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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

27 Feb 2020

DAILY G.K. TEST

Start Test

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Sri Lanka Notifies UN its Withdrawl from War Crimes Resolution

  • Sri Lanka notified the UN about its withdrawal from a UNHRC resolution that called for accountability to human rights abuses committed during the nation's civil war with the Tamil separatists and pledged to appoint a new committee to review the reports of the previous probes which investigated alleged war crimes.
  • Sri Lanka co-sponsored the United Nations Human Rights Council''s 2015 resolution along with 11 other countries, including the US and Britain, calling for an investigation into alleged human rights violations during the island nation's civil war, which ended in 2009 with the killing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Velupillai Prabhakaran by the Lankan army.
  • The resolution 30/1 on promotion on reconciliation in Sri Lanka was co-sponsored by the Lankan government headed by then President Maithripala Sirisena.
  • Dinesh Gunawardena, Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister, in his address to the 43rd session of the UNHRC in Geneva announced the withdrawal while accusing the previous government in erring with co-sponsoring the resolution.
  • He declared a commitment to achieve sustainable peace through an inclusive, domestically designed and executed reconciliation and accountability process, including through the appropriate adaptation of existing mechanisms.

Slovenia President Names Centre-right Janez Jansa as PM Candidate

  • Slovenia's President named former Prime Minister Janez Jansa, the head of the largest party in parliament, as a candidate for Prime Minister and asked the parliament to confirm him.
  • The parliament is expected to confirm Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) head Jansa in a secret vote next week. He will replace center-left Prime Minister Marjan Sarec, who resigned last month.
  • The nomination came a day after the SDS agreed a majority coalition with the center-left Party of Modern Centre (SMC), the conservative New Slovenia and the pensioners' party Desus.

South Korea's Birth Rate Falls to All-time Low

  • South Korea's birth rate hit a new low as authorities announced barely 300,000 babies were born in 2019 in the nation of 51 million people. The country has one of the world's longest life expectancies and one of its lowest birthrates. A total of 303,100 babies were born in 2019, down 7.3 per cent from the previous year.
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ENVIRONMENT

India 5th most Polluted Country

  • In accordance with the "2019 World Air Quality Report-Region & City PM2.5 Ranking" compiled by IQAir AirVisual, India ranked 5th as the most polluted country in the world and topped in an annual list of cities with the worst air quality in the world. The report has been prepared by monitoring the real time data to tackle the urgent issue of air pollution.
  • Bangladesh emerged as the most polluted country for PM2.5 exposure. It is followed by Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and India at 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th place respectively.
  • Bahamas ranked 98th as the cleanest country with an average of 3 µg/m³.
  • World's most Polluted Countries 2019 (PM2.5): India – 5th rank
  • World's most Polluted Cities 2019 (PM2.5): Ghaziabad, India – 1st rank
  • World's Most Polluted Capital Cities 2019 (PM2.5): Delhi, India – 1st rank

Animal that Can Live Without Oxygen

  • Scientists have discovered an animal that does not need oxygen to produce energy needed for its survival, a finding that changes one of science's assumptions about the animal world.
  • The tiny, less than 10-celled parasite Henneguya salminicola lives in salmon muscle.
  • As it evolved, the animal, which is a relative of jellyfish and corals, gave up breathing and consuming oxygen — or became anaerobic — to produce energy.
  • "Aerobic respiration was thought to be ubiquitous in animals, but now we confirmed that this is not the case," said Dorothee Huchon, a professor at Tel Aviv University (TAU) in Israel.
  • The researchers noted that the parasite's anaerobic nature was an accidental discovery.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

CCEA Approves Setting up a National Technical Textiles Mission

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved setting up of a National Technical Textiles Mission with a total outlay of Rs. 1,480 crore. The move is aimed at increasing exports in this 'futuristic and niche' segment by over a third to Rs. 20,000 crore by 2021-22, and expanding the domestic market size for technical textiles nearly threefold to $40-50 billion by 2024.
  • Technical textiles are used in various applications in agriculture, roads, railway tracks and sportswear on one hand, and in bullet-proof jackets, high-altitude combat gear and space application on the other.

NTPC to Provide Financial Support for Monitoring Air Quality

  • NTPC Ltd, India's largest power producer, signed an agreement with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to provide financial support for installation and commissioning of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS).
  • NTPC will provide financial support of Rs. 80 crore for installation of 25 CAAQMS across 6 States and 3 Union Territories. The CAAQMS will be installed in Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Patna (Bihar), Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur and Allahabad (all in Uttar Pradesh), Pimpri – Chinchwad (Maharashtra) and Madurai (Tamil Nadu). Along with these cities, CAAQMS will also be installed in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadar & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu (Port Blair, Silvassa and Daman).
  • The MoU was signed by Dr. Prashant Gargava, Member Secretary, CPCB and Shri Ravi V Babu, General Manager (Corporate Environment Management), NTPC Ltd in presence of Shri Prakash Tiwari, Director( Operations), Shri Ramesh Babu V, ED to CMD and Shri B Basu, CGM(SSEA).
  • Data garnered from these stations will be used as inputs for Air Quality Index evaluation for the respective cities. NTPC is continuously making efforts to curb pollution in varied ways.

Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) Launches Self-charging Hybrid Electric MPV Vellfire

  • Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) launched self-charging hybrid electric luxury multi-purpose vehicle Vellfire in the country priced at Rs. 79.5 lakh (ex-showroom).
  • Equipped with a 2.5 litre gasoline hybrid engine coupled with two electric motors and a hybrid battery, the model churns out a power of 115 BHP.
  • The seven-seater model comes with various luxury features like lounge seats in second row, leather upholstery, three zone AC, one-touch power side doors, twin sunroofs among others.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Intelsat Telecoms Satellite Gets New Lease of Life

  • Two American satellites docked high over the Atlantic in a demonstration of what many commentators expect to be a burgeoning new industry.
  • One of the platforms is an old telecoms spacecraft low on fuel; the other is an auxiliary unit that will now take over all the former's manoeuvring functions.
  • This will allow Intelsat-901 to extend its 19-year mission of relaying TV and other services by another five years.
  • The event has been described as a major accomplishment by the firms involved.
  • Northrop Grumman, which produced the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 that grabbed hold of Intelsat-901, said that it was the first time two commercial satellites had come together in this way at an altitude of just over 36,000 km.
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SPORTS

Maria Sharapova Retires

  • Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova said goodbye to tennis at the age of 32.
  • The Russian won her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2004 aged 17 and completed the career slam - all four major titles - by winning the French Open in 2012.
  • In 2016, she served a 15-month ban after testing positive for meldonium.
  • She has been dealing with problems in her right shoulder for years and lost the last four matches she played at major tournaments.
  • Sharapova reached No. 1 in 2005, the year before she won her second major trophy at Flushing Meadows. She added an Australian Open title in 2008, and then won the French Open in 2012 and 2014.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Cabinet Approves Amendments to Give Occupancy Rights to Scheduled Tribes in Lakshadweep

  • The union cabinet approved amendment of the Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands Land Revenue and Tenancy Regulation, 1965 to confer occupancy rights to the Scheduled Tribe (ST) population in Lakshadweep.
  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that the Lakshadweep Island mostly comprises ST population and they did not have occupancy rights.
  • This decision has been taken to give them occupancy rights. The decision is important from the point of view of the tribal community. It happened as part of good governance initiatives of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The gap came to light due to continuous review.

Cabinet Okays Adaptation of Central Act in J&K

  • The Union Cabinet approved issuance of an order for adaptation of Central Acts in the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir under Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 by the Central government.
  • After coming into force of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir has been reorganised into UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on October 31, 2019.
  • The Central laws, which are applicable to whole of India except the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir before appointed date October 31, 2019, are now applicable to UT of Jammu and Kashmir with effect from October 31, 2019.
  • As per Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the Central government has powers to modify the existing laws through repeal or amendment within one year of the constitution of the UTs.
  • The Cabinet also approved the exemption of the India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL) from the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) Guidelines, except reservation and vigilance policies.

G. K. Reddy Inaugurates National Cyber Research and Innovation Centre

  • The Minister of State for Home Affairs Ministry, Mr. Gangapuram Kishan Reddy inaugurated the National Cyber Research, Innovation and Capacity Centre at Central Detective Training Institute (CDTI) in Hyderabad, Telangana State (T.S). The objective of the centre is to help the nation to combat cyber threats.
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DEFENCE

India-UK joint IAF & RAF Exercise Indradhanush 2020

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Air Force (RAF) of the UK jointly commenced the 5th edition of Exercise Indradhanush at Air Force Station Hindan. The focus of this edition of the exercise is 'Base Defence and Force Protection'. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated in a Press communication that this theme is of significance considering the recent threats to military establishments from terror elements. Exercise Indradhanush provides a platform for the IAF and RAF to share and jointly validate strategies and tactics to counter terror threats to their installations.
  • The RAF team comprises of 36 specialised combatants of the RAF Regiment while the IAF comprises of 42 combatants of the Garud Commando Force, the special forces unit of the Indian Air Force. Both teams will execute missions based on jointly worked out plans and scenarios. Both sides also exercised specialised weapons, equipment, and vehicles, and validate joint employability.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Jawed Ashraf Appointed India's Next Envoy to France

  • Diplomat Jawed Ashraf was appointed as the next Ambassador of India to France.
  • Ashraf, a 1991-batch Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, is currently serving as Indian High Commissioner to Singapore and is expected to take up the assignment shortly.
  • A career diplomat, High Commissioner Ashraf joined the IFS in 1991.
  • He served in Frankfurt and Berlin from 1993 to 1999 and he worked in the Americas Division of MEA in New Delhi from 1999 to 2004.

Smatphone Brand Realme Appoints Salman Khan as Brand Ambassador

  • Smartphone brand Realme appointed Bollywood actor Salman Khan as its brand ambassador. The actor will be endorsing the upcoming Realme 6 and Realme 6 Pro phone models.
  • Madhav Sheth, vice-president of Realme and CEO of Realme India said that having Salman Khan on board with a mammoth fan following will help us reach and tap into that target audience of ours.
  • This is Khan's first association with a smartphone brand. The brand will leverage Khan's popularity to promote Realme 6 series among millennials across India.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Government to Hold Global Summit on AI in April

  • The government will hold a global summit on artificial intelligence on 11-12 April to exchange ideas with the industry and academia on use of AI for social transformation, greater inclusion and citizen empowerment.
  • The summit, RAISE (Responsible AI for Social Empowerment), will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The national AI portal -- ai.gov.in -- that the government planned since 2018 has gone live from 27th February. It will be regularly updated with information on future initiatives, breakthroughs and developments in India in the field of AI.
  • A startup expo -- Startup Pitchfest -- will be held from 10 April on the sidelines of the summit where AI startups from India can showcase their work and pitch for investment.

India's First Protein Day

  • A national-level public health initiative has launched India's first 'Protein Day' on 27th February. The aim of the day is to draw public attention, raise awareness, and educate India on the health benefits of protein.
  • The theme of India Protein Day 2020 is set to act as a reminder for all Indians to daily ask themselves and others "ProteinMeinKyaHai". The key objective through the day's activities and beyond was be to spread more knowledge about protein and bring about a behavioural change by persuading Indians to eat adequate protein in every meal – at least a quarter of a plate.
  • Globally many countries recognize February 27 as Protein Day and from this year India also joined this movement. A nationally celebrated Protein Day will encourage Indian citizens at large to learn and know more about different types of available sources of plant and animal protein and their importance in daily meals for better nutrition and health.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Travellers' Choice Destination Awards 2020

  • Kochi topped the 2020 Travellers' Choice Destination awards as a 'trending' location announced by Tripadvisor, the world's largest travel site.
  • The awards include two new categories: Trending - recognising traveller-loved destinations that are on the rise; and Emerging – looking ahead to what's next – the destinations still ahead of the curve that smart travellers are already saving for their trips on Tripadvisor, a great indicator of up and coming hotspots.
  • "It is a proud moment for Kerala Tourism that Kochi is named the world's number one Trending Destination on Tripadvisor. It is to the credit of excellent tourism marketing and promotion strategy of government and enterprising tourism industry partners. This achievement will propel Kochi and Kerala to great heights in the tourism sector", said Kadakampally Surendran, the State Tourism Minister.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Surrogacy Bill Gets Cabinet Approval

  • The Union Cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020, allowing a "willing" woman to be a surrogate mother and proposing that the Bill would benefit widows and divorced women besides infertile Indian couples.
  • The Cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill after incorporating the recommendations of a Rajya Sabha Select Committee.
  • The 15 major changes suggested by the 23-member committee to the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019, also included deleting the definition of "infertility" as the inability to conceive after five years of unprotected intercourse on the ground that it was too long a period for a couple to wait for a child.
  • The Bill is aimed at banning commercial surrogacy and allowing altruistic surrogacy.
  • Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani added that only Indian couples can opt for surrogacy in the country.
  • The Bill proposes to regulate surrogacy by establishing a National Surrogacy Board and State Surrogacy Boards and appropriate authorities in the States and Union Territories respectively. The proposed insurance cover for a surrogate mother has now been increased to 36 months from 16 months earlier.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Union HRD Minister Launches Leadership Development Programme for Higher Education Administrators

  • Ramesh Pokhriyal aka Nishank, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, launched 'Higher Education Leadership Development Programme For Administrators'– a joint initiative of UGC and British Council under the auspices of UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) today in New Delhi.
  • The initiative, which aims to deliver a leadership development programme for middle and senior-level administrative functionaries in Indian Universities, was rolled out in the presence of Amit Khare, Secretary, MHRD; Prof. D. P. Singh, Chairman, UGC; Ms. Barbara Wickham OBE, Director, British Council India and other officials from the Ministry of Human Resource Development, University Grants Commission and British Council.

Rest of World Overtakes China in New Virus Cases

  • The World Health Organization said that for the first time the number of new coronavirus cases reported daily outside mainland China exceeded those within the country, marking a shift in the outbreak that has killed more than 2,700 and infected over 80,000.
  • The agency had previously warned that the contagion, which is believed to have originated from a meat market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, would spread across the world while the outbreak in China appears to have peaked on February 2.
  • The UN health agency put the number of new cases in China on Tuesday at 411 (down from 508 a day before) while those registered outside the country stood at 427.

Maharashtra Scraps International Education Board

  • The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, a coalition of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress, scrapped the Maharashtra International Education Board (MIEB), which was started by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government.
  • The announcement was made by Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad in the legislative council, based on the recommendations of Dattatray Sawant, presiding officer in the council, in place of chairman Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar. Gaikwad was responding to a calling-attention motion by Vikas Potnis, member of legislative council (MLC).
  • There are 83 public and private schools affiliated with the MIEB, which was set up in 2018 to provide education at par with international standards. Following allegations by Potnis of misconduct, lack of transparency in functioning and curriculum and exclusivity towards selection of schools, several members demanded a review of the board.
  • Members also alleged that many schools had not even received the updated syllabus as per the board.
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