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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

19 Dec 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Spain Moves Closer to Legalising Euthanasia

  • Spain's Lower House of parliament has backed a bill legalising euthanasia, despite strong opposition from religious groups.
  • The legislation allows those with "serious and incurable" diseases that cause "unbearable suffering" to choose to end their lives.
  • The bill now goes to the Senate which can suggest amendments.
  • If passed, Spain would become the fourth and largest country in the European Union to legalise euthanasia.
  • Such practices are currently only allowed in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
  • The bill was approved by 198-138 votes in the Lower House.

Deb Haaland: Historic Native American Pick for Biden Cabinet

  • President-elect Joe Biden will nominate a Native American to serve as his interior secretary, leading the agency governing public lands.
  • If confirmed, Congresswoman Deb Haaland will be the first indigenous person to lead the department, which also plays a key role in Native American affairs.
  • She will also be the first Native American in a cabinet secretary role.
  • Native rights groups and progressive Democrats had pushed for the New Mexico lawmaker's nomination in recent weeks.
  • Ms. Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe and made history as one of the first two Native American women ever elected to Congress in 2018.

Iran Begins Construction at Underground Nuclear Facility amid US Tensions

  • Iran has begun construction on a site at its underground nuclear facility at Fordo amid tensions with the US over its atomic programme.
  • Iran has not publicly acknowledged any new construction at Fordo, whose discovery by the West in 2009 came in an earlier round of brinkmanship before world powers struck the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
  • This comes as the latest move by Iran to further develop its nuclear program in the face of continued U.S. sanctions, with Iran last week announcing it was moving its nuclear facility in Natanz underground following a July explosion that Tehran described as a sabotage attack.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Route Mobile Names Milind Pathak as Chief Business Officer

  • Route Mobile, a cloud communication service provider to enterprises, over-the-top players and mobile network operators, named Milind Pathak as its Chief Business Officer. Pathak will drive new product development, and support Route Mobile's next phase of growth as the company continues to expand globally, drive product innovation and enter new markets.
  • A senior leader with over 20 years of experience in blue-chip organisations across domestic and global markets, Pathak has held several key decision-making portfolios, especially in sales and marketing, new product development, involving both startups and growth organisations.

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Launches Guaranteed Pension Plan

  • ICICI Prudential Life Insurance launched a new plan that guarantees life-long income after you retire. The plan named, ICICI Pru Guaranteed Pension Plan is a non-linked non-participating individual annuity product that provides customers with the flexibility to choose between Immediate and Deferred Annuity.
  • The Immediate Annuity option enables customers to start receiving regular income immediately by paying a one-time premium. Meanwhile, the Deferred Annuity option gives customers the flexibility to start receiving the income much later, for example, when he or she is closer to retirement. Also, customers have the option to defer the start of the income for a period of 10 years.

IKEA Opens Store in Navi Mumbai

  • One of the world's largest furniture retailer Sweden-based Ikea opened its second store in Navi Mumbai. The first store in India was opened in 2018 in Hyderabad.
  • It houses a 1,000-seater restaurant. However, as of now, only 2,500 people will be allowed to visit the store daily adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines.
  • In India, Ikea has online stores in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune.
  • As per reports, the Navi Mumbai store will provide more than 6,000 jobs of which 50 per cent will be women.
  • Ikea's next project will come up in Bengaluru, which is under construction. Then, it will open multiple format stores in Delhi-NCR — including a combination of a shopping centre, small stores and big centres.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

New Indian Social Networking App Set to Launch in 100 Countries

  • Forpose Pvt Ltd, a leading SaaS (Software as a Service) developer, based out of Hyderabad, India, announced the launch of an indigenous social networking app named Forpose. The beta version of Forpose went live in August, 2020, and now the full-scale launch is set to happen at the start of 2021, across 100+ countries.
  • As a social networking platform, the app will not just connect people, but create new business opportunities for the fashion sector. And with a broad focus on privacy, the Forpose app is set to solve the challenges users face while using current social networks.
  • In-line with other social networking platforms, the consists of a news feed with image and video sharing, tagging, etc., along with Moments to share byte-sized content. The platform has in-built chatting capabilities, but privacy is the key benchmark where it outperforms other players.
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SPORTS

Yogasana Recognised as a Competitive Sport by the Sports Ministry

  • The Ministry of AYUSH and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports announced the formal recognition of Yogasana as a competitive sport, with an aim of enhancing interest in Yoga among people around the globe. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said that the competitions that will arise out of the recognition of Yogasana as a sport will enhance interest in Yoga among people around the globe.
  • As per Rijiju, the ministry is planning to include Yogasana as a sport discipline in Khelo India and in the University Games and we will also pitch it at the National Games but the aim and objective of any sport is to be included in Olympics.
  • The government's decision to recognise Yogasana as a competitive sport comes after 3-4 years of wide consultations with the stakeholders of the Yoga sector.

Simranjeet Enters Boxing World Cup Final

  • Indian boxer Simranjeet Kaur stormed into the 60 kg final of the World Cup in Cologne. Sonia Lather (57 kg) set up a semifinal clash against compatriot Manisha. In the men's section, Satish Kumar (+91 kg) and Mohammed Hussamuddin (57 kg) entered the semis.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Goa Congress Chief Girish Chodankar Quits after Dismal Show in Local Polls

  • Taking responsibility for the party's poor show in the recently held Zilla Panchayat (ZP) polls, Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar resigned from his post.
  • Chodankar earlier this week had submitted his resignation from the post of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president to interim party chief Sonia Gandhi and state in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao.
  • The Congress had won only four Zilla Panchayat seats, out of the 49 where polling was held last week. The ruling BJP had bagged 32 seats.
  • Results of the Zilla Panchayat polls were announced on December 14.
  • Chodankar was appointed the GPCC chief in April 2018, replacing Shantaram Naik, a former Member of Parliament.
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DEFENCE

Rajnath Singh Hands over Three Important DRDO Developed Systems to Army, Navy and Air Force

  • Rajnath Singh handed over the Indian Maritime Situational Awareness System (IMSAS) to the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, ASTRA Mk-I Missile to Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria and Border Surveillance System (BOSS) to the Chief of Army Staff General M. M. Naravane.
  • An all-weather electronic surveillance system has been designed and developed by Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE), Dehradun. The system has been deployed at Ladakh border area for day and night surveillance.
  • The IMSAS is state-of-the-art, fully indigenous, high performance intelligent software system that provide Global Maritime Situational Picture, Marine planning tools and Analytical capabilities to Indian Navy. The system provides Maritime Operational Picture from Naval HQ to each individual ship in sea to enable Naval Command and control (C2).
  • The ASTRA Mk-I is the indigenously developed first Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, which can be launched from Sukhoi-30, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Mig-29 and Mig-29K.

China and Russia Extend Notification Agreement for Ballistic Missile

  • Chinese State Councilor and Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe and Russian Defence Minister Sergi Shoigu signed a Protocol to extend the 'Agreement between Russia and China on Notification on Launches of Ballistic Missiles and Space Missile Carriers'. The Agreement was signed in 2009 and is expiring in December 2020. The countries thus renewed the agreement extending its validity by ten more years. This protocol is expected to further deepen the comprehensive strategic coordination between the two countries.
  • According to the agreement both the countries should notify each other before conducting ballistic missile test or space rocket launches. This is done to express deep trust between the countries. The end result of the agreement is that it ensures strategic stability in the Eurasian supercontinent. This makes the international relations peaceful.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Goa Liberation Day 2020

  • Goa Liberation Day is observed on December 19 every year in India and it marks the day Indian armed forces freed Goa in 1961 following 450 years of Portuguese rule. The Portuguese colonised several parts of India in 1510 but by the end of the 19th-century Portuguese colonies in India were limited to Goa, Daman, Diu, Dadra, Nagar Haveli and Anjediva Island. The Goa liberation movement, which sought to end Portuguese colonial rule in Goa, started off with small scale revolts.
  • Goa Liberation Day is marked by an abundance of events and festivities in Goa though this time because of the pandemic the celebrations are to be muted. A torchlight procession is ignited from three different locations in the state, eventually all meeting at the Azad Maidan. This is where a tribute is made to those who lost their lives in the takeover of Goa.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Ratan Tata to be Honoured with ''Global Visionary of Sustainable Business and Peace'' Award

  • Veteran industrialist Ratan Tata will be honoured by the Indo-Israel Chambers of Commerce for promoting innovation that supports sustainability and peace in the region, including with the Palestinians.
  • The chairman emeritus of the Tata Group will be honoured with ''Global Visionary of Sustainable Business and Peace'' award during the launch of the Federation of Indo-Israel Chamber of Commerce''s international chapter in Dubai on December 21.
  • The virtual ceremony will be attended by senior officials from Israel, India and UAE.
  • The industrialist and philanthropist is the recipient of two of India''s highest civilian awards - Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan.

Shankar Mahadevan and Raghavendra Rathore Winners of UK's Icon Awards

  • Musician Shankar Mahadevan and fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore have been named among 15 winners of the annual 21st Century Icon Awards, unveiled virtually from London.
  • The awards, devised as a celebration of dynamic entrepreneurs and successful individuals chosen from hundreds of nominations from around the world, are organised by Squared Watermelon Limited in partnership with ELITE, the London Stock Exchange Group's international business support and capital raising programme, with other supporters named as Bentley, Stefano Ricci, KPMG and Coca-Cola.
  • Among some of the other 2020 winners included the Dedicated Stalwart Award for Mohit Burman, Vice-Chairman of Dabur India Ltd, and Competitive Sports Awards for Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle and Argentinian polo player Adolfo Cambiaso.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT-Madras Bags 'The Most Innovative Institute of the Year' Award

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-Madras) has bagged the most innovative institute award of this year. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) conferred the 'The Most Innovative Institute of the Year' award to the institute for its innovations in the field of Healthcare, Technology, and other sectors.
  • The award was given for the innovations- VITALSENS platform for clinical-grade wearable health monitoring, which includes the 'Wireless Continuous Multi-parameter Patient Monitoring Device' and related smartphone apps, developed by Mohanasankar Sivaprakasam, Faculty Head, Healthcare Technology Innovation Centre (HTIC). The other awards are for 'Arise,' India's first standing wheelchair by Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan, faculty head, TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development and Shakti, first indigenous microprocessor, developed by Prof. V. Kamakoti, Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Four-year Bachelor's Programme in Talks again in DU

  • A committee appointed by Delhi University to look into the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) has come up with a four-year Bachelor's degree programme course structure, similar to the Four-Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUP) which was implemented in 2014 and then scrapped.
  • Vivek Suneja, Chairman of DU's NEP Implementation Committee (NIC), sent an email to its members forwarding the proposed structure of the four-year programme, which includes exit options after the end of each year, and granting a degree only at the end of the fourth year.
  • Democratic Teachers' Front (DTF) said that DU was moving towards "hasty implementation" without consulting stakeholders and that exit options would "encourage and institutionalise the system of drop-outs, especially among students from socially and economically underprivileged sections, particularly women.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Government of India Releases E-booklet "Putting Farmers First"

  • Amid the intensifying farmer's protest against the three farm laws, the government has launched an e-booklet named 'Putting Farmers First' highlighting the success stories of farmers who have benefited from contract farming after enactment of these legislations. Moreover, it's quite remarkable at this time to highlight the success stories when thousands of farmers are protesting against it.
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