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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

25 Sep 2020


Nawaz Sharif Bars PML-N Members from Holding Talks with Military Leadership

  • Pakistan's former Prime Minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif barred his party members from holding any private meetings with the country's military leadership.
  • The move came a day after the Pakistan's main opposition party found itself in an embarrassing position following army spokesperson Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar's confirmation that senior PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair had held two meetings with Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss the future of Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
  • Addressing the All Party Conference via a video link from London, Sharif had lashed out at the army, saying there was a state above the state in the country .
  • The conference's communique also called for an end to establishment's interference in politics and no role of armed forces and intelligence agencies in future elections.

Mali's Interim President Sworn In

  • Mali's new President was sworn in, five weeks after the overthrow of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.
  • Bah Ndaw, a former Defence Minister, was picked by the coup leader, Colonel Assimi Goita, to head a transitional government until elections are held.
  • Col Goita will be his vice-president.
  • The new government is expected to be in office for a transition period of 18 months that will lead to an election.
  • The appointment of a civilian President was a condition for the West African regional group, Ecowas, to lift the sanctions it imposed after the coup.

China's New Richest Person is a Bottled Water Tycoon

  • The richest person is China is a bottled water tycoon, knocking Alibaba founder Jack Ma from his mantle.
  • Zhong Shanshan founded Nongfu Spring in 1996 in the Zhejiang province on China's Eastern coast.
  • The Bloomberg Billionaires Index now puts Mr. Shanshan in top spot with wealth of $58.7bn (£46.2bn).
  • The recent stock market listing of his bottled water firm and a controlling stake in a vaccine maker have helped boost his fortunes.
  • Nicknamed the "Lone Wolf", Mr. Zhong is now Asia's second-richest person behind India's Mukesh Ambani.
  • Most of China's new billionaires come from the tech industry. But rising tensions between China and the US over Huawei, TikTok and WeChat have pushed down valuations of Chinese tech stocks.
  • China's food and grocery sector is now vying with its tech industry in producing the country's richest business people.
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RBI Releases Cyber Security Vision for Urban Cooperative Banks

  • The Reserve Bank of India released Cyber Security Vision Framework for Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs). The apex bank has taken four different guiding principles in order to formulate the framework. This is because the heterogeneity of UCBs in India in terms of regions, size, digital depth and financial health is huge. A "one size fits all" approach would not be appropriate while prescribing cyber security in the country.
  • The framework has been released under the title Technology Vision for Cyber Security' for Urban Co-operative Banks (UCBs) – 2020-2023.
  • The framework aims to achieve its objective through a five pillared strategic approach which is as follows:
  • a) Governance Oversight: Under this framework, a RBI board will over view cyber security measures being implemented and will create IT Vision Documents based on the progress and gaps
  • b) Utile Technology Investment: Under this plan, funds are to be created for cyber security projects. To manage business IT Assets and banking service availability.
  • c) Appropriate Regulation and supervision: Under this a supervisory reporting framework will be created. Also appropriate guidance will be provided in implementing secure practices.
  • d) Robust Collaboration: A forum to discuss practical issues and challenges and to share best practices is to be created. Cloud services are to be adopted to implement the framework successfully.
  • e) Developing IT and Cybersecurity Skills Set: The technical skills are to be provided to the UCBs. This will help them manage their own IT and cyber security infrastructure. Also training and awareness are to be provided to all the UCBs on cyber security.
  • Today all the UCBs are at some stage of technology adoption. This can be ATMs or mobile banking or internet banking. With technology becoming the key driver of banking sector, it is essential for the UCBs to adopt cyber security measures to safeguard their transactions and also boost their technical skills.

Harley Davidson to Exit India

  • American cult bike manufacturer Harley Davidson said that it was discontinuing sales and manufacturing operations in India, a decade after it started selling its premium bikes in the country.
  • As per reports, the company was looking to tie up with a partner to run its business in the country.
  • The India action will include an associated workforce reduction of approximately 70 employees, Harley-Davidson Inc said in an SEC filing.
  • The development is part of the company's global "2020 Restructuring Activities". In the second quarter of 2020, Harley-Davidson had initiated restructuring activities like workforce reduction and the termination of certain contracts that would result in the elimination of approximately 700 positions globally, including the termination of approximately 500 employees.
  • Harley-Davidson planned to close its manufacturing facility in Bawal (Haryana) and significantly reduce the size of its sales office in Gurugram.

GMR Infra to Sell Stake in Kakinada SEZ to Aurobindo Realty

  • GMR Infrastructure is selling its entire 51% stake in Kakinada SEZ (KSEZ) to Aurobindo Realty and Infrastructure (ARIPL), in a Rs. 2,610 crore deal.
  • Definitive agreements for the sale of the equity by wholly-owned subsidiary GMR SEZ and Port Holding (GSPHL) have been signed.
  • As part of the proposed stake sale in KSEZ, the 100% equity of Kakinada Gateway Port (KGPL) held by KSEZ would also be transferred to Aurobindo Realty.
  • Total consideration for the sale of equity stake as well as the sub-debt in KSEZ is Rs. 2,610 crore. Of this, Rs. 1,600 crore would be received on the closing date and balance Rs. 1,010 crore in next 2 to 3 years contingent upon certain agreed milestones.
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Momentus Signs Launch Service Agreements with Pixxel

  • Momentus signed two new launch service agreements with Pixxel and GP Advanced Projects. Momentus will deliver Pixxel's second smallsat to Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) orbit in December 2021 onboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 launch. Additionally, GP Advanced Projects' FEES2 Picosatellite will fly on Vigoride's second demo mission in April 2021.
  • Pixxel is building a constellation of earth imaging small satellites that can provide real-time remote sensing data globally. The Momentus Shuttle Service will provide a rideshare for multiple Pixxel spacecraft to predefined orbits.
  • GP Advanced Projects' Flexible Experimental Embedded Satellite (FEES) is a picosatellite platform for autonomous in-orbit validation and testing. A first model will fly onboard G.A.U.S.S. Unisat-7 satellite launched on a Soyuz, and Momentus will fly the enhanced FEES2 variant on a Vigoride shuttle via a Falcon-9 rocket in the first half of 2021.
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Uruguay Striker Luis Suarez Joins Atletico Madrid from Barcelona

  • Atletico Madrid have signed striker Luis Suarez from Barcelona, bringing to an end his six-year stint at the Camp Nou.
  • Barca`s statement said Atletico will pay the Catalans six million euros ($7 million) in bonus payments to sign the 33-year-old.
  • The Uruguay striker, who is Barca`s third all-time top scorer with 198 goals in all competitions, had a year left on his contract with the club.
  • Atletico Madrid and Barcelona have reached an agreement for the transfer of Luis Suarez, subject to a medical and the formal agreement of a new contract for the Uruguayan striker with our club," Atletico said in their statement.
  • Suarez will replace Alvaro Morata in Atletico`s front line after the Spanish striker was loaned to Juventus for a season.

French Open to Allow Just 1,000 People a Day at Roland Garros

  • A maximum of only 1,000 people will be allowed each day at Roland Garros after the French government insisted on tougher restrictions to counter the resurgence of the coronavirus.
  • Organisers of the French Open, which gets underway four months later than planned in Paris, had hoped for a maximum of 5,000.
  • That figure had already been reduced from 20,000 and then 11,500.
  • The decision by the French government will be a huge blow to Roland Garros which last year attracted on average around 37,000 fans a day.
  • French Prime Minister Jean Castex insisted that the Grand Slam tournament must be subject to the same restrictions imposed Thursday on sports events taking place in designated 'red zones' where the coronavirus is showing signs of resurgence.
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CM Nitish Kumar Shares Bihar's Sustainable Development Efforts at UN Climate Meet

  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar participated in the virtual high-level Roundtable on Climate Ambition, hosted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
  • Kumar, the only leader from India invited to the meet, shared his state's policy initiatives and sustainable development efforts, including climate resilient agriculture and water conservation.
  • Mr. Kumar said that considering the impacts of climate change in Bihar, in the form of erratic pattern of rainfall, extreme heat, falling groundwater level, drought and flash floods, we have developed our growth strategy around water conservation and greening initiatives under the 'Jal Jeevan Hariyaali Abhiyaan'.
  • Kumar was speaking in the segment titled 'Aligning Nationally Determined Contributions, long-term low emission development strategies, COVID-19 recovery packages and business plans with the 1.5C and carbon neutrality by 2050 goals.'
  • Nitish Kumar said Bihar, which has two per cent of the world's population, is an important stakeholder in contributing to the goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius.

Allahabad High Court Turns Down Plea to Rename Itself

  • The Allahabad High Court has dismissed a plea to rename itself either as the Prayagraj High Court or the Uttar Pradesh High Court.
  • A Lucknow bench of the High Court dismissed the lawsuit, filed in the form a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), terming it as a `publicity stunt litigation`.
  • The petition, filed by advocate Ashok Pandey, was dismissed by a bench comprising Justice P.K. Jaiswal and Justice D.K. Singh.
  • The petitioner had raised the plea to rename the high court on the ground that the state government had renamed Allahabad district as Prayagraj on October 16, 2018.

Bihar Election 2020 to be Held in 3 Phases

  • The Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the schedule for the upcoming Bihar assembly elections. Polling will happen in three phases , with the 1st phase (71 seats) starting on October 28, 2nd (94 seats) on November 3 and 3rd (78 seats) on November 7. The results will be out on November 10.
  • The EC also outlined the set of guidelines to be followed for the voting process amid the coronavirus pandemic with plans to strictly enforce social distancing norms and precautions at polling booths.
  • EC said that the Bihar assembly polls will be one of the biggest elections globally to be held during the pandemic, and so the polls will be held under new security protocols.
  • Voting time will be extended by one hour till 6 pm and Covid-19 patients will vote in the last hour of the day.
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First Female Army Pilots Trained by Chinese PLA Ground Force to Graduate in 2021

  • The Chinese People's Liberation Army Ground Force said that first 10 female flight students trained by the PLA Ground Force would graduate and join operational units in 2021.
  • The statement added that the female trainees were selected in 2017 from high school graduates across the country as part of a recruitment drive launched to recruit women for flight training. These female trainees are currently studying at the PLA Ground Force Aviation Institute.

Indigenously Developed Nuclear Capable Prithvi-II Missile Testfired from ITR

  • India conducted a successful night testfire of its indigenously developed nuclear capable surface-to-surface Prithvi-II missile as part of a user trial by the Army from a base in Odisha.
  • The state-of-the-art missile was testfired from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near here in darkness and the trial was successful in meeting all the parameters, they said. The trial of the missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the ITR.
  • The missile was randomly chosen from the production stock and the entire launch activity was carried out by Strategic Force Command (SFC) of the Army and monitored by scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of the training exercise.
  • The downrange teams on board a ship deployed near the designated impact point in the Bay of Bengal monitored the terminal events and splashdown.
  • The last night time testfire of Prithvi-II was conducted successfully from the ITR on November 20, 2019.
  • Prithvi-II is capable of carrying 500 to 1,000 kg of warheads and is powered by liquid propulsion twin engines, thewarheads and is powered by liquid propulsion twin engines, the sources said. The state-of-the-art missile uses an advanced inertial guidance system with maneuvering trajectory to hit its target, they said.Already inducted into the armoury of the defence forces in 2003, nine-metre long 'Prithvi' was the first missile to have been developed by DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).
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Acer India Signs Sonu Sood as Brand Ambassador

  • PC brand Acer India announced actor Sonu Sood as its brand ambassador. The actor will be seen endorsing the brand's range of products across media platforms for campaign to talk about Acer's commitment to improving people's lives through technology. This association will help Acer India drive awareness of leading India's next-generation digital evolution through its cutting-edge innovation and products which are strong and dependable just like what Sonu has represented during the pandemic crisis.

Dean Jones, Former Australia Cricketer, Passes Away

  • Former Australia cricketer and renowned commentator Dean Jones passed away on Thursday following a massive cardiac arrest in Mumbai. He was 59. A batsman during his playing days, Jones played 52 Tests and 164 ODIs for Australia between 1984 and 1994 before venturing into commentary.
  • Jones was part of the Australian team that won the 1987 World Cup, playing a starring role in the campaign. Jones was Australia's third highest run-getter in the tournament, scoring 314 runs in 8 matches. He was currently in India as part of the team of experts working on the Indian Premier League with host broadcaster Star Sports.
  • Dean Jones was one of the great ambassadors of the game associating himself with Cricket development across South Asia. He was passionate about discovering new talent and nurturing young Cricketers. He was a champion commentator whose presence and presentation of the game always brought joy to millions of fans.

Nuclear Scientist Sekhar Basu Passes Away

  • Veteran atomic scientist and former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission Dr. Sekhar Basu succumbed to COVID-19. He breathed his last just three days after turning 68.
  • A mechanical engineer, Dr. Basu is revered for his contributions to the country's atomic energy programme. He was awarded Padma Shri in 2014.
  • He had also pioneered the highly complex reactor for India's first nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant.
  • He had also worked as the project director of the Nuclear Submarine Programme at BARC, before taking over as its director in 2012.
  • Dr. Basu was also the brain behind designing, construction and operation of nuclear recycle plants at Tarapur and Kalpakkam.
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Ministerial Roundtable Dialogue on Biodiversity

  • Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Keshav Javadekar represented India at the Ministerial Roundtable Dialogue on Biodiversity that was held virtually. The dialogue was hosted by China.
  • The dialogue was conducted on Biodiversity Beyond 2020: Building a Shared Future for All Life on Earth. The dialogue was held a week ahead of the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity to exchange views on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. More than 15 ministers from different countries participated in the dialogue.

National Workshop on Spice Production from September 29

  • The Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode, will host the 31st annual workshop of the All India Coordinated Research Project on Spices (AICRPS) from September 29. The two-day national workshop will review all major research projects related to production of spices and future research plans for enhanced spices varieties.
  • The virtual workshop is expected to draw the participation of scientists working on various spice crops in 14 agro climatic zones in 25 states. The latest research outcomes on 17 spice crops covering black pepper, large cardamom, small cardamom, ginger, turmeric, mango ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, coriander, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, ajwain, nigella, saffron, and kalazeera will be discussed and reviewed for future development at the workshop.
  • R. Chandra Babu, Vice Chancellor, Kerala Agricultural University, will open the event. It will be chaired by A.K. Singh, Deputy Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
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Magawa the Mine-detecting Rat Wins PDSA Gold Medal

  • An African giant pouched rat was awarded a prestigious gold medal for his work detecting land mines.
  • Magawa has sniffed out 39 landmines and 28 unexploded munitions in his career.
  • The UK veterinary charity PDSA has presented him with its Gold Medal for "life-saving devotion to duty, in the location and clearance of deadly landmines in Cambodia".
  • There are thought to be up to six million landmines in the southeast Asian country.
  • PDSA's Gold Medal is inscribed with the words "For animal gallantry or devotion to duty". Of the 30 animal recipients of the award, Magawa is the first rat.
  • The seven-year-old rodent was trained by the Belgium-registered charity Apopo, which is based in Tanzania and has been raising the animals - known as HeroRATs - to detect landmines and tuberculosis since the 1990s. The animals are certified after a year of training.
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Provisions of the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020

  • The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 was passed in Lok Sabha. The Bill replaces the Major Ports Act, 1963. It aims to regulate, operate and plan major ports in India. The Bill will provide a greater autonomy to ports in the country.
  • The Bill specifically deals with the major ports including the Vishakhapatnam, Paradip, Mormugao, V.O. Chidambaranar, New Mangalore, Kolakata, Kandla, Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Chennai, Cochin port.
  • As per the Bill, ports will be managed by Port Authorities Board and every port will have a port authority which will act under the leadership of a central board.
  • The Port authority boards will replace the port trusts.
  • The board comprises of chairperson, members from respective state governments, representatives from Defence Ministry, Railway Ministry and Customs Department.
  • The chairperson of the board will be appointed by the Central Government.
  • The board will also include two to four independent members who will represent the interests of the port authorities.
  • The board will be empowered to use its properties and fix scales of rates for assets.
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Tamil Nadu CM Writes to Gujarat CM, Urges to Continue Tamil Medium School

  • Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy wrote to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani raising concern about the closing of a school which was imparting Tamil medium education to migrant workers' children.
  • CM EPS has now sort CM Vijay Rupani's intervention in this matter. Pass-suitable orders for the continuance of the Tami medium school. Tamil Nadu Government is willing to undertake the entire expenditure for the continuance of this Tamil medium school at Ahmedabad.

Assam Board Omits Topics Like Nehru, 2002 Gujarat Riots, Caste

  • After CBSE reduced the syllabus of classes 9 to 12 for the academic year 2020-21 due to the loss of classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, several states followed suit and reduced the state board syllabi as well. As per the Class 12 syllabus reduction done by the Assam government, lessons on Jawaharlal Nehru, the 2002 Gujarat riots, and writings on caste and marginalisation have been dropped.
  • The list of the omitted syllabus was uploaded online on The Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) posted the list of topics omitted from the syllabus on the official website.
  • The main objective is to reduce the exam stress of the students of the session 2020-21, due to this pandemic situation and to prevent learning gaps.

MCI Dissolved, National Medical Commission Takes Charge

  • The National Medical Commission (NMC), in place of the Medical Council of India (MCI), as the country's apex regulator of medical education and profession has come into existence from 25th Sepetember. With the NMC coming into being, the Board of Governors (BoG) which superseded the MCI on September 26, 2018, to perform its functions, has been dissolved and the nearly 64-year-old Indian Medical Council Act abolished.
  • Former head of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences ENT department here, Dr Suresh Chandra Sharma has been appointed as chairman for a period of three years with effect from Friday, while Rakesh Kumar Vats, who was Secretary General in the Board of Governors of the MCI, is the secretary of the commission.
  • The NMC Act, which seeks to usher in mega reforms in the medical education sector, received the assent of the president on August 8, 2019 and was published the same day. The Act provided for setting up of an NMC in place of the scam-tainted Medical Council of India.
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Tiny Teapot Found in Derbyshire Garage Sells for £390k

  • A tiny teapot found during a lockdown clear-out has sold for £390,000 at auction.
  • The object, a Chinese wine ewer that may have belonged to an emperor, was found in Derbyshire by the 51-year-old as he went through boxes in a garage.
  • It was expected to fetch between £20,000 and £40,000 but instead sold for more than the average house.
  • The 8.5cm-high ewer was brought back from China by his grandfather, who was stationed there during World War Two.
  • It spent many years in his mother's display cabinet but eventually ended up in a box in a relative's garage in Church Gresley.
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Uttarakhand Eases Coronavirus Norms for Tourists

  • The Uttarakhand government has eased coronavirus norms for tourists, exempting them from producing a negative test report on arrival.
  • In a revised set of guidelines for tourists, Chief Secretary Om Prakash said that it is not mandatory for them to bring coronavirus negative report before checking into a hotel or homestay.
  • Moreover, the requirement of a mandatory stay of a minimum two days in a hotel or homestay will also not be required anymore.
  • However, it will be mandatory for tourists coming to the state by any mode of transportation to register on the Smart City portal prior to their travel, the latest set of directions that came into effect a few days ago.
  • The new directions supersede the order issued on September 19 by which tourists were required to produce a negative RT-PCR test report issued by an ICMR-authorised lab not more than 96 hours ahead of their arrival.
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