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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

01 Dec 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Refuses to Support China's Mega Connectivity Project at SCO

  • Reiterating its stance yet again, India refused to extend support to China's mega connectivity project One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). India was the only country in the 8 member grouping, which refused to support the project that has often been in news for its lack of transparency and whooping cost for the host country.
  • The Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan, reaffirming their support for China's One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) Initiative (BRI).
  • India had become a member of the Beijing headquartered grouping in 2017.

China's Proposed Hydropower Project in Brahmaputra, Tibet

  • Under the 14th five-year plan that is to be implemented from 2021, China has proposed hydropower project on Brahmaputra River in Tibet. The project has been proposed by the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party of China. The Committee prepared the fourteenth five-year plan, 2021 to 2025 and the long-term goals through 2035 of China.
  • The riparian states of the Brahmaputra River such as Bangladesh and India have raised concerns against the proposal.
  • The Brahmaputra is called Yarlung Zangpo in the region. According to the Chinese, the river has the richest water resources in the Tibet autonomous region. It has a potential to generate 80 million kilowatt hours. On the other hand, the 50-kilometre section of the river's Grand Canyon alone has potential to develop 70 million kilowatt hours which could be easily generated with just 2000 metres drop. This equals more than 3 gorgeous power stations installed in the Hubei province.

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, Benazir Bhutto's Daughter, Makes Political Debut in Multan

  • Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, the youngest daughter of Pakistan's slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, made her political debut in Multan at a rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), the 11-party opposition alliance.
  • In her speech, Aseefa called on the crowd to remember her mother's sacrifices for democracy and urged them to support her brother Bilawal Bhutto in his fight for true democracy in the country.
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ENVIRONMENT

Caribbean Coral Reefs under Siege from Aggressive Algae

  • A new algal threat is taking advantage of coral's already precarious situation in the Caribbean and making it even harder for reef ecosystems to grow.
  • An aggressive, golden-brown, crust-like alga is rapidly overgrowing shallow reefs, taking the place of coral that was damaged by extreme storms and exacerbating the damage caused by ocean acidification, disease, pollution, and bleaching.
  • "This alga seems to be something of an ecological winner in our changing world," described lead author Wilson, noting that the various other threats to coral communities make them more susceptible to the algal crusts.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

PFC & REC Extend Term Loan to STPL

  • Power Finance Corporation (PFC) and REC Ltd. (REC) have executed an MoU with SJVN Thermal (P) Ltd. (STPL) for extending term loan of Rs. 8,520.46 crore for 2x660 MW Buxar Thermal Power Project. STPL is a wholly owned subsidiary of SJVN Limited and executing the project.

Paytm Money to Facilitate Investments in IPO

  • Fintech major Paytm said that its wholly-owned subsidiary Paytm Money will now facilitate investments in Initial Public Offers (IPOs).
  • The move is aimed at benefiting retail investors with wealth creation opportunities, as they will be able to seamlessly apply and join the growth story of rapidly expanding companies.
  • The company has made the process of IPO application completely digital and simple for retail investors to apply for public offers, and will continue to add new tech-savvy features for enhanced user experience.
  • The company is aiming to capture 8 to 10 per cent of applications market share in the first year of launch.

S&P Global to Buy IHS Markit

  • Data giant S&P Global Inc has agreed to buy IHS Markit Ltd in an all-stock deal worth $44 billion that will be the biggest corporate acquisition of 2020 and create a heavyweight in the increasingly competitive market in financial information.
  • The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021 if it can pass reviews by antitrust regulators who have been showing increasing interest in the sector.
  • S&P Global is best known for providing debt ratings to countries and companies, as well as data on capital and commodity markets worldwide. It became a standalone business in 2011 when its then parent McGraw-Hill separated S&P from its education business.
  • IHS Markit was formed in 2016 when IHS, whose businesses range from data on automotive and technology industries to publishing Jane's Defence Weekly, bought Markit Ltd for around $6 billion.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

DRDO Creates New Lab for Focused Research along China, Pakistan Borders

  • In the middle of a border conflict, the government has merged two Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratories to create a new one to do focused research on terrain and avalanches along the borders with China and Pakistan.
  • The newly created laboratory has been named Defence Geo Informatics Research Establishment by merging two exiting labs.
  • The two new labs merged by the government are the Manali-headquartered Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE) and the other is the Delhi-based Defence Terrain Research Establishment (DTRL).
  • The SASE had been very actively engaged in the study of snow and avalanches in the operational areas and has prepared an avalanche atlas of almost 3,000 on-road locations in different parts of the country where the armed forces are deployed.
  • Similarly, the DTRL had been working on different terrains where the armed forces are deployed.

HAL Delivers Biggest ever Cryogenic Propellant Tank to ISRO

  • Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has delivered the biggest cryogenic propellant tank (C32 LH2) ever fabricated by the company to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It added that this was much ahead of the contractual schedule at a program held in Bengaluru recently.
  • The C32-LH2 tank is a developmental cryogenic propellant tank of aluminium alloy designed for improving the payload capability of GSLV MK-III launching vehicle.
  • The four-meter diametric tank is of eight-meter length to load 5,755 kg propellant in the 89 cubic meter volume.
  • HAL has mastered the skills and technologies required for fabricating welded propellant tank of Aluminium ally to such stringent quality requirement.
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SPORTS

Babar Azam New Captain for All Three Formats PCB

  • The Pakistan Cricket Board has made it clear that Babar Azam has been appointed captain for all three formats on a long-term basis.
  • According to PCB CEO Wasim Khan, Babar is their best batsman, young and mentally very strong and he himself wanted to take on the responsibility for all three formats.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Hardeep Puri among 10 MPs Administered Oath

  • Lok Sabha Speaker appointed former Uttrakhand IAS officer Utpal Kumar Singh as the next Secretary General of the House. He replaces Snehlata Srivastava completed her term on Monday.
  • Singh, who retired from the service last year, has been serving as the Secretary in the Lok Sabha Secretariat since August 2019. He brings to office 34 years of administrative experience.
  • The 10 newly-elected members were administered oath or affirmation as members of the Rajya Sabha by Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu. These include Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Neeraj Shekhar, Ram Gopal Yadav Geeta alias Chandraprabha and former DGP Brij Lal from Uttar Pradesh. One member each from Karnataka, Naryana Koragappa and Naresh Bansal from Uttrakhand also took oath.

Uttar Pradesh: Voting for 11 MLC Seats

  • The voting for 11 MLC seats in Uttar Pradesh started December 1. Elaborate security arrangements have been made in Lucknow to hold the election in free and fair manner.
  • As per reports, only 1,000 people will be allowed to cast vote at a particular booth.
  • The Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council has 100 seats, of which 11 fell vacant in May. The 11 seats are six teacher constituencies and five graduate constituencies.

Centre Forms Panel to Oversee Construction of new Parliament Building

  • The Centre has formed a five-member committee to oversee construction of the new Parliament house and to ensure heritage and aesthetics of the complex are maintained. The committee was formed after a request from Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla who was given a presentation of the project by the Central Public Works Department, the nodal agency for construction.
  • The presentation facilitated by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs saw design elements, construction work, transplantation of trees, shifting of statues and other issues discussed. Representatives from design consultant for the project HCP and Tata Projects, which has been awarded the contract for building the new Parliament, attended the presentation.
  • The committee will comprise joint secretaries from the Lok Sabha Secretariat, CPWD and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Apart from the three officers, there will be representation from Tata Projects and HCP. The committee would act as the bridge between the Lok Sabha Secretariat and private contractor.
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DEFENCE

Indian Navy Leases Two Sea Guardian Drones from US

  • The Indian Navy has taken on lease two Sea Guardian drones from an American defence major to enhance surveillance over the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) but the unmanned aerial vehicles can be deployed in the Ladakh region if the need arises. The two non-weaponised MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones have been leased for one year with an option of extending the period by another year.
  • The lease of the two drones came in the midst of India's plans to procure up to 30 weaponised versions of the Sea Guardian drones from the US to bolster the Navy's overall surveillance capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • The hi-tech drones, manufactured by US firm General Atomics, arrived at the naval air station INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu.

Basin Trials of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier Successful

  • In a major development, basin trials of Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) were successfully conducted at Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), marking entry into the final phase of the ambitious warship building project. Basin trial is testing of the ship machinery and equipment in floating conditions before the sea trials. With successful completion of basin trials, IAC has entered the final phase of the project. The sea trials are planned in first half of 2021.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Leading Historian V. N. Datta Passes Away

  • Leading historian of modern India Vishwa Nath Datta, most celebrated for the pioneering work "Jallianwala Bagh", passed away. He was 94.
  • Professor Datta was in the tradition of those great scholars who were also great teachers. He trained an entire generation of students, each of whom made a seminal contribution to history as a subject and to the history of Punjab particularly.
  • Datta's writings opened up new vistas for understanding history. He examined the entire evidence of the Hunter Commission that was set up to look into the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
  • A Padma Shri, Datta's long career included his time as a contributor to The Tribune in which he started writing as a student at Lahore and went on to author "Off the Shelf", a well-regarded column for years.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

PM Narendra Modi Participates in Dev Deepawali Mahotsav in Varanasi

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the 'Dev Deepawali Mahotsav' in Varanasi and congratulated the people of Kashi for getting back the stolen Mata Annapurna's idol.
  • The idol of Mata Annapurna was stolen from Kashi more than 100 years ago.
  • PM Modi lit the customary first 'diya' at the Raj Ghat to mark the beginning of the celebrations that are held on every 'poornima' of the Hindu month of Kartik. He was accompanied by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adiyanath.

World AIDS Day

  • Every year, on 1st December, the world commemorates World AIDS Day. People around the world unite to show support for people living with and affected by HIV and to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS. World AIDS Day was first conceived in August 1987 by James W. Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public information officers for the Global Programme on AIDS at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. It was founded in 1988.
  • World AIDS Day is one of the eleven official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunisation Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day, World Hepatitis Day, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, World Patient Safety Day and World Chagas Disease Day.
  • All the World AIDS Day campaigns focus on a specific theme and this year's (2020) theme is "Global solidarity, shared responsibility".
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Goldman Environmental Prize 2020

  • An indigenous leader from the Ecuadorean Amazon is one of the winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, which recognises grassroots activism.
  • Nemonte Nenquimo was chosen for her success in protecting 500,000 acres of rainforest from oil extraction.
  • She and fellow members of the Waorani Indigenous Group took the Ecuadorean government to court over its plans to put their territory up for sale.
  • Their 2019 legal victory set a legal precedent for indigenous rights.
  • For Nemonte Nenquimo, protecting the environment was less a choice than a legacy she decided she had to carry on.
  • The Goldman Environmental Prize is a prize awarded annually to grassroots environmental activists, one from each of the world's six geographic regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands and Island Nations, North America, and South and Central America. The award is given by the Goldman Environmental Foundation headquartered in San Francisco, California. It is also called the Green Nobel.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Assam Government to Launch Orundoi Scheme

  • The scheme is to be launched by the Assam government in 29 districts across the state. Through this scheme, the government seeks to empower women by transferring a minimum amount of Rs. 830 each month directly to the bank accounts of the nominated female head of the household. More than 18 lakh beneficiaries have already been selected by the government under this scheme. This number is expected to reach 22 lakh after the inclusion of districts in the Bodoland Territorial Area.
  • The scheme was announced during the state budget 2020-21. It is to be implemented at an annual budget of Rs. 2400 crore. The scheme is first of its kind in the country. According to the state government of Assam the scheme will suffice the basic requirement of Health and nutrition of a household.
  • The household owning tractor, four wheelers, fridge or TV are not eligible under the scheme. The amount to the beneficiaries under the scheme is to be directly transferred from the eKuber system of Reserve Bank of India.
View Month Wise

GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Digital Learning to be Implemented in Karnataka's Government Colleges

  • Karnataka government has decided to implement learning management system (LMS)-based digital learning in government higher educational institutions from the academic year 2020-21. 'Karnataka LMS' would be implemented in 430 government first grade colleges, 87 government polytechnics and 14 government engineering colleges.
  • Karnataka LMS' was launched by Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa in the presence of Deputy Chief Minister C. N. Ashwath Narayan, who is also in-charge of the Higher Education Department. LMS-based digital learning is said to be a novel and a first of its kind initiative of the state government, a boon to the students of Government Higher Education Institutions, especially those from socially and economically disadvantaged sections of society. It is a platform to revolutionise the teaching and learning process by effecting changes in delivery of content, access and assessment.
  • Multilingual e-content in the form of PPTs, videos, quizzes, assignments and e-study materials congruous with both self-learning and classroom teaching is being developed as per the university-prescribed syllabi of 14 affiliating varsities by the faculty of the Department of Collegiate and Technical Education.

India Records Largest Reduction in Malaria Cases in South-East Asia

  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), India made strong progress in the fight against malaria, recording the largest reduction in cases in South-East Asia from 20 million in 2000 to about 5.6 million last year (2019).
  • As per the World Malaria Report 2020, in 2019, malaria cases globally numbered about 229 million, an annual estimate that has remained virtually unchanged over the last four years.
  • Last year, the disease claimed about 409,000 lives, compared to 411,000 in 2018.
  • Countries in South-East Asia made particularly strong progress, with reductions in cases and deaths of 73 per cent and 74 per cent, respectively. India contributed to the largest drop in cases region-wide – from approximately 20 million to about 6 million.
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