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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

27 Aug 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

US Blacklists 24 Chinese Companies, Individuals

  • The United States blacklisted 24 Chinese firms and targeted individuals it said were part of construction and military actions in the South China Sea, its first such move over the disputed waterway.
  • The US Commerce Department said that the two dozen companies "played a role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarise the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea."
  • The US also said that it would impose visa restrictions on Chinese individuals "responsible for, or complicit in," such action.

Pakistan's Senate Rejects two FATF-linked Bills

  • Pakistan's Opposition-dominated Senate has rejected two bills related to the tough conditions set by the FATF, jeopardising the government's efforts to escape from being blacklisted by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog.
  • The move drew a strong reaction from Prime Minister Imran Khan who accused the Opposition leaders of trying to save their illegal money.
  • The Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Waqf Properties Bill, passed by the National Assembly a day before, were rejected through a voice vote by the Senate.
  • The legislations were part of efforts by Pakistan to move from the FATF'S grey list to the white list.
  • The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) put Pakistan on the grey list in June 2018 and asked Islamabad to implement a plan of action by the end of 2019 but the deadline was extended later on due to COVID-19.

Taiwan Warns of Accidental Conflict as Regional Tensions Rise

  • Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said that the risk of accidental conflict is rising because of tension in the South China Sea and around Taiwan and communication must be maintained to reduce the risk of miscalculation.
  • Democratic Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as "scared" Chinese territory, has complained of Chinese military activities near the island, in what it says in an attempt to force Taiwan to accept Chinese sovereignty.
  • The United States and China have also been conducting military exercises near Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea.
  • Tsai said that Taiwan needed to strengthen its defence capabilities, which she has made a priority.
  • We do this because we know that in terms of our current situation, strength can be co-related with deterrence. It also reduces the risk of military adventurism," said Tsai, who was re-elected for a second term in a landslide in January.
  • Tsai reiterated her commitment to peace and desire to talk.
  • "We are open to discussions with China, as long as they contribute to a beneficial relationship."
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Gujarat Tops Export Preparedness Index Compiled by NITI Aayog and the Institute of Competitiveness

  • Gujarat has topped the Niti Aayog's Export Preparedness Index 2020 followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu in the second and third place respectively, according to the government think tank's report released on Wednesday. According to the report, six of eight coastal states feature in the top ten rankings, indicating the presence of strong enabling and facilitating factors to promote exports.
  • Among the landlocked states, Rajasthan performed the best, followed by Telangana and Haryana.
  • Among the Himalayan states, Uttarakhand topped the chart, followed by Tripura and Himachal Pradesh, the report said adding that across Union Territories, Delhi has performed the best, followed by Goa and Chandigarh.
  • The report noted that Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are two landlocked states that had initiated several measures to promote exports.
  • Other states facing similar socio-economic challenges can look at the measures taken by Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand and try to implement them to grow their exports.

Seventeenth Meeting of India-Vietnam Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation

  • The 17th meeting of the India-Vietnam Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation was held virtually which was co-chaired by India's External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh. The focus of the meet was to review the recent developments in India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and to put forth measures and orientations for cooperation in the new period, towards the 50th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties (January 26, 1972-2022).
  • India-Vietnam signed the following Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs):
  • Cooperation between Sushma Swaraj Institute of Foreign Service (SSIFS), New Delhi and Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), Hanoi.
  • MoU between National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi and Scientific Research Institute of Sea and Islands, Hanoi.
  • Both sides agreed to boost their economic and defence engagement and also work towards exploring closer cooperation in emerging areas such as civil nuclear energy, space, marine sciences and new technologies in order to bring two-way trade to US$15 billion as soon as possible.

Axis Bank Introduces 'Liberty Savings Account'

  • Axis Bank introduced 'Liberty Savings Account' for the Indian Youth, to address the ever-changing lifestyle needs of young and digitally interested Indians. It offers a complimentary hospital cash insurance cover of up to Rs. 20,000 per year, which covers hospital expenses incurred under COVID -19, which makes this a 1st of its kind savings account to cover the pandemic. This account targets to meet the lifestyle requirements of the working class that falls under 35 years of age.
  • It allows customers to maintain a minimum balance of Rs. 25,000 per month or spend the same amount each month on lifestyle needs through the Liberty debit card or savings account (via NetBanking, Axis Mobile or UPI- Unified Payments Interface).
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Astronaut Jeanette Epps to Become First Black Woman to Join ISS Crew

  • Astronaut Jeanette Epps is set to create history by becoming the first black woman to serve as an International Space Station (ISS) crew member. Epss has been selected by NASA for a 2021 mission aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.
  • According to NASA, Epps will join astronauts Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada for a six-month expedition to the ISS.
  • The first operational crewed flight of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is likely to takeoff in 2021 and it will follow NASA certification after a successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 and Crew Flight Test with astronauts.
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SPORTS

James Anderson Becomes First Fast Bowler to Pick 600 Test Wickets

  • James Anderson became the first fast bowler in history to take 600 Test wickets. Anderson, 38, who started the third Test at the Ageas Bowl was seven wickets away from the feat, dismissed Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali for the milestone on Day 5.
  • Anderson, who surpassed Glenn McGrath to become the leading Test wicket-taker among fast bowlers in 2018, required less than two years to breach the 600-wicket mark. He is fourth on the list of all-time wicket-takers in Tests, behind Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble.

Indian Table Tennis Player Poulomi Ghatak Retires

  • One of the most successful Indian Table Tennis players Poulomi Ghatak announced her retirement from the sport at the age of 37. The Kolkata born Poulomi Ghatak is a seven-time National Champion. She Won the Junior National Championship thrice and the Senior National Championship seven times, held in between 1998 and 2016.
  • She won the bronze medal at Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 and bagged the Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 in New Delhi.
  • She Represented India at the 2000 Sydney Olympics at the age of 16.
  • She has won the National Championships seven times and is one short of Indu Puri's record.
  • Ghatak bagged Gold Medal at the 2006 South Asian Federation Games (SAF) in both Women's Singles & Doubles.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Culture Ministry Creates 7 New Circles of Archaeological Survey of India

  • The Ministry of Culture has announced 7 new circles of Archaeological Survey of India, ASI. In a video message, Culture and Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said that Ministry of Culture has taken the step in accordance with the Prime Minister's call to facilitate and strengthen the process of preservation and registration of archaeological monuments.
  • He informed that new circles have been created in Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Gujarat. Mr Patel said, Trichy, Raiganj, Rajkot, Jabalpur, Jhansi and Meerut have been announced as new circles.
  • The Minister said that in a large state like Tamil Nadu which has thousands of temples and glorious memories of the Chola kings, Trichy has been made a new circle along with the circle of Chennai. He said, Hampi city in Karnataka is a place of international importance from the point of view of archaeological heritage therefore the Hampi Sub-Circle now has been made a new full fledged circle.
  • In West Bengal, Raiganj has been made as a new circle along with Kolkata, which will eliminate geographical inconvenience. In Gujarat, Rajkot has been announced as a new circle along with Vadodara. Mr. Patel said, Jabalpur has been announced as a new circle along with Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
  • This will include the monuments from Jabalpur, Rewa, Shahdol and Sagar divisions. The Minister also informed that Jhansi in Bundelkhand and Meerut in western UP have been announced as two new circles along with Lucknow and Agra in Uttar Pradesh.The Minister said, earlier there were 29 ASI circles across the country.

Guwahati Sports India's Longest River Ropeway

  • India's 'longest' passenger ropeway across a river was unveiled in Guwahati, almost a year after it was completed.
  • The 1.82 km bi-cable jig-back ropeway connects a forest campus near the Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner's office in the city on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra and a hillock behind the Doul Govinda temple in North Guwahati on the other.
  • The ropeway passes over the mid-river Peacock Island that houses Umananda, a medieval Shiva temple.
  • The Rs. 56.08-crore ropeway project had been assigned to the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) in 2006. The foundation stone was laid in December 2009, a year after a Kolkata-based firm was awarded the construction work. A Swiss firm designed the cabins later.

Congress Turmoil Continues

  • The turmoil in Congress appears far from over with former Union Minister Kapil Sibal alleging his younger colleague Jitin Prasada was being officially targeted in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Sibal and Prasada are both signatories to the controversial letter 20 party leaders wrote to Congress president Sonia Gandhi recently asking for a full time and active chief and also for overhaul of party structure to make it battle ready for the next elections.
  • The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday took note of the letter and trashed it attacking the signatories with some veterans seeking action against them.
  • The CWC unanimously urged Sonia to continue as party president till the next AICC session elects a new full-time chief.
View Month Wise

DEFENCE

Thai Envoy Announces The Royal Thai Army's Purchase Of 600 Tata Motors Defence Trucks

  • When the Prime Minister said to go 'Vocal for Local', he also meant that products be made competitive vis-a-vis global brands. Tata Motors – India's leading auto brand – seems to have solidified the brand's stance for the 'Vocal for Local' initiative, by manufacturing high-end military support vehicles not just for the country, but one that fits the purpose of international defence deals.
  • The Thai ambassador to India lauded India's Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative by announces the purchase of 600 Tata motors military trucks.
  • Tata Motors has been a prime defence supplier to the Armed and Paramilitary Forces of the country for a long time now. The Group's history with the Defence sector goes way back to the 1940s.
  • Apart from being a leading supplier of mobility solutions to the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force and various Paramilitary forces, the company also exports its range of specialized Defence vehicles to SAARC, ASEAN, African nations and the UN peacekeeping forces in conflict zones in Africa.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Computer Pioneer Arnold SpielbergPasses Away

  • Arnold Spielberg, father of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and an innovating engineer whose work helped make the personal computer possible, died at 103.
  • Spielberg and Charles Propster designed the GE-225 mainframe computer in the late 1950s while working for General Electric. The machine allowed computer scientists at Dartmouth College to develop the programming language BASIC, which would be essential to the rise of personal computers in the 1970s and '80s.
View Month Wise

DAYS AND EVENTS

Ladakh Observes First Martyrs Day after Becoming Union Territory

Ladakh observed the first Martyrs Day today (August 27), after becoming a Union Territory. In a low key programme organised by the Ladakh Buddhist Association, at Martyrs Memorial in Leh, senior leaders of various political parties paid homage to martyrs who laid down their lives in the agitations for Scheduled Tribes status, and Union Territory status to Ladakh.

Late Venerable Lobzang Tsondus and Tashi Angchuk on 24th January in 1981 for ST status and Nawang Rinchen, Tsewang Dorjey and Tsering Stobdan for the cause of Union Territory status for Ladakh have made supreme sacrifice in the agitations on August 27th of 1989.

Leh Hill Council Chief Executive Councillor Gyal P Wangyal, former MP Thupstan Chewang, former Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora, LBA President PT Kunzang, LGA President Geshe Shedup Chamba, BJP Leaders Dorjay Angchuk, Samstan, Congress leaders Tsering Namgyal, LBA Women's Wing, Youth Wings also have participated in the martyrs day programme.


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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Tripura Launches First ever Diploma Courses on GST, Retail and Sales Management

  • Tripura's lone state university Maharaja Bir Bikram (MBB) University announced a host of professional and foreign language courses in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic including the state's first-ever diploma courses on Goods and Service Tax (GST.
  • Assistant Controller of Examinations Rakesh Roy said that the newly launched courses include four evening diploma courses on GST, retail and sales management, insurance risk management and Spanish language. Two Integrated Masters Degree (IMD) courses on commerce and chemistry are also being launched along with the one year diploma programmes in the university.
  • Describing the new courses as a novel, Dr. Roy stated that these would open up new ways of employment for students. Students who have already qualified their Higher Secondary or its equivalent examinations with at least four subjects including English from any recognised education board or council would be eligible to seek admission in these new courses.
  • Each of these new courses will allow 60 students to take admission by August 31. The admission process for intake in these programmes have already commenced in the meantime. Courses fees for the one year evening diploma programmes in GST, retail and sales management, insurance risk management and Spanish language were set in self-financing mode and candidates would have to shell out Rs. 23,000 per semester for these courses.

Gujarat: 12 Colleges Identified to be Converted into Universities

  • AFTER several deliberations and discussions with stakeholders over the implementation of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in Gujarat, the state Education Department has identified 12 colleges, one in each district that can be converted into universities.
  • As the National Education Policy under Clause No. 9.3 (a) stipulates that every district should have at least one university, the state government under its immediate implementation plan had identified 12 districts not having universities– Aravalli, Bharuch, Botad, Chhota Udepur, Dang, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Dahod, Amreli, Mahisagar, Morbi, Porbandar and Tapi.
  • One college each in these 12 districts too have been identified which are capable of being run as a university. These include both technical and non-technical as well as government and grant-in-aid colleges. Out of these 12, nine are grant in aid, three are government and two womens' colleges.
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