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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

15 Sep 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Geeta Out from UK Mayor Candidate List

  • An Indian-origin entrepreneur-activist was dropped as a prospective London mayoral candidate to contest against Sadiq Khan next year after her past antisemitic comments came to light.
  • Geeta Sidhu Robb, the founder of organic food and juice products firm Nosh Detox, had been shortlisted as the Liberal Democrat candidate to take on Labour's Khan but was instead suspended from the party after a 1997 General Election footage revealed her making anti-Jewish remarks.

US-Taiwan Economic Talks Infuriate China

  • China warned the United States of potential serious damage to their relations if it does not withdraw from an upcoming economic meeting with Taiwan that is expected to be attended by a senior American official.
  • Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin urged the US to stop all forms of official exchanges with Taiwan, so as to avoid serious damage to China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
  • Taiwanese media reported that US Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach is planning to visit the island later this week for an economic and commercial dialogue with Taiwan's government.
  • The visit would follow one by US Health Secretary Alex Azar last month. Azar was the highest-level US Cabinet official to visit since a break in formal ties between the US and Taiwanese government in 1979, when the US accepted a one-China policy.

China Appoints Trade Specialist as New Ambassador to Pakistan

  • China has appointed a trade specialist with no diplomatic background as its new ambassador to Pakistan in an apparent attempt to add momentum to the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that connects Xinjing with the Indian Ocean.
  • Despite having no formal experience as a diplomat, Nong Rong—Communist Party secretary of the ethnic and religious affairs commission in China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region—was named by the Chinese foreign ministry last Friday as the official to replace incumbent Yao Jing.
  • China rarely makes political appointments in diplomatic roles and this will be an exception.
  • Nong's primary role will be to promote CPEC, a $62 billion multi-modal project launched in 2013, ET has learnt. CPEC is Beijing's key gateway to Indian Ocean Region, particularly western and southern Indian Ocean Region.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

PM Modi Inaugurates Petroleum Projects

  • In a pat to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that in the last 15 years, Bihar has shown that development happens with the right government, decisions and policies.
  • PM Modi launched three petroleum sector projects in Bihar worth more than Rs. 900 crore and said that this government was working for the growth of all sectors in Bihar.
  • The Prime Minister praised the youth of Bihar and termed the state a 'powerhouse' of the country's talent.
  • The projects unveiled include the Durgapur-Banka section of the Paradip-Haldia-Durgapur pipeline augmentation project and two LPG bottling plants — one at Banka of the IOCL and another of the HPCL at Harsidhi in East Champaran district.
  • According to Modi the fertiliser factory of Barauni, which was closed in the past, would also commence working soon after the construction of this gas pipeline.

IFSCA and India Gold Policy Centre Sign MoU

  • The International Financial Services Centre Authority (IFSCA) and the India Gold Policy Centre (IGPC) at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at GIFT City in Gandhinagar, to provide consultation for the establishment of the International Bullion Exchange (IBE) in India.
  • IGPC-IIMA, an independent think tank with in-house expertise in the area of gold markets, will make for a knowledge partner for IFSCA to roll out the IBE successfully.
  • The IGPC-IIMA is expected to take a top-down approach by setting a broader vision, developing success strategies and creating operating guidelines for the seamless functioning of the IBE.
  • At the Union Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that India will soon have an IBE at the IFSC in GIFT City in Gandhinagar. The IFSC Authority was established on April 27 this year by the Government of India as the unified regulator.

US Bans Import of Chinese Goods Produced Using Forced Labour

  • In another crackdown on China, the United States has banned cotton, hair products, computer components, and some textiles from China's Xinjiang province which are made using forced labour.
  • By taking this action, DHS is combating illegal and inhumane forced labour, a type of modern slavery, used to make goods that the Chinese government then tries to import into the United States. When China attempts to import these goods into our supply chains, it also disadvantages American workers and businesses," said Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.
  • President Trump and this Department have, and always will, put American workers and businesses first and protect American citizens from participating in these egregious human rights violations.
  • The Trump Administration will not stand idly by and allow foreign companies to subject vulnerable workers to forced labour while harming American businesses that respect human rights and the rule of law.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

YouTube Tests TikTok Rival in India

  • YouTube has announced it will test a beta version of its new TikTok rival in India.
  • YouTube Shorts will limit videos to 15 seconds, and the platform will feature creator tools that are similar to Chinese-owned TikTok's.
  • India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps in June as border tensions rose between the two countries.
  • At the time, India was TikTok's biggest foreign market, with an estimated 120 million users.
  • YouTube will also be in competition with a number of local competitors who have rushed in to fill the void after TikTok's ban in India.
  • The new platform features a multi-segment camera to string multiple video clips together, speed controls, and a timer and countdown to record hands-free.
  • Shorts also gives users the option to record using music as well as access to a library of songs.

China Successfully Launches 9 Satellites into Orbit from Ship

  • China successfully launched a solid-propellant carrier rocket from a ship in the Yellow Sea, sending nine satellites into orbit in the second such sea-based launch mission.
  • The Long March 11-HY2, the 10th member of the Long March 11 family blasted off at 9:22 am from the Debo 3, a self-propelled deck barge that was modified for the mission.
  • The nine satellites belong to the Jilin-1 Gaofen 03-1 group.
  • Each of the satellites, developed by Changguang Satellite Technology in Changchun, Jilin province, weighs about 42 kg.
  • They will provide remote-sensing services to users in fields such as agriculture, forestry, land resources and environmental protection.
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SPORTS

Andy Murray Receives French Open Wild Card

  • Andy Murray has received a wild-card entry into the French Open which begins on September 27 in Paris.
  • Murray, a former world No. 1 and finalist at Roland Garros in 2016, was also handed a wild-card entry into the US Open last month where he reached the second round in his first Grand Slam after hip surgery last year.
  • The Scot was the only non-Frenchman of eight players to be given a free pass into the main draw of the clay Grand Slam where he has not appeared since he lost to Stan Wawrinka in a marathon five-set last-four encounter three years ago.

Tata Altroz Becomes Official Partner for Upcoming T20 Cricket, Dream11 IPL 2020

  • Tata Motors' premium hatchback, Altroz will be an official partner for the upcoming T20 cricket, Dream11 Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. The Altroz follows in the path of its stablemates, the Nexon and the Harrier, both of which have been the tournament's official partners, during the 2018 and the 2019 seasons, respectively.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Sixteen-Member Committee to Study Ancient Indian Culture

  • Union Minister Prahlad Patel informed Parliament that the government has formed an expert committee for conducting a study on the origin and evolution of Indian culture dating back to around 12,000 years ago.
  • The 16-member committee includes K. N. Dikshit, Chairman, Indian Archaeological Society, New Delhi and former Joint Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, among others.

India Beats China to Win Crucial Election to UN Commission on Women

  • In a significant victory, India got elected as Member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the principal global body focused on gender equality and women empowerment, beating China in a hotly-contested election.
  • The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • The 54-member ECOSOC, holding the first plenary meeting of its 2021 session in the General Assembly Hall on Monday, held elections for two seats in the Asia-Pacific States category with Afghanistan, India and China in the fray.
  • Afghanistan, which is led by Ambassador Adela Raz at the UN, garnered 39 votes and India got 38 votes of the 54 ballots cast.
  • China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, got only 27 votes and could not even cross the half-way mark and also failed to get the required majority of 28 votes.

Harivansh Rajya Sabha Deputy Chief again

  • The Rajya Sabha re-elected Janata Dal (United) parliamentarian Harivansh Narayan Singh as the Deputy Chairman of the Upper House by voice vote. His name was proposed by BJP president and party MP Jagat Prakash Nadda. Leader of the House Thavarchand Gehlot seconded it. The opposition had fielded Manoj Jha, an RJD member.
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DEFENCE

India and Russia to Launch New Brahmos Missile Capable of Downing Aircraft With AWACS System by 2024

  • The new missile will be used for destroying major aerial targets, while the previous versions were only capable of destroying targets on the ground or at sea.
  • Russia and India have adopted a plan for their joint BrahMos project, meant to create a new cruise missile capable of downing aircraft equipped with AWACS systems (an advanced airborne early warning and control).
  • According to the Russian director of the venture, Alexander Maksichev, the missile will be ready for launch by 2024. He noted that it will have different target-seeking equipment but will use the same platform.
  • The BrahMos venture was established by Moscow and New Delhi in 1998 and develops hypersonic missiles —naval-, underwater-, shore-, and air-based. It has recently faced a major surge in demand, with an additional $1 billion increase in orders in six months since the beginning of the year despite the coronavirus pandemic.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Rajesh Khullar New Executive Director of World Bank

  • Senior bureaucrat Rajesh Khullar has been appointed as Executive Director, World Bank, Washington.
  • Khullar, a 1988-batch IAS officer, is currently serving in his cadre state Haryana. He is the principal secretary to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
  • He will have a tenure of three years or till the date of his superannuation, i.e. August 31, 2023.
  • In another order, the Personnel Ministry said that Sameer Kumar Khare has been appointed Executive Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Manila.
  • Khare is a 1989-batch IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre and is currently the additional secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs.
  • He has been appointed Executive Director of ADB for a tenure of three years.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

International Day of Democracy

  • In 2007 the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe 15 September as the International Day of Democracy, with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy, and invited all member states and organizations to commemorate the day in an appropriate manner that contributes to raising public awareness.
  • The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.
  • Every year International Day of Democracy has a theme and the theme for 2020 is "COVID-19: A Spotlight on Democracy."
  • Every Country is implementing measures to fight this pandemic. It is also important that the countries uphold the rule of law, protect and respect international standards and basic principles of legality, and the right to access justice, remedies, and due process of law.

Engineer's Day (India)

  • The country celebrates Engineer's Day on September 15 to appreciate the contributions of eminent engineer Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya who was born on September 15, 1861 in a village called Muddenahalli in Karnataka. He had studied Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of Madras and pursued civil engineering at the College of Science in Pune.
  • Visvesvaraya's career spanned over 34 years with his first job as an assistant engineer in the Public Works Department of the Government of Bombay. He later joined the Mysore service as chief engineer and had contributed to several technical projects in Hyderabad, Mysore, Maharashtra and Odisha.
  • Among some of his contributions include the block system of irrigation in the Deccan canals in 1899, irrigation system with water floodgates at the Khadakvasla reservoir. The irrigation system was later installed at Gwalior's Tigra Dam and Mysuru's Krishnaraja Sagara (KRS) dam, the latter of which created one of the largest reservoirs in Asia at the time.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Tirupati Railway Station Bags Environmental Certification

  • The Environmental Management System of Tirupati Railway Station bagged the ISO 14001:2015 certification for, among others, optimising the power consumption and its services to enhance the greenery.
  • The station got the recognition in provision of services such as enquiry, tickets, accommodation, amenities (snacks, meals and tea), transportation of passengers, maintenance of cleanliness on the premises and provision of connectivity to detraining passengers to the nearest temples including Tirumala.
  • The certificate presented by SCR's Senior Divisional Engineer (Guntakal) was received by Station Director S. Nagaramana Sarma, Station Manager Chinnapa Reddy.
  • The authorities claimed that consumption of water and electricity came down drastically with the installation of LED bulbs, solar energy production and water recycling. Tree plantation drive on the premises also helped maintain greenery, while acceptance of soft copy of railway tickets on mobile phone added to the green drive.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Parliament Passes Bill to Give Statutory Status to Aviation Regulators

  • The Parliament passed a bill which seeks to improve India's aviation safety ratings and provide statutory status to regulatory institutions, including the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 also provides for keeping aircraft belonging to the country's armed forces outside the purview of the Aircraft Act, 1934.
  • The Bill also proposes to increase the fine amount for violations of new rules from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 1 crore.
  • The bill was passed by voice vote in Rajya Sabha. It had got approval of Lok Sabha in March.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Ramesh Pokhriyal Launches Alternative Academic Calendar for Classes 9 and 10

  • Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal launched the alternative academic calendar for the next eight weeks for the secondary stage, classes 9 and 10. The alternative academic calendar for primary and upper primary stages, and higher secondary stages were released earlier.
  • The calendar further aims to empower our students, teachers, school principals and parents with positive ways to deal with COVID-19 via online teaching-learning resources and achieve the best possible learning outcomes.
  • The calendar has a list of activities about which students may be guided through SMS on mobile phones or voice calls. These activities are devised keeping in mind students who do not have access to high-end infrastructure, as per NCERT. A week-wise plan for the secondary stage (from classes 9 to 10) has been developed, keeping in view the choice of availability of tools with the teachers. Links for e-resources have been provided along with the activities.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Book 'End of an Era, India Exits Tibet' to be Released

  • Claude Arpi has written the book named 'End of an Era, India Exits Tibet', which will soon be released. The book highlights India Tibet relation between 1947 and 1962. it also focuses on India losing all its influence in Tibet. It shows Nehru Memorial Library papers, de-classified Indian and Chinese documents and personal interviews.
  • The book aims to explain India's presence in Tibet in the last years.
  • It explains how reports by India's own agencies point to threaten consolidation of China's occupation of Tibet. China has constructed a road in territory-Tibet. but, India could not take any actions against road construction.
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