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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

23 Dec 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

US Congress Stings China with new Tibet Law on the Next Dalai Lama

  • The US Congress has passed a bill that reaffirms the right of Tibetans to choose a successor to their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The law has been described by Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, as a historic move and a clear message to China.
  • The Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 (TPSA), which was passed by the US Senate, calls for the establishment of a US consulate in Tibet's main city of Lhasa and underlines the absolute right of Tibetans to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama.

Israeli Government Collapses

  • Israel's divided government collapsed early, triggering the country's fourth election in under two years and bringing an unprecedented threat to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lengthy grip on power.
  • Netanyahu, who is used to labelling his opponents as weak leftists, finds himself confronted by a trio of disgruntled former aides who share his hard-line ideology, led by a popular lawmaker who recently broke away from the prime minister's Likud party. 
  • Whether Netanyahu can fend off these challenges or not, the country is almost certain to be led by a right-wing politician opposed to concessions to the Palestinians, complicating hopes of the incoming Biden administration to restart peace talks.

Leaders Seek Way Out of Brexit Trade Impasse

  • Leaders and negotiators from the European Union and the United Kingdom continued their struggle to get a trade deal past the New Year's Day finish line as EU nations looked at legal options to do it without formal European Parliament backing.
  • Over the past few days, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have been drawn more and more into the talks and have been in contact seeking to unblock negotiations on the last major outstanding difference — EU fishing rights in UK waters.
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ENVIRONMENT

Giant Iceberg A68a Shatters into Large Fragments

  • The giant iceberg that has been drifting through the South Atlantic looks to have experienced a major break-up.
  • The latest satellite imagery reveals major fissures in the tabular berg known as A68a, with huge blocks of ice starting to separate and move away from each other.
  • A68a, which calved from Antarctica in 2017, has been floating off the coast of South Georgia Island.
  • Experts have been watching to see if it might ground in shallow water.
  • Were that to happen — and parts of the berg still could — it might cause problems for the British Overseas Territory's penguins and seals as they go about foraging for fish and krill.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Central Bank of India Launches RuPay Select Debit Card

  • Central Bank of India launched a variant of contactless Debit Card — 'RuPay Select'.
  • Launched in association with the National Payments Corporation of India on the occasion of the bank's 110th foundation day, the RuPay Debit Select Card will focus on customers' lifestyle, fitness, rejuvenation, nutrition and personal care.
  • The Bank also launched FASTAG (for electronic toll collection) in association with OSTA.

GIC, ESR form $750 Million JV to Invest in Industrial, Logistics Realty in India

  • As per reports, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC and ESR Cayman have entered into an 80:20 strategic partnership to establish a $750-million joint venture to develop and acquire industrial and logistics assets in India.
  • The joint venture will develop and own industrial and logistics facilities as well as acquire core assets, focusing on Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities across India. To begin with, the joint venture will start with about 2.2 million sq ft build-to-core asset, located in proximity to the large consumption hubs of Mumbai and Thane.

ICICI Bank Launches 'Infinite India'

  • ICICI Bank launched 'Infinite India' — an online platform for foreign companies looking to set up or increase business in India. This platform provides banking solutions, as well as value-added facilities.
  • 'Infinite India' platform offers convenience to foreign companies as it eliminates the need of co-ordinating with multiple touch-points leading to a hassle-free experience of doing business in India.
  • The 'Infinite India' initiative is part of the bank's strategy to further strengthen its technology-enabled offerings aimed to partner with foreign companies coming to India. The bank believes that the dedicated strategy for this segment will further simplify the journey of foreign companies looking to start or expand their business in India.
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SPORTS

Rafael Nadal Wins Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award

  • Former world number one tennis player Rafael Nadal bagged the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the third year in a row and fourth time in his career at the ATP Awards.
  • Nadal, who won a record-stretching 13th Roland Garros title at the French Open this year, was voted for the award by fellow players.
  • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic along with US Open champions Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares were also honoured for finishing 2020 on the top of the men's singles and men's doubles rankings.
  • Djokovic finished as the top-ranked male player for a record-equalling sixth time after winning 4 titles this season, including a record 8th Australian Open and 2 ATP Masters 1000s.
  • Meanwhile, Roger Federer, Carlos Alcaraz, Vasek Pospisil, Andrey Rublev and Frances Tiafoe were also among the winners in the 2020 ATP Awards.
  • Federer, who played only six singles all year, was the singles fans' favourite for a record-extending 18th straight year.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

J&K DDC Polls

  • The seven-party People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) led by Farooq Abdullah has won over seats in the maiden District Development Council polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Till the last reports came, the PAGD had won or was leading in 112 seats out of 280, followed by the BJP which emerged as the single largest party as it won 73 seats including three in the Kashmir Valley for the first time. The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) had bagged 100 seats and was leading in 12 others.
  • The eight-phase DDC polls, which began on November 28, are the first election after Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 was revoked last year, and it was reorganized into a Union Territory. In the election, 140 seats each in the Jammu and Kashmir regions went to polls.

Bodoland Territorial Council: Guwahati HC Orders Composite Floor Test

  • Guwahati High Court has ordered a composite floor test in the newly elected sixth schedule Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) on or before December 26. Election to the 40 member council had resulted in fractured mandate with Bodoland People's Front (BPF) emerging single largest party 17 seats. However, BJP and United People's Party Liberal (UPPL) supported by Gana Suraksha Party (GSP) formed the government of the council. Lone Congress MLA left the party and joined BJP.
  • BJP won nine seats and UUPL emerged victorious from 12 seats. For the majority, 21 seats are required. Gana Suraksha Party won one seat. Later a BPF member left the party and joined BJP. Promod Boro was sworn in as the new chief executive member. The Governor nominated members to the council. The council can have six nominated members from unrepresented communities.
  • Counsel for BPF, Anan Bhuyan said that the court has stayed the appointment of six nominated members besides asking the council cannot take any policy decision. The court has asked the council for a composite floor test wherein anyone who gets the largest votes will be a chief executive member. 
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DEFENCE

Super Hornet Clears Ski-jump Test

  • American aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced that its F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter successfully completed ski-jump trials, effectively paving the way for its use by the Indian Navy's aircraft carriers.
  • Boeing has been testing its Super Hornet fighter using a ground-based ski-jump at the Naval Air Sation near Patuxent River in Maryland to provide assurances to the Indian Navy that it will be suitable for induction onto the INS Vikramaditya, the INS Vikrant expected to be commissioned by 2022, and the INS Vishal which currently remains at the drawing board stage.
  • The Navy was scheduled to send a team to visit the Naval Air Station earlier this year but the trip had to be deferred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

National Farmers Day

  • Kisan Diwas or National Farmers Day is observed on December 23 across the country to praise the farmers as they are the spine of India. The day was chosen to honour the birth anniversary of the fifth Prime Minister of India, Choudhary Charan Singh. He was born on December 23, 1902.
  • Chaudhary Charan Singh, the Kisan Leader, served in the country for a very short period from July 28, 1979, to January 14, 1980. He had introduced several welfare schemes for the farmers and wrote several books on farmers and their problems depicting various solutions to improve the lives of the farmers of the nation. Therefore, the government, in 2001, decided to mark Charan Singh's birth anniversary as Kisan Diwas.
  • Chaudhary Charan Singh followed the famous slogan — "JAI JAWAN JAI KISAN" which was given to the farmers by Lal Bahadur Shastri, the second Prime Minister of India.
  • The Farmers Day is also celebrated in other parts of the world. In Ghana, the Farmers Day is celebrated on the first Friday of December. In Pakistan, it is celebrated as Kisan Day on December 18. The first Farmers Day in Pakistan was celebrated in 2019. In the USA, it is celebrated on October 12. In Zambia, it is celebrated on the first Monday of August.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Indian Homeopathic Doctor Bhaskar Sharma Felicitated by US White House

  • Dr. Bhaskar Sharma, a renowned homeopathic physician has been felicitated by the White House for his contribution towards public health during the global pandemic.
  • He has been conferred two awards namely Presidential Active Lifestyle Award and Presidential Youth Fitness Award by the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
  • Professor Dr. Bhaskar Sharma of Siddharthnagar, Uttar Pradesh — the birthplace of Gautam Buddha — worked towards making the common people aware about the Coronavirus, educating them about the disease and its prevention. It is these laudable efforts of his and their incomparable contribution toward social concern that have brought him the prestigious awards. Dr. Sharma is the only Indian homeopathic doctor to have received this award. It is indeed a moment of immense pride for him and the country.
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ART AND CULTURE

PM Releases Stamp to Mark Centenary Celebrations of AMU

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a special postal stamp to mark the centenary celebrations of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
  • This is the first time in five decades that a Prime Minister has attended an AMU event as the chief guest. Prime Minister Modi attended the event via video conferencing.
  • Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank recalled the achievements of the AMU over the century and contributions of its alumni in various walks of life.
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ART AND CULTURE

Maharashtra: 6-12 AD Sculptures Unearthed from Lake

  • Three stone sculptures dating back to the 6th to 12th century were found while desilting the ancient Jamsar Lake in Jawhar taluka, Palghar district. The lake was declared a wetland by the village panchayat recently, and work of desilting the 6.6-hectare water body has been underway for a month.
  • The workers stumbled upon the sculptures that had images of war heroes and a five-headed cow, said villager Balu Dhakne. Work was halted and villagers informed Jawhar tehsildar Santosh Shinde, The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will be able to throw light on the artefacts. Similar sculptures were found in 1986 in the same lake.
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