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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

04 Feb 2020


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Britain and EU Talk Tough on Trade

  • Britain and the European Union set out clashing opening gambits on striking a post-Brexit trade deal, making it clear that each side is willing to walk away without an agreement rather than compromise on key issues.
  • U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent a bravado-filled salvo toward Brussels three days after Britain left the bloc, the first country to exit. In a speech to business leaders and international diplomats in London, Johnson said that we want a free trade agreement — but not at any cost.
  • In their divorce agreement, Britain and the EU agreed to strike an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership, including a free trade deal and agreements for security and other areas. The details are to be worked out during a transition period lasting until the end of 2020, in which relations stay essentially unchanged. For the rest of this year the U.K. will continue to follow EU rules, although it will no longer have a say in EU decision-making.

Hamburg Court Rules against School Niqab Ban

  • The Hamburg Administrative Court in Germany ruled against an attempt to forbid a 16-year-old student from wearing a niqab during class time.
  • Hamburg education officials had earlier ordered the girl's mother to ensure that her daughter did not wear the veil at school.

Denmark Arrests Three Iranians on Charges

  • Three leading members of an Iranian Arab opposition group were arrested in Denmark and charged with spying for Saudi Arabia.
  • The three, who live in Denmark, were long suspected of links to rebels who attacked an Iranian military parade in September 2018, killing 24 people.
  • Danish police said that the three are in the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA).
  • Ethnic Arabs live in oil-rich Ahvaz, south-western Iran.
  • Denmark's PET intelligence service accuses the three of having spied on individuals in Denmark between 2012 and 2018 and having passed on information to Saudi intelligence.
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Swarms of Locusts Spotted in Punjab Villages

  • Swarms of locusts were spotted in two border villages of Punjab's Fazilka district, prompting the state Agriculture Department to sound a high alert.
  • Emanating from Pakistan, the swarms of pests three to four km long and one km wide, settled at the trees in these border villages.
  • However, timely action against the attack ensured their elimination.
  • As soon as swarms of locusts were spotted near the villages, a team including members from the Agriculture Department and fire brigade was pressed into service to eliminate pests.

Black Carbon Mmelting Himalayan Glaciers

  • As per a study by Dehradun-based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), the black carbon concentration that contributes to faster melting of glaciers has almost doubled on the Gangotri Glacier, where the Ganga drains out of in Uttarakhand, over the past few years primarily because of forest fires.
  • P. S. Negi, a WIHG scientist, said that the main local sources of black carbon include forest fires, domestic and commercial fuel wood-burning and seasonal burning of crop residue.

Northern Ireland Assembly Declares a Climate Emergency

  • The Northern Ireland Assembly declared a climate emergency and backed the creation of an independent body to protect the environment.
  • It followed a debate on climate change a day earlier.
  • MLAs supported immediate action to cut carbon emissions and called for an independent Environmental Protection Agency to be established within a year.
  • Both measures were in a draft Programme for Government in the deal which re-established the political institutions.
  • In the course of the debate, the assembly was told that Northern Ireland was not being bounced into measures to deal with climate change.
  • Green Party leader Clare Bailey said there was 50 years of evidence to support the need for action.
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TCS Bags $1.5 bn Deal from U.S. Firm

  • IT major Tata Consultancy Services bagged a $1.5 billion (about Rs. 10,650 crore) contract from pharma company Walgreens Boots Alliance, spread over a period of 10 years.
  • Under the contract, TCS would provide managed services including application maintenance and support, required infrastructure and security operations.
  • Tata Consultancy Services has expanded its long-standing partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance, a global leader in retail and wholesale pharmacy, to transform the latter's IT operating model.
  • The expansion of WBA and TCS strategic partnership is based on WBA's review of its IT operating model and vendor landscape.

ALL is World's Third-largest Bus Maker

  • Ashok Leyland Ltd, the flagship of the Hinduja Group, has been ranked as the number three globally in the medium and heavy commercial vehicle (M&HCV) bus maker segment for the calendar year 2019.
  • During the period, ALL sold 23,100 buses.
  • The ranking is based on reports released by SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers), OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles) and IHS Markit (a London-based global information provider).

SEBI Suspends Trading in Coffee Day

  • Market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) suspended trading in shares of Coffee Day Enterprises (CDEL).
  • As per reports, breach of listing obligations by not submitting audited financial statements in time could be the reason behind suspension of trading. The shares of the firm were last traded on February 1, 2020 when the market was open for the Budget announcements.
  • Earlier, the market regulator had informed CDEL that delay in declaration of earnings beyond January 29, 2020 could lead to halting of trade in the company's shares due to breach of listing regulations. However, the Bengaluru-headquartered firm had sought more time for submission of audited results citing to non-completion of internal investigations.
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Rohit Ruled Out of New Zealand Tour

  • In a blow to India, Rohit Sharma was ruled out of the upcoming ODI and Test series against New Zealand after sustaining a calf injury during the fifth T20 International in Mount Maunganui.
  • Going by the pecking order, Mayank Agarwal is likely to be the reserve opener in the ODI format just like during the home ODIs against the West Indies. However, Shubman Gill, with a double hundred in the ongoing A series Tests against New Zealand A, is also back in the mix.

Under-19 World Cup 2020: India's Road to the Semi-finals

  • Four-time champions India will back themselves to reach their third successive final at the U-19 World Cup when they face arch-rivals Pakistan.
  • Both teams go into the semi-finals unbeaten. While India beat Australia in the quarter-finals, Pakistan outplayed Afghanistan.
  • The last time Pakistan beat India at the U19 World Cup was way back in 2010 and the Rohail Nazir-led side will look to end their losing streak and also prevent India from reaching their third successive final at the U19 World Cup.

Fati Youngest to Net La Liga Brace

  • Barcelona's teenage star Ansu Fati set another scoring record when he became the youngest player to get two goals in a Spanish league game.
  • Fati struck from a pair of passes by Lionel Messi to help Barcelona beat Levante 2-1, keeping the defending champion within three points of leader Real Madrid. Fati got his record brace at the age of 17 years, 94 days. That beat the previous mark established by then Malaga striker Juan Miguel Jiménez in 2010 at 17 years, 115 days.
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Siachen Troops Given Poor Gear

  • The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) pulled up the Army for delays in the procurement of snow goggles, multipurpose boots and other high-altitude clothing and equipment (HACE) essential for troops posted in areas such as Ladakh and Siachen.
  • In a report tabled in both houses of Parliament, the CAG also questioned the government for the inordinate delay in the establishment of the Indian National Defence University, which was recommended by the Kargil review committee in 1999.
  • It has pointed out irregularities in certain procurements and pulled up the defence ministry for losses to the tune of Rs. 25.48 crore on account of delayed lease renewals for defence land.

Son of AAP MLA from Kalkaji Joins Congress

  • AAP MLA Avtar Singh's son, Manpreet Singh, joined the Congress ahead of the February 8, 2020 Delhi assembly polls. Avtar Singh had won from Kalkaji assembly seat in 2015 but was dropped by the party for this year's polls. The AAP gave the Kalkaji ticket to Atishi, who had earlier contested the general election from East Delhi.
  • Manpreet Singh pledged his support to the Congress and the party's Kalkaji candidate Shivani Chopra in the upcoming polls. Shivani, contesting for the first time, is the daughter of three-time MLA and Delhi Congress chief Subhash Chopra.

Goa House Adopts Resolution Lauding PM for CAA Move

  • The Goa legislative assembly adopted a resolution congratulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for having passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) after a walkout by Opposition claiming that the government was using its "brute" majority to pass the resolution. In the 40-member assembly, the ruling BJP has 27 MLAs, besides two Independent legislators who support the government. NCP's Churchil Alemao, who supports the government, was absent.
  • The Opposition had moved a motion before Speaker Rajesh Patnekar to hold a 'long discussion' on the CAA, National Population Register and National Register of Citizens but the Speaker allowed a congratulatory motion.
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Joint Logistics Nodes Being Set Up for Better Integration

  • The government told the Rajya Sabha that joint logistics nodes were being set up at Mumbai, Guwahati and Port Blair for better integration between the three services. In a written reply, minister of state for defence Shripad Naik also said that a study team was preparing the roadmap for the creation of an Air Defence Command. The purpose of the roadmap is to come up with a proposal of integrating the air defence resources of different services under a single agency, so as to ensure jointness and optimisation of resources, procedures and communication arrangements. In his first official directive after taking over as chief of defence staff, General Bipin Rawat asked top officials of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) to prepare a proposal to create an Air Defence command to enhance military synergy and optimally utilise the resources of the armed forces.

L&T MBDA Missile System Sets up Integration Facility in Tamil Nadu

  • L&T MBDA Missile Systems (LTMMSL) has set up a missile (inert) integration facility at Coimbatore. LTMMSL is a joint venture between engineering and construction major L&T and the European defence company MBDA. L&T owns 51% stake in LTMMSL while MBDA has 49%.The inert facility in a Special Economic Zone and will carter to domestic and global markets. The company has set up the assembly line for inert integration (without explosives), testing the Missile Subsystems and weapon launch systems.
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Amitabh Bhatt is New CEO (Bangalore Complex) at HAL

  • Amitabh Bhatt took over as Chief Executive Officer of Bengaluru-headquartered defence PSU, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's Bangalore Complex. Earlier, he was heading the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) project in HAL as Executive Director. Bhatt is a Post Graduate in Management and earlier served in SKF India Limited for 15 years before joining HAL.
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National Day of Sri Lanka

  • Independence Day, also known as National Day, is a Sri Lankan national holiday celebrated annually on 4th February to commemorate the country's political independence from British rule in 1948. It is celebrated all over the country through a flag-hoisting ceremony, dances, parades and performances. Usually, the main celebration takes place in Colombo, where the President raises the national flag and delivers a nationally televised speech.
  • For the first time since 2016, there will be no Tamil national anthem at the 72nd Independence Day celebrations in Sri Lanka and it will only be rendered in Sinhalese, the government announced, amply demonstrating the administration's priority for the majority Sinhala community.
  • Sri Lanka's Constitution provides for the singing of the national anthem in both Sinhala and Tamil.

World Cancer Day

  • World Cancer Day is celebrated on 4th February to raise awareness about the disease cancer, its prevention, and treatment.
  • According to WHO, 17 people die every minute from cancer in the world. Every year, World Cancer Day is observed with a particular theme. The day is organised by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). WHO has designed a guide to cancer early diagnosis.
  • First World Cancer Day was celebrated in 1993 in Geneva, Switzerland under the direction of Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). This was organised by the support of some well-known cancer societies, research institutes, treatment centers, and patient groups.
  • The 2020 World Cancer Day theme is 'I am and I will'.
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M. Beena Chosen for Maiden IQA Award

  • Cochin Port Trust chairperson M. Beena won the first-ever Ambassador of Knowledge Award in Asia instituted by International Quizzing Association.
  • The award was presented to Ms. Beena by Anurakshat Gupta, director, IQA Asia, on the sidelines of Deva Jnan, the national level inter-school quiz fest conducted at Devagiri CMI Public School, Kozhikode.
  • IQA chose Dr. Beena for her efforts and activities to popularise the game of quizzing among the masses. Arogyatharakam, the biggest health quiz in India is Dr. Beena's brainchild. The quiz played a major role in sensitising the masses to various health issues and lifestyle disorders. Dr. Beena also explored the possibilities of the game of quizzing at institutions like KSIDC and Cochin Port Trust.
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Kerala on Alert after its Third Coronavirus Case

  • A medical student who returned from China in January was tested positive for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Kerala's Kasaragod district, the government said, announcing the state's and the country's third case of the infection that has killed 362 people and sparked panic across the world.
  • Authorities in Kerala got into a huddle and announced a state calamity, a move that they hope will create more awareness and help contain the virus effectively.
  • All three cases involve medical students who are studying in Wuhan, the Chinese city considered the epicentre of the outbreak. A group of seven, including the three infected persons, travelled back to Kerala in January. The other four are under watch in isolation wards of different hospitals.

ISRO Young Scientist Programme 2020

  • The application process for the second edition of ISRO Young Scientist Programme 2020 has begun. Candidates who are interested to apply for ISRO should note that the ISRO Young Scientist Programme 2020 aims at providing basic knowledge on space technology, space science, and space applications.
  • Interested candidates should note that the ISRO Young Scientist Programme 2020 will continue for a duration of two weeks - May 11 to May 22, 2020. Three students from each state and union territory will be selected to participate in the programe.
  • Candidates should note that students who have passed Class 8 and are presently a student of Class 9 are eligible to apply for the ISRO Young Scientist Programme 2020. The selection of candidates will be based on the acamedic performance of the students.
  • The two-week ISRO Young Scientist Programme 2020 will be held across four ISRO centres -- in Ahembdabad, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, and Shillong.
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