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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

24 Jan 2020


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Trump Warns of Trade War with EU Nations

  • U.S. President Donald Trump relaunched a major trade offensive against Europe, threatening to hit the EU with damaging auto tariffs if Europeans failed to agree a long-delayed trade deal.
  • The EU is tougher to deal with than anybody. They've taken advantage of our country for many years," Mr. Trump said. "Ultimately, it will be very easy because if we can't make a deal, we'll have to put 25% tariffs on their cars," he added.
  • Mr. Trump said that his attention would now to turn to Europe, after he sealed a trade truce with China after a bitter trade war that destabilised the world economy.
  • Mr. Trump's comments followed a warning by the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that Washington would proceed with long threatened auto tariffs if Europeans go through with a digital tax that mainly affects US firms.

U.K.'s Brexit Bill Clears Final Hurdle in Parliament

  • Britain's Brexit bill passed its final hurdle in Parliament after the House of Lords abandoned attempts to amend it, leaving the U.K. on course to leave the European Union next week.
  • The bill was approved by Parliament's upper chamber after the House of Commons overturned changes to the government's flagship Brexit bill made a day earlier by the unelected House of Lords.
  • The bill will become law when it receives royal assent from Queen Elizabeth II.
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Ancient Sweat Lodge Uncovered in Mexico City

  • An ancient Native American sauna, dating back to the 14th Century, has been uncovered by archaeologists in Mexico City.
  • Known as temazcals, these structures were built by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica, and used for medicinal purposes, spiritual rituals and for women to give birth.
  • The discovery in the historic La Merced neighbourhood helped experts to determine the exact location of Temazcaltitlán, one of the first areas of Tenochtitlán, the ancient metropolis that became modern-day Mexico City.
  • The excavations also uncovered the well-preserved remains of a house built after the Spanish conquest centuries later, its walls decorated with red motifs. It is thought to have been occupied by a noble indigenous family in the 16th Century.
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New Demat Accounts Climb to 10-year High

  • Retail investors piled into the Indian stock market in a year that saw soaring equities and a slowing economy, driving the number of new dematerialized accounts opened in 2019 to a 10-year high.
  • According to data from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), both new demat accounts, and the total number of such accounts hit a 10-year high in 2019. While new demat account openings rose 12.5% from the previous year to touch 4.5 million, total demat accounts at the end of 2019 stood at 39.3 million, up from 34.8 million in 2018.
  • A demat account is opened by an investor with a depository participant to invest in securities such as stocks and bonds. The securities are held in digital format.

Offer Enable and Disable Options in Cards

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has asked issuers of credit and debit cards as well as those of non-bank prepaid payment instrument to provide the option of disabling and enabling cards, a move aimed at customer convenience.
  • According to the banking regulator, for existing cards, the issuers may take a decision, based on their risk perception, whether to disable the card not present (domestic and international) transactions, card present (international) transactions and contactless transaction rights.
  • Furthermore, the RBI said that customers should have the facility to switch on or off and set or modify transaction limits for all types of transactions.

Bank of Baroda, Bank of India and Canara Bank Get New MD and CEOs

  • The government appointed heads of three large public sector banks - Bank of Baroda, Bank of India and Canara bank for a period of three years.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) appointed Sanjiv Chadha as the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Bank of Baroda, Lingam Venkat Prabhakar as MD & CEO of Canara Bank and Atanu Kumar Das as MD & CEO of Bank of India.
  • Chadha was the deputy managing director at State Bank of India in charge of SBI Capital Markets. He replaced P.S. Jayakumar whose term came to end after his one-year extension ended in October 2019.
  • Prabhakar was the executive director of Punjab National Bank and he will be replacing R. A. Sankara Narayanan who will retire end of this month.
  • Das was the ED at Bank of India who will be promoted to the post of MD& CEO in the same bank following its vacancy since July 2019.
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System to Turn Moondust into Oxygen

  • The European Space Agency (ESA) is developing a prototype system to help humans breathe on the Moon by turning moon dust into oxygen.
  • The facility being developed in the Netherlands will create oxygen using simulated lunar material, not only to help astronauts breathe, but also for rocket fuel.
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Australia to Host Indoor Cricket WC

  • Australia is set to host the 11th edition of the Indoor Cricket World Cup from 10-17 October.
  • The tournament will be held at the state-of-the-art indoor cricket venues in Melbourne — Casey Stadium and CitiPower Centre, the World Indoor Cricket Federation announced.
  • Last held in Dubai in 2017, Australia are the reigning men's and women's champions and the hosts will be seeking to continue the run of never losing a World Cup in either division in the 25-year history of the tournament.
  • Cricketers from up to 10 countries will compete in the tournament in four divisions: under-21 men and women and open men and women.
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India Falls 10 Ranks in Democracy Index

  • India dropped 10 places in the Democracy Index's global ranking to 51st place, with the survey describing the erosion of civil liberties in the country as the primary cause of the democratic regression.
  • The Democracy Index - prepared by Economist Intelligence Unit, the research and analysis division of The Economist Group - provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide in 165 independent states and two territories.
  • It is based on electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties.
  • Norway topped the index, with a score of 9.87, while North Korea was at the bottom of the global rankings, with a score of 1.08. China's score fell to 2.26, and it is now ranked 153rd, close to the bottom of the rankings.

SC Refuses to Stay CAA

  • The Supreme Court refused to stay the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), but indicated that the matter would be referred to a Constitution bench.
  • The court, which issued notice to the central government in December 2019, gave it four more weeks to respond, after a request by Attorney general K. K. Venugopal. Venugopal pointed out that there were only 60 petitions when the case was first heard in December 2019 but at least 144 petitions have been filed till now and copies of the fresh petitions had not been supplied to the central government yet.

Centre Designates Daman as Headquarters of Merged UTs

  • The Centre designated Daman as the headquarters of the merged Union Territories of Daman & Diu, and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
  • The Central government also approved amendments/extension/repeal in legislations and regulations dealing with the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Value Added Tax (VAT) and state excise in a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • These amendments will lead to 'minimum government, maximum governance' by way of having common taxation authorities, better delivery of services to citizens by reducing duplication of work and improving administrative efficiency.
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Pakistan Successfully Conducts Surface-to-surface Training Launch of Missile Ghaznavi

  • Pakistan conducted a successful training launch of surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSBM) Ghaznavi. This launch was carried out as part of a training exercise of Army Strategic Forces Command aimed at rehearsing operational readiness procedures during day and night.
  • The President, Prime Minister, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and services chiefs have congratulated the nation on this landmark achievement.
  • As per the military's media wing, missile Ghaznavi is capable of delivering multiple types of warheads up to a range of 290 kilometres.
  • In November 2019, Pakistan carried out a successful training launch of ballistic missile Shaheen-I which was also an SSBM.
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V. Chandrasekar Honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award

  • Three-time National table tennis champion V. Chandrasekar was honoured with the lifetime achievement award by the Rotary Club of Madras T. Nagar.
  • India tennis legend Vijay Amritraj, who was the chief guest, presented the award in an event that also saw golfer Amit Luthra being felicitated with the vocational excellence award.
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IIM Bangalore and XLRI in Top 30 Global Business Schools

  • The Indian Institute of Management (IMM), Bangalore and XLRI Jamshedpur are the only two management schools from India that have been featured in a new ranking of top 30 leading global B-schools. The first edition of the Positive Impact Rating for Business Schools was released at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Unlike other rankings, this new list weighs management schools on its societal responsibility and impact.
  • While IIM Bangalore was ranked in the 'Transforming School's category, XLRI was in the 'Progressing schools' category. The list of top global business schools includes Antwerp Management School in Belgium, University of California in Berkeley, Amsterdam Business School and London Business School.
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First Digital Exhibition on Indian Heritage Inaugurated

  • The State of Culture and Tourism minister launched a month long exhibition on Indian Heritage in New Delhi. The exhibition was launched in digital space and will stay online till February 15, 2020.
  • This exhibition is first of its kind in the country. The visitors of the exhibition will find architectural and conjectural reconstructions, recreations of socio-cultural traditions and life of Hampi and also many more murals. Through this, the exhibition will take heritage to wider population. It has overcome the barrier that heritage was restricted only to research. When the reach of significance of heritage increases, accountability of citizens increases. This will help to protect age old structures and monuments in a better way.
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