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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

06 Dec 2020


US House Passes Federal Cannabis Decriminalisation Bill

  • The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to decriminalise cannabis at the national level for the first time.
  • It calls for removing cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances and erasing certain federal convictions.
  • It also supports reinvestment in communities adversely impacted by the decades-long "war on drugs".
  • The bill is very unlikely to be taken up in the Republican-controlled Senate.
  • The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (More) Act was passed in the lower chamber 228 to 164 on Friday afternoon, with five Republicans - and one independent - supporting the measure.
  • To become law, the bill needs to pass the Senate and be signed by the president. If that happens, it could help bridge a major disconnect between national and state drug policy in the US.

Post-Brexit Trade Talks Paused Amid Significant Divergences

  • Talks to reach a post-Brexit trade deal have been paused, because UK and EU negotiators said that significant divergences remain.
  • Michel Barnier and David Frost said that conditions for a deal between the two sides have not been met.
  • European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and PM Boris Johnson will discuss the state of play.
  • State aid subsidies, fishing and enforcement of new rules remain the key sticking points in negotiations.
  • If a deal is not agreed by 31st December, the two sides will trade on World Trade Organization rules, meaning the introduction of taxes on imports.
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RBI Monetary Policy Committee Meeting

  • The RBI held its Monetary Policy Committee meet. During the meet, the Reserve Bank of India has kept the repo rate unchanged at 4%. Repo rate is the rate at which RBI lends to banks. The Reverse Repo Rate is to continue at 3.35%.
  • The meeting concluded that the "Accommodative Stance" of monetary policy is to continue. Accommodative Stance means the apex bank will keep cutting rates in order to inject money in to the financial system. When the accommodative stance of the bank is addressed as "neutral", it means that RBI may alter rates in any direction to control the flow of the currency in the country.
  • The bank rate and the Marginal standing facility were kept unchanged at 4.25%
  • Real GDP for the year 2020-21 has been projected at -7.5%.
  • The Q3 GDP of 2020-21 was projected to grow at 0.1%. In Q4, the GDP is expected to grow at 0.7%.
  • The CPI Inflation for Q3 was projected at 6.8% and for Q4 at 5.8%.
  • The limit of contactless card transaction has been raised from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 per transaction. This is to be implemented in January 2021.
  • The RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) system is to be made 24/7 in few days.

24X7 RTGS from Dec 14; Rs. 5,000 New Limit for Contactless Card Transactions

  • In a bid to give a push to digital payments, the Reserve Bank announced a slew of measures including enhancing the limit for contactless card transactions to Rs. 5,000 and making RTGS transaction facility available round the clock from December 14.
  • The RBI has also decided to grant licence to entities operating payments systems on a perpetual basis, and permitted companies to reapply for licence after one year of rejection of their application or revocation of their licence.
  • The RTGS will be available for customers and inter-bank transactions round the clock, except for the interval between 'end-of-day' and 'start-of-day' processes, whose timings would be duly broadcast through the RTGS system.

Denmark Set to End All New Oil and Gas Exploration

  • Denmark will end all new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, as part of a wider plan to stop extracting fossil fuels by 2050.
  • Its government also agreed to cancel its latest licensing round, which gives firms permission to search for and produce oil and gas.
  • However, the country's latest licensing round was facing uncertainty, after Total of France pulled out in October, leaving only one other applicant.
  • Denmark is currently the largest oil producer in the European Union, although it produces much less than non-EU members Norway or the UK.
  • The decision will cost Denmark about 13 billion kroner (£1.1bn), according estimates by the energy ministry, though it said this amount was subject to substantial uncertainty.
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Napoli's San Paolo Stadium Renamed after Argentina Legend Diego Maradona

  • Italian side Napoli`s San Paolo stadium has been renamed after Diego Maradona in memory of the late Argentina legend who led them to their only two Serie A titles during his seven-year run with Napoli from 1984 to 1991.
  • The Naples city council has unanimously approved a resolution that will change the name of Napoli`s home stadium from Stadio San Paolo to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
  • Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris had urged Napoli to rename the San Paolo Stadium after legendary footballer Maradona.
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First Time after Independence, Waqf Boards to be Established in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

  • As per Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Waqf Boards will soon be established in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and the process for it has already started.
  • After chairing a Central Waqf Council meeting, Naqvi in a statement said that Waqf Boards will be established in the Jammu-Kashmir and the Leh-Kargil areas for the first time since Independence. It has become possible to do so only after the revocation of Article 370, he said and added that the Waqf Boards in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will ensure proper utilisation of Waqf properties for the welfare of society.
  • The central government will provide adequate financial assistance to construct infrastructure for socio-economic and educational activities on Waqf properties in the Union Territories under the 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karykram (PMJVK).

SC Rejects Plea for Appointment of Govt. Nominees in Trust for Ayodhya Mosque

  • The Supreme Court rejected a PIL seeking directions for nominating Central and state government representatives to the Indo-Islamic Cultural Foundation trust for building a mosque in Ayodhya.
  • A Bench headed by Justice RF Nariman rejected the PIL filed by two lawyers who said that apart from private individuals and members of state Sunni Wakf Board, the presence of Central and state government representatives was essential to ensure proper management of funds.
  • The Sunni Waqf Board had in July declared creating a trust under the title of "Indo Islamic Cultural Foundation" for building a mosque, cultural and research centre and public utility facilities including a community kitchen, a hospital and a library within 5 acres land allotted to it.
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Navies of India and Russia Conduct Passage Exercise in Indian Ocean Region

  • The Indian Navy undertook a Passage Exercise (PASSEX), a two-day drill, with Russian Federation Navy in the eastern Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • The exercise involved the participation of Russia's guided-missile cruiser Varyag, the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Panteleyev and medium ocean tanker Pechenga. India was represented by indigenously constructed guided-missile frigate Shivalik and anti-submarine corvette Kadmatt alongwith integral helicopters.
  • The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability, improving understanding and imbibing best practices between both the friendly navies, and would involve advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, weapon firings, seamanship exercises and helicopter operations.
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Virtual Business Conclave with CLMV Countries

  • The sixth India-CLMV Business Conclave 2020 was recently held. During the conclave, India invited the CLMV countries to join International Solar Alliance and the Resilient Supply Chain Initiative. The Conclave was held under the theme "Building Bridges for Constructive Development yesterday".
  • During the conclave, India mentioned that it is ready to share COVID-19 vaccine with the CLMV countries. This is important for every leading economies in order to prevent vaccine nationalism.
  • The CLMV countries are Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The CLMV countries have a unique position in Southeast Asia region. The countries act as a gateway for the market access to European Union and China and also other markets due to various trade agreements. The four countries hold rich natural resources such as copper, oil, natural gas, gemstones and teak.
  • They are the third largest economy in the world. In the last decade, India's trade with these countries has grown from 1.5 billion USD to 10 billion USD.
  • India intends to increase its trade and investment in these countries as they hold advantage of free trade agreements with countries such as China. India's trade to China through this route will be much cheaper. In other words, India will invest in these countries and earn the benefits by exporting the return to China.
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UGC Grants Six Months Extension to MPhil, PhD Students for Thesis Submission

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted a six month extension for submission of thesis to MPhil and Phd students in wake of prolonged closure of universities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier, the students were granted extension till December 31. However, the same has been extended till June 30 now but the tenure of fellowship for PhD and MPhil will remain the same--5 years.
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