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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

04 Jan 2020


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Gotabaya Rajapaksa Seeks Constitutional and Electoral Reforms

  • In his first address to Parliament since becoming President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa sought constitutional and electoral reform, for a strong executive and legislature and sovereignty of the people.
  • The proportional representation electoral system, currently followed in Sri Lanka, allows smaller parties to be represented in the legislature with a minimum vote percentage. In a House that is numerically skewed towards the majority Sinhala-Buddhist community, politicians representing minorities have had reasonable say because of the PR-system.

World Shocked at Killing of Iranian General

  • Global powers warned that the world has become a more dangerous place and urged restraint after the US assassinated Iran's top general, although Britain and Germany also suggested that Iran shared blame for provoking the targeted killing that dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the Mideast.
  • China, Russia and France, all permanent members of the UN Security Council, took a dim view of the US airstrike near Baghdad's airport that killed Gen Qassem Soleimani.
  • But while echoing the concerns of other Security Council members about spiraling tensions, Britain and Germany broke ranks, voicing qualified understanding for the US position. German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer described the US strike as a reaction to a whole series of military provocations for which Iran bears responsibility, pointing to attacks on tankers and a Saudi oil facility, among other events.

Pakistan Tables Army Chief Tenure Amendment Bill

  • The Imran Khan government tabled the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in parliament after the two main opposition parties assured they would support it.
  • The amendment is expected to provide clarity on future extensions to the tenures of army chiefs. According to the bill, the army chief's extension will not be challengeable in any court of law in the future. It also states that the matter of an army chief's extension shall not be called into question before any court on any ground whatsoever.
  • The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) offered its unconditional support to the amendment, while the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has asked for is that "the democratic legislative process must be followed".
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A Nod to E-vehicles

  • The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will set up 100 "fast public e-charging stations with capacities of 150 kilowatt", in a bid to push energy efficient vehicles, its chairman, Dharmendra said, while presenting the council's budget for the 2020-21 financial year.

Thailand Retailers Ban Single-use Plastic Bags

  • Thailand began the year with a ban on single-use plastic bags at major stores, continuing a campaign launched by the government and retailers toward a complete ban in 2021 to reduce waste and debris in the sea.
  • Public awareness of the risk to animals and the environment from such waste was raised last year in a series of incidents where animals including a deer and a baby dugong were found dead with plastics in their digestive systems.
  • Thailand was ranked sixth among the world's top countries that dumps waste into the sea.
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Adani to Buy Stake in Krishnapatnam Port

  • Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), India's largest private sector port operator, has agreed to buy a 75% stake in Krishnapatnam Port Co. Ltd (KPCL) at an enterprise value of Rs. 13,500 crore.
  • The Krishnapatnam Port is located in southern Andhra Pradesh and is a multi-cargo facility. It handled 54 million tonnes (mt) of cargo in the year ended 31 March 2019.
  • The purchase will accelerate Adani Ports' plan to expand its cargo-handling capacity to 400 mt by 2025. The acquisition will be funded via internal accruals and existing cash balance.
  • The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and the transaction is expected to be completed within 120 days.

HDFC to Raise Up to Rs. 5,000 cr Next Week

  • India's largest mortgage lender HDFC Ltd will raise up to Rs. 5,000 crore by issuing bonds on a private placement basis to shore up its long-term capital needs. The secured redeemable non-convertible debentures will bear coupon rate of 7.50% per annum. The issue size of the bond issue is Rs. 3,000 crore with an option to retain oversubscription up to Rs. 2,000 crore. The object of the issue is to augment the long-term resources of the corporation. The proceeds of the present issue would be utilised for financing/ refinancing of the housing finance business requirements of the corporation.

Global Tensions Could Put Pressure on Oil Import Bill

  • Crude oil prices jumped more than 4%, the highest since September 2019, after a US airstrike killed a key Iranian military leader in Baghdad, fuelling concerns that escalating tensions between the Persian Gulf nation and the US may disrupt oil supplies.
  • Brent crude price rose to $69.2 per barrel, up 4.39% against the previous close of $66.3 per barrel.
  • Considering India imports more than 80% of its oil requirements, any increase in crude oil price is always a cause for concern.
  • In the current financial year, India imported 4.5 million barrels of oil per day between April and November, while its import dependency, based on consumption, has increased to 84.5% compared to 83.3% a year-ago.
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Need for Revolution in Science and Tech

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged young scientists to innovate technologies that can chart a new course for the nation's development.
  • Addressing the scientific community at the 107th Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru, PM Modi said that young Indian scientists needed to innovate, patent, produce and prosper to address the problems of the common man.
  • PM Modi said that schemes like Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and Ayushmann Bharat have received worldwide praise because technology played a major role in execution of these flagship programmes. He said a strong rural economy and prosperous Medium, Small and Micro Industries are directly linked to innovations that are being developed by young scientists.
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ICC Adds Peters Ice Cream as Sponsor of T20 World Cups

  • The International Cricket Council agreed a deal with Peters Ice Cream for the Australian ice cream company to be an official partner and supplier of the men's and women's T20 World Cups in 2020.
  • Peters will be the exclusive ice cream supplier at the two tournaments, which are both being hosted in Australia. The company owns some of Australia's best known ice cream brands, including Drumstick, Connoisseur and Maxibon. The women's World Cup takes place in February and March, and the men's tournament in October and November.

Deepak and Ravi Make it to Asian Championship

  • Deepak Punia and Ravi Kumar Dahiya once again proved their mettle as they qualified for the Senior Asian Championship to be held here from February 17-23. The trials were held at the K. D. Jadhav Wrestling Indoor Stadium.
  • Deepak qualified in the 86 kg freestyle category by defeating 2014 Commonwealth Bronze medallist Pawan Kumar.
  • Ravi also managed to qualify in the 57 kg weight category when he dominated Pankaj of Air Force defeating him with a score of 10-0.

Manav Thakkar Becomes World No.1 in U-21 Category

  • Manav Thakkar has jumped nine places to become the world no.1 in the Under-21 men's singles category in the latest International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rankings.
  • Thakkar is the first Indian to be ranked No.1 in the world in the U-21 category. He had reached the No.1 rank in the U-18 category two years ago, then becoming the first Indian to be ranked No.1 in the world in any age group in table tennis.
  • Thakkar is the fourth Indian to win a U-21 title of such stature after Harmeet Desai, G Sathiyan and Soumyajit Ghosh.
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BJP Will Not Move Back on CAA

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party will not back out in the issue of CAA even if all of the Opposition parties come together.
  • Shah said this while speaking at a rally in Jodhpur to kick start the saffron party's national campaign to reach out to people and counter "misleading" information against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
  • Shah also launched a special number and urged people to give a missed a call to show their support to CAA.

MHA Yet to Frame Rules on New Law

  • The Union home ministry is yet to frame rules to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 (CAA). The law which sparked nationwide protests was cleared by Parliament on December 11, 2019.
  • Senior ministry officials said that defining a process to establish the identity of those that have faced religious persecution is proving to be "difficult". The law fast-tracks citizenship to persecuted religious minorities, except Muslims, from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
  • The official, however, added that the ministry is not waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on various pleas against CAA. Several petitions were filed challenging the constitutional validity of the law. On December 18, the SC, while refusing to stay the implementation of CAA, agreed to examine the law's constitutional validity. The apex court is scheduled to hear the petitions on January 22. "There is no direction from the court holding back the government from framing the CAA rules.

DMK, Allies Win Rural Body Polls

  • In a closely fought contest in polls to rural civic bodies in 27 districts in Tamil Nadu, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and its allies emerged winners, relegating the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) combine to the second spot.
  • The polls, held after a gap of eight years, are the first local body elections since the demise of the towering Dravidian leaders J. Jayalalithaa and M. Karunanidhi.
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Indian Navy Equips Landing Platform Dock with Indigenous Combat Systems

  • The Indian Navy has equipped its amphibious warfare ship, INS Jalashwa, with indigenously developed combat systems.
  • New images of the warship indicate that it has been installed with the Bharat Electronics Revathi radar in place of the legacy SPS-40 air search radar.
  • The vessel has also received the locally developed Kavach naval decoy launchers, and Indian-made electro-optical (EO) fire control directors for its AK-630M gun mounts.
  • The ship's Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) turrets, which were included during its transfer from the US, have been removed.
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Rajeev Gupta Resigns

  • IT firm Birlasoft said that its Chief Financial Officer Rajeev Gupta tendered his resignation and will be relieved of his duties at the end of March.
  • The company is in the process of appointing a new CFO and the same will be communicated to the stock exchanges in due course.
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World Braille Day

  • World Braille Day is celebrated every year on January 4th because it's Louis Braille's birthday. He's the inventor of Braille. Louis was born in 1809 in France and became blind after a childhood accident. But, he quickly mastered his new way of living. When Louise was only 15 years old, he created a reading and writing system based on Charles Barbier's night writing system. We know Louise's system today as braille.
  • Braille is a tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and number, and even musical, mathematical and scientific symbols.
  • The date for the event was chosen by the United Nations General Assembly via a proclamation in November 2018. The first World Braille Day was celebrated on January 4, 2019.
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Fellowship Scheme for Theatre Artists

  • The Delhi government launched a fellowship for street performance and theatre artists at Dilli Haat in Janakpuri. The scheme, which was put in the budget two years ago, was made available for people to apply in August 2019. Applications were invited from individuals working in the fields of acting, direction, scriptwriting, dance, music and other forms of street performance.
  • An individual fellow will be provided with Rs. 5,000 per month and an additional Rs. 4,000 will be provided for group leaders of the individual groups for logistical arrangements per show. Performances will take place across the city.
  • The fellowship received around 3,000 applications, of which around 1,400 were shortlisted for interviews. Thousand fellows have been selected for the scheme. They will be divided into 100 groups, each having a maximum of 10 artists.
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Fix Pupil-teacher Ratio for All Disabled Kids

  • The state commissioner for persons with disabilities directed the Delhi government, the three municipal corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to immediately hire at least two special educators per school who specialise in various forms of physical or intellectual disabilities.
  • The move is aimed at correcting the skewed pupil-teacher ratio for children with special needs in city schools.
  • The directions were given after consulting with experts and interacting with parents of children with disabilities.
  • The commissioner has also instructed all the above mentioned bodies to maintain different pupil-teacher ratio for different disabilities. The schools should cater the needs of children with special needs as per their requirements.

China Pneumonia Outbreak

  • Chinese authorities have launched an investigation into a mysterious viral pneumonia which has infected dozens of people in the central city of Wuhan.
  • The outbreak has prompted Singapore and Hong Kong to bring in screening processes for travellers from the city.
  • It comes amid online fears the virus could be linked to Sars, or severe acute respiratory syndrome.
  • The potentially deadly, flu-like Sars virus killed more than 700 people around the world in 2002-03, after originating in China.
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Louvre's Record Numbers Fall

  • The hordes flocking to the Louvre in Paris fell to 9.6 million in 2019 as the museum tried to limit overcrowding.
  • After numbers rocketed by a quarter the previous year to a record 10.2 million, the most-visited museum in the world set out to actively discourage tourists in the peak summer months.
  • According to Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez, the real change was in June, July and August when it purposely cut visitor numbers by 600,000.
  • The Louvre is by far the most visited museum in the world, ahead of the National Museum of China in Beijing on 8.6 million visitors, and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, which attracted 7.3 million people in 2018.
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