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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

26 Dec 2019


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Philippines Hit by Typhoon Phanfone

  • Typhoon Phanfone pummelled the central Philippines on Christmas Day, bringing a wet, miserable and terrifying holiday to millions in the mainly Catholic nation.
  • At the height of the festive season, tens of thousands were stranded at shuttered ports or evacuation centres, while the rest of the region's population cowered in rain-soaked homes.

XUAR Muslims are Not the Target

  • China has appealed to Islamic countries not to believe in the fabricated western narrative of detention camps and religious repression in Xinjiang, saying the anti-terrorism policies in the troubled province do not target Muslims and their normal religious rights are fully protected.
  • Xu Guixiang, the deputy director of the publicity department of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region was addressing a gathering of selected journalists from Islamic countries and India, which has the largest Muslim population outside Muslim-majority countries.
  • There are no detention centres or camps in the province but only vocational training institutes where locals are taught the "national language", law and livelihood skills, aimed at deradicalisation of citizens influenced by religious extremism.
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Panchkula Firm Develops Biodegradable Shoe

  • A 100% biodegradable shoe manufactured from sugarcane and eucalyptus with 82% of the material bio-based? Banking on innovation, a Panchkula-based firm is set to launch lifestyle shoes that will be easily biodegradable as compared to conventional ones.
  • The upper and lining material will be of Tencel which will be made from the pulp of eucalyptus wood. The Tencel would be sourced from Austria. This material uses 95% less water than cotton. Also, we will use an EVA outsole with 70% sugarcane content which will be sourced from Brazil. An additive that ensures 100% biodegradation would be added to this. The company is a sister concern of Drish Shoes Ltd., which has been catering to domestic and international market for over 25 years.
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NTPC to Invest Rs. 50,000 cr. for 10 GW Solar Capacity

  • State-owned power giant NTPC is planning to add 10 GW of solar energy generation capacity by 2022, which entails an investment of around Rs. 50,000 crore, to be funded mainly by green bonds.
  • At present, the Navratna Company has installed renewable energy capacity of 920 MW, which includes mainly solar energy. It has formulated a long term plan to become a 130 GW company by 2032 with 30 percent non-fossil fuel or renewable energy capacity.
  • The plans to add 10 GW solar energy capacity assumes significance in view of India's ambitious target of having 175 GW of clean energy by 2022.

India Eyes 60% Share in Global Ship Recycling Business

  • According to Union Minister Mansukh Lal Mandaviya, with a new legislation in place, India eyes to garner at least 60 per cent of the global ship recycling business and emerge as a key destination for recycling warships and other ships.
  • As per Mandaviya, contribution from ship recycling activities to the country's GDP would reach $2.2 billion, almost double compared to the current level.
  • According to Mandaviya, Gujarat's Alang, the world's biggest shipyard, is ready to cater to projected increase in the number of ships for recycling. Currently, India recycles around 300 of the 1,000 ships which are demolished per annum globally. However, countries like Japan, Europe and the US were not sending their ships for recycling to India in the absence of ratification of a global convention. That scenario is set to change with the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019.

JSW may Go Slow on Bhushan Power Buy

  • India's second-largest private steelmaker, JSW Steel Ltd, may go slow on buying bankrupt Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd, despite the cabinet approving an ordinance to ring fence successful bidders from criminal proceedings for offences committed by previous promoters.
  • The cabinet's approval did not give too many details and, as such, JSW Steel will wait for further clarifications from the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) when the matter comes up for hearing in January 2020. The ordinance says that ongoing investigations against original promoters will continue and the new owner must attend all proceedings.
  • As per reports, the fine print is not clear on this ordinance yet. JSW will move ahead only when everything is crystal clear because the stakes involved are too high.
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Researchers Develop AI to Curb Hate Speech Online

  • As online hate speech is increasingly threatening democracy, researchers are developing artificial intelligence similar to malware filters to 'quarantine' it, offering users a way to control exposure to it without resorting to censorship.
  • They are using databases of threats and violent insults to build algorithms that can provide a score for the likelihood of an online message containing forms of hate speech. As these algorithms get refined, potential hate speech could be identified and 'quarantined'.
  • Users would receive a warning alert with a 'Hate O'Meter' – the hate speech severity score – the sender's name, and an option to view the content or delete unseen, akin to spam and malware.
  • Hate speech is a form of intentional online harm, like malware, and can therefore be handled by means of quarantining.
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AIFF Invites Clubs for Futsal Club Championship

  • The All India Football Federation (AIFF) invited clubs from the Indian Super League, I-League and Second Division League to confirm their participation in the inaugural edition of AIFF Futsal Club Championship.
  • Futsal is also seen as a complementing sport with football for player development. There could be an opportunity for the champion club of this tournament to represent India for the subsequent AFC Futsal Club Championship.
  • The AIFF is planning to start the tournament in July/August next year. The players could be from the Senior, Reserve or Under 18 teams of your Club.
  • The decision comes after the AIFF Executive Committee meeting earlier this month, which decided to introduce a Futsal Club Championship in the calendar.

Leander Paes to Retire in 2020

  • Indian tennis ace Leander Paes announced that 2020 will be his last year as a professional tennis player.
  • He will bid adieu to the sport after the next season. Leander announced that he will be picking and choosing tournaments next year to meet his fans all around the world.
  • Leander, who made his Olympic debut in 1992, will look for one final flourish at Tokyo Olympics next year. The Indian has made 7 appearances in a row at the Olympics making him the only tennis player ever to do so.
  • Paes has won eight doubles and ten mixed doubles Grand Slam titles.

Simon Harmer Extends Contract with Essex

  • Former South African off-spinner Simon Harmer signed a one-year contract extension with English county side Essex that will keep him with the club until the conclusion of the 2022 season.
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JJP Leader Resigns from Party Post

  • The Jannayak Janta Party, the alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana, the party's national vice-president and Narnaund MLA Ram Kumar Gautam announced his resignation from the post, accusing Dushyant Chautala, the Deputy Chief Minister, of holding eleven portfolios by himself and not thinking about the party MLAs.
  • Holding a press meet, Mr. Chautala was holding eleven portfolios and enjoying the "feast" all by himself without thinking about his nine other MLAs. He added that Mr. Chautala was made Deputy Chief Minister because of his MLAs, but now they were left grumbling and running around to get their works done.

Uddhav Assures Full Loan Waiver

  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray assured a complete farm loan waiver in the state.
  • Thackeray's statement came a day after the Shiv Sena- led government formally approved a loan waiver scheme under which short-term crop loan up to Rs. 2 lakh taken by farmers between April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2019, will be written off.
  • Under the scheme, short-term restructured crop loan arrears up to September 30, 2019, will also be waived.
  • They waived loans worth Rs. 2 lakh (per farmer) as immediate relief to cultivators. But they will also make sure that their entire (crop) loan is waived.

No-trust Motion against Srinagar Mayor

  • A group of independent corporators supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) moved a no-confidence motion against Srinagar Municipal Corporation mayor Junaid Azim Mattu.
  • Last week, BJP leaders were weighing options to remove Mattu and his deputy Sheikh Imran. The Congress and the People's Conference, the largest parties in the corporation, had termed the claim "day dreaming". The no-confidence motion against Mattu was moved by independent corporators from Ikrajpora, Ghulam Nabi Bhat, and seconded by three city corporators. The corporators have handed a letter of no-confidence in Mattu to the SMC secretary for initiating the process.
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Last Squadron of MiG-27 to Take Final Flight

  • The Indian Air Force's (IAF) lethal fighter aircraft MiG-27, which proved to be ace attacker during the 1999 Kargil war, is all set to be decommissioned after its last sortie from Jodhpur air base in December 2019.
  • The last sortie will be carried out by the squadron of the seven MiG-27 fighters. It will be history as no other country operates MiG-27 now.
  • The MiG-27 ground strike aircraft, which earned nickname of 'Bahadur' from pilots, has had an impeccable track record in its more than three decades of glorious service to the nation. It was procured in the 1980s from the then Soviet Union.

Indian Army's New Gadget for Dog Soldiers

  • In a bid to boost the operational capabilities of its troops, the Indian Army has developed an audio-video surveillance system integrated with a protective bulletproof jacket, which can be mounted on the Army dogs to track the enemy from a safe distance and provide information about its location and strength.
  • Once equipped with the gadget, the Army dogs can easily spy on the enemy location from close quarters and transmit information on the receiver from a safe distance up to one-km from the enemy location.
  • As per Lt Col V Kamal Raj, the army has developed a system wherein the Army dogs act as spy dogs with a camera and a transmitter fitted with the bulletproof jacket. The camera is connected to a receiver which helps in giving the location of the enemy in close operations.
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Show-cause Notice to Calcutta University

  • The Bar Council of India (BCI) has issued a show-cause notice to Calcutta University, Kolkata, after its law department was found to be flouting several rules, including one requiring it to have permanent faculty members to teach law.
  • In a related development, a two-member panel of the BCI also proposed withdrawal of Rajasthan University's power to grant affiliation to law colleges after it was found to be skirting rules and procedures to be followed in permitting institutions to teach law.

Telangana Govt. Planning to Introduce Coding in Govt. Schools

  • The Telangana government will launch a pilot programme across 33 schools in the district to introduce coding to government school students in the state.
  • The state's Education Department, the IT and Communications Department and the Telangana Information Technology Association (TITA) will carry out the week-long pilot in 33 schools in Wanaparthy district.
  • TITA members have been identified to carry out a practical pilot of this project to assess the challenges that might arise while scaling the programme across the state.
  • After an entry level training programme, school students and a teacher would be trained in Scratch programming, HTML and Python programming languages over five days.
  • This project will expose students to new skills. Introducing coding skills at the school level will inculcate problem-solving skills among students. This will also orient them to entrepreneurial possibilities. We have selected 99 students – 3 each from 33 schools – for this programme.
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