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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

21 Jan 2020


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India ranks 76th on WEF's Social Mobility Index, Denmark tops the list

  • India has been ranked very low at 76th place out of 82 countries on a new Social Mobility Index compiled by the World Economic Forum, while Denmark has topped the charts.
  • The report, released ahead of the 50th Annual Meeting of the WEF, also lists India among the five countries that stand to gain the most from a better social mobility score that seeks to measure parameters necessary for creating societies where every person has the same opportunity to fulfil his potential in life irrespective of socioeconomic background.
  • Increasing social mobility, a key driver of income inequality, by 10 per cent would benefit social cohesion and boost the world's economies by nearly 5 per cent by 2030.
  • But, few economies have the right conditions to foster social mobility.

Billionaires Have More Wealth Than 60% of the World's Population

  • The world's 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people, underscoring the degree of global inequality.
  • The Oxfam International study, and dubbed "Time to Care," shows that the number of billionaires has doubled in the past decade. The authors add that these fortunes have largely been amassed while everyday people, especially poor women, continue to struggle.
  • The gap between rich and poor can't be resolved without deliberate inequality-busting policies, and too few governments are committed to these.  "Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist."
  • The report finds that women are most impacted by the growing equality gap — the 22 richest men in the world have more money than all the women in Africa, for example. Also, 12.5 billion hours of unpaid care work is done by women and girls every day, which contributes $10.8 trillion dollars a year to the global economy, the report found. Women also do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work and make up two-thirds of the paid 'care workforce.

Pakistan seeks US help to get off FATF grey list

  • Pakistan is lobbying with the United States to remove it from the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organisation that combats terror financing and money laundering, which has impacted the country's sagging economy.
  • Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in Washington last week and had expressed hope that the US would back its efforts to get it off the grey list at FATF's review meeting in Beijing this week.


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India attracted $49 billion FDI in 2019, among top 10 recipients of overseas investment: UNCTAD

  • India was among the top 10 recipients of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2019, attracting $49 billion in inflows, a 16% increase from the previous year, driving the FDI growth in South Asia. The majority went into services industries, including information technology.
  • The global foreign direct investment remained flat in 2019 at $1.39 trillion, a 1% decline from a revised $1.41 trillion in 2018.

186 agri products testing laboratories set up by APEDA: Government

  • The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has added 135 laboratories to existing 51 recognized laboratories to enable exporters have an easy access to the laboratories for testing of exports.
  • With this initiative APEDA recognition of laboratories has reached 186 laboratories across the country.
  • The number of laboratories have increased in states. This includes 35 in Maharashtra, 23 in Gujarat, 10 in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, 23 in Tamil Nadu and 17 in Karnataka. Laboratory testing requirements are crucial in agri export supply chain.
  • For increasing the laboratory network further, the authority has taken a policy decision to simplify the recognition of labs.

Vodafone Idea, Bharti move Supreme Court to modify AGR order

  • Telecom majors Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel moved the Supreme Court for modification of its October 24, 2019 order for payment of dues to the government within three months, saying the direction would have huge ramifications on the telecom industry and "severely hamper" programmes like Digital India, Make in India and Skill India.
  •  The pleas come after a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice Arun Mishra, on January 16 dismissed petitions filed by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, among others, for a review of its October 2019 judgment, upholding the recovery of past dues amounting to ₹1.47 lakh crore from them. The recovery by the government was based on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of about ₹92,000 crore.
  • Vodafone urged the court to alter its order and permit it to submit an application before the Department of Telecom (DoT) for drawing up a schedule for payment of the dues.


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Scientists' brains shrank after a long stay in Antarctica

  • A portion of the brains of people living at an Antarctic research station shrank during a long stay, a small study finds. Social isolation and the unchanging white landscape may be to blame.
  • "It's very exciting to see the white desert at the beginning," says Alexander Stahn. A physiologist, he began the research while working in Berlin, Germany. "But then it's always the same."
  • A crew of eight scientists and a cook lived and worked at the German research station Neumayer III for 14 months. Although joined by other scientists during the summer, the crew alone endured the long darkness of polar winter. Temperatures can plummet as low as –50° Celsius (–58° Fahrenheit). Such harsh conditions make it impossible for people to leave. 
  • This creates a lot of isolation. That and the static environment create the closest thing on Earth to what a space explorer might experience, says Stahn. He now works at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Stahn wants to understand how long-term travel in space might affect the brain.


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DPIIT launches paperless licensing process for petroleum service stations

  •  The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) launched paperless licensing process for petroleum service stations such as retail outlets storing and dispensing petrol/diesel for motor conveyances. It was launched through Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation (PESO) under the Petroleum Rules, 2002.
  • Paperless application and grant of licence process for road tankers for transportation of petroleum under the rules has already been launched earlier this month.

Govt names two new JS-ranked officers under CDS

  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet cleared the appointment of two joint secretaries in the newly-created department of military affairs under the defence ministry. Rajeev Singh Thakur, a 1995 batch IAS officer from Rajasthan cadre, and Shantanu, a 1997 batch officer from Tripura cadre, have been posted to the DMA, headed by India's first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. Their appointments are among the 31 JS-level postings approved by the committee.
  • Apart from the two joint secretaries, the department will be staffed with two 13 deputy secretaries, 25 under secretaries, 22 section officers and a support staff of around 100 people.
  • The DMA is an addition to the four existing verticals in the defence ministry --- the departments of defence, defence production, defence research and development and ex-service welfare.
  • As CDS, Rawat is the principal military adviser to the defence minister on all matters related to the tri-services. He took over as the country's first CDS on December 31.
  • The DMA will oversee key matters relating to India's neighbouring countries including border disputes and incidents, development of infrastructure in forward areas and deployment of forces. These countries include China, Pakistan and Bhutan.

IKEA launches online store in Pune

  • Swedish home furnishings retailer IKEA has launched its online store in Pune, its second market in India after Mumbai to have online presence first without a physical store.
  • This is in line with IKEA's plans to reach many more Indian customers faster and provide affordable home furnishing solutions. Per Hornell, market and expansion manager, IKEA India, "Maharashtra is a very important market for IKEA, and we see a lot of potential in Pune. IKEA's priority is to meet consumer expectations by being affordable, accessible and sustainable."
  • Customers can either assemble the product themselves or book IKEA's assembly services.


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Sukhoi-30 MKI jets inducted in Thanjavur air base

  • Five Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets, which possess the capability to carry advanced BrahMos missiles, will now guard the strategically crucial Indian Ocean region with the Indian Air Force (IAF) inducting a squadron of the high-profile fighter jet at its airbase in Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.
  • The first such base in Southern India was inducted by Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria at the Thanjavur Air Base. Starting with five fighter jets, the newly-resurrected unit, 222 (Tigersharks) Squadron, will achieve its full capacity of 18 planes gradually. The squadron aircraft will be equipped with the Brahmos medium-range supersonic cruise missile, which has a range of 290 km.
  • First raised in Ambala in September 1969, the Tigersharks squadron was moved to Halwara in 1971, from where it carried out combat operations in the war with Pakistan later that year. Four years later, the squadron was moved back to Ambala (1975), Hindon (1985) and Hasimara (1989 to January 5, 2020).

SC accepts Centre's proposal to take over management control of Unitech

  • The top court approved the name of retired Haryana cadre IAS officer Yudvir Singh Malik as chairman and managing director (CMD) of the new board and directed that the existing board of directors of the company would stand superseded.
  •  In a respite to over 12,000 hassled homebuyers of Unitech Ltd, the Supreme Court allowed the Centre to take total management control of the embattled realty firm and appoint a new board of nominee directors.
  • It also refused to appoint Unitech Group founder Ramesh Chandra, as a member of the new board saying that it would not be appropriate at this stage.
  • A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah asked the new board to submit its report in two months on the resolution framework of the company.

Andhra cabinet approves report on decentralization of capital

  • The Andhra Pradesh government approved the report of the high power committee on decentralization of the state's capital during a cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy in Amaravati.
  • Apart from the decentralization of the capital between Amaravati, Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool, farmers' concerns, employee problems, alleged insider trading of Amaravati lands and amendments to the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act were also discussed at the meeting.
  • The cabinet's nod comes even as a three-day special winter assembly session is being held to discuss and approve the report.


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Former cricketer Man Mohan Sood passes away

  • Former Test batsman and National selector Man Mohan Sood passed away. He was 80.
  • A batsman with flair to play strokes, Sood made his First Class debut against Services at Ferozeshah Kotla in 1957 and played his final Ranji Trophy match against Jammu and Kashmir at Srinagar in 1964.  
  • His lone Test appearance came against Richie Benaud-led Australia at Madras in 1960 when India lost by an innings and 55 runs. Sood fell to left-arm fast Alan Davidson in both the innings (0 and 3). In the first innings he was stumped by Wally Grout.

Ashish Garg is new ICSI President

  • The Company Secretaries Institute has a new President in Ashish Garg for the year 2020.
  • Nagendra D Rao, a fellow member of ICSI, has been elected Vice-President of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
  • Garg is a Post Graduate in Economics (M A), Commerce (M Com) and a graduate in law (LLB). He was elected to the central council of ICSI for the term 2015-18 and re-elected for the term 2019-22.

Challa Sreenivasulu Setty appointed MD of SBI

  • The government appointed Challa Sreenivasulu Setty as the managing director of the State Bank of IndiaNSE -0.45 % for a period of three years, according to an official order.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Department of the Financial Services for the appointment of Setty, currently serving as the deputy managing director of the SBI, in the key post.
  • Setty has been appointed as the MD of the SBI for a period of three years with effect from the date of his taking over the charge of the post or until further orders, whichever is earlier and which is extendable by 2 years or until further orders, whichever is earlier, after review of his performance.


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The 2nd edition of NIC TechConclave 2020 to be held in New Delhi

  • The 2nd edition of NIC TechConclave 2020 is to be held on 21-22 January 2020 at Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. The conclave will be inaugurated by the Union Minister for Law & Justice, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad. Minister of State for Electronics & IT, Communications and Human Resource Development, Shri Dhotre Sanjay Shamrao, the Secretary-MeitY, Shri Ajay Sawhney and the President, CISCO (India and SAARC), Shri Sameer Garde will also grace the occasion.
  • Organized by: The two-day event will be organized by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). 
  • Theme: The theme of the NIC TechConclave 2020 is Technologies for NextGen Governance. 


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DeKalb High School art students earn Scholastic awards

  • DeKalb High School art students earned 22 awards in this year's regional Scholastic art and writing competition.
  • Talented art students from more than 60 high schools within the 32-county, tri-state region competed for Gold Key, Silver Key and honorable mention awards.
  • This year saw a total of 2,970 art entries from the region. Of those, 837 received awards, and DeKalb High School students captured 22 of them.


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PM interacts with students at "Pariksha Pe Charcha 2020"

  • The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, interacted with students as part of Pariksha Pe Charcha 2020 at Talkatora Stadium, New Delhi. 50 Divyang students also took part in the interaction programme. The interaction, which lasted for over ninety minutes, saw students seeking guidance on various issues of importance to them from the Prime Minister. This year too, students from across the country, and also Indian students residing abroad, participated in the event.
  • At the outset the Prime Minister wished all the students for a prosperous new year and a new decade. Explaining the importance of the decade, the hopes and aspirations of the current decade rest on those kids who are in their final years of schooling in the country.
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