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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

11 Dec 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Morocco Latest Arab Country to Normalise Ties with Israel

  • Morocco has become the latest Arab League country to agree to normalise relations with Israel in a deal brokered with US help.
  • As part of the deal, the US has agreed to recognise Morocco's claim over the disputed Western Sahara region.
  • It is the subject of a dispute between Morocco and the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which has been seeking to establish an independent state.
  • Morocco is the fourth state to make such a deal with Israel since August.
  • Agreements have also been struck recently with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan.
  • Along with Egypt and Jordan, Morocco becomes the sixth Arab League member to normalise ties with Israel.

Biden Picks China Expert Tai as Top US Trade Representative

  • President-elect Joe Biden roped in Katherine Tai as US Trade Representative as he named former national security advisor Susan Rice for top domestic policy job at the White House and Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture.
  • Biden also named Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

DR Congo Parliament Votes to Remove Speaker

  • Lawmakers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have voted to remove the parliament's speaker.
  • The result is a victory for President Félix Tshisekedi, who's been involved in a power struggle with supporters of his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.
  • Earlier this week police had to intervene to break up fights between rival politicians.
  • The speaker, Jeanine Mabunda, was an ally of Mr. Kabila. She was impeached after being accused of "partisan leadership" by President Tshisekedi's supporters - allegations she denied.
  • The vote also saw the majority in parliament swing in favour of President Tshisekedi.
  • He can now put into motion plans that he put forward earlier. They include forming a government which he said would allow him to deliver more to the Congolese people.
  • The removal of the speaker is a major blow to former President Kabila, who stepped down last year after leading the central African country for 18 years.
  • He had full control of both national and provincial assemblies.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Walmart to Triple Exports from India in Seven Years

  • Global retail major Walmart said that it will triple its exports of goods from India to $10 billion each year by 2027.
  • The expansion in sourcing will include categories such as food, pharmaceuticals, consumables, health & wellness, and general merchandise, along with the existing mainstays such as apparel and homeware.
  • Walmart annually sources goods worth about $3 billion, mainly apparel, homeware and jewellery to 14 markets, including the US, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the UK.
  • Walmart has sourced goods from India for more than 20 years and helped build new capabilities in packaging, marketing and supply chain management.

RBI Lifts Restriction on Uttar Pradesh Civil Secretariat Primary Co-operative Bank

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has lifted restrictions on Uttar Pradesh Civil Secretariat Primary Co-operative Bank.
  • The Bank management committee will give a plan for the workability of the bank to RBI in next 6 weeks.
  • The Reserve Bank had in 2018 imposed restrictions on UP Civil Secretariat Primary Co- operative Bank Ltd., Lucknow. RBI had directed that the bank shall not grant or renew any loans and advances, make any investment, incur liability including borrowal of funds and acceptance of fresh deposits, disburse or agree to disburse any payment whether in discharge of its liabilities and obligations or otherwise, enter into any compromise or arrangement and sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of any of its properties or assets except to the extent and in the manner provided, without prior approval in writing from the Reserve Bank of India.

French Privacy Watchdog Slaps Fine on Google and Azmazon

  • France's data privacy watchdog has fined Google 100 million euros (USD 121 million) and Amazon 35 million euros (USD 42 million) for breaching the country's rules on advertising cookies.
  • The CNIL said that the French websites of both companies did not request prior consent from internet users about trackers, or cookies that were automatically saved on computers for advertising purposes.
  • It said that Google and Amazon also failed to provide clear information to users about the purposes of these cookies and how they might refuse them.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

China Launches Satellites for Gravitational Wave Detection

  • China successfully launched two satellites for the detection of gravitational waves into planned orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan Province.
  • The two satellites, which compose the Gravitational Wave High-energy Electromagnetic Counterpart All-sky Monitor (GECAM) mission, were launched by a Long March-11 carrier rocket.
  • The GECAM satellites will be used to monitor high-energy celestial phenomena such as gravitational wave gamma-ray bursts, high-energy radiation of fast radio bursts, special gamma-ray bursts and magnetar bursts, and to study neutron stars, black holes and other compact objects and their merger processes.
  • In addition, they will also detect high-energy radiation phenomena in space, such as solar flares, Earth gamma flashes and Earth electron beams, providing observation data for scientists.

Narrow Band IoT Network

  • BSNL in partnership with the Skylo announced the world's first satellite based Narrow Band Internet of Things network in India. This is to bring a breakthrough in satellite based narrowband internet of things technology. It will also help in in achieving the targets of Digital India mission helping farmers, fishermen, meaning, construction and Logistic Enterprises in India.
  • This Made in India solution will connect the BSNL satellite ground infrastructure including the Indian seas. This has been introduced under the vision of BSNL to leverage technology to provide innovative and affordable telecom services. Apart from these, NB-IoT is highly supporting 5G network.
  • Narrow Band IoT is a Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) technology that was developed to enable wide range of new internet of things devices. It mainly improves the power consumption of the devices, spectrum efficiency and system capacity. Under this technology battery life of more than 10 years can be achieved in devices.
  • The technology is highly affordable to connect two vehicles and other IoT devices.
  • The channels and physical layer signals in the technology are designed to meet the requirements of extended coverage, especially in deep in doors and rural areas. It is much simpler than that of the GPRS or GSM Technologies.
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SPORTS

Anand to Launch Chess Academy

  • Legendary Indian chess player Viswanathan Anand has joined hands with WestBridge Capital to launch a chess academy, through which the five-time world champion will train youngsters. The academy, named WestBridge-Anand Chess Academy, has taken on board five of the country's most promising players to be trained by Anand. The initial list of trainees and grantees of the WACA Fellowship are: R. Praggnanandhaa (15 years old), Nihal Sarin (16), Raunak Sadhwani (15), D Gukesh (14) and Praggnanandhaa's sister R. Vaishali (19).
  • As part of the partnership, deserving candidates will be identified every year and provided help to break into the top world chess ranking. They will be granted fellowships.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

J&K Fifth Phase of DDC Election Ends

  • According to State Election Commissioner (SEC) K.K. Sharma, the fifth phase of District Development Council (DDC) election in Jammu and Kashmir ended with 51.2 per cent voting. The voting across 37 seats passed off peacefully across Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The voting for sixth phase will take place on December 13.

Assam NRC Published Last Year Not Final

  • The historic National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam published in August last year was only a "supplementary list" and the final document is yet to come out, state coordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma has told the Gauhati High Court. In the "supplementary list" of the NRC, over 10,000 names were either wrongly included or excluded and necessary orders have been issued to delete nearly 4,800 "ineligible persons" from the document, Sarma said in an affidavit to the High Court.

India Extends Support to Bangladesh Candidature for WHO Post

  • India has extended its support to Bangladesh's candidature for the post of executive director (ED) of South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • Newly appointed Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Doraiswami conveyed this support when he paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
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DEFENCE

India and Japan Discuss Military Ties, Joint Drills

  • India and Japan have discussed how to further enhance cooperation and interoperability between the air forces of the two countries.
  • They also discussed the scope for enhancement of joint exercises and training. A broader cooperation for strengthening collective response to contingencies was also discussed.
  • The two sides held wide-ranging discussions during the visit of General Izutsu Shunji, Chief of Staff, Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF), who met his Indian counterpart Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria.
  • Gen Izutsu Shunji called on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and held meetings with Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, Chief of Navy Admiral Karambir Singh and Vice Chief of the Army Lt Gen SK Saini.
  • A pair of Canadians have been held for almost two years amid a dispute over the arrest of an executive of Chinese technology giant Huawei.

China and Pakistan Conduct Joint Air Drills

  • China and Pakistan are conducting joint air force exercises in the southern desert of the Islamic Republic near the border with India in a not-so-subtle message to a country with which both have long had tense relations.
  • The drills come just a week after Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe visited Pakistan and signed a memorandum of understanding for deepening military cooperation. The exercises, dubbed Shaheen -- or Falcon -- IX, are underway at the newly operational Bholari air base in the arid region of Sindh in the country's south, less than 200 km from the Indian border.

Brazil's CBC and India's SSS Defence Joint Venture to Take Off in 2021

  • Production of ammunition under the joint venture between Companhia Brasileira de Cartuchos (CBC) Brazil, the world's second-largest ammunition manufacturer, and Stumpp Schuele & Somappa India (SSS Defence) will take off in August 2021, in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The joint venture will focus on not only the Indian market but will also reach out to the region.
  • The joint venture between the two companies was inked in January this year.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Dance Pioneer Astad Deboo Passes Away

  • Contemporary Indian dancer Astad Deboo, known for amalgamating Indian and western dance techniques, died. He was 73.
  • Deboo employed his training in Indian classical dance forms of kathak as well as kathakali to create a unique fusion dance form.
  • He left behind a formidable legacy of unforgettable performances combined with an unswerving dedication to his art, matched only by his huge, loving heart that gained him thousands of friends and a vast number of admirers.
  • Known for his charitable endeavours, Deboo worked with deaf children, both in India and abroad for two decades.
  • In 2002, he founded the Astad Deboo Dance Foundation which provided creative training to marginalised sections, including the differently-abled.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

UNICEF Day

  • UNICEF Day is observed every year on December 11. The United Nations General Assembly created UNICEF on December 11, 1946, as the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. The programme was initiated to provide supplies, assistance and to improve the health, nutrition, education, and general welfare of children after World War II.
  • The organisation was originally named United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. However, in 1953, it became a permanent agency of the UN, and the words 'International' and 'Emergency' were dropped from the official name but the acronym continued.
  • UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories aiming to save children's lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.

International Mountain Day

  • International Mountain Day is observed every year on December 11. It is a UN designated day to celebrate the rich biodiversity, as well as address the threats mountains face. The world's most spectacular landscapes are facing threats in every way.
  • International Mountain Day is "observed every year with a different theme relevant to sustainable mountain development. FAO is the U.N. organization mandated to lead observance of International Mountain Day.
  • 'Mountain biodiversity' is the theme of International Mountain Day 2020.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

HelpAge First Indian NGO to Bag UN Award

  • HelpAge India became the first Indian NGO to be awarded the prestigious 2020 UN Population Award in the institutional category.
  • The selection of HelpAge is in recognition of its work on population issues and efforts in the realisation of rights of older persons in India since 1978. The award was presented during a virtual event held at UN headquarters in New York to mark Human Rights Day.
  • The award brings focus to the issue of ageing with India housing an estimated 140 million elderly. HelpAge, with 42 years of fieldwork, has presence in 125 districts across 25 states.
  • It works for welfare of elderly. The NGO impacts 2 million elderly in India.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Govt. May Hold JEE Multiple Times from Next Year

  • The Union education ministry is exploring the possibility of holding the marque Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) three or four times a year and a proposal is being evaluated on reducing the number of questions that students can attempt in JEE (Main) 2021.
  • Regarding the concerns raised by students relating to syllabus and dates of JEE, Pokhriyal said that the suggestion of JEE (Main) 2021 to be held four times in a year will be examined positively, beginning in the end of February (thereafter in March, April and May 2021) for three to four days each time.
  • The syllabus for JEE (Main) 2021 will remain the same as the previous year and a proposal is under examination where students will be given the choice of answering 75 questions (25 questions each in physics, chemistry and mathematics) out of 90 questions (30 question each in physics, chemistry and mathematics).

Maharashtra Govt. Signs MoU with Cornell University

  • The Maharashtra government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Cornell University in New York to set up a world-class incubation centre in Maharashtra to provide the necessary infrastructure and conducive environment for new entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups.
  • The MoU was signed in an online event held in the presence of Industries Minister Subhash Desai and senior officials. "This is the first time that a state in India is setting up an incubation centre through a MoU with an international university.
  • As per reports, 60 entrepreneurs will receive training, guidance and financial and administrative support every year at the incubation centre from the university. Entrepreneurs holding a domicile certificate in Maharashtra will be able to take part in the programme. Those participating will get a certificate from Cornell University.
  • The scheme will be implemented on a pilot basis for the first three academic years and is estimated to cost around Rs. 7 crore per year.
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