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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

02 Jul 2020


UN Raises $7.7 Billion in Humanitarian Aid for Syria

  • The United Nations raised $7.7 billion in humanitarian aid for Syria, where nine years of war has displaced millions in a humanitarian crisis exacerbated by soaring food prices and the coronavirus crisis.
  • While less than the almost $10 billion sought by U.N. agencies, the pledges were higher than expected, given the economic shock of COVID-19 on many governments and shortfalls in other aid appeals, notably for Yemen this month.
  • Pledges came from countries including Qatar, which has promised $100 million, and Germany, which offered 1.58 billion euros ($1.78 billion) in what Berlin said was the single biggest country donation.
  • The United Nations, which last year raised $7 billion, said this year it needs $3.8 billion for aid inside Syria where 11 million people require help and protection, with more than 9.3 million of them lacking adequate food.
  • Another $6.04 billion is sought to help the 6.6 million Syrians who have fled, in what is the world's biggest refugee crisis.
  • U.N. officials will still press for more pledges throughout the year, and have time as the money is split between 2020 and 2021.

New Zealand Cancels the 2021 APEC's Auckland Summit and Opts to Virtual Summit

  • New Zealand cancelled the 2021 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum that was scheduled to be held in Auckland, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is opting to lead a virtual summit.
  • The 2019 leaders' meeting was cancelled by Chile due to violent anti-government protests and the virtual APEC meeting of 2020 is being hosted by Malaysia.
  • Members of APEC are: Canada, United States of America, Peru, Mexico, Chile, Republic of Korea, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), The Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, People's Republic of China, Viet Nam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore.
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PPF Rates, Small Savings Schemes Remain Unchanged

  • The government kept interest rates unchanged for small savings schemes, including that of popular Public Provident Fund or PPF, for the July-September quarter despite a fall in the interest rate in the overall financial system. Post office savings accounts will continue to fetch 4% interest, while the interest rate on post office deposits between 1 year and five years remain between 5.5% to 6.7%.
  • The 5-year recurring deposit will fetch 5.8% interest. The interest rate on Senior Citizen Savings Scheme will continue to fetch 7.4% interest while Monthly Income Scheme or MIS will offer 6.6% interest. Public provident fund or PPF will offer 7.1% interest rates while NSC or National Savings Certificate 6.8%.
  • Kisan Vikas Patra will offer 6.9% interest rate and will mature in 124 months. Among the small savings schemes Sukanya Samriddhi Account will fetch the highest interest rate, at 7.6%.
  • Amid excess liquidity in the financial system and weak credit growth, banks have been sharply cutting interest rates. For example, SBI retail fixed deposits with maturity between 5 years and 10 years currently offer interest rate of 5.4%.
  • Since 2016, the government has been revising interest rates on small savings schemes on a quarterly basis, depending on the trend in interest rate in the financial system. Prior to that, interest rates were revised once a year. The government had cut interest rates on small savings schemes for the April-June quarter by up to 140 basis points. The interest rate on PPF was cut by 80 basis points for the April-June quarter to 7.1%.

World Bank Approves $750 mn to Aid MSMEs

  • The World Bank approved $750-million loan to increase flow of finance to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India, which have been severely impacted by the covid-19 crisis. This will support the MSME package announced by the government under its 'Self-reliant India' programme.
  • The World Bank's MSME Emergency Response programme will address the immediate liquidity and credit needs of some 1.5 million viable MSMEs to help them withstand the impact of the current shock and protect millions of jobs.
  • India's MSME sector, which contributes 30% of India's GDP and 40% of exports, is currently facing severe stress. The sector, which employs 150-180 million people, is now burdened with cancelled orders, loss of customers and supply chain disruptions, causing a sharp fall in revenues. This cash flow shortage is worsened by constraints to accessing finance, potentially creating solvency problems. The broad-based loss of cash flows has triggered a chain of non-payments throughout the economy, including to the financial sector.

Indian Oil Corp Agrees to Form Joint Venture with Beximco LPG

  • Indian Oil Corp has agreed to form an equal joint venture with Bangladesh's Beximco LPG to set up a terminal to import liquefied petroleum gas in Bangladesh.
  • Indian Oil's Dubai unit IOC Middle East FZE and Beximco's holding company RR Holdings Ltd, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE have signed an agreement for LPG business in Bangladesh, as per a statement by Indian Oil.
  • The joint venture would begin with acquiring Beximco's existing LPG assets in Bangladesh.
  • The JV also intends to diversify into other downstream oil and gas businesses such as lube blending plant, LNG, petrochemicals, LPG export to north east India through pipeline between two nations and renewable energy.
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Core of a Gas Planet Seen for the First Time

  • Astronomers have found a previously unseen type of object circling a distant star.
  • It could be the core of a gas world like Jupiter, offering an unprecedented glimpse inside one of these giant planets.
  • Giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn have a solid planetary core beneath a thick envelope of hydrogen and helium gas.
  • But no-one has previously been able to see what these solid cores are like.
  • Now, a team of astronomers has discovered what they think are the rocky innards of a giant planet that's missing its thick atmosphere.
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Ravinder Jadeja Named the Most Valuable Player of India by Wisden

  • Spin bowling all-rounder, 31 years old Ravindra Jadeja, was named India's Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 21st century by Wisden for his contribution in both batting and fielding.
  • Jadeja's MVP rating is around 97.3 which is second only to Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka making him the second most Valuable Test Player of the 21st Century.
  • The CricViz, an analysis tool in cricket was used by the Wisden to analyse his performance.
  • Jadeja made his debut in 2009 and represented India in 49 test matches, 165 ODIs and 49 T20Is as of 2020.

Shashank Manohar Steps Down as ICC Chairman

  • Shashank Manohar has formally stepped down as International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman after heading the sport's global governing body for four years.
  • Singapore's Imran Khwaja, previously Manohar's deputy, has been elevated as interim chairman until the process for the next chairman's election is finalised.
  • Confirming Manohar's departure and Khwaja's elevation, the ICC said that its Board is expected to approve the election procedure for the successor within the next week.
  • Manohar, who made a surprising return as BCCI president in 2015 following Jagmohan Dalmiya's demise, resigned from the BCCI and took over as the first independent chairman of the ICC in 2016.
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Home Ministry Extends Armed Forces (Special power Act) (AFSPA) 1958 in Nagaland

  • Union ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) extended the Armed Forces (Special power Act) (AFSPA) 1958 in Nagaland for six month.
  • The union home ministry notification stated whereas the Central government is of the opinion that the area comprising the whole of state of Nagaland is in such a disturbed and dangerous condition that the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary.
  • Nagaland governor R. N Ravi had written to the Chief Minister, N Rio citing collapse of law and order in the state.
  • Ravi in the letter has proposed important law and order decisions like transfers and postings of officials entrusted with maintenance of law and order will be only after the approval of the Governor.

Committee for Reform in Criminal Law to Start Online Consultation Soon

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has constituted a national level committee for reform in criminal law.
  • The committee, which has several leading legal academicians on board, would be gathering opinions online, consulting with experts and collating material for their report to the government.
  • The consultation exercise would start this month and go on for the next three months.
  • The committee includes Ranbir Singh, chairperson, Vice-Chancellor, National Law University (NLU), Delhi; G.S. Bajpai, member and convenor, Registrar, NLU Delhi; Balraj Chauhan, member, Vice-Chancellor, Dharmashastra NLU Jabalpur; Mahesh Jethmalani, member, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India; and G.P. Thareja, member, former District and Sessions Judge, Delhi.

Giriraj Singh Launches the 1st Edition of "Matsya Sampada"

  • Giriraj Singh, Union Minister for Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, launched the 1st edition of "Matsya Sampada" – newsletter fisheries and aquaculture published by the Department of Fisheries and the operational guidelines of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY).
  • Matsya Sampada is aimed to educate the fishers and fish farmers on the latest advancement in and best practices in fisheries and aquaculture.
  • Starting from the first quarter of 2020-2021, this newsletter will be published on a quarterly basis.
  • This newsletter will serve as a communication platform in informing the development in the sector to the stakeholders like fishers, fish farmers and the entrepreneurs all over the country and assist them with their businesses.
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Indra Mani Pandey India's Next Permanent Representative to UN

  • Diplomat Indra Mani Pandey was appointed as India's next Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva.
  • Pandey, a 1990-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, is currently serving as an additional secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
  • He is expected to take up the assignment shortly. Pandey succeeds Rajiv K. Chander in Geneva.
  • In his nearly three-decade career, Pandey served in Indian missions in Damascus, Cairo, Islamabad, Kabul, Muscat and Geneva.

Shrikant Madhav Vaidya Takes Charge as IOC Chairman

  • Shrikant Madhav Vaidya took charge as the new chairman of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
  • Prior to his elevation, Vaidya was the Director (Refineries) on the IOC Board, since October 2019. He succeeded Sanjiv Singh, who superannuated from the services of the Corporation on June 30.
  • Concurrently, Vaidya will also be Chairman of Chennai Petroleum Corporation, a stand-alone refining subsidiary of IOC and Indian Oiltanking Ltd. Vaidya who is on the board of Ratnagiri Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd will be taking over as its Chairman and will also be Director on the Board of Petronet LNG.
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World UFO Day

  • World UFO Day is marked every year on July 2. UFOs grabbed attention after the Roswell incident in New Mexico, sometime in July 1947. A 'flying object' had reportedly crashed at a ranch in Roswell, the owner had claimed and remnants were also found. The US military had later said that it was just a weather balloon and since then several conspiracy theories emerged across the world.
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Government to Release Commemorative Stamp of Former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao

  • Government announced that it will release commemorative stamp to honour former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao after celebrating his 100th birth anniversary. He is regarded as the 'Father of Indian Economic Reforms'.
  • P. V. Narasimha Rao served as 9th Prime Minister from 1991 to 1996.
  • He is the only non-Gandhi who completed a full term as Prime Minister. He was also the 1st Prime Minister of the country to hail from South India.
  • It is a limited-issue postal stamp to commemorate a place, event, person, or object of historical importance. This stamp is owned by collectors and sold privately through auctions and online.

Kritika Pandey Wins 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

  • Kritika Pandey won the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. The 29-year-old received the coveted honour for her short story, 'The Great Indian Tee and Snakes', which centres around an unlikely friendship struck at the background of a tea stall.
  • She is a 2020 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst's Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers.
  • Every year, The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded for the best unpublished short fiction. It should range from 2,000-5000 words in English. Any Commonwealth citizens aged 18 years and above is eligible for it. This year, the prize received over 5000 entries from 49 countries. The judging panel is well represented, with each representing five regions of the Commonwealth.
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Ajit K Chaturvedi New Director of IIT-Mandi

  • Professor Timothy A Gonsalves, founding director, completed over a decade at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi. Gonsalves handed over the charge to Prof Ajit K Chaturvedi, director, IIT-Roorkee, as the acting director with effect from July 1.
  • Prof. Chaturvedi, an expert in wireless communication technology, is the current director of IIT-Roorkee. He completed his BTech, MTech, and PhD from IIT Kanpur in 1986, 1988, and 1995, respectively. His research interests include communication theory and wireless communications. He is known for his contributions to waveform shaping and sequence design.
  • He has also served the Department of Electronics Engineering at IIT-BHU from 1994 to 1996. He joined as faculty of the Department of Electronics and Computer Engineering at IIT-Roorkee. In 1999, he moved to IIT-Kanpur where he also held the positions of HOD Electrical Engineering, Dean of Research and Development, and deputy director.
  • He is a recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award of IIT-Kanpur and Tan Chin Tuan Fellowship of Nanyang Technical University, Singapore.
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