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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

30 Dec 2019


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China to Issue Revised Local GDP Figures under New Mechanism from 2020

  • China will revise its historical regional GDP data under a unified accounting mechanism from early next year. The Chinese economy grew at an annual pace of 6.0 per cent in the July-September quarter, the slowest growth since 1992.
  • The National Bureau of Statistics new mechanism will unify the standards and procedures for calculating national and local GDP numbers which had been calculated under different accounting methods adopted by local and national statistics authorities since 1985.
  • It said, the reform is expected to close the current discrepancy between national and regional figures, improving data quality while enhancing the credibility of the government statistics.

India May Surpass Germany to Become Fourth-largest Economy in 2026: Report

  • India is expected to overtake Germany to become fourth-largest economy in 2026 and Japan to become third largest in 2034, according to a recent report by the UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). It further said India is also set to reach a gross domestic product (GDP) of USD 5 trillion by 2026, 2 years later than the government's target.
  • "India has decisively overtaken both France and the UK to become the world's fifth-largest economy in 2019. It is expected to overtake Germany to become fourth largest in 2026 and Japan to become the third largest in 2034," the report, titled 'World Economic League Table 2020', said.
  • Japan, Germany and India will battle for third position over the next 15 years, according to the CEBR.
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Madhya Pradesh Gets its First Elephant Colony

  • Last November, elephants in herds, 38 of them, wandered into the forests of Bandhavgarh looking for food and water, like each year. A year on, they have stayed back in Madhya Pradesh for the first time over seasons and even bred two new calves, choosing not to return to the withering forests of north Chhattisgarh.
  • The herd has found plenty of space, food and water within the core are of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, and that's why it may have stayed back, believes Reserve Deputy Director Sidharth Gupta.
  • Stating that the species is migratory, he says: "... That we have two new members now indicates that the species is comfortable here."

'World's Oldest Rhino' Fausta Dies in Tanzania Aged 57

  • Fausta, an eastern black rhino, was first sighted in the Ngorongoro crater in 1965, when she was three.
  • She roamed the crater freely for more than 54 years, but health issues in her old age required her to spend her final few years receiving specialist care in a sanctuary.
  • Fausta never had calves - something conservationists in Ngorongoro suggest may have contributed to her long life.
  • By 2016, Fausta's eyesight was deteriorating and she was suffering from the lingering effects of hyena attacks.
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Panacea Biotec eyes $1  billion Hexavalent Vaccine Market

  • Panacea Biotec Ltd expects its hexavalent EasySix vaccine, containing the safer inactivated polio virus strains, to cater to a $1 billion market annually at its peak, the company's joint managing director Rajesh Jain said.
  • Panacea hopes to get the World Health Organization's (WHO's) prequalification by early 2022, Jain said in an interview.
  • Inactivated polio vaccine is considered a safer alternative to the oral polio vaccine (OPV), which has weaker live strains of the virus, and global health organizations such as WHO and GAVI (a global vaccine alliance) plan to gradually replace procurement of OPV with the inactivated variety of the vaccine.

PE/VC Investments Climb to a Record $37 Billion this Year

  • Private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) investments in India touched a record high of $37 billion on the back of large investments in the infrastructure sector, according to a report by private company data tracker Venture Intelligence.
  • With 861 deals worth $36.96 billion, 2019 beat the previous record of 2018, which had witnessed 937 deals valued at $36.14 billion, the report showed. The figure excluded private equity deals in the real estate sector.
  • Investment activity in 2018 was largely dominated by mega deals in the technology sector, specifically e-commerce, with the highlight of the year being the $16 billion acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart Inc.

Chiratae, Sequoia Lead Funding Round in GoMechanic

  • Gurugram-based vehicle service and repair startup GoMechanic has raised Rs. 105 crore in a Series-B funding led by Chiratae Ventures and Sequoia Capital with Orios Venture Partners also participating in the fundraise.
  • GoMechanic's current investors include Sequoia Capital, Orios Ventures Partners, Snapdeal founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, and angel investor Dhianu Das. It had raised Rs. 35 crore in a Series-A round led by Sequoia Capital and Orios Venture Partners in January this year.
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ISRO is Planning to Launch Satellite Aditya to Study Sun

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said tnhat ISRO is planning to launch a satellite called Aditya to study the sun. In his 'Mann ki Baat' programme of AIR, Mr Modi said, India is quite advanced in the field of astronomy and ISRO has taken path-breaking initiatives in this field.
  • The Prime Minister said that India has many powerful telescopes around the country including a giant meter-wave telescope near Pune and other powerful telescopes located in Kodaikkaanal, Udagamandala, Guru Shikhar and Hanle Ladakh.

As Robots, AI Take Over Warehousing, Amazon Workers Pushed to Adapt

  • Guess who's getting used to working with robots in their everyday lives? The very same warehouse workers once predicted to be losing their jobs to mechanical replacements .
  • But doing your job side-by-side with robots isn't easy. According to their makers, the machines should take on the most mundane and physically strenuous tasks. In reality, they're also creating new forms of stress and strain in the form of injuries and the unease of working in close quarters with mobile half-ton devices that direct themselves.
  • "They weigh a lot," Amazon worker Amanda Taillon said during the pre-Christmas rush at a company warehouse in Connecticut. Nearby, a fleet of 6-foot-tall roving robot shelves zipped around behind a chain-link fence.
  • Taillon's job is to enter a cage and tame Amazon's wheeled warehouse robots for long enough to pick up a fallen toy or relieve a traffic jam. She straps on a light-up utility belt that works like a superhero's force field, commanding the nearest robots to abruptly halt and the others to slow down or adjust their routes.

Vivo to Introduce Earthquake Warning Feature in FunTouch OS 10

  • Xiao Zhuge, Project Manager for the Vivo FunTouch OS has revealed that the team is currently working on a new weather-related feature 'earthquake warning' to the latest version of its existing FunTouch custom UI, dubbed FunTouch OS 10.
  • He also revealed that the feature is currently under development and will undergo internal testing at the company in a couple of weeks.
  • This new feature is similar to the earthquake warning feature that Xiaomi rolled out with its latest MIUI 11 custom user interface.
  • As per report, Xiaomi had said that the smartphones running MIUI 11 as well as Mi TVs could be notified "seconds to tens of seconds" before the earthquake hits the place.
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Soccer-West Ham Reappoint Moyes in Bid to Avoid Relegation Scrap

  • West Ham United have reappointed David Moyes as head coach on an 18-month deal to replace the sacked Manuel Pellegrini and help them move away from the bottom half of the table, the struggling Premier League club said.
  • Moyes, 56, returns to the Hammers for a second stint after he saved the club from the drop in the 2017-18 campaign during a six-month deal and he will face the same task with the team languishing in 17th -- a point above the relegation places.
  • The Scot's first game back in charge will be at home to fellow strugglers Bournemouth.
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NITI Aayog to Launch second Edition of Sustainable Development Goals India Index

  • NITI Aayog will launch the second edition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) India Index in New Delhi. The Index documents the progress made by India's States and Union Territories towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets.
  • NITI Aayog will also launch the Dashboard 2019-20. The SDG India Index and Dashboard track the progress of States and rank all States and Union Territories on 100 indicators drawn from Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation's National Indicator Framework, comprising 306 indicators.
  • It indicates where the country and its States and UTs currently are on SDG implementation. It also charts the distance to be travelled to reach the SDG targets.
  • The Index covers 16 out of 17 SDGs and a qualitative assessment on Goal 17.
  • This marks an improvement over the 2018 SDG Index, which covered only 13 goals.

MyGov Reaches 1 crore Registered Users

  • Central government's citizen engagement platform - MyGov has reached one crore registered users. Five years ago, @mygovindia began its journey with a vision to offer a platform for the voice and views of the people of India.
  • In a tweet, Prime Minister's Office said, MyGov has emerged as a vibrant centre for ideas and insights. Congrats on this milestone.
  • Earlier in the day, MyGov tweeted about the number of registered users. It said, as we welcome a new year & new decade - we resolve to make this platform bigger, bolder, better.
  • It also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inspiring and guiding it.
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Taliban Ruling Council Agrees to Ceasefire in Afghanistan

  • The Taliban's ruling council agreed to a brief ceasefire in Afghanistan, potentially leading to a peace deal with the United States.
  • The council has not yet decided when the ceasefire will start, officials from the militant group told The Associated Press, but it is expected to last for 10 days. The U.S. has said the only way it will reach a peace agreement with the Taliban is if there is a ceasefire. Under a peace deal, the U.S. would agree to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, AP reports; there are now about 12,000 troops in the country.
  • After the U.S. and Taliban reach an agreement, talks would then start between the Taliban and the Afghan government, with both sides mapping out the future of the country. The ceasefire must still be approved by the Taliban chief Catherine Garcia.

Indian Navy Bans Use of Smartphones, Social Media at Naval Bases, Warships

  • The Indian Navy banned navy personnel from using social media and smartphones at naval bases, dockyards and onboard warships.
  • "All social networking platforms including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other messengers from here on now will not be allowed at the naval bases and ships," said a senior Indian Navy officer.
  • The stringent step has been taken by the force after seven Navy personnel were caught leaking sensitive information to enemy intelligence agencies on social media.
  • The development comes after the Indian Navy cracked a racket where seven of its personnel were found leaking sensitive information through social media including Facebook on December 20.

Govt. Committed to Ensure that Each Paramilitary Force Jawan Spends 100 Days with his Family: Amit Shah

  • Home Minister Amit Shah said that the government is committed to ensure that each and every jawan of the para-military forces spends hundred days in a year with his family.
  • Laying the foundation stone of the Directorate-General building of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in New Delhi, the minister said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured to take care of the families of the security personnel while they guard the nation.
  • Mr Shah said, health cards will be provided to the families of the jawans and urged the state governments to provide such a facility. He lauded the contributions of the CRPF and said, it is the most powerful para-military force in the world. He also paid tributes to jawans of CRPF who sacrificed their lives in service to the nation.
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Pejavara Mutt's Chief Vishwesha Teertha Swami Dies

  • The head of the Sri Pejavara Adhokshaja Mutt, Vishwesha Teertha Swami, died in Karnataka's Udupi after battling ill health for the past few days. He was 88.
  • Doctors at the Kasturba Hospital, where he was in the intensive care unit (ICU) since he was hospitalised on December 20 after developing breathing difficulties, had said that his condition was very critical. They had also said that there was a further decline in his condition.
  • "Pejavara Mutt Seer Vishwesha Teertha Swami ji passed away at 9:30am. His mortal remains will be kept at Ajjarakadu Mahatma Gandhi Maidan for three hours, where he'll be given state honours. CM BS Yediyurappa will be coming there." Udupi legislator K. Raghupati Bhat was quoted as saying.

Veteran Political Cartoonist Vikas Sabnis Passes Away

  • Veteran Political cartoonist Vikas Sabnis passed away last night in Mumbai due to cardiac arrest. He was 69. He was unwell and undergoing treatment since last few days. His last rites will be performed in Mumbai this morning.
  • He had completed 50 years of illustrious career in 2018. Inspired by Bal Thackeray and RK Laxman, he had started his career in 1968. Since then, for over 50 years, Sabnis has worked as a staff cartoonist at various newspapers, including the Times of India and the Mid-day.
  • He made caricatures and political cartoons on various subjects and issues. These range from local to international levels.

Hemant Soren Back as Jharkhand Chief Minister

  • Mamata Banerjee, Ashok Gehlot, Tejaswi Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, Stalin, Kanimozhi among those who attended Hemant Soren's swearing-in ceremony
  • Hemant Soren, executive president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, was sworn in as the 11th Chief Minister of Jharkhand at the Morabadi Ground in Ranchi.
  • Governor Draupadi Murmu administered the oath to Mr. Soren, while three others, two MLAs from the Congress and one from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, were inducted into the Ministry.
  • The 44-year-old JMM leader took over as Chief Minister of tribal-dominated Jharkhand for the second time. He was deputy Chief Minister in the Arjun Munda Ministry in 2010 and went on to become Chief Minister in 2013.
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Maximum Age Limit for Chief of Defence Staff Put at 65, Government Amends Rules

  • The defence ministry amended rules to allow the Chief of Defence Staff to serve up to a maximum age limit of 65 years.
  • The changes have been made in the services rules of the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force for extension of retirement age of the Chief of Defence Staff to a maximum of 65 years if a service chief is appointed to the post.
  • However, the tenure of the CDS is yet to be announced.

Amitabh Bachchan Receives Dada Saheb Phalke Award

  • Amitabh Bachchan was conferred the prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke and the actor received the honour from President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The 77-year-old actor was conferred the highest honour of the film industry for his outstanding contribution to cinema. The award comprises a Golden Lotus and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh. Wife Jaya and son Abhishek Bachchan had accompanied the actor for the prestigious ceremony.
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Odisha Govt. Launches Online Platform for Issuance of Certificates

  • Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik launched the online platform for the issuance of income certificate, residence certificate, caste certificate and all miscellaneous certificates without any fees and on the basis of self-certification. Also, the system of asking for the Solvency certificate by the departments has been done away with.
  • "No Department shall ask for Solvency certificate. Instead of Solvency certificates, IT Returns, Bank Guarantee, etc for issuing licenses to storage agents, grant or renewal of excise license, quarry lease, etc, shall be asked for," said a government release.

More than 1 cr Houses Sanctioned under PM Awas Yojana (Urban)

  • Government said that more than one crore houses have been sanctioned under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
  • Briefing media in New Delhi, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Puri informed that one crore houses have already been sanctioned out of a validated demand of 1.12 crore houses in urban areas.
  • He said a total of 57 lakh houses are in various stages of construction of which, nearly 30 Lakh houses have been completed. PMAY (U) is one of the largest affordable housing programmes in the world.
  • Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Durga Shanker Mishra informed that the Mission has covered a range of social groups. This comprises of around 5.8 lakh senior citizens, 2 lakh construction workers, 1.5 lakh domestic workers, and 1.5 lakh artisans. He said empowerment of women is an inbuilt design of the scheme where the ownership of the house is in the name of female head of household or in the joint name.
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Govt. Panel Okays Animal Testing at PG Level Medical Colleges

  • The expert committee formed by Union health ministry has suggested against doing away with the practice of use of animals for experimentation at the post graduate level in medical colleges, in a notification released earlier this month.
  • The expert committee was formedto look into the feasibility of entirely doing away with animal use in laboratory experiments for training in post graduate (PG) medical education and switching over to non-animal based modules, as suggested by the ministry of environment, forest and climate change.
  • "The Board of governors regulating medical education is of the view that there are still certain areas of learning and training in medical education where animal experimentation is needed," said Dr VK Paul, chairman, board of governors for the Medical Council of India (MCI).
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All India Radio Organises National Symposium of Poets-2020

  • National Symposium of Poets - 2020 was today organized by All India Radio. This poet symposium was attended by select poets of all 22 languages recognized in the constitution. It is being held continuously every year since 1956.
  • Poets from all corners of the country gave their presentations and captivated the hearts of the people.
  • Such National symposium is organized every year and broadcast on the eve of Republic Day and at all the centers of AIR at 10:00 PM. In a special conversation with AIR News, senior litterateur Dr Chitra Mudgal said that such events unify the country.

London's Iconic First Red Phone Booth Passes into History

  • The first red phone booth installed in 1924 in Piccadilly that became a prototype for thousands across London and elsewhere was listed as a Grade II* structure, which ensures special protection measures to retain its iconic status.
  • The world has moved on since the booth was installed outside the Royal Academy. The red phone booths may be objects of curiosity and attraction for tourists in the digital age, but are as much a British icon as the Queen, Big Ben and Shakespeare.
  • The first booth was built as part of a competition for the iconic design to replace an unpopular structure introduced in 1921. It was created with timber by architect Giles Gilbert Scott, and judged as the 'most suitable for erection in busy thoroughfares of large towns'.
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Indian Railways Management Service a Result of the Inter-Department Spat on Train 18

  • The no-holds barred battle between the mechanical and the electrical engineering wings in the manufacture and approval of the 'Train 18' sets by the Integral Coach Factory (ICF) in Chennai could have been the tipping point in the tectonic move to have an unified Indian Railways Management Service (IRMS) in place of eight other services.
  • Top sources in Indian Railways indicated as much stating that Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was very much cross over the muck-racking exercise by the two wings "without any concern for the overall objective of the railways" and gave the go ahead.
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IRCTC to Launch Tejas Train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai on Jan 17

  • The second privately operated IRCTC's premium Tejas train, which will ply between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, will be launched on January 17.
  • Like in the first Tejas, which runs on the Delhi-Lucknow route, the railways will compensate passengers if the new train gets delayed.
  • First commercial run of the Tejas train will be on January 19. It will ply on Ahmedabad - Mumbai- Ahmedabad route for six days a week with Thursday as an off-day for maintenance.
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