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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

20 Jan 2020


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World Powers Seek Elusive Libya Peace in Talks

  •  World leaders were poised to commit to ending all foreign meddling in Libya's war at a Berlin summit, but calls were growing for an international force to ensure that pledges are put into action.
  • The Presidents of Russia, Turkey and France were among global chiefs at the talks held under the auspices of the United Nations, which wants foreign powers wielding influence in the region to stop interfering in the war - be it through weapons, troops or financing.
  • Leaders of both warring factions - strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli's UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj - were also in Berlin for the first such gathering since 2018.

Tehran Warns IAEA over N-deal Dispute

  •  As per parliament speaker Ali Larijani, Iran will review its cooperation with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog should it face unjust measures, after EU powers last week triggered a dispute mechanism under Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal.
  • The move by France, UK and Germany amounts to formally accusing Iran of violating the terms of the deal and could lead eventually to reimposing UN sanctions that were lifted under the pact.
  • Tehran said last week it would abandon limits on enriching uranium, though it would continue to cooperate with IAEA, which is policing the nuclear pact.
  • The dispute mechanism involves a Joint Commission, whose members are Iran, Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and the European Union, seeking to resolve the dispute.

China, Myanmar Ink 33 Deals To Accelerate Bri

  •  China and Myanmar inked dozens of deals on Saturday to speed up infrastructure projects in the Southeast Asian nation, as Beijing seeks to cement its hold over a neighbour increasingly isolated by the West.
  • But no major new projects were agreed during the two-day visit by President Xi Jinping, the first of any Chinese leader in 19 years. Analysts said Myanmar was generally cautious of investments by Beijing and was also being careful ahead of elections later this year.
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Airport Contracts Could be Capped at 2 Per Company

  •  As per reports, private bidders, vying for future airport privatisation projects, are likely to be restricted to a maximum of two in each round of auction.
  • The proposed rules are set to be implemented before the next round of airport privatisation that the government is planning.
  • The review of the rules comes after Adani Enterprises Ltd, the company controlled by billionaire Gautam Adani, snapped up all six contracts for upgrading airports in 2019 despite having no experience in running them.

Essel to Sell Two Road Assets to NIIF-Roadis

  • Essel group had begun talks with NIIF, India's sovereign wealth fund, and Roadis to sell part of its road portfolio after discussions with Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Canada's second-largest pension fund manager (CDPQ) fell through last summer. Essel had previously agreed to sell three of its road projects to CDPQ at an enterprise value of Rs. 3,300-3,500 crore.
  •  The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and its joint venture partner Roadis are close to buying two road projects from Essel Infraprojects, wholly owned by Subhash Chandra's debt-laden Essel group, in a deal valued at an estimated Rs. 1500-1800 crore.
  • Discussions with the Essel group began soon after NIIF and Roadis created a joint platform in April 2019 that would invest in road projects in India.
  • This joint venture could invest up to $2 billion as equity in public roads in India, by targeting toll-operate-transfer models, acquiring existing road concessions and investment opportunities in the road sector with the aim of creating a large roads platform in the country.

Govt. May put curbs on sale of liquor at duty-free shops

  •  The government is considering a proposal of the commerce ministry to reduce the permitted quantity of tax-free foreign liquor and cigarettes purchased from a duty-free shop in line with the practice followed by countries such as the United States, China, South Korea and Singapore.
  • The proposal was part of the larger exercise to curtail import of non-essential goods into the country.
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SpaceX Performs Successful In-flight Abort Test

  •  Elon Musk's SpaceX simulated a successful emergency landing in a dramatic test of a crucial abort system on an unmanned astronaut capsule, laying the foundation for its mission to fly NASA astronauts for the first time.
  • In a key trial for carrying humans, SpaceX was also testing its rescue teams' response after splash down. They scrambled toward Crew Dragon with the US Air Force's Detachment 3 emergency rescue teams in tow - a vital part of the test to practice a rescue mission to retrieve astronauts from the capsule.
  • The test is crucial to qualify the capsule to fly humans to the International Space Station, something NASA expects to come as soon as mid-2020. It follows years of development and delays as the US has sought to revive its human spaceflight program through private partnerships. 

Iran Preparing for Satellite Launch

  •  Iran said that two newly constructed satellites have passed pre-launch tests and will be transported to the nation's space center for eventual launch.
  • Iran has not said when it will launch the satellites, but often coordinates its launches with national holidays. 
  • As per Iran's state-run media, the 90-kilogram (200-pound) Zafar satellites each have four high-resolution color cameras and will monitor and transmit data on natural resources as well as agricultural and environmental developments.
  • Iran said that its satellite program, like its nuclear activities, is aimed at scientific research and other civilian applications. The U.S. and other Western countries have long been suspicious of the program because the same technology can be used to develop long-range missiles.
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India Begin U-19 Cup Campaign with Win

  •   India began their U-19 World Cup campaign with a 90-run win over Sri Lanka.
  • A whirlwind 44 off 27 balls from Siddhesh Veer along with three half-century knocks from opener Yashasvi Jaiswal (59 off 74b) and skipper Priyam Garg (56 off 72b) and vice-captain Dhruv Jurel (52 off 48b) propelled India to 297/4 in 50 overs. In reply, Sri Lanka were all out for 207 in 45.2 overs.

Bajrang and Ravi Win Gold in Rome Ranking Series

  •  Bajrang Punia was far from his fluent best but still claimed gold while Ravi Kumar Dahiya showed sparkling form in his gold-winning effort at the Rome Ranking Series.
  • Bajrang staged a comeback to secure a 4-3 win against USA's Jordan Michael Oliver of the 65 kg freestyle category.
  • Ravi, who competed in 61 kg category instead of his regular 57 kg, bagged the gold after getting the better of Kazakhstan's Nurbolat Abdualiyev 12-2 in his final bout. 

Wrestling: India Bags 7 Medals In Rome Ranking Series

  •  In wrestling, India has returned with seven medals from the Rome Ranking Series. Bajrang Punia and  Ravi  Kumar Dahiya claimed gold medals in the tournament last night. The 25-year-old Bajrang staged a comeback to secure a 4-3 win against USA's Jordan Michael Oliver in the summit showdown of the 65kg freestyle category. The 23-year-old Ravi bagged the gold after defeating Kazakhstan's Nurbolat Abdualiyev 12-2 in his final  61 kg category bout. 
  • Earlier, Vinesh Phogat won a gold and Anshu Malik a silver in the women's competition. In Greco-roman, Gurpreet Singh won a gold in 82 kg category. Sunil Kumar settled for a silver in 97kg category while Sajan Bhanwal got a bronze in the 77 kg category.
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Water, Power, Pollution Fight in AAP 'Guarantee'

  •  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal released a "guarantee card" ahead of the February 8 state assembly polls, promising that the government's flagship schemes — free water, electricity and bus rides — will continue if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is re-elected.
  • Kejriwal made at least eight new commitments, including deploying 'mohalla marshals' in residential areas, reducing pollution to a third, and making bus rides free for students.
  • Releasing the "Kejriwal ka guarantee" card, the party chief said that these would be distributed in every household in Delhi so that people did not fall for the "lies" that he alleged were being spread by opposition parties. "The opposition is saying many of our schemes will only last till March 31, so this is our guarantee that these schemes will continue for the next five years; 24-hour electricity will continue and 200 units of free power will continue. Free water for those who consume up to 20,000 litres a month will also continue. All schemes of the AAP government will continue.
  • He released the card, which bears his photo and the party's election slogan "Achche beete paanch saal, lagey raho Kejriwal", by signing it.

Congress to Battle for Delhi in Alliance

  •  Having announced the names of 54 candidates, the Delhi Congress only has one more day to release the list of remaining 16 contenders who will represent the party in the February 8 assembly elections.
  • Delhi Congress chief Subhash Chopra confirmed that the party has finalised an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) on four seats to woo Purvanchali voters. In Burari, Kirari, Uttam Nagar and Palam, the RJD contenders will seek votes under the Congress banner.
  • The Congress, which was in power in Delhi for 15 years till the 2015 defeat, will be contesting the 2020 Delhi Assembly elections in partnership with another party for the first time.

Mughalsarai Railway Division Renamed

  •  Following the renaming of Uttar Pradesh's Mughalsarai railway station in 2018, the Centre in a notification issued changed the name of the railway division as well from Mughalsarai to Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Railway Division.
  • The names of other Railway offices in this Division, bearing the name "Mughalsarai", may also be changed accordingly.
  • The Mughalsarai railway junction station comes under the East Central Railway zone. It is one of India's busiest junctions catering to nearly 500 trains a month and home to the largest railway marshalling yard in Asia.
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India Successfully Tests K-4 Missile

  •  The Indian strategic forces got a major boost after the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) tested a 3,500-kilometre range submarine-launched K-4 ballistic missile off the Vizag coast, with the nuclear weapon meeting all its target objectives.
  • The three-metre-tall missile carries a nuclear warhead of over one tonne with a circular error probability (CEP) far lower than that of Chinese ballistic missiles. Only the US, Russia and China have submarine-launched ballistic missiles of 3,500-kilometre range. The INS Arihant is already equipped with a 700-kilometre range B-02 nuclear missile, with the second nuclear submarine INS Arighat on way to becoming operational.
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Sant Lal Chawaria Joins BJP

  •  Delhi Safai Karamchari Commission chairman and AAP leader Sant Lal Chawaria joined the BJP in presence of the saffron party's national vice president Shyam Jaju.
  • Chawaria, the national general secretary of Valmiki Mahapanchayat, is expected to be pitted seat against AAP minister Rajendra Pal Gautam on Seemapuri Assembly seat.

Founder of Korean Retail Giant Lotte Dies

  •  Lotte Group founder Shin Kyuk-ho, who started manufacturing chewing gum in 1948 in Japan and built the business into South Korea's No.5 conglomerate with interests ranging from retail to chemicals, died. He was 98.
  • He was the last of the South Korean entrepreneurs who founded the country's major chaebols, or family-run conglomerates, that now dominate Asia's fourth-largest economy.
  • Lotte was founded in 1948 as a chewing gum maker in Japan by Shin, who moved to the neighbouring country when the Korean peninsula was under Japanese colonial rule. He married a Japanese woman and they had two sons, who later feuded over control of the business in 2015.

Veteran Odia Hindustani Vocalist Sunanda Patnaik Passes Away At 85

  •  Eminent Indian classical singer and daughter of noted Odia poet Baikunthanath Patnaik, Sunanda Patnaik passed away in Kolkata. She was 85 and had been hospitalised for age related complications.
  • Singer of Gwalior gharana of classical music, Sunanda was referred to as 'Guruma' in the classical music circle. Her popular devotional Odia song  'Jeevana Patra Mo Bhariccha Kete Mote' that was penned by her father, still holds a special place in the hearts of Odias. She has several 'bhajans' both in Odia and Hindi to her credit apart from several classical songs that she usually rendered in a high pitch.
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Climate Crisis In Spotlight At Davos Event

  •  A decade of extreme weather events and global warming have catapulted climate emergency to the top of the list of issues worrying the world's elite, who have reached the Alpine ski resort of Davos in Switzerland for the 50th edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Annual Meeting from January 21-25.
  • The meeting will be carbon neutral for the fourth consecutive year with the smart use of clean energy, green materials, and smart design, and the investment in certified projects that reduce emissions worldwide.
  • The meeting, which will be attended by 3,000 participants from 117 countries including 53 heads of state and government, is themed "Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World". It will put the spotlight on stakeholder capitalism, rising debt, Brexit and climate crisis.

14th Foundation Day of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) celebrated

  •  The 14th Foundation Day of Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India (DFCCIL) was celebrated at a function in New Delhi on 18th January 2020. Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry Shri PiyushGoyal congratulated team DFCCIL for completing 500 km of Dedicated Freight Corridor and exhorted the team to achieve the goal of 991 km by March 2020.

Elecrama 2020 Is Being Held In Uttar Pradesh

  •  Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and R K Singh inaugurated Elecrama on 18 January 2020, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. It is being organized by the industry body the Indian Electrical and Electronics Manufacturers Association (IEEMA). The five-day event targets businesses worth Rs.30,000 crore. The event will be held from 18-22 January 2020.
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SAG Awards 2020 Winners

  •  SAG Awards 2020 winners: Parasite won the SAG Awards 2020 for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture, Renée Zellweger won the 'Best Actress' for Judy and Joaquin Phoenix won 'Best Actor' for Joker. The 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) were presented at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on January 19, 2020.
  • In television awards, Crown won the SAG award for 'Best Ensemble in Drama Series', Jennifer Aniston won 'Best Actress' in drama series for her role in the Morning Show and Peter Dinklage won 'Best Actor' for his role in the popular TV series, Game of Thrones.
  • Game of Thrones took home two key awards- Best actor in a drama series and Best action. Avengers: Endgame won SAG award for 'Best Action in a motion picture'. The winners of the film and television stunt ensembles were announced during the official preshow.
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Bar Council Turns Down Applications For 55 Law Colleges

  •  The Bar Council of India (BCI) rejected applications by 55 colleges asking for recognition to start fresh law courses, a move seen as an attempt to restrict the number of institutions offering undergraduate legal studies courses.
  • The council's decision came after its members held day-long deliberations on the applications BCI received between July and December 2019. The majority of the applications were from institutions in Uttar Pradesh.
  • According to the procedure, institutions approach the council for approval of affiliation after a state university grants it. Being the apex disciplinary body for lawyers, the BCI is also the regulator for legal education. "The procedure requires the college to first develop infrastructure and then apply to the state government's higher education department for a no-objection certificate. Thereafter, the state university gives affiliation, which the BCI approves upon receiving an application from the college.
  • The BCI's decision is part of its sustained efforts to improve the standards of existing law colleges since the body has recently come under severe criticism for approving institutions found to be flouting UGC (University Grants Commission) norms in terms of infrastructure and paying salaries to teachers.

Seventeen New Cases of China's Mystery Virus

  •  Chinese authorities said that the outbreak of a new SARS-like virus that has killed two and sickened dozens is still preventable and controllable, even as it reported that 17 more people have been infected with the new mysterious coronavirus.
  • It has also sparked concerns of a wider outbreak as the travel rush for the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays peaks this week. More than three billion trips are expected to be made during a 40-day rush for the CNY holidays.
  • According to the National Health Commission, the source and transmission routes of the novel coronavirus in the city of Wuhan are still unknown.

CM launches mobile app of CSSDA

  • Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel launched 'Rojgar Sangi', a mobile app of state-run Chhattisgarh State Skill Development Authority at the concluding function of youth fest held at Science College premises.
  • CSSDA has prepared the app in a bid to provide employment to the trained youths under their skill development programme.
  • The app will serve as a bridge between employment provider and the trained youth and the former could contact them as per their requirements. This will also provide options of job to the trained youth and they could also be able to choose their employer as per their skill and choice. 
  •  Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel launched 'Rojgar Sangi', a mobile app of state-run Chhattisgarh State Skill Development Authority at the concluding function of youth fest held at Science College premises.
  • CSSDA has prepared the app in a bid to provide employment to the trained youths under their skill development programme.
  • The app will serve as a bridge between employment provider and the trained youth and the former could contact them as per their requirements. This will also provide options of job to the trained youth and they could also be able to choose their employer as per their skill and choice. 
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Anthology Of Great Indian Poems To Be Launched At Jaipur Literature Festival

  •  'The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian Poems' edited by poet-diplomat Abhay K. is all set to be launched on January 23 at the opening day of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2020.
  • The anthology covers over 3000 years of Indian poetry written in 28 Indian languages. Earlier Abhay K. had edited 100 Great Indian Poems which has been translated and published into Portuguese, Spanish and Italian and is awaiting publication in Irish, Russian, Nepali, French, and Malagasy.
  • Abhay K. is the author of eight poetry collections including 'The Eight-eyed Lord of Kathmandu' and 'The Prophecy of Brasilia'. He is also the editor of CAPITALS, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Great Indian Poems and New Brazilian Poems.
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Indian Railways To Replace Urdu With Sanskrit On Station Signboards In Uttarakhand

  •  The Railway ministry is now doing its bit to promote the use of Sanskrit in Uttarakhand.
  • Railway officials have decided to replace Urdu language with Sanskrit on all signboards at platforms. The signboards which have names of railway stations written in Hindi, English and Urdu will now be written in Hindi, English and Sanskrit.
  • The decision, according to sources, has been taken as per provisions of the Railway Manual, which says that names of the railway stations should be written in Hindi, English and in the second language of the state.
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Indonesia Dance Where Men Perform As Women

  •  Rianto, is a master of the Lengger Lanang, a traditional Indonesian dance performed by men dressed as women.
  • But Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, has seen rising intolerance in recent years towards the LBGT community. And there are fears it could affect this traditional art form.
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