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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

26 Sep 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

World Risk Index 2020

  • India is more vulnerable to extreme natural disasters, according to the World Risk Index (WRI) 2020.
  • The index is calculated on a country-by-country basis, through the multiplication of exposure and vulnerability and describes the disaster risk for various countries and regions.
  • It has been released annually since 2011 and it indicates which countries are in the greatest need to strengthen measures for coping with and adapting to extreme natural events.
  • It is part of the World Risk Report 2020 released by the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and the University of Stuttgart in Germany.
  • It is calculated on a country-by-country basis, through the multiplication of exposure and vulnerability and describes the disaster risk for various countries and regions.
  • Among continents, Oceania is at the highest risk, followed by Africa and the Americas.
  • he World Risk Index (WRI) 2020 revealed that India is 'poorly prepared' to deal with 'climate reality and it is prone to face. Qatar had the lowest risk (0.31) according to the global index.
  • India ranked 89th among 181 countries and it was fourth-most-at- risk in south Asia on the index, after Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives performed better than India in their abilities to cope with extreme disasters.
  • India also lagged behind these three neighbours in terms of lack of adaptive capacities or the preparedness to deal with extreme events.
  • India has also slipped on strengthening adaptive capacities which are concerning as it highlights the inability of systems, institutions, and other organisms to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to respond to consequences.
  • All South Asian countries have slipped on their ability to adapt to the reality of climate emergency.
  • Hence, all south Asian countries fared poorly in the 2020 index (as compared to 2019) on strengthening their abilities to prepare and adapt to extreme events.

Lebanon's PM-designate Steps Down in Blow to French Initiative

  • Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate quit after trying for almost a month to line up a non-partisan cabinet, dealing a blow to a French bid aimed at rallying sectarian leaders to tackle the worst crisis since the nation's 1975-1990 civil war.
  • Mustapha Adib, former ambassador to Berlin, was picked on August 31 to form a cabinet after President Emmanuel Macron's intervention secured a consensus on naming him in a country where power is shared out between Muslims and Christians.
  • Under the French roadmap, the new government would take swift steps to tackle corruption and implement reforms needed to trigger billions of dollars of international aid to fix an economy that has been crushed by a mountain of debt.

EU Urges China to Allow Meaningful Access to Independent Observers in Xinjiang Region

  • European Union has called on China to allow meaningful access to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region for independent observers, including for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • In a statement at the 45th Human Rights Council on Friday (local time), German envoy Michael Freiherr von Ungern-Sternberg, on behalf of the EU said, "We reiterate our call on China to allow meaningful access to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region for independent observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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ENVIRONMENT

California Bans Sale of Gas-powered Cars by 2035

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to end the sale of gasoline-powered cars in the state by 2035.
  • The order aims to phase out cars with internal combustion engines within 15 years by requiring that all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the Golden State in 2035 be zero-emission vehicles.
  • Newsom said the move, which comes as California is battling some of the worst wildfires in the state's recent history, will help California reduce carbon pollution in the transportation sector, which contributes to more than half of the state's total greenhouse gas emissions.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Vodafone Wins Arbitration Case against India

  • British telco Vodafone Group Plc won a decade-long battle against the Indian tax department's demand of Rs. 20,000 crore, stemming from its entry into the country in 2007. The victory in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague may finally signal an end to the retrospective tax amendment case that had become a symbol of the country's aggressive tax collection methods. The Vodafone Idea stock rose 13.6% to close at Rs. 10.36 on the BSE.
  • The government will examine the order and further action will be taken after seeking legal opinion, including whether to appeal against the decision in the appropriate court in Singapore. There was also no question of the government losing Rs. 20,000 crore as Vodafone had not paid the original tax demand or the interest and penalties. The tribunal had not accepted Vodafone's demand for award of damages.

LIC, GIC, New India Assurance Systemically Important Insurers: IRDAI

  • Regulator IRDAI has identified LIC, GIC and New India Assurance as domestic systemically important insurers (D-SIIs) and subsequently decided to subject them to enhanced regulatory supervision.
  • The three insurers have also been asked to raise the level of corporate governance, identify all relevant risks and promote a sound risk management culture.
  • D-SIIs will also be subjected to enhanced regulatory supervision.
  • D-SIIs refer to insurers of such size, market importance and domestic and global inter-connectedness whose distress or failure would cause a significant dislocation in the domestic financial system.
  • Therefore, the continued functioning of D-SIIs is critical for the uninterrupted availability of insurance services to the national economy.
  • D-SIIs are perceived as insurers that are 'too big or too important to fail.

KVIC Appoints Sunil Sethi as Advisor

  • The Khadi and Village Industries Commission appointed Sunil Sethi,Chairman of the Fashion Design Council of India, as its Advisor.
  • Sethi will advise the Commission on latest design interventions in the readymade garments segment as well as promotion of Khadi in India and abroad.
  • Sethi's appointment is for a period of one year. He succeeded fashion designer Ritu Beri whose term expired recently.
  • Sethi comes with over four decades of experience in global merchandising, where he has contributed significantly to the growth of Indian handicrafts, design and the textile industry, through many innovative and successful initiatives.
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SPORTS

Rafael Nadal Unhappy with French Open choice of Wilson Balls for 2020 Edition

  • French Open organisers have had enough problems dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the dwindling number of fans on site and inclement weather but they faced another controversy -- criticism of the choice of ball for this year`s edition.
  • Roland Garros has switched to Wilson balls for the 2020 tournament after using Babolat for many years and 12-times champion Rafa Nadal was not impressed.
  • As per Nadal, you have to take care because with these conditions you can`t practise that much because the ball is super heavy.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

K. T. Rama Rao Inaugurated the Cable Stayed Bridge

  • Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development K. T. Rama Rao inaugurated the cable stayed bridge on Durgam Cheruvu. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy was the chief guest.
  • The bridge, touted as one of its kind in the country, has been constructed as part of the Telangana government's flagship Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP). It is set to ease traffic flow towards Hi-Tec City, reducing commute time between Jubilee Hills and Madhapur by 20 minutes. The distance from Mind Space to Jubilee Hills stands reduced by two kilometres with the launch of the bridge.
  • The L&T authorities have claimed it as the "world's longest pre-cast segmental span" of 233.85 metres in concrete for a cable stayed bridge.
  • The bridge has been constructed using 420 metric tonnes of high-tensile strand, 26,600 cubic metres of concrete, 4,800 MT of steel and 287 MT of stay cables.

India and Sri Lanka Set 11-point Agenda to Improve Ties

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi resolved to pursue closer bilateral ties with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa through a mutually agreed 11-point agenda that will seek to address important issues like the Tamil question, ban on Indian imports, the Colombo Port project and harassment of fishermen.
  • Most of the 11 points stated in the joint statement, touched on programmes to provide social and medical assistance to Sri Lanka, including a $ 100-million credit line, step up people-to-people contact and increase coordination between their militaries and security agencies.
  • They also resolved to improve the environment for trade and investment, look into the import bans imposed by Sri Lanka and deepen the integration of supply chains.
  • Mahinda Rajapaksa gave no firm assurance on Indo-Japanese involvement in the Colombo Port project seen as a counter balance to Hambantota Port being allotted to the Chinese. Nor was there a firm commitment to resolving the Tamil question almost a decade after the end of the civil war.
  • The two leaders also agreed to facilitate tourism by enhancing connectivity and by early establishment of an air bubble.
  • They also resolved to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces through personal visits, maritime security cooperation and support to Sri Lanka in the spheres of defence and security.

JP Nadda Announces New Team of BJP's National Office-bearers

  • The long-awaited team of the BJP president JP Nadda was announced with many prominent names from the previous team missing and several new faces included. Party leaders said all efforts had been made to maintain a regional balance with adequate representation to all prominent states.
  • The most prominent changes are in the list of eight general secretaries, the crucial organisational position that serves as the link between the states and the central leadership, which now has five new faces including Punjab's Tarun Chugh.
  • Though Haryana does not have direct representation in the team, newly-appointed General Secretary Dushyant Kumar Gautam (Rajya Sabha MP) has a connection to the state.
  • Dr Narendra Singh from Jammu and Kashmir is the national secretary in 'Team Nadda' in which senior leaders Bhupender Yadav (MP, Rajasthan), Arun Singh (MP, Uttar Pradesh) and Kailash Vijayvargiya (Madhya Pradesh) have been retained as General Secretary and Ram Madhav, P Muralidhar Rao, Saroj Pandey and Anil Jain dropped to make way for Chugh (Punjab), Gautam (MP, Delhi), D Purandareswari (Andhra Pradesh), CT Ravi (Karnataka) and Dilip Saikia (Assam).
  • Young and fiery advocate of 'Hindutva plank' Tejasvi Surya has made an entry as the president of the party's youth wing in place of Poonam Mahajan.
  • Uttar Pradesh leader Rajesh Agarwal has been appointed treasurer in place of union minister Piyush Goyal while Mandsaur MP Sudhir Gupta will be his deputy. Amit Malviya has been retained as the IT cell and social media in charge.
  • Other appointments include K Laxman as head of the Other Backward Classes Morcha, Jamal Siddiqui as chief of the minority wing and Lal Singh Arya as chief of the SC (Scheduled Castes) Morcha and Fatehpur Sikri MP Rajkumar Chahar as the head of the Kisan Morcha Radha Mohan Singh, Mukul Roy, Rekha Verma, Annapurna Devi, Bharti Shiyal, DK Aruna, M Chuba Ao, AP Abdullakutty were appointed national vice presidents in the reshuffle.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the new team of office-bearers and expressed confidence that they would uphold the "glorious tradition" of the party of serving the people of India selflessly and with dedication.
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DEFENCE

India-Japan Maritime Bilateral Exercise- JIMEX 2020 Commences

  • The fourth edition of India-Japan Maritime bilateral exercise (JIMEX) began in North Arabian Sea from September 26, 2020. It will be conducted for three days. In the light of COVID-19 restrictions, the exercise is being conducted in a 'non-contact at-sea-only format' this year.
  • JIMEX 2020 will showcase high degree of inter-operability and joint operational skills.
  • The Navies will conduct several advanced exercises, across the spectrum of maritime operations.
  • The two navies will conduct a multi-faceted tactical exercises that will involve weapon firings, cross deck helicopter operations, anti-submarine and air warfare drills.
  • The exercise was commenced in 2012. It is conducted biennially between the Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). It emphasizes on maritime security cooperation. The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in October 2018 along the Visakhapatnam coast.

Czechs Republic to Acquire Israeli Air Defense System

  • The Czech Republic wants to buy a new air defense system for its military from the Israeli government.
  • The Czechs want to acquire the SPYDER system, which is made by the Israeli state-run company Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Limited and is capable of providing protection against aircraft, helicopters, bombers, cruise missiles and other weapons.
  • It would replace an obsolete ant-aircraft Soviet-era 2K12 KUB system to defend military and civilian centers such as industrial hubs, nuclear power plants, airports and other important facilities.
  • The Czech military had analysed nine systems from seven producers before deciding on the Israeli one.
  • The defence ministry expects a deal worth some USD 430 million to be signed early in 2021 with the delivery two years later.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

SP Balasubrahmanyam Passes Away

  • Renowned Indian singer SP Balasubrahmanyam has died after contracting Covid-19.
  • Balasubrahmanyam, 74, died after spending days in intensive care in a hospital in the southern city of Chennai.
  • SPB, as he was popularly known, sang more than 40,000 songs for movies in 16 Indian languages over 50 years.
  • Celebrities and fans alike have paid tributes to him, acknowledging his contribution to music.
  • Balasubrahmanyam tested positive for Covid-19 in early August and was admitted to hospital soon after. He tested negative in September but continued to receive life support treatment. The hospital where he was being treated said in a statement that he died of a cardio-respiratory arrest.
  • As news of his death broke, social media was flooded with condolences and memories as people recollected some of their favourite songs sung by him.
  • He was a legendary "playback singer" - that is, his voice was pre-recorded for use in films in which actors would lip-sync to the songs. He sang for top composers of his time, including AR Rahman and Ilaiyaraaja.
  • Balasubrahmanyam began his career in Tamil and Telugu cinema in southern India - but he was also the first crossover singer who gained success in Bollywood.
  • His breakthrough Bollywood film came in 1981 when he sang for Ek Duuje Ke Liye (We Are Made For Each Other), a romantic tragedy that was one of the year's biggest hits.

Yuvraj Singh Brand Ambassador of Akash Educational Services

  • Aakash Educational Services Limited (AESL) appointmented Yuvraj Singh as its brand ambassador. The cricketer has come on board to help promote the company and its various brands including Aakash Institute, Aakash IIT-JEE, Aakash Digital and Meritnation. As the face of Aakash, Yuvraj Singh will lead the brand's latest omni-channel 'Success is Waiting' campaign for Aakash Digital.
  • The 'Success is Waiting' campaign, conceptualised in partnership with Cheil India, the creative agency of AESL, will be for students re-appearing for medical and engineering entrance examinations. It intends to inspire such students to give it another shot and will be visible through the digital medium.
  • As per the company, Yuvraj was the ideal fit to drive home the message effectively as the company needed an inspiring comeback story of a sportsperson, with the core messaging of 'come back stronger'. With cricket being the most widely followed sport in the country, the communication has been designed around the comeback story of Yuvraj Singh. He has been an inspirational figure for many Indians, first through his successful cricketing career, then his battle with cancer and his inspirational comeback and now with his humanitarian initiatives.

CEAT Signs up Aamir Khan as Brand Ambassador

  • Actor Aamir Khan will be CEAT Tyres' brand ambassador for two years. He will be a part of the new marketing campaign of the Mumbai-based company, featuring in two commercials during the course of IPL 2020, as per the terms of the deal. Khan will promote CEAT's SecuraDrive, a range of mass premium tyres.
  • According to Arnab Banerjee, COO, CEAT, tyre is a low involvement purchase category and primarily male dominated. So our media plan has always focussed on cricket and Bollywood.
  • As per Arnab, CEAT has been associated with cricket since 1995 with CEAT Cricket Ratings and has been a partner of several cricketers, including Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill and Harmanpreet Kaur. The company has also been a strategic time-out partner of the IPL since last year, spending Rs. 23 crore annually.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

European Day of Languages

  • The European Day of Languages is observed 26th September, as proclaimed by the Council of Europe on 6 December 2001, at the end of the European Year of Languages (2001), which had been jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the European Union. Its aim is to encourage language learning across Europe.
  • The general objectives of the European Day of Languages are to:
  • Alert the public to the importance of language learning and diversify the range of languages learned in order to increase plurilingualism and intercultural understanding;
  • Promote the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe;
  • Encourage lifelong language learning in and out of school.
  • In keeping with these rules, people, young and old, are encouraged to take up a language, or take special pride in their existing language skills. Also, those responsible for providing access to language learning are encouraged to make it easier for people to learn a range of languages, and to support policy initiatives to promote languages. There is also emphasis on learning a language other than English.
  • There are about 225 indigenous languages in Europe – roughly 3% of the world's total. Most of the European languages are of Indo-European origin.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Kerala Wins UN Award for Outstanding Contribution Towards Prevention, Control of Non-communicable Diseases

  • Kerala won the UN Interagency Task Force Award 2020 for its "outstanding contribution" towards the non-communicable diseases-related sustainable development goals.
  • Kerala Health Minister K. K. Shailaja said that the award was a recognition of the tireless service of Kerala in the health sector.
  • The state government has arranged facilities from the basic public health centres to hospitals at all levels to treat the lifestyle diseases.
  • Shailaja congratulated all the health workers for the achievement of the state.
  • The UN Interagency Task Force (UNIATF) award this year on prevention and control of non-communicable diseases was announced by World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
  • The award recognises achievements during 2019 on the multisectoral action in the prevention and control of NCDs, mental health and the wider NCD-related sustainable development goals (SDGs).
  • This is the first time the state has been recognised for this annual award by the UN. Kerala is among the seven ministries of health across the world.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Jamia Hamdard Introduces MSc in Biomedical Sciences

  • Jamia Hamdard has launched full-time Master of Science (MSc) course in Biomedical Sciences in an effort to cater to the post COVID-19 healthcare needs. The two-year programme designed by the university's Institute of Molecular Medicine (JH-IMM) will focus on healthcare areas relate to combat future pandemics in the country. There are around 20 seats on offer. The candidates can apply through the website-' jamiahamdard.edu' till September 30,.
  • This programme is aimed to equip human resources in areas relevant to drug/ vaccine development, analyse medical data to investigate pathogens and chronic diseases and help develop programmes that can improve outcomes in population health of our country. Programme coordinator Surajit Ganguly said that this course will be appropriate for prospects who aspire to develop their careers in academia, regulatory bodies and healthcare Industry to combat emerging diseases.
  • The candidates need to possess Bachelor's degree in subjects related to Biological Sciences- Biomedical Sciences/ Life Sciences/ Zoology/Microbiology/ Chemistry/ Biochemistry etc with at least 50 per cent marks in aggregate.
  • The semester would consist of five papers, and one practical through semester 1, 2 and 3. Semester IV would comprise of the optional research area, from which each student has to select one dissertation work.
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ART AND CULTURE

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik Seeks Classical Status for Odissi Music

  • Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has urged the Centre to accord classical status to Odissi music as it has at least 2,000-years old tradition and is based on 'Shastra' having its own 'Raga'.
  • Patnaik in a letter to Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, Prahlad Singh Patel. It (Odissi music) has a distinctive rendition style based on codified grammar, the characteristic giti system of classical texts and having its own tala, different from Hindustani and Carnatic music.
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