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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

22 Nov 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Egypt Eyes Reopening of Trilateral Talks on Nile Dam

  • Egypt looks forward to taking part in the next round of trilateral talks with Ethiopia and Sudan on an Ethiopian dam built on their shared Nile River.
  • The ministry's statement came after the foreign and water ministers of the three countries concluded a virtual meeting.
  • Egypt wants to reach "a binding legal agreement" on how to operate the Ethiopian giant dam as soon as possible.
  • It also highlighted the necessity of reaching a fair and balanced agreement that achieves the common interests of the three countries and preserves their water rights.
  • During the last round of trilateral talks held earlier this month, Egypt voiced its discontent as no progress was made in the negotiations.
  • Ethiopia started building the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in 2011, which prompted concerns from downstream countries like Sudan and Egypt.

New Zealand's First African MP

  • Ibrahim Omer is a former Eritrean refugee who became the first African Member of Parliament in New Zealand. He is part of the country's Labour Party.
  • During the election campaign, Mr. Ibrahim said that he wanted to fight for people in his previous situation to have better opportunities for a decent life.
  • He fled Eritrea in 2003, to a refugee camp in neighbouring Sudan.
  • He then resettled in New Zealand where he worked as a cleaner. Mr Ibrahim saved enough money to study at Victoria University, in Wellington, after which he got into politics.
  • Mr. Ibrahim shares his incredible journey with the BBC's Peter Okwoche.

Somalia Sacks Foreign Minister

  • Somali Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, has sacked Foreign Affairs Minister, Ahmed Isse Awad, hours after a row over the country's position on the conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region.
  • The sacked minister was named as an ambassador, but he tweeted that he was "not currently ready for any position as an ambassador or any other".
  • The verified Twitter account of the office of the Prime Minister, @SomaliPM, announced the appointment but did not explain why Mr Awad was sacked.
  • Mr. Awad denied that Somalia had issued an official statement on the Ethiopia crisis.
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ENVIRONMENT

Sentinel-6: 'Dog Kennel' Satellite to Measure Sea-level Rise

  • A satellite that will be critical to understanding of climate change was launched from California.
  • Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will become the primary means of measuring the shape of the world's oceans.
  • Its data will track not only sea-level rise but reveal how the great mass of waters are moving around the globe.
  • The Sentinel is a joint endeavour between Europe and the US, and will continue the measurements that have been made by a succession of spacecraft, called the Jason-Topex/Poseidon series, going back to 1992.
  • These earlier missions have shown unequivocally that sea levels globally are rising, at a rate in excess of 3 mm per year over the 28-year period. And their most recent data even suggests there is acceleration under way, with levels recorded as going up at over 4 mm per year.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

India Signs Agreement with World Bank for Meghalaya Transport Project

  • India and World Bank signed 120 million USD to modernise transport sector in the state of Meghalaya. The project aims to improve 300 km of strategic road segment through climate resilient and nature-based solutions.
  • The project will help Meghalaya to emerge as the major connecting hub of trade with border countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The project will cater small scale industries, agriculture areas, tourism, health and education centres. Currently, around 5,362 habitations in Meghalaya lack transport connectivity. It will increase access to health facilities. More than 500,00 inhabitants of the state will benefit in the state. The project is expected to generate direct employment of 8 million person days.
  • The project will act as a boost to "Restart Meghalaya Mission".
  • The Restart Meghalaya Mission was launched in August 2020 on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day. Around six projects were announced under the mission. A total investment of Rs. 8,753 crores is to be used for infrastructure projects. The mission will construct 13 major roads at a cost of Rs. 850 crores. Under the mission, 400 agricultural entrepreneurs are to be provided with power tillers at subsidised rates. The mission will also develop tourism.

Karnataka Eyes 50% of $100 Billion Bioeconomy by 2025

  • Karnataka has set a target of achieving 50 per cent market share of the $100-billion national bio-economy by 2025.
  • "The state has been at the forefront of harnessing biotechnology over the past two decades" said Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa at the Bengaluru Tech Summit.
  • Bioeconomy is an activity involving the use of biotechnology in the production of goods, services or energy from biological material as the primary resource base.

PM Modi, Bhutanese PM Jointly Launch Rupay Card Phase-2

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Bhutanese counterpart Lotay Tshering launched RuPay card Phase-II that will allow Bhutanese card holders to access the RuPay network in India.
  • The Prime Ministers of both the countries had jointly launched Phase-I of the project during Modi's state visit to Bhutan in August last year.
  • The implementation of Phase-I of RuPay cards in Bhutan has enabled visitors from India to access ATMs and Point of Sale (PoS) terminals across Bhutan.
  • Phase-II will now allow Bhutanese card holders to access RuPay network in India.
  • The RuPay card is an Indian debit and credit card payment network, with acceptance at ATMs, POS devices and e-commerce websites.
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SPORTS

Sanjay Manjrekar Returns to Commentary Panel

  • Former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar is set to return to the commentary panel for India's tour of Australia, starting November 27. The veteran was dropped by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from the commentary team of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020.
  • It has been speculated that Manjrekar was removed from the panel as a result of his comment calling Ravindra Jadeja a "bits-and-pieces player" during last year's ODI World Cup and the subsequent reactions from fans and the player himself were an important trigger in him losing his job.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

BJP-BPF Alliance Headed for Split before Assam Assembly Elections

  • Ahead of assembly polls in Assam next year, the partnership between ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and coalition partner Bodoland People's Front (BPF) is headed for a split.
  • Both parties, which along with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) have been in power since 2016, are contesting next month's polls to the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) independently.
  • Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, state BJP chief Ranjeet Kumar Dass and senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma left for New Delhi to discuss the party's strategy for the assembly polls.
  • The leaders will meet BJP national president JP Nadda, where a decision on separation from BPF is expected to be taken. Both BJP and AGP are expected to continue the alliance and contest the assembly polls scheduled in March-April together.

Centre Releases Backend Code of Aarogya Setu to Enhance Transparency

  • In a bid to enhance transparency, the Centre on Friday released the backend code of Aarogya Setu in the open domain that will help people understand the functioning of the COVID-19 contact-tracing app and allay apprehensions they may have around privacy and security.
  • The source code of the Android and iOS versions of the Aarogya Setu app was released earlier and the backend source code has been released as per the government policy to share all code repositories with the developer community.
  • MeitY has released the backend code of Aarogya Setu on the OpenForge platform set up by the government to promote sharing and reuse of e-governance application source codes.

India, Uzbekistan Resolve to Strengthen Ties in Economic and Defence Sectors

  • India and Uzbekistan vowed to deepen cooperation in diverse areas, including economic and defence sectors, with a special emphasis on timely implementation of projects in the Central Asian country being carried out under the Indian Line of Credit.
  • The 14th round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Uzbekistan was held through virtual mode with the Indian side led by Vikas Swarup, Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs, and the Uzbek side headed by Farhod Arziev, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan.
  • The two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest and agreed to enhance cooperation in the UN and multilateral arena.
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DEFENCE

Indian Army to Allow Young to Join Force

  • The Indian Army has been considering a proposal – Tour of Duty, which will allow civilians to enrol in the force as officers and in other ranks like front-line fighters for a tenure of three years. The said proposal is a part of broad reforms inculcated for the force. It is expected to be discussed by the top commanders of the Indian Army. The proposal is said to benefit the army financially.
  • The three-year stint will be different from a permanent job in the army as the latter includes benefits like pension and more. In addition to this, the enrolment will be significantly different in conscription, even though the laws are implemented to various degrees.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Indo-Japan Cooperation Wins OECD Mutual Agreement Procedure 2019 Award

  • India-Japan cooperation has won the OECD Mutual Agreement Procedure 2019 Award.
  • Finance Ministry sources said that India with Japan has won the 2019 Award on Co-operation for highest agreement ratio for a pair of jurisdictions for transfer pricing cases. The Award to India-Japan Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) Cooperation demonstrates India's commitment to provide tax certainty and efficacious dispute resolution mechanism for the Japanese companies doing business in India. There is large number of Japanese companies doing business in India in manufacturing as well as trading sectors.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Amazon Launches AFBP to Prepare MBA Graduates for Leadership Roles

  • Amazon launched its flagship leadership development programme 'Amazon Future Builders Program' (AFBP) for students enrolled in premier B-Schools in India, including IIMs, ISB and XLRI and prepare them for leadership roles at the company. The programme allows students to gain a breadth of experience across Amazon's businesses through a two month 'incubator' period, followed by a 24-30 months period where they gain domain expertise in particular 'Lines of Business' (LoBs).
  • AFBP will be offered at top business schools in India starting with the financial year 2021 final placement season.

JNU Authorises Formation of Committee to Look into NEP Implementation

  • The Academic Council (AC) of Jawaharlal Nehru University authorised the formation of an apex committee to look into the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Among other things, it will discuss converting three-year BA programmes into four-year programmes, and introducing new four-year courses.
  • The JNU Teachers' Association (JNUTA) and JNU Students' Union (JNUSU) were not invited for the meeting, which the former alleged showed the "scant regard that the Vice-Chancellor and his team has for democratic practices".
  • In a statement, Rector I Chintamani Mahapatra said, "The Council members felt JNU should take the lead in implementing NEP-2020 in earnest and authorised the formation of an apex committee comprising representatives from different schools and centres to deliberate and come up with its recommendations."
  • Some of the major issues that came under focus were: (a) possibility of converting the existing three-year BA programmes into four-year programmes, (b) starting new four-year undergraduate programmes, (c) offering masters-level programmes in online mode on subjects which do not require lab or experimental work, (d) strengthening further the inclusive policy of the university to provide better opportunities for students coming from socially and economically disadvantaged sections, (e) increasing intake of international students, and (f) promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among students and faculty members.
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ART AND CULTURE

1,300 Years Old Hindu Temple Discovered in Northwest Pakistan

  • A Hindu temple, believed to have been constructed 1,300 years ago, has been discovered by Pakistani and Italian archaeological experts at a mountain in Swat district of northwest Pakistan. The discovery was made during an excavation at Barikot Ghundai.
  • Fazle Khaliq of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Department of Archaeology said that the temple discovered is of God Vishnu. It was built by the Hindus 1,300 years ago during the Hindu Shahi period.
  • During their excavation, the archaeologists also found traces of cantonment and watchtowers near the temple site.
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