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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

19 Aug 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

PM K. P. Oli Remains Mum as China Illegally Grabs Land in Districts of Nepal

  • Nepal is fast becoming the victim of Chinese colonial design as Beijing is slowly and gradually encroaching upon Nepali land in several places. According to Nepali government agencies data, China has illegally occupied Nepal's land in at least seven bordering districts and is slowly moving forward, further pushing Nepali boundaries, and encroaching upon more and more landmass.
  • It is pertinent to note that the data is being under-reported and the actual scenario could be worse as the Nepali Communist Party (NCP) is trying to shield the expansionist agenda of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It is believed that China has made inroads into several other areas of Nepal and has occupied vast areas of land.
  • Diplomatic experts on China -Nepal relations said that Prime Minister KP Oli government has preferred to keep mum over the illegal occupation of the village by China under fears of displeasing the CCP. The Nepali districts which are victims of China's land grabbing plan include Dolakha, Gorkha, Darchula, Humla, Sindhupalchowk,Sankhuwasabha and Rasuwa
  • According to the Surveying and Mapping Department of Nepal, China has pushed the international boundary 1,500 meters towards Nepal in Dolakha. It has pushed the boundary pillar Number 57 in Korlang area in Dolakha, which was previously located at top of Korlang. The pillar has been an issue of confrontation between the two countries and China has pressurised the Nepali government not to sign the fourth protocol on resolving and managing border disputes between the two countries as China wanted to maintain status quo and further transgress the boundary arrangements.

Mali President Resigns

  • Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, plunging a country already facing a jihadist insurgency and mass protests deeper into crisis.
  • Looking tired and wearing a surgical mask, Keita resigned in a brief address broadcast on state television after troops seized him along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other top officials.
  • Mali has seen months of protests against alleged corruption and worsening security in the West African country where Islamist militants are active, and there have been calls for Keita to resign.
  • France and other international powers as well as the African Union denounced the mutiny, fearful that Keita`s fall could further destabilise the former French colony and West Africa`s entire Sahel region.
  • U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for the immediate release of Keita and the other detainees.

Biden Official Democratic Nominee for US Election 2020

  • Joe Biden was officially appointed the Democratic presidential candidate at the party's convention, helped over the line with some glowing testimonials from elder statesmen.
  • Two Democratic former presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, endorsed Mr. Biden.
  • Mr. Trump trails Mr. Biden in opinion polls ahead of November's election.
  • The convention is largely virtual, amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it is unclear whether a format of pre-recorded speeches and no live audience will generate the same levels of enthusiasm as the traditional party gatherings. Next week's Republican convention will also be mostly online.
  • Mr. Biden, the former vice-president under President Barack Obama, became his party's nominee in a pre-recorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states.
  • This is Mr. Biden's third White House bid, having formerly run in 1988 and 2008. The 77-year-old's campaign appeared to be in danger of collapse back in February this year.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

ADB Approves USD 1 Billion Package for Rapid Transit System in India

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a USD 1 billion (about Rs. 7,485 crore) loan to support the construction of the modern, high-speed Delhi-Meerut regional rapid transit system, a first of its kind in India.
  • The transit system project aims to help decongest the city and improve regional connectivity by establishing transit options through densely populated sections of the NCR connecting Delhi to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Delhi accounts for 37 per cent of the population of the national capital region (NCR).
  • This project will also provide safe, reliable and seamless travel between Delhi and other NCR cities and pave the way for a paradigm shift in mobility across the NCR.
  • The 82-km Delhi-Meerut regional rapid transit system network is the first of three priority rail corridors in the country's integrated transport network under the NCR regional plan 2021.
  • This project will finance the construction of railway tracks, station buildings, maintenance facilities and traction and power supply.

New Umbrella Entity for Retail Payments can be for-profit

  • The Reserve Bank of India released the framework for establishment of a new umbrella entity for retail payments. This entity will be tasked with setting up, managing, and operating new payment systems in the retail space. It may operate as a 'for-profit' organisation.
  • The entity formed shall be a company incorporated in India under the Companies Act, 2013, and may be a 'for-profit' or a Section 8 Company as may be decided by it.
  • According to the RBI guidelines, the entity will have minimum paid-up capital of Rs 500 crore, with no single promoter group holding over 40 per cent investment in the capital. Initially, the promoter should have a minimum of Rs. 50 crore at the time of submitting the application.
  • The promoter/promoter group shareholding may be diluted to a minimum of 25 per cent after 5 years of commencement of business of the umbrella entity, and a minimum net worth of Rs 300 crore be maintained at all times.
  • Earlier, the central bank had released draft guidelines and invited industry comments. It has now called for applications from interested parties till February 26, 2021.
  • Based on the framework, payments system operators, as well as payments and technology service providers with three years of experience, are eligible to apply.

Govt. Launches Contest to Develop Tech. Products Using Indigenous Microprocessors

  • The Ministry of Electronics and IT launched a Rs. 4.3 crore contest for development of technology products using microprocessors developed by IIT Madras and CDAC.
  • IIT Madras and the Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) have developed two microprocessors named SHAKTI (32 bit) and VEGA (64 bit), respectively, using open source architecture which will be made available for the contest.
  • Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad launched the ''Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge - Innovate Solutions for Aatmanirbhar Bharat'' to provide further impetus to the strong ecosystem of startups, innovation and research in the country.
  • This is the third technology contest within this fiscal year for development of indigenous technology.
  • The previous two contests were for development of indigenous video conferencing solutions, as well as apps in various categories.
  • The contest aims at not only meeting India''s future requirements of strategic and industrial sectors but also has the potential to mitigate the issues of security, licensing, technology obsolescence and most crucially cutting dependency on imports.
  • The contest will culminate in June 2021.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Satya Pal Malik New Governor of Meghalaya; Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari Gets Additional Charge of Goa

  • Ram Nath Kovind, President of India appointed Satya Pal Malik, Goa Governor as the Governor of Meghalaya. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was given the additional charge as Governor of Goa. Satya Pal Malik replaced Tathagata Roy who completed his 5 year term by serving as governor of Tripura for 3 years and remaining in Meghalaya.
  • The appointments will be effective from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices.
  • Satya Pal Malik served as the Governor of Bihar. After this, he served as the Governor of the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir from August 2018 to October 2019.
  • During his tenure the constitutional decision to abrogate Article 370, which gave special status to J&K, was taken in August 2019.
  • He was appointed as the Governor of Goa in October 2019.
  • Bhaghat Singh Koshyari was appointed Minister of Energy, Irrigation, Law, and Legislative Affairs of the newly created state of Uttaranchal in 2000.
  • He replaced Nityanand Swami as the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand in 2001.
  • He also has had a successful career as a teacher and journalist.

Home Ministry Approves Renaming of Manduadih Railway Station as Banaras

  • The Union Home Ministry approved the renaming of Manduadih railway station in Uttar Pradesh as 'Banaras'. The Uttar Pradesh government had sent a request for renaming the railway station in Varanasi district.
  • The home ministry considers proposals for name change according to the existing guidelines in consultations with agencies concerned.
  • It gives its approval to any proposal for change of name of any place after taking no-objections from the Ministry of Railways, Department of Posts and Survey of India.
  • For changing the name of a village or town or a city, an executive order is needed. The renaming of a state requires amendment of the Constitution with a simple majority in Parliament.

India Ranks 1st in Number of Organic Farmers and 9th in Terms of Area under Organic Farming

  • In accordance with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (MoA&FW), India ranked first in number of organic farmers and 9th in terms of area under organic farming. Notably, Sikkim was the first state in the world to become completely organic and other states including Tripura and Uttarakhand have set targets to be on the same line.
  • In 2015, two dedicated programs namely Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region (MOVCD) and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) were launched to encourage chemical free farming.
  • The major organic exports from India have been flax seeds, sesame, soybean, tea, medicinal plants, rice and pulses.
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DEFENCE

US and South Korea Begin Joint Military Drills

  • South Korea and the United States began annual military exercises following a coronavirus delay, with the drills likely to infuriate the North which has long considered them rehearsals for invasion.
  • The drills come as tensions remain high between Seoul and Pyongyang after the North blew up an inter-Korean liaison office on its side of the border in June and threatened military measures.
  • The Combined Command Post Training will run until August 28 and "focus on the maintenance of the combined defence posture" between the two countries.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Filmmaker-actor Nishikant Kamat Passes Away

  • Filmmaker-actor Nishikant Kamat died at the age of 50 in Hyderabad.
  • In 2004, he made his debut as an actor in Hava Aney Dey and as a filmmaker in 2005 with the commercially successful Marathi film Dombivali Fast. The film won him a National Award. He made his entry into the Tamil film industry with Evano Oruvan (2007) starring R. Madhavan.
  • The filmmaker also directed Mumbai Meri Jaan (2008), Force (2011), Lai Bhaari (2014), Madaari (2016) and Rocky Handsome (2016).
  • As an actor, Mr. Kamat was last seen in Vikramaditya Motwane's Bhavesh Joshi Superhero.

Akshay Kumar Only Bollywood Star among Forbes' Highest-paid Actors of 2020

  • According to an annual tally released by Forbes magazine, wrestler-turned-movie star Dwayne Johnson clung to the top slot on the list of the world's highest-paid male actors for a second straight year.
  • Johnson, also known by his ring name The Rock, earned $87.5 million from June 1, 2019 to June 1, 2020.
  • Ryan Reynolds, who co-stars with Johnson in Red Notice, came in second in the Forbes ranking of male stars.
  • Actor and producer Mark Wahlberg, star of Netflix action comedy Spenser Confidential, finished third with $58 million.
  • Akshay Kumar was the only Bollywood star in the top 10, landed in sixth place with earnings of $48.5 million. Most of his income came from product endorsements.
  • Rounding out the list were Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, actors Will Smith and Adam Sandler, and martial-arts star Jackie Chan.

Rohit Sharma New Brand Ambassador of Sports Eyewear Brand Oakley

  • Sports eyewear brand Oakley appointed Indian cricketer Rohit Sharma as its brand ambassador. With this partnership, Sharma will sport the brand's performance eyewear on and off the pitch.
  • As a long-time Oakley supporter, Sharma joins the likes of athletes such as Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh who have endorsed the brand in the past.
  • Oakley is present in about 2000 retail stores across multi-brand outlets and optical chains such as Titan Eye Plus. The brand, which started operations in India in 2009, is also investing to increase its presence on marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart, Myntra, Ajio and Tata Cliq.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

World Humanitarian Day

  • World Humanitarian Day (WHD) is observered on August 19. On this day the world commemorates humanitarian workers killed and injured in the course of their work, and we honour all aid and health workers who continue, despite the odds, to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need.
  • It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as part of a Swedish-sponsored GA Resolution A/63/L.49 on the Strengthening of the Coordination of Emergency Assistance of the United Nations,[1] and set as 19 August. It marks the day on which the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq, Sérgio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues were killed in the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad.
  • The designation of 19 August as World Humanitarian Day is the outcome of the relentless efforts of the Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation and his family working closely with the Ambassadors of France, Switzerland, Japan and Brazil in both Geneva and New York to table and steer the draft Resolution through the General Assembly.
  • The Sérgio Vieira de Mello Foundation is committed to working closely with all Governments, the United Nations, International Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations to give the Word Humanitarian Day a meaningful observance every year.
  • This year's World Humanitarian Day honours the front-line health workers - the Real-Life Heroes - including doctors and nurses, midwives and community volunteers, and those who risk their lives to ensure that everyone has access to health services, testing and treatment, protective equipment, and medication especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and all other emergencies.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Cricketer Rohit Sharma, Wrestler Vinesh Phogat among 4 Picked For Khel Ratna Award

  • Cricketer Rohit Sharma and woman wrestler Vinesh Phogat were among the four athletes recommended for this year's Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award -- the country's highest sporting honour. Women's table tennis star Manika Batra and Rio Paralympic gold-winning high jumper Mariappan Thangavelu were the other two sportspersons recommended for the prestigious award by a 12-member selection committee of the Sports Ministry. This is only the second time that four athletes have been recommended for the top sporting accolade.
  • In 2016, star shuttler P. V. Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, shooter Jitu Rai and wrestler Sakshi Malik were collectively given this award.
  • Rohit will only be the fourth cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and current skipper Virat Kohli to be conferred with the Khel Ratna.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT-Kharagpur Opens Academy of Classical and Folk Arts

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kharagpur inaugurated the Academy of Classical and Folk Arts on its campus. It will offer training on music, fine arts, and other performing arts.
  • Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty will head the '100 ragas' initiative of the academy. It aims to formulate deep structures of Indian ragas by forging creative arts with cognitive sciences.
  • It is essential for an institute of national importance to focus on the holistic development of its students, staff, and faculty members. The Academy of Classical and Folk Arts is first-of-its-kind in IIT Kharagpur.

Atal Ranking of ARIIA 2020

  • The Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) 2020 was announced by the vice-president of India, M. Venkaiah Naidu. As per the ARIIA 2020 rankings, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras topped the Best Centrally Funded Institute category.
  • IIT Madras has topped the ARIIA rankings in this category for the second time. This year, the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology, Odisha (KIIT) topped the rankings in the Best Private institution category.
  • The ARIIA 2020 are calculated on the basis of seven parameters- budget and funding support, infrastructure and facilities, awareness, promotions, and support for idea generation and innovation, promotion and support for entrepreneurship development, innovative learning methods and courses, intellectual property generation, technology transfer and commercialization and innovation in the governance of the institution.
  • ARIIA 2020 or Atal rankings 2020 are an initiative started by the Ministry of Education along with the All Indian Council of Technical Education (AICTE). It ranks the technical institutes of India across six major categories every year.
  • The objective or ARIIA 2020 is to rank higher education institutions and universities in India as per Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Startup, and Development amongst faculty and students.
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