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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

07 Aug 2020


India Extends Line of Credit Worth 18 million Dollars to Maldives

  • India has extended Line of Credit worth 18 million US dollars to the Government of Maldives for the expansion of fishing facilities at Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO).
  • The project envisages investment in fish collection and storage facilities and the setting up of a tuna cooked plant and fishmeal plant. It is part of the 800 million US dollars line of credit offered by India with repayment tenor of 20 years and a 5-year moratorium. Indian High Commission in Male said fishing is deeply connected to the Maldivian way of life and is a key driver of the economy through exports.

Mahinda Rajapaksa-led SLPP Registers Landslide Victory

  • Sri Lanka's strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa staged a political comeback as his party registered a landslide victory in the twice-postponed general elections.
  • The official results declared showed that the Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP) alone had won 145 seats and with its allies have 150 seats, a two-thirds majority in the 225-member parliament.
  • The party led by the Prime Minister won all but 4 of the 22 electoral districts on offer. The victory margins in the South, dominated by the majority Sinhala community, were in the high 60 per cent mark in most areas. The party polled 6.8 million votes at 59.9 per cent.
  • President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who won the November presidential election on the SLPP ticket, had called a snap election six months ahead of the schedule.

US Senate Bans TikTok on Government Devices

  • The US Senate unanimously approved a bill from Senator Josh Hawley banning federal employees from using video-sharing app TikTok on government-issued devices, amid threats from the White House to ban the company. The app has come under fire from U.S. lawmakers and the Trump administration over national security concerns due to China`s ByteDance owning the technology.
  • The company currently faces a deadline of Sept. 15 to either sell its U.S. operations to Microsoft Corp or face an outright ban. Under a Chinese law introduced in 2017, companies have an obligation to support and cooperate in the country`s national intelligence work.
  • Last month, the House of Representatives voted to bar federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices as part of a proposal, offered by Representative Ken Buck. With passage in the House and approval by the Senate, the prohibition is expected to soon become law in the United States.
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UK Peat Emissions Could Cancel Forest Benefits

  • Emissions from UK peatland could cancel out all carbon reduction achieved through new and existing forests, warns the countryside charity CPRE.
  • It says many degraded peatlands are actually increasing carbon emissions.
  • Yet, it says, there has been much more focus from the government and media on forests than on peat bogs.
  • The government's advisory committee on climate change told BBC News that it agreed with the conclusions of the analysis.
  • Both that committee and the CPRE are urging more ambitious action to protect and enhance peatlands.
  • A peat bog is a Jekyll and Hyde thing. A wet, pristine peat bog soaks up CO2 and, unlike trees, has no limit to the amount of carbon it captures. rees only capture CO2 until they are mature.
  • But a dry, degraded bog – like many in England's uplands – is a big source of CO2 as the carbon in the bog oxidises.
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RBI Leaves Key Rates Unchanged Amid High Inflation

  • The Reserve Bank of India left the repo rate and other key policy rates unchanged at existing levels taking stock of a recent rise in consumer inflation, and said that it would ensure retail prices are contained within its medium-term target going forward. Governor Shaktikanta Das said that the RBI's Monetary Policy Committee unanimously decided to keep the key rates unchanged and maintain an "accommodative" stance for "as long as necessary to revive growth and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, while ensuring that inflation remains within the target going forward.
  • Governor Shaktikanta Das said that the RBI's accommodative stance continues, the holding of rates runs counter to broad market expectations of a slash in policy rates to enable banks to lend more. Retail inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index, rose in June to 6.09% from 5.84% in March, breaching the RBI's medium-term target range of 2-6%. That seems to have been a major red flag that prompted the MPC's unanimous decision.
  • Moreover, Das flagged concerns over domestic food inflation remaining elevated. Given the uncertainty surrounding the inflation outlook and the weak state of the economy amid the pandemic, the policy panel decided to keep the policy rate on hold, while remaining watchful for a durable reduction in inflation to use the available space to support a revival of the economy.

Banks can Give Loans up to 90% of the Value of Gold and Jewellery Pledged

  • According to RBI, borrowers can now pledge gold jewellery and ornaments in the banks and get loans of up to 90 per cent of its value. The RBI move came at a time when gold prices have shot up to over Rs. 55,000 per 10 grams, a rise of close to 40 per cent this year.
  • It has been decided to increase the permissible loan to value ratio (LTV) for loans against pledge of gold ornaments and jewellery for non-agricultural purposes from 75 per cent to 90 per cent.. This relaxation will be available till March 31, 2021.
  • This is being allowed "to further mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on households, entrepreneurs and small businesses. As of now, loans sanctioned by banks against pledging gold ornaments and jewellery for non-agricultural purposes should not exceed 75 per cent of its value.

RBI to Set up Innovation Hub for Financial Inclusion, Efficient Banking

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) will set up an innovation hub to encourage start-ups and companies address the challenges of financial inclusion and efficient banking transactions. The hub aims to bring solutions to the financial sector by tapping into areas such as cybersecurity, data analytics, delivery platforms, and payment services.
  • To promote innovation across the financial sector by leveraging technology and create an environment which will facilitate and foster innovation, the RBI will set up an innovation hub in India. The innovation hub will support, promote, and handhold cross-thinking, spanning regulatory remits and national boundaries.
  • The innovation hub will act as a centre for ideation and incubation of new capabilities, which can be leveraged to create innovative and viable financial products or services. These will help achieve the wider objectives of deepening financial inclusion, efficient banking services, ensuring business continuity in times of emergency, and strengthening consumer protection, it added. The central bank, however, did not give further details on funds allocated or location of the project.
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BCCI Suspends IPL Title Sponsorship Deal with Chinese Company Vivo

  • The BCCI suspended the IPL title sponsorship deal with Chinese mobile phone company Vivo for the event's upcoming edition amid soaring Sino-India diplomatic tensions.
  • The BCCI sent out a one-line statement, without giving any details, to say that Vivo will not be associated with the IPL this year.
  • Vivo won the IPL title sponsorship rights for five years from 2018 to 2022 for a reported sum of Rs. 2,190 crore, approximately Rs. 440 crore per annum.
  • The two parties are now working out a plan in which Vivo might come back for a fresh three-year period starting 2021 on revised terms. However, a top BCCI official offered a different view.
  • The BCCI is now likely to float a tender for new IPL title sponsors as mandated by its constitution. The glitzy T20 league starts on September 19 in the UAE, forced out of India due to the rising Covid-19 cases.

Win Trade Fantasy Sports (WTF) Appoints Suresh Raina, Harmanpreet Kaur as Global Brand Ambassadors

  • Indian middle-order batsman Suresh Raina and Indian women's team captain (T20I) Harmanpreet Kaur were appointed as Global brand ambassadors of Win Trade Fantasy (WTF) Sports . In addition to this, Suresh Raina has also joined the brand as Strategic Partner.
  • World Trade Fantasy (WTF) Sports is a fantasy sports gaming platform, which was formally launched in India and other parts of the world on 6th August, 2020.
  • Users can create their own team made up of real-life players from upcoming matches, score points based on their on-field performance and compete with other fans.
  • The app at present hosts Fantasy Cricket, Football and Basketball. It lets users strategize and use their sports knowledge to get rewards.
  • The announcement was made through a web conference by co-founders of WTF India and Global Vinit Bhatia, Manit Parikh and Yash Kadakia.
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Punjab CM Launches 'Pride of Punjab' Partnership of State Govt. YuWaah for Youth Development

  • Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh launched the 'Pride of Punjab' programme through video conferencing.The programme is a partnership programme between the Department of Youth Services and Sports and YuWaah – a joint initiative of UNICEF, other UN agencies, civil society organisations and the private sector.
  • The launch was attended by Minister for Department of Sports & Youth Services Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, United Nations Children's Fund Special Representative for Young people Mr. Ravi Venkatesan, Mr. Abhishek Gupta, Chief Operating Officer YuWaah(Generation Unlimited India) and others.
  • The programme is aimed at enabling best opportunities for the Youth of Punjab.
  • The Programme will help the youth of Punjab to realize their aspirations, to support their community and to support other young people.
  • The programme will start with a survey using U-Report to hear about the challenges and aspirations of the youth of Punjab.
  • U-Report is a social messaging tool and data collection system supported by YuWaah and UNICEF to improve citizen engagement.
  • YuWaah is a multi-stakeholder alliance that aims to facilitate youth to gain relevant skills for productive lives and the future of work.
  • It is supported by the United Nations Children's Fund.
  • India was one of the first countries to launch this initiative.
  • YuWaah is aimed at imparting skills among the youth of India and provide employment to more than 300 million young Indians.
  • It is targeted at young people aged 10-24 years.

Manoj Sinha Takes Oath as New Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir

  • Former Union minister Manoj Sinha was sworn in as the new lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir, the first political leader to take charge of the Union Territory.
  • Sinha known for his connect with people, particularly in rural areas, was administered the oath of office by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice Gita Mittal at a simple function in the Raj Bhavan.
  • Known as 'vikas purush' (development man), Sinha is a three-time Lok Sabha MP who was minister of state for communication in 2016 when the telecom industry was engaged in the sale of spectrum. He was elected to the lower house for the first time in 1996 and then in 1999 and 2014. However, he lost the election from Ghazipur in 2019.
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Taiwan in Talks to Make First Purchase of Sophisticated United States Drones

  • As per reports, the United States is negotiating the sale of at least four sophisticated aerial drones to Taiwan for the first time.
  • The SeaGuardian surveillance drones have a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,100 km), far greater than the 160-mile range of Taiwan's current fleet of drones, potentially giving the island greater capacity to peer into China, observing its air force, missiles and other facilities.
  • While the State Department tacitly authorised the sale of the unmanned aerial vehicles, it is not known whether the U.S. officials have approved exporting the drones with weapons attached.
  • The deal must be approved by members of Congress, who may receive formal notification as soon as next month, two of the people said. Congress could block a final agreement.
  • Such a sale would most likely anger China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory.
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Author and Activist Sadia Dehlvi Passes Away

  • Noted Delhi-based writer and activist Sadia Dehlvi has passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer. She was 63.
  • Sadia, who hailed from the royal 'Shama' family, edited 'Bano', an Urdu women's journal. Her grandfather, Hafiz Yusuf Dehlvi, founded in 1938 Shama, an iconic Urdu film and literary monthly.
  • A well-known food connoisseur, she wrote a book on Delhi's culinary history in 2017, titled 'Jasmine & Jinns: Memories and Recipes of My Delhi'.
  • A woman of many talents, Sadia also produced and scripted documentaries and television programmes, including 'Amma and Family' (1995), starring Zohra Sehgal, a veteran stage actor.
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Sixth National Handloom Day

  • National Handloom Day is observed on 7th August every year to honour the handloom weavers in the country. This year (2020) the 6th National Handloom Day is celebrated.
  • In July 2015, the Union government had declared 7th August as National Handloom Day with an aim to generate awareness about the importance of the handloom industry. On 7 August, 2015, the first National Handloom Day was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centenary Hall of Madras University in Chennai.
  • To commemorate the Swadeshi Movement, 7 August was chosen as National Handloom Day. Swadeshi Movement was launched on 7 August, 1905 in the Calcutta Town hall to protest against the partition of Bengal by the British Government. The objective of the movement was also to revive domestic products and production processes.
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DIAT, Pune Wins First Prize in Smart India Hackathon-2020

  • Pune-based Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) won the first prize in the Smart India Hackathon (SIH) 2020, a national-level digital product building competition.
  • DIAT's team of six members provided a solution titled "DRISHTI" to recognise face, expression and gesture using artificial intelligence (AI).
  • The team, led by Dr. Sunita Dhavale, won the first prize of Rs. 1 lakh for solving problem statement MS331 in the category of software posed by the Madhya Pradesh government.
  • DIAT is a deemed university under the ministry's Department of Defence Research and Development.
  • The SIH-2020 is a 36-hour non-stop digital product building competition for software edition organised jointly by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and All India Council for Technical Education.
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Haryana Govt. Launches Mahila Evam Kishori Samman Yojana & Mukhya Mantri Doodh Uphar Yojana

  • In order to give a major boost to the "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" campaign, the state government of Haryana launched two schemes, with a total outlay of Rs. 256 crore, viz. launched "Mahila Evam Kishori Samman Yojana" to provide free sanitary napkins to girls and women of below poverty line (BPL) families, and initiated "Mukhya Mantri Doodh Uphar Yojana" to provide fortified flavoured skimmed milk powder to women and children. These schemes were launched by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar through video conferencing.
  • "Mahila Evam Kishori Samman Yojana" focusing on adolescent girls and women between 10 to 45 years of age of about 11,24,871 BPL families will provide a 6 piece packet of free sanitary napkins every month for a year. This scheme will cover the state's 22.50 lakh women and girls.
  • "Mukhya Mantri Doodh Uphar Yojana" under the aegis of Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS), implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), the state government has initiated this scheme in order to provide fortified flavoured skimmed milk powder to about 9.03 lakh children and 2.95 lakh pregnant and lactating mothers visiting 25,962 anganwadi centres in the state.
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Yatish Yadav's New Book 'RAW: A History of India's Covert Operations'

  • The famous Journalist and Author, Yatish Yadav wrote a new book titled, "RAW (Research and Analysis Wing): A History of India's Covert Operations", narrates the heroic operations carried out by the Indian external spy agency, RAW has been published by Westland Publications and is available in Amazon and other bookstores in India.
  • The book narrates the operatives of the Spy agency, and its significant role on national security and long-term secret diplomacy.
  • The book also gives details of the real spies and reveals the unknown aspects of their life, trauma and temptation, triumphs they faced during their mission.
  • RAW was founded by the spymaster Rameshwar Nath Kao, which was established in 1968
  • The main purpose of RAW is to satisfy the need for increased intelligence that was identified during the Sino-Indian Border War in 1962 and during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965.
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