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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

23 May 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Pakistan Plane Crashes Near Karachi; 99 Passengers on Board

  • A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight on its way from Lahore to Karachi, crashed in the area near Jinnah International Airport.
  • The plane crashed at the Jinnah Ground area near the airport as it was approaching for landing. There were more than 90 passengers on board the Airbus aircraft.

Hertz: Car Rental Firm Files for US Bankruptcy Protection

  • Car rental company Hertz has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US after the pandemic saw its business plummet.
  • The firm, which earns much of its income from car rentals at airports, said it had been affected by the sharp downturn in global travel.
  • It will continue to operate while restructuring its debts.
  • Hertz's international operations in Europe, Australia and New Zealand as well as its franchised locations in the US are not affected.
  • The company - which began operating a century ago in Chicago with a dozen Model T Ford cars - had already furloughed or laid off 20,000 employees, or around half of its global workforce, in response to the pandemic.

UNICEF, Airtel Africa Team Up to Support Children, Families Affected by COVID-19

  • UNICEF announced a new partnership with Airtel Africa aimed at providing children with access to remote learning and enable access to cash assistance for their families via mobile cash transfers.
  • Under this partnership, UNICEF and Airtel Africa will use mobile technology to benefit an estimated 133 million school age children currently affected by school closures in 13 countries across sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The adverse effects of school closures on children's learning are well documented.  Education experts warn that gains made in increasing access to learning in the previous decade are at risk of being lost, or even reversed completely. And for poor households around the world, the pandemic means a reduced or total loss of income due to the movement restrictions in place.
  • Remote learning, supported by digital tools, is a core part of UNICEF's response to ensure continuity of learning for those children with access to technology at home.
  • Airtel Africa will zero-rating select websites hosting educational content, which will provide children with remote access to digital content at no cost.
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ENVIRONMENT

Alternative Dwarfing Genes in Wheat

  • Scientists at Pune based Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), have mapped two alternative dwarfing genes Rht14 and Rht18 in wheat that can help in reducing rice crop residue burning i.e. stubble burning.
  • ARI is an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology.
  • Genetic/DNA marker is any alteration in a sequence of nucleic acids or other genetic traits that can be readily detected and used to identify individuals, populations, or species or to identify genes involved in inherited disease.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Facebook Buys Popular GIF Database GIPHY for $400 Million

  • Facebook has acquired GIPHY for $400 million to integrate its GIF library into Instagram and other Facebook apps.
  • According to Shah, 50 percent of all of GIPHY's traffic comes from its apps, with half of that coming from Instagram alone.
  • GIPHY is a popular library where users share and create billions of GIFs on a regular basis.
  • GIPHY as part of the Instagram team will make it easier to send GIFs and stickers in Instagram stories and direct messages.

CCI Approves Emami Cement Acquisition by Nirma Arm

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the acquisition of Emami Cement Ltd by Nuvoco Vistas Corp Ltd (part of the Nirma group).
  • The sale of the cement business is part of Emami group's plan to become debt-free.
  • Emami Cement Ltd operates an integrated cement plant in Risdah, Chhattisgarh, and grinding units in Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha, with a total installed capacity of 8.3 million tonnes per annum.
  • It has mining leases in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

Airtel Acquires 10% Stake in AI Startup Voicezen

  • Bharti Airtel has acquired 10 per cent stake in Gurgaon-based start-up Voicezen, which focusses on conversational artificial intelligence technologies, in an all-cash deal.
  • The acquisition has been made by the company under its fast expanding Airtel Startup Accelerator Programme.
  • Voicezen has been working on developing advanced solutions that leverage machine learning, AI, speech to text and voice technologies to offer real time analytics to help brands engage with customers.
  • The global conversational AI market size is expected to grow from USD 4.2 billion in 2019 to USD 15.7 billion by 2024.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

IIT-M Researchers Develop Low Cost Solar Parabolic Trough Collector

  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) have developed a low cost Solar 'Parabolic Trough Collector' (PTC) system for concentrating solar energy with industrial applications in areas such as desalination, space heating and space cooling, among others.
  • This indigenously designed and developed system was lightweight with high energy efficiency under Indian various climatic and load conditions.
  • The National Solar Mission was launched with the target of providing 20,000 MW through solar power by 2022.
  • However, lower rate of energy generation through solar power was a major roadblock in achieving this target.
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SPORTS

Naomi Osaka Becomes World's Highest-Paid Female Athlete

  • Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has become the world's highest-paid female athlete, displacing US rival Serena Williams at the top of the list.
  • According to Forbes magazine, Osaka, 22, a two-time Grand Slam champion, made £30.7m in prize money and endorsements over the past 12 months.
  • That was £1.15m more than the amount earned by 38-year-old Williams.
  • Both shattered the previous single-year earnings record of £24.4m set in 2015 by Russia's Maria Sharapova.
  • Since Forbes began tracking women athletes' income in 1990, tennis players have topped the annual list every year.
  • Osaka, whose father was born in Haiti and whose mother is Japanese, is 29th on the 2020 Forbes list of the world's 100 top-paid athletes, four spots ahead of Williams, the winner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Four-time Grand Slam Singles Champion Ashley Cooper Dies At 83

  • Ashley Cooper, who won four Grand Slam singles titles including the Australian, Wimbledon and US championships in 1958, has died. He was 83.
  • Ashley John Cooper AO was an Australian tennis player who played between 1953 and 1968.
  • He was recognised as the world's best amateur player during the years of 1957 and 1958. 

Harsh Vardhan Takes Charge as WHO Executive Board Chairman

  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan took took charge as chairman of the 34-member World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board amid the outbreak of novel coronavirus across the world.
  • WHO's Executive Board comprises of 34 members elected for three-year terms.
  • The Chair of the Executive Board is elected by its members on being nominated by the Regional Committees of the six WHO Regions, by rotation.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Madhya Pradesh CM Inaugurated 'Everybody will Get Employment' Scheme

  • In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan inaugurated the 'Everybody will get employment' scheme through video conferencing. 
  • Under this scheme, MNREGA job cards will be distributed to the labourers.
  • As per the official information,19 lakh 92 thousand labourers are working in 22 thousand 695 gram Panchayats in the state.
  • From April 1, 2020 more than 35 lakh 45 thousand labourers have been provided employment under MNREGA during Corona crisis. In this 42.2 percent women have been given employment.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IGNOU Launches Online Master's Programme in Hindi

  • Union HRD Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank launched IGNOU's Online Programme, MA (Hindi) through Facebook Live session.
  • The launch was done keeping in mind the prevailing situation and adherence to the partial-lockdown as per the Government's directives.
  • The minister said that this would strengthen the "Padhe India Online" initiative. He stressed on the role the Hindi language plays not in India but in other countries including Mauritius, Fiji, Surinam, etc.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Ruskin Bond's New Book Released on His 86th Birthday

  •  Popular author Ruskin Bond has authored a book titled 'Hop On: My Adventures on Boats, Trains and Planes.
  • The e-book format was released on the occasion of his 86th birthday.
  • The illustration has been done by Samrat Halder and published by Speaking Tiger's children's imprint Talking Cub.
  • Some of Bond's other titles published by Talking Cub include 'When I Was a Boy: Scenes and Stories from My Childhood', 'Friends in Wild Places: Birds, Beasts and Other Companions' and 'The Book of Crazy Mischief' (co-edited with Jerry Pinto).
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