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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 Feb 2020


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IMF Asks Pakistan to Reduce Trade and Commerce Reliance on China

  • The visiting IMF mission asked Islamabad to reduce its trade and commerce reliance on Beijing and look for other international options by signing free trade agreements (FTA) with other countries too.
  • The development comes as the mission has extended its stay in Pakistan for making more efforts to strike a consensus on the staff-level agreement as both sides so far persisted with their respective differences on immediate measures for reducing the revenue-expenditure gap and fixing cash bleeding energy sector.

U.S. Blacklists Sri Lankan Army Chief

  • The United States has blacklisted Sri Lanka's Army Chief, Shavendra Silva, for human rights violations including extrajudicial killings during the last phase of the country's civil war in 2009.
  • Mr. Pompeo said that the allegations of gross human rights violations against Shavendra Silva, documented by the United Nations and other organisations, are serious and credible.
  • The sanctions imposed on February 14 by Washington bar Lt. Gen. Silva and his family members from entering the United States.
  • Lt. Gen. Silva's appointment as Army commander in August 2019 drew sharp criticism from the United States and the United Nations.
  • Lt. Gen. Silva is credited with leading an Army division against Tamil Tiger rebels in the final phases of the island nation's 26-year-long brutal civil war, which ended in 2009.

U.S. and Taliban Reach Afghanistan Truce Agreement

  • As per a senior U.S. official, the United States and the Taliban have reached a truce agreement that will take effect very soon and could lead to withdrawals of American troops from Afghanistan.
  • The official said that the agreement for a seven-day reduction in violence to be followed by the start of all-Afghan peace talks within 10 days is very specific and covers the entire country, including Afghan government forces. There were indications a formal announcement could come as early as the weekend.
  • The official said that the Taliban had committed to a halt in roadside and suicide bombings as well as rocket attacks. The official said the United States would monitor the truce and determine if there were any violations.
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New Species of Flies Found in Lochaber Forest

  • Two insect species never before seen in the UK have been discovered in a forest in Lochaber.
  • The two male fungus gnats were caught along with tens of thousands of insects in a special trap in 2018.
  • They were identified by Ian Strachan after he carefully sifted through the specimens.
  • The species - Boletina gusakovae and Mycetophila idonea - are usually found in parts of continental Europe and were trapped at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest.
  • Mr Strachan said: "My guess is that these two have always been here, or at least for a long time, but just not found before."
  • Woodland Trust Scotland, which manages the forest, said Boletina gusakovae is usually found in Finland and Russia and Mycetophila idonea in Estonia, Poland, Slovakia, Georgia and Luxembourg.
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Indian Companies See Silver Lining in China's Virus Crisis

  • Indian businesses see potential benefits over the longer term from the coronavirus epidemic as companies focus more on local sourcing to offset supply disruptions in the future.
  • India along with countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam could also emerge as alternative supply destinations for multinational companies.
  • In India, the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the supply chain network with China being a supplier of critical inputs to various industries such as pharmaceuticals, information technology and automotive.

Bombardier Exits Commercial Aviation

  • Bombardier exited commercial aviation, selling a loss-making plane programme that ended its high-stakes gamble on a new jet that once drove it to the brink of bankruptcy.
  • The Canadian plane and train maker sold its minority stake in the A220 jet, formerly known as the CSeries, to Airbus SE for $600 million, and said that it would take a $1.6 billion charge on the programme.
  • The latest deal gives Airbus a 75% stake in the A220 programme and the Canadian province of Quebec will own 25%. It also allows Bombardier to avoid future capital investments of about $700 million.
  • Quebec, which agreed to invest $1 billion in the programme in 2015, said it would not spend further on the venture.

EV Start-up Launches India's Largest EV Charging Station Network

  • Bengaluru-based EV Start-up FAE Bikes launched Kirana Charzer, a low-cost, smart EV charging station costing just Rs. 10,000 focused on enabling small shops and individuals to install their own charging stations and earn additional income.
  • The startup launched the charging station at an event in London. Kirana Charzer is a compact, zero-maintenance and IoT enabled charging station which they are providing at a subsidized price of Rs. 10,000. The start-up promises Kirana Charzer to be India's cheapest charging station which allows the owner to earn 100% revenue from EV charging.
  • Kirana Charzer can be installed anywhere including small kirana shops, paan shops, grocery stores, restaurants and homes with standard power supply. Kirana Charzer is compatible with all 2-wheeler, 3-wheeler and 4-wheeler electric vehicles.
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Injuries May Leave No Indian Gymnast Competing in Tokyo

  • India's chances of sending a gymnast to the Tokyo Olympics, starting July 24, is all but over, with top athlete Dipa Karmakar yet to recover from her injuries as the Olympic qualification process heads towards its conclusion. Karmakar aggravated her knee injury in March 2019 at the Baku World Cup.
  • "Dipa hasn't started training. She is going through rehabilitation.
  • No Indian gymnast will compete at the world cup series starting February 20 at Melbourne. The world cup series comprises four tournaments—the last one is in March in Germany—the best performers from which will get a spot at the 2020 Games.

Bopanna-Shapovalov in Semi-finals

  • India's Rohan Bopanna and his Canadian partner Denis Shapovalov advanced to the men's doubles semi-finals of the ABN Amro World tennis tournament with an impressive win over fourth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.
  • The unseeded Indo-Canadian combine beat the Romanian-Dutch pairing of Tecau and Rojer 6-2, 3-6, 10-7 in a quarter-final.
  • They next meet the winners of the quarter-final between Henri Kontinen and Jan-Lennard Struff, and, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski.
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Complaint against Former Assam NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela

  • A complaint has been lodged against Prateek Hajela, the former Coordinator of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, for allegedly tampering with the records associated with updating the citizenship exercise whose complete list was published in August 2019.
  • Almost simultaneously, the office of the NRC Coordinator lodged an FIR against Ajupi Baruah, a former associate of Mr. Hajela, for resigning without surrendering the password to the NRC data records system.

CDS Dept. Seeks Govt. Nod on Final Structure

  • The structure of the newly-constituted department of military affairs (DMA), headed by chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, is taking shape and will be staffed by one secretary-ranked officer, one additional secretary and five joint secretaries, a senior army officer said on Friday.
  • The department has sought the government's approval for the appointment of one secretary who will be responsible for transformation and coordination, one three-star ranked additional secretary and three joint secretaries to execute its wide-ranging mandate, said Major General Mukesh Aggarwal, defence advisor to General Rawat.
  • The DMA will have a total of five joint secretaries, with two having already been posted to the department. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had last month cleared the appointment of two officers in the DMA — Rajeev Singh Thakur, a 1995 batch IAS officer from Rajasthan cadre, and Shantanu, a 1997 batch officer from Tripura cadre.
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Ready to Help IAF on Tejas and AMCA Projects: Lockheed Martin

  • US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin has offered to help India in its multi-billion-dollar programme to develop a next-generation advanced multi-role combat aircraft and boost capability of the Tejas fighter jet. The offer by the US aerospace firm comes ahead of President Donald Trump's maiden visit to India on February 24-25, 2020 during which both strategic partners are expected to further expand defence and military cooperation.
  • Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin, said the company is "very open" to assisting India in the further development of the Tejas combat jet as well as the ambitious next-generation aircraft. "We are very open to any requirement from the government of India or the Indian Air Force for any help for the Tejas as well as the AMCA (advanced multi-role combat aircraft) project."
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Vinay Dube Appointed as GoAir CEO

  • GoAir appointed Vinay Dube, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jet Airways, as its new CEO.
  • Mr. Dube will report to Chairman Nusli Wadia, Managing Director Jeh Wadia, and the board. He will be responsible for the management of the airline and also for meeting the goals and long-term growth objectives of the company.
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Carl H June and Narasimhan Bag Genome Valley Excellence Award

  • Carl H. June, a scientist from the College of Pennsylvania, USA and Vasant Narasimham, CEO of Novartis shared the Genome Valley Excellence Award of BioAsia, an annual biotech and lifestyles sciences discussion board of Telangana Executive.
  • Carl H. June, was chosen for his pioneering work in the field of immunotherapy, breakthrough research in developing CAR-T therapy for treatment of cancer and development and commercialisation of world's first FDA-approved gene therapy.
  • Vas (Vasant) Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis was recognised for inspiring the world with the bold new vision to reimagine the pharmaceutical business including embracing digital technology and transforming healthcare.
  • Genome Valley Excellence Award was constituted in 2004 to recognise and honour eminent individuals and organisations for their exceptional contribution to Life Sciences research and public health.
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Nine Medical Colleges, Two AIIMS Sanctioned for Jammu and Kashmir

  • Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh performed bhoomi poojan ceremony of AIIMS building.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Singh said that Jammu and Kashmir has been allocated two AIIMS - one in Jammu and other in Kashmir.
  • According to an official press release, Singh said that nine medical colleges have also been sanctioned in Jammu and Kashmir in addition to the two AIIMS.
  • The Union Government had approved the proposal for setting up an AIIMS in Jammu at Vijaypur, District Samba under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) in January 2019.

KLAY Schools Launches Content Platform for Parents

  • Kids Learning And You (KLAY) Schools, a chain of non-franchised pre-schools and daycare centres, launched a content platform for parents.
  • The platform, which is called 'That Parent Thing', would provide knowledge and experiences from experts and parents across a variety of subjects including work and life.
  • The experts will include a speech therapist, a child psychologist, a body-positivity ambassador, an angel investor and educator.
  • The platform will attempt to answer every question that a parent may have on topics pertaining to infants, toddlers and pre-teens while raising their child, and help create a community of parents that can rely on each other.
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