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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

22 Jan 2020


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Nepal PM Calls for Resolving Pending Issues

  • Nepal Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli called for dialogue to resolve differences and pending issues with India as he and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the second integrated check post (ICP) along the border.
  • The two premiers opened the ICP at Jogbani-Biratnagar, built with Indian aid to facilitate trade and people's movement across the border, through video conference. Jogbani-Biratnagar is an important trade point and the ICP is equipped with modern facilities for customs, immigration and quarantine.
  • Though Oli didn't specify the pending issues, he was apparently referring to the disputed border area of Kalapani, which came to the forefront last year after India issued new maps following the reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir that showed the region as part of Indian territory, and Nepal's demand for a review of the 1950 Treaty of Peace and Friendship.

Senate Trial on Bid to Oust Trump Begins

  • The US Senate started the impeachment trial of Donald Trump with a contentious debate on rules and procedures, as the President continued to rail against it from some 4,000 miles away in Davos, calling it a disgraceful hoax.

Iran MP Offers $3mn to Kill Trump

  • An Iranian lawmaker offered a $3 million reward to anyone who killed US President Donald Trump and said Iran could avoid threats if it had nuclear arms.
  • Tensions have steadily escalated since Trump pulled Washington out of Tehran's nuclear agreement with world powers in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions. The stand-off erupted into tit-for-tat military strikes this month.
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Jharia India's Most Polluted City

  • According to Airpocalypse-IV, an annual report released by Greenpeace India, Jharia, known worldwide for its underground coal fires, continued to be the most polluted city in the country in 2018, while Delhi was the 10th most polluted city in 2018, an improvement of two ranks. The report is based on an analysis of particulate matter across 287 cities.
  • Lunglei in Mizoram was the least polluted city in India, followed by Meghalaya's Dowki, according to the report. Six of the top-10 polluted cities are in Uttar Pradesh: Noida, Ghaziabad, Bareilly, Allahabad, Moradabad and Firozabad.
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Bangladesh Factories Ordered to Shut to Save Key River

  • Bangladesh's High Court ordered the shutdown of 231 factories that have contributed to Dhaka's main river becoming one of the world's most polluted. The court ordered the authorities to take immediate action against the 231 factories including dyeing and rubber plants and tanneries dumping effluent into the Buriganga. The Buriganga connects the capital with the southern coastal districts through a network of rivers.

FM May Raise Divestment Goal for FY21

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is likely to set an even more ambitious disinvestment target of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore for the year starting April 1, 2020 mostly because many of the strategic sales planned for the current year, including that of Air India, have been delayed.
  • The strategic disinvestments that are now expected to be completed in the next fiscal include Air India, Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL), Container Corporation of India Ltd (Concor) and Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (SCI).
  • The stiffer target for 2020-21 comes after government officials acknowledged that the disinvestment target of Rs. 1.05 lakh crore for 2019-20 will fall short by around Rs. 50,000 crore due to delays.

Adani Capital Buys Essel Finance's MSME Lending Bisuness

  • Adani Capital Pvt. Ltd, the non-banking financial company (NBFC) arm of Adani Group focused on and micro-entrepreneurs, has acquired Essel Finance's micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) loan business.
  • Through the acquisition, Adani Capital has secured a loan book of around Rs. 145 crore, operating out of 10 cities, comprising approximately 1,100 customers and 40 employees.
  • This is the second asset of debt-laden Subash Chandra group that Adani has acquired.
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Qualcomm Phones to Use ISRO Satellite Signals

  • New smartphones in India running on Qualcomm chipsets will be able to use signals from ISRO'S satellites for navigation. The three new chipsets — Snapdragon 720G, 662, and 460 — will be the first to support the Indian NavIC.
  • NavIC (or Navigation with Indian Constellation) is a seven-satellite regional navigation system developed by ISRO that will provide positioning services over India and countries up to 1,500 km around it.
  • These chipsets were developed by Qualcomm, the US-based multinational company, in consultation with the space agency.
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U-19 WC: India Thumps Japan

  • Facing defending champions and the most successful team in the tournament with 4 titles to their name, India, Japan were bowled out for joint second-lowest score in the history of the U19 World Cup at Bloemfontein.
  • After being put in to bat, Indian bowlers ran through Japan's batting order and dismissed them for 41 in 22.5 overs--the joint second-lowest score after Scotland's 22-all out against Australia in 2004. Canada and Bangladesh were the other teams to get bowled out for 41 in 2002 and 2008 editions of the tournament respectively.

De Kock Named South Africa One-day Captain

  • Quinton de Kock has been named as the new South Africa captain in ODIs ahead of the series against England, with Test skipper Faf du Plessis not included in the squad.
  • South Africa will play England in three matches over the space of six days from February 4 and will be led by wicketkeeper-batsman De Kock.
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TMC to Introduce Anti-CAA Resolution

  • Bengal's parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee said that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will introduce a resolution in the state assembly later in January 2020 demanding the withdrawal of the amended citizenship act.
  • Chief minister Mamata Banerjee followed Kerala and Punjab, saying her government too would pass a resolution in the assembly.

Goa Lokayukta Indicts Former CM

  • The Goa Lokayukta has indicted former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and two officials for renewing mining leases, including 31 in a single day in 2015, which the Supreme Court later cancelled in 2018. It has asked Goa's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to file a case against Parsekar and the two officials—P. K. Sain and Prasanna Acharya--for alleged corruption and recommended a further probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
  • Sain is a former mines secretary and Acharya ex-director of mines. Parsekar headed a Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in the state from 2014 to 2017.

SC on Speakers

  • The wisdom of the legislature in entrusting Speakers (of the state assembly or parliament) with the responsibility of ruling on the disqualification of lawmakers who defect (shift parties) needs to be revisited, the Supreme Court ruled in a case on defection of a Congress MLA from Manipur.
  • The judgment comes at a time when a discussion is already underway among presiding officers of legislatures on how to secure the legislative Speaker's dignity in the matters related to the defection of lawmakers. As first reported earlier, in two conferences in as many months, many presiding officers have expressed the view that their role vis-à-vis the tenth schedule should be limited and other mechanisms must be evolved to decide cases of defection. The tenth schedule deals with the anti-defection law.
  • A top functionary of the Lok Sabha said that a panel has already been constituted by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on the issue and that many assembly Speakers have voluntarily sought a reduction of their power as far as the tenth schedule is concerned.
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Defence Ministry Clears Shipbuilders for Submarine Project

  • The defence ministry cleared two Indian and five foreign shipbuilders to take part in a Rs. 50,000-crore project to build high-tech submarines in the country, one of the biggest Make in India programmes in the military sector.
  • Six advanced submarines will be built under project P-75I to scale up the Indian Navy's undersea warfare capabilities and counter the rapid expansion of China's submarine fleet. The project will be pursued under the government's 'strategic partnership' (SP) model, which seeks to provide fillip to the government's Make in India programme.
  • The Indian strategic partners cleared to collaborate with the foreign OEMs are Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and L&T. The foreign yards they can team up with for the project are the French Naval Group, German conglomerate.

Sarang Gun Successfully Test-fired

  • Indigenously upgraded Sharang 155 mm gun system was successfully test-fired at the Long Proof Range (LPR) firing range of Khamaria in Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh. The firepower of this high calibre gun, which is also the country's largest indigenous gun, has been increased to 39 km.
  • As part of the Narendra Modi government's 'Make in India' initiative, the indigenously-designed towed 155 mm/45 calibre artillery gun Sharang will soon be supplied to the Indian Army from Gun Carriage Factory and Ordnance Factory, Kanpur.
  • The induction of Sharang will bolster the Army's combat abilities along the lines of the 'Soltam-155' guns manufactured by Russia. The weapon has been upgraded successfully from its previous specification of 130 mm to 155 mm.
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Thakur Gets Special Prize, Champions of Change

  • Former President Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest at a special event, where he gave away awards to politicians. Minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Thakur, was given a special prize, Champions of Change, by the former President. The award was instituted by the Forum of Indian Economy. There were also other winners, including Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren.
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Taiwan Confirms First Case of New Coronavirus

  • Taiwan confirmed the first case of infection from the new coronavirus, a woman in her 50s who had returned to the island after working in the Chinese city of Wuhan where the outbreak began.
  • Taiwan has already alerted China and the World Health Organisation about the case.
  • The outbreak has spread from the central Chinese city of Wuhan to cities including Beijing and Shanghai. Other cases have also been reported outside China, including in South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

IIT Hyderabad to Host Conference on Retrofitting of Structures

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad will host a three-day international conference on 'Condition Assessment, Rehabilitation and Retrofitting of Structures' (CARRS) 2020 from December 14.
  • CARRS 2020 will be the first international conference to be held in India, covering the fields of structural assessment, repair and rehabilitation of structures.
  • The conference will bring together leading scientists, researchers, students and practicing engineers from all over the world to exchange their expertise and research.

IIT Hyderabad to Host Conference on Retrofitting of Structures

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad will host a three-day international conference on 'Condition Assessment, Rehabilitation and Retrofitting of Structures' (CARRS) 2020 from December 14.
  • CARRS 2020 will be the first international conference to be held in India, covering the fields of structural assessment, repair and rehabilitation of structures.
  • The conference will bring together leading scientists, researchers, students and practicing engineers from all over the world to exchange their expertise and research.
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P. V. Sindhu Launches 40 Years of Sportstar, 40 Superstars

  • Badminton world champion P. V. Sindhu launched Sportstar's special book - 40 Years of Sportstar, 40 Superstars.
  • Featuring essays by Vijay Amritraj, Shashi Tharoor, Michael Holding, Brian Glanville, and Rajdeep Sardesai among others, the book was commissioned to commemorate Sportstar completing 40 years and features a champion for each year - from Bjorn Borg, Kapil Dev, Mike Tyson and Imran Khan to Rahul Dravid, Michael Schumacher, M.S.Dhoni, Mary Kom, and more.
  • Each piece seeks to reflect on the importance of the year on the career of the chosen sportsperson and how it has revolutionised the history of the sport in question.
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IHCL Signs a SeleQtions Hotel in Uttarakhand

  • Indian Hotels Company Limited (IHCL) announced the signing of a SeleQtions hotel – Pilibhit House in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. This hotel is in partnership with Prasad Heritage Pvt. Ltd.
  • Suma Venkatesh, Executive Vice President - Real Estate & Development, IHCL said that Haridwar, located on the banks of the River Ganga, is visited by thousands of pilgrims annually. With this new hotel, IHCL further strengthens its religious tourism portfolio of hotels. We are delighted to partner with Prasad Heritage Pvt. Ltd. The Company currently manages 12 hotels across cities through which the River Ganga flows.
  • IHCL has five hotels in the state of Uttarakhand, including two under development. Pilibhit House complements the existing religious and leisure circuit with IHCL's hotels in Corbett and Rishikesh.
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