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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

23 Sep 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Nepal Halts Distribution of Books with Altered Map

  • Nepal has stopped the distribution of a books that include the country's revised political map showing three strategically-important Indian areas as part of its territory, saying there were a number of factual errors in it.
  • A Cabinet meeting instructed the Ministry of Education not to distribute and print any more copies meant for classes IX to XII as there were some reservations from the Ministry of Land Management and Cooperatives and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • As per spokesperson for the Ministry of Land Reform and Cooperatives Janak Raj Joshi, the Ministry of Education does not have the authority to change Nepal's geographical area and there are faults in the books,. There are errors in the books prepared by the Ministry of Education on a subject it has no expertise, he said, adding that the higher authorities have been asked to take corrective measures.

Hassan Rouhani Says US can Impose Neither Negotiations Nor War on Iran

  • Iran`s president told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that the United States could impose "neither negotiations nor war" on the Islamic Republic amid heightened tension between the longtime foes over Tehran`s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.
  • Iran is not a bargaining chip in US elections and domestic policy. Any US administration after the upcoming (US) elections will have no choice but to surrender to the resilience of the Iranian nation.
  • The US-Iranian confrontation has intensified since 2018 when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and unilaterally reimposed sanctions that have hobbled the Islamic Republic's economy. Trump wants a broader agreement with Tehran`s clerical rulers that would further restrict Iran's nuclear programme, halt its ballistic missile development work and end its support for proxy forces around the Middle East.
  • Iran has refused to hold talks with the United States unless Washington lifts sanctions on Tehran and returns to the original agreement.
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ENVIRONMENT

World's Top Emitter China Aims to Go Carbon Neutral by 2060

  • According to Chinese President Xi Jinping, his country will aim to stop pumping additional carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, into the atmosphere by 2060.
  • Xi's announcement during a speech to the UN General Assembly is a significant step for the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and was immediately cheered by climate campaigners.
  • Calling for a "green revolution", Xi said that the coronavirus pandemic had shown the need to preserve the environment.
  • Citing the Paris Agreement that he and former US President Barack Obama helped forge in 2015, Xi said his country would raise its emissions reduction targets with "vigorous policies and measures." "We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

TRAI Recommends Forming Multi-stakeholder Body to assist DoT in Monitoring Net Neutrality Rules

  • Sector regulator TRAI suggested that the Telecom Department should establish a multi-stakeholder body to ensure that internet providers adhere to the provisions of net neutrality, as it spelt out the broad contours of the proposed panel.
  • The role of the multi-stakeholder body would be to provide advice and support to Department of Telecom (DoT) in monitoring and enforcement of net neutrality principles.
  • Releasing its detailed recommendations on 'Traffic management practices and multi-stakeholder body for net neutrality', the two aspects enshrined in the net neutrality principles, TRAI said that the proposed panel should comprise all telecom service providers and internet providers and other stakeholders such as content providers, researcher, academic and technical community, civil society organisations, consumers, and the government.
  • The DoT may establish a multi-stakeholder body (MSB) to ensure that Internet Access Providers adhere to the provisions of net neutrality in their license.
  • The proposed body would be responsible for providing support to DoT in creating and maintaining repository of traffic management practices, investigate complaints regarding violation of net neutrality, submitting reports based on monitoring of internet services, probe of incidents, and review of reports submitted by its members.
  • It can also help in recommending suitable technical standards and methodologies on matters pertaining to best practices to be adopted for internet traffic management.

Shapoorji Pallonji Group Says 'Time to Separate from Tata'

  • Shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group, the largest minority shareholder with 18.37 per cent stake in Tata Sons, said that it is "time to separate from Tata" to end a relationship that has spanned over 70 years.
  • Tata Sons is the holding company of Tata Group.
  • In a press statement, the SP Group said: "It stated before the Supreme Court that a separation from the Tata Group is necessary due to the potential impact this continuing litigation could have on livelihoods and the economy".
  • They stated that it was crucial that an early resolution is reached to arrive at a fair and equitable solution reflecting the value of the underlying tangible and intangible assets.
  • The SP Group and Tatas have been engaged in a bitter legal battle ever since Cyrus Mistry was sacked as Chairman of Tata Sons in October 2016.
  • Tata Sons has amplified its institutional efforts to suppress and inflict irreparable harm on the SP Group, in the midst of a global crisis triggered by the COVID pandemic.

India Exploring to Utilise Arab World's FTAs with US & EU for Exports

  • India has pitched for elevating India-Arab economic partnership commensurate with the strategic partnership between the two sides and exploring opportunities to utilise Arab World's FTA with US and EU for Indian businesses.
  • "India-Arab relations are founded on strong traditional ties and deepening political understanding. Our economic relations have to be stepped up to a higher level to match the strategic partnership and strong momentum in bilateral understanding at the political level. There is huge potential in the growing Arab economies while many Arab countries have FTAs with EU and USA. Arab countries and Indian businesses can both benefit by participation in economic growth and development," Secretary (CPV&OIA) MEA Sanjay Bhattacharyya told FICCI in an address titled 'India's engagement with Arab World'.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Indian Scientists Finds X-ray Signature of Boundary Around Black Holes

  • A team of international scientists, led by those from India, has found a distinctive signature of cosmic X-rays to identify the boundary around black holes, which "unmistakably separate them" from other objects in the cosmos such as neutron stars that are comparable in mass and size.
  • According to the astrophysicists, including Sudip Bhattacharyya from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, the current discovery is by far the strongest steady signature of the smaller, but more extreme stellar-mass black holes to date, from the cosmic X-rays observed with a satellite.
  • Although black holes do not have a surface, it is confined within an invisible boundary, called an event horizon, from within which nothing, not even light, can escape.
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SPORTS

Luca Stephenson Signs His First Professional Contract with Liverpool FC

  • The Premier League club Liverpool FC said that Luca Stephenson has signed his first professional contract with the reds.
  • The 17-year old midfielder joined the Liverpool FC at U15 level from his hometown club Sunderland and Stephenson made his debut with the U18 squad in 2019 as a U16 player.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Bihar DGP Takes Voluntary Retirement

  • Bihar Director General of Police (DGP) Gupteshwar Pandey took voluntary retirement from service, triggering speculations that the outspoken officer would contest the coming state Assembly polls.
  • Pandey's request seeking voluntary retirement was approved by Governor Phagu Chauhan.
  • Director General (Homeguards) S. K. Singhal has been given additional charge of DGP.
  • Pandey, a 1987 batch IPS officer, was involved in the investigation of actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death by suicide in Mumbai.
  • He had recently been in the headlines for his stout defence of the Nitish Kumar administration when it was under attack from the Shiv Sena-led government in Maharashtra over Bihar Police's probe into the death of Rajput.
  • Bihar Assembly election is likely to be held in October-November.

India and Israel sign MoU to Accelerate Innovation and Technology Cooperation

  • India and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to initiate a bilateral program in a bid to accelerate innovation and technology cooperation between start-ups and corporates from both countries. The aim of this program is to bring together Israeli and Indian entrepreneurs and startups to collaborate on innovative projects.
  • The MoU was signed between Israel's Start-Up Nation Central and India's International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology (iCreate). iCreate was established in 2012 to create a hi-tech start-up ecosystem. It has been working with Israeli universities and accelerators from the year of its foundation. The new campus of iCreate was inaugurated by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 17, 2018.
  • iCreate and Start-Up Nation Central will initiate a unique Online Acceleration Program for market penetration to work with relevant technologies that match up with requirements originating from Indian corporations.

Buddhists, Muslims and Christians Political Parties Decide to Boycott LAHDC (Leh) Elections

  • The Buddhist and Muslim organisations in Leh, along with the political parties have joined hands and decided to boycott upcoming Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council elections demanding extension of sixth schedule on lines of Bodo Territory Council to the newly formed Union Territory.
  • The Apex body of People's Movement for Sixth Schedule for Ladakh, which consists of political, religious and civil society organisations of the UT, convened a meeting in Leh in which the decision to boycott the LAHDC elections was finalised. The election commission had announced to conduct the elections on October 16.
  • The unanimous move from the people of Leh has challenged the BJP's narrative of development and jubilance in the region in wake of the August 5, 2019 decision, when the region was separated from J&K and declared as a Union Territory without legislature. This internal political upheaval in Leh has triggered at a time, when the BJP government in New Delhi is already engaged in a faceoff with China in eastern Ladakh.
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DEFENCE

Successful Test of ABHYAS Flight

  • In a major boost for Indian armed forces, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted the successful flight test of ABHYAS--High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT). The flight test was done from the Interim Test Range, Balasore in Odisha.
  • Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh called the the successful flight test of ABHYAS a milestone and said that ABHYAS can be used as a target for evaluation of various missile systems.
  • ABHYAS is designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), DRDO and it is launched using twin underslung booster.

Indian and Australian Navies to Undertake Two-day PASSEX Exercises

  • The Indian and the Australian navies will undertake Passage Exercise or PASSEX exercises on September 23-24 in the Indian Ocean. From the Indian side, Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri and Karmuk will be present and Australia will be represented by HMAS Hobart.
  • Australia is the third country, since June, with which India will conduct the exercises. The first was with US Navy's USS Nimitz and the second was the Russian Navy.
  • India and Australia in the last few months have increased cooperation, especially defence engagement. An Indian Navy statement said, the exercises, "reflect the growing strength of Indo-Australian bilateral relations as comprehensive strategic partners, particularly in defence cooperation in the maritime domain.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Former Rajasthan Minister Zakiya Inam Passes Away

  • Former Minister of Rajasthan and three times MLA from Tonk constituency, Zakia Inam passed away due to coronavirus infection.
  • Congress leader Zakiya Inam had handled portfolios like health, women and child welfare in Rajasthan government.
  • In the year 1985, Zakiya contested for the first time as a Congress candidate. However, she was not given ticket in the year 1993. She contested election as a Congress candidate in the year 1985, 1990, 1998, 2003, 2008 and 2013. Zakia became MLA in 1998, 2008.
  • Notably, Zakia was the only woman candidate who became three-time MLA in Rajasthan.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

International Day of Sign Languages

  • International Day of Sign Languages (IDSL) is celebrated annually across the world on 23rd September every year along with International Week of the Deaf.
  • The choice of 23 September is the same date that the World Federation of the Deaf was established in 1951.
  • The International Day of Sign Languages is an unique opportunity to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users. In 2020, the World Federation of the Deaf is issuing a Global Leaders Challenge. This challenge aims to promote the use of sign languages by local, national, and global leaders in partnership with national associations of deaf people in each country, as well as other deaf-led organisations.
  • According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are approximately 72 million deaf people worldwide. More than 80% of them live in developing countries. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages.
  • The proposal for the Day came from the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), a federation of 135 national associations of deaf people, representing approximately 70 million deaf people's human rights worldwide.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Lok Sabha Clears 3 Labour Codes, Rajya Sabha 7 Bills

  • The Lok Sabha passed three labour codes to amalgamate 29 central laws into one to widen social security net for workers and make it easy for companies to do business.
  • Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar said that the new framework would prove a game-changer for workers' welfare. The government has drafted four labour codes of which one — Code on Wages — has already become a law. There were 44 central labour laws in all, of which the government has repealed some.
  • The codes propose minimum wages, social security and pay parity. A concern around the codes is these allow employers of units with less than 300 workers to terminate employment without prior notice. The threshold limit earlier was 100 workers.
  • The RS, meanwhile, passed seven key Bills, including one that removes cereals, pulses and onion from the essential commodities' list.

Parliament Passes Bilateral Netting of Qualified Financial Contracts Bill

  • The parliament passed a Bill that seeks to provide a legal framework for bilateral netting of qualified financial contracts.
  • Lok Sabha had passed the bill earlier.
  • The legislation allows for enforcement of netting for qualified financial contracts.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman termed the Bill as critical for financial stability in the country, and said that it brings in a firm legal basis for bilateral netting for two counter parties.
  • Bilateral contracts constitute 40 per cent of total financial contracts while multilateral contracts constitute 60 per cent.

Lok Sabha Passes Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020

  • The Lok Sabha passed a bill under which Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi, apart from the existing Urdu and English, will be the official languages in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Introducing the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020, Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy said that it was a demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir that the language they speak should be the official language.
  • The minister pointed out that 53.26 per cent of the population of Jammu and Kashmir speaks Kashmiri language.
  • Reddy said that 26.64 per cent of the population of the UT speaks Dogri while Urdu, which is currently its official language, is spoken only by 0.16 per cent population there. Still for the last 70 years, Urdu continues to be the official language of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that 2.36 per cent population in the UT speaks Hindi.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Policy-makers Discuss Ways to Address Gender Gap in New Science Tech and Innovation Policy

  • Low percentage of Indian women in science and gender gap, especially in terms of women leaders in the subject, and ways to address them in the new Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP), 2020, were discussed at a webinar.
  • Vijay Bhatkar, the president of Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA), who presided over the discussion, emphasised that sustainability and self-reliance is possible only when women are given their due importance.
  • Several issues in terms of the low institutional mechanism to nurture women innovators, age-barrier issues, leaky pipeline, funding for women-led start-ups, leadership, gender bias and the need for women entrepreneurs, inclusive and diverse science technology and innovation ecosystem while addressing stereotypes with regard to family and parenting were deliberated upon.
  • At the discussion, Akhilesh Gupta, the head of STIP, 2020, presented some major interventions suggested during the track-two expert consultations, like mandatory positions in academics, 30 per cent representation of women, leadership role to senior women scientists in research and administration.
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