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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

25 Feb 2020

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Malaysian PM Mahathir Submits Resignation

  • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, at 94 the world's oldest leader, submitted his resignation to the king, after a bid by his political partners to bring down the government.
  • Malaysian politics was in turmoil after leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim denounced a betrayal by coalition partners he said were trying to bring down the government, two years after it stormed to victory.

President Faure Gnassingbé Wins Fourth Term

  • Togo President Faure Gnassingbe won a fourth term in power, the national electoral commission declared, as his main rival accused authorities of fraud.
  • The incumbent leader took 72 per cent of the vote share in the first round of the presidential election, far ahead of former Prime Minister Agbeyome Kodjo, with 18 per cent.
  • The widely expected win extends more than a half century of dynastic rule over the former French colony by Gnassingbe's family despite broad disillusionment over its failure to drag many out of poverty.
  • Gnassingbe has led the country of eight million people since taking over in 2005 following the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled with an iron fist for 38 years.

Saudi Arabia Hosts G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting

  • The G20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors Meeting was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in February 2020 on the theme "Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All". The meet was chaired by the Saudi Arabia's finance minister Mohammed al-Jadaan and central bank governor Ahmed al-Kholifey.
  • The objective of the meet was to enhance economic growth through financial mechanisms and to discuss the risks from the coronavirus epidemic.
  • It should be noted that Saudi Arabia is the first Arab nation to hold the G20 presidency and will hold the fifteenth meeting of Group of Twenty (G20), i.e. G20 Leaders Summit 2020 from 21-22 November 2020, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
  • The G20 is made up of 19 countries and the EU.
  • The 19 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

CCI Approves Acquisition of 100% of Issued and Paid-up Share Capital of NEEPCO

  • Fair trade regulator CCI gave nod to acquisition of government's entire stake in THDC India and North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd (NEEPCO) by state-owned NTPC Ltd.
  • As part of transactions, NTPC will acquire 100 per cent of the issued and paid-up share capital of the NEEPCO and 74.5 per cent stake in THDC India.
  • Apart from the government's 74.5 per cent stake in THDC India, the rest 25.5 per cent stake is held by the Uttar Pradesh government.
  • NTPC is a maharatna company having presence in the power generation business. Among other activities, it is engaged in the business of electric power generation through coal based thermal power plants.

Government Approves Merger of Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel

  • The Department of Telecommunication (DoT) of India gave Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) approval for the merger of India's largest mobile tower company Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel. After the merger, the new Entity will become the world's second largest Tower company after China tower Corporation Ltd, Beijing in China.
  • The combined Entity will be the Pan-India Tower company with over 163,000 towers and it will operate across all 22 telecom service areas.
  • Bharti Infratel the tower infrastructure arm of Bharti Airtel has own 42% stake in Indus Towers and the United Kingdom based Vodafone holds 42%, Vodafone Idea holds 11.15% and remaining 4.85% by a private equity firm.
  • Bharti Airtel which currently owns a 53.5% stake in Bharti Infratel will own the stakes between 33.8% to 37.2% in the new Entity which is formed under the proposed merger and the Vodafone will own between 26.7%-29.4% stakes in the merged tower entity.

TCS and DLF Seek Govt. Approval to Set Up SEZs

  • Software firm Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and realty firm DLF have sought government nod to set up special economic zones (SEZs) for information technology (IT) sector in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. These proposals will be taken up by the board of approval in its meeting later this month. The inter-ministerial body is chaired by the commerce secretary. TCS has proposed to set up an IT/ITeS SEZ in Noida in an area of 19.9 hectares, according to the agenda paper of the board meeting. The total proposed investment for the project is Rs. 2,433.72 crore.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Scientists Discover Breathable Oxygen in Galaxy Outside of Milky Way

  • A team of astronomers at China's Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, led by Junzhi Wang identified molecular oxygen in a galaxy outside the Milky Way. The team identified the presence of molecular oxygen by analyzing light waves that had reached Earth from Markarian 231, a galaxy around 581 million light years away.
  • The light wave readings were taken at two different locations: the IRAM (Institute for Radio Astronomy in the Millimeter Range) 30-meter telescope in Granada, Spain, and the Northern Extended Millimeter Array telescope in the French Alps.
  • The team estimates there could be 100 times more oxygen in Markarian 231 than Miky Way. Over the last 20 years, molecular oxygen has been detected on two other locations in the Milky Way: the Rho Ophiuchi cloud and the Orion nebula.
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SPORTS

India to Host Commonwealth Shooting and Archery Competitions

  • India will host the Commonwealth shooting and archery championships in January 2022 and the medals from the two events will be counted for "ranking of competing nations" at the Birmingham Games.
  • However the medals will be added to the final tally one week after the conclusion of the Games.
  • The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) announced the decision after its Executive Board meeting held in February 2020.
  • The decision can be considered a big win for India after it threatened to boycott the 2022 Birmingham Games for dropping shooting from the roster.
  • "A Commonwealth Archery and Shooting Championships is set to take place in India in 2022 after a proposal to stage the event was approved by the CGF Executive Board," the CGF said in a release.
  • The two events will be held in Chandigarh in January 2022 while the Birmingham Commonwealth Games is scheduled from July 27 to August 7, 2022.
  • "The decision confirmed that Chandigarh 2022 and Birmingham 2022 will be two separately organised and funded Commonwealth Sport events.

Young Indian Grand Master D. Gukesh wins Title at 34th Cannes Open Chess

  • The 13-year old Young Indian Grandmaster (GM) Dommaraju Gukesh emerged as champion in the 34th Cannes Open chess tournament held at Cannes, France by beating Harutyun Bargeshyan from France in the final round and secured a total of 7.5 points.
  • Tamil Nadu based Gukesh became the world's second youngest Grandmaster in 2019 and he beat Bargeshyan in 50 moves.
  • Chongsheng Zeng from China took 2nd place, after Gukesh other Indian players Siva Mahadevan and G. B. Harshavardhan took 10th place and 18th place, respectively in the Cannes Open.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Narendra Singh Tomar Inaugurates the 4th Anniversary Celebration of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission

  • The Union Minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the 4th anniversary celebration of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre in New Delhi. The Mission was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 21st February 2016, with the vision to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth. The objective is to develop the clusters in a holistic manner by providing all the basic amenities, infrastructure as well as economic development opportunities in an integrated and time bound manner.

MoU to Develop Crematoria, Ghats in Gangotri and Badrinath

  • A tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was inked among the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), State Programme Management Group-Uttarakhand (SPMG-UK) and Indorama Charitable Trust (ICT) to work together for giving a facelift to the bathing ghat at Badrinath and ghat and crematoria at Gangotri in Uttarakhand.
  • The cost outlay of the project is Rs. 26 crore. It will be financed by Indrona Group as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The project is under the Clean Ganga Mission.
  • The project's implementation will commence by March 2020 and is expected to be completed in 15 months. The MoU was signed in the presence of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Jal Shakti Minister.
  • This project was taken up under the government initiative of "Har Kaam Desh Ke Naam".

Govt. Will Complete 5-year Term, Uddhav Tells Alliance MLAs

  • Amid speculation about the stability of his government, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who held a meeting with all ruling parties legislators, assured them that their government would complete its five year tenure.
  • Thackeray, who held the meeting on day one of the budget session of the state legislature, also told legislators that co-ordination among the senior brass of the three parties was perfect.
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DEFENCE

US President Unveils $3bn Military Copter Pact

  • US President Donald Trump unveiled plans for the sale of military helicopters worth more than $3 billion to India, saying Washington should be New Delhi's "premier defence partner" as his country revitalises military alliances across the world.
  • Addressing the "Namaste Trump" rally at Motera Stadium, Trump dwelt at length on the burgeoning defence ties between the two countries, and said the US had spent $2.5 trillion to rebuild its armed forces and make it the "most powerful military anywhere in the world".
  • Defence and security ties between India and the US have grown sharply in recent decades as foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said last week that New Delhi has acquired American military hardware worth more than $18 billion to significantly enhance defence preparedness.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Ram Niwas Goel Re-elected Delhi Assembly Speaker

  • Aam Aadmi Party MLA Ram Niwas Goel was unanimously re-elected as the Speaker of the Delhi Legislative Assembly for the second consecutive time.
  • Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia moved a proposal nominating the name of Goel for the post of Speaker.
  • The proposal was supported by MLAs Kuldeep Kumar, Satendra Jain, Praveen Kumar, Dinesh Mohania, S. K. Bagga, Vishesh Ravi and Raghav Chaddha after which the motion was passed.
  • Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that it is a good thing that Goel was unanimously re-elected by both ruling and opposition members of the House. Goel is an MLA from Shahdara.

Abhay Kumar Singh Appointed CMD of NHPC

  • State-run hydro power giant NHPC appointed Abhay Kumar Singh as the company's Chairman & Managing Director from February 24, 2020.
  • Abhay Kumar Singh assumed the charge of Chairman and Managing Director of the company on February 24, 2020 till the date of his superannuation, i.e. August 31, 2022, or until further orders, whichever is earlier in place of Ratish Kumar who was holding additional charge of the post of Chairman & Managing Director in addition to his duties as Director (Projects).

Ms. Padmaja Next High Commissioner to Vanuatu

  • Ms. Padmaja, presently High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Fiji, has been concurrently accredited as the next High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Vanuatu, with the residence in Suva.
  • Padmaja is the Post Graduate in History from the University of Allahabad and joined the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in 1986 and her first posting abroad was in Bangladesh.
  • She worked in Indian Council of World Affairs before proceeding to London in 2010, and dealt with Media & Information and Public Diplomacy.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

BRICS CCI's 2nd Edition of Annual Direct Tax Summit & Awards 2020

  • BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CCI) organised the 2nd edition of Annual Direct Tax Summit & Awards 2020 in New Delhi in union with Achromic Point an international consulting firm. The Award aimed to resolve the issues related to direct tax and its implications. Dharampal Satyapal Limited won the award for Best In-house Direct Tax Team of the year.
  • The key topics discussed includes key amendments vide Budget 2020, India's tax litigation scenario and way forward, penalty and prosecution provisions under Income tax law, India's take on taxation of digital economy, cross border investments, structuring and transactions (key provisions), Black Money Act, Benami Law and Money Laundering laws – Government tightening the rope.
  • The knowledge partner of the event is Aourakii Legal, Litigation partner is Chilana & Chilana Law Offices and Corporate partners were The Corporate Partners.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

HRD Minister Presents Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards

  • Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal awarded 23 student teams with Chhatra Vishwakarma Awards for their innovations.
  • The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has been organising Vishwakarma Awards since the year 2017.
  • "The projects created by students from different teams solve the problem of the common man.
  • The awards were instituted by the AICTE in 2017 for promoting innovative spirit and scientific temperament for holistic development of society through the stakeholders of its approved institutes.
  • Twenty-three teams were selected by a jury for award under 8 different sub-categories. Appreciation certificates and cash prices (Rs. 51,000, Rs. 31,000 and Rs. 21,000) were awarded to the top three teams in each sub-category.

Adline Castelino Wins LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2020 Title

  • Adline Castelino from Mangalore, Karnataka won LIVA Miss Diva Universe 2020 title and was crowned by Vartika Singh, the winner of the previous edition, at an event held in YRF (Yash Raj Films) Studios, Mumbai, Maharashtra.
  • Adline Castelino will be representing India at Miss Universe pageant 2020.
  • LIVA Miss Diva Supranational 2020: Aavriti Choudhary of Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh (MP) crowned as LIVA Miss Diva Supranational 2020 and was crowned by her predecessor Shefali Sood.
  • Aavriti will represent India at Miss Supranational 2020.
  • Neha Jaiswal of Pune, Maharashtra was declared as LIVA Miss Diva 2020, runner-up.
  • The participants underwent training and grooming under the mentorship and guidance of Lara Dutta, Bollywood actor & former Miss Universe.
  • The judges panel included Lara Dutta, Anntonia Porsild, Asha Bhat, designers Shivan Bhatiya, Narresh Kukreja, Nikhil Mehra and actors Yami Gautam, Aditya Roy Kapur and Anil Kapoor.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Y. S. Jagan Reddy Launches Jagananna Vasathi Deevena Scheme

  • Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy launched 'Jagananna Vasathi Deevena' Scheme at Vizianagaram. Under the scheme, financial assistance will be given to ITI, polytechnic and degree students towards hostel and mess charges. It will benefit as many as 11,87,904 students.
  • The Education Department allocated Rs. 2,300 crore to it for the current financial year. The money will be credited into the bank accounts of the mothers or guardians of eligible students. ITI students will get Rs. 10,000, polytechnic students Rs. 15,000 and degree students Rs. 20,000 every year in two equal instalments in February and July.
  • The objective of the scheme is to enable the mothers to send their wards to higher education without any financial difficulty. The courses covered are ITI, polytechnic, degree and PG/Ph.D (except Intermediate students who are covered under 'Amma Vodi') and full fee reimbursement is provided for SC/ST students irrespective of courses.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Prepare for Pandemic, Warns WHO

  • The World Health Organization chief warned countries to prepare for a potential pandemic of new coronavirus, calling the sudden increase in cases in Iran, Italy and South Korea deeply concerning.
  • But Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said that a WHO joint mission to China that concluded found that the virus there peaked between January 23 and February 2 and has been declining steadily since then.
  • China's bold actions in the epicentre of Hubei province and its capital Wuhan have probably prevented hundreds of thousands of cases, Bruce Aylward, leader of the WHO delegation said in Beijing adding that the global community was not ready with either the mindset or material to act in the same way.
  • The remarks from WHO came amid a rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths in Italy, South Korea and Iran amid and fears that the outbreak could escalate into a pandemic.

Top IITs, IIMs Launch Consortium to Boost Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Indian

  • Premier technical and management institutions in the country have joined hands to launch a consortium to boost Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem through high quality research in innovation, venturing and entrepreneurship.
  • Called 'Innovation-Venturing and Entrepreneurship in India Network (iVEIN),' its founding members are faculty at IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta and IIM Kozhikode. This network of institutions will leverage strengths of the partners and would work with other stakeholders such as incubators, government and investors to generate and disseminate knowledge.
  • iVEIN was launched in February, 2020 along the side-lines of 'Dialogue with Stakeholders' event held by SINE (Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) at IIT Bombay.
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