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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

21 Dec 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Nepal President Dissolves Parliament

  • Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved Parliament at the recommendation of Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli. She dissolved Parliament as per Article 76, clause 1 and 7, and Article 85 of the Constitution of Nepal.
  • The President has announced mid-term general elections from April 30 for the first phase and May 10 for the second phase.
  • The surprising development unfolded during an emergency meeting called by PM Oli. The meeting was attended by the council of ministers and the cabinet recommended the dissolution of the country's parliament.

Xi Appoints New General for PLA's Western Theatre Command Amidst Ladakh Standoff

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping has appointed a new General as the Commander of the People's Liberation Army's Western Theatre Command which oversees the Sino-Indian border, amidst the military stand-off in eastern Ladakh.
  • President Xi, who heads the Central Military Commission (CMC), the overall high-command of the two million-strong People's Liberation Army (PLA), appointed Gen. Zhang Xudong as the Commander of the Western Theatre Command.
  • Xi has promoted four senior Chinese military and armed police officers. Among them was Gen. Zhang, Commander of the Western Theatre Command of the PLA.
  • The other officers who were promoted include Guo Puxiao, Political Commissar of the Logistic Support Department of the CMC; Li Wei, Political Commissar of the PLA Strategic Support Force and Wang Chunning, Commander.

EU-UK Trade Talks Floundering over Fish as Cutoff Day Nears

  • Deep into a crucial weekend of negotiations, a breakthrough on fishing rights remained elusive for the European Union and Britain, leaving both without a trade agreement that would dull the edge of a chaotic, costly economic break on New Year's Day.
  • With hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake throughout the economy, the tiny sector of fisheries continued to drive a wedge between the 27-nation bloc and the U.K., highlighting the animosity that drove them to a Brexit divorce over the past four years. Britain left the bloc in January, but an 11-month economic transition period ends on December 31.
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the EU is continuing to make demands that are incompatible with our independence. We cannot accept a deal that doesn't leave us in control of our own laws or waters.
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ENVIRONMENT

Govt. Plans to Measure Depth of Himalayan Glaciers

  • As global warming affects the Himalayas, the Ministry of Earth Sciences is planning to measure the depth of glaciers in the region to assess their volume and gauge the water available in them.
  • The project will start next summer, sometime in June-July 2021.
  • Ravichandran, the Director of the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), which will execute the project, said that the country's remote and high-altitude research centre, Himansh, is also studying the Himalayan climate.
  • The centre was established in 2016.
  • The plan is to first study seven glaciers in the Chandra river basin.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

PayPal Fined for Violating India's Anti-money Laundering Processes

  • American online payment gateway giant PayPal has been imposed a Rs. 96 lakh penalty by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for alleged contravention of the anti-money laundering law and accused of concealing suspect financial transactions and abetting disintegration of India's financial system.
  • PayPal began India operations in November 2017.
  • The company has also been charged with defeating and frustrating the tenets of public interest and the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which aims to keep the country's financial system safe from economic crimes, terrorist financing and black money transactions.

RBI Seeks Applications under Second Cohort

  • The Reserve Bank announced the second cohort under the Regulatory Sandbox (RS) with the theme of 'Cross Border Payments' and also reduced net-worth requirement for entities interested in participating.
  • Regulatory sandbox refers to live testing of new products or services in a controlled/test regulatory environment for which regulators may permit certain relaxations for the limited purpose of the testing.
  • The RS allows the regulator, innovators, financial service providers and customers to conduct field tests to collect evidence on the benefits and risks of new products and systems.
  • The central bank had announced the opening of the first cohort under RS with the theme of 'Retail Payments'.
  • It has also decided on 'MSME Lending' as the theme for the third cohort, details of which it will announce in due course.

Bank of Baroda Completes Integration of Erstwhile Dena and Vijaya Banks with Itself

  • State-run Bank of Baroda has completed integration of 3,898 branches of erstwhile Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with itself.
  • In a first three-way amalgamation, Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank were merged with Bank of Baroda from April 1, 2019.
  • The bank has completed the integration of 1,770 erstwhile Dena Bank branches in December 2020, and had earlier completed the integration of 2,128 erstwhile Vijaya Bank branches in September 2020.
  • Over 5 crore customer accounts were migrated. In addition to branches, all ATMs, POS machines and credit cards have been migrated successfully.
  • The bank said that all customers now have access to a total of 8,248 domestic branches and 10,318 ATMs across India, which will provide them complete access to its entire suite of products and services.
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SPORTS

Lionel Messi Equals Pele's Record of 643 Goals for a Single Club

  • Lionel Messi equalled Pele's haul of 643 goals for Santos after scoring for Barcelona against Valencia in La Liga, matching the Brazilian great's scoring record for a single club.
  • Messi hit the milestone goal with a diving header just before half time immediately after his penalty was saved by Valencia keeper Jaume Domenech.
  • Pele scored 643 goals in 665 competitive games for Santos, while Messi needed 748 matches to reach the tally, although he did it in 17 seasons compared to the 19 Pele needed.

Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta, Mallakhamba included in Khelo India Youth Games 2021

  • The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports approved the inclusion of four indigenous games to be a part of the Khelo India Youth Games 2021, scheduled to take place in Haryana.
  • The games include — Gatka, Kalaripayattu, Thang-Ta and Mallakhamba.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Final Phase of Voting for J&K's DDC Polls Concludes

  • The eighth and final phase of voting for District Development Council (DDC) elections across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir concluded. Around 40 .91 per cent voting was registered till 1 pm. Despite sub-zero temperatures, people came out in huge numbers to cast their votes.
  • There are a total of 28 DDC constituencies that went for polls including 13 seats from Kashmir division and 15 from Jammu division with 168 candidates contesting the last leg of the elections.

Ex-TMC Leader, 9 MLAs Join BJP

  • Former Trinamool Congress (TMC) minister Suvendu Adhikari and nine MLAs, five of them from the TMC, joined the BJP.
  • Adhikari vowed to oust the Mamata Banerjee regime in the next polls. He was handed over the BJP flag by Union Home Minister Amit Shah at a rally in Paschim Medinipur district.
View Month Wise

DEFENCE

Army to Test Indigenous Artillery System

  • The Army will soon begin testing an indigenously-developed artillery system, which the DRDO contends is the best in its class in the world with a record-breaking strike range of 48 km. If the big gun passes muster, it can fulfil the Army's requirement for 1,580 such guns worth over Rs. 25,000 crore.
  • The 155 mm/52 calibre advanced towed artillery gun system (ATAGS) is set to undergo winter user trials by the Army in Sikkim in January-February, which will be followed by the mobility trials and then the summer trials in May-June.
  • With the development of ATAGS, which has Bharat Forge (Kalyani Group) and Tata Advanced Systems as the production partners, DRDO officials contend the Army has no need to import such guns from Israel or other countries. 

Chennai to Host Defence Expo Empowering MSME

  • More than 400 large, medium, small and micro (MSMEs) units are expected to participate in the defence industry related expo-empowering MSMEs to be held here from March 19 to 21, 2021.
  • The Defence Ministry has given approval to the city-based Swatantra Foundation to host the expo at the Chennai Trade Centre.
  • The Aerospace Industry Development Association of Tamil Nadu (AIDAT) and Tamil Nadu Small and Tiny Industries Association (TANSTIA) will be the co-organisers of the expo.
  • The main aim of the expo is to connect the Indian MSME sector companies who have the capacity and the capability to carter to the defence sector.

Taiwan Building Submarine Fleet to Mitigate Chinese Threat

  • In order to bolster its defensive capabilities, Taiwan is building a submarine fleet to mitigate Chinese nefarious designs to invade the island or install a naval blockade. The construction of eight new state-of-art submarines kicked off last month at the southern port city of Kaohsiung with expected sea trials in 2025.
  • Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called it a "historic milestone" which "demonstrates Taiwan's strong will to the world" at a ceremony marking the beginning of the programme. 
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PERSONS IN NEWS

RSS Ideologue Madhav Govind Vaidya Passes Away

  • Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue and the organisation's first spokesperson Madhav Govind Vaidya died after a brief illness. He was 97.
  • Vaidya, who became a volunteer of the RSS almost two decades after the organisation was set up, had seen it all during his eight decade-old association with it: the three bans, isolation, internal conflicts over joining politics, ferment and resurgence, changing power equations with the BJP, and the latter's storming to power at the Centre in 2014.
  • A former chief editor of the city-based pro-RSS Marathi daily 'Tarun Bharat', Vaidya became a member of the RSS in 1943 while at the Morris College in Nagpur.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Neha Shah Creates Guinness World Record

  • Neha Singh, a student of Banaras Hind University, has created the Guinness World Record by creating the world's largest painting using natural colours.
  • The painting measures 62.72 square metres.
  • Neha has painted a 'moksh ka vriksh' (tree of salvation), for which her name has been included in the Guinness World Records. Neha is a student of Vedic Science at Banaras Hindu University.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

S. Jaishankar Releases Book "Reporting India"

  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar launched the book 'Reporting India' in Delhi.
  • The book is written by ANI Chairman Prem Prakash. External Affairs Minister said that he can readily identify with the account on Emergency.
  • "As a journalist, the chapter on Emergency is both very personal and passionate. I can tell as someone who was at university at that time but was familiar with the press, this is a chapter in account with which I can readily identify," said EAM Jaishankar.
  • The book 'Reporting India' is a-condensed eyewitness history of India since independence. 
View Month Wise

TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

Bihar CM's Dream Project 'Glass Floor Bridge' at Rajgir to Open in March

  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inspected the 'nature safari' work at the tourist's hotspot Rajgir and asked officials to complete the 'glass floor bridge' (skywalk) there by March next year. He also inspected zip line, zip bike and main camp area of the nature safari during his visit.
  • CM Nitish directed officials to take the help of protective experts for better upkeep of the venue.
  • The construction work of 'nature safari' in Bihar's Rajgir is almost complete. This nature park is considered as the dream project of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. 
View Month Wise

ART AND CULTURE

Course of Kosi River to be Diverted to Protect Archaeological Site

  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said that the course of the Kosi River will be diverted to protect an area in the state's Bhagalpur district, which could be a 2,500-year-old archaeological site.
  • Kumar visited Guwaridih village in Bihpur block, from where ancient terracotta objects such as utensils and ornaments, various tools, triangular bricks, copper coins, and fossils were recovered from beneath the earth.
  • Those items could be remains of the Kushan, Maurya and the Gupta era.
  • Bihar Heritage Development Society's Executive Director Dr. Vijay Kumar Choudhary gave details of the items displayed there to the Chief Minister.
  • The remains recovered could be more than 2,500 years old. 
  • It is important to divert the Kosi River to its old course in order to protect the area and the objects which are still below the earth's surface from flood and erosion, Kumar said adding that it will be done after proper planning.
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