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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

19 Feb 2020


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Ghani Named Afghan Election Winner

  • President Ashraf Ghani was declared the winner of Afghanistan's presidential vote after five months of delayed results and bitter dispute. But the announcement threatened to tip the country into a full-blown political crisis on the cusp of a U.S. peace deal with the Taliban.
  • Just hours after the announcement, Mr. Ghani's leading challenger, Abdullah Abdullah — who accuses Afghanistan's election commission of favoring the incumbent — also declared himself the winner and said he would form a government of his own.

Pakistan Response to FATF Remains Silent

  • The UN Security Council 1267 Committee may have designated mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar as a global terrorist in November 2003, and also mentioned his location as Karachi, and his last issued passport as Pakistani in 2010, but there is no reference to the main accused in the 1993 Mumbai blasts in the Pakistani response to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that is being discussed in the body's ongoing plenary meeting in Paris, where one of the key decisions to be made is whether to keep the country on the "grey list".
  • Pakistan has submitted a detailed reply to the body which was set up to counterterror financing and money laundering, claiming it has now successfully implemented 14 of the 27 action points laid down by FATF, and that it has partly implemented 11 more, but senior officials familiar with the country's submission say that its report does not mention Ibrahim, who, according to the UN, has links to al Qaeda. "There is no reference to Dawood anywhere in Pakistan's reply to FATF as it tries to get out of the grey list with the help of China," said one of the officials who asked not to be identified. A decision by FATF is expected on Friday.

UK Gets Ready for New Points-based Visa System

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel announced the launch of the UK's new points-based visa system, aimed at attracting the brightest and the best from the world, including from India, and cutting down numbers of cheap, low-skilled workers coming to the country.
  • The new system will come into force from January 1, 2021 at the end of the transition period after the UK's exit from the European Union (EU) last month, which will formally end free movement of people within the economic bloc for the UK as a non-member.
  • The new post-Brexit system, which will apply equally to the EU and non-EU countries like India, is based on assigning points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries and professions, with visas only awarded to those who gain enough points.
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IGIA Becomes 1st Single-use Plastic-free Airport of India

  • According to the GMR Group-led Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), Delhi-based Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) become the 1st airport in India to be completely free of single-use plastic usage.
  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) -ITC Sustainable Development Centre of Excellence (CESD) also recognised DIAL for successfully implementing the campaign to make the airport voluntary plastic free.
  • With the resolve to 'Beat plastic pollution' on the occasion of World Environment Day in the year 2019, the IGIA campus has also become the first airport in the country to complete it by launching a campaign to make plastic single-free.
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CCI Approves Acquisition of WABCO Holdings by ZF Friedrichshafen AG

  • Under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved for the acquisition of WABCO (Westinghouse Air Brake Company) Holdings Inc. by ZF Friedrichshafen AG (Automotive industry in Germany). As per the agreement, ZF will acquire 100% shares of WABCO for USD 136.50 per share under all-cash transaction method for a total equity value of USD 7 billion (approximately Rs. 49,700 crores).
  • ZF is a global technology company and it develops, design and manufacturing products like gearboxes, steering, axles, clutches, dampers, chassis components and systems, active and passive safety technology system and other automobile components, ZF also distributes products and systems for passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, off-highway vehicles and Industrial technology
  • WABCO is a global supplier of pneumatic braking control systems, technologies and services that improve safety, efficiency and connectivity of commercial vehicles including trucks, buses and trailers, it also manufacturing products like Integrated braking systems & stability control, air suspension system, transmission automation control, aerodynamics, telematics and also supplies fleet operators with fleet management solutions, diagnostics tools, training and other services.

Yes Bank to Exit Nifty from March 27

  • Yes Bank will be excluded from the benchmark Nifty index with effect from March 27. According to National Stock Exchange, the domestic lender will be replaced by Shree Cement.
  • Yes Bank has seen massive erosion in its valuation with its stock price dropping from a high of Rs. 286 in April 2019 to the current Rs. 35.
  • Incidentally, the banking stock was excluded from the benchmark Sensex in December 2019 when the 30-share index was reconstituted.

JSW Paints Sets Sights on South and West India

  • JSW Paints Pvt. Ltd. a part of the $13-billion JSW Group, is planning to put up a new manufacturing plant to meet its growth target.
  • As per A.S. Sundaresan, CEO, JSW Paints, the company has set a target to achieve 5% market share in south and west in decorative paints in two to three years.
  • "We started the paint division in April 2019 and it is growing. Right now, we have two plants and are planning to expand our business as it is growing at a healthy rate," said A.S. Sundaresan, CEO, JSW Paints.
  • The JSW Group set up its first largest and fully-automated industrial coil coatings facility with an annual capacity of 25,000 kilolitre (KL) in Mumbai and decorative paints unit with 100,000 KL annual capacity at Vijayanagar in Karnataka at a cost of Rs. 600 crore.
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NADA Bans Javelin Thrower Amit Dahiya for Four Years

  • The Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel (ADDP) has passed an order to National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) to ban javelin thrower Amit Dahiya for four years for sending wrong sample collection and trying to cheat officials during the 2nd National Javelin throw open Championship 2019 held at Sonipat in Haryana.
  • Amit Dahiya finished 3rd in 2019 National Javelin throw open Championship and the National Anti-Doping Agency officials asked him to furnish the dope sample but he instead sent another person sample collection.
  • NADA temporarily banned him for violating rule 2.3 of NADA anti-doping rules on July 16, 2019 and presented the case to ADDP in January 2020.

Golf Great Mickey Wright Passes Away

  • One of the most successful women's golfers of all time, Mickey Wright, died at the age of 85.
  • The American won 13 majors and 82 LPGA Tour titles to sit second on the all-time women's major list behind countrywoman Patty Berg (15), who died in 2006.
  • Wright was the dominant force in golf in the late 1950s and 1960s, winning four US Women's Opens and four Women's PGA Championships among her major haul.
  • She retired at the age of 34 in 1969.

Sunil Kumar Wins Gold in Asian Wrestling Greco-Roman Championship

  • Sunil Kumar became the first Indian wrestler in 27 years to win a Greco-Roman gold at the Asian Wrestling Championships. Sunil defeated Azat Salidinov of Kyrgyzstan 5-0 to clinch the 87 kg title after a come-from-behind win in his semi-final bout.
  • The last Indian Greco-Roman wrestler to win gold at the Asian Championships was Pappyu Yadav who won the 48 kg title in 1993.
  • Earlier, Sunil on his way to the final made an impressive comeback in the semi-final bout. He came back from 1-8 down to win the bout 12-8.
  • Arjun Halakurki (55 kg) won bronze after beating Donghyeok Won of Korea.
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Won't Block NPR in Maharashtra: Uddhav Thackeray

  • Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray assured the people that there is nothing to worry about Citizenship (Amendment) Act, saying CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are two different issues.
  • On the National Population Register, Uddhav Thackeray said that he will personally check the columns in the NPR and that there shouldn't be any problem with the exercise. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray, however, said that he will not allow NRC to be implemented in the state.
  • As per Uddhav Thackeray, if NRC is implemented then it will affect not only Hindus or Muslims but also Adivasis. Centre has not discussed NRC as of now. NPR is a census, and I don't find that anyone will be affected as it happens every ten years.

PM Sets 10 Million Enrolment Target for Kisan Cards

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the agriculture ministry to enrol at least 10 million farmers for Kisan Credit Cards by February 23, expressing concern over the slow progress of a programme aimed at increasing access of cultivators to formal sources of lending.
  • As per reports, Modi was open to attend an event to distribute cards to farmers, but after US President Donald Trump's visit to India.
  • PM-KISAN is a flagship income support scheme of the government for all landholding farmers, under which registered cultivators get cash transfers of ~6,000 a year in three instalments.

J&K Local Body Polls Deferred

  • Bypolls to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu & Kashmir that were scheduled to be held in eight phases from March 5 have been postponed for three weeks due to security concerns, chief electoral officer Shailendra Kumar said, almost a week after he announced the schedule for the elections.
  • The announcement came hours after former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti-led People's Democratic Party (PDP) walked out of an all-party meeting called for the polls after Kumar expressed his helplessness in addressing the issues it had raised.
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Pakistan Successfully Tests Air Launched Cruise Missile Ra'ad-II

  • Pakistan conducted a successful flight test of the air-launched nuclear-capable cruise missile Ra'ad-II with a range of 600 km, significantly boosting the military's deterrence capability on land and at sea.
  • The Ra'ad-II weapon system is equipped with state-of-the-art guidance and navigation systems ensuring engagement of targets with high precision.
  • Director General Strategic Plans Division, Lieutenant General Nadeem Zaki Manj, termed the successful launch as a major step towards complementing Pakistan's deterrence capability.

GRSE Delivers Fourth Anti-submarine Warfare Corvette to Navy

  • Defence PSU Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) delivered its fourth anti-submarine warfare stealth corvette to the Indian Navy. Kavaratti was the last in the series of four anti- Submarine Warfare Corvettes (ASWC) built by Kolkata-based GRSE under Project 28. The first three ships of the series — INS Kamorta, INS Kadmatt and INS Kiltan were delivered earlier.
  • Project 28, approved in 2003, is a class of anti- submarine warship corvettes currently in service with the Indian Navy. The corvettes are named after islands in the Lakshadweep archipelago.
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Barry O'Farrell Australia's New High Commissioner to India

  • Australia appointed former NSW (New South Wales) premier Barry O'Farrell as the next High Commissioner to India. Barry O' Farrell will be the successor of Harinder Sidhu.
  • Barry O'Farrell served in the New South Wales (NSW) Parliament from 1995-2015, as the 43rd premier of the province, also has non-resident accreditation to Bhutan and as NSW special envoy for India & made a significant contribution as the Deputy Chair of the Australia- India Council Board.

Tapas Pal, Former Trinamool Congress MP & Bengali Actor, Passes Away

  • Bengali actor & former Trinamool Congress MP (Member of Parliament) Tapas pal passed away at the age of 61 in Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • He was born on 19th September 1958 in Chandannagar, West Bengal and completed his graduation from the Hooghly Mohsin College in Bio-Science.
  • Tapas Pal was a member of All India Trinamool Congress. He was an MLA from Alipore for 2 terms (2001-2006 & 2006-2009) and former MP (Member of Parliament) of Krishnanagar constituency from 2009 to 2019.
  • He became popular with his debut film Dadar Kirti (1980) and other films are Saheb (1981), Parabat Priya (1984), Bhalobasa Bhalobasa (1985) and Anurager Choyan (1986) etc.,
  • He was awarded Filmfare Award for his role in Saheb (1981).

V. L. Dutt Passes Away

  • V. L. Dutt, the executive chairman of KCP Group, died at his residence. He was 82.
  • The KCP Group, which boasts of a turnover of $250 million and has interests in cement, sugar and heavy industrial machinery, scaled new heights under his leadership.
  • In appreciation of his outstanding contribution to the areas of rural development, medical care, education and industry, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the Nagarjuna University, Andhra Pradesh, and became an Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Chennai for Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.
  • He was also awarded the Medal of Friendship by the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. Tran Dai Quang, in 2017.
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Konark Festival

 Konark Dance & Music Festival started in the year 1986 at Konark Natya Mandap by its Founder-Director Padmashree Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. In a sense it can be called the harbinger of the contemporary festivals of Orissa. The sole aim behind this festival is to bring in many artistes into its cultural family and creating of international cultural amity and brotherhood. This festival has established its own unique identity in the sense that eminent artistes of national and international repute participate and perform Odissi, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam and other classical, folk & tribal dances/music of our country on the enchanting stage of the Natyashala in the monumental Sun Temple, Konark. The stage and the atmosphere are magnified by the spiritual and aesthetic flavor, in the natural ambience of casuarinas and cashew trees. This festival is held every year from 19th to 23rd February.
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Ratan Tata Conferred Honorary Doctorate by UK University

  • Tata Group Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Manchester for his contribution to innovation and philanthropy.
  • The UK University said that the award was presented to the 82-year-old industrialist in Mumbai during the India tour of President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell.
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Soil Health Card Scheme Completes 5 Years

  • According to the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Soil Health Card Scheme which was launched by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi on 19.02.2015 at Suratgarh, Rajasthan completed 5 years on February 19, 2020.Till now, a total of Rs. 751.42 crore has been released under the scheme.
  • During the Phase-I of the scheme (2015 – 2017), a total of 10.74 crore cards were issued to farmers and in the 2nd phase (2017 – 2019), 11.69 crore Soil Health Cards were distributed to farmers.
  • Soil health card provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil with respect to 12 nutrients (pH, Electrical Conductivity (EC), Organic Carbon (OC), Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Sulphur (S), Zinc (Zn), Boron (B), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu)) along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.

UP Becomes 1st in India to Enforce Performance Regulation Act 2019 for Electricity Department

  • In order to provide timely and hassle-free service to electricity consumers, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) state Government led by its Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath implemented the Performance Regulation Act 2019 for the electricity department. Consumers will now get financial compensation for delay in resolving their complaints by the department.
  • With this new act, about 2 crore 87 lakh people are expected to benefit from the new law.
  • New rule: Breakdown, cable fault, transformer, new connection, meter reading, load reduction or increase time will be determined in this case. If the faulty meter repair is delayed and the call center is not responding then the consumer will get compensation of Rs. 50 per day. In case of delay in repair of underground cable break, the consumer will get 100 rupees per day.

Bill to Decriminalise Company Law Breaches Likely this Parliament Session

  • The Centre is set to move a Bill to amend the Companies Act 2013 in the current session of Parliament that seeks to decriminalise select offences and moderate the penalty regime for small companies.
  • The corporate affairs ministry will seek the Union cabinet's approval for the Bill before it is tabled in Parliament when it reconvenes on 2nd March.
  • The Bill will decriminalise over 40 offences which will be classified as civil wrongs not warranting jail term. The move is part of efforts to streamline regulatory ecosystem and make it easier for doing business, a priority for the government.
  • The Bill will also roll back jail term for violations of corporate social responsibility (CSR) related obligations that was introduced through an amendment last year. A panel led by corporate affairs secretary Injeti Srinivas had last year recommended roll-back of the provision for imprisonment of officers, who are in default if companies do not transfer unspent CSR funds to a designated government fund within a specified time. The proposal introduced in the Companies Act had resulted in a backlash from the industry.
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Stand-alone Institutes can Run PGDM: AICTE

  • The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) said that Post Graduate Diploma in Management (PGDM) courses can be run by stand-alone institutions, which are neither universities nor affiliated to any university, similar to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). Over a period of time, deemed to be universities have added PGDM course under the banner of 'Management Programme' in contravention of norms. According to the AICTE Regulations, 2020, conducting PGDM and MBA courses in the same institution is not permissible.

Eleven Indian Universities in Top 100 for Emerging Economies

  • Indian universities had a good performance year within the emerging economies of the world as a record 11 made it to the top 100 Times Higher Education's (THE) Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020.
  • Only China has more universities than India in the top 100 at 30 from a total of 47 countries and territories included in the analysis released in London.
  • A total of 56 Indian universities appear in the full ranking of a total of 533 universities across emerging economies of the world.
  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), ranked 16th, is India's top-ranked institution followed by the Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs).
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SpaceX Aims to Launch up to 4 Tourists into Super High Orbit

  • SpaceX aims to launch up to four tourists into a super high orbit, possibly by the end of next year.
  • The private company is working with Space Adventures Inc. for the flight. Ticket prices are not being divulged but expected to be in the millions.
  • Space Adventures already has helped put tourists into orbit with trips to the International Space Station, working with the Russian space program.
  • For this trip, paying customers will skip the space station and instead orbit two to three times higher or roughly 500 miles to 750 miles (800 kilometres to 1,200 kilometres) above Earth.
  • It's a lofty goal that would approach the record 850-mile-high (1,370 kilometres orbit achieved by Gemini 11's Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon in 1966.
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