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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

06 Aug 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Contributes over $15 Million to India-UN Development Partnership Fund

  • India contributed $15.46 million to the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, underscoring the country's commitment to supporting developing nations in their developmental priorities across all the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T. S. Tirumurti handed over a cheque of $15.46 million to the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Director Jorge Chediek at a low-key ceremony held within social distancing guidelines at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN.
  • The tranche of $15.46 million includes $6 million to the overall fund, in which all the developing countries are eligible for partnership, and $9.46 million dedicated to the Commonwealth countries.
  • The India-UN Development Partnership Fund is managed by the UNOSSC and implemented under the leadership of partner developing countries leveraging the strengths of United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes.

US Looking to Ramp up Arms Sales to India

  • The US is looking to ramp up arms sales to India, including those of armed drones that can carry over 1,000 pounds of bombs and missiles, said a media report, noting the new push comes following the violent clashes in June between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh.
  • As per reports, the US in recent months has laid the groundwork for new arms sales to India that go above and beyond what previous administrations considered, including longer-term weapon systems with higher levels of technology and sophistication, such as armed drones.
  • President Donald Trump has officially amended rules that restrict the sale of military-grade drones to foreign partners like India, it said, adding that prominent among them being the recent announcement by the Trump administration changing its interpretation of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

Zimbabwe VP New Health Minister after Covid-19 Scandal

  • Zimbabwe's Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga was appointed as Health Minister, about a month after the ministry was rocked by a scandal surrounding the procurement of coronavirus tests and equipment.
  • Mr. Chimwenga is a former head of the army who led the military takeover from former President Robert Mugabe.
  • His predecessor at the health ministry, Obadiah Moyo, appeared in court in June over corruption charges related to a $20m (£16m) contract awarded to a Hungary-registered firm, allegedly without going through proper processes.
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ENVIRONMENT

Uttarakhand to Develop India's First Snow Leopard Conservation Centre

  • Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat chaired a meeting along with State forest minister Harak Singh Rawat and other officials to look into the setting up of the conservation centre.
  • The conservation centre is set to come up at a place named Lanka, near Bhaironghati bridge in Uttarkashi district.
  • It will be built by the Uttarakhand forest department along the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as part of its six-year long project Securing livelihoods, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of high range Himalayan ecosystems (SECURE) Himalayas.
  • Dutch Conservation Architect Anne Feenstra shared the details of the conservation centre.
  • The conservation centre is expected to create awareness of the Big Cat among the people.
  • According to several researches, Uttarakhand is home to 86 snow leopards at present.
  • In Uttarakhand, snow leopards are found in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Gangotri National Park, Askot Wildlife Sanctuary and other places of altitude between 3000-4500 metres.
  • According to the World Wild Fund for Nature India (WWF), India is home to 450-500 snow leopards.
  • Snow Leopard is listed under Schedule – I of Wildlife Protection Act of India which gives the big cat absolute protection against hunting and poaching .
View Month Wise

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Govt. Extends SEBI Chairman Ajay Tyagi's Term

  • Ajay Tyagi will continue to be the head of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) for another 18 months after the Centre extended his term as SEBI chairman up to February 28, 2022.
  • This is the second extension for the 62-year-old Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Himachal Pradesh cadre. His first three-year term was to end on February 28. At the time, the government had given him a six-month extension till August 31.
  • Market observers say that both the extensions were critical given the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest extension will ensure continuity and give Tyagi a long rope to undertake key stock market reforms.

HDFC to Raise Rs. 14,000 crore, Fixes Rs. 1,838 as Floor Price for QIP

  • Housing Development Finance Corporation's (HDFC's) Qualified Institutional Placement (QIP) for equity shares opened for subscription with a floor price of Rs. 1,838.94 per share. It is looking to raise Rs. 14,000 crore of equity capital.
  • HDFC might offer a five per cent discount on the floor price. Its share closed almost flat at Rs. 1,776.9 per share on the benchmark BSE Sensex.
  • The mortgage lender is also looking to raise Rs 9,000 crore through secured non-convertible debentures.
  • The company will use part of fresh capital for funding inorganic opportunities and investments in existing group businesses. It is also looking at setting up a real estate fund in collaboration with other investors to finance stressed projects.
  • The fund raising by HDFC comes within a day of Axis Bank launching its QIP to raise around Rs. 10, 000 crore. The floor price set by the bank is Rs. 442.19 per share. According to the terms of the deal, the base deal size is up to Rs. 8,000 crore, with an option to upsize an additional Rs. 2,000 crore.
  • HDFC's capital adequacy ratio (CAR) was 17.6 per cent, of which tier-I capital was 16.5 per cent and tier-II capital was 1.1 per cent, in financial year 2019-20 (FY20). The investment in HDFC Bank has been considered as a deduction in the computation of tier-I capital.

Bharti Airtel Inks Strategic Pact with Amazon for AWS Solutions

  • Bharti Airtel announced a multi-year strategic pact with Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the cloud services arm of the retail giant – to deliver Cloud solutions to large as well as small and medium enterprise (SME) customers in India.
  • Puneet Chandok, president, commercial business, India and South Asia, Amazon Internet Services, said that it is a 50:50 strategic partnership.
  • This collaboration gives customers a single point of contact when dealing with complex migrations or custom-built solutions. Airtel has demonstrated a strong commitment to our shared customers, and we look forward to continue working with it to bring innovative solutions to the market.
  • According to the IDC Semiannual Public Cloud Services Tracker – Forecast 2019 H2 – the public Cloud services market in India is likely to touch $7.1 billion in 2024, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.3 per cent from $3.4 billion in 2020.
  • In addition, Airtel Cloud will leverage AWS' innovation and transformation services across analytics, data warehousing, Internet of Things (IoT), and machine learning (ML) to help customers adopt new services and migrate to the Cloud from legacy infrastructure.
View Month Wise

NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Modi Lays Foundation for Ayodha Temple

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for a Ram temple in Ayodhya, marking a historic accomplishment for his party and government.
  • The construction of the temple fulfils not only a cherished electoral promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party but also a demand for a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya that dates back centuries.
  • This demand took the shape of a political campaign in 1984 when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)—an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is the ideological parent of the BJP—started the Ram Janmabhoomi movement.

Atal Innovation Mission Declares Results of ATL Tinkering Marathon 2019

  • Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) has declared the results of its flagship national annual innovation marathon challenge. The ATL Tinkering Marathon 2019 was held over fifty thousand Atal Tinkering Labs across the country and announced 150 winners of the Marathon. The challenge was executed by AIM in partnership with MyGOV on MyGov's Innovate Platform this year.
  • 42 percent of the winning teams are from rural areas and 57 percent are from government schools. About 45 percent of the winning team students are girls.
  • This year's marathon was uniquely designed by the students themselves. Phase-I included crowdsourcing of the problems faced by students in the communities surrounding them. It saw over 4300 entries. Phase-II included voting on the shortlisted problem statements. The Marathon had a strong focus on Research preceding the Innovations.
  • The final phase of solution development received over 1191 entries from students across 29 States and UTs.

J&K Lt Governor Girish Chandra Murmu Resigns

  • Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor Girish Chandra Murmu resigned. Murmu was the first Lt Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. He was appointed in October 2019.
  • As per reports, Murmu has been appointed as the new Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
  • Incidentally, Murmu's resignation comes exactly a year after Article 370 was revoked paving way for the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • Murmu, a 1985 batch IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre, will be replacing Rajiv Mehrishi, a 1978 batch IAS officer of the Rajasthan cadre as CAG.
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DEFENCE

US Conducts Test Flight of Unarmed Minuteman III Missile

  • The United States (US) Air Force conducted a scheduled test launch of an LGM-30G Minuteman III, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) carrying a load of three unarmed reentry vehicles, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US to a target in the Pacific Ocean. Missile's three reentry vehicles travelled 4,200 miles (6,759 kilometres) to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands as part of a developmental test.
  • This launch was an essential test to sustaining the aging Minuteman III nuclear weapon system.
  • The launch calendars are developed three to five years in advance, and planning for individual launches takes six months to a year.
  • Minuteman III, an Intercontinental ballistic missile manufactured by Boeing is a long-range, solid-fuel, three-stage ICBM with the capability to carry single or multiple nuclear warheads. It has a range of more than 6,000mi (5,218 nautical miles) and speed of approximately 24,000km/h (15,000mph) at burnout.

China Begins Sea Trials of First Giant Amphibious Assault Warship

  • As per reports, the sea trials of the first ship of a new class of amphibious assault warships for the country's navy appear to have started. The first ship of the Type 075 class was launched at a shipyard in Shanghai in September last year. The presumed maiden voyage will likely test the amphibious assault ship's main systems, including propulsion, navigation and communication.
  • According to military analysts, it usually takes a new warship a year or two to formally join military service after its first sea trial. This means the first Type 075 will likely be commissioned into the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in 2021 or 2022.
  • The Type 075 class of ships are among the largest amphibious assault ships in the world, displacing approximately 40,000 tonnes and are about 250 metres long. The ship has a large flight deck, enabling it to carry up to 30 transport and attack helicopters. It also has a 'well deck' in its hull, which allows it to launch hovercraft and other amphibious vessels capable of ferrying tanks and troops to shore. A second Type 075 class ship was launched in Shanghai in April this year. According to the US Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence, China is also building a third Type 075 class amphibious assault warship.
  • In terms of size, the Type 075 class ships are the largest amphibious assault ships in the world, excluding similar vessels of the US Navy. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Type 075 provides "China with greater capabilities for asserting their territorial claims in the East and South China Sea, as well as executing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, anti-piracy, and non-combatant evacuation operations". Experts have warned China is improving its amphibious warfare capability to prepare for the eventuality of military operations in Taiwan or disputed islands in the South China Sea.
  • China has also inducted at least five Type 071 class amphibious assault ships in the past decade. These ships are smaller in size compared with the Type-075 and displace around 25,000 tonnes each.
View Month Wise

PERSONS IN NEWS

Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar Passes Away

  • Senior Congressman and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar passed away. He was 88.
  • Mr. Patil Nilangekar had the briefest run as Chief Minister of Maharashtra, serving in that capacity for less than a year between June1985 and March 1986 after controversial circumstances forced him to resign.
  • He resigned from the post when the Bombay High Court passed strictures against him after fraud was alleged in the results of the MD examination in 1985 "at his behest" to help his daughter and her friend get through.
  • A powerful cooperative leader from Latur, his grandson Sambhaji Patil is a BJP MLA and was the labour minister in the Devendra Fadnavis-led government.
  • Shri Shivajirao Patil Nilangekar was a stalwart of Maharashtra politics. He served the state diligently, especially working for the welfare of farmers and the poor.
View Month Wise

DAYS AND EVENTS

Hiroshima Day

  • Bells tolled in Hiroshima as Japan marked the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the world's first atomic bomb.
  • But memorial events were scaled back this year because of the pandemic.
  • On 6th August 1945, a US bomber dropped the uranium bomb above the city, killing around 140,000 people.
  • Three days later a second nuclear weapon was dropped on Nagasaki. Two weeks later Japan surrendered, ending World War Two.
  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the mayor of Hiroshima joined bomb survivors and descendants in the city's Peace Park.
  • The park is usually packed with thousands of people for the anniversary, But attendance was significantly reduced this year, with chairs spaced apart and most attendees wearing masks.
  • A moment's silence was held at 08:15, the exact time the bomb was dropped on the city.
View Month Wise

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

MBBS Students Not to be Promoted Without Exams

  • Amid covid-19 pandemic, where many universities are promoting students without any examination, the Board of Governors, Medical Council of India, MCI issued an advisory saying that no batch must be allowed to move to the next level of MBBS course without appearing for exams. All the medical colleges and universities are requested to conduct exams and then promote the MBBS students.
  • Further, the council said that the final year students of various MBBS colleges can join internships once they pass their exams.
  • The colleges must aim to complete the MBBS course first which includes practicals, labs, demonstrations, etc, within two months of reopening of the colleges. And once permitted by the government, the colleges can conduct the MBBS exams in a month.
  • Regarding the conduct of 2nd/3rd (Part 1) and Final year MBBS examination for 2020, the time required for completion of the course would depend on the timing of the re-opening of the medical colleges.

SPPU Offers New Courses on Entrepreneurship

  • The Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) is taking steps to encourage entrepreneurship amongst students, including starting a new postgraduate diploma course on entrepreneurship. On Wednesday, an MoU was signed between the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Enterprise (CIIE) at SPPU and the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), to deliver joint certification courses in entrepreneurship.
  • The courses would cover new venture and innovation management, development of faculty to lead entrepreneurship initiatives and are expected to create awareness about entrepreneurship in the student community.
  • Dr Apoorva Palkar, head of CIIE, said that the partnership will help bring in top class entrepreneurship education from the "best in class faculty" and mentorship support of EDII.
View Month Wise

ART AND CULTURE

Disney Focuses on Streaming as it Falls to a Loss

  • Disney plans to release Mulan on its Disney+ streaming site this year and launch a new streaming service outside the US next year as it tries to build on its early streaming success.
  • The new service will operate under the Star brand and stream a wider variety of content than Disney+.
  • Disney+ has already attracted 60.5 million subscribers.
  • But the media giant reported enormous losses due to the pandemic as its theme parks closed.
  • Disney lost $4.7bn (£3.6bn) in the three months to 27 June, as the virus forced it to close theme parks and delay film releases and production.
  • That was down from nearly $1.8bn profit in the same period last year.
  • It said the pandemic was responsible for a $3bn hit to its operating income - mostly due to the disruption to its theme parks, where revenues plunged 85% compared to 2019, chief financial officer Christine McCarthy said.
  • Overall revenue fell 42% compared with last year to $11.8bn.
  • As it grapples with coronavirus disruption, the firm is forging ahead with its streaming ambitions, as it tries to position itself as a rival to Netflix, Amazon and other streaming sites.
View Month Wise

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

With 'Buffer Mein Safar' Madhya Pradesh Promotes Tourism

  • Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board launched the #BufferMeinSafar campaign for wildlife lovers. The campaign aims to attract more tourists to the National Parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Madhya Pradesh which are ready to host tourists following all the safety guidelines.
  • During the monsoon months from July to September the core area of the forests are closed but the buffer areas of the forest remain open for exploration. MP Tourism will offer activities such as wildlife safaris, bird watching etc. in the buffer areas. Besides the thrill of spotting various species in the buffer zones, the different hues of green cover is a feast to the eyes.
  • According to the board, MP Tourism looks forward to boost morale and bring back the confidence in the tourism sector by offering tour packages to the tourists that are specially designed keeping in mind safe travel, stay, and excursion for prevention during pandemic.
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