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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

26 Feb 2020

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Qatar Postal Blockage Ends

  • As per the UN postal agency, a postal blockage against Qatar ended with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt restoring services after mail links were severed in 2017 as part of a campaign to isolate Doha.
  • The restoration of postal services is a small step towards normalisation as talks to resolve the wider rift have stalled, Qatar said earlier this month, after a flurry of diplomacy late last year raised hopes of a breakthrough.
  • The three nations, along with the United Arab Emirates, severed all diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017. The bloc accused Doha of supporting "terrorism" and seeking closer links with Saudi regional rival Iran - allegations Qatar denies.
  • Representatives of the four boycott countries met a Qatari delegation at the Universal Postal Union's (UPU) headquarters in the Swiss capital Bern in January 2020 to discuss the re-establishment of postal links.
  • The UAE had already resumed services to Qatar earlier this month, according to the UPU, the UN agency responsible for coordinating global postal services.

World's Oldest Man Dies Aged 112

  • The world's oldest man died at the age of 112.
  • Chitetsu Watanabe, from Japan, died just days after claiming his Guinness World Records certificate.
  • Mr. Watanabe was born in Niigata, in northern Japan, in 1907.
  • According to the Guinness World Record, he was born in Niigata and later moved to Taiwan to work on a sugar cane plantation. He returned to Japan and worked as an employee at an agricultural office in Niigata until his retirement.
  • Watanabe died before he could claim the title of the oldest man ever. He was just four years shy of the record, which is held by Japan's Jiroemon Kimura, who was born on 19 April 1897 and passed away aged 116 years and 54 days on June 2013.

Malaysia PM Proposes Unity Government

  • Malaysia's Mahathir Mohammed is trying to form a national unity government under his personal authority, drawing together rival parties, following his shock resignation as Prime Minister. Mahathir stepped down, but Malaysia's king immediately named him interim Prime Minister. Mahathir proposed the idea of a grand coalition at meetings with leaders of parties, including with his protege Anwar Ibrahim and those defeated in polls.
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ENVIRONMENT

4,000-year-old Crafts Village Unearthed Near Varanasi

  • The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology Professor, Anil Kumar Dubey and his team discovered a 4000-year-old urban settlements, which is mentioned as crafts village as per Ancient texts, in Babhaniyav village, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
  • As per former Additional Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Dr Buddha Rashmi Mani, the settlements could have been a satellite settlement and feeding centre of the Varanasi- Sarnath region.
  • On the preliminary survey of the site, BHU found a temple which belongs to the 5th Century AD through 8th Century AD, potteries which are 4000-year-old and walls which are 2000-year-old.

Scientists Find Oldest Plant Fossil

  • Scientists have spotted in rocks from northern China what may be the oldest fossils of a green plant ever found, tiny seaweed that carpeted areas of the seafloor roughly a billion years ago and were part of a primordial revolution among life on Earth. Researchers said that the plant, called Proterocladus antiquus, was about the size of a rice grain and boasted numerous thin branches, thriving in shallow water while attached to the seafloor with a root-like structure. It may seem small, but Proterocladus - a form of green algae - was one of the largest organisms of its time, sharing the seas mainly with bacteria and other microbes.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Mauritius FPIs Can Continue to Invest in India, Says SEBI

  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) clarified that foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from Mauritius will continue to be eligible for registration as foreign investors in India but subject to increased monitoring.
  • The regulatory clarification was necessitated after the island nation was placed in the list of 'jurisdictions under increased monitoring' — commonly referred to as the grey list — leading to apprehensions that the Mauritius-based FPIs will not be able to trade in the Indian capital market.
  • As per the release by SEBI, FPIs from Mauritius continue to be eligible for FPI registration with increased monitoring as per FATF norms. On February 21, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Mauritius in the grey list.
  • This assumes significance since Mauritius accounts for the second-largest chunk of foreign investments, as per data from the National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).

RBI Lifts Ban on Bandhan Bank Network Expansion

  • The Reserve Bank allowed Bandhan Bank to expand its branch network after considering the efforts made by the private lender to comply with the licensing conditions.
  • The central bank in September 2018 had barred Bandhan Bank from expanding its network as the lender failed to reduce the promoters' stake to 40 per cent from close to 82 per cent within the stipulated three-year time frame of commencing operations.
  • The bank said RBI has lifted the regulatory restriction on branch opening, subject to the condition that the bank ensures that at least 25 per cent of the total number of banking outlets opened during a financial year are opened in unbanked rural centres.
  • Bandhan Bank had commenced operations on August 23, 2015.

NABARD Grants Rs. 400.64 cr for UT of J&K to Boost Infrastructure

  • National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), an Apex Development Financial Institution in India, granted a sum of Rs. 400.64 crore to the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
  • The amount was sanctioned under its 'Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) – Trench XXV' for boosting rural infrastructure during the current financial year-FY (2019-20).
  • Out of the total amount, Rs. 209.87 crore will be provided for the construction of 82 rural roads length of 291 km & 3 bridges. This will benefit 9.15 lakh people in 19 districts of UT of J&K & they get all weather improved connectivity to 461 remote villages.
  • An outlay of Rs. 143.66 crore was approved for implementation of 38 water supply schemes, which will benefit over 3.54 lakh people across 86 villages in 17 districts of UT of J&K.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

An E-commerce App "Thirumathi Kart" for SHG Products

  • An e-commerce mobile application called "Thirumathi Kart" developed by National Institute of Technology, Tiruchi (NIT-T) for promoting products developed by self-help groups (SHG), was launched in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu (TN) by Collector of Tiruchi, S. Sivarasu in the presence of Mini Shaji Thomas, Director, NIT-T, and other officials at the inauguration ceremony of 'Marketing strategies in the digital era: self-promotion of SHG products through Thirumathi Kart' programme.
  • The app, Thirumathi Kart will be the main app for usage of public domain, the other 2 apps namely Thirumathi Kart (seller) and Thirumathi Kart (logistics), are for use among the SHGs.
  • The app was developed under the project, 'Design and development of ICT-enabled cloud-based mobile application for self-promotion of products developed by SHG' assisted by Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • The project aimed to connect the customers with SHGs to empower women with sustainable income-generation platform.

In a World First, Cheetah Cubs Born via in Vitro Fertilisation

  • Two cheetah cubs have been born through in vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer to a surrogate mother for the first time, Ohio zoo officials announced on Monday.
  • The male and female cubs were born to 3-year-old Izzy at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The biological mother of the cubs is 6-year-old Kibibi who has never reproduced and is too old to easily become pregnant naturally.
  • Kibibi's eggs were extracted and then fertilised in a Columbus Zoo laboratory on November 19. The early stage embryos were implanted into Izzy on November 21, and an ultrasound revealed she was pregnant with two foetuses about a month later.
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SPORTS

Kohli, Pant, Shami in Asia Squad for Mujib Centenary T20Is

  • India skipper Virat Kohli was named in the Asia XI squad, also featuring Rishabh Pant and Mohammed Shami, to take on a World XI side in a two-match T20 series to celebrate the birth centenary of Bangladesh's founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Kohli was named by the Bangladesh Cricket Board for one match subject to availability, which is yet to be confirmed by the BCCI. The two matches are scheduled to be held on March 21 and 22. The World XI includes former South African captain Faf du Plessis and veteran big-hitters Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard. The Asia XI features four Bangladeshi players in Mustafizur Rehman, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das.

Tsitsipas Defends Marseille Trophy

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas successfully defended his Marseille title today with a straightforward victory over Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime.
  • Greek star Tsitsipas eased to a 6-3 6-4 win to leave Auger-Aliassime still waiting for his maiden ATP title after his fifth consecutive final defeat. Tsitsipas, who had arrived in southern France with a 3-4 losing record this season, enjoyed an emphatic return to form as he clinched his fifth ATP trophy.

Teenager Kashvee Gautam Scalps All 10 Wickets

  • Kashvee Gautam, a 16-year-old medium-pacer from Chandigarh, became the first Indian woman cricketer to take 10 wickets in an innings in a BCCI domestic tournament.
  • Kashvee achieved the feat, which included a hat-trick, against Arunachal Pradesh in the BCCI Women's U-19 one- day tournament at Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh.
  • It was not till the age of 13 that Kashvee joined formal training under coach Nagesh Gupta at Government Model Senior Secondary School.
  • The teenager, who had earlier played for Punjab at the U-14, U-16 and U-19 levels, made the switch to Chandigarh this season and has taken a total of 63 wickets in U-23 and U-19 cricket. She had taken a hat-trick against Arunachal Pradesh in BCCI U-23 T20 Trophy too. Six of her wickets were LBWs while the other four were bowled.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Madhya Pradesh Launches Unified Vehicle Registration Card

  • Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to launch the unified vehicle registration card and the second state to launch the unified driving license.
  • The Chief Minister launched the service to issue the unified vehicle registration card and the unified driving license at the state secretariat.
  • Madhya Pradesh Transport Department Commissioner V. Madhu Kumar said that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had issued the guidelines to bring uniformity in driving licenses and vehicle registration cards across the country in March last year.
  • Kumar said that the unified smart cards for driving license and vehicle registration will each have a QR code that will help in verifying authenticity of the data printed on the cards.
  • These cards will be a standard across the country.

Bihar Assembly Passes Unanimous Resolution

  • The Bihar assembly passed a unanimous resolution categorically stating that there is no need of NRC in the State and that the National Population Register (NPR) exercise be done strictly according to the 2010 format.
  • The all-party resolution got the approval of the legislative assembly in the post-lunch session following a debate on the adjournment motion moved by leader of the opposition Tejashwi Yadav and others in the House.
  • Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary read out the resolution in the presence of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi and opposition leaders among others to which all the members approved by thumping of desks.
  • Besides saying no to NRC, and conducting NPR strictly on 2010 pattern, the resolution stated that "transgenders" be included in the gender column of the NPR.

India-US Finalise Defence Deals, Sign 3 MoUs in Energy Sector

  • A successful two-day trip culminated with a carefully handled press interaction by US President Donald Trump. India and US decided to forge ahead on all spheres of the relationship despite the concerns regarding the tough negotiations on trade but the US President clearly side-stepped all domestic issues of India or those that India considers "internal".
  • The biggest take away from the visit was moving forward in the energetic, defense and strategic sphere. The $3 billion-worth of helicopter purchase was a significant deal and sources say $8-10 billion-worth of deals are in the offing.
  • The two sides increased cooperation in the area of homeland security and in fighting international crime. The thrust of the conversations was also on fighting drug trafficking.
  • The two countries concluded three bilateral agreements in the health and energy sectors: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on mental health, the second one that deals with the safety of medical products and a Letter of Cooperation was also signed by Indian Oil Corporation and ExxonMobil India LNG Limited, with Chart Industries of the US.
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DEFENCE

Indo-UK Joint Military Exercise -- Ajeya Warrior

  • The 13-day-long Indo-UK joint military exercise -- Ajeya Warrior concluded in Salisbury Plains of the United Kingdom. The 5th edition of the joint military exercise had commenced at the Salisbury Plains Training area in the UK on February 13.
  • The Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army and the 1st Rifles of the UK Army participated in the exercise. The closing ceremony of the exercise was held at West Down Camp.
  • The exercise included joint training in urban and semi-urban areas where in a series of important lectures, demonstrations and drills related to counter terrorist operations were rehearsed and executed jointly. The highlight of the exercise was the bonhomie and camaraderie displayed by troops, thereby ensuring integration and achievement of invulnerability at all levels.

Boeing Welcomes India's Decision to Acquire AH-64 Apache Helicopters for Army

  • American firm Boeing welcomed India's decision to acquire six AH-64 Apache helicopters and lifecycle services support for the Indian Army. The AH-64E Apache will be a force multiplier for the Indian Army just as it is today for the Indian Air Force.
  • The Apache contract for six helicopters for the Indian Army follows a contract for 22 helicopters ordered by the Indian Air Force in 2015. Notably, Boeing has already delivered 17 of 22 Apaches to IAF and the remaining five will be delivered by the end of March 2020.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Cibil Appoints Rajesh Kumar as MD and CEO

  • TransUnion Cibil, the largest credit information bureau, appointed Rajesh Kumar of HDFC Bank as its new Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer.
  • Kumar succeeded Satish Pillai who became the president of Asia region business of the US-based company.
  • Prior to joining Cibil, Kumar was the group head for retail credit and risk at HDFC Bank. With two decades of experience at HDFC Bank, he helped the second largest bank grow its retail lending book to USD 50 billion, leading a team of more than 3,000 officers.
  • In his role as the MD and chief executive, Kumar will be responsible for steering Cibil India's business into the next phase by ensuring it continues to support the domestic finance industry and consumers.

Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian President Dies

  • Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's autocratic former president who ruled with an iron fist for three decades before being toppled during the Arab spring protests in 2011, died aged 91.
  • Mubarak became a symbol of thuggish and brutal authority after taking power in 1981 following the assassination of Anwar Sadat. His reign was marked by the emergence of a paranoid and cruel police state supported by a network of sprawling military businesses and corrupt crony businessmen.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Losar Festival in Himachal Pradesh

  • Losar festival was celebrated at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. The festival is celebrated on the 1st day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar also called Tibetan New Year.
  • Losar is a festival in Tibetan Buddhism.
  • Hundreds of people from the Buddhist community gathered at different temples in the state to celebrate Losar festival & prayers were offered at Dorje Drak Monastery in Shimla.
  • Cultural events were held in different parts of the state as the Tibetan community celebrated the festival.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Jiya Creates World Record in Open Water Swimming

  • Ms. Jiya was awarded a certificate and trophy for her record-breaking achievement by creating a world record by becoming the fastest special girl to swim 14 km in open water. She swam from Elephanta Island to Gateway of India, a distance of 14 km in 3 hours 27 minutes and 30 seconds (03:27:30). She was felicitated by Mr. Abhay Dadhe, Associate Vice President of Swimming Federation of India.
  • The solo swimming event was conducted under the supervision of the Swimming Association of Maharashtra, an authorized body of the Swimming Federation of India.
  • Jiya was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Delay in Speech when she was 2 years old. The water therapy developed a passion for swimming in her. Her achievement was qualified to be registered in Asia Book, India Book of Records, and Limca Book of Records for the youngest and first special girl in the world.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Chandigarh University Makes National Record in the fFeld of Research

  • Chandigarh University made a national record in the field of Research; Filed 500 patents in just 7 years.
  • The economic status of a nation depends upon the efforts put by the respective countries in the field of research and innovation.
  • Developed nations such as US, Japan ,Germany are amongst the top nations which have major share in global innovation index, whereas countries like India lag behind and are dependent on such countries for new age technologies.
  • As per the data available from world intellectual property organisation (WIPO) with more than 1.5 million patents filed ,China leads the list of countries who has filed the maximum number of patents in 2019 which is followed by USA with 0.6 million . India was ranked 7th in this list with more than 50,000 patents being filed in 2019 with just 2.3 % increase over the last year. The main reason attributed to the current situation is that India with 0.85% contribution of its GDP for R&D currently ranks 52nd amongst the nations which contributes higher percentage of their GDP towards research and innovation.

Kerala to Use New Tech to Teach English

  • The state-run Kerala Infrastructure and Technology for Education (KITE) launched a special initiative for enhancing and enriching English language proficiency of students by making use of hi-tech lab facilities in schools. The ambitious project is titled E3 (E-cube- Enjoy, Enhance & Enrich).
  • State minister for General Education, C. Raveendranath said that training would be given to all teachers and the project would be implemented fully in the academic year.
  • The project aims to enhance and enrich English learning of students in an enjoyable atmosphere effectively making use of technology in schools in Kerala.
  • The project has three components. The first is Samagra e-Library, a digital repository of international standard digital books.
  • The second is e-Language lab, which will have language lab software that will provide opportunities for students to enhance their listening, speaking, reading, writing, pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.
  • Students can work in e-language lab alone with the support of the mentor teacher at their own pace of learning.
  • KITE has already customised the engine for language lab by using Free and Open Source Software, the CEO explained.
  • The third component, eBroadcast, includes multimedia programme. The broadcast lessons will help learners use English in conversational and academic contexts in an interactive mode. This shall also be screened in KITE Victers channel.
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