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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

14 Aug 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

China Launches 'Clean Plate' Campaign against Food Waste

  • China has stepped up measures to reduce food waste, after President Xi Jinping called the amount wasted "shocking and distressing".
  • The "Clean Plate Campaign" comes after Mr. Xi highlighted that Covid-19 had sounded the alarm on food waste.
  • It also comes after weeks of mass flooding across southern China which left farms wrecked and ruined tons of produce.
  • Following Mr. Xi's message, the Wuhan Catering Industry Association urged restaurants in the city to limit the number of dishes served to diners - implementing a system where groups must order one dish less than the number of diners.

Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Commits USD 25mn to Expand Unified Champion Schools to 6 Countries

  • Under the Unified Champion School (UCS) worldwide programme, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has committed USD 25 million to expand UCS (an initiative undertaken by the Special Olympics) to 6 countries namely, India, Argentina, Egypt, Pakistan, Romania and Rwanda with an aim to empower intellectually disabled children. The 4 year project will create 120 UCS across 12 states in India, which will play a pivotal role to make Indian education system more inclusive.
  • The announcement was made at the virtual event graced by the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates(UAE) to India Dr Ahmed Abdul Rahman Albanna. Other attendees include Dipak Natali, President and Managing Director of Special Olympics Asia Pacific Region and Air Marshal Keelor, Founder and CEO of Special Olympics Bharat among others.

UAE Confirms Agreement with Israel on Normalising Relations

  • Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince, de-facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates, said that the UAE and Israel had agreed to work towards establishing bilateral relations, and Israel had also agreed to halt further annexation of Palestinian territories.
  • A joint statement issued by Israel, the UAE and the United States issued in Washington hailed the accord as a historic diplomatic breakthrough" that would advance peace in the Middle East.
  • Delegations from Israel and the United Arab Emirates would meet in coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements on investment, tourism, direct flights, security, telecommunications and other issues.
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ENVIRONMENT

Europe's Earliest Bone Tools Found in Britain

  • Archaeologists say that they have identified the earliest known bone tools in the European archaeological record.
  • The implements come from the renowned Boxgrove site in West Sussex, which was excavated in the 1980s and 90s.
  • The bone tools came from a horse that humans butchered at the site for its meat.
  • Flakes of stone in piles around the animal suggest at least eight individuals were making large flint knives for the job.
  • Researchers also found evidence that other people were present nearby - perhaps younger or older members of a community - shedding light on the social structure of our ancient relatives.
  • During excavations, archaeologists uncovered hundreds of stone tools, along with animal bones, that dated to 500,000 years ago.
  • They were made by the species Homo heidelbergensis, a possible ancestor for modern humans and Neanderthals.
  • Researchers found a shin bone belonging to one of them - it's the oldest human bone known from Britain.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

PM Modi Launches 'Transparent Taxation - Honouring the Honest'

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a platform for "Transparent Taxation - Honoring the Honest" which is the latest in a series of measures finance ministry has taken to eventually get rid income tax department off its legacy -- from intrusive tax collector to tax facilitator.
  • The launch of tax reforms by the Prime Minister will further carry forward the journey of direct tax reforms which the Central Board of Direct Taxes under its chairman Pramod Chandra Mody took over a period of time.
  • Besides the focus on reduction in tax rates and simplification of direct tax laws, the CBDT has used the time during the lockdown enforced due to Covid 19 pandemic for introducing several initiatives to bring in efficiency and transparency in the functioning of the IT department.
  • To unfold more transparency in official communication, Document Identification Number (DIN) was introduced some time back to ensure that every communication of the department would carry a computer generated unique document identification number.

RBI Mandates System-based Asset Classification for UCBs

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) asked urban co-operative banks (UCBs) with assets of Rs. 2,000 crore or more to implement system-based asset classification from 30 June 2021.
  • System-based asset classification refers to asset classification (downgrading as well as upgrading) carried out by computerised systems of a bank in an automated manner.
  • In order to improve the efficiency, transparency and integrity of the asset classification process, it has been decided to implement system-based asset classification in urban co-operative banks (UCBs.
  • It said that UCBs with assets of Rs. 1,000 crore or above but less than Rs. 2,000 crore as on 31 March 2020, having self-assessed themselves as being under "Level III or Level IV" on comprehensive cyber security framework for UCBs shall implement it from 30 September 2021.
  • According to the central bank, urban cooperative banks not meeting the criteria are also encouraged to voluntarily implement the system-based asset classification in their own interest.

Eicher's Subsidiary Buys Volvo India Bus Business

  • Eicher Motors' subsidiary VE Commercial Vehicles has entered into a business transfer agreement to acquire Volvo Group India's bus business for a cash consideration of Rs. 100.50 crore.
  • VE Commercial Vehicles Ltd (VECV) is in the business of manufacturing and selling the Eicher branded trucks and buses and also distributes Volvo branded trucks and provides aftermarket services and distribution of spare parts for Volvo branded trucks and buses.
  • Apart from being a subsidiary of the company, VCEV is also a joint venture between Eicher Motors and Volvo Truck Corporation, Sweden and Aktiebolaget Volvo (Publ.), Sweden.
  • The agreement is for manufacture, assembly, distribution, and sale of the Volvo buses in India, and other rights forming part of the said business, for a consideration of Rs. 100.50 crore.
  • Post the completion of the transaction, VECV and VBI will consolidate their bus businesses into a newly formed bus division within VECV. This division will offer Volvo and Eicher branded buses, and will maximise synergies to capitalise on market opportunities.
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SPORTS

INOX Group to be Official Sponsor of Indian Team at 2021 Tokyo Olympics

  • The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) announced that the INOX group will be the official sponsor of the Indian team for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
  • The Tokyo Olympics was rescheduled to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be held from July 23 to August 8 in 2021.
  • As part of the partnership the Group will also support team's promotions through its entertainment company -- INOX Leisure Limited, which owns a chain of multiplexes in the country.
  • INOX Group has always assigned priority to India's all-round progress. We are honoured and privileged to be able to support India's Olympic dream through this prestigious association with the Indian Olympic Association.
  • INOX Group has earlier supported various sporting events, teams and leagues in table Tennis, football, badminton, running, basketball and cricket, and building awareness among masses through effective promotional initiatives.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Unveils Economic Aid Package for Maldives

  • India unveiled a $500-million package to help the Maldives build a connectivity project linking its capital Male with three islands, and provided $250 million as budgetary support to help the Indian Ocean archipelago cope with the Covid-19 crisis.
  • A new cargo ferry service will be launched between the two countries, and people familiar with developments said this will help India replace other countries to become the Maldives' top trade partner. An air travel bubble between the two sides will become operational from August 18, and India also renewed quotas for supplying essential commodities to the Maldives during 2020-21.
  • The measures were announced during a virtual meeting between external affairs minister S. Jaishankar and his Maldives counterpart Abdulla Shahid. Responding to a request from the Maldives, Jaishankar announced India's decision to back the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) through a package comprising a grant of $100 million and a new line of credit for $400 million.
  • India's total financial commitment in the Maldives is more than $2 billion, with all loan and grant projects being announced after President Ibrahim Solih came to power in November 2018 and put in place his "India first" policy.

Goa's Moira Bananas, Harmal Chillies, Khaje Get GI Tag

  • The Geographical Indications Registry headquartered in Chennai (Tamil Nadu) granted Geographical Indications(GI) to Goa's Harmal Chillies which are grown only in Harmal village and adjacent areas of Pernem taluka (specifically in the coastal village of Arambol), Moira bananas, an unique banana grown in Moira village of Bardez taluka & Bicholim Taluka and Khaje, the traditional state sweet.
  • Khaje got a GI tag under foodstuffs falling in Class-30 and Moira Banana under Class-31.
  • The Bicholim- based All-Goa Khaje Producers Association (AGKPA) applied for the GI tag of Khaje through the department of science and technology in 2019.
  • Myndoli Banana Growers Association, Ibrampur, Pernem applied for the GI tag of Moira bananas.
  • The Harmal-Pernem Chilli Growers Association had made the application for the GI tag of Harmal Chillies.

Modi Becomes Fourth Longest Serving Indian PM

  • Narendra Modi has become the longest serving non-Congress Prime Minister and the fourth longest serving overall.
  • Today, PM Narendra Modi becomes the fourth longest serving PM in the history of India! He now also holds the distinction of being the longest serving non-Congress PM. Vajpayee ji served for 2,268 days, with all his terms put together. Today PM Modi has surpassed that duration," BJP IT department in-charge Amit Malviya tweeted.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, all from the Congress, are the three longest serving Indian Prime Ministers in that order.
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DEFENCE

Defence Ministry Launches Missile Test Equipment

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh launched the Konkurs missile test equipment and Konkurs launcher test equipment which have been indigenously designed and developed by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL). Earlier, these products were being imported from Russia.
  • The two indigenised products were virtually launched by the minister.
  • According to officials, the two products were launched as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat week being celebrated from August 7-14. The Konkurs missile test equipment is designed for checking the serviceability of Konkurs-M anti-tank guided missiles. Konkurs launcher test equipment is designed and developed for checking the serviceability of Konkurs-M missile launchers.

Indian Navy Sets up Own Organisation, NIIO, to Fulfill its Technological Requirements

  • The Indian Navy has set up a Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO) to bridge its technological gap through innovation and the involvement of both the academia and the industry.
  • Launched by the Defence Minister, the Navy stated in its press release that the NIIO puts in place dedicated structures for end-users to interact with academia and industry towards fostering innovation and indigenisation for self-reliance in defence in keeping with the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
  • The move is seen in consonance with the Draft Defence Acquisition Policy 2020 (DAP 20) which envisages the Service Headquarters establishing an Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation within existing resources.
  • Indian Navy already has a functional Directorate of Indigenisation (DoI) and the new structures created will build upon the ongoing indigenisation initiatives, as well as focus on innovation.
  • The NIIO is a three-tiered organisation.
  • Naval Technology Acceleration Council (N-TAC) will bring together the twin aspects of innovation and indigenisation and provide apex level directives
  • A working group under the N-TAC will implement the projects
  • A Technology Development Acceleration Cell (TDAC) has also been created for induction of emerging disruptive technology in an accelerated time frame.

Israel Test Arrow-2 Advanced Missile Defense System

  • Israel's Defense Ministry conducted a successful test of the country's advanced missile defense system against long-range ballistic attacks.
  • Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the successful flight test of the Arrow-2 interceptor was part of Israel's technological effort that ensures that we will always be one step ahead of our enemies.
  • The test was conducted overnight in central Israel, jointly with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.
  • Arrow-2 is part of the multi-layered system Israel has developed to defend against both short- and mid-range rockets fired from Gaza and Lebanon, as well as Iran's long-range missiles. It includes Iron Dome, David's Sling and the Arrow-3 system - capable of defending against threats from outside the atmosphere.
  • Israel and the United States jointly tested Arrow-3 successfully last year in Alaska.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

World Organ Donation Day

  • World Organ Donation Day is observed on 13th August to spread awareness about the importance of organ donation and motivate people for donating organs after death.
  • The day provides an opportunity to come forward and pledge to donate their organs after death which will save the lives of various people. About organ donation, there are myths and fears in people's minds due to a lack of awareness.
  • Organ donation is retrieving a donor's organ like heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, and pancreas after the donor is deceased and then transplanting into another person who is in need of an organ.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

MS Swaminathan Award for Environment Protection

  • The Rotary Club of Madras East has conferred the MS Swaminathan Award for Environment Protection 2019 upon R. S. Paroda the Founder Chairman of the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS), New Delhi for his enormous contributions in the field of plant breeding and genetic resource management and his leadership in establishing over 20 institutions in the field of crops, horticulture, livestock, natural resource management, fisheries, agricultural engineering and social science sectors.
  • A Padma Bhushan awardee, Paroda was a former Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Government of India.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT Roorkee Announces Online Programmes In AI, Machine Learning And Data Science

  • Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, or IIT Roorkee, announced two online certificate programmes -- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, and Data Science in partnership with Coursera. IIT Roorkee will launch both these programs on Coursera in early 2021.
  • The six-month certificate programme in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will consist of video lectures, hands-on learning opportunities, team projects, tutorials, and workshops.
  • In addition to providing the coding knowledge and mathematics necessary for building AI and ML expertise, the program will also teach classical ML techniques and provide hands-on programming experience with Tensorflow for model building, robust ML production, and powerful experimentation.

Jamia and AMU among top-scoring Universities

  • In a performance assessment carried out of 40 central universities, New Delhi based Jamia Millia Islami (JMI) bagged the top position with 90% points. Arunachal Pradesh's Rajiv Gandhi University ranked 2nd with 83% points and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) ranked 3rd with 78% points.
  • The ministry of education's assessment of central universities for the year 2019-20 has shown Jamia Millia Islamia to be one of the top-ranking universities in the country. The score is based on a tri-partite agreement between the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the ministry of higher education division.
  • For the year 2019-20, JMI has secured 95.23% score in an overall assessment, as indicated in a letter sent by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD). This is an indication that the administration and faculty members are highly focussed on achieving the target and have the potential to deliver, Jamia Milllia Islamia administration said in a press statement.
  • Evaluation is based on parametres such as student intake in UG, PG and PhD, MPhil. with the percentage of female students, students who are admitted from other states, the ratio of foreign students, student-teacher ratio, quality of faculty, etc.
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