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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

11 Nov 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Modi Speaks at SCO Meet in Front of Chinese President Xi Jinping

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) virtual summit alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan and leaders of four central Asian countries.
  • Surprisingly, the Russian President Putin who hosted the chair of the grouping this year was seen noting down the points in the most part of PM Modi's address. He was seen listening to PM Modi's address very carefully and kept noting the points.
  • The virtual summit also witnessed Chinese President Jinping and Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan listening to PM Modi. 
  • During his address, PM Modi indirectly slammed Pakistan calling it 'unfortunate' that there are unnecessary and repeated attempts to bring bilateral issues in the SCO agenda, which is in violation of SCO Charter and Shanghai spirit.

UK PM's Treaty-breaking Brexit Laws Defeated in Parliament

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a heavy defeat in parliament`s upper chamber over proposed laws which would allow him to breach Britain`s EU exit treaty - a plan that has been criticised by US President elect Joe Biden.
  • The Internal Market Bill is designed to protect trade between Britain`s four nations after Brexit. It contains clauses ministers say are needed to protect Northern Ireland`s delicate status as part of the United Kingdom, but would also break international law in a "specific and limited" way.
  • The House of Lords voted to strip those clauses from the bill in a series of defeats for the ruling Conservative Party. The government does not have a majority in the Lords and even some high-profile Conservative members opposed the clauses.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia Sign Deal to End Conflict

  • Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia have signed a deal to end the military conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region after more than a month of bloodshed.
  • Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan first announced the signing on social media and the Kremlin and Azerbaijan`s President Ilham Aliyev later confirmed the news.
  • The signed trilateral statement will become a (crucial) point in the settlement of the conflict.
  • Putin said that Russian peacekeepers would be deployed along the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh and the corridor between the region and Armenia.
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ENVIRONMENT

Scientists Discover Ancient Lake Bed Deep Beneath the Greenland Ice

  • Scientists have detected what they say are the sediments of a huge ancient lake bed sealed more than a mile under the ice of northwest Greenland—the first-ever discovery of such a sub-glacial feature anywhere in the world.
  • Apparently formed at a time when the area was ice-free but now completely frozen in, the lake bed may be hundreds of thousands or millions of years old, and contain unique fossil and chemical traces of past climates and life.
  • Scientists consider such data vital to understanding what the Greenland ice sheet may do in coming years as climate warms, and thus the site makes a tantalizing target for drilling. A paper describing the discovery is in press at the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
  • This could be an important repository of information, in a landscape that right now is totally concealed and inaccessible. The ice sheet, which has been melting at an accelerating pace in recent years, contains enough water to raise global sea levels by about 24 feet.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

India Bid to Expand Alternative Supply Chain

  • India is keen on expanding its current conversations with Japan and Australia on a proposed supply-chain partnership to include other countries in the region.
  • India proposed that some ASEAN countries can be added to the India-Australia-Japan discussions on China-free supply chains. The proposal comes against the backdrop of these very two countries planning to launch a regional economic cooperation partnership (RECP) framework pact in partnership with China, South Korea, New Zealand and 10 countries of the ASEAN bloc.
  • The 15 Asia-Pacific countries, barring India, aim to ink the RCEP on November 15 to set up an economic bloc equal to third of the global GDP and population.

RBI Imposes Rs. 50 lakh Penalty on Central Bank of India

  • The Reserve Bank imposed a penalty of Rs. 50 lakh on state-run Central Bank of India for non-compliance with its directions on disbursal of some housing loans.
  • Giving details, it said an off-site examination of the records pertaining to some housing loans disbursed by the bank was conducted by RBI. 
  • The examination and related documents revealed non-compliance with the directions issued by RBI.

SEBI Orders Attachment of Bank, Demat, MF Accounts of 11 Entities

  • Markets regulator SEBI has ordered attachment of bank as well as share and mutual fund holdings of 11 entities to recover dues totalling over Rs. 1 crore.
  • These defaulters are—Minesh Devendra Shah, Saraf Equity Services, Sunil Kumar Agarwal, Shreenath Finstock, Gedalia Multitrading, Rushabh Jitendra Shah, Bhavin Sureshbhai Thakkar, Bipin Jayant Thakker, Bharat Shantilal Thakkar, Hemant Madhusudan Sheth and Kiran Madhusudan Sheth.
  • The recovery proceedings have been initiated against these 11 entities after they failed to pay the fines imposed on them.
  • The fines were imposed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) between 2018 and 2020 for violating provisions of securities market norms.
  • The pending dues, Rs. 1.3 crore, include the initial fine amount, interest and recovery cost.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Researcher Developing Novel System for Nuclear Waste Repositories

  • A Texas A&M professor, in collaboration with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, received a Department of Energy grant to develop a system in engineered barriers to isolate and contain nuclear fuel waste.
  • Nuclear power plants have supplied about 20% of the United States' annual electricity generation since 1990, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But that energy creates high-level radioactive waste that has to be stored.
  • Yong-Rak Kim, professor in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University, has been awarded a U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Energy University Program grant to develop a novel system in engineered barriers to permanently isolate and contain nuclear fuel waste. Kim is collaborating with researchers from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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SPORTS

Mumbai Indians Lift Record 5th IPL Title

  • Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians romped to their record fifth title in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a comfortable five-wicket win over Shreyas Iyer's Delhi Capitals in the summit showdown of the 2020 edition of the cash-rich league.
  • Soon after the Mumbai franchise successfully defended their title, sports and B-town celebrities took to their social media handle to congratulate the five-time champions of the IPL.

KL Rahul Wins Coveted Orange Cap

  • Kings XI Punjab skipper KL Rahul took home the very prestigious Orange Cap after emerging as the top run-getter in IPL 2020 with 670 runs from 14 games. Although Kings XI fell at the last hurdle, losing to CSK in their must-win final league game, Rahul led from the front throughout the tournament.
  • It's been a while since Kings XI Punjab were dumped out of IPL 2020 but their skipper and talisman KL Rahul winning the Orange Cap will come as some solace to them. The fact that the opening batsman was on top of the charts throughout this edition and won the much fancied race easily in the end is an ode to Rahul's consistency.

Ministry of Sports Approved 6 Khelo India Centres of Excellence

  • The Ministry of Sports has approved 6 Khelo India Centres of Excellence in six different states. Khelo India centre of excellence is an initiative of the Sports Ministry to upgrade the existing sports infrastructure in all states and Union Territories. The ministry has announced a financial support of over 64 crore to upgrade these six Khelo India centres.
  • The aim of creating these Khelo India excellence centres is to create a strong and healthy sports ecosystem in the country.
  • The names of the six Khelo India Centre of Excellence approved by the Ministry of Sports along with financial support extended to them is as follows-
  • States Sports Academy, Sarusajai, Assam with a financial support of Rs. 7.96 crore
  • J. N. S. Complex, Shillong, Meghalaya with a financial support of Rs. 8.39 crore
  • New Sports Complex Silvassa, Daman & Diu with a financial support of Rs. 8.05 crore
  • MP State Academy, Madhya Pradesh with a financial support of Rs. 19 crore
  • Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi, Pune with a financial support of Rs. 16 crore
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Centre Releases Rs. 6,195 crore to 14 States

  • Based on the 15th Finance Commission interim recommendations, the Govt has released Rs. 6,195.08 crore to 14 states on account of the eighth equated monthly installment of Post Devolution Revenue Deficit Grant.
  • The 14 states are Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
  • A similar amount was released as grant in April-October period of the current financial year.
  • The Finance Commission provides a mechanism for the Centre to compensate for revenue loss incurred by states, which are referred to as post devolution revenue deficit grant.

Bihar Assembly Election Result 2020

  • An edge of seat contest unfolded in Bihar as the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) secured a majority in the 243-member assembly and the RJD-led opposition alliance giving it a tough competition. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won 74 seats, while the Janata Dal (United) has won 43 seats.
  • Of the 243 seats, 125 have gone in favour of the ruling coalition headed by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and 110 to rival Grand Alliance. The RJD emerged as the single-largest party in the House with 75 seats.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted that every section of the society has expressed its faith in the alliance's mantra of "with all, development for all, trust of all" and assured people that it will work with full dedication for balanced development of everybody and every region.
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DEFENCE

OFB Gets order from the US to Supply Ammunition

  • India's state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) got an order from the US to supply ammunition. The OFB, one of the country's oldest defence establishments, has received an export order for 5.56 X 45 mm NATO M193 Ball bullets from the US.
  • The ammunition will be manufactured at Ordnance Factory Varangaon in Maharashtra and will be supplied in the current fiscal year.
  • The ordnance factories have been exporting ammunition to foreign nations and have been fulfilling the commitments within the given time.
  • India had inherited 18 ordnance factories established by the British at the time of Independence. Currently, the OFB oversees 41 factories, 13 development centres and nine institutes of learning.

Development of Guided Pinaka Nears Completion

  • From the announcement of raising its six regiments in August to the successful test of Enhanced Pinaka Mk-1 last week, a lot has happened in the long-running development of Pinaka rocket systems and its upgrades. Now, the development of the Guided version of Pinaka, with almost double the original range, is nearing completion, said an official of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). 
  • In the conventional battle space, long-range artillery systems like Pinaka are used for attacking adversary targets prior to close-quarter battles, which involve smaller-range artillery, armoured elements and the infantry. 
  • The DRDO started developing Pinaka in the late 1980s, as an alternative the multi-barrel rocket launching systems of Russian make, called the 'Grad' and 'Smerch', which are still in use. After successful tests of Pinaka Mark-1 in the late 1990s, it was successfully used during the 1999 Kargil war. Over the next few years, multiple regiments of the system came up along India's border areas with China and Pakistan.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

A. K. Singh to Head Petronet LNG

  • Indian Oil Corp (IOC) director-pipelines Akshay Kumar Singh will be the new Managing Director and Chief Executive of the country's biggest gas importer, Petronet LNG Ltd. He will replace Prabhat Singh who completed his 5-year term.
  • Petronet is a joint venture of IOC, GAIL, Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and BPCL. The four state-owned firms hold 12.5 per cent stake each in the company whose chairman is the Oil Secretary. Petronet operates liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal at Dahej in Gujarat and Kochi in Kerala.

Indian Diplomat Vidisha Maitra in UN Advisory Committee

  • Indian diplomat, Vidisha Maitra has been elected to the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). The election was a tightly contested one but Maitra won with 126 UN members supporting her candidature for the only post for the Asia-Pacific group while 64 voted for the opposing candidate who was from Iraq.
  • India has been a member of the committee since its inception in 1946.  India's win in this committee comes as India also prepares to take a seat as one of 10 non-permanent members in the UN Security Council for a two year period starting 1 January 2021.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

National Education Day

  • National Education Day is an annual observance in India to commemorate the birth anniversary of Maulana Nooh, the first Education Minister of independent India, who served from 15 August 1947 until 2 February 1958. National Education Day of India is celebrated on 11th November every year.
  • The Ministry of Human Resource Development announced on 11 September 2008, to commemorate the birthday of this great son of India by recalling his contribution to the cause of education in India.
  • November 11 every year, all educational institutions in the country mark the day with seminars, symposia, essay-writing, elocution competitions, workshops and rallies with banner cards and slogans on the importance of literacy and the nation's commitment to all aspects of education.

Armistice Day

  • Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France at 5:45 am, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.
  • But, according to Thomas R. Gowenlock, an intelligence officer with the U.S. First Division, shelling from both sides continued for the rest of the day, only ending at nightfall.
  • The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days and had to be extended several times. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

PM-KUSUM scaled up: Goal Set to 30.8 GW of Solar Capacity by 2022

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has recently issued orders to expand Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM). Accordingly, the new target of the scheme has been enhanced to achieve solar capacity of 30.8 GW by 2022. This is to be done with the revised central financial support of Rs. 34,035 crores.
  • In September 2020, the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy proposed to initiate centralised tendering process for the year 2020-21 targeting 4.5 lakh standalone solar pumps. In the first year of the scheme, the target was 1.75 lakh solar pumps. The tendering process is being done by EESL.
  • The scheme was launched to help farmers install solar pumps, grid connected solar power and other renewable power plants. Initially the target of the scheme was set to achieve 25,720 MW by 2022.
  • There are three components of the scheme are - Component A: To install 10,000 MW of decentralised ground mounted grid connected renewable power plants, Component B: To install 17.5 lakh standalone solar power agricultural pumps with capacity up to 7.5 HP and Component C: To solarise 10 lakh grid connected agriculture pumps.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Lockdown Word of the Year 2020

  • Collins Dictionary has declared 'lockdown' as its Word of the Year 2020 after it was used frequently due to the Covid-19 pandemic this year. From just 4,000 last year, the usage of 'lockdown' in 2020 rose to 250,000, lexicographers recorded.
  • Definition of lockdown: Collins Dictionary defines the word as "the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces".
  • Collins said that the word signifies "a unifying experience for billions of people across the world, who have had, collectively, to play their part in combating the spread of Covid-19."
  • The word 'lockdown' was used very commonly as governments around the world battled the coronavirus.
  • The dictionary had shortlisted 10 words in the run-up to select Word of the Year 2020. Most of the other words were also mostly related to the Covid-19 pandemic and they were: Furlough, key worker, self-isolate, social distancing and coronavirus.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Bidya Devi Bhandari Releases a Special Pictorial Anthology on Mahatma Gandhi

  • Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari has released a special pictorial anthology on Mahatma Gandhi to mark the 151st birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. This anthology is written in the Nepali language. The book was launched at a special function held at in Kathmandu in the presence of Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Vinay Mohan Kwatra.
  • This anthology on Gandhi is titled as "Maile Bujheko Gandhi" or "the Gandhi as I understood".
  • The book has been released to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the culmination of the 2 year-long celebrations of '150 years of Mahatma'.
  • This anthology has been published by the Indian Embassy together with the B P Koirala India-Nepal Foundation.
  • The publishers hope that the teachings, ideas of Mahatma Gandhi will bring Nepalese youth closer to the global icon.
  • The book aims to bring to youth of Nepal closer to Mahatma Gandhi.
  • The book also brings together the perspectives of 25 eminent Nepali personalities about Mahatma Gandhi.
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