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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

19 Mar 2020


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Philippines Shuts Financial Market Due to COVID 19 Outbreak

  • Philippines became the first country to close its financial markets due to the COVID 19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. It resumed its trading on March 19, 2020. This measure was taken to ensure the safety of their employees and the people they interact with. Now, the speculations are if other countries may take similar measures then there is a fear of a global recession.
  • Shutting markets is an extremely rare case during times of crisis. Earlier cases were, a weeklong closing of America's stock after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, while Hong Kong had shut trading due to Black Monday crash in 1987. Greece halted its stock market for about five weeks in 2015.

US Puts New IS Chief on Terror Blacklist

  • The US placed the new leader of the Islamic State group on its blacklist of terrorists, naming him as Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli.
  • Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said that al-Mawli was named leader of the group after an October raid by US commandos that killed its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  • The organisation had earlier named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi as its new head, but US officials acknowledged they knew little about him - and later came to believe that the Islamic State group was using his nom de guerre.

Biden Sweeps Three States

  • Former vice president Joe Biden swept all three states that held their nominating contests on Tuesday, winning 1,165 delegates so far for Democratic Party nomination to take on President Donald Trump.
  • Trump officially clinched his nomination, wrapping up the Republican primaries practically unopposed with 1,330 delegates, way more than the 1,276 needed to win the nomination. As has been with sitting presidents largely, he faced no serious challenge. Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, finished a distant second with just one delegate.
  • The Democratic race appeared drawing to a close, with Biden increasing his tally after the three wins in Florida, Illinois and Arizona, taking what is being called an unassailable lead over Senator Bernie Sanders, who is at 880, according to an Associated Press count.
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RBI Announces Fresh OMO Purchase of Govt. Securities

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to conduct open market operations (OMOs) on March 20 in the form of purchase of an aggregate amount of Rs. 10,000 crore of government securities through a multi-security auction using the multiple price method.
  • With the heightening of COVID-19 pandemic risks, certain financial market segments have been experiencing a tightening of financial conditions as reflected in the hardening of yields and widening of spreads.

RBI Extends Authorisation Issued to Vakrangee for White Label ATMs

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) provided the Renewal of Authorisation for Vakrangee. RBI extended the validity of Authorisation issued to Vakrangee to setup, own and operate the White Label ATMs (WLA) in India.
  • The validity was extended till 31 March 2021.
  • RBI assigned a target of minimum 1,000 ATMS to be deployed by Vakrangee for every calendar year starting 2020 for an initial period of three years. The ATMs deployed shall be in the ratio of 1:2:3 would be applicable for Metro & Urban, Semi-Urban and Rural regions respectively.

Volkswagen Launches T-Roc SUV Starting Rs. 19.99 lakh

  • Volkswagen Passenger Cars India launched T-Roc -- its second sports utility vehicle (SUV) this year -- starting Rs. 19.99 lakh, ex-showroom.
  • Launched as a CBU or completely built unit, the VW T-Roc will compete with the popular locally manufactured SUVs on sale such as the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Creta and Tata Harrier, among others.
  • The T-Roc will be positioned below the recently launched seven-seater VW Tiguan Allspace, priced at Rs. 33.12 lakh in the company's SUV portfolio for the domestic market. Both the SUVs are based on the German carmaker's globally popular and highly flexible modular transverse matrix or MQB platform.
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Ex-champion and Trainer Roger Mayweather Dies

  • Roger Mayweather, a two-time world champion turned trainer and uncle of unbeaten boxing great Floyd Mayweather, died at the age of 58.
  • Roger Mayweather, who had struggled with diabetes, won world titles at super featherweight and super lightweight, earning 59 wins in a near-20-year ring career that included notable fights against Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell Whitaker.

Indian Umpires Janani Narayanan, and Vrinda Rathi in ICC Panel

  • The number of women match officials across different International Cricket Council (ICC) panels has gone up to 12 after India's Janani Narayanan and Vrinda Rathi were added in the international panel of ICC Development Umpires.
  • The announcement came after the launch of 100% Cricket, a 12-month campaign anticipated to build on the momentum of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2020.
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Sharad Pawar, Ramdas Athawale among 37 Elected Unopposed to Rajya Sabha

  • A total of 37 candidates, including NCP chief Sharad Pawar, Union Minister Ramdas Athawale and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, were elected unopposed to Rajya Sabha after the end of deadline for withdrawal of nomination.
  • The nominations were filed for 55 Rajya Sabha seats in 17 states for the election scheduled to take place on March 26. The returning officers declared the names of candidatesdeclared elected unopposed to all seven seats in Maharashtra, six seats in Tamil Nadu, two seats each in Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Telangana; four seats in Odisha, five seats each in Bihar and West Bengal; three seats in Assam and one seat in Himachal Pradesh.
  • Elections for the remaining 18 seats will be held on March 26. The seats where election will be held are - four each in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, three each in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two in Jharkhand and one each in Manipur and Meghalaya.

Uttarakhand Government Removes Quota in Promotion for SC/ST Employees

  • The government of Uttarakhand decided to remove reservation in promotions for SC/ST employees.
  • Around two lakh General and OBC employees in the government were demanding the removal of the reservation to SC/ST employees and had been protesting since March 2.
  • The Chief Secretary issued a letter to all government departments to inform them of the government's move. With this, the state government also lifted restrictions on promotions in the state.

All J&K Residents to Get Free Health Insurance

  • The Jammu and Kashmir administration accorded sanction to rolling out the J&K Health Scheme to provide free of cost Universal Health Coverage to all residents of the Union Territory in convergence with Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY.
  • The decision was taken by the administrative council which met under the chairmanship of Lt. Governor G. C. Murmu.
  • Lt. Governor G. C. Murmu said that now around 1.25 crore residents of the Union Territory would get all benefits provided under the centre's Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY).
  • At present, 31 lakh people are eligible for benefits under Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY, the official said, adding around 15 lakh additional families will be covered under the J&K Health Scheme.
  • As part of Universal Health Coverage, the beneficiaries will be entitled to free health insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakh per family per year on floater basis and there is no restriction on family size, age or gender.
  • All pre-existing illnesses shall also be covered besides; cashless services shall also be available in all the empanelled hospitals. The beneficiaries under the scheme shall have access to 20,853 (public and private) hospitals across the country and avail benefits with facility of inter-state portability.
  • A total of 1,469 medical and surgical packages or procedures including life consuming diseases such as cancer and kidney failure will be covered under the scheme.
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Defence Acquisition Council Clears Acquisition of 83 Tejas Aircraft for IAF

  • The Defence Ministry's Defence Acquisition Council gave its green signal for the procurement of 83 indigenous Tejas fighter jets for Indian Air Force with more advanced configuration than the 40 currently on order.
  • The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas indigenously-designed by Aircraft Development Agency (ADA) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is going to be the backbone of Indian Air Force in future.
  • While orders of 40 Tejas aircraft had been placed with HAL in initial configurations, the DAC paved the way for procurement of 83 of the more advanced Mk1A version of the aircraft from HAL by finalising the contractual and other issues.
  • The proposal will now be placed for consideration of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). This procurement will be a major boost to 'Make in India' as the aircraft is indigenously designed, developed and manufactured with participation of several local vendors apart from HAL.

OFB, DRDO to Develop Fully Indigenous Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle

  • Make in India boost for Indian Army: A fully indigenous Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) is being developed by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Defence Research Development Oranisation (DRDO) for the use of the Indian Army. Tentatively named Mark I, the vehicle will help modernise Indian Army's infantry frontier which currently relies on BMP II, an infantry personnel carrier with a 30 mm gun. The joint collaboration between the Ordnance Factory Board and the DRDO will yield results in a period of three to five years.
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Rajya Sabha Passes Two Bills

  • Rajya Sabha passed two bills that seek to provide for quality medical education system in homoeopathy and promote Indian systems of medicines.
  • The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 and the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019 were passed in the Upper House by voice vote.
  • The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in January 2019. Later, it was sent to a standing committee, which submitted its report in November 2019.
  • The proposed legislation seeks to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and provides for a medical education system to ensure availability of quality medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine, and adoption of the latest medical research, among other objectives.
  • Another key feature of the bill is setting up a National Commission for Indian System of Medicine.
  • The second legislation, the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, too was introduced in January 2019 in the Upper House.
  • It seeks to repeal the Homoeopathy Central Council Act, 1973.

Govt. Sanctions Rs. 20,466.94 crore Loan to Women under 'Stand Up India Scheme'

  • According to the Minister of State (MoS) for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Anurag Singh Thakur, the central government sanctioned a loan of Rs. 20,466.94 crore to over 91,000 accounts up to March 10, 2020 since inception of the Stand Up India Scheme, as it counted the work being done for the empowerment of women.
  • It was launched on April 5, 2016 to promote entrepreneurship for economic empowerment and job creation. To set up a new venture, it is mandatory for every branch of the scheduled commercial bank to give a loan of Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore to a person belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) and at least one woman.
  • As on February 17, 2020, more than 81% account holders under this scheme were women.
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HRD Ministry to Launch e-classes on Swayam Prabha DTH Channels

  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development will launch e-classes on Swayam Prabha DTH channels for school students in view of coronavirus outbreak, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ''Nishank'' said.
  • Time-slots of 4 hours daily has been approved on Swayam Prabha DTH channels for selected states.

Roche Diagnostics India's First Private Firm Gets Coronavirus Test Approval

  • Swiss firm Roche Diagnostics India received the license for conducting coronavirus tests after approval from drug regulator DCGI, making it the first private firm to get such permission after the government decided to allow accredited private labs to test for COVID-19.
  • As per reports, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) is now assessing giving license to another private diagnostic firm, bioMérieux, which has also sought approval to conduct tests for coronavirus.
  • Two Indian diagnostic companies– Trivitron Healthcare and Mylab Discovery Solution– have also sought approval from the DCGI for the coronavirus testing kits developed by them.
  • The Union health ministry had issued guidelines for private sector laboratories intending to initiate COVID-19 testing while appealing them to conduct the tests free of cost.

IIT Hyderabad Creates a Sanitiser to Fight Coronavirus

  • As cities across India face a shortage of sanitisers and disinfectants due to hoarding and panic, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Hyderabad developed their own hand-sanitiser. The institute claims the product is in line with standards recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a federal health agency in the US.
  • The IIT researchers will make the hand-sanitiser available for the use of staff and students in the institute as well as the neighbouring community.
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Odisha's Konark Sun Temple and Statue of Unity in Gujarat Find Place in Iconic Tourism Sites List

  • According to the Union Minister of State (Independent) for tourism and culture, Prahlad Singh Patel, the central government included the grand Konark Sun Temple, the UNESCO world heritage site in Odisha and the Statue of Unity in Gujarat in the Iconic Tourist Sites list, taking the total number of such places from 17 to 19.
  • The move has been taken after the ministry got the proposals from the Odisha Chief Minister (CM) - Naveen Patnaik, the Union Petroleum Minister – Dharmendra Pradhan and other delegations.
  • A total of 17 iconic tourist sites were identified by the government of India in 2019. It includes- Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Ajanta and Ellora (Maharashtra), Humayun's Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar (Delhi), Colva (Goa), Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Kaziranga (Assam), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).
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