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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

12 Aug 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Iran Nuclear Deal at Risk as UN Council Prepares to Vote on Arms Embargo

  • The UN Security Council is preparing to vote this week on a US proposal to extend an arms embargo on Iran, a move that some diplomats say is bound to fail and put the fate of a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers further at risk.
  • A last-minute attempt by Britain, France and Germany to broker a compromise with Russia and China on an arms embargo extension appeared unsuccessful so far, diplomats said. Russia and China, allies of Iran, have long-signaled opposition to the US measure.
  • A Chinese diplomat at the United Nations, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "extending the arms embargo on Iran in whatever form lacks legal basis and will undermine efforts to preserve" the nuclear deal, adding that there is "no chance" the U.S. text will be adopted.
  • The embargo is due to expire in October under a 2015 deal among Iran, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France and the United States that prevents Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for sanctions relief.
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ENVIRONMENT

New Butterfly Species Found In Matheran Hill Station

  • According to the Bombay Natural History Society, as many as 77 new species of butterflies have been found in the ecologically sensitive forest of Matheran Hill Station near Mumbai during a study conducted there over the last eight years.
  • With this, the total number of butterfly species in the Matheran Forest has now gone up to 140.
  • Matheran is spread over an area of 214.73 sq km and is located about 80 km from the Maharashtra capital.
  • The eight-year-long rigorous study undertaken by BNHS from 2011 to 2019 has resulted in the discovery of 77 new species of butterflies in Matheran.
  • After a span of 125 years, for the first time such a study was undertaken to discover the flying beauties at Matheran.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Paytm Launches India's 1st Pocket Android POS Device, 'Paytm All-in-One Portable Android Smart POS'

  • Paytm has launched India's 1st Pocket Android POS (Point of Sale) Device, 'Paytm All-in-One Portable Android Smart POS' for contactless ordering and payments in India. It is an effort to digitise and empower a large number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). It is integrated with the 'Paytm for Business' app to generate GST compliant bills and to manage all transactions & settlements.
  • It comes with an introductory price of Rs. 499 per month on a rental basis and is designed like a phone.
  • It is much more powerful than the portable Linux based POS devices presently available in the country.
  • It weighs 163 grams, is 12mm thick, and has a 4.5-inch touch screen.
  • It comes with Paytm's 'Scan to Order' service that is being adopted by thousands of restaurants and takeaway joints in the country.
  • It consists of a powerful processor, all-day battery life, and an inbuilt camera to scan QR codes and instantly process payment.
  • It works with 4G SIM cards, Wi-Fi and also has Bluetooth connectivity.

South Indian Bank Gets RBI's Nod to Set up Non-financial Subsidiary

  • The Kerala-based South Indian Bank obtained in-principle approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to set up a wholly owned non- financial subsidiary.
  • The subsidiary would commence operations once the bank completes the related formalities and after obtaining the final approval from the regulators, it said in a statement.
  • The subsidiary would enable to streamline and optimise various operations so as to improve the overall productivity and efficiency of the institution.
  • The bank said that the subsidiary was a further step in consolidating SIBs position "as a Retail Banking Power House." SIB has already centralised all its operations both on the liability and asset sides.

BSE Joins Hands with Bullion Trade Associations to Deepen Commodity Derivatives Market

  • Leading stock exchange BSE joined hands with two bullion trade associations for deepening the commodity derivatives market in the country. BSE signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Akola Sarafa Association and Akola Sarafa Va Suvarnakar Yuva Sangh in this regard.
  • These associations represent members engaged in retail sale and trade of bullion.
  • The pact is aimed at facilitating cooperation between BSE and physical markets represented by these two trade bodies in areas such as knowledge sharing, education and training, events as well as to explore areas of mutual interests to ensure the best interests of jewellers.
  • Awareness about effective hedging tools such as derivatives contracts, especially 'options in goods' to enable jewellers face a volatile market would also be provided.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Dwarf Planet Ceres Not Barren

  • The dwarf planet Ceres, which lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is not a barren space rock as earlier believed. New data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft have shown that it is a water-rich world.
  • After analysing data collected near the end of the mission, scientists determined that beneath the surface of Ceres, there could be a deep reservoir of brine, or salt-enriched water which is about 40 km deep and hundreds of miles wide.
  • Ceres makes up almost a third of the asteroid belt's total mass, but it is still far smaller than Earth's Moon. The Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres in 2015.
  • Long before Dawn arrived at Ceres, scientists had noticed diffuse bright regions with telescopes, but their nature was unknown.
  • By the time the mission ended in October 2018, the orbiter had dipped to less than 35 km above the surface, revealing crisp details of the mysterious bright regions Ceres had become known for.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Agriculture Minister Tomar Launches ICAR's Data Recovery Centre Krishi Megh

  • To protect the precious data of the government's premier research body ICAR, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar launched a data recovery centre 'Krishi Megh' set up in Hyderabad.
  • Currently, the main data centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is at the Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (IASRI) in the national capital.
  • The data recovery centre has been set up at National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad.
  • Krishi Megh has been set up under the National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP), funded by both the government and World Bank.
  • "NAARM, Hyderabad has been chosen as it lies in a different seismic zone with regard to the Data Centre at ICAR-IASRI in New Delhi. Hyderabad is also suitable as skilled IT manpower is available along with other suitable climatic conditions such as low humidity level which is controllable in the data center environment.
  • The data recovery centre at NAARM is synchronised with the data centre at IASRI, It has been built to mitigate the risk, enhance the quality, availability and accessibility of e-governance, research, extension and education in the field of agriculture in India.

IC-IMPACTS 2020 Research Conference Held Virtually

  • IC-IMPACTS (the India-Canada Centre for Innovative Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Accelerate Community Transformation and Sustainability) 2020 Research Conference held Virtually on Aug 6-7, 2020 to discuss the ways to elevate the inter-country cooperation to the next Level by strengthening existing international connections, sharing best practices in multiple areas, and initiating new collaborations in government and institutions. The Conference was organised by IC-IMPACTS.
  • The major focus areas of research cooperation under the IC-IMPACT are as follows:
  • Green buildings and smart cities; occupants' survivability in buildings during fires; integrated water management & safe and sustainable infrastructure; and health problems arising from water-borne and infectious diseases.
  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has been working with IC-IMPACTS for research partnerships since 2013.
  • This partnership aimed to work hand-in-hand with communities in both countries creating community-based solutions to the most urgent needs.
  • This year (2020) Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition has been introduced to create opportunities for students and HQP (Highly Qualified Personnel)to network with like-minded innovation leaders.

Govt Abolishes Cotton Advisory Board

  • On the lines of Government of India vision of "Minimum Government and Maximum Governance", the Ministry of textiles has abolished it's another advisory body, Cotton Advisory Board (CAB), and notified that all eight Textiles Research Associations (TRAs) have ceased to be "affiliated bodies" of the ministry.
  • Hereafter, TRAs will be approved bodies for conducting testing, research and developmental activities related to the textiles sector.
  • Any disposal/sale/transfer of assets created out of the central government grant shall require prior specific approval of the ministry.
  • The eight associations are: Ahmedabad Textile Industry's Research Association (Atira) in Gujarat, Bombay Textile Research Association (BTRA) in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Northern India Textile Research Association (NITRA), Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh (UP), South India Textile Research Association (SITRA), Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, Synthetic & Art Silk Mills Research Association (SASMIRA), Mumbai, Maharashtra, Man-Made Textile Research Association (MANTRA), Surat, Gujarat, Wool Research Association (WRA), Thane, Maharashtra and Indian Jute Industries Research Association (IJIRA), Kolkata, West Bengal.
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DEFENCE

DAC Nod to Purchase of 106 Basic Trainer Aircraft from HAL

  • The Defence Ministry gave its go-ahead for the purchase of military equipment worth Rs. 8,722 crore, including 106 locally made basic trainer aircraft, for the Indian Air Force to provide a push to the government's Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan' (self-reliant India movement.
  • Basic trainers figure on the government's negative import list that seeks to ban the import of 101 different types of weapons, systems and ammunition over the next five years.
  • The ministry's defence acquisition council (DAC) accorded its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for buying 106 Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40) aircraft from state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at a meeting chaired by Rajnath Singh.
  • Under India's defence procurement rules, AoN by the council is the first step towards buying military hardware.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Renowned Urdu Poet Rahat Indori Passes Away

  • Celebrated Urdu poet Rahat Indori, whose simple and lucid couplets attracted a huge fan folliwing in India and abroad, passed away.
  • The 70-year-old teacher-turned-poet, who was being treated for COVID-19, died of a heart attack at a hospital in Indore.
  • With a 50-year career in poetry, Indori was known for the lyrics of songs like "M Bole toh" from Munnabhai MBBS (2003), Chori Chori Jab Nazrein Mili from Kareeb (1998), Koi jaye to le aye from Ghatak (1996), and "Neend Churai Meri" from Ishq (1997). His lyrics were used in 11 Bollywood films.
  • Earlier this year, his poem "Bulati hai magar jane ka nahi" went viral on social media, rendering him a sensation among the youth. Memes using the poem's opening lines flooded social media during Valentine's Day.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

International Youth Day

  • International Youth Day is observed annually on August 12th. It is meant as an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to youth issues worldwide.
  • In 1999, the General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.
  • The first International Youth Day was observed on 12 August, 2000.
  • International Youth Day gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples' voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement. The commemoration will take the form of a podcast-style discussion that is hosted by youth for youth, together with independently organized commemorations around the world that recognize the importance of youth participation in political, economic and social life and processes.
  • The theme of International Youth Day 2020, "Youth Engagement for Global Action" seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Russia Registers the World's First Coronavirus Vaccine

  • President Vladimir Putin said that Russia has become the world's first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, a move hailed by Moscow as evidence of its scientific prowess.
  • The vaccine still has to complete final trials, raising concerns among some experts at the speed of its approval, but the Russian business conglomerate Sistema expects to put it into mass production by the end of the year.
  • Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated in the coming weeks.
  • Regulatory approval paves the way for the mass inoculation of the Russian population and authorities hope it will allow the economy, which has been battered by fallout from the virus, to return to full capacity.
  • The vaccine will be marketed under the name 'Sputnik V' on foreign markets.
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ART AND CULTURE

All 9 Museums for Tribal Freedom Fighters will be Ready by 2022-end: Govt

  • As per Tribal Affairs Ministry, all nine museums dedicated to tribal freedom fighters will be completed by the end of 2022.
  • Out of the nine museums sanctioned for tribal freedom fighters, two are nearing completion and the rest are at different stages of progress.
  • It is expected that all the museums will come into existence by the end of 2022. New museums will be sanctioned in the future in collaboration with the states.
  • The largest of these museums is being built in Rajpipla in Gujarat at a cost of Rs. 102.55 crore.
  • The rest are being built in Ranchi (Jharkhand), Lambasingi (Andhra Pradesh), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Kozhikode (Kerala), Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh), Hyderabad (Telangana), Senapati (Manipur) and Kelsi (Mizoram).
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an announcement regarding setting up tribal freedom fighters' museums in his Independence Day Speech in 2016.

Disney Ends the Historic 20th Century Fox Brand

  • Walt Disney has brought to an end one of the best-known names in the entertainment industry, 20th Century Fox.
  • It comes as the legendary House of The Mouse has rebranded one of its TV studios as 20th Television.
  • The move follows the rebranding in January of the 85-year-old company 20th Century Fox as 20th Century Studios.
  • Last year Disney completed a $71.3bn (£54.7bn) deal to buy the bulk of Rupert Murdoch's Fox media assets.
  • Disney has also renamed its other television studios, including changing ABC Studios and ABC Signature Studios to ABC Signature while Fox 21 Television Studios will become Touchstone Television.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Prakash Javadekar Launches the Booklet on Best practices of Human-Elephant Conflict Management in India and Beta Version of "Surakhsya"

  • Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched the booklet on "Best practices of Human-Elephant Conflict Management in India" to strengthen coexistence of the human-elephant, along with the Beta Version of "Surakhsya" during the event on the eve of World Elephant Day. The booklet aims to reduce the Human Elephant conflicts and avoid the loss of lives of both humans and elephants.
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