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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

31 Jul 2020


Jin Liqun Gets Second Term as President of AIIB

  • Jin Liqun was elected to a second term as President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) by the Bank's Board of Governors. The election result was announced by the Chair of AIIB's Board of Governors during the Bank's fifth annual meeting.
  • President Jin's second five-year term will begin from January 2021.
  • Under President Jin's leadership, AIIB has grown from 57 founding members to over 100 approved members from around the world. The Bank has also maintained the highest credit ratings with a stable outlook from the largest credit rating agencies—Standard & Poor's, Moody's and Fitch. Permanent Observer status was also granted by the United Nations (UN) in recognition of AIIB's relevance and contribution to the UN's development mandate.

China Halts Hong Kong Extradition Pacts with Canada, Australia and the U.K.

  • China announced the suspension of Hong Kong's extradition treaties with Canada, Australia and Britain in a tit-for-tat move following similar decisions by those countries over a controversial new security law.
  • Western nations have angered Beijing over their responses to the law imposed on Hong Kong which they see as an erosion of the civil liberties and human rights the city has enjoyed since its handover from Britain in 1997.
  • Canada, Britain and Australia are part of the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance. The other members are New Zealand, which suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong earlier on Tuesday, and the United States, which has signalled it is preparing to do the same.
  • China has accused the countries of interfering in its internal affairs and defended the security law as crucial to restore order in Hong Kong following a wave of pro-democracy protests marred by violence.

Pakistan's Senate Approves Two FATF-related Bills

  • Pakistan's Senate unanimously approved two Bills related to the tough conditions set by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog FATF, a day after they were passed in the National Assembly amidst vociferous protest from the Opposition parties.
  • The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Amendment Bill, 2020, and the Anti-Terrorism Act Amendment Bill, 2020, were presented by Advisor to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Senator Babar Awan.
  • The Bills include measures of freezing and seizure of assets, travel ban, and arms embargo on the entities and individuals, who are designated on the sanctions list of the United Nations and impose heavy fine and long term jails for those facilitating militancy.
  • The two Bills passed by the National Assembly fulfil various requirements of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which put Pakistan on its grey list in June 2016 after Islamabad agreed to implement a 27-point plan of action to improve its legal regime to curb money laundering and terror financing.
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SIDBI and TransUnion CIBIL Launch Financial Knowledge Platform for MSMEs

  • The Small Industries Development Bank of India in association with TransUnion CIBIL launched a comprehensive financial education and knowledge platform for micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • The one-stop knowledge portal- MSMESaksham, will guide MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) seeking seamless and quick access to finance and will also support them in managing their credit obligations.
  • According to SIDBI's Chairman and Managing Director Mohammad Mustafa, SIDBI (Small Industries Development Bank of India) is happy to partner with TransUnion CIBIL in empowering MSMEs by making them financially aware and loan-ready so that timely and affordable financial support is realised.
  • The portal aims to guide MSMEs across their credit lifecycle, from availing credit to start and grow their businesses, to manage credit lines to sustain and build structural strength of the business as well as ensuring timely closures and renewals of credit facilities.

Piyush Goyal Inaugurates CII National Digital Conference on Ease of Doing Business

  • According to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, the government is aiming to cover the nation's length and breadth with optic fibres within the next two years.
  • Inaugurating CII National Digital conference on Ease of Doing Business for Atmanirbhar Bharat, the Minister emphasised that slowly but surely a single window concept will be achieved. He urged both industry and government to work as partners and the industry will have to play a proactive role in helping the government identify the tax evaders.
  • The Minister said that he is dedicated to policy simplification and asked for industry's feedback in areas where policy stability is possible.

BOB Financial Solutions Limited Ropes Fiserv, Inc for Digital Transformation

  • BOB Financial Solutions (BFSL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of Baroda, has chosen Fiserv, Inc, a global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions, to enable the digitisation of their end-to-end card issuance and processing cycle and support the launch of several new and high-tech products including contactless credit cards, tokenisation and integration with branded wallets, and virtual credit cards.
  • BFSL is one of the earliest issuers of credit cards in India and has a reputation for delivering superior card products and services to its customers. To advance their digital strategy and keep pace with rapidly changing consumer expectations, BFSL will utilise FirstVisionTM from Fiserv, an end-to-end managed services solution that enables card issuing and processing with global economies of scale and integrated capabilities that span the card lifecycle.
  • The FirstVision platform will enable BFSL to move forward on their digital transformation journey with a fully integrated suite of card management tools including digital cards and loyalty management, advanced fraud modules, risk management and analytics solutions.
  • BOB Financial Solutions Limited (formerly known as 'Bobcards Limited') was established in the year 1994.
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ISRO's IN-SPACe to be Set up as Single-window Nodal Agency for pvt Sector

  • IN-SPACe will have a Chairman, technical experts for space activities, safety specialists, experts from academia and industries, legal and strategic experts from other departments, and members of the PMO and MEA, Government of India. The space agency released a detailed structure of IN-SPACe and its proposed activities.
  • Last month, the Cabinet cleared IN-SPACe as a separate vertical for permitting and regulating the activities of private industry in the space sector.
  • It will be established as a single-window nodal agency, with its own cadre, which will permit and oversee the following activities of NGPEs (Non-Government Private Entities).
  • IN-SPACe responsibilities include space activities such as building of launch vehicles and satellites and providing space-based services as per the definition of space activities, sharing of space infrastructure and premises under ISRO's control.
  • Other functions include establishment of temporary facilities within ISRO-controlled premises, setting up of new space infrastructure and facilities by NGPEs.

NASA Launches Mars Rover Perseverance

  • NASA launched its Mars Perseverance Rover from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The main aim of the Mars Perseverance Rover is to seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for a possible return to Earth. The duration of the mission is expected to be at least one Mars year which is equivalent to 687 days on Earth.
  • The Mars Perseverance Rover is expected to land on Mars on February 18, 2021, after covering a distance of 300 million miles (482.8 million km approximately). The landing site of the rover will be the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet. This is the third launch to Mars after China's rover-orbiter combo and a United Arab Emirates orbiter launched last week.
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Cabinet Approves MoU between India and Zimbabwe on Traditional System of Medicine, Homeopathy

  • The Cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to an agreement between India and Zimbabwe on cooperation in the field of traditional systems of medicine and homeopathy.
  • The MoU, which was signed on November 3, 2018 and approved by the Cabinet, aims to provide a framework for cooperation between the two countries for the promotion of traditional systems of medicine and homeopathy and will mutually benefit both nations in the field of traditional medicine.
  • The areas of cooperation identified by the MoU include promotion in the regulation of teaching, practice, drugs and drugless therapies, supply of all medicine materials and documents necessary for demonstration and reference in achieving the objectives and exchange of experts for the training of practitioners, paramedics, scientists, teaching professionals and students among others.
  • Mutual recognition of pharmacopoeias and formularies, systems of medicines which are officially recognised by the parties, educational qualifications awarded by central and state recognised universities were also identified as areas of cooperation by the MoU.
  • The main objective of the MoU is to strengthen, promote and develop co-operation in traditional medicine systems between the two countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

Three Chennai Metro Stations Renamed after Former Chief Ministers

  • Before the assembly elections scheduled for next year, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami announced that three major metro stations in the city have been be renamed after former Chief Ministers.
  • The Alandur, Central and CMBT metro stations have been reanmed as Arignar Anna Alandur Metro, Puratchi Thalaivar Dr. M.G. Ramachandran Central Metro and Puratchi Thalaivi Dr. J Jayalalithaa CMBT Metro, respectively.
  • Palaniswami said that the decision to rename the stations was taken after recommendations from a high-level committee.
  • The stations are prominent ones in Phase I of the Chennai Metro Rail Project.
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India Set to Ban Import of Weapons that can be Produced Indigenously

  • In keeping with the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the Defence Ministry proposes to ban the import of weapons that can be made in the country. This suggestion has been made in the second draft of the Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) 2020, in line with the announcements made during the Aatmanirbhar Bharat presentations in March.
  • According to a draft put out by the Ministry, the DPP 2020 will now be called Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020.
  • The Defence Ministry will notify a list of weapons/platforms banned for import, which will be updated from time to time based on the requirements of the various services. The preparation of this negative list is on.
  • Besides, a budget head has been created by the Defence Ministry for 'Make in India' projects and a provision is being made for domestic capital procurement.
  • An industry body representative welcomed the move.
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Padma Shri Awardee Sonam Tshering Lepcha Passes Away

  • Folk musician and Padma Shri awardee Sonam Tshering Lepcha passed away at Kalimpong due to old age ailments. He was 92.
  • Sonam Tshering Lepcha Ji was a a multi-faceted personality. He made outstanding efforts to popularise the great Lepcha culture.
  • He was highly reverred in Sikkim, where he spent much of his time for his role in the revival of Lepcha culture, which is an indigenous one in Sikkim.
  • He was awarded the Padma Shri for his contribution in the field of folk music.

Hardik Satishchandra Shah Private Secretary to PM Modi

  • IAS officer Hardik Satishchandra Shah has been appointed the Private Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Shah, a 2010-batch IAS officer of Gujarat cadre, is currently serving as a Deputy Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).
  • He has been appointed as the Private Secretary to the Prime Minister on co-terminus basis.
  • Before moving to the PMO last year, he worked as the Private Secretary to Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar.
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International Friendship Day

  • International friendship Day is celebrated on 30th July every year.
  • International Friendship Day or Friend's Day is a day in several countries for celebrating friendship.
  • It was first proposed in 1958 in Paraguay as the "International Friendship Day".
  • It was initially promoted by the greeting cards' industry, evidence from social networking sites shows a revival of interest in the holiday that may have grown with the spread of the Internet, particularly in India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia. Mobile phones, digital communication and social media have contributed to popularize the custom.
  • Those who promote the holiday in South Asia attribute the tradition of dedicating a day in the honour of friends to have originated in the United States in 1935 but it actually dates back to 1919. The exchange of Friendship Day gifts like flowers, cards and wrist bands is a popular tradition on this occasion.
  • Friendship Day celebrations occur on different dates in different countries. The first World Friendship Day was proposed for 30 July in 1958, by the World Friendship Crusade. On 27 April 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 30 July as official International Friendship Day. However, some countries, like India, celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August. In Nepal, Friendship day is celebrated on 30 July each year. In Oberlin, Ohio, Friendship Day is celebrated on 9 April each year.
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India's First Solar-powered Ferry 'Aditya' Wins Global Honour

  • 'Aditya', India's first solar-powered ferry that commenced operations in 2017 in Kerala's Vembanad backwaters, has won the prestigious Gustave Trouve Award for Excellence in Electric Boats and Boating. The ferry was adjudged the world's best electric boat in the category of ferries designed for paid passenger service.
  • The awards, handed out for the first time, is the world's only such honour given to individuals and companies building and innovating in state-of-the-art electric boats. It was instituted this year in honour of Frenchman Gustave Trouve for his groundbreaking work in mobility based on electric transport, moving away from conventional fossil fuels. In 1881, he invented the world's first outboard motor, connecting it to a rechargeable battery to sail a boat down the Seine River in silence.
  • Aditya, the only one shortlisted from Asia among 12 ferries in the world after a rigorous audit process, entered the finals with six contestants in the first week of July through public voting. It was declared the winner in July.
  • The ferry belongs to the Kerala State Water Transport Department (KSWTD).

Guinness World Records Awards Certificate to Shakuntala Devi for 'Fastest Human Computation'

  • Guinness World Records honoured Indian math genius Shakuntala Devi with the long overdue record title for 'fastest human computation', four decades after she achieved the feat.
  • The fastest human computation is 28 seconds and was achieved by Shakuntala Devi by successfully multiplying two randomly selected 13-digit numbers, at Imperial College London, UK, in June 1980.
  • The certification was received by Anupama Banerji, daughter of the late mathematician.
  • Banerji said that she was barely 10 when her mother made the world record.
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New Education Policy 2020

  • The Union Cabinet cleared a new National Education Policy (NEP) proposing sweeping changes in school and higher education.
  • An NEP is a comprehensive framework to guide the development of education in the country. The need for a policy was first felt in 1964 when Congress MP Siddheshwar Prasad criticised the then government for lacking a vision and philosophy for education. The same year, a 17-member Education Commission, headed by then UGC Chairperson D S Kothari, was constituted to draft a national and coordinated policy on education. Based on the suggestions of this Commission, Parliament passed the first education policy in 1968.
  • A new NEP usually comes along every few decades. India has had three to date. The first came in 1968 and the second in 1986, under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi respectively; the NEP of 1986 was revised in 1992 when P. V. Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister. The third NEP was released under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi.
  • The NEP proposes sweeping changes including opening up of Indian higher education to foreign universities, dismantling of the UGC and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), introduction of a four-year multidisciplinary undergraduate programme with multiple exit options, and discontinuation of the M Phil programme.
  • In school education, the policy focuses on overhauling the curriculum, "easier" Board exams, a reduction in the syllabus to retain "core essentials" and thrust on "experiential learning and critical thinking".
  • In a significant shift from the 1986 policy, which pushed for a 10+2 structure of school education, the new NEP pitches for a "5+3+3+4" design corresponding to the age groups 3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory), 11-14 (middle), and 14-18 (secondary). This brings early childhood education (also known as pre-school education for children of ages 3 to 5) under the ambit of formal schooling. The mid-day meal programme will be extended to pre-school children. The NEP says students until Class 5 should be taught in their mother tongue or regional language.
  • The policy also proposes phasing out of all institutions offering single streams and that all universities and colleges must aim to become multidisciplinary by 2040.
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UK Government Announces Details of its £1.5bn Funding Support Package for the Arts

  • The UK government announced details of its emergency £1.5bn funding package for the arts and culture sector. From next week, organisations can apply for £880m in grants as part of the Culture Recovery Fund overseen by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). In the first round, £622m will be distributed; the remaining £258m will be reserved for a second round later in the financial year. The information comes after a parliamentary report said that the support package, known as the Culture Recovery Fund, comes "too little, too late" for the country's creative industries.
  • Arts Council England (ACE) will distribute £500m of the funding, supporting museums and theatres, as well as music and comedy venues. The British Film Institute, Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund will also allocate grants. More than £270m will also be available as "repayable finance" (loans); all ACE awards over £3m will fall into this category.

London's Royal College of Art Exhibits Works of Indian Artists in a Virtual Show

  • Royal College of Art (RCA) just opened its graduate exhibition online as various colleges are now shifting to the virtual platform amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • RCA's graduate exhibition is known to kickstarting the careers of designers, architects and artists who later became popular worldwide. The alumni include Sir James Dyson the inventor and industrial designer, David Hockney the influential artist, along with India's Pradip Bose the Vice President Global Design at Tata Motors, Sandeep Ashwath the Associate Dean at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and Geeta Kupur the well-known art critic, historian and curator.
  • Visitors to the online graduate show this year will witness the works of 850 students from around the world, which you could have earlier enjoyed only if you were in London. Visitors can now also discover a collection of graduate work by leading artists like Sir Jony Ive, RCA Chancellor and Apple Designer, and India's Sandhini Poddar, Art Historian & Consulting Curator for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
  • Among other talented Indian artists and designers who will showcase their works are Rashmi Bidasaria from Mumbai (MA Design Products), Kaushikee Gupta from Assam (MA Contemporary Art Practice), Deepak Kathait from New Delhi (MA Photography), Shardul Shekhar from New Delhi (MA Painting), Saumya Singhal from Mumbai (MA Service Design), Aarushi Kalra from Delhi (MA Interior Design), and Avirukh Roy from Kolkata (MA Intelligent Mobility).
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