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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

23 Mar 2020


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Earthquake Rocks Croatia's Capital Zagreb

  •  An earthquake has rocked Croatia's capital Zagreb, damaging buildings and leaving cars crushed by falling chunks of masonry.
  • A teenager is in a critical condition after a roof collapsed. The spire of the city's cathedral also snapped off.
  • After tremor, Zagreb's mayor urged people to return to their homes given fears about the coronavirus.
  • The 5.3-magnitude quake is the largest to affect the city in 140 years.
  • Aside from the teenager, another sixteen people were injured.

UK Confirmed as 1st Co-Chair in India-Led Climate Change Initiative

  • The UK has been confirmed as the first co-chair of the Governing Council on the India-led global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
  • The UK on March 23, 2020, was confirmed as the first co-chair of the Governing Council on the India-led global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). The coalition was established by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is a voluntary international grouping, linking governments, UN agencies, banks, private sector groups, and academia to develop the resilience of infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks.
  • The Governing Council is the highest policy-making body of the CDRI, co-chaired by India and a representative of another national government nominated by rotation every two years. The UK was represented at the first council meeting this week by UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Indian-origin minister participated remotely over a video link from the UK.
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Karur Vysya Bank Launches Pre-Paid Card Enkasu In Karur

  • Karur Vysya Bank has launched Enkasu, a pre-paid card in Karur. In response to the digital initiative of the Government of India, the bank undertook a Quit Cash Movement in Karur - a movement to reduce the usage of cash in the district of Karur.
  • Enkasu works on Near Field Communication Technology in a semi closed loop. The cardholder can make tap & go payments for even small purchases to merchants - as little as Re. 1/-. Doing away with the need for cash and small change, the Enkasu card will be beneficial to both merchants and customers alike.
  • In addition, Enkasu cards are unique in that they can be accepted 'online' as well as 'offline', thereby increasing its utility manifold as internet access is not mandatory for usage.

Cabinet Nod For Bulk Drug Parks' Promotion Scheme

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a scheme for promotion of bulk drug parks with a financial assistance of 3,000 crore for the next five years.
  • It has also approved a Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for promotion of domestic manufacturing of critical drug intermediates and active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) with a financial assistance of 6,940 crore for the next eight years.

India To Become Electronic Manufacturing Hub, Cabinet Approves Scheme

  • With the aim to boost domestic manufacturing along with attracting investment in electronic component manufacturing, the Union Cabinet has approved three schemes. Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the cabinet has approved the Production Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing, financial assistance to the Modified Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC2.0), and financial incentive of 25 per cent of capital expenditure for the manufacturing of goods.
  • The Production Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing proposes production linked incentive to boost domestic manufacturing and attract large investments in mobile phone manufacturing and specified electronic components including Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP) units. The total cost of the proposed scheme is approximately Rs 40,995 crore, which includes an incentive outlay of approximately Rs 40,951 crore and administrative expenses to the tune of Rs 44 crore.
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Canada Pulls Out Of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Over Coronavirus Fears

  • Team Canada have called on the International Olmypic Committee [IOC] to postpone this summer's Olympic Games after confirming they will not send any athletes to Tokyo in 2020 due to the risks posed by the coronvairus pandemic. 
  • Tokyo officials confirmed that they will make a decision on whether the Games will go ahead in the next four weeks but as yet, they have not yet postponed the event which begins on July 24th. That means a decision in late April but Team Canada are taking no risks and they have announced that they will not participate should the Games go ahead.
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Entire Nation Observed Janata Curfew Voluntarily Following PM's Appeal To Check Spread Of Corona Virus

  • The entire country is observed Janata Curfew following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for people to voluntarily stay indoors to check the spread of Corona virus. In his address to the nation on 19th March of this month, he urged public to avoid stepping out of their homes.
  • Prime Minister said the steps we take now will help in the times to come.  People's restraint and determination will defeat the epidemic.
  • Mr Modi asked everyone to express gratitude towards doctors, nurses, hospital staff, sanitation workers, airlines employees, government staff, police personnel, media people, people associated with train-bus-auto rickshaw services and home delivery agents.
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Kenny Rogers: Country Music Legend Dies Aged 81

  •  American country music legend Kenny Rogers has died aged 81.
  • A family representative said he "passed away peacefully at home from natural causes".
  • Rogers topped pop and country charts during the 1970s and 1980s, and won three Grammy awards.
  • Known for his husky voice and ballads including The Gambler, Lucille and Coward Of The County, his career spanned more than six decades.
  • He once summed up his popularity by explaining that he believed his songs "say what every man wants to say and that every woman wants to hear".
  • After growing up in poverty on a federal housing estate in Houston, Texas, Rogers began recording with a string of bands, including Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, before launching his solo career in 1976.

PM pays tribute to revolutionary freedom fighters - Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev & Rajguru

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to revolutionary freedom fighters - Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru on their death anniversary (March 23). In a tweet, Mr Modi said, nation will always remember their sacrifices.  
  • Prime Minister also paid homage to veteran socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia on his birth anniversary. Mr Modi said, Dr Lohia's works and ideology will always inspire people.
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World Water Day

  •  World Water Day is observed every year on March 22 which aims to focus on the importance of fresh water and spread awareness on sustainable management of freshwater resources. Every year it follows a theme to highlight a cause. This year, the theme for World Water Day is 'Water and Climate Change'.
  • On the other hand, the 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR 2020) named 'Water and Climate Change' stresses on the aim to help the water community tackle the challenges of climate change. It will also focus on informing the climate change community about the opportunities that improved water management offers in terms of adaptation and mitigation. Due to the outbreak of Corona Virus, all events are postponed, including the global launch of the report that was organised in Geneva.
  • The alternative ways are also mentioned on the official website of the World Water Day Organisation to conduct online meet and get-togethers on March 20, 2020.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

  • The UN General Assembly resolution 2142 (XXI), adopted on 26 October 1966, proclaimed 21 March as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to be commemorated annually. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid "pass laws". Proclaiming the Day in 1966 which signifies the struggle to end the policy of apartheid in South Africa, the General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
  • Over the years, UNESCO has celebrated the International Day by organizing events in Headquarters and its field offices, as well as in cooperation with the member cities of the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities – ICCAR (formerly the International Coalition of Cities against Racism).
  • The struggle against racial discrimination is a central element of UNESCO's work to build peace in the minds of men and women, through education for tolerance, the rejection of racist stereotypes that may persist in culture or in the media.

International Nowruz Day Celebrated On March 21

  •  International Nowruz Day is celebrated globally on 21 March every year. International Nowruz Day to celebrate Nowruz which is an ancestral festivity and marks the first day of spring as well as the renewal of nature.  
  • Nowruz marks the first day of spring celebrated on the occasion of the astronomical vernal equinox that generally occurs on 21 March. It is celebrated by more than 300 million people all around the world as the beginning of the new year honored for over 3,000 years in the Balkans, the Black Sea Basin, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, and other regions.
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Probability Experts Awarded Abel Maths Prize

  • The Abel Prize for mathematics was awarded to Israeli-American Hillel Furstenberg and Russian-born Gregory Margulis, both probability experts, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters said. 
  • The pair were honoured "for pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in group theory, number theory and combinatorics," the Academy said in a statement. Furstenberg, 84, is affiliated with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, while Margulis, a decade younger, is at Yale University. Furstenberg and Margulis invented so-called random walk techniques, or a path consisting of a succession of random steps. The study of random walks is a central branch of probability theory. The pair used the technique "to investigate mathematical objects such as groups and graphs, and in so doing introduced probabilistic methods to solve many open problems," the statement said. Their work "has opened up a wealth of new results" in diverse areas of mathematics and "brought down the traditional wall between pure and applied mathematics". 
  • Born in Berlin, Furstenberg and his Jewish family fled Nazi Germany for the US just before the start of World War II. After starting his career at top universities like Princeton and MIT, he left the United States for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1965 and stayed there until his retirement in 2003.
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Govt Constitutes High Level Committee Of Medical Experts For Prevention & Control Of COVID-19

  •  The government has constituted a high level technical committee of Public Health Experts for COVID-19 to guide the prevention and control activities in the country.
  • The 21 member committee will be headed by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul. Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and Director General Indian Council of Medical Research are the Co-Chair.
  • Besides, Director, AIIMS, Dr. Randeep Guleria, Director of National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi Dr Sujeet Singh, Director of Institute of Infectious Diseases, Pune  Dr Sanjay Pujari and Additional Chief Secretary of Kerala Dr Rajan Khobragade are among the members of the Task Force. 
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SAARC Disaster Management Centre Launches Website For Information Related To COVID- 19

  •  The SAARC Disaster Management Centre has launched a website for information related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. The website shows the number of coronavirus cases in the member states while updating the numbers regularly. The website is 
  • Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had proposed it during the recent video conference with leaders and representatives of the member states. The website shows that at least 960 coronavirus cases have been reported in the SAARC region. It says that at least five people have lost their lives in India, three in Pakistan, while two died in Bangladesh due to COVID-19.

Cabinet Approves Inclusion Of AYUSH Health, Wellness Centres In NAM

  •  The Union Cabinet has approved the inclusion of AYUSH Health and Wellness Centre (AYUSH HWC) component of Ayushman Bharat in National AYUSH Mission (NAM).
  • The proposal entails an expenditure of Rs. 3399.35 Crore (Rs.2209.58 Crore as Central Share and Rs. 1189.77 crore as State share) for operationalization of AYUSH HWCs within a period of five years that is from financial years 2019-20 to 2023-24.
  • The government said that the operationlization of AYUSH HWCs component under NAM is done to establish a holistic wellness model based on AYUSH principles and practices focusing on preventive promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative healthcare by integration with the existing public health care system.

Finland Crowned World's Happiest Country For Third Year Running

  • For the third year in a row, Finland has been named the world's happiest country.
  • The annual United Nations World Happiness Report released its 2020 edition, revealing that the Nordic country is number one once again.
  • Since the first report in 2012, only four countries have claimed the top spot: Denmark in 2012, 2013 and 2016, Switzerland in 2015, Norway in 2017, and now Finland in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
  • The 2020 report ranked 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be, based on their evaluations of their own lives.
  • Finland came top by some margin, followed by Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.
  • All the Nordic countries appeared in the top 10.
  • The UK missed out on the top 10, coming in 13th place, while the US came in at number 18.
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