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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

17 Jan 2020

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

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Senate Opens Trump's Impeachment Trial

  • The Senate formally opened the impeachment trial of President Trump, bracing for a grave and deeply divisive debate over his fate as senators swore to deliver impartial justice and installed Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to preside over a proceeding with little precedent.
  • In a somber ceremony that initiated only the third presidential impeachment trial in the nation's history, Chief Justice Roberts vowed to act according to the Constitution and the laws. He then administered the same, 222-year-old oath of impartiality to the senators, setting in motion the final stage of a process that has roiled Congress and could shape the outcome of the 2020 elections, along with Mr. Trump's legacy.
  • Even as the antiquated ritual unfolded in the ornate chamber, with senators signing their names one by one in an oath book near the marble Senate rostrum, new evidence was emerging about Mr. Trump's pressure campaign on Ukraine that is at the heart of the charges against him.

Taliban Proposes Brief Afghanistan Ceasefire

  • As per reports, the Taliban have offered a brief ceasefire to the US, a move which could allow the resumption of talks seeking a deal for Washington to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
  • Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence, posing it as a condition for resuming formal negotiations on an agreement that would see US troops begin to leave the country in return for security guarantees from the insurgents.
  • A senior Taliban official said that it is an offer for a ceasefire either for seven or ten days, and added that the offer was made to US negotiators in Doha.

Ukraine Probes Surveillance of Ambassador

  • Ukrainian authorities announced a probe into the possible surveillance of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch that a critic claimed to have orchestrated from the United States before President Trump dismissed her from the post, and the FBI visited the critic's home and business apparently seeking more information.
  • The statement by Ukraine's Interior Ministry and subsequent FBI action followed the disclosure of new documents related to the impeachment case against Trump. The material included exchanges between Lev Parnas, a then-associate of Trump's personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, and others about the need to oust Yovanovitch.
  • The documents — provided to the House Intelligence Committee by Parnas — include messages with Robert F. Hyde, a Connecticut Republican who is running for a seat in Congress. In those exchanges, Parnas was informed about Yovanovitch's physical location.
  • The disclosures have opened a new front in Trump's impeachment woes, while dragging Ukraine back into the spotlight six months after the controversial call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky. Up to this point, Ukrainian officials had been careful not to criticize their most powerful Western allies, but Ukraine cannot ignore such illegal activities on its territory, the Interior Ministry statement said.

ENVIRONMENT

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Oldest Solid Meteorite Material Found in Australia

  • A study proved that a meteorite that fell in Australia back in 1999 has the oldest solid meteorite material found on Earth till date.
  • The research indicates that stars are like phoenixes, after one dies, their dust and bits travel through space and eventually forms new stars, along with new planets, meteorites and satellites.
  • This study was contributed by researchers from the Field Museum, University of Chicago, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Washington University, Harvard Medical School, ETH Zurich, and the Australian National University.
  • The materials examined are called presolar grains-minerals formed before the Sun was born.

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

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Supreme Court Dismisses Telcos Plea Seeking Relief from AGR Dues

  • In a setback to telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, the Supreme Court dismissed their plea seeking a review of its earlier order asking them to pay Rs. 1.47-lakh crore in past statutory dues of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) by January 23.
  • The apex court verdict may force Vodafone-Idea to shut shop, as the company has already made huge investments and there is not much to gain from its operations, due to steep competition from Reliance Jio and Airtel.

Beijing Calls for New Solutions

  • According to China, there was a need to find new solutions to the trade deficit with India after latest statistics from Chinese customs revealed that the deficit accounted for more than 60% of bilateral trade in 2019.
  • As per an official from China's General Administration of Customs, India's trade deficit with China was $56.8 billion in 2019, adding that it was important that the two countries strengthen cooperation.
  • The trade deficit in 2018, according to the official Chinese data, was $ 57.86 billion while in 2017 it was $51.72 billion.

RBI to Buy, Sell G-Secs Worth Rs. 10,000 crore Each

  • The Reserve Bank of India will buy and sell government securities worth Rs. 10,000 crore each next week in wake of the current liquidity and market situation. The simultaneous sale and purchase will be done under Open Market Operations (OMO) next week. Eligible participants can submit their bids/offers on the Reserve Bank of India Core Banking Solution system on January 23. The result of the auctions will be announced on the same day.

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

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GSAT-30 Communication Satellite Launched Aboard Ariane Rocket

  • India's high power communication satellite GSAT-30, aimed at providing high-quality television, telecommunications and broadcasting services, was successfully launched onboard Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana.
  • The 3,357-kg satellite, which was deployed from the lower passenger position of Ariane-5 launch vehicle (VA 251) into to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), is configured on ISRO's enhanced I-3K Bus structure to provide communication services from Geostationary orbit in C and Ku bands.
  • The satellite derives its heritage from ISRO's earlier INSAT/GSAT satellite series, and is equipped with 12 C and 12 Ku band transponders.
  • As per ISRO, GSAT-30 is to serve as replacement to the aging INSAT-4A spacecraft services with enhanced coverage, adding the satellite provides Indian mainland and islands coverage in Ku-band and extended coverage in C-band covering Gulf countries, a large number of Asian countries and Australia.
  • GSAT-30 has a life span of 15 years.

SPORTS

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Sania Enters Women's Doubles Semi-finals of Hobart International

  • Sania alongside partner Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine defeated the American duo of Vania King and Christina McHale in the quarterfinals.
  • They will next meet the Slovenian-Czech pair of Tamara Zidansek and Marie Bouzkova in the last four.

Mohun Bagan and ATK Announce Merger

  • Mohun Bagan announced its merger with two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champion ATK. The RPSG Group, which owns and runs ATK FC, will acquire majority shares in Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Limited.
  • The merged club will come into existence from June 1, 2020 and will compete in the 2020-21 Indian Super League season and the other competitions organised by the All India Football Federation.
  • The new football club will have brand names of ATK and Mohun Bagan. RPSG Group will own 80 per cent of the shares, while Mohun Bagan Football Club (India) Private Limited will own the remaining 20 per cent.

Abhijeet Regains Title

  • Raising the bar, Abhijeet Gupta pulled off a clinical win over Aleksej Aleksandrov to regain the title in the Delhi International Open Grandmasters Chess tournament.
  • Winner in 2008 and 2014, Abhijeet tallied 8.5 points from 10 rounds to end the drought of an Indian champion since his last triumph in the richest prize-money event in the country. He ensured Rs. 6.50 lakh and a trophy for his efforts.
  • Abhijeet scripted a dream comeback by scoring 6.5 points from the last seven rounds, following his third-round loss to Karthik Venkataraman. Interestingly, Aleksandrov who won the title in 2013 led at the start of every round but eventually finished second. Abhijeet never led until his fourth successive victory decided the title.

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

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IUML Plea to Stay CAA Implementation

  • Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML) moved a plea in the Supreme Court to stay the operation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 which got notified on 10 January this year.
  • It has also moved a separate application to direct the Union of India to clarify as to whether the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) are linked and to further clarify as to whether a pan India NRC will be prepared and its exercise be implemented across India.
  • If the operation of the Amendment Act is not stayed, the issue will become 'fait accompli' as once the citizenship is given to a person under the legislation, it cannot be taken away.
  • Therefore since the Amendment Act is pending adjudication before this court, it would be in the interest of justice, that the operation of the Amendment Act, including such procedures under the Amendment Act for granting citizenship to illegal migrants be stayed until the matter is decided by the court.

Limit Time to Apply Under CAA: Assam

  • The Assam government requested the Union Home Ministry to impose a three-month time limit to apply under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and not keep it open ended.
  • As per a government source, since the CAA rules are yet to be framed, the Assam government asked the Centre to consider relaxing the norms and introducing a three-month period, beyond which no one could benefit under the Act.

India to Invite Imran for Shanghai Council Meet

  • There could be a fresh beginning between India and Pakistan at diplomatic level later this year when India plays host to Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India will extend invitation to all heads of state including Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan for the SCO meet.
  • The meeting is held annually at the prime minister's level and it discusses the SCO's program and multilateral economic and trade co-operation," Raveesh Kumar told mediapersons in New Delhi.
  • The SCO head of state meeting is expected to be held in the second half of the year. This is the first instance when India will be hosting the meeting of the council of heads of government of the SCO.
  • Dominated by China, the SCO has emerged as a significant grouping of emerging economies. It was founded at a summit in Shanghai in 2001. Russia, China, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the founding members.
  • India became part of the SCO as "observer" in 2005 and got full membership of the grouping in 2017.

DEFENCE

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Indian Army Conducts Biggest Airborne Exercise

  • The Indian Army conducted its biggest airborne exercise called the 'Winged Raider' comprising of more than 500 Special Forces troops in the North-Eastern theatre.
  • The exercise conducted in January had over 500 soldiers of the Special Forces parachuting from C-130 Hercules and C-17 globemaster transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force, besides Dhruv helicopters during the day and night. The exercise was preceded by a series of intense preparations involving movement of Special Forces and rallying up of transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force starting from January 6.
  • The newly inducted aerial platforms and equipment were validated with clockwork precision and seamless integration between the Indian Army and Indian Air Force in difficult terrain. Exercise Winged Raider demonstrated the operational readiness of our Paratroopers and Air Warriors to undertake airborne missions.

PERSONS IN NEWS

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Dilip Ghosh Re-elected Bengal BJP Chief

  • With an eye on the 2021 Assembly polls in West Bengal, the BJP re-elected Dilip Ghosh as president of its state unit for the second consecutive term till 2023. Being the only nominee for the post, Ghosh, the BJP MP from Kharagpur, was elected unopposed at the state committee meeting.
  • Ghosh's re-election comes days after he courted a controversy for threatening to shoot and kill protesters involved in damaging public property like in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Karnataka during the agitation against the new citizenship law.
  • The re-election of Dilip Ghosh as state BJP chief for next three years makes it clear that the party has put its faith on his leadership to contest the 2021 Assembly polls. Since his appointment as state BJP chief in 2015, Ghosh has been instrumental in expanding the organisation and is credited as for adopting a hardline approach unlike his predecessors.

DAYS AND EVENTS

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E-Summit 2k20 at IIT Hyderabad

  • The E Cell of Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (IIT-H) will organise a two-day 'E-Summit 2k20' on January 18 and 19. Touted to be one of the biggest entrepreneurship conclaves in the country, the summit focuses on promoting entrepreneurship among students who want to become entrepreneurs.
  • The summit, with the theme 'Re-envisioning India 2020', will have a series of talks and panel discussions, covering various aspects of entrepreneurship.
  • The event would have sessions on Investor's Perspective; Impact of automation on jobs; the importance of investment in research and development and how to tap global markets.
  • Over 90 startups are expected to participate in this event.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

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Mohi Selected for Saraswati Samman 19

  • Acclaimed Sindhi poet and writer Vasdev Mohi was selected for the prestigious Saraswati Samman 2019, a literary recognition given annually by the K. K. Birla Foundation. The award is for his work 'Chequebook', a collection of short stories in Sindhi, published in 2012.
  • 'Chequebook' highlights the life of a domestic helper, facing ill-treatment from her husband and hardships because of poverty.

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

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Japan Reports Case of Mystery Virus

  • Japan has confirmed a case of a mystery virus that first emerged in China and is from the same family as the deadly SARS pathogen.
  • It appears to be only the second time the novel coronavirus has been detected outside China, after the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed a case in Thailand.
  • Japan's health ministry said that a man who had visited the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the apparent epicentre of the outbreak, was hospitalised earlier this month, four days after his return to Japan.
  • The ministry confirmed that this is the first domestic discovery of a pneumonia case related to the new coronavirus.

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

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EbixCash Signs Agreement with Amadeus to Empower Travel Agents

  • EbixCash, a fully owned subsidiary of Ebix, announced a strategic travel technology partnership with Amadeus to grow its footprint across the Asia Pacific region and UAE and become a one-stop shop for travel.
  • The partnership will provide EbixCash's online websites, travel agents and corporations in Asia Pacific and UAE with greater access to the unrivalled breadth of content offered by the Amadeus Travel Platform, enabling EbixCash to better serve its customers. Built on fully open systems, the Amadeus Travel Platform harnesses artificial intelligence to bring a greater level of personalized content into one integrated platform.
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