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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

22 Dec 2019


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Chinese Public Pushes for Legalisation of Same-sex Marriage

  • Legalising same-sex marriage was among the top suggestions made by the Chinese public to lawmakers tasked with amending the civil code.
  • The public push came despite a recent crackdown in China on LGBT activists and the wider gay community, as well as censorship of content related to homosexuality in films and on social media.
  • Feedback from ordinary people was solicited in November by the commission for legislative affairs ahead of its meeting next week to discuss updates to the civil code, which mostly deals with matters relating to marriage and family.

Trump Approved Sanctions on Russia Gas Pipeline

  • President Donald Trump signed a law that will impose sanctions on any firm that helps Russia's state-owned gas company, Gazprom, finish a pipeline into the European Union.
  • The sanctions target firms building Nord Stream 2, an undersea pipeline that will allow Russia to increase gas exports to Germany.
  • The US considers the project a security risk to Europe.
  • Both Russia and the EU have strongly condemned the US sanctions.
  • The almost $11bn (£8.4bn) Nord Stream 2 project has infuriated the US, with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers opposing it.
  • The Trump administration fears the pipeline will tighten Russia's grip over Europe's energy supply and reduce its own share of the lucrative European market for American liquefied natural gas.

Cuba Names Manuel Marrero Cruz as First Prime Minister

  • Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel appointed Manuel Marrero Cruz the country's first Prime Minister in more than 40 years.
  • The post of Prime Minister was scrapped in 1976 by the then revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.
  • It was reinstated under the rules of a new constitution for the communist-run island passed earlier this year.
  • Mr. Marrero will take on some of the responsibilities that currently fall to the President.
  • The head of government will be the administrative right hand of the President of the republic.
  • However, critics say any such changes are purely cosmetic as the Cuban Communist Party and the military remain the only two real decision-making institutions on the island.
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India Proposes Names for Future Cyclones

  • Gati, Tej, Neer and Vyom are 4 of the 13 names that India has proposed to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) as names for future tropical cyclones (TC) that will originate in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
  • Earlier this month, the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) in New Delhi named the Arabian Sea cyclone heading to Somalia "Pawan", the second-last name on the final list. India's list of names had expired in June with Vayu that hit the Gujarat coast.
  • In 2004, the current panel of 64 names were divided into eight lists. Each list had the name proposed by a country arranged sequentially. Each time a cyclone forms, the RSMC designates a name from these lists. There are 13 countries, each are allowed to propose 13 names.
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No Possibility of Any Change in GST Slabs, Rates

  • Sushil Kumar Modi, Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar and Convenor of Group of Ministers on Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST) stated that the states are not in favour of raising GST rates until the revenue stabilises.
  • He was speaking at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry's (FICCI) 92nd annual convention "India: Roadmap to a $5 Trillion Economy.
  • He also dismissed rumours of a hike in GST rate and said that the media reports have been wrong.
  • As per Modi, at a time when the economy is in a slowdown, if you cannot cut the tax rate to boost consumption, do not increase the rates too. At these times you cut the duties and tax rates, and not increase them.

Can't Cut Deposit Rates Beyond Threshold: SBI

  • According to SBI Chairman Rajnish Kumar, banks cannot go beyond a threshold to bring down interest rates on deposits as India lacks social security schemes and likewise cannot lend at lower rates to corporates as the risk of default is too high.

Tata Companies in a Quandary over Re-appointing Cyrus Mistry as Director

  • Tata Sons and three of its group companies, i.e, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Industries Ltd. and Tata Teleservices Ltd. are in a quandry over the re-appointment of former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry as director on their boards, to comply with the order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal.
  • The tribunal, while suspending a part of the judgment relating to the replacement of the present executive chairman and reinstatement of Mr. Mistry as executive chairman for four weeks, including the direction to reinstate Mr. Cyrus Mistry as director of the company and directors of three Tata companies shall be complied forthwith.
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Ethiopia Launched First Satellite

  • Ethiopia's first satellite was sent into space, a landmark achievement for the ambitious country that also caps a banner year for Africa's involvement in space.
  • A Chinese Long March 4B rocket hoisted the first Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite (ETRSS-1) aloft from the Taiyuan space base in northern China.
  • The 70kg satellite was developed by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology with the help of 21 Ethiopian scientists.
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Jeremy Smashed National Record

  • Youth Olympic gold medallist weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga went on a record-breaking spree, claiming three world marks in a remarkable performance, on the way to a silver in the men's 67kg category at the 6th Qatar International Cup.
  • In a power-packed performance, the 17-year-old smashed his own Youth World and Asian record in snatch, clean and jerk and total lift with an effort of 306kg (140kg+166kg) to win the silver medal.
  • Jeremy broke 27 records in total all under his name, combining national and international marks.
  • He smashed 12 international records — three youth world, three youth Asian and six Commonwealth records — and 15 national records — five youth national, five junior national and five senior national.
  • The teenager from Mizoram started the year by winning a silver medal in the EGAT Cup, lifting 131 kg in snatch and 157 kg in clean and jerk.

Liverpool Clinched First Club World Cup

  • Roberto Firmino clinched Liverpool's first Club World Cup title, scoring in extra time to seal a 1-0 victory in the final over Flamengo to assert Europe's footballing dominance over South America.
  • Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson's defence-splitting pass picked out Sadio Mane who squared for Firmino to net in the 99th minute and become Liverpool's saviour again in the Qatari capital for the second time in three days.
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India and China to Intensify Efforts for Border Peace

  • India and China agreed to intensify efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to their border dispute and work on more confidence-building measures (CBMs) to maintain peace and tranquillity along the frontier.
  • Against the backdrop of fresh irritants such as China's recent attempt to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN Security Council, the special representatives on the border issue agreed that both sides should respect each other's sensitivities and concerns to build trust.
  • The talks between the special representatives – national security adviser Ajit Doval and Chinese state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi – in New Delhi were described by the ministry as constructive with focus on taking forward the India-China Closer Developmental Partnership as per the guidance provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping" at their second informal summit in Mamallapuram in October.
  • The special representatives exchanged views on important bilateral, regional and global issues. Wang also called on vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Assam May Push Indigenous Rights

  • Amid protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), the Assam Cabinet approved a slew of measures, including making Assamese language mandatory in all schools and a law to protect land rights of the indigenous people. In the coming Assembly session, the state government will bring in two new laws.

Maharashtra Government to Waive Off Farm Loans

  • The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government announced a loan waiver of up to Rs. 2 lakh for farmers.
  • Loans taken before September 30, 2019, will be waived off, the chief minister announced on the last day of winter session of the state legislature.
  • Opposing the move, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis alleged the Thackeray government has not kept its promise of complete loan waiver.
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Army Studies Extension of Service

  • The Indian Army is scrutinising a proposal that seeks to employ its specialised manpower for longer periods by granting soldiers from some of its select wings a service extension of 10 to 18 years — a move that could benefit more than 400,000 jawans.
  • The army is in the process of identifying cadres — ranging from the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers and Army Air Defence to Army Aviation and Army Medical Corps — where soldiers can discharge their duties and responsibilities efficiently till the ages of 50, 54 and even 58 instead of retiring at 40.
  • The proposed service extension, backed by army Chief General Bipin Rawat, is different from another scheme being implemented by the army to increase the retirement age of jawans by two years.
  • The army headquarters asked all seven commands across the country to identify arms and services where soldiers could serve longer but the initial response was not encouraging. The feedback indicated that only about 10% jawans could be eligible for the proposed extended tenure.

UK Approved £4bn US Takeover of Defence Company Cobham

  • The government approved a US private equity firm's takeover of UK defence and aerospace company Cobham.
  • Advent International made a £4bn offer to buy Cobham in July, but it was delayed when the government intervened over national security concerns.
  • The government announced its approval of the deal, which the firm's founding family said was "timed to avoid scrutiny".
  • Cobham, which employs 10,000 people, has extensive contracts with the British military and is seen as a world leader in air-to-air refuelling technology.
  • The firm, based in Wimborne, Dorset, also makes electronic warfare systems and communications for military vehicles.

US Builds a Force for Space Wars

  • The United States launched the Space Force with President Donald Trump signing into law the 2020 defence budget that will fund the newest and the sixth branch of US military, to counter increasing threats chiefly from Russia and China to American assets in space.
  • The US Space Force has been assigned a $40 billion budget and will be staffed with 16,000 personnel. It will be charged with protecting America's navigation and communications satellites from being jammed, blinded and disabled by adversaries, which also include Iran and North Korea.
  • The Space Force will be the sixth branch of US military after Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guards. The last branch, the Air Force, was created 70 years ago.
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Emanuel Ungaro: French Fashion Designer Emanuel Died

  • French fashion designer Emanuel Ungaro died in Paris aged 86.
  • Ungaro was the son of Italian immigrants who trained under Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga.
  • He founded his fashion house in the 1960s and described himself as a sensual obsessive - with a reputation for bold colours and prints.
  • Ungaro sold the label to Silicon Valley businessman Asim Abdullah in 2005.
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National Mathematics Day

  • National Mathematics Day is celebrated on 22nd December every year to mark the birth anniversary of legendary Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan and his contributions in the field of mathematics.
  • The main objective behind the celebration is to raise awareness among people about the importance of mathematics for the development of humanity. On this day, training is also provided to mathematics teachers and students through camps and highlights the development, production, and dissemination of teaching-learning materials (TLM) for Mathematics and research in related areas.
  • NASI (The National Academy of Science India) is the oldest science academy situated in Allahabad. To celebrate National Mathematics Day, NASI conducts a workshop in applications of Mathematics and Ramanujan. The workshop is attended by popular lecturers and experts in the field of mathematics from across the nation.
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Centre Launched EChO Network

  • Government of India launched EChO Network, a national program to provide a template for cross-disciplinary leadership in India. The network specifically focuses on increasing research, knowledge, and awareness of Indian ecology and the environment. It was launched in New Delhi by Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Centre. Currently, no such network is present anywhere in world, thereby, EChO Network establishes a new platform to change how science is embedded in our modern society.
  • Founding Partners of EChO Network are Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP), Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), India Climate Collaborative (ICC), RoundGlass and Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE).
  • The objective of EChO network is to bring together leaders and individuals working hard to make a positive difference for Indian ecosystem and to share knowledge and synergize their efforts under umbrella of science.
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Wipro, NASSCOM Launch Platform to skill Engineering Students

  • IT firm Wipro partnered with IT body NASSCOM to launch a skilling platform for new-age technologies like AI that will reach 10,000 students from over 20 engineering colleges in India. The platform 'Future Skills' will bridge the industry-academia skill gap and help students keep pace with emerging technologies.
  • The initiative is a part of Wipro's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, TalentNext which aims to enhance the quality of engineering education by preparing faculty and academic leaders to train students.
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Banksy Unveils Dark Nativity Scene

  • A manger scene juxtaposed against concrete blocks seemingly pierced by a mortar shell: with Christmas looming, the latest Bethlehem offering by secretive artist Banksy appeared in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
  • Dubbed the Scar of Bethlehem, the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph are backlit through damaged concrete, chiseled pockmarks exploding out from a gaping hole in four directions to approximate the Christmas Star.
  • The work is installed at Banksy's Walled-Off Hotel, where all rooms overlook a concrete section of the barrier built by Israel to cut off the occupied West Bank from Israeli territory.
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