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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 Jan 2020

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India, Finland ink MoU to enhance defence cooperation

  • India and Finland inked an MoU to enhance bilateral defence cooperation.
  • Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar and and the Finnish Defence Ministry''s Permanent Secretary, Jukka Juusti signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on co-operation in the field of production, procurement, research and development of defence-related equipment and industrial cooperation on the sidelines of Raisina Dialogue 2020.
  • Under the broad ambit of the MoU, cooperation between Finnish companies and Indian defence public sector undertakings could be explored.
  • The MoU was under discussion since the Defence Expo 2018 and has now been formalised in the run up to Defence Expo 2020, to be held in Lucknow between February 5-9.
  • In 2019, Juusti had led a delegation to the Aero India in Bengaluru and post his visit, evinced his country''s interest to participate in the ''Make in India'' vision and formalise an arrangement for defence industrial cooperation through an MoU.
  • On February 13, 2016, Finland''s Prime Minister Juha Sipila had bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India for the inauguration of the ''Make in India'' week.

Russia's Government Resigns As Putin Moves To Change The Constitution

  • In one dramatic stroke, the Russian Cabinet has been emptied.
  • The principal ministers of the Russian government, from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on down, resigned in a move designed to ease a constitutional overhaul recently proposed by President Vladimir Putin. The president accepted Medvedev's resignation and  he would appoint his longtime loyalist to the Russian Security Council.
  • Putin also nominated Mikhail Mishustin, head of the Federal Tax Service, to replace Medvedev as prime minister, according to Russia's state-run Tass news agency. The rest of the ministerial Cabinet is expected to remain until their replacements are determined.
  • The surprising mass resignation, which Medvedev announced during a meeting of the ministers in Moscow, came not long after Putin put forward a package of proposed constitutional amendments in his annual state of the nation address.

Sri Lankan President decides estate workers' daily wage to be Rs.1,000 from March 1

  • Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has decided that the minimum daily wage of estate workers will be 1000 rupees with effect from 1st March. The decision came on eve of Thai Pongal as most of the estate workers are Tamils of Indian origin. The workers have been demanding the 1000 rupee wage since past few years and held several protests during previous government. Gotabaya has promised the hike in his election manifesto.
  • The government also decided to take swift measures to develop all areas of the plantation sector including infrastructure facilities. The government has taken several initiatives such as tax exemption, fertilizer subsidy to increase the quality of this vital sector. President emphasized that these benefits should pass onto the workers. The objective of the government is to avail opportunities for the workers to enjoy the perks of the growth in manufacturing and industrial sectors. 
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ENVIRONMENT

3 new species of tiny frogs discovered in Arunachal Pradesh

  • Three new species of tiny frogs have been discovered in Arunachal Pradesh's Lower Subansiri district by scientists of Zoological Survey of India, according to a recently published journal.
  • The frogs are so small in size that one can sit on a coin.
  • The new species discovered from Talle Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) have been named as 'Liurana himalayana', 'Liurana indica' and 'Liurana minuta'.
  • The specimens of the new frog species were collected by Bikramjit Sinha, another scientist of ZSI in Itanagar during 2015-16 as part of the documentation of faunal diversity in the protected area.

Arunachal to start red-listing of orchids

  • Arunachal has become the first state in the country to initiate the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) 'red listing' at the state level after it inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the IUCN.
  • As per the MoU, the state government will collaborate with the IUCN in carrying out red-list assessment of the orchids in the state.
  • The MoU was signed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Manmohan Singh Negi and the IUCN's country representative Dr Vivek Saxena. The environment & forests department is the nodal department for executing the project.
  • The IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species is a critical indicator of the health of the world's biodiversity. A powerful tool to inform and catalyze action for biodiversity conservation and policy change, it is critical in protecting the natural resources. The project will be spread across 12 months, during which workshops on red list assessment will be conducted by experts from the IUCN.

Centre eases CRZ rules for 'Blue Flag' beaches

  • The Environment Ministry has relaxed Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules that restrict construction near beaches to help States construct infrastructure and enable them to receive 'Blue Flag' certification.
  • Last year, the Ministry selected 13 beaches in India to vie for the certificate. This is an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.
  • The earmarked beaches are — Ghoghala beach (Diu), Shivrajpur beach (Gujarat), Bhogave beach (Maharashtra), Padubidri and Kasarkod beaches (Karnataka), Kappad beach (Kerala), Kovalam beach (Tamil Nadu), Eden beach (Puducherry), Rushikonda beach (Andhra Pradesh), Miramar beach (Goa), Golden beach (Odisha), Radhanagar beach (Andaman & Nicobar Islands) and Bangaram beach (Lakshadweep).
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

WEF Survey

  • The five biggest long-term risks facing the world are environmental in nature, while the immediate risks that are expected to increase in 2020 are economic, a new survey showed.
  • Geopolitical turbulence is propelling us towards an 'unsettled' unilateral world of great power rivalries at a time when business and government leaders must focus urgently on working together to tackle shared risks.
  • For the first time in the report's 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental -- extreme weather events, human-made environmental disasters, major biodiversity loss, natural disasters, and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • In comparison, the top global risks a decade ago were dominated by threats to the global economy and financial system.
  • For the short-term, the top risks that are likely to rise in 2020 are economic confrontations, domestic political polarization, extreme heat waves, destruction of natural resource ecosystems and cyber attacks.

WEF Survey

  • The five biggest long-term risks facing the world are environmental in nature, while the immediate risks that are expected to increase in 2020 are economic, a new survey showed.
  • Geopolitical turbulence is propelling us towards an 'unsettled' unilateral world of great power rivalries at a time when business and government leaders must focus urgently on working together to tackle shared risks.
  • For the first time in the report's 10-year outlook, the top five global risks in terms of likelihood are all environmental -- extreme weather events, human-made environmental disasters, major biodiversity loss, natural disasters, and failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • In comparison, the top global risks a decade ago were dominated by threats to the global economy and financial system.
  • For the short-term, the top risks that are likely to rise in 2020 are economic confrontations, domestic political polarization, extreme heat waves, destruction of natural resource ecosystems and cyber attacks.

Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Announces $1 Billion Investment To Digitise Small, Medium Businesses

  • Amazon.com Inc chief Jeff Bezos announced USD 1 billion (over Rs 7,000 crore) investment in India to help bring small and medium businesses online and committed to exporting USD 10 billion worth of India-made goods by 2025.
  • Before this, the online retail giant had committed USD 5.5 billion investments in India - Amazon's most important market outside of the US and a key growth driver.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Fifth Science Film festival kick-starts in Goa

  • The fifth edition of Science Film Festival of India, SCI-FFI 2020, was kick-started in Goa's capital city Panaji.
  • The four-day-long festival was inaugurated by Chief Minister, Dr. Paramod Sawant.
  • The festival that will take place at the Inox Complex and Maquinez Palace in Goa, aims at instilling the knowledge of science among the youth with the help of exhibitions, masterclasses, workshops, and other activities.
  • Besides, Goa Government and Government of India, the event is being supported by Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAR). 
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Centre accepts Justice Dhingra committee report on Delhi Police's role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots

  • Central government told the Supreme Court that it has accepted Justice Dhingra committee report into the role of Delhi Police in 1984 anti-Sikh riots and that it will take action accordingly.
  • A Bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde has allowed the petitioner S Gurlad Singh Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, to file suggestions on the report submitted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT).
  • The petition has sought an inquiry into the role of 62 policemen named in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
  • The apex court had in January 2018 constituted the SIT, headed by former Delhi High Court judge Justice SN Dhingra and comprising retired IPS officer Rajdeep Singh and serving IPS officer Abhishek Dular, to supervise further probe into the 186 riots cases, in which closure reports had been filed earlier.

Budget Session of Parliament to commence on January 31

  • The Budget Session of Parliament will commence on January 31 and subject to the exigencies of government business, is likely to conclude on April 3 with a recess in between, an official communication.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in the central hall of Parliament at 11 am on January 31.
  • The President has summoned the Rajya Sabha to meet, January 31, 2020, at New Delhi.

Postal Ballot now for PwDs and super Senior Citizens too

  • Person with disabilities(PwDs) and people over 80 years of age can now cast their vote in Delhi Assembly Election through postal ballot.
  • For the first time, Delhi Metro, Northern Railway Employees and media persons covering polling can also use postal ballot facility to cast their votes.
  • Till now, voting through postal ballot was available to armed forces and those assigned in poll duties. The employee of essential service can fill the form 12(D) and submit before 19th of this month to avail the postal ballot facility. Nodal officers have been deployed for this process for essential service employees.
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DEFENCE

European powers trigger dispute mechanism

  • European powers have triggered a formal dispute mechanism over Iran's breaches of key parts of the 2015 nuclear deal - a move that could spell its end.
  • Iran has gradually lifted all limits on its production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons.
  • It has said it is entitled to do so in response to sanctions reinstated by the US when it abandoned the deal in 2018.
  • France, Germany and the UK did not accept Iran's argument.
  • The mechanism, set out in article 36 of the deal, involves the dispute being referred to a Joint Commission that will have a minimum of 15 days to resolve the issue.
  • If the complainants are still not satisfied, they can refer the matter to the UN Security Council, which could vote to reimpose any sanctions lifted under the deal.

222 squadron to be operationalised with Brahmos equipped Sukhoi-30 at AFS Thanjavur

  • The newly resurrected 222 Squadron will be operationalised with Brahmos equipped Sukhoi-30 air superiority fighter with twin-engine at Air Force Station in Thanjavur on January 20.
  • The induction ceremony of Su-30 Squadron will be inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at Thanjavoor, an official statement quoted Air Marshal Amit Tiwari, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command announcing in a press meet. 
  • The 222 Squadron, also known as 'Tigersharks' was raised at Air Force Station Ambala on 15 Sep 1969 with Sukhoi Su-7 aircraft. In July 1971, the Squadron moved to Air Force Station Halwara and took part in the 1971 war with Pakistan.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

China's Iconic Tractor Driver Dies At 95

  • China's first and oldest female tractor driver Liang Jun, whose image features on Renminbi currency notes, has died. Liang was 90.
  • She died of illness in Harbin, the capital of northeastern province Heilongjiang, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Liang was the first female tractor driver of New China. Her image was featured on the 1 yuan note of the third set of the Chinese currency Renminbi.
  • Liang was born in an impoverished family in Heilongjiang's Mingshui County in 1930. At the age of 17, she was admitted to a teacher's college. In 1948, Liang became the only female student of a training class for tractor drivers.

IPS officer AP Maheshwari takes over as new CRPF DG

  • IPS officer Anand Prakash Maheshwari took over as the new director general of the CRPF, the world's largest paramilitary force.
  • The 1984-batch IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre was appointed the new CRPF chief on January 13 after its earlier DG R R Bhatnagar retired on December 31.
  • Maheshwari took over the charge from ITBP Director General S S Deswal who was given the additional charge to head the CRPF.
  • Maheshwari was handed over the ceremonial DG baton at the CRPF headquarters at Central Government Offices (CGO) complex at Lodhi Road.
  • He will retire in February next year.
  • The new chief was also accorded a guard of honour by force personnel.
  • Maheshwari, serving as special secretary (internal security) in the Ministry of Home Affairs till now, has earlier worked in the CRPF as inspector general (IG) and deputy IG.

Alok Kansal takes over as General Manager of Western Railway

  • Alok Kansal, a senior officer of the 1983 batch of Indian Railway Service of Engineers (IRSE) took over the charge as General Manager of Western Railway, 14th January, 2020.
  • Prior to his posting as General Manager of W. Rly, Alok Kansal served as Principal Executive Director/Civil Engineering (Planning) at Railway Board.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Mega campaign on fuel conservation 'Saksham' to be launched in January 2020

  • Saksham, a people centric fuel conservation mega campaign of Petroleum Conservation Research Association (PCRA) will be launched on January, 16.
  • One month long mega campaign will be inaugurated by Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi.
  • During this campaign, PCRA along with Oil and Gas companies will carry out various activities like 'Saksham' cycle Day, cyclothons, seminars for housewives on adopting simple fuel saving measure.
  • This campaign aims to spread the message of fuel conservation and greener environment across India.
  • PCRA has been creating awareness in the public about the need for fuel conservation and adopting tips for saving fuel.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

ICC awards 2019

  • ICC Awards 2019: England all-rounder Ben Stokes won the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Player of the Year after a stunning 2019. Indian opener Rohit Sharma was awarded the ODI player of the year. Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins has been named the Test Player of the Year.
  • Here is the full list of ICC Award winners:
                 Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for Best Cricketer of the Year – Ben Stokes (England)
                 Test Cricketer of the Year – Pat Cummins (Australia)
                 ODI Cricketer of the Year – Rohit Sharma (India)
                 T20I Performance of the Year – Deepak Chahar (India, 6-7 v Bangladesh)
                 Emerging Cricketer of the Year – Marnus Labuschagne (Australia)
                 Associate Cricketer of the Year – Kyle Coetzer (Scotland)
                 Spirit of Cricket Award – Virat Kohli stopping the fans booing Steve Smith at the Oval
                 David Shepherd Trophy for Umpire of the Year – Richard Illingworth

Crossword Book Awards

  • The 17th edition of Crossword Book Awards was held in Mumbai, where Twinkle Khanna won the Popular Best Fiction Award for her novel 'Pyjamas Are Forgiving,' while Gaur Gopal Das took home the trophy for best book in the Non-fiction category for Life's Amazing Secrets: How to Find Balance and Purpose in Your Life.
  • The popular awards category for both fiction and non-fiction had heavyweight nominees like Raghuram Rajan, Shashi Tharoor, Amish Tripathi and Durjoy Dutta vying for the top prizes.
  • For his perceptive and analytical portrait of music composer AR Rahman, Krishna Trilok was handed the trophy in the Biography category for Notes of a Dream: The Authorized Biography of AR Rahman.
  • The jury award for Best Fiction went to The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay, and Shanta Gokhale won the trophy in Non-fiction category for her book One Foot on the Ground: A Life Told Through the Body.
  • Richa Jha (Author, Editor) and Sumanta Dey (Illustrator) won for their children's book MachherJhol: Fish Curry in the jury category, while Sudha Murty won for her children's book The Upside-Down King: Unusual Tales About Rama and Krishna in the popular awards category.
  • Jayasree Kalathil and N Prabhakaran bagged the best book in the Indian Language Translation category for Diary of a Malayali Madman.
  • The jury of Crossword Book Awards comprised of a twelve-member team.

Crossword Book Awards

  • The 17th edition of Crossword Book Awards was held in Mumbai, where Twinkle Khanna won the Popular Best Fiction Award for her novel 'Pyjamas Are Forgiving,' while Gaur Gopal Das took home the trophy for best book in the Non-fiction category for Life's Amazing Secrets: How to Find Balance and Purpose in Your Life.
  • The popular awards category for both fiction and non-fiction had heavyweight nominees like Raghuram Rajan, Shashi Tharoor, Amish Tripathi and Durjoy Dutta vying for the top prizes.
  • For his perceptive and analytical portrait of music composer AR Rahman, Krishna Trilok was handed the trophy in the Biography category for Notes of a Dream: The Authorized Biography of AR Rahman.
  • The jury award for Best Fiction went to The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay, and Shanta Gokhale won the trophy in Non-fiction category for her book One Foot on the Ground: A Life Told Through the Body.
  • Richa Jha (Author, Editor) and Sumanta Dey (Illustrator) won for their children's book MachherJhol: Fish Curry in the jury category, while Sudha Murty won for her children's book The Upside-Down King: Unusual Tales About Rama and Krishna in the popular awards category.
  • Jayasree Kalathil and N Prabhakaran bagged the best book in the Indian Language Translation category for Diary of a Malayali Madman.
  • The jury of Crossword Book Awards comprised of a twelve-member team.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

NHA signs MoU with ITC e-Choupal to help farmers avail Ayushman Bharat scheme

  • The National Health Authority, the apex body implementing the Centre''s flagship Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme, has signed an MoU with ITC e-Choupal to help farmers avail benefits under the programme.
  • As part of the MoU signed, ITC will conduct awareness camps through 400 Village Health Champions (VHCs) covering over 800 villages across 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on a pilot basis.
  • These VHCs will make women and adolescents aware of the programme through group meetings and door-to-door campaigns.
  • ITC e-Choupal is a network of 4 million farmers in over 35,000 villages across 10 states -- Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
  • Through this collaboration, the NHA and ITC e-Choupal will spread awareness about the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya scheme and conduct outreach and training activities.
View Month Wise

ART AND CULTURE

India constructs new buildings for five schools in Lanka's Northern Province

  • A special event was held at St Henry's College, Ilavalai in Jaffna during which new school buildings constructed with the Indian assistance in Northern Province were handed over to the people of Sri Lanka.
  • As Sri Lankan Tamils celebrate the Thai Pongal festival,  handed over new buildings for five schools it constructed in Northern Province under the people-oriented development cooperation with the Sri Lankan government.
  • At the event which coincided with the Thai Pongal festival, Northern Province Governor PSM Charles and the Deputy High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka Vinod K Jacob jointly inaugurated the new buildings.
  • Senior government officials, leaders from the region, students and teachers of the schools and local people attended the functions.

On Pongal day, traditional bull-taming event 'Jallikattu' begins in Madurai

  • After worldwide protests by the people in the state in 2017 to lift the ban against Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu is set to host the event on 15-17 January on the occasion of Pongal.
  • On the first day of Jallikattu (the bull-taming sport), held in Tamil Nadu's Pudukottai district, 13 people were injured. Four people have, reportedly, suffered major injuries.
  • A total of 453 bulls participated in the event compared to last year when 600 bulls took part in the annual sport.
  • This year, the state government had formulated stricter norms and many bulls were disqualified to avoid any accidents.
  • In Tamil Nadu, Pudukottai hosts the highest number of Jallikattu every year. In 2018, there were over 72 such events. The number has, however, gone down to 60 this year. From January 18 to 20, three Jallikatu events will be held.
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

Railways to offer content on demand by 2022

  • Train journeys could soon become a more entertaining with the Indian Railways planning to offer access to "high quality, buffer free" video content to passengers. The project, to be implemented by PSU RailTel, is expected to be rolled out fully in the next two years.
  • RailTel has selected Margo Network, a subsidiary of Zee Entertainment, as the digital entertainment service provider for providing content-on-demand (CoD) on trains and at railway stations. The multilingual content, which will be made available in both paid and unpaid formats, will include movies, shows, music and educational programs.
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