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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

27 Oct 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Senate Confirms Amy Coney Barrett to US Supreme Court

  • The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court, giving the court a 6-3 conservative majority that could determine the future of the Affordable Care Act and abortion rights.
  • All Democrats in the chamber voted against Barrett's confirmation, as did Republican Susan Collins of Maine, who agreed with Democratic objections to confirming a justice so close to the November  3 election.
  • President Donald Trump and his GOP allies in the Senate pushed for a quick confirmation of Barrett, and it came just 38 days after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who for 27 years anchored the court's liberal wing.
  • Trump had said that he wanted his replacement for Ginsburg in place to avoid a deadlocked court should the outcome of the presidential election depend on a ruling, as was the case in 2000.

China to Sanction US Firms

  • China would impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defense, Raytheon and other United States' companies involved in Washington's arms sales to Taiwan.
  • Zhao Lijian said that China was acting to protect its national interest, but did not spell out what form the sanctions would take.
  • The US State Department has approved the potential sale of three weapons systems to Taiwan, including sensors, missiles and artillery that could have a total value of $1.8 billion.
  • Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province it has vowed to bring under control, by force if necessary. 
  • China has imposed sanctions on Lockheed Martin and other US companies in the past for selling weapons to Taiwan, though it is unclear what form the penalties have taken.
  • The United States, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but Washington is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

Japan Rejects Nuclear Ban Treaty

  • Japan said that it would not sign a UN treaty that bans nuclear weapons and did not welcome its entry into force next year, rejecting the wishes of atomic bomb survivors in Japan who were urging the government to join and work for a nuclear-free world.
  • The United Nations confirmed that 50 countries have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, paving the way for its entry into force in 90 days.
  • The announcement was hailed by anti-nuclear activists, but the treaty has been strongly opposed by the United States and other major nuclear powers.
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ENVIRONMENT

Suture Zone of the Himalayas is Tectonically Active

  • The study conducted by scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology says that the suture zone of the Himalayas has become tectonically active.
  • The scientists have observed that the thrust is broken, sedimentary beds are tilted. Bedrocks are showing brittle deformation and the rivers are associated with the uplifted terraces. The scientists used the technique of Optically Stimulated Luminescence to make these observations.
  • The findings say that the Suture Zone of the Himalayas has been active in the recent years of the earth history. This is one of the several reasons for the recent frequent earthquakes in the northern India.
  • The scientists have estimated it as 78,000 to 58,000 years. According to them, the recent 2010 earthquake of low magnitude 4.0 in the village of Upshi was due to thrust rupture.
  • Himalayas are made of three thrusts namely Main Central Thrust, Main Frontal Thrust and Main Boundary Thrust. According to the study, Main Frontal Thrusts are locked and the overall deformation is occurring in the Main Frontal Thrust.
  • The study also says that there is a remote fault zone in the suture zone that is tectonically active.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

TRIFED Launches New Forest Organic Products

  • The Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) launched 100 new forest fresh organic products. These products are to be available to 125 tribes in India.
  • These products include
  • Gold and green Apples from Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh
  • Baskets and boxes from Uttarakhand. They were made from Munj grass
  • Cloves, seeded tamarind, coffee powder and eucalyptus oil from Nilgri tribes
  • Masks made by Meena tribes of Rajasthan
  • Immunity boosters such as kadha and churan made by the Bhul and Gond tribes of Madhya Pradesh
  • Range of pulses, jamun powder and giloy powder made from Gujarat and Maharashtra
  • Pickles, red rice, bel juices, from the North-East.
  • Of these products, some are processed and packaged by the Van Dhan tribal startups. It acts as source of employment for tribal gatherers, home bound artisans and forest dwellers.
  • The TRIFED has also launched the E-Market platform called the Tribes India E-Mart Channel. It is an omni-channel for the tribal to sell their goods to the international and national audience.

Jack Ma's Ant Seeks to raise $35 Billion

  • Jack Ma's Ant Group Co. is set to raise almost $35 billion through initial public offerings in Shanghai and Hong Kong, a blockbuster listing that will rank as the world's biggest share sale ever.
  • The fintech priced its Shanghai stock at 68.8 yuan ($10.27) apiece and its Hong Kong shares at HK $80 ($10.32) each. Ant will be valued at about $280 billion before the IPO, and will raise about $34.5 billion from Shanghai and Hong Kong before exercising its green shoe option, based on filings.
  • The company's much-anticipated IPO is on track to surpass Saudi Aramco's $29 billion sale last year.
  • The company may raise another $5.17 billion if it exercises it Hong Kong and Shanghai green shoe options. That would give Ant a valuation of about $320 billion, making it bigger than JPMorgan Chase & Co. and four times larger than Goldman Sachs Group Inc. 

Airtel Rolls Out Cloud-based Communications Platform for Business

  • Telecom operator Bharti Airtel entered the rapidly-growing cloud communications market with the launch of business-centric 'Airtel IQ'.
  • A cloud-based omni-channel communications platform, Airtel IQ, aimed to enable brands to deepen engagement with customers through timely and secure communication, terming the move as a "game changer" for the fast-evolving Indian enterprise communication segment.
  • The Indian cloud communications market, estimated at $1 billion, is seen growing nearly 20 per cent annually.
  • Airtel IQ aims to eliminate the need for multiple communication platforms for different channels, and already companies, including Swiggy, Justdial, Urban Company, Havells, Dr. Lal Path Labs and Rapido, have signed up as customers for Airtel IQ in the beta phase.
  • The platform, now commercially available, runs on a pay-as-you-go model meaning that the costs for enterprises would depend on the consumption levels.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

NASA Takes Chandrayan's Water Discovery a Step Higher

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA has found the presence of water on the sun lit surface of the Moon. The presence of water was found by the spacecraft SOFIA. Earlier, ISRO Chandrayaan 1 confirmed the presence of water in the shadowed places of moon. Thus, NASA has taken the discovery of water on moon by India to a step forward.
  • SOFIA is Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy. The spacecraft has found that water is distributed across the lunar surface.
  • SOFIA is a joint project of Germany and United States. It helps astronomers to study about the solar system that are not possible with ground telescopes. 
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Central Vigilance Commission Adopts Integrity Pact

  • The Central Vigilance Commission has modified the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on adoption of "Integrity Pact" in government firm for purchase related activities.
  • As per the amended SOP:
  • For appointed as Integrity External Monitors (IEMs), the Ministry, department or organisation worried has to forward a panel of suitable persons to the CVC, of those persons who are in the panel maintained by the Commission.
  • Maximum tenure of IEMs: 3 years in an organisation.
  • An Integrity pact is to make sure equity, transparency and private enterprise in public procurement.
  • I was developed as a tool for blocking corruption in public contracting.
  • It is a surveillance tool that anticipates an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer, performing both the parties not to exercise any corrupt influence on any aspect of the contract.
  • It is a tool created by Transparency International.

BJP Wins LAHDC-Leh Polls

  • The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) secured its first major victory in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh after it swept the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) polls in Leh bagging a whopping 15 out of 26 seats.
  • The LAHDC, Leh elections took place on October 22 and recorded a 65.07 per cent turnout. An electorate of 89,776, including 45,025 women from the region voted in the 294 polling stations that were set up across 26 constituencies of the Leh district.
  • Around 94 candidates including 26 each of the BJP and Congress ran for the  LAHDC, Leh elections. This year, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) tried its luck for the first time fielding 19 candidates. The remaining 23 contestants were independents.
  • This is the second consecutive win for the saffron party which had won the LAHDC-Leh last elections.
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DEFENCE

Indian Military to Get Access to US Satellite Data

  • The Indian military is set to get access to the satellite network of the United States, allowing it to target enemy positions with more precision.
  • The key pact will be signed to share real-time geo-spatial intelligence, information on maps and satellite images for defence.
  • Called the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), it will allow geo-spatial mapping of the land mass. The imagery generated from it can be used to accurately operate drones and long-range missiles.
  • The contours of the land mass have to be known accurately to achieve precision strike from huge distances.

India to Get 5 Military Theatre Commands

  • The Indian military is expected to be reorganised under five theatre commands by 2022 with defined areas of operation and a seamless command structure for synchronised operations. 
  • With the department of military affairs soon to have additional and joint secretaries after Cabinet clearance, the task of reorganisation of the three services under theatre commands has begun with a China specific Northern Command and Pakistan specific Western command under serious consideration. India's Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Bipin Rawat has been given the mandate by the Narendra Modi government to create theatre commands much like the ones China and the US currently have. 
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Aditya Puri Retires as HDFC Bank MD-CEO

  • Aditya Puri, who was HDFC Bank Managing Director and CEO for 26 years, retired from India's largest private bank. Sashidhar Jagdishan took over the charge.
  • Puri retired in accordance with the RBI regulations which say a private bank CEO's tenure should not exceed 70 years.
  • Jagdishan has been part of the bank since 1996, and played a critical role in supporting the growth trajectory of the bank. With an overall experience of over 30 years, Jagdishan has extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of banking, finance and economics.

Payal Ghosh Joins Ramdas Athawale's Party

  • Actor Payal Ghosh, who accused filmmaker Anurag Kashyap of raping her, joined the Republican Party of India (Athawale).
  • She, along with some others, joined the party in the presence of its chief and Union Minister Ramdas Athawale.
  • Ghosh was appointed vice president of the women's wing of the party.
  • Ghosh joined RPI (A) to do something for the country and thanked Athawale for supporting her in her fight against Kashyap. 
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Vigilance Awareness Week

  • The Vigilance Awareness Week is held between October 27, 2020 and November 2, 2020. The week is celebrated to affirm the commitment towards promotion of probity and integrity in public life through citizen participation. This year, the Vigilance Awareness Week is to be held under the theme Satarak Bharat, Samridh Bharat. It means Vigilant India, Prosperous India.
  • On October 27, 2020, PM Modi is to inaugurate National Conference on Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. The conference was held under the theme Vigilance Awareness Week.
  • The Conference is being organised by the Central Bureau of Investigation. It is to be held between October 27, 2020 and November 2, 2020. The conference will discuss capacity building and training, challenges in investigation in foreign jurisdiction, preventive vigilance, prevention of bank frauds, effective auditing, cyber crimes, last amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act Effective Auditing, prevention of bank frauds.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Polish City Wroclaw Names Square after Harivansh Rai Bachchan

  • Amitabh Bachchan shared that Polish city Wroclaw has named a square after his father, poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan.
  • It is a moment of pride for their family and the Indian community in Wroclaw. Earlier in July, students of the University of Wroclaw had paid tribute to the veteran Hindi poet by reciting his popular poem Madhushala.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

New Andhra Pradesh Industrial Policy

  • The Andhra Pradesh government has come up with a new industrial policy (2020-23) that provides a special push to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially among the underprivileged communities, particularly scheduled castes (SC), scheduled tribes (ST).  
  • This new industrial policy will provide an added focus on strengthening pre-establishment support, improving market linkages, credit facilities, and economic development with a focus on encouraging increased participation of SC/ST entrepreneurs by providing special incentives to promote the 362 manufacturing and 9,754 service sector activities among the socially disadvantaged communities. 
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

ISB Ranks as India's Top Business School

  • Indian School of Business (ISB) PGPMAX (Post Graduate Programme in Management for Senior Executives) has been ranked 1 in India and 53 globally. The announcement was made after the release of the Financial Times 2020 EMBA rankings release.
  • ISB Alumni from PGPMAX Class of 2017 were surveyed for this year's ranking. This assessment has brought forth some other interesting findings, such as PGPMAX being ranked No 11 in the standalone programme category in Asia.
  • The school is ranked No 12 globally in terms of salary (Average alumni salaries three years after graduation). The salary increase is measured based on the average difference in alumni salary between their salary before the EMBA and now. The PGPMAX programme is ranked #28 globally for work experience of its students.

IIM-Bangalore's Programme among Top 100 in Global List

  • The postgraduate programme in enterprise management (PGPEM), offered by the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B), has been ranked in the top 100 in the Financial Times (FT) EMBA 2020 ranking.
  • Participating for the first time in this ranking, the programme has taken the second position in India. The PGPEM at IIM-B is a weekend MBA programme designed for working mid-level and senior executives with a minimum of four years of work experience after graduation.
  • The programme aims to prepare the participants to manage greater responsibilities as business leaders, it said. Among the parameters that the ranking is focused on, PGPEM has scored well in categories such as salary increase, career progression, aims achieved, women-on-board, and corporate social responsibility, it said. Professor Abhoy K Ojha, Dean (Programmes), IIM-B, was quoted as saying in the release that the PGPEM is designed to help working professionals stay ahead. 

India Ranks 6th Most Positive about Teachers in 35-country Survey

  • According to a new 35-country global survey-based report, India ranks among the world's top 10 countries when it comes to valuing its teaching workforce.
  • The Implicit Teacher Status analysis, which finds China, Ghana, Singapore, Canada, and Malaysia ahead of India, ranks countries by respondents' automatic impressions of teachers when asked to indicate as quickly as possible whether, for example, they think teachers are trusted or untrusted, inspiring or uninspiring, caring or uncaring, intelligent or unintelligent, among other word associations.
  • This report proves that respecting teachers is not only an important moral duty it is essential for a country's educational outcomes.
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

SpiceJet to Launch 8 New flights between India and Bangladesh

  • No-frills carrier SpiceJet announced the launch of eight new flights between India and Bangladesh under the air bubble agreement between the two countries, starting November 5.
  • The Gurugram-headquartered airline will operate four times a week non-stop flight services between Kolkata and Chittagong, besides connecting Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai with Dhaka.
  • Chittgaong, the port city, will be the 11th international destination of SpiceJet.
  • On October 17, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri had announced that the two South Asian nations had sealed an air bubble pact under which the carriers of India and Bangladesh would operate 28 flights (per week) each between the two countries.
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