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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

07 Feb 2020


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Nigeria's New Visa Policy to Attract Foreign Talent

  • Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari unveiled a new visa policy which he says is intended to attract innovation, specialised skills and knowledge from abroad.
  • The President in 2019 in Egypt, announced the new visa policy which he described as a "strategic decision to bring down barriers that have hindered the free movement of our people within the continent".
  • The new policy sees the introduction of visas on arrival for short visits for holders of passports of African Union countries.
  • There are 79 new categories which the government says is to ensure that "visas are more efficiently matched to the purpose of travel, thus helping improve the efficiency of processing and response".
  • The government also announced a new biometric visa database which is able to conduct checks for those on Interpol watch lists.
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Campaign to Save Gloucestershire Roman Villa Unearthed

  • A campaign has been launched to protect the remains of a Roman villa unearthed during work on a new housing estate.
  • The villa was discovered in Cam, Gloucestershire, by archaeologists working on behalf of Bovis Homes.
  • BBC TV presenter and archaeology expert Professor Mark Horton are among those calling for it to be saved, describing it as "a very important discovery".
  • But the developer says archaeologists have told them the villa does not qualify for preservation.
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Yes Bank Picks IDFC Securities, Ambit to Raise as much as $2 billion

  • Yes Bank Ltd. picked Cantor Fitzgerald LP, IDFC Securities Ltd. and Ambit Pvt. to help the Indian lender raise as much as $2 billion for bolstering capital buffers.
  • Yes Bank, staggering under the weight of soured loans, has been plagued by worries about its asset quality and uncertainty about efforts to raise new capital. It's trying to shore up a core equity capital ratio that's barely above a regulatory minimum of 8%.

Piramal Group May Partner with Foreign, PSU Banks for Co-lending

  • Piramal Group plans to collaborate with public sector and foreign banks for co-lending opportunities, which will generate fee income for the company and help maintain return on equity (ROE).
  • Piramal said that we have, in the past, explored high-yield, wholesale funding opportunities through our funds. Going forward, we will be collaborating with public sector and foreign banks for co-lending opportunities. Co-lending opportunities help in generating fee income and main ROEs despite our diversification into retail financing.
  • Piramal also said that there are many portfolio purchasing and merger and acquisition (M&A) prospects in the housing finance sector, as it has slowed down due to liquidity crunch, which has led to some of these companies vacating the space.

Paytm Rolls Out All-in-one Payment Device

  • Paytm, India's leading digital payments player, unveiled new products to target businesses and ward off rising competition from Google Pay, Walmart Inc.-owned PhonePe and Amazon Pay.
  • Paytm introduced a stand that displays QR check-out codes that comes with a calculator and USB charger, a so-called sound box that provides voice confirmations of transactions, cloud software to streamline inventory management, and a point-of-sale device with built-in scanner and printer. The latter accepts payments through debit and credit cards as well as as Paytm and rival apps.
  • The new products signal a shift in strategic focus to merchants rather than person-to-person transactions. Paytm's brand became synonymous with digital payments in India after the government banned high-value currency notes at the end of 2016, a "demonetization" exercise intended to stymie corruption. But the likes of Inc. and Alphabet Inc. are now expanding their rival services aggressively and have begun to encroach on its market share.
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NASA Astronaut to Set New Female Space Record

  • NASA astronaut Christina Koch is set to complete the longest-ever single spaceflight by a woman.
  • When she returns to Earth on Thursday, Koch will have spent 328 days on the International Space Station (ISS), surpassing the previous record held by fellow American Peggy Whitson.
  • Ms Koch will come back in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, parachuting down to a landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.
  • Her record is just 12 days short of the all-time US record set by Scott Kelly.
  • Mr. Kelly stayed on the ISS from 2015-2016.
  • Ms. Koch surpassed the 289-day record set by fellow American Ms. Whitson on 28 December 2019. But her return to Earth, shortly after 09:00 GMT, will set the marker for future space travellers to beat.
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Shooting: Olympic Selection Trials from Feb. 20

  • The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) announced Olympics selection trials in rifle, pistol and shotgun for those shooters who do not have the required number of scores to rate them as per the selection policy.
  • The trials will be held at the Dr. Karni Singh Range in Tughlakabad, Delhi from February 20 to 25, 2020. Tejaswini Sawant and Yashaswini Singh Deswal are the only two shooters who have won an Olympic quota but will still be subject to these trials, which are basically meant for shooters on the periphery.

Avishek Becomes Youngest CAB President

  • Former BCCI president late Jagmohan Dalmiya's son Avishek became the youngest president of the Cricket Association Bengal at the age of 38 after being elected unopposed.
  • Snehasish Ganguly, a former Bengal left-hander, is the new joint secretary, a post that has been vacated by Dalmiya junior before his elevation.
  • The CAB president's post was lying vacant after former India captain Sourav Ganguly took over the reins of BCCI.
  • Avishek thus became the 18th president of CAB with his father holding the office for two terms.
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Navy to Get Third Scorpene Submarine in December

  • According to Nicolas de La Villemarque, Vice President India, Asia and Pacific of Naval Group, the third Scorpene submarine, Karanj, will be delivered to the Indian Navy by December 2020 and all six submarine deliveries would be completed by 2022.
  • Karanj was launched into water in January 2018 and is currently in advanced stages of sea trials. The first Scorpene, Kulvari, was commissioned in 2018 and it would go for a normal refit after six years in 2023. The second Scorpene Khanderi was inducted in September 2019.
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Kirk Douglas, Hollywood Legend Dies

  • Actor Kirk Douglas, a fixture of cinema for six decades, has died aged 103.
  • The stage and screen actor was well-known for a range of roles, including the 1960 classic Spartacus, in which he played the titular character.
  • Born in New York in 1916, he rose to prominence during Hollywood's "golden age", earning his first Oscar nomination for the 1949 boxing story Champion.
  • He was also the father of Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas.
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Rwanda Hosts International Conference on Drones

  • An international conference on drone technology opened in Rwanda's capital Kigali.
  • Hundreds of participants from 44 countries around the world are in Kigali, Rwanda's capital for the international conference on drone technology.
  • The three-day event brings together civilian drone operators and policy regulators.
  • One of the main attractions is a competition to fly drones over Lake Kivu.
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Big Bang Boom Solutions Wins Prestigious SKOCH Award

  • Big Bang Boom Solutions Pvt Ltd (BBBS), start-up company in the defence sector was awarded the prestigious SKOCH Award for "Boron Nitrate Based Personal Hybrid Combat Armour " at New Delhi, India.
  • Big Bang Boom Solutions also won in the MoD (Ministry of Defence) competition around See-Through-Armour and Illegal Defence Drones in iDex (Innovations for Defence Excellence) category.
  • BBBS was the first company to consolidate Artificial Intelligence (AI) with the defense sector.
  • The Skoch Award was instituted in 2003, and is the highest civilian honour in the country conferred by an independent organisation. The award is contributed to the best efforts in the area of digital, financial and social inclusion.
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One in 15 Indians Will Die of Cancer

  • One in every 10 Indians will develop cancer and one in every 15 will die of the disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a report, highlighting the perils posed by the illness.
  • According to the study, India, with a population of 1.35 billion, witnessed as many as 1.16 million new cancer cases and 784,800 cancer deaths in 2018. Breast cancer, oral cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and colorectal cancer most common types of cancer in India, which together accounted for 49% of all new cancer cases.
  • Cancer patterns in India are dominated by a high burden of tobacco-related head and neck cancers, particularly oral cancer, in men and of cervical cancer in women; both of these cancer types are associated with lower socioeconomic status.

Five more IIITs to Get Institute of National Importance Tag

  • The Union Cabinet gave its approval to confer the status of Institution of National Importance (INI) to five Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs). The five IIITs in PPP mode at Surat, Bhopal, Bhagalpur, Agartala and Raichur will now be able to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (BTech) or Master of Technology (MTech) or PhD degree.

TalentSprint Expands its Women Engineers Program

  • TalentSprint announced the expansion of its Women Engineers (WE) Program, with enhanced support from Google. Building on the strong industry acceptance of the first cohort, the second cohort will select, train, and enable 120 talented women engineering students to become world-class software engineers. The program is open to first year women engineering students across India.
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Disney's Streaming Service Disney+ to Enter India

  • Disney's new over the top (OTT) streaming service Disney+ will be officially launched in India on March 29. The service will be started in partnership with Star India-owned streaming platform Hotstar.
  • Disney+ was launched in the US in November 2019 and was expected to make its debut in India in the second half of 2020. Disney owns Star India because of which Hotstar also falls under the entertainment conglomerate's portfolio. Disney acquired Star India when it took over 21st Century in March 2019 for $71.3 billion. As per reports, the VIP tier of Hotstar's platform will be renamed to Disney+Hotstar.
  • Disney+ has 26.5 million paid subscribers worldwide. The company is expected to give stiff competition to other OTT players, especially Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Hotstar already has a tie-up with HBO and streams the channel's shows on its platform. The Disney+ association will further raise the platform's content library in India.
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