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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

06 Jun 2020


IMF Asks Pakistan to Freeze Govt. Employees' Salaries

  • The IMF has asked cash-strapped Pakistan to freeze salaries of government employees and adhere to the fiscal consolidation path by showing a nominal primary deficit in the new budget due to the unsustainable public debt that is set to hit 90 per cent of the total value of the national economy.
  • Pakistan is finding it hard to concede to the two demands but the IMF is insisting that the country should continue to follow the fiscal consolidation path due to the high and unsustainable public debt.
  • However, the government is resisting the demand due to high inflation that has eroded people's real income.
  • Nonetheless, it is inclined to abolish over 67,000 posts that have remained vacant for over one year and is also ready to further squeeze current expenditures including a ban on purchase of vehicles.

Eight Countries form Alliance to Counter China

  • A group of senior lawmakers from eight democracies including the US have launched a new cross-parliamentary alliance to help counter what they say is the threat China's growing influence poses to global trade, security and human rights.
  • The list of participating nations includes the US, Germany, the UK, Japan, Australia, Canada, Sweden and Norway, as well as members of the European parliament. 
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Sixth Mass Extinction Threat Grows

  • A recent analysis of data has warned of an acceleration in the sixth mass extinction. For the analysis published scientists examined available data related to 29,400 species of terrestrial vertebrates and found that 1.7% of them, or 515 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, have fewer than 1,000 individuals each and are on the brink of extinction including in India.
  • Among those facing extinction, 243 (47%) are continental and 272 (53%) insular (island-dwelling). Most of them are from South America, followed by Oceania, Asia, Africa, North and Central America, and then Europe with less than 1% of them. The greatest numbers of mammals on the brink extinction are in Asia and Oceania. Most such birds live in South America and Oceania. The distribution of species on the brink extinction shows they also include those in the biodiversity hotspots of the Himalayas and the Western Ghats.
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India Extends Anti-dumping Duty on Chinese Steel for Entire Year

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged moves towards a self-reliant economy while announcing a $266 billion economic stimulus package in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing Indian industry leaders earlier this week, the PM expressed confidence that economic growth would soon return.
  • India has extended anti-dumping duty on certain varieties of steel until December this year (2020) to insulate domestic companies from cheap imports of the commodity from China and other nations like Korea and Malaysia.
  • India will charge import duty in the range of $180-316 per ton on steal to safeguard its domestic industry.
  • The Indian government previously imposed import duty on 'hot-rolled flat products of stainless steel 304 series' being imported from China, Malaysia and South Korea on June 5, 2015, for a period of five years.

India's 1st Mobile App Based Facility for Opening Current Accounts

  • IndusInd Bank Limited has introduced a first-of-its-kind facility for customers to open current accounts (CA) through its 'Indus Corporate' mobile app.
  • Current account can be opened for all types of businesses including proprietorships, partnerships and private and public limited companies through this facility.
  • The process of opening a current account in the bank with the mobile app will be paperless and the account will be opened in a few hours. Bank officials will go to the customer's home and gather information about them and his/her business on a real-time basis and verify it.
  • IndusInd Bank's 'Indus Corporate' mobile app uses several 'Application Programme Interface' (APIs), which enables secure validation of KYC documents from authorised government platforms such as Goods and Service Tax (GST), Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL), Import Export Code (IEC) and Aadhaar etc. 

Standard Life Sells Stake in HDFC Life

  • Standard Life, the joint venture partner in HDFC Life Insurance, sold 1.98 per cent stake (40 million shares) in the life insurance firm.
  • The share sale was conducted at Rs. 496.4 per share and fetched the UK-based firm Rs. 1,986 crore ($263 million). More than 50 institutional investor accounts bought the shares. Some of them include Capital World, Nomura, Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale. Birla MF, ICICI MF and Mirae MF were among the domestic institutions that bought the stake. Following the stake sake, Standard Life's stake will decline to 10.27 per cent.
  • Standard Life has pruned its stake in the life insurer in several trances. At the time of HDFC Life's IPO in November 2017, Standard Life held 35 per cent stake.
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Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes Football's First Billion-dollar Man

  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi - the rivalry between the two footballing legends define an entire generation. Be it the number of goals, the number of trophies or the number of awards, Messi and Ronaldo continue to compete with each other in every aspect. Sometimes, Messi would pip Ronaldo in some areas, and sometimes, Ronaldo would surpass Messi in others. 
  • According to a report in Forbes, the Portugal star forward Ronaldo has beaten Lionel Messi to become the first footballer to earn $1 billion during his playing career.
  • The 35-year-old, who had earned $105 million before taxes and fees in the past year, is the third athlete to reach the mark during his career, only after golfer Tiger Woods and boxer Floyd Mayweather.
  • Ronaldo is also the first player to reach the earnings milestone of $1 billion in a team sport.

India to Host 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup

  • The Asian Football Confederation has awarded the hosting rights of the 2022 Women's Asian Cup to India for the first time since 1979.
  • The decision was taken at the AFC Women's Football Committee meeting. In February, the AFC Women's Football Committee had recommended India to be hosts.
  • The tournament will likely be held in the second half of the year. In the 1979 edition, India had finished as runners-up.
  • The tournament will feature 12 teams, expanded from the previous slot of 8 teams.
  • India qualifies directly as hosts. The event will also serve as the final qualification tournament for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.
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J&K Lt Governor Launches Salary Tracker Mobile App "MeraVetan (Version-1)"

  • The Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Girish Chandra Murmu launched the first version of the Salary Tracker Mobile app "MeraVetan" developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) – J&K State Centre on the Android Platform to provide end to end computerisation of JK Payment System (JKPaySys) application, at the Raj Bhavan.
  • The Application will be available on the JKPaySys main page.
  • Benefits of MeraVetan:
  • i. The Government employees and the officials posted in remote and rural areas with no access to DDO can access their salary and other details. 
  • ii. The information such as Pay Scale, GPF/NPS subscription, Allowances, Deductions, GPF/NPS statement, Income Tax Statement, State Life Insurance (SLI) statement etc will be provided in the app.

Cabinet Approves MoU between India and Bhutan on Cooperation in the Areas of Environment

  • The Union cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Bhutan to improve cooperation in the areas of environment.
  • MoU will help establish and promote the long term cooperation between the two countries in the field of environment protection and management of natural resources based on equity, reciprocity and mutual benefits, taking into account the applicable laws and legal provisions in each country.
  • The MoU covers the following areas of the environment, namely- Air, Waste, Chemical Management, Climate Change, and any other areas jointly decided upon, by considering the bilateral interest of both countries.
  • It enters into force on the date of signature and remains in force for a 10 years.
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China Appoints New Commander for Troops Overseeing India Border

  • China has appointed Lieutenant General Xu Qiling as the new army commander for its Western Theatre Command ground forces responsible for the Sino-India border, ahead of the key talks between senior Indian and Chinese military officials to end the border standoff.
  • Before this, he reportedly served in the Eastern Theatre Command.
  • The Western Theatre Command of the PLA guards the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India.
  • The PLA's Western Theatre Command, which includes the ground force or army, Air Force and Rocket Force, is headed by General Zhao Zongqi. 
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DLF's K. P. Singh Retires

  • Kushal Pal Singh, the face of India's largest listed real estate firm DLF, stepped down from the chairmanship of the company at the age of 90. He will be replaced by son Rajiv Singh, currently serving as vice chairman. The non-agenarian will, however, continue in a non-executive role as chairman emeritus.
  • Singh had left an army job in 1961 to join DLF, a company started by his father-in-law in 1946, and took over as chairman in 1995. Under his leadership, DLF expanded beyond Gurugram, building apartments, shopping malls, and hotels. In 2007, he oversaw DLF's much-anticipated initial public offering, which raised Rs. 9,188 crore through the sale of 175 million shares.

Adidas Appoints Manushi Chhillar as Brand Ambassador

  • Miss World 2017 winner Manushi Chhillar has joined the league of star cricketer Rohit Sharma, sprint sensation Hima Das and Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh as brand ambassador of the Indian arm of German sports brand Adidas.
  • The footwear giant said that Chillar will lead Adidas's mission to inspire more women to embrace fitness.
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UN Russian Language Day

  • UN Russian Language Day is observed annually on June 6. The event was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in 2010. UN Russian Language Day coincides with the birthday of Aleksandr Pushkin, a Russian poet who is considered the father of modern Russian language.
  • The initiative of the UN Language Days was launched in February 2010 in order to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity and to promote equal use of all six of the UN's official working languages throughout the organisation.
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Platinum Recognition in ACI Asia-Pacific Green Airports Recognition 2020

  • In Asia-Pacific Annual Green Airport Recognition 2020 Airports Council International (ACI) awarded the highest Platinum Recognition to GMR led Rajiv Gandhi Hyderabad International Airport (RGHIA) for their effective water management under the 15-35 Million Passengers per annum (MPPA) category.
  • The Green Airport Recognition Programme of ACI promotes the environmental practices that minimise the impacts of the aviation sector on the environment and recognises a member of the ACI Asia-Pacific for their achievement in the projects related to the environment.
  • The focus of Green Airport Recognition 2020 is Water Management.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Wins EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 Award

  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, executive chairperson of Biocon Ltd, was named the EY World Entrepreneur of The Year at a virtual award ceremony.
  • Mazumdar-Shaw was picked from among 46 award winners from 41 countries and territories vying for the world title. In the 20-year history of the award, she became the third EY World Entrepreneur of The Year Award winner from India, after Uday Kotak of Kotak Mahindra Bank (2014) and Narayana Murthy of Infosys Technologies Ltd (2005).
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India Joins Global Alliance to Support Vaccine Supply, Immunisation

  • The United Kingdom organised the Global Vaccine Summit 2020, helping secure $7.4 billion in funding to support global vaccine supply and immunisation.
  • The virtual event saw representatives of more than 50 countries - business leaders, UN agencies, civil society, government ministers, Heads of State and country leaders, including Prime Minister Modi - pledge their support to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in its commitment to help save up to 8 million lives over the next five years
  • Gavi's routine immunisation efforts, including during the course of the coronavirus pandemic, help stop the spread of infectious diseases and the resurgence of other epidemics.

Byju's among World's Top 10 Education Apps Downloaded During Lockdown

  • Online tutoring startup Byju's is the only Indian app that has been ranked among the world's top 10 most downloaded education apps on Google Play store during the lockdown.
  • The findings from the April 2020 report by Sensor Tower also make Byju's the only 'school-learning' app to feature in this global report.
  • Byju's announced free access to its learning programme for students since the temporary closure of schools and institutions in India in March 2020. Since then Byju's has seen over 6 million new students join the platform in March and 7.5 million in April. As the covid-19 pandemic continues to persist, online learning platforms have come to the rescue by helping students continue learning from the comfort of their homes.
  • Google Classroom was the most downloaded 'Education' category app worldwide for April with more than 28.2 million installs, a 21 times increase from April last year (2019), followed by You Tube Kids, Duolingo, Photomath and Simply Piano, among others.
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Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank Launches Booklet Titled "Safe online learning in the times of COVID-19"

  • Union Minister for HRD, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank launched the information booklet titled "Safe online learning in the times of COVID-19" to raise awareness of students and teachers on staying safe online, virtually  in New Delhi. The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and UNESCO New Delhi Office developed this booklet.
  • The booklet will be instrumental in keeping children, young people safe online through basic do's, and don'ts that will help parents and educators teach their children how to use the internet safely.
  • In India, an estimated 71 million children aged between 5-11 years access the Internet on devices of their family members, constituting about 14 percent of the country's active Internet user base of over 500 million. Two-thirds of internet users in India are in the age group of 12-29 year (Data shared by the Internet & Mobile Association of India). Data and statistics have highlighted that post lockdown, the internet has amplified the risk of cyberbullying, including online discrimination for children and young people.
  • With the aim of addressing these concerns, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and UNESCO New Delhi Office developed this information booklet.
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Chhattisgarh CM Seeks Centre's Approval for 'Ram Van Gaman Path' Tourism Plan

  • Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has urged the Centre to approve the concept proposal for 'Ram Van Gaman Path' tourism circuit in the state under Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
  • Baghel said that the state tourism department had selected nine sites along 'Ram Van Gaman Path' and has drawn up a plan to develop them.
  • The state government had made allocations of Rs. 5 crore last year and Rs. 10 crore in this year's state budget for Ram Van Gaman Path.
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