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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

14 Feb 2020


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Hope Hicks to Return to the White House

  • President Donald Trump's former communications director Hope Hicks -- one of his most influential confidantes and a long time loyalist -- is expected to return to the White House in an adviser role.
  • She will return to an administration gearing up for re-election and serve a President freshly intent on ridding his team of aides he views as disloyal.
  • Long seen as a stabilizing force on a boss who likes chaos, Hicks will be working closely with Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as White House political director.
  • As per reports, her official title will be counsellor to the President.

U.S. Welcomes Saeed's Conviction

  • The US welcomed the conviction of the 2008 Mumbai attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and described it as an important step forward for Pakistan in meeting its international commitments to combat terror financing and not to allow non-state actors to operate from its soil.
  • The statement of a top state department official came after Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a USD 10 million bounty on, was sentenced to 11 years in two terror financing cases on Wednesday, four days ahead of a crucial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in Paris where Pakistan will present its case to escape from being blacklisted.

UK's New Finance Minister

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed Indian-origin politician and Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy's son-in-law Rishi Sunak as the new Finance Minister in his cabinet.
  • Sunak is the second person to join Johnson's cabinet, the first being Priti Patel, the Home Secretary. The 39-year-old is set to move into No. 11 Downing Street, next door to the Prime Minister's Office.
  • Sunak previously served as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the second in command to the Finance Minister. He was elected to the parliament in 2015.
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Antarctica Witnesses Hottest Temperature

  • The Antarctic registered a temperature of more than 20 degree Celcius for the first time in history.
  • The 20.75C logged by Brazilian scientists at Seymour Island on 9 February was almost a full degree higher than the previous record of 19.8C, taken on Signy Island in January 1982.
  • On 6 February, an Argentinian research station at Esperanza had measured 18.3C, which was the highest reading on the continental Antarctic peninsula.
  • The record temperatures are consistent with a broader trend on the peninsula and nearby islands, which have warmed by almost 3C since the pre-industrial era – one of the fastest rates on the planet.
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USTR Takes India off Developing Country List

  • The U.S. government changed an administrative rule making it easier for it to impose countervailing duties (CVDs) on goods from India and certain other countries.
  • The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published a notice, amending lists of developing and least-developed countries that are eligible for preferential treatment with respect to CVD investigations.
  • To harmonise U.S. law with the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement, the USTR had, in 1998, come up with lists of countries classified as per their level of development. These lists were used to determine whether they were potentially subject to U.S. countervailing duties. The 1998 rule is now "obsolete" as per the USTR notice.
  • Countries not given special consideration have lower levels of protection against a CVD investigation.

RBI Appoints Five Executive Directors

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) elevated five officials to the executive directors' post.
  • The officials will be taking charge during the year.
  • Those elevated are Indrani Banerjee, Regional Director, Nagpur, Saurav Sinha, chief general manager-in-charge, Vivek Deep, CGM in-charge, J. K. Dash, CGM in-charge, and P. Vijayakumar, the senior most RBI ombudsman.
  • At present, RBI has 12 executive directors, and five of them are due to retire in 2020.
  • In January, Michael Patra was elevated to the post of Deputy Governor. Janak Raj replaced Mr. Patra as the executive director in-charge of monetary policy.

SEBI Develops System to Detect Misuse of Client Securities

  • SEBI developed an online system to timely detect misuse of clients' securities by stock brokers and alert exchanges in case of diversion of investors funds.
  • This comes after SEBI observed that some brokers have misused clients' securities received as collateral to meet their own settlement obligation or obligations of other clients.
  • In fact, the regulator noticed that some brokers have also misused clients' securities by pledging them with the banks and non-banking finance companies (NBFCs) to raise funds for their own use.
  • Consequently, the regulator developed an in-house online system by which it would be able to prepare client level securities holding register of the brokers.
  • Under the system, SEBI collects the details of the clients' securities submitted in weekly report filed by brokers with the exchanges and updates the same with trades conducted in the accounts of the clients using the data available in its data warehouse & business intelligence system as well as data provided by bourses, clearing corporations and depositories pertaining to auction trades, corporate actions and off market trades among others.
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Saltwater May Form on Mars Annually: Study

  • According to a study, salt water may form on the surface of Mars for a few days annually. Researchers at the Planetary Science Institute in the US noted that liquid water is difficult to come by on the Red Planet, because ice rapidly dissipates into the atmosphere long before it reaches its melting point. This is because the atmospheric pressure on Mars lies near the triple point pressure of water molecules (H2O), the minimum pressure necessary for liquid water to exist.
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Tendulkar Versus Lara in Road Safety World Series Opener

  • Two of the biggest names in world cricket — legendary Sachin Tendulkar and West Indian Brian Lara — will once again be up against each other for a noble cause.
  • The two champion players will clash against each other in the opening game of the 'Unacademy Road Safety World Series', a T20 tournament, when India Legends will take on West Indies Legends at Wankhede Stadium here on March 7.
  • As per the series schedule, a total of 11 matches will be played in the tournament.
  • The series will feature some big names in cricket from India, Australia, Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa like Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Brett Lee, Brad Hodge, Jonty Rhodes, Muttiah Muralitharan, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Ajantha Mendis.
  • According to the organisers, the series aims to create awareness about road safety.
  • Two of these 11 matches will be played at Wankhede, four at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium in Pune, four at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai and the final game will be played at Brabourne Stadium here on March 22.

Vidit Gujrathi Posts Win against Sam Shankland in Prague Chess Opener

  • India's Vidit Santosh Gujrathi opened his campaign in the Master's event of the Prague Chess Festival with a win over Sam Shankland of the USA. P. Harikrishna (ELO rating 2713), the other Indian player in the field, held Sweden's Nils Grandelius to a 36-move draw in a Nimzo-Indian game.
  • Vidit Gujrathi and Harikrishna are ranked two and three in the latest FIDE list behind the legendary Viswanathan Anand.
  • Top-seeds Jan-Krzysztof Duda of Poland and Nikita Vitiugov (Russia) were the other winners in the opening round.
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MEA Renames Two Institutions after Sushma

  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced that two key institutions linked to India's foreign policy would be renamed after late External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. The decision to rename the Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra and Foreign Service Institute, both located in New Delhi, was made on the eve of Swaraj's birth anniversary on February 14. Swaraj, India's first full-time Foreign Minister, died at the age of 67 on August 6, 2019.

Chandrakant Patil Reappointed BJP Maha Unit Chief

  • Former Maharashtra Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil was reappointed the chief of state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, while businessman-politician Mangal Prabhat Lodha was again made the head of the Mumbai unit. The state and city presidents are elected for a five-year term.

Pulwama Attack Anniversary

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tribute to the 40 CRPF personnel killed in a terror attack in Pulwama a year ago and said that India will never forget their martyrdom.
  • Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, ministers Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani and Hardeep Puri as well as AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal were among those who remembered those killed when a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel was attacked on February 14, 2019.
  • On the first anniversary of the Pulwama attack, the CRPF also inaugurated a memorial at Lethpora camp in Srinagar to commemorate the jawans. The names of all the 40 personnel along with their pictures will be part of the memorial along with the motto of the CRPF -- 'Seva and Nishtha' (Service and Loyalty).
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BHEL Signs Pact with Russian Firm to Undertake Joint Defence Projects

  • State-run engineering firm BHEL signed a pact with Rosoboronexport, Russia, for cooperation and undertaking projects for defence systems. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed during the 5th India Russia Military Industrial conference held in Lucknow. The aim of the MoU is to cooperate and undertake joint projects and operations for defence systems.
  • This will help in leveraging BHEL's capabilities in the defence sector in association with Russian OEMs under the Make in India' initiative and offer indigenous support and solutions to the Indian defence forces.
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Former TERI Chief R. K. Pachauri Passes Away

  • R. K. Pachauri, a former chief of The Energy and Resources Institute, passed away after a prolonged cardiac ailment. Pachauri was 79.
  • Pachauri was the chairman of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) between 2002 and 2015. The panel was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize during Pachauri's tenure in 2007.
  • In 2015, Pachauri was accused of allegedly sexually harassing a woman colleague after which he quit the post.
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43rd Governing Council Meet of IFAD 2020 held in Rome, Italy

  • A 2-day long 43rd session of the annual Governing Council meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) 2020 based on the theme "Investing in sustainable food systems to end hunger by 2030" was held at FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) headquarters in Rome, Italy from February 11- 12, 2020.
  • The event, opened by President of the Republic of Mali , Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, witnessed interactive sessions on how IFAD's role and experience in supporting sustainable, inclusive, nutritious and efficient food systems place it in a unique position to contribute to eliminate hunger.
  • It was also announced at the meet that the UN (United Nations) will not be able to achieve the target of Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 due to the lack of funds and it will be achieved only by 2040 with an annual investment of more than $115 billion.

Debaters Shine at IIMT and Daulat Ram

  • Delhi-NCR's biggest inter-collegiate debating competition, Federal Bank Speak For India Delhi Edition, in association with Hindustan Times and Hindustan, drew an overwhelming response from students who gathered to portray their debating skills on stage in the audition rounds at IIMT, Greater Noida and Daulat Ram College.
  • Over 140 students took the stage to try their chance for the coveted prizes and scholarship worth over Rs. 5 lakh.
  • It was an extremely powerful and impactful platform created by Hindustan Times in association with Federal Bank as students got the right stage to address their views and showcase the talent in front of a large audience. Such events help in bringing out great talent who can be great leaders of a new India.
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Manpreet Singh First Indian to Win FIH Male Player of the Year Award

  • National men's team captain Manpreet Singh became the first Indian to win the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) Player of the Year award, capping a memorable 2019 season in which he led the side to Olympic qualification.
  • Manpreet Singh, thus, became the first from the country to win the accolade since the awards were introduced in 1999.
  • He beat competition from Belgium's Arthur van Dorren and Lucas Villa of Argentina, who came second and third respectively.
  • Other players who were nominated for the award were Victor Wegnez of Belgium and Australian duo of Aran Zalewski and Eddie Ockenden.
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Cabinet Approves Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 and Major Ports Authority Bill, 2020

  • The cabinet approved Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 to benefit farmers and Major Ports Authority Bill, 2020 to resolve disputes related to sea ports. Now, both Bills would be introduced in Parliament during the upcoming second phase of the Budget session beginning on March 2.
  • Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 which will protect the interests of farmers against spurious pesticides is seeks to replace the Insecticides Act, 1968, for regulating the pesticide sector by fixing prices and setting up an authority. The bill also intends to promote organic pesticides along with a proposal of imprisonment of up to five years, up from two years at present, for Pesticide companies, in case of any violation of rules and regulations.
  • Major Ports Authority Bill, 2020 seeks amendment to the Major Port Trust Act, 1963 to resolve disputes between port issues as well as to ensure the export in the international market.
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Coronavirus Could Spread To Two-Thirds of the World Population

  • According to a top health official, the coronavirus epidemic could spread to roughly two-thirds of the world's population if the deadly bug is not controlled.
  • Most experts believe that each person infected can go on to transmit the coronavirus to about 2.5 other people, which would cause an attack rate of 60% to 80%. As per Professor Gabriel Leung, chair of Public Health Medicine at Hong Kong University, even with a general fatality rate as low as 1%, a possibility once milder cases are taken into account, there could still be a massive global death toll.

IIM-Bangalore Announces Launch of an Advanced Management Programme for Family Businesses

  • Indian Institute of Management Bangalore has announced the launch of an advanced programme for family business owners.
  • IIMB has been offering the Management Programme for Entrepreneurs and Family Businesses (MPEFB) for over 13 years now. More than 400 family business owners, from diverse sectors, have completed past editions of the MPEFB. With the business environment growing in complexity, many family business owners have sought an advanced programme.
  • The Family Business Advanced Management (FAME) programme was conceived by IIMB to cater to this requirement. The goal of the programme is to equip the next generation of Indian family business owners with the skills and knowledge to power their organizations to the next level.
  • The programme has been designed by professors K. Kumar and Dalhia Mani, based on cutting-edge research, pedagogy and practical expertise.
  • The programme structure takes into account the busy schedule of family business owners and comprises 21 days of on-campus in modules spread over six calendar months. The participants conceive and implement a business challenge in their enterprise through the course of the programme, with mentoring from IIMB faculty.
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Book "Messages from Messengers" by Priti K. Shroff Launched

  • "Messages from Messengers" book written by Priti K. Shroff was launched in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The book deals with Indian culture and tradition and is suitable for everyone in all stages of life, as a tool for self-guidance.
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Tourism Boost for Jammu! Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams Set to Build Lord Balaji Temple

  • Big boost for Jammu tourism! A new Tirumala temple in Jammu is set to be constructed by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams trust. The Jammu administration has given in-principle approval to allot 100 acres of land to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams trust to build a replica of the Tirumala temple currently in Andhra Pradesh. Reports further stated that the temple premise will also have a Vedic school and a hospital. It is likely to be built in a span of two years.
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