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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

15 Feb 2020


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US Senate Moves to Curb Trump's War Powers

  • The US Senate advanced legislation intended to limit President Donald Trump's ability to wage war against Iran, paving the way for a final vote. The resolution would require Trump to remove US troops engaged in hostilities against Iran unless Congress passes an authorisation for the use of military force. The vote was 51-45 on a motion to proceed to a final vote.

Turkey to Oppose Pakistan Blacklisting at FATF Meet

  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would help Pakistan stay off a terrorism financing blacklist at a meeting of a global finance watchdog, a move he suggested would counter political pressure from Islamabad's critics.
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which tackles money laundering, told Islamabad late last year that it could face blacklisting if it continued to apply inadequate controls over terrorism financing.
  • The FATF is meeting next week in France, and support from Turkey and longtime allies like China, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia could help Pakistan remain off the blacklist. A minimum of three votes are required for any country to escape the blacklisting.
  • If it joined the blacklist alongside Iran and North Korea, Islamabad would face sanctions and economic setbacks at a time when its economy is struggling with a balance of payment crisis.

Trump to Stop Officials from Listening to His Overseas Calls

  • US President Donald Trump has said that he may discontinue the practice of officials listening in on his phone calls with foreign leaders, after he was impeached for one of them.
  • Democrat-led House of Representatives initiated an impeachment inquiry against Trump last September based on concerns raised by a whistle-blower who had reported being concerned about what the person had heard about the US president's phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25.
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Shell and RIL Win against Centre in U.K. Court

  • In a big win for Shell and its partner Reliance Industries, the English High Court rejected Indian government's challenge to the recovery of certain costs in the western offshore Panna-Mukta and Tapti oil and gas fields they operated.
  • The government had sought $3.5 billion in dues from Reliance and Shell-owned BG Exploration & Production India Ltd based on an October 2016 partial award of an international arbitration tribunal over the recovery of certain costs from the sale of oil and gas produced from the Panna-Mukta and Tapti fields.
  • The two firms had gone to the English High Court against the 2016 partial award.

PW Won't Provide Other Services to its Audit Clients

  • Price Waterhouse, an affiliate of one of the Big Four accounting firms, will no longer provide non-audit services to companies it audits in India, a week after the government floated a discussion paper to end the practice.
  • The decision, which sacrifices a big chunk of tax consulting and business advisory fees, will apply to audit clients governed by the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA), Price Waterhouse Network of Firms in India. The PW India network houses 10 firms, including Price Waterhouse, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Dalal & Shah and Lovelock & Lewes.

Adani Enterprises Signs Agreement with AAI

  • Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) signed a 50 years concession agreement with Airports Authority of India (AAI) for developing and operating three airports including Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru.
  • The agreement was signed between AAI and AEL's wholly owned subsidiaries Adani Ahmedabad International Airport Ltd, Adani Lucknow International Airport Ltd and Adani Mangaluru International Airport Ltd.
  • Under the current agreement, AEL would stand to hold a management control for 50-year lease period as well as on a per-passenger fee model. While AEL would pay Rs. 3600 crore to AAI as part of the lease, it would spend Rs. 6000 crore on the airports for the next seven years post takeover.
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Tech Startup Tekion Launches Cloud-based Automotive Dealer Management

  • Former Tesla CIO Jay Vijayan's technology start-up Tekion launched a flagship product called Automotive Retail Cloud, a cloud-native retail platform with all functionalities of a Dealer Management System.
  • The product connects key stakeholders of the industry enabling maximum level of operational efficiencies, collaboration, and personalised retail experiences.
  • Tekion, which has around 300 employees globally is backed by VCs such as Index Ventures, Storm Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures. Global automotive brands such as General Motors, BMW iVentures, Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance Ventures, and Exor have also invested in this startup.
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Khelo India Winter Games in Ladakh and J&K

  • Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju announced that the Union Territory of Ladakh will host the inaugural Khelo India Winter Games later this month followed by a similar event in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir in March.
  • The sports ministry will fund both the Khelo India Winter Games - in Ladakh in the third week of February and in Jammu and Kashmir in the first week of March.
  • The Khelo India Ladakh Winter Games will feature an open ice hockey championship, figure skating, and speed skating and the competition will be conducted at the block, district and UT levels with expected participation of about 1700 athletes.
  • The competitions of the Khelo India J&K Winter Games will be held at Kongdori, Gulmarg in four age categories for both boys and girls.
  • Athletes in the age categories of 19-21 years, 17-18 years, 15-16 years and 13-14 years can compete in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.
  • Around 841 athletes and officials are expected to participate in the Games being organised by J&K Sports Council and Winter Games Association of J&K, with 15 teams from different states and organisations.

Royal Challengers Bangalore Unveils New Logo

  • Royal Challengers Bangalore unveiled its new logo ahead of the upcoming season starting March 23.
  • The club said the new logo design, which features a lion, embodies the bold and fearless attitude of the side.
  • As per Sanjeev Churiwala, Chairman of Royal Challengers Bangalore, the element in the logo is a commitment to continuously entertain and engage with fans who are the force behind Royal Challengers Bangalore.
  • Royal Challengers Bangalore recently announced a three-year partnership with Muthoot Fincorp Ltd.
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J&K Panchayat Bypolls to Start on March 5

  • The Union Territory's Chief Electoral Officer Shailender Kumar said that by-election to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu and Kashmir would be held in eight phases from March 5.
  • Polling would be held from March 5 to March 20 and ballots would be used for casting votes.
  • The first phase of the bypolls will be held on March 5, followed by second on March 7, third on March 9, fourth on March 12, fifth on March 14, sixth on March 16, seventh on March 18 and last on March 20.
  • The process for filling 11,639 panch seats and 1,011 sarpanch seats will completed by March 26.

BJP, Cong. to Gain Big as 51 MPs are Set to Retire in April

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress are expected to win most of the vacancies that will arise in the Rajya Sabha in April 2020 when the term of 51 members comes to an end in April, although both parties will see their strength diminished marginally.
  • The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) are expected to make significant gains in the 245-member House. The change in composition, however, is unlikely to worry the BJP, which still does not have a majority in the upper house (nor does the larger NDA grouping it leads). However, this has not stopped the party from pushing through laws in the Rajya Sabha, thanks to support from parties such as the Biju Janata Dal and the YSRCP.
  • The BJP, which has 82 members in the house, is expected to add 13 members (four down from the 18 it has among the 51). The BJD is likely to win two seats of the three vacancies from Odisha, the BJP will get one. In Andhra Pradesh, the YSRCP will pocket all four seats falling vacant in April. The BJP will also add one seat each from Himachal Pradesh and Haryana to its tally.
  • The Congress, which has 46 members, is likely to get 10 seats in the upcoming elections. The party will see 11 of its members retiring in April.
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Bharat Forge Eyes Defence Orders for Heavy Lift Drones

  • Bharat Forge, India's largest forging company, is eyeing business orders from India's defence forces for heavy lift drones, that can transport emergency supplies beyond enemy lines. The Pune-based company showcased a concept drone, also called quadcopter, at the recently held Defence Expo in Lucknow alongside an array of guns and armoured vehicles.
  • The supposed drones can lift weights of 65 kg and fly at an altitude of 6,000 metres.

Pakistan Navy Commissions First of Two 2,300 Tonnes Multirole Corvettes

  • Pakistan Navy (PN) commissioned the first of two 2,300 tonnes multirole corvettes ordered from Dutch shipbuilder Damen in 2017.
  • Named PNS 'Yarmook' (F-271), the ship, which the company said is based on a Damen Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) 1900, entered serviced in a ceremony held on 13 February at Constanta Port in Romania that was also attended by the PN's Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Muhammad Fayyaz Gilani.
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Rajiv Bansal Appointed Chairman and MD of Air India

  • Senior bureaucrat Rajiv Bansal was appointed as the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India for a second time, days after the government announced 100 per cent stake sale of the debt-ridden national carrier.
  • Bansal, a 1988-batch IAS officer of the Nagaland cadre is currently the additional secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved his appointment as the CMD of Air India in the rank and pay of additional secretary.
  • He replaced Ashwani Lohani, who has completed his one-year tenure as the head of the airline.

Debasish Panda Appointed Finance Secretary

  • Senior IAS officer Debasish Panda was appointed as the new finance secretary as part of a top level bureaucratic reshuffle effected by the Centre.
  • Panda, a 1987-batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, is at present special secretary, department of financial services.
  • The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved his appointment as secretary, department of financial services, in place of Rajiv Kumar, who superannuates this month-end.
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GSMA Calls Off Mobile World Congress Event

  • The Mobile World Congress (MWC), the annual telecom industry gathering that draws more than 100,000 visitors to Barcelona, was cancelled after a mass exodus by exhibitors due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Bowing to the inevitable, the GSMA telecom association that hosts the get-together said that it had cancelled the February 24-27 event despite assurances from local and national health officials that it would have been safe to hold it.
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South Indian Bank Bags 6 IBA Awards

  • The South Indian Bank won six awards at the 'Banking Technology Awards 2020' organised by the Indian Banks Association.
  • Best Technology Bank of the Year, Best use of data and analytics for business, best IT risk management and cyber security initiatives, best payment initiatives, consumer centric use of technology, best CIO were the awards bagged by the South Indian Bank at the event.
  • The conference and award ceremony was held in Mumbai.

Gita Sen Wins Dan David Prize 2020

  • Gita Sen , an Indian feminist scholar, activist won the prestigious Dan David Prize 2020 under "present" category for her path-breaking work in the fields of population policies, reproductive and sexual health, women's rights, poverty, labour markets and global governance.
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Bihar Govt. Launches 'Pyaar ka Paudha' Campaign

  • Ahead of Valentine's Day, 'Pyaar ka Paudha' (a plant of love) campaign was launched by the Bihar government's Department of Environment and Forest in Patna, to encourage the practice of planting trees in the state.
  • Principal Secretary, Forest department Bihar, Dipak Kumar said, "We have put stalls in several places in Patna and will slowly expand it to other cities. It's good for the environment and climate."
  • Department of Environment, Forest and Climate Change that comes under the Bihar government on February 12 took to Twitter and said, "Nature controls the trees and plants. Take a pledge to make the earth green. We humbly request you to gift one plant of love to your closed ones and provide a good care. Through this campaign, your small effort will be a big step towards making the Bihar land green.
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Egypt Reports Africa's First Case

  • Egypt confirmed its first case of a deadly coronavirus that emerged in central China at the end of last year and has since spread to more than two dozen countries around the world.
  • Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Mugahed said that the affected person was a foreigner who did not show any serious symptoms.
  • Officials were able to confirm the case through a follow-up programme implemented by the government for travellers arriving from countries where the virus has spread.
  • The development made Egypt the first country in the African continent to report a confirmed case, and the second in the Middle East region, after the United Arab Emirates late last month diagnosed its first cases.

Centre to Identify Two Teachers in every Govt. School as Health and Wellness Ambassadors

  • The Centre launched an initiative under which two teachers in every government school will be identified as ''health and wellness ambassadors'' to spread awareness about the preventive health aspects.
  • The School Health Programme under Ayushman Bharat, which will be jointly run by the Union ministries of Health and Human Resources Development was launched by Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan, HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ''Nishank'' and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey.
  • "The School Health Programme under Ayushman Bharat - Health and Wellness Centres shall foster the growth, development and educational achievement of school going children by promoting their health and well-being," Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan said as he rolled out of the joint initiative.
  • This initiative will further strengthen the concept of preventive, promotive and positive health, which forms the fundamental cornerstone of the health and wellness centres of the Ayushman Bharat scheme, he said.
  • This initiative will be effectively linked with other government initiatives such as Fit India movement, Eat Right campaign, Poshan Abhiyaan for an all-round and holistic development model of health for the school children, Vardhan said.
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