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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

15 Aug 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Around 818 Million Children across the World Lack Basic Hand Washing Facilities at their Schools

  • As per the latest report, 'Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in schools Special focus on COVID-19' released by World Health Organisation and United Nations Children's Fund through the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme(JMP), around 818 million children across the world lacked basic hand-washing facilities in their schools which makes them prone to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and other transmittable diseases.
  • The programme produces internationally comparable estimates of progress on drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The programme is responsible for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets and indicators related to WASH.
  • Of the 818 million children, 355 million went to schools which had facilities with water but no soap, and 462 million to schools which had no facilities or water available for handwashing.
  • More than one third of these children (295 million) are from sub-Saharan Africa.

Ex-army Man is Sri Lanka's Foreign Secretary

  • The Sri Lankan Government appointed ex-commander of the Navy, Admiral Jayanath Colombage, as the new Foreign Secretary, days after the new Cabinet took the oath with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa retaining the key Defence Ministry.
  • Colombagreplaced Ravinatha Aryasinha, a career foreign service officer. Since November last year, he has been the foreign affairs advisor to President Rajapaksa.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

WeWork Gets New $1.1-bn Commitment from SoftBank

  • The owner of money-losing shared office provider WeWork slashed its cash burn rate almost in half from the end of last year and obtained a $1.1 billion commitment in new financing from majority owner SoftBank Group Corp.
  • The company said in an e-mail to employees that its second-quarter results show the coronavirus pandemic has hurt business but its financial position remains strong.
  • According to Kimberly Ross, chief financial officer of WeWork, our early efforts to become a more streamlined, cash-conscious organization puts us in a better position to adapt quickly, navigate new realities and deliver our future business objectives.
  • Revenue in the quarter reached $882 million, a 9% increase from a year earlier, Ross said. WeWork in the first quarter reported revenue of $1.1 billion, the first time it had exceeded nine figures, and its cash burn was $482 million.
  • WeWork has $4.1 billion in cash and unfunded cash commitments, including the $1.1 billion in new financing, Ross said. WeWork in July indicated it expected to be cash flow positive in 2021.

Edtech Firm Gradeup Appoints Kartik Aaryan as Brand Ambassador

  • Edtech startup Gradeup appointed actor Kartik Aaryan as its brand ambassador. The actor unveiled the brand's subscription plan Gradeup Super which provides students unlimited access to structured live courses and mock tests for competitive exams.
  • Gradeup Super plan comes with structured live courses, full syllabus coverage, expert faculty, complete doubt resolution, and performance report cards.
  • Shobhit Bhatnagar, chief executive and co-founder, Gradeup said that our students go the extra mile to clear these exams and this is exactly what Kartik did to become a superstar. Clearing these exams require perseverance, competitiveness and hard work, traits which are possessed by Kartik.

SBI Rolls Out "KCC (Kisan Credit Card) Review Option" for Farmers

  • State Bank of India (SBI) introduced "KCC (Kisan Credit Card) Review option" on its digital agricultural solution platform, YONO Krishi, to enable farmers to access their KCC limit in four clicks.
  • With this added feature, farmers will no longer need to visit the bank branch to apply for a revision in their KCC limit, the country's largest bank said in a statement.
  • "KCC Review on YONO Krishi is expected to benefit more than 75 lakh farmers having KCC accounts with SBI. The feature of paperless KCC review will not only help farmers save costs and effort involved in applying for revision of the KCC limit, but also make the process quicker for them especially during the harvesting season," the bank said.
  • According to the Reserve Bank of India, the KCC scheme has been designed to ensure that farmers get adequate and timely credit support from the banking system under a single window with flexible and simplified procedure for their cultivation and other needs.
  • The scheme provides support to farmers to meet short term credit requirements for cultivation of crops; post-harvest expenses; produce marketing loan; consumption requirements of farmer household; working capital for maintenance of farm assets and activities allied to agriculture; and investment credit requirement for agriculture and allied activities.
  • YONO Krishi has four offerings/sections: Khata (caters to agriculture credit solutions like agri gold loans), Bachat (financial Super store for farmers investment & insurance needs), Mitra (agriculture advisory services) and Mandi (online market place for purchasing agricultural inputs & farm equipment).
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

IIA Discovers He-enhanced Star among Omega Centauri

  • Indian Scientist from Indian Institute of Aerophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, Karnataka, an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) discovered a helium (He)-enhanced cool bright star among metal rich samples of the globular cluster, Omega Centauri.
  • This study, a result of the spectroscopic survey conducted of the cluster, which determines the helium (He) abundance of these stars.
  • This is the first ever spectroscopic determination of He-abundance in the Omega Centauri.
  • The study was published in "The Astrophysical Journal".
  • The team started the study with the low-resolution spectra obtained from the Optometric Medium Resolution Spectrograph (OMRS) with the Vainu Bappu Telescope at Vainu Bappu Observatory, Kavalur, Tamil Nadu.
  • v.Dr Hema BP and Prof Gajendra Pandey of IIA worked in association with international researchers to measure the amount of He in the star, using the high-resolution spectra obtained from the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT).
  • The study gave the important clue for the origin of the He-enhanced population.
  • This establishes that these are the second generation stars formed from the metal-rich and He-enhanced material from the first generation stars.
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SPORTS

Punjab Cricket Association Requests Yuvraj Singh to be Player Cum Mentor

  • Punjab Cricket Association requested former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh to come out of retirement and become a player cum mentor of the state team.
  • PCA secretary Puneet Bali made the request since Yuvraj, who retired last year, was already mentoring some players, inclduing Shubman Gill.
  • Last month Yuvraj spent time mentoring the likes of Gill, Anmolpreet Singh, Abhishek Sharma and Harpreet Brar, all of whom are set to play in the upcoming IPL in UAE.
  • Punjab has lost a number of key players in recent years and Bali said that the state team can benefit from Yuvraj's experience and mentoring.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Odisha Retains Top Position in Implementation of AMRUT Scheme

  • Odisha has retained top position in the implementation of Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme. According to rankings released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Odisha regained its top position by securing a score of 85.67 per cent, followed by Union Territory of Chandigarh (75.08) and Telangana (74.04).
  • The nine cities of Odisha which are covered under the AMRUT Schemeare Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Sambalpur, Rourkela, Baripada, Balasore, Bhadrak, Berhampur and Puri.
  • Around 400 kilometers of pipeline have been laid/replaced for the Universal Coverage of piped water supply. All the nine AMRUT cities are expected to have 100 per cent network coverage by December, 2020.
  • Out of the total 191 projects started under the AMRUT scheme, 148 projects have been implemented and other projects are expected to be completed before the deadline in March, 2021.
  • Under the AMRUT scheme, parks with well-conceived landscaping and rejuvenation facilities, open gyms and jogging trails have been developed.

India Signs MoU with Nigeria on Space Cooperation

  • Government of India signed a Memorandum of Understanding on space cooperation with the Federal government of Republic of Nigeria at the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria.
  • Over a virtual platform, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, Federal Republic of Nigeria and Abhay Thakur, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria signed the MoU on behalf of Nigeria and India respectively.
  • On the occasion, both sides also agreed to sign a subsidiary MOU between New Space India Limited (NSIL), under ISRO, and Nigeria Erosion and Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP), under the Federal Ministry of Environment of Nigeria, on cooperation in use of Geospatial Technologies.

Gehlot Wins Trust Vote

  • The Congress government in Rajasthan was marked safe for six months after Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot won the confidence vote, ending month-long anxiety triggered by a rebellion.
  • With 123 MLAs in the 200 member Assembly professing support to Gehlot, the Congress scored an expected victory. Seeing the writing on the wall, Opposition BJP dropped its plan to bring a no-confidence motion against Gehlot.
  • Gehlot said that winning the trust vote is a message to the forces that are trying to destabilise elected governments in the country. Their tactics failed in Rajasthan. It is the people's unwavering trust in us and unity of our MLAs that have brought this victory.
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DEFENCE

BEML Teams Up with IIT-Kanpur for Pilotless Aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

  • Bengaluru-headquartered BEML would collaborate with IIT-Kanpur for joint indigenous development of pilotless target aircraft (PTA) and tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  • Both the organisations would synergise respective capabilities and undertake feasibility study, design and development, testing and validation of tactical UAVs and PTA.
  • The jointly developed products will substitute the currently imported UAVs and PTA and aims to achieve self- reliance at a reduced cost.
  • This would also help foster innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace by engaging various industries, including MSMEs, start-ups, individual innovators, R&D institutes and academia.
  • This will enable BEML achieve a quantum jump in defence and aerospace business and provide a big thrust in 'Atmanirbharta' in the defence sector. The potential customers will constitute the armed forces, paramilitary and civilian.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Raghavendra P. Tiwari New Vice-chancellor of Central University of Punjab in Bathinda

  • Raghavendra P. Tiwari has been appointed the new vice-chancellor of Central University of Punjab (CUP), Bathinda.
  • At present, Tiwari is the vice-chancellor of Dr. Harisingh Gour Vishwavidyalaya, a central university at Sagar in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Tiwari, who replaces R. P. Kohli, is likely to join next week.
  • Mr. Tiwari will serve for five years or till the time he attains the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier.
  • Tiwari will be the third vice-chancellor of the Bathinda-based university, which was set up in 2009.
  • Tiwari has served as dean, School of Earth Sciences and Natural Resource Management, and remained head of the department of geology at Mizoram University.

S. S. Mundra New Non-executive Chairman of Indiabulls Housing

  • Mortgage player Indiabulls Housing Finance (IBH) former RBI deputy governor S. S. Mundra was appointed as its non-executive chairman with immediate effect.
  • Mundra had joined the board of IBH in 2018 as an independent director.
  • The company said that its executive chairman Sameer Gehlaut has taken up the position of chief executive officer of another listed firm promoted by him -- Indiabulls Ventures Ltd.
  • "Subhash Sheoratan Mundra, ex-deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India, who joined the Board of Indiabulls Housing Finance in 2018 as an independent director, has been appointed by the Board as non-executive chairman of the company with immediate effect.

Maha Vir Chakra Awardee Air Marshal P. P. Singh Passes Away

  • Air Marshal PP Singh, who was decorated with the second-highest gallantry award Maha Vir Chakra during the 1965 Indo-Pak War, passed away at Command Hospital. He was 92.
  • Commissioned as a Pilot Officer in the Indian Air Force in April 1950, the veteran officer had an illustrious carrier spanning nearly 38 years. He had the privilege of serving as ADC to the first President of India, Dr. Rajender Prasad.
  • Subsequently, he shifted to Canberra aircraft and embarked on a career as a bomber pilot. The start of hostilities with Pakistan in 1965 saw the then Wing Commander as the Commanding Officer of No.5 Squadron (The Tuskers) based out of Agra.
  • He led the Tuskers on numerous successful night airstrikes into Pakistani territory, which inflicted huge damage to the Pakistan Military and Air Force assets based deep inside enemy territory as far away as Sargodha, Mianwal and Peshawar.
  • For his exemplary leadership and valour displayed beyond the call of duty, Wing Commander PP Singh was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra in September 1965.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Bangladesh Observes National Mourning Day

  • Bangladesh observed the National Mourning Day with heavy hearts amid various programmes, marking the 45th death anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
  • Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – the architect of the country's independence -- was assassinated along with most of his family members at the dawn on August 15, 1975 by a cabal of army personnel under a deep-rooted conspiracy against the country and its independence.
  • His two daughters -- Sheikh Hasina, now the Prime Minister, and Sheikh Rehana -- survived the massacre as they were abroad at that time.
  • People from different walks of life commemorated the black day with grief and sorrow of losing the great leader and founder of independent Bangladesh. The day was a public holiday.

UK Marks 75th Anniversary of Victory over Japan Day

  • The UK marked the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, with a national moment of silence and service of remembrance, as well as tributes paid by world leaders.
  • Victory over Japan was declared on 15 August 1945, when the emperor Hirohito addressed his people and told them to stop fighting. The formal surrender of Japanese forces came on 2 September that year; the date traditionally commemorated by the US.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

CRPF's Naresh Kumar Bags his 7th Police Medal for Gallantry

  • Assistant Commandant (AC) Naresh Kumar scripted history by receiving the Police Medal for Gallantry (PMG) for the seventh time in a short span of four years.
  • Kumar got his first medal in 2017 for an operation conducted in Srinagar in 2016, during which he neutralised two foreign terrorists. In 2018, he was awarded two PMGs for neutralising two Hizbul Mujahideen commanders in a fierce operation, which lasted for three days.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

National Health Authority Approves to Integrate Health Schemes of Central Ministries with Ayushman Bharat Scheme

  • The Governing board of National Health Authority (NHA) approved the proposal to integrate the existing health schemes of the central ministries with the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana for employees, during the governing board's review meeting on the implementation AB-PMJAY chaired by Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The integration of the central ministry schemes and AB-PMJAY will promote the development in the supply side and enhance the demand creation of the services of the health care.
  • The Integration of the existing schemes with the ABPMJAY for employees will benefit the government and contractual employees, beneficiary groups like, building and construction workers, manual scavengers, road accident victims and Central Armed Police Force personnel.
  • This will increase the interoperability between the schemes and will benefit the victims in different geographical areas with limited health care amenities through the portability characteristic of PMJAY.

Assam Government to Launch 'Orunodoi' Scheme to Provide Financial Assistance

  • Finance Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sharma announced that the Government of Assam will roll out the 'Orunodoi' Scheme, which will provide Financial Assistance of Rs. 830 per month through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme to around 17 lakh families in the state. It is expected to be the largest direct benefit Transfer scheme in Assam.
  • The 'Orunodoi' scheme will be implemented from October 2, 2020 and will act as an umbrella scheme for all other government schemes for the next 5 years.
  • The amount provided under the 'Orunodoi' Scheme will help the impoverished families in the state to meet their nutritional and medical needs.
  • The scheme is applicable to eligible families to buy essential food items. Rs.400 has been allotted for the purchase of medicine, Rs.150 for vegetables, 50% off on 4 kg of ration and 4kgs of sugar.
  • Around 15 to 17 thousand families in each assembly constituency are expected to be benefited by this scheme.
  • The Assam government will bear 210 crore rupees per month for the 'Orunodoi' scheme.
  • The amount will be transferred to the bank account of the nominated women member of the family.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Fortis' New Name Parkway

  • Fortis Healthcare's board gave an in-principle nod to change the name of the company and its subsidiaries to 'Parkway' in relation to the hospital business, to disassociate itself from the erstwhile promoters.
  • 'Parkway' is an internationally acclaimed brand in the field of healthcare, belonging to the IHH Group, the ultimate parent of Northern TK Venture Pte Ltd, which has 31 per cent shareholding. Singh brothers — Shivinder and Malvinder — were the promoters of Fortis Healthcare.
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