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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

18 Jan 2020


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Ukraine PM Offers Resignation

  • Ukraine's Prime Minister Oleksiy Goncharuk offered his resignation after audio was leaked of him reportedly criticising President Volodomyr Zelensky's understanding of the economy.
  • As per Oleksiy Goncharuk the audio artificially created an impression that my team and I do not respect the president.
  • The alleged recordings came from an informal December, 2019 meeting between ministers and senior officials from the National Bank.

Not Ready for Peace with India without Resolving Kashmir Issue

  • Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that Pakistan is not prepared to pay any price for peace with India and certainly not without resolving the Kashmir issue in a just manner.
  • Addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think-tank, Qureshi reiterated Pakistan's demand that US President Donald Trump should mediate to resolve the Kashmir issue.
  • Ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories in August 2019, evoking strong reactions from Islamabad.
  • Pakistan has been trying to rally international support against India on the issue.

Phone Scandal Rocks Sri Lanka's Opposition Party

  • Sri Lankan authorities have arrested a former minister who allegedly recorded 100,000 phone calls, the sometimes lewd and compromising contents of which were leaked on social media.
  • In what has become a major scandal, Ranjan Ramanayake is heard discussing court cases with judges, police, politicians and local celebrities in some of the recordings.
  • Police, who seized hard drives from Ramanayake's home, said that they were investigating whether the recordings had been used for blackmail or other criminal activity.
  • The opposition lawmaker who was remanded in custody earlier this week, said that he is being targeted for speaking out against corruption.
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Alphabet 4th US Company to Hit $1 Trillion Mark

  • Sundar Pichai-led Alphabet, Google's parent company, joined the elitist club of US companies with $1 trillion valuation which includes Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.
  • The iPhone maker was the first US company to hit the $1 trillion threshold in 2018.
  • Alphabet founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin announced plans to step down in December 2019, elevating Pichai as both Alphabet and Google CEO.

GM to Sell Talegaon Plant to Great Wall Motors

  • General Motors agreed to sell its Talegaon manufacturing facility to Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors (GWM). This signals the end of GM's manufacturing operations in the country. The acquisition is part of the Chinese company's plans to expand its operations as it faces slowdown in the domestic market.
  • Under a binding term sheet signed, the GM India legal entity, which includes the Talegaon facility, will be transferred to GWM.
  • GWM Global Strategy Vice-President Liu Xiangshang said that the transaction would underpin the company's plan to enter and invest in India.

Higher GST Mop-up Target Set

  • Enforcement actions have multiplied and pressure has mounted on revenue officers to augment GST collections in the remaining period of the fiscal.
  • Directing field officers to go after fraudsters and non-filers using data analytics, the Revenue Department has fixed the GST target for January and February 2020 at Rs. 1.15 lakh crore each while the March collection is to be Rs. 1.25 lakh crore.
  • About 40,000 companies had been red-flagged for availing excess or fraudulent ITC (input tax credit) and other tax-related wrongful issues, through data analytics.
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SpaceX to Practise Emergency Crew Capsule Escape

  • America aims to take another step towards being able to send its own astronauts into orbit again.
  • California's SpaceX company will practise what to do in the event that one of its rockets carrying a human crew fails shortly after lift-off.
  • If the test is completed successfully, it should clear the way for regular astronaut launches later this year.
  • The US has not launched from its own soil since the retirement of the space shuttles nine years ago.
  • It has been riding the Russian Soyuz system instead.
  • The US space agency (Nasa) has contracted both SpaceX and the aerospace giant Boeing to come up with home-grown alternatives.
  • SpaceX - with its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule - is now in the final stages of development.
  • The in-flight abort manoeuvre is really the last major obstacle the firm faces before receiving the full certification it needs to begin operational astronaut taxi services.
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ICC U19 World Cup

  • Afghanistan's Shafiqullah Ghafari ran through hosts South Africa's batting line-up in the opening match of the ICC U19 World Cup 2020 at Kimberley.
  • Shafiqullah Ghafari returned with stunning figures of 6 for 15 as South Africa were bowled out for a paltry 129 after opting to bat first in the tournament opener.

Rohit Sharma Breaks Hashim Amla World Record

  • Rohit Sharma became fastest to reach 7000 ODI runs as an opener in the 2nd ODI against Australia at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot. Rohit, who was dismissed for 42 off 44 balls, went past South African's Hashim. Rohit took 137 innings to reach the milestone while Amla had taken 147 innings.
  • Rohit also became the fourth Indian opener ever to complete 7000 runs in ODIs. The three other openers to reach this milestone were Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag.

Sania-Kichenok Pair Enters Hobart International final

  • Sania Mirza extended her dream run on her return into the professional circuit after two years, as she made the doubles final in partnership with Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine, beating Marie Bouzkova and Tamara Zidansek 7-6(3), 6-2 in the $275,000 WTA women's tennis tournament in Hobart, Australia.
  • In the final, Sania and Nadiia will play the second seeded Chinese pair of Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang.
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BJP Names 57 of 70 Candidates for Delhi Polls

  • The BJP announced the names of 57 candidates for the Delhi assembly elections that will take place on February 8, 2020.
  • Out of the 57 names, 11 are from SC community, while four are women. The AAP has already announced the names for all the 70 seats.
  • The BJP, however, did not name its candidate against AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

CAT Quashes Appointment of Dinkar Gupta as Punjab Police Chief

  • The central administrative tribunal (CAT) quashed the appointment of Dinkar Gupta as the Punjab Director General of Police (DGP).
  • The CAT directed the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and empanelment committee to prepare a list of three officers strictly in accordance with the Supreme Court judgment in Prakash Singh's case and complete the exercise.
  • A 1987-batch IPS officer, Gupta succeeded Suresh Arora as the Punjab DGP in February 2019, superseding five senior officers.

Merger Plan of RSTV and LSTV in Final Stages

  • The merger of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha Television is in its final stages, with the six-member Committee expected to submit its final report in two weeks time, i.e. by Febrauary. There has been overwhelming demand that live transmission of the proceedings of the two houses should not be disrupted.
  • The Committee was constituted on November 7, 2019 and consists of Prasar Bharati Chairman Surya Prakash; Additional Secretary to the RS Secretariat A. Rao; the Lok Sabha Secretariat's Ganpati Bhatt; Financial Advisor to RS TV Shikha Darbari; and CEOs of RS TV and LS TV, Manoj Kumar Pandey and Aashish Joshi, respectively. The mandate laid down for the Committee was "to work out the modalities and prepare the guidelines for pooling resources, manpower and technology for the merger of the two channels".
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HAL Has Designs on a Full LCA for Navy

  • After playing a prominent supporting role in the Light Combat Aircraft naval prototype's tricky landing and take-off debuts from a Navy ship, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd eyes the prospect of fully designing and developing a twin-engine fighter plane for the Navy if or when an occasion comes up.
  • Asked what the successful twin acts of naval protytpe NP2 mean for its manufacturer HAL, company Chairman and Managing Director R. Madhavan said that the recent ship-based trials will, of course, not translate to business from the Navy unless a twin-engined fighter project formalises from the Force.

L&T Delivers over Half of K9 Vajra-T SPHs to Indian Army Ahead of Schedule

  • India's private-sector defence contractor Larsen & Toubro (L&T) delivered ahead of schedule more than half of the 100 K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52 cal tracked self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) ordered by the Indian Army (IA).
  • The company handed over the 51st Vajra-T, which is a variant of the Hanwha Defense K9 Thunder SPH, to Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at L&T's Armoured System Complex (ASC) facility in the western coastal town of Hazira in the state of Gujarat.
  • L&T claimed that the SPH, like the 50 howitzers before it, was delivered to the IA before the stipulated schedule in keeping with the INR43.66 billion (USD615.70 million) contract awarded by India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) in mid-2017. The contract requires L&T to complete delivery of all 100 K9 Vajra-Ts to the IA by the end of 2020.
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Nripendra Misra New Chairperson of Nehru Memorial

  • Former principal secretary to the Prime Minister, Nripendra Misra, has been appointed chairperson of the executive council of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML).
  • According to the order, the Executive Council (EC) of the NMML has been reconstituted and it will be now chaired by Misra.
  • Misra is a retired IAS officer of the 1967 batch. Before serving as the principal secretary to the PM, Misra worked in several top positions including as the chairperson of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
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Chennai Book Fair

  • Something will never go out of style. Although digital media has disrupted the publishing industry, physical books never seem to go out of fashion even in this age of e-books and e-commerce revolution.
  • The thousands of footfalls everyday at the 43rd Chennai Book Fair is a testimony to this growing trend.
  • With about 800 stalls and 15 lakh titles, the Chennai Book Fair is touted to be one of Asia's largest retail book fair with over two crore books on wide-ranging subjects on display under a single roof.
  • The 13-day book fair will go on till January 21, 2020.
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Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu National Award to Prof. M. S. Swaminathan

  • Agricultural Scientist Prof. M. S. Swaminathan was awarded the "Muppavarapu Venenkaiah Naidu" National award. The award was also presented to Mr. Muniratnam. Mr. Muniratnam was the first person to receive the award four days back.
  • The award carried cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh. During the celebrations, the professor was titled as "Father of Green Revolution and the Doyen of Agricultural Science".
  • Muppavarapu foundation is a non-profit organisation started by Mr. Muppavarapu Harshavardhan, son of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
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China's Birth Rate Hits Lowest Level Since 1949

  • According to official statistics released by Beijing, China's birthrate in 2019 hit its lowest level since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.
  • According to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics Chinese, mothers gave birth to 14.65 million children in 2019, a birth rate of 10.48 babies per 1,000 people.
  • China's demographic issues could pose serious issues for the world's second-largest economy when the current working-age population reaches retirement. Experts worry if the trend continues, or the population begins shrinking, China may get old before it gets rich.
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Oldest Known Sketch of Venice Unearthed

  • A Renaissance historian has unearthed the oldest known image of Venice dating from the 14th century, showing how even then the city of canals gripped the imagination of visitors.
  • Sandra Toffolo, a researcher at the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland, found the sketch in a manuscript describing Italian pilgrim Niccolo da Poggibonsi's 1346-1350 voyage to Jerusalem which took him through the bustling port city.
  • The discovery of this view of the city is of great importance for our understanding of images of Venice, because it shows that even from very early on, the city held great fascination for contemporaries.
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Ashwin Sanghi on The Vault of Vishnu

  • Bestselling fiction writer Ashwin Sanghi called his upcoming book, 'The Vault of Vishnu', the sixth in his popular mythological 'Bharat series', his most ambitious project yet.
  • The book, which will be officially launched at the 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival on January 23, 2019 by Sanghi and popular Bollywood actor and author Sonali Bendre Behl, tells the story of three travellers who keep moving along an ancient trade route in search of answers.
  • Published by Westand Books, Sanghi's latest work uses his favourite tool -- mythology, and blends it with history to deliver some "edge-of-the-seat action". Other books in the "Bharat series" include "The Rozabal Line", "Chanakya's Chant", "The Krishna Key", "The Sialkot Saga", and "Keepers of the Kalachakra".
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South Africa Aims To Cross 100,000 Visitors from India in 2020

  • South African Tourism organised 17th edition of their Annual Road show. The road show intends to capitalise on the strong potential consumer demand in India in order to surpass the target of 100,000 Indian visitors to South Africa in the current year (2020).
  • India continues to remain one of our key focus markets globally and it is encouraging to observe consistent, upward growth from traditional regions like Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore as well as rising visitor traffic from emerging cities like Pune. With more and more visitors citing South Africa's scenic natural beauty as reasons to visit, we are focused in our efforts towards opening up newer geographies in our country. This will serve a dual objective of catering to this very consumer demand as well as offering a diversity of itinerary options for our trade partners to sell.
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