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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

27 Nov 2020


UAE Halts New Visas to Citizens of 13 Countries

  • As per reports, the United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • A document said that applications for new employment and visit visas had been suspended for nationals - those outside the UAE - of 13 countries that also included Somalia, Libya and Yemen until further notice.
  • The ban also applies to citizens of Algeria, Kenya, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey.
  • The visa ban also comes two months after the Gulf state established formal ties with Israel, a move that broke with decades of Arab policy and angered some Muslim states and communities.

S. Korea and China Vow to Strengthen Ties

  • The Foreign Ministers of South Korea and China pledged to work together to advance bilateral ties and tackle regional and global issues, including stalled nuclear talks involving North Korea and the coronavirus pandemic.
  • South Korea's Kang Kyung-wha held talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

China's First Hualong One Nuclear Reactor Starts Operations

  • As per China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), its first Hualong One, a third-generation pressurised water nuclear reactor, has started operations and is connected to the grid.
  • The design, seen as competition to the Westinghouse-developed AP1000 and Europe's EPR, is deployed in the 1,150-megawatt Fuqing Unit 5 in the southeastern province of Fujian.
  • Hualong One is designed to have a 60-year lifespan and its reactor core needs refuelling every 18 months.
  • The second Hualong One at Fuqing, Unit 6, is scheduled for completion in 2021.
  • China currently has six overseas Hualong One projects under construction.
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India to Achieve Target of Reducing 35 pc Emissions Intensity before 2030

  • According to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, India will achieve its target of reducing 35 per cent emissions intensity of its GDP well before the year 2030. The minister made the remarks while signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Finland to develop cooperation between the two countries in the field of environment protection and biodiversity conservation.
  • The MoU was signed virtually by Javadekar and Finland's Environment Minister Krista Mikkonen.
  • India has achieved its voluntary target of reducing emissions intensity of its GDP by 21 per cent over 2005 levels by 2020.
  • Emission intensity is the volume of emissions per unit of GDP.
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Adani Gas to Change Name to Adani Total Gas

  • Adani Gas Ltd, the city gas distribution firm of billionaire Gautam Adani's group, will change its name to Adani Total Gas to reflect French energy giant Total's stake in the firm.
  • After the French giant buying stake, Adani Gas is now "a joint venture company of Adani Group and Total Group, France with 37.40 per cent stake by each promoter and remaining 25.20 per cent with public shareholders.
  • The company board is headed by Adani and has two nominees of Total - its India head Alexis Thelemaque and Jose-Ignacio Sanz Saiz.

Swedish Furniture Giant IKEA to Begin Work on Biggest Outlet in Noida

  • Swedish flat-pack furniture giant IKEA will soon begin work at its Noida outlet, touted to be its biggest store in India.
  • The company had signed an MoU with the Uttar Pradesh government in December 2018 for Rs. 5,000 crore investment in Noida and other cities in the state. It has committed to completing the project by 2025.
  • IKEA, which opened its first outlet in India in Hyderabad in 2018, has proposed to set up an integrated commercial project in Noida giving direct employment to 1,000 and indirect jobs to another 1,000.
  • The company intends to expand to 40 cities by 2030.

Tube Investments to Allot Shares to Premji Trust and SBI MF

  • Murugappa Group's Tube Investments will allot shares to Azim Premji Trust, SBI Mutual Fund, subject to shareholder approval. The company has approved the issue of equity shares worth Rs. 350 crore.
  • The shares will be allotted on a preferential/private placement basis to non-promoter entities.
  • Azim Premji Trust will be alloted 2,733,360 equity shares, each, fully paid at Rs. 731.70 and inclusive of a premium of Rs. 730.70 per equity share. The total investment would be around Rs. 200 crore.
  • The SBI-focused equity fund will be allotted 1,503,348 equity shares, each fully paid at Rs. 731.70 and inclusive of a premium of Rs. 730.70 per equity share, aggregating to Rs. 109.99 crore and for SBI Magnum mid-cap fund, 546,672 equity shares, each fully paid at Rs. 731.70 and inclusive of a premium of Rs. 730.70 per equity share, aggregating to Rs. 39.99 crore.
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Ladakh Gets Largest Solar Project at Leh

  • The Union Territory of Ladakh has got the largest solar power project setup under the Centre's ''Make In India'' initiative at Leh IAF station to provide sustainable energy alternative to fossil fuel and traditional methods of energy generation.
  • The project namely ''Provision of Solar Photo Voltaic Power Plant 1.5 MW'' has been completed within 12 months well before the completion deadline of March 31, 2021.
  • It is the largest installed solar project till date out of the target of 300 MW in three phases for defence sectors and 14 MW for Leh region as set by the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
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Narendra Modi Makes Pitch for Single Voters' List, Says 'One Nation, One Election'

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for single voters' list and said that 'One Nation, One Election' is the need of India as polls taking place every few months impact development works.
  • The PM made these remarks while addressing the concluding session of the 80th All India Presiding Officers Conference via video conference.
  • The Prime Minister also suggested a single voters' list for Lok Sabha, assembly and panchayat polls, saying separate lists are a waste of resources. Legislature, Executive and Judiciary should work with better coordination and national interest should be the basis for every decision.

Haryana Sets up 3-member Drafting Committee to Frame Law on 'Love Jihad'

  • Haryana's government has set up a three-member committee to draft a law against "love jihad", a term used by BJP leaders to describe religious conversions in the guise of marriage. Haryana's decision comes days after the Uttar Pradesh government cleared a draft ordinance against conversion through force or fraudulent means.
  • The Haryana committee will also study laws enacted by other states on the issue.
  • The Himachal Pradesh Assembly had passed a bill last year against conversion by force, inducement or through a marriage solemnised for the "sole purpose" of adopting a new religion.

India and Nepal Agree to Advance Ties

  • India and Nepal agreed to step up efforts to advance mutual cooperation as Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla met the country's top leadership and held productive talks with his Nepalese counterpart on a range of bilateral issues.
  • Shringla also called on Nepal's Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and handed over 2,000 vials of anti-virus drug Remdesivir to him as part of India's continuing assistance to the Himalayan nation to help it contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Both sides appreciated the progress made on the numerous bilateral initiatives and projects. It was agreed to take further steps to advance mutual cooperation.
  • Prime Minister Oli, who is also the Defence Minister of Nepal, told him that problems between Nepal and India would be resolved through dialogue.
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Indian Army to Get Drones from Israel and the US

  • In a major boost to its capabilities, the Indian Army is soon going to get Israeli Heron and American mini drones for upgrading its surveillance capabilities in Eastern Ladakh and other areas along the China border.
  • The deals for the acquisition of the Heron surveillance drones is in the final stages and is expected to be inked in December. The Herons are going to be deployed in the Ladakh sector and they will be more advanced than the existing fleet in the Indian armed forces.
  • The acquisition of these drones is being done under the emergency financial powers granted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government to the defence forces under which they can buy equipment and systems worth Rs. 500 crores to upgrade their warfighting capabilities.
  • The other small or mini drones being acquired from the US will be provided at the Battalion level to the troops on ground and the hand-operated drones would be used to attain awareness about a specific location or area in their respective areas of responsibility.
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IT Sector Visionary Faqir Chand Kohli Passes Away

  • Faqir Chand C Kohli, considered as the father of Indian IT industry, has passed away. Kohli, the founding chief executive of sector leader TCS, was 96.
  • It was JRD Tata's insistence that had got the young Kohli to join the Tata Group in 1969.
  • He pivoted first into management consultancy, and then over the next two decades, into software development, helping the organisation navigate multiple technology waves over two and a half decades by continually investing in people and staying relevant to customers.
  • Kohli stepped down as CEO of the business in 1996.

Sudan's Former PM Sadiq al-Mahdi Dies

  • Leading Sudanese politician and former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi died from a coronavirus infection. He was 84.
  • Mahdi was Sudan's last democratically elected prime minister and was overthrown in 1989 in the military coup that bought former president Omar al-Bashir to power.
  • The moderate Umma Party was one of the largest opposition parties under Bashir, and Mahdi remained an influential figure even after Bashir was toppled in 1989.
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Nineteenth Meeting of the Council of the Heads of Government of SCO

  • China announced that Premier Li Keqiang will attend the 19th meeting of the council of the heads of government of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) member states to be held under India's chairmanship.
  • India will host the virtual meeting of the Heads of the Government of the eight-member bloc on November 30.
  • Li and other leaders will hold in-depth communication and exchange on deepening SCO cooperation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • They will also discuss measures to enhance economic, trade, investment, production capacity, connectivity, culture and people to people cooperation, push national economic recovery, improve people's livelihood and promote faster and better development of SCO.
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All of Bengal to Be under Swasthya Sathi Scheme

  • At a time when West Bengal is battling an outbreak of COVID-19 infections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that the "Swasthya Sathi" health scheme of the government would cover the entire population of the State.
  • Ms. Banerjee said that her government planned to extend the cashless scheme where Rs. 5 lakh insurance is provided to every family in the entire State.
  • "It is a smart card and is being issued in the name of a female family member. I am announcing today that every family in West Bengal, every person, be it a child or an old man or woman, irrespective of their religious affinity, will be covered under this scheme," she said.
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Engineering Courses in Mother Tongue from Next Year

  • As per reports, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) will start offering engineering courses in mother tongue from next academic year.
  • The decision was taken at a high-level review meeting chaired by Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal .
  • A seminal decision was made to start technical education, especially engineering courses, imparting education in mother tongue (and this) will be opened from next academic year. A few IITs and NITs are being shortlisted for the same.
  • The NTA had last month announced its decision to conduct the JEE (Main) in nine regional languages, apart from Hindi and English from 2021.
  • However, the IITs are yet to take up the matter on whether the JEE (Advanced) will also be offered in regional language.

University of Auckland Announces Micro-internship Programme

  • The University of Auckland launched a virtual micro-internship programme for international students both in New Zealand and those studying with University from overseas.
  • The micro-internship is a three-week programme involving around 20 hours of work per week. Interns will work in small teams to tackle a business challenge for an Auckland-based employer. The programme includes an online induction and briefing to get to know the team and project.
  • The university had held a pilot micro-internship programme for 100 students with Auckland business KPMG and Deloitte, among others. After the pilot batch got good response, it is now being offered to international students.
  • It is now being delivered in partnership with Global Talent Solution and the number of internship will be extended to 500 students over two new rounds of the programme.
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Museum of the Bible Returns Hand-written Gospels Looted from Greece during the First World War

  • The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, will return a rare 10th-11th-century hand-written gospel manuscript to the monastery of the Virgin Eikossifinissa (also known as the Kosinitza Monastery) on Mt. Pangeon in northern Greece. The historic document was among hundreds of objects looted from the site by Bulgarian troops in 1917.
  • In January, the Museum of the Bible informed the office of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the world leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church that it held one of the world's oldest hand-lettered gospels, and subsequently offered to return it. According to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, the patriarch has permitted the museum to display the work until October 2021, and loaned it three more manuscripts as a gesture of gratitude for the gospels' return.
  • In recent years, the Museum of the Bible's collection, originally owned by the Green family in Oklahoma City, founders of the arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby, has been found to hold many objects that were smuggled out of their countries of origin or brought into the US improperly.
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IAS officer's Book 'The Awasthis of Aamnagri'

  • IAS officer and author Shubha Sarma's second book 'The Awasthis of Aamnagri' was released in Bhubaneswar.
  • The book was launched in a virtual ceremony and graced by noted writer Pratibha Ray and authors at social media platforms of Bakul Library and Niyogi Books.
  • Published by Niyogi Books, "The Awasthis of Aamnagiri" is a novella set in the Hindi heartland that also takes Sarma back to her roots in Lucknow. The book traces life of the middle class family in a setting of the 70s and 80s.
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Odisha to Promote Homestay Tourism

  • The Odisha government on Monday decided to promote homestay facilities at nature trails and eco-tourist spots to attract tourists to remote areas of the state. At a high-level virtual meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary A K Tripathy, it was decided that homestays would be supported from the 2021-22 fiscal for a period of ten years.
  • Places like Diamond Triangle Buddhist Circuit (Ratnagiri Udayagiri Lalitgiri), Onkadelli in Koraput district, Khola, Gupti, Dangmala and Bhitarkanika national park in Kendrapara district, Daringibadi, Belghar in Kandhamal, and Simlipal, Pithabata, Jashipur in Mayurbhanj have been prioritised for development of homestay facilities in the first phase. The other locations include Tikarpada, Satakosia in Angul, Magalajodi, Chilika in Khurda district and Dhodrokusum, Zero point in Bargarh district.
  • Around 80 homestay providers at these places would be incentivised each year with financial support.
  • Each homestay unit can let out 1-6 rooms (up to 12 beds) to guests. The rooms must be located in the premises where the owner or his family members normally resides. The owner or his family should be directly involved in providing hospitality to the guests.
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