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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

15 Nov 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

US Pitches for Free and Open Indo-Pacific at ASEAN Summit

  • US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien has pitched for a free and open Indo-Pacific, a strategic region that has witnessed renewed global focus in view of China's expansionist behaviour.
  • Addressing the US-ASEAN virtual summit, O'Brien highlighted the tremendous benefit the partnership has brought to the prosperity, security and well-being of over one billion people in the United States and ASEAN nations.
  • He reaffirmed the US' longstanding commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.
  • The ASEAN is considered one of the most influential groupings in the region, and India and several other countries including the US, China, Japan and Australia are its dialogue partners.
  • The virtual ASEAN summit is taking place amid China's aggressive behaviour in the disputed South China Sea. A number of ASEAN countries have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.
  • Beijing claims almost all of the 1.3 million square-mile South China Sea as its sovereign territory. China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the region which, in parts, is claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

UK PM's Adviser Cummings Quits

  • Dominic Cummings, one of the most influential and high-profile aides of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left Downing Street after a power struggle that has rocked the UK government.
  • Johnson's senior advisor exited carrying a large box following a bitter dispute which also led to the resignation of Cummings' fellow Vote Leave veteran Lee Cain as communications chief.
  • The dramatic events came ahead of crucial Brexit talks with Brussels with the transition period deadline of December 31 looming.
  • He will continue to work from home, on issues such as mass coronavirus testing, until the middle of December.
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ENVIRONMENT

UK to Ban Sale of New Petrol and Diesel Cars from 2030

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to announce next week a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, five years earlier than previously planned.
  • Britain had originally planned to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered cars from 2040, as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and in February Johnson brought this forward to 2035.
  • Citing unidentified industry and government figures, Johnson now intended to move the date forward again to 2030 in a speech on environmental policy he is expected to give next week.
  • The new timetable was not expected to apply to some hybrid cars which use a mixture of electric and fossil fuel propulsion and could still be sold until 2035.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

India Contributes 1 Million to Covid-19 ASEAN Respond Fund

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi cochaired India-ASEAN summit along with the Vietnamese Prime Minister Ngyuyen Xuan Phuc. ASEAN is Association of South East Asian Nations. During the summit, PM annoucned that India is to contribute 1 million USD to COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund.
  • The summit reviewed the status of India-ASEAN strategic partnership. It focused on key areas such as maritime cooperation, connectivity, trade and commerce, capacity building and education. ASEAN is considered as an influential grouping as the ASEAN region has high potential for upcoming markets. The region is expected to grow at an average of 5.2% by 2022. It is to become the world largest single market by 2030. Therefore, India, China, Japan and Australia are competing with each other to grab their place in the market.
  • The ASEAN summit is being held amid China's aggressive behaviour in the South China sea.
  • During the summit, India and ASEAN adopted "ASEAN-India Plan of Action (2021-2025)". The ten members of ASEAN include Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar.

World's Biggest Trade Pact

  • China and 14 other countries have agreed to set up the world's largest trading bloc, encompassing nearly a third of all economic activity, in a deal many in Asia are hoping will help hasten a recovery from the shocks of the pandemic.
  • The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, is to be signed virtually on Sunday on the sidelines of the annual summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
  • As per Malaysia's Trade Minister, Mohamed Azmin Ali, after eight years of negotiating we have finally come to the moment where we will seal the RCEP Agreement.
  • The deal sends a signal that RCEP countries have chosen ''to open our markets instead of resorting to protectionist measures during this difficult time.
  • The accord will take already low tariffs on trade between member countries still lower, over time, and is less comprehensive than an 11-nation trans-Pacific trade deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office.It includes the 10 nations belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, but not the United States.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

SpaceX Launch of Crew on First Operational Mission Delayed

  • NASA and high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX announced a 24-hour weather delay of their planned launch of four astronauts into orbit for NASA's first full-fledged human mission using a privately owned spacecraft.
  • The liftoff time slipped due to forecasts of gusty, onshore winds over Florida -- remnants of Tropical Storm Eta -- that would have made a return landing for the Falcon 9 rocket's reusable booster stage difficult.
  • SpaceX's newly designed Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed "Resilience" by its crew, was rescheduled for launch atop the Falcon 9 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
  • The crew for the flight to the International Space Station includes three American astronauts -- Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and the mission commander, Mike Hopkins, a U.S. Air Force colonel who is to be sworn into the fledgling U.S. Space Force once aboard the orbiting laboratory.
  • The fourth crew member is Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to orbit after flying on the US space shuttle in 2005 and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2009.

NASA Gets Ready to Bring Rock Samples from this Planet to Earth

  • In a historical development, world's premier space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is going to attempt to bring Mars rock samples back to Earth. The samples will be brought back to Earth in order to help NASA scientists to study about the surface of the Red Planet.
  • An independent review report was released by US-based NASA hinting the agency is all set to undertake its Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign to bring rock samples from the Red Planet.
  • The agency established the MSR Independent Review Board (IRB) to evaluate its early concepts for a groundbreaking, international partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) to return the first samples from another planet.
  • After a thorough review of the agency's planning over the past several years, the IRB unanimously believes that NASA is now ready to carry out the MSR program, the next step for robotic exploration of Mars.
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SPORTS

FIFA World Cup Qualifier

  • Argentina conceded a first-half penalty but recovered to secure a 1-1 draw against Paraguay in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Buenos Aires.
  • Angel Romero scored his third goal in three internationals when he rolled home the penalty for Paraguay midway through the half after Lucas Martinez Quarta was adjudged to have brought down Miguel Almiron.
  • Nicolas Gonzalez equalised for Argentina four minutes before half-time when he bulleted a header home from a Giovani Lo Celso corner kick.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Akhilesh Yadav Makes Big Announcement about 2022 UP Assembly Election

  • Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav revealed his party's strategy for 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, saying the SP would not seal alliance with any major parties for the crucial election. Akhilesh's announcement sends a message that the SP is unwilling to enter into an alliance with the Congress with which it fought the 2017 Assembly election.
  • Samajwadi Party will try to form an understanding with smaller political parties but no alliance with any big political parties. Pragatisheel Party will also be adjusted and Jaswantnagar has already been left for their leader and in times to come, we will also give cabinet berth to him.

All Kerala Police Stations to Become Child-friendly

  • In a bid to create an atmosphere where children can lodge complaints without fear, Kerala Director General of Police Loknath Behera virtually inaugurated child-friendly centres at 15 police stations in the state.
  • Behera said that the Kerala Police are trying to create an atmosphere in the police stations where children can come to lodge complaints without any fear. The event was also attended by other senior police officials thorough video conferencing.
  • The concept of child-friendly police stations was launched in 2006 with the aim of making those children happy who accompany people coming to police stations for various purposes. Such centres will help children and others to understand the workings of police stations and the work of police officials and to avoid the gap between police, children and the community.
  • At present, 85 police stations in the state have such children-friendly centres.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

ED Director S. K. Mishra's Tenure Extended by One Year

  • The Union government has extended the tenure of ED Director Sanjay Kumar Mishra by a year after modifying his appointment order that was issued in 2018.
  • Mishra is a 1984-batch Indian Revenue Service officer of the Income Tax cadre and was appointed the Enforcement Directorate chief in November 2018.
  • His tenure was to end the next week at the ED director's post comes with a fixed term of two years.
  • The ED is a central investigative agency that enforces two central laws—the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).
  • These laws were enacted to curb money laundering, terror financing, black money and hawala or illegal financial transactions that have cross-border ramifications.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Jharkhand Foundation Day

  • The state of Jharkhand came into existence 20 years ago on 15th November 2000. Bihar was divided and a new state called Jharkhand was created. The then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee played an important role in its construction. After the creation of the new state, Prabhat Kumar and Babulal Marandi got the privilege of becoming the first Governor and Chief Minister respectively. After the formation of a separate state, the Foundation Day is celebrated every year on 15th November. It has an area of 79,710 km2 (30,778 sq mi). It is the 15th largest state by area, and the 14th largest by population. Hindi is the official language of the state. The city of Ranchi is its capital and Dumka its sub capital.
  • Jharkhand suffers from what is sometimes termed a resource curse: it accounts for more than 40% of the mineral resources of India, but 39.1% of its population is below the poverty line and 19.6% of children under five years of age are malnourished. Jharkhand like its neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh, is primarily rural with about 24% of its population living in cities. Jharkhand is amongst the leading states in Economic growth as compared to the neighborhood states. In 2017–18, the GSDP growth rate of state was at 10.22%.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Fertiliser Association of India Golden Jubilee Award

  • Tamil Nadu Agricultural University's Director of Research and NABARD Chair, K. S. Subramanian bagged the Fertiliser Association of India Golden Jubilee Award. The award pertains to his outstanding contribution in the field of nano-fertilizers and its role in improved use efficiency while ensuring environmental safety.
  • The award carries a cash prize of Rs. 1 lakh and a gold medal. Subramanian is to receive the award next month.
  • The research director, who incidentally is also the founder Head of the Department of Nano Science & Technology has worked on design and fabrication of nano-agri inputs, nano-preservation of fruits, nano-sensors besides biosafety of nano-products. He has helped ICAR develop a research framework for nanotechnology, obtained research grants of more than Rs. 25 crore through International and National funding agencies.
View Month Wise

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

EU Seeks Powers to Declare Health Emergencies

  • The European Commission proposed rules which would give the EU the power to declare a health emergency and stress test national plans to tackle pandemics, in a potential blow to the World Health Organization.
  • The move follows an often uncoordinated reaction by the 27 EU governments to the COVID-19 pandemic, which at the beginning of the crisis led to competition on vital medical gear and export bans on medicines.
  • It also comes after the WHO was criticised for having declared the pandemic, which first emerged in China at the end of last year, too late. The U.N. agency has repeatedly denied the accusation.
  • Under the proposals, the EU would be able to declare an EU-level public health emergency, which would, in turn, trigger more coordination among EU states.
  • Currently, the EU relies on the WHO to declare such an emergency.
  • The new rules will enable the activation of EU emergency response mechanisms without making it contingent upon the WHO`s own declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Kolkata to Start First of its Kind Young Readers' Tramcar Library

  • A young readers' tramcar library, which will be giving free access to books to all the children to motivate them to read and learn, began covering its route in Kolkata on the occasion of Children's Day 2020.
  • The Apeejay Anand Children's Library has teamed up with the West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC), which runs the country's only functional tramways, to launch the "Kolkata Young Readers' Tramcar", which gives free books to the city's children.
  • The Oxford Bookstore is also participating in this initiative by curating a unique selection of titles and literature for various young reading age groups for the tramcar library.
  • The library on wheels has been decorated with attractive artworks of children reading, hand-painted by local artists. Priti Paul, director of Apeejay Surrendra Group, which has partnered with WBTC in this novel venture, said that it will perhaps be the very first children's library on a tramcar anywhere in the world, with free access to all children.

Bande Utkala Janani to be Part of School Curriculum

  • Odisha's state song 'Bande Utkala Janani' will be part of the school curriculum for students of class 9 and 10. A notification in this regard was issued after the proposal was approved by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
  • As per the notification, 'Bande Utkala Janani' written by legendary poet Lakhmikanta Mohapatra will be part of the school curriculum in class 9 and 10.
  • Earlier this year, the Odisha government had accorded the state song status to the 'Bande Utkala Janani'.
View Month Wise

ART AND CULTURE

More than 100 Intact Sarcophagi Unearthed Near Cairo

  • Under a huge white canopy tent facing Egypt's oldest pyramid, part of a cache of more than 100 sealed and intact mummies were unveiled Saturday, along with 40 statues of deities, ornate sarcophagi and gilted masques.
  • Buried more than 2,500 years ago, the colourful, intricately decorated coffins were the most recent discovery at the vast necropolis south of the country's capital Cairo, which has been excavated over a three year period by an Egyptian mission.
  • Egyptian officials hailed the brightly coloured encasements as the biggest discovery of the year.

More than 100 Intact Sarcophagi Unearthed Near Cairo

  • Under a huge white canopy tent facing Egypt's oldest pyramid, part of a cache of more than 100 sealed and intact mummies were unveiled Saturday, along with 40 statues of deities, ornate sarcophagi and gilted masques.
  • Buried more than 2,500 years ago, the colourful, intricately decorated coffins were the most recent discovery at the vast necropolis south of the country's capital Cairo, which has been excavated over a three year period by an Egyptian mission.
  • Egyptian officials hailed the brightly coloured encasements as the biggest discovery of the year.
View Month Wise

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Sonu Sood's Autobiography 'I Am No Messiah'

  • Sonu Sood had earlier informed that he was writing a book recounting his experience of helping migrant workers during the Covid lockdown. Titled as I Am No Messiah, the book is written in first person, revealing the emotional challenges the actor faced while extending help.
  • Talking about the book, Sonu said that people have been very kind and have lovingly named me the messiah. But I am no messiah. It is our responsibility as human beings to be compassionate and help each other.
  • The book is co-written by Meena Iyer and is expected to be out by mid-December.
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