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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

19 Jan 2020


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Pakistan Cornered at UNSC, Faces Heat on Terrorism

  • The UK called for more action by Pakistan to counter terror emanating from its soil against the backdrop of a majority of the members of the UN Security Council rejecting an effort by Islamabad to rake up the Kashmir issue with Beijing's backing.
  • Gareth Bayley, the UK Prime Minister's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that all options are on the table if Islamabad fails to implement the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) action plan to counter terror financing and crack down on terrorists operating from Pakistani soil.
  • India strongly criticised Pakistan and China for raising Kashmir during closed-door consultations at the UN Security Council, saying Islamabad's attempts to "peddle baseless allegations" lacked credibility.
  • China's effort to discuss Kashmir at the UN Security Council, the second such move since December, ended without any outcome after members of the body such as the US, the UK and France made it clear the issue should be handled bilaterally by India and Pakistan.

Putin to Take Part in Libya Peace Talks

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part in a peace meet on Libya in Germany, as world powers step up efforts to find a ceasefire. The peace talks in Berlin will focus on stopping the fighting and launching a broad political dialogue under the auspices of the UN.


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Microsoft Makes Carbon Negative Pledge

  • Microsoft has pledged to remove all of the carbon from the environment that it has emitted since the company was founded in 1975.
  • Chief executive Satya Nadella said that he wanted to achieve the goal by 2050.
  • To do so, the company aims to become carbon negative by 2030, removing more carbon from the environment than it emits.
  • That goes beyond a pledge by its cloud-computing rival Amazon, which intends to go carbon neutral by 2040.


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Jio Becomes India's Largest Telco

  • Reliance Jio is now the number one telecom operator in India by both subscriber- base as well as revenue market share, achieving the feat after a little over three years of operations.
  • The Mukesh Ambani-led company added 5.6 million mobile subscribers in November, taking its total to 369.93 million, and replacing Vodafone Idea as the country's largest mobile services provider by subscribers.
  • With this, Jio holds a 32.04% share of subscribers in the over 1.15-billion-user Indian mobile services market. It had a 30.79% market share at the end of October 2019.
  • Unlike its rivals, Jio's user-base is entirely made up of 4G subscribers.
  • To be sure, the company had already become the number one in terms of revenue market share in 2019 when it grabbed 31.7% share of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) that the industry recorded in the April-June period.

Piramal Enterprises Sells Overseas Arm

  • Piramal Enterprises signed an agreement for the sale of its Decision Resources Group (DRG) business to US-based Clarivate Analytics for $950 million (over Rs. 6,745 crore).
  • This divestment is expected to be completed by end of February 2020.
  • This includes $900 million on closing and $50 million to be received at the end of 12 months from the date of closing.

Amazon to Create 1 mn New Jobs in India

  • World's largest online shopping platform Amazon announced plans to create one million new jobs in India over the next five years as it firefights comments from Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on the firm not doing a favour to the country by making the investments.
  • The new jobs - created both directly and indirectly - will be across industries, including IT, skill development, content creation, retail, logistics, and manufacturing.
  • These jobs are in addition to the seven lakh jobs Amazon's investments have enabled over the last six years in the country.


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M. S. Dhoni Not in BCCI's Contract Players List

  • As per reports, former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was not given a central contract by the Indian cricket board, suggesting that his time as an international cricketer may be over.
  • The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) awarded annual contracts to 27 Indian cricketers for the upcoming season, and Dhoni -- he had a Grade A contract (Rs. 5 crore) in 2019 – was not on the list for the first time since the system was introduced.

Sania Mirza Marks Return with Doubles Title at Hobart International

  • Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her Ukrainian opponent Nadiia Kichenok produced yet another terrific performance as they swept aside the Chinese pair of Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in straight sets to clinch the women's doubles title at Hobart International.
  • With the win, Mirza has successfully made a winning return to the professional tennis circuit after childbirth. It is the Indian tennis star's first victory in two years and 42nd doubles career title.

Bhubaneswar to Host 1st Edition of Khelo India University Games

  • The first edition of Khelo India University Games is scheduled to be held at the KIIT University in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1. The launching ceremony of the event was held at Bhubaneswar. Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unveiled the logo and jersey of Khelo India University Games.


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SC Clears Way for International Airport at Goa's Mopa

  • The Supreme Court gave the go-ahead for the construction of an international airport at Goa's Mopa by lifting the suspension it had imposed on its environmental clearance (EC) in March 2019. It ordered that the construction should be subject to strict compliance with the conditions recommended by the Union environment ministry's expert appraisal committee (EAC). The construction should be done under the supervision of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI).
  • The work on the Rs. 3,000 crore project for building the second international airport in Goa over 2,131 acres at the foothills of the Western Ghats was halted for nine months. Officials are hoping the work would soon be resumed and say they can set a revised deadline of early 2022 for the completion of the project's first phase. The project was initially scheduled to be completed by September 2020.

Punjab Assembly Passes Resolution against CAA

  • Punjab Assembly passed a resolution against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act that was cleared by Parliament last month, the second assembly after Kerala to call for scrapping the law.
  • Chief Minister Amarinder Singh later told that his government would also move the Supreme Court against the CAA. Kerala had earlier this week joined the 60-odd petitioners who have already approached the top court against the law that lets the government fast-track citizenship request of people on grounds of religion.

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat Calls for Population Control Law

  • Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat pressed for a law for controlling the burgeoning population of the country, reigniting a debate that the lawmakers should bring a legislation in Parliament in this regard.
  • The Sangh Parivar chief said at a meeting of about 40 senior RSS functionaries that this law will not have any relation to any particular religion and will be applicable to all.
  • Bhagwat's remark has triggered speculation that a law making the two-child norm mandatory, not temples in Varanasi and Mathura, are next on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) agenda.
  • Addressing a gathering at the Moradabad Institute of Technology (MIT), Bhagwat said that RSS will support any law that calls for two children only.


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Indian Navy Trims Acquisition List Due to Budget Cuts

  • With budget cuts hitting hard, the Navy is pulling back on procurement of combat systems, cutting down on the numbers planned to be acquired in some cases and foreclosing other projects that have hit a dead end.
  • The rationalisation process, which is likely to be approved by the defence ministry, has been initiated after consecutive budgets where projected demands of the Navy have not been met. In the current budget, for example, the Navy was allocated Rs. 41,259 crore against the projected amount of Rs. 64,307 crore, which officials say is not even adequate to continue annual payments for acquisition contracts already signed.
  • As per reports, the Navy is cutting down the number of Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs) it wanted to acquire from the original 12 warships to eight. The contract, given on nomination to the Goa Shipyard Limited, was originally pegged at Rs. 32,000 crore which will now be brought down.
  • Similarly, it is planning to cut down the acquisition of Kamov KA 31 early warning helicopters to six, from 10. These choppers are deployed from large combatants such as the aircraft carrier to significantly increase the detection range for incoming enemy units.

U.K. Working on Government-to-government Format for Defence Deals

  • Brig. Gavin Thompson, U.K. Defence Adviser in India said that the UK government is working on a government-to-government framework for defence deals in future given India's preference for such an arrangement. "We have worked very hard since April last year to get all departments in U.K. to get this mechanism. We are at a point where we can send this proposal to the Indian government," Brig. Thompson said. The mechanism needs to be agreed to by both sides, he stated. However, unlike the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route of the U.S. government where the government levies a small service charge, Brig. Thompson said there are no overheads built into the contract.


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Bapu Nadkarni Passes Away

  • Former India all-rounder Bapu Nadkarni, who played 41 Tests between 1955 and 1968, passed away. He was 86-years-old. Nadkarni represented Mumbai and Maharashtra in domestic cricket.
  • In his 41 Tests, Nadkarni claimed 88 wickets with a best of six for 63 against New Zealand at Wellington in 1968. He averaged 25.70 with the bat hitting seven half-centuries and one century—122 not out against England at Kanpur in February 1964—and scored 1,414 runs in 67 innings.


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G. V. Raja Award for Anas and Thulasi

  • Kerala Sports Minister E. P. Jayarajan announced the sports awards instituted by Kerala State Sports Council with Indian sprinter Muhammad Anas winning G. V. Raja Award (Male) for athletics.
  • Anas had won silver for India in the 400-meter race at Jakarta Asian games.
  • In the female category, P. C. Thulasi was adjudged the winner for G. V. Raja Award which carries prize money of Rs. 3 lakh and a citation.


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HP Kids Beat National Average in Most Tasks

  • Around 76 per cent of eight-year-old children in Kangra district can correctly identify all four basic human emotions (happiness, sadness, anger and fear) well above the national average of 60.5 per cent, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019, released by NGO Pratham in 2020.
  • The survey was conducted in 60 villages of the district, involving 1,076 households and 1,334 children aged four to eight years. Nationally, the survey was conducted in 26 districts across 24 states in India, involving nearly 37,000 children.
  • As compared to the national average, children from the state performed better in most of the tasks, including cognitive and early language tasks, reading ability, ability to recognise numbers, and numeracy tasks. For example, 78.3 per cent students of Class 1 from Kangra successfully performed numeric addition as compared to 50.6 per cent students across the country.

Google Introduces Online Coding Course

  • The US based tech Google introduced a new "Google IT Automation with Python Professional Certificate" a program which is designed to provide job-ready skills in Python, Git and IT automation in under six months.
  • Python is now the most in-demand programming language, and more than 530,000 U.S. jobs, including 75,000 entry-level jobs require Python proficiency.
  • The program includes a final project where learners will use their new skills to solve a problem they might encounter on the job, like building a web service using automation.

Sahebrao to Get Artificial Limb in World's First Surgery of its Kind

  • Sahebrao, a 9-year-old Nagpur tiger, will be given an artificial limb in the world's first surgery of its kind. A team of doctors will perform the surgery to fit an artificial limb on the tiger's left paw.
  • The team consists of orthopaedic surgeon Shushrut Babhulkar, veterinary doctor Shirish Upadhyay, medical personnel from Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries Science University's (MAFSU) Wildlife Research & Training Centre (WRTC), experts from IIT-Bombay and Dr Peter Giannoudis from University of Leeds.
  • Sahebrao will be the first tiger in the world to get an artificial limb. Earlier, it has been done for dogs and elephants.


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First-Ever City-To-City Tourism Partnership

  • New York City's official destination marketing organisation, and Marketing Manchester signed a first-ever official city-to-city tourism collaboration agreement. The new two-year alliance includes a collaboration agreement between the two cities, the sharing of best practices in tourism marketing and a partnership with Virgin Atlantic to stimulate reciprocal travel.
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