending in trial courts and give a report to the Chief Justice of India.
  • The setting of the committee comes in the backdrop of a series of heinous crimes against women, including the rape and brutal murder of a 26-year-old Hyderabad veterinarian by four men last month. The suspects were killed in a police encounter.

Delhi Leads in Filling Lower Court Staff Vacancies

  • Some states, including Delhi and Tamil Nadu, have managed to narrow the gap between sanctioned strength and working strength in lower courts, although, in general, most state governments and their respective High Courts continue to drag their feet over filling up vacancies in the lower (or subordinate) judiciary, with almost one in every four posts remaining vacant in courts that account for around 17 of every 20 pending cases in the country.
  • According to data available on the national judicial data grid (NAJDG), collated by the union law ministry's department of justice (DOJ), Delhi has progressed considerably in the last two years, bringing down vacancies in the trial courts from 316 (in 2017) to 119. The sanctioned strength in Delhi is 799.
  • Tamil Nadu has reduced the vacancies from 341 in 2017 to 129; the state's sanctioned strength is 1216. Punjab, which has a sanctioned strength of 695 has also shown improvement, reducing the vacancies from 136 in 2017 to only 93 now. Odisha has done well too, bringing down the vacancies from 2017 to 60 (of 917 posts). Madhya Pradesh has filled 211 posts over the past two years but still has 517 positions vacant.
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India Being Briefed Regularly on Su-57 Program

  • Rostec officials confirmed that Indian officials have been getting a regular briefing on the progress of the fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jet program from them and are still hopeful that India will be among the first few countries who will procure Stealth Su-57E fighter jets from Russia in near foresee. Russia is keen to address issues pointed out by IAF with the aircraft as it gears up to mass manufacture the aircraft for the Russian air force.
  • Su-57 has conducted 16 flights with the second stage engine known as Item 30 which comes equipped with a fully electronic automatic control system and ensures the fighter's super-maneuverability, thrust-to-weight ratio, stealth characteristics and the ability to perform cruising flights at supersonic speed.
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LT. GN. Naravane Next Army Chief

  • Lieutenant General Manoj Mukund Naravane will take over as the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) when General Bipin Rawat's term ends on December 31, 2019. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared Naravane's appointment as Army Chief. The government, however, did not make any official announcement.
  • There has been no announcement so far on India's first Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) that was expected this month (December 2019) along with the appointment of the new Army Chief.

AirAsia Appoints Ankur Garg

  • AirAsia India appointed Ankur Garg as its Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), a role in which he will be in-charge of areas such as network and revenue management, marketing and sales, and cargo.
  • Garg had quit as the vice-president of revenue management at IndiGo.
  • Ankur Garg takes over from Mr. Sanjay Kumar, AirAsia India's Chief Operation Officer (COO). Garg will report to Sunil Bhaskaran, MD and CEO, AirAsia India.
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Pan American Aviation Day

  • Pan American Aviation Day is an annual national observance in the United States, observed on December 17 and falls on the same day as Brothers Wright Day, which is not surprising as both observances commemorate the same event. On December 17, 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright accomplished the first successful flight of a mechanically propelled heavier-than-air craft near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This event is considered to be a pivotal milestone in the development of aeronautics which led to breakthrough developments.
  • Pan American Aviation Day was declared by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was first observed in 1940 and has been proclaimed every year since then.
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Ben Stokes BBC Sports Personality of the Year

  • Ben Stokes won the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2019 award for his heroics in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 and the home Ashes series.
  • Stokes is only the fifth cricketer, and the first since Andrew Flintoff in 2005, to have received the honour since it began in 1954. The award, announced is part of BBC's annual sporting awards, and celebrates the best of British sport, with the public voting on shortlisted candidates.
  • Stokes finished ahead of the six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, who came runner-up for a second consecutive year and fourth in total, and the world champion sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, who was third. The other shortlisted athletes were the footballer Raheem Sterling, the Wales rugby captain, Alun Wyn Jones, and the world champion heptathlete, Katarina Johnson-Thompson.
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AP Passes Bills on RTC Merger, Boards for Pulses, Millets

  • The AP government tabled 18 Bills, including one each on millets board and pulses board, and absorption of RTC employees into government service, and they have been passed in the Assembly.
  • Stating the objectives of the Bill on the RTC employees, Transport Minister Perni Venkatramaiah (Nani) said that there is a general prohibition on absorption of employees working in PSUs into public service under Act 14 of 1997 and therefore in the facts and circumstances relevant to the operations of the APSRTC and the decision of the government, a separate legislation is considered expedient to bring about the implementation of the policy.
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Hiroshima Buildings to be Razed

  • Authorities in the Japanese city of Hiroshima have planned to demolish two buildings that survived the 1945 atomic bomb, but some locals want them preserved as landmarks.
  • The two buildings, built in 1913, were first used as a military clothing factory, and later as a university student accommodation, reports the BBC. They were also used as a makeshift hospital after the Second World War bombing.
  • In 2017, authorities found the structures - now publicly-owned - were highly likely to collapse in a strong earthquake. As the buildings are not in use and not open to the public, the local government decided they should be demolished by 2022. A third building at the site will be preserved, and its walls and roof will be repaired and reinforced to protect it from earthquakes.
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ABTO Opens Asia Office in Thailand

  • Association of Buddhist Tour Operators (ABTO) opened its Asian office in Pattaya, Thailand. ABTO also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) for co-operation I the field of travel and tourism, with an aim to promote Buddhist pilgrimage tourism between the two nations.
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