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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

12 Feb 2020

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

China Denies Role in Cybertheft

  • China denied involvement in any hacking activities after the US indicted four members of the Chinese military for allegedly breaking into computer networks and stealing the personal information of tens of millions of people.
  • The Justice Department accused Beijing of engineering one of the biggest hacks in history, targeting consumer data at the Equifax credit reporting agency.
  • China's Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China was committed to firmly oppose and combat cyber-attacks of any kind.
  • He added that it is a staunch defender of cyber-security and its institutions 'never engage in cyber-theft of trade secrets', claiming China was also the victim of cyber-attacks from the US.
  • As per Geng, China is also a victim of this.

Pak. Court Accepts Saeed's Plea to Club Terror Financing Cases

  • An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan accepted a plea of Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamat-ud-Dawa chief (JuD) Hafiz Saeed to club all six terror financing cases against him and his aides, and announce the verdict on completion of the trial.
  • The anti-terrorism court or ATC had indicted Saeed and others on December 11 in terror financing case in day-to-day hearing.
  • The anti-terrorism court of Lahore accepted the plea of Saeed and his close aides seeking delay in the verdict in two concluded terror financing cases against them till the trial in other four such pending cases is complete.

U.K. Unveils Laws to Stop Early Release of Terrorists

  • Britain unveiled emergency laws to stop convicted terrorists from being automatically released part-way through their prison sentences, following two attacks in London.
  • The government hopes the bill will swiftly pass through parliament and become law by the end of the month.
  • Prisoners are currently released on licence around half-way through their sentences.
  • Under the proposed new law, terror convicts will only be considered for release after serving two-thirds of their sentence, and then only after consideration by a parole board.
  • The change will affect around 50 prisoners currently behind bars. Usman Khan, 28, stabbed two people to death in November in a knife attack near London Bridge while attending a prisoner rehabilitation conference.
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ENVIRONMENT

Fall in Penguin Numbers in Antarctica

  • According to scientists studying the impact of climate change, the number of chinstrap penguins in some colonies in Western Antarctica has fallen by as much as 77% since they were last surveyed in the 1970s. The chinstrap penguin, named after the narrow black band under its head, inhabits the islands and shores of the Southern Pacific and Antarctic Oceans and feeds on krill.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Moody's Downgrades Indusind Bank to Negative

  • Concerns over a further deterioration in asset quality have led ratings agency Moody's Investors Service to revise down its outlook on IndusInd Bank to 'negative' from 'stable'. The private sector bank's rating has been affirmed at the earlier one of 'Baa-3/P-3'.
  • Baa3 denotes the lowest rating in investment grade on long-term corporate obligation which carries moderate risks.
  • The outlook has been revised to negative to account for the risk of further asset quality deterioration.
  • The agency noted that the bank has seen deterioration in asset quality, particularly in the corporate segment over the last few quarters, and attributed the same to tight refinancing conditions faced by borrowers.

Infosys to Buy Simplus

  • Infosys Ltd informed the stock exchanges that it will acquire Simplus, one of the fastest growing Salesforce platinum partners in the US and Australia for up to $250 million. The acquisition is expected to close during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2020.
  • Simplus is a leading provider and advisor in cloud consulting, implementation, data integration, change management and training services for Salesforce quote-to-cash applications with more than 4,500 projects.
  • This acquisition, along with that of Fluido announced in September 2018, is expected to strengthen Infosys' position as an end-to-end Salesforce enterprise cloud solutions and services provider, providing clients with the necessary capabilities for cloud-first digital transformation.

GST Compensation Given to States

  • According to Minister of State for Finance Anurag Singh Thakur, the Centre released Rs. 81,043 crore as GST compensation to states for April-September 2019. In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, he said that GST compensation cess collection has shown upward trend since October 2019. GST compensation cess of Rs. 7,607 crore was collected in October, Rs. 7,727 crore in November, Rs. 8,331 crore in December and Rs. 8,637 crore in January.
  • For 2019-20, the amount targeted to be collected from cess in GST was Rs. 1.09 lakh crore. Of this, Rs. 70,534 crore was collected between April-December 2019.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Europe's Mars Rover Heads for Fit Checks

  • Europe's Mars rover, "Rosalind Franklin", is on the move again.
  • The robot has just completed environmental testing at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, and is now going east to another aerospace facility run by Thales Alenia Space.
  • It's on the French Riviera, in Cannes, that the vehicle will join the hardware that will carry it to the Red Planet and put it safely on the surface.
  • Once this integration is complete, the rover can then go for launch.
  • Rosalind Franklin is due to leave Earth in July or August this year on a Proton rocket, arriving at Mars in March 2021.
  • The six-wheeled robot is equipped with scientific instruments designed to look for signs of life.
  • The project is a joint venture of the European Space Agency (Esa) and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos.
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SPORTS

All-India Chess Federation Elections

  • Five people were declared unopposed for various posts by the returning officer for the All-India Chess Federation (AICF) elections.
  • Ajay Patel was elected as president, Bharat Singh Chauhan as secretary, Naresh Sharma as treasurer, M Arun Singh as joint secretary and Vipnesh Bharadwaj as vice-president, Returning Officer for AICF elections former Supreme Court judge Justice FMI Kalifulla said.
  • The AICF is split into two camps, one headed by P R Venketrama Raja, the president and one led by Chauhan. Those elected belong to the Chauhan faction.

Bishnoi among Five Players Sanctioned

  • Akash Singh and Ravi Bishnoi — and three Bangladesh players were found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute and handed suspension points for the ugly on-field confrontation that marred the Under-19 World Cup final in South Africa.
  • Akash and Bishnoi along with Bangladesh's Md Towhid Hridoy, Shamim Hossain and Rakibul Hasan were found guilty of breaching the ICC Code of Conduct after the two sides nearly came to blows following Bangladesh's three-wicket win for their maiden U-19 World Cup title.
  • The five players have been found guilty of a Level 3 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Support Personnel, (they) were charged with violating Article 2.21 of the code, whilst Bishnoi received a further charge of breaching Article 2.5.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

AAP Sweeps Delhi with 62 Seats

  • Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were voted back to power with a massive mandate in the Delhi Assembly election as the party won 62 seats in the 70-member House.
  • The party dropped just five seats and less than a percentage point in vote share from its stellar 2015 showing.
  • Despite a hard-fought and oftentimes bitter campaign that saw big guns, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah address rallies, the BJP managed to win only 8 seats, up 3 from its 2015 tally.
  • The Congress, yet again, failed to open its account — the party's candidates looked set to forfeit their deposits on 63 of the 66 seats contested.

Marandi-led JVM(P) to Merge with BJP

  • The Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) led by Babulal Marandi announced its decision to merge with the BJP on February 17.
  • A central committee meeting of the party unanimously approved the party's merger with the BJP.
  • The former Jharkhand Chief Minister said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president J. P. Nadda will be present at the merger ceremony at Prabhat Tara maidan on February 17.
  • Marandi also said that the expulsion of party MLAs Pradip Yadav and Bandhu Turkey has been approved by the central committee of the party.

Trump to Begin India Visit on Feb. 24

  • US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit India during February 24-25, with a limited trade package and a public event featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi expected to be highlights of the trip.
  • Trump's maiden visit to India will take him to New Delhi and Ahmedabad, with the two sides saying the trip will strengthen the strategic partnership and provide an opportunity for the leaders to review progress in bilateral ties.
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DEFENCE

UK Trafalgar-class Submarine HMS Trenchant Extended in Service

  • A 31-year-old Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) is being kept in service for another year by the UK Royal Navy (RN) after construction delays prevented its replacement joining the fleet.
  • The extension in service of Trenchant is the latest consequence of the delays to Audacious, which was originally due to begin its sea trials in late 2018.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Darwin Day

  • Darwin Day is Celebrated annually on February 12th, Darwin Day – also known as International Darwin Day – is a holiday that commemorates the birth of naturalists and geologist Charles Darwin in 1809. This holiday is also a day to bring attention to Darwin's contributions to science and is also used to highlight science in general. It is celebrated in the United States and all over the world.
  • While the celebration of Charles Darwin's life and work has been done sporadically since he died in 1882, it would be many years before an official holiday commemorating him would be created. Over the years it was recognized by numerous groups of scientists, academics and by universities all over the globe. In the United States, it was made an official holiday due to House Resolution 67 which designated February 12 as Darwin Day in the United States in 2015.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Pullela Gopichand First Indian to Receive IOC's Honourable Mention

  • Top Indian badminton coach, Pullela Gopichand was awarded an "honourable mention" at the IOC Coaches Lifetime Achievement Awards 2019 for his excellence and contribution in the field of coaching.
  • Gopichand received the mention in the male category of the awards. He is the first-ever Indian to receive the prestigious honour.
  • The International Olympic Committee said in a statement that the panel wishes to recognise Gopichand's efforts in the development of Badminton sport in India, his efforts to support athletes across sports as well as his contribution to the Olympic Movement.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Bill to Include more Tribes in ST Category

  • Parliament passed a bill to include certain tribal communities in Karnataka in the Scheduled Tribe category.
  • The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in Lok Sabha by voice vote, while Rajya Sabha had already approved it in the previous session.
  • It seeks to include Parivara and Talawara tribal communities in the ST category to ensure they get reservation and other benefits provided by the government.
  • Siddi tribes of Belagavi, Dharwad would also be included in the ST category apart from those living in Uttar Kannada districts.
  • The amendments have been made in the list of STs in Karnataka.
  • As per Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda, the legislation was brought in relation to one state and assured the members, many of whom sought inclusion of communities from there states into the Scheduled Tribes, that the government will take cognisance of their demands.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

WHO Names Deadly Virus from China as 'COVID-19'

  • World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that "COVID-19" is the official name of the deadly virus from China, saying that the disease represented a very grave threat for the world but there was a realistic chance of stopping it.
  • Tedros said that "co" stands for "corona", "vi" for "virus" and "d" for "disease", while "19" was for the year, as the outbreak was first identified on December 31, 2019.
  • Tedros said that the name had been chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location, animal species or group of people in line with international recommendations for naming aimed at preventing stigmatisation.

IIT Madras-incubated Start-up Develops Diamond Coatings

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras-incubated deep-tech start-up Kapindra Precision Engineering has developed diamond coatings that can aid Indian Scientists working on heat dissipation (thermal management), a major issue for hypersonic missiles during their re-entry into earth's atmosphere where they experience destructive high temperatures (>2,400 oC). Defence establishments of many countries have been working on heat dissipation issues, which pose a major hurdle to aero-dynamic stability of missiles upon re-entry. Based on their technology, Kapindra, was adjudged as the '#1 Start-up' in the 'DRDO Dare to Dream Innovation Contest' for its specialised product offering. The start-up came from technology developed at IIT Madras' Nano Functional Materials Technology Centre and Materials Science Research Center (MSRC) led by MS Ramachandra Rao.

IIT Madras-incubated Start-up Develops Diamond Coatings

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras-incubated deep-tech start-up Kapindra Precision Engineering has developed diamond coatings that can aid Indian Scientists working on heat dissipation (thermal management), a major issue for hypersonic missiles during their re-entry into earth's atmosphere where they experience destructive high temperatures (>2,400 oC). Defence establishments of many countries have been working on heat dissipation issues, which pose a major hurdle to aero-dynamic stability of missiles upon re-entry. Based on their technology, Kapindra, was adjudged as the '#1 Start-up' in the 'DRDO Dare to Dream Innovation Contest' for its specialised product offering. The start-up came from technology developed at IIT Madras' Nano Functional Materials Technology Centre and Materials Science Research Center (MSRC) led by MS Ramachandra Rao.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Release of the Book Essays & Reminiscences

  • SASTRA Law School & Palkhivala Foundation jointly organised the release of the book Essays & Reminiscences authored by senior advocate Arvind Datar. The book was released by Justice T. S. Sivagnanam, Judge, Madras High Court. First copies were received by Chancellor of SASTRA Prof. R. Sethuraman, Sr. Advs N. Venkatraman & N. L. Rajah and NSAB member Prof. R. Vaidyanathan.
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