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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

29 Dec 2020

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Economic Aggression of CCP Fails Miserably

  • In a new development, China is suffering from one of the worst blackouts in the past few decades. Though the Chinese economy is currently trying to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, but it appears that its attempts have come to a grinding halt. Power generation in China during the wintertime has not been able to keep up with demand. There are several factors why China is currently facing shortages in energy supply. One of the major factors is the fact that China has decided to ban coal imports from Australia after they asked for an independent inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Australian coal was not the only thing that Beijing decided to ban. Back in May, China imposed an 80% tariff on Australian barley and added restrictions on the import of Australian beef.
  • Despite the crippling energy shortages, the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have not lifted the ban on Australian coal. 

New US Act Message of Hope

  • Tibetans in exile have welcomed the US President Donald Trump signing the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA) into law.
  • This legislation sends a powerful message of hope and justice to the Tibetans inside Tibet and bolsters US support for the protection of Tibetan people's religious freedom, human rights, environmental rights and exile Tibetan democracy like never before.
  • The move strengthens US policy on Tibet and reaffirms its government's steadfast support for the Dalai Lama and the CTA.
  • Interestingly, the Bill called upon the US Secretary of State not to authorise any new Chinese consulate till a US Consulate is established in Lhasa. The signing came after days of delay though the US Congress had approved the omnibus spending bill, which had the TPSA attached earlier this month.

Chinese Delegation Meets NCP's Prachanda

  • A high-level Chinese delegation led by a Vice Minister of the Communist Party of China met senior Nepal Communist Party leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' and discussed the political situation in the country, amid intensified efforts by Beijing to patch up differences between the two warring factions of the party.
  • Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Guo Yezhou, who arrived in Nepal in what is believed to be China's desperate attempt to avert a vertical split in the NCP, met Prachanda, who claims control over the ruling party after removing Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli from the posts of the party's parliamentary leader and chair.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Electric Car Major Tesla to Enter India in 2021

  • Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that American electric car major Tesla is set to start its operations in India next year (2021) and would also look at setting up of a manufacturing unit based on demand.
  • The Road, Transport and Highways Minister has been pushing for green fuel and electric vehicles for cutting India's huge Rs. 8 lakh crore crude imports.
  • Tesla Inc. co-founder and chief executive Elon Musk had in October said the company will enter the Indian market in 2021.

LIC Sells 2% Stake in ICICI Bank

  • Country's largest insurer Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) has sold 2 per cent stake in private sector lender ICICI Bank through open market transactions.
  • The insurer sold 13.8 crore shares, representing 2.002 per cent stake of ICICI Bank, over a period of November 27 to December 24, 2020.
  • Following the stake sale, LIC's holding in the bank has reduced to 6.74 per cent from 8.74 per cent earlier.

Axis Bank Prunes Overseas Business

  • Axis Bank is pruning its overseas operation as part of a strategy of focusing on Indian market.
  • It closed branches in Shanghai and Colombo last month while it is in the process of winding up Hong Kong branch.
  • It is also looking to surrender its UK banking subsidiary license and close operations by April 2021. 
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Skyroot Aerospace First Indian Company to Test-fire Solid-fueled Rocket Engine

  • Indian Space start-up, Skyroot Aerospace, has proven the crucial propulsion technology of their maiden rocket Vikram-1, with the latest test-firing of an engine. Vikram-1 rocket is powered by four engines — three solid-fuel stages and one Liquid-fuel stage that the firm has designed and developed.
  • In August this year, the company had tested its liquid-fueled engine and now has proven the technology of the solid-fueled engine (Kalam-5), by successfully test-firing a miniature version.
  • The Engine 'Kalam-5', is named so for its peak Sea Level thrust of 5.3kN. It is notable that the engine is built with an advanced carbon composite structure in a completely automated process.  
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SPORTS

ICC T20 and ODI Teams of the Year

  • The International Cricket Council announced the Men's T20I (Twenty 20 International), ODI (One Day International) and Test Teams of the decade. The teams were announced based on the consistency of the players over the period of last ten years.
  • The former Indian Captain MS Dhoni was named as the Captain of ODI and also the Captain of T20I.
  • The ICC T20I Team of the Decade also includes Rohit Sharma, Aaron Finch, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Rashid Khan, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Jasprit Bumrah, AB de Villiers.
  • The ICC ODI Team of the Decade includes Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shakib Al Hasan, AB de Villiers, Ben Stokes, Trent Boult, Lasith Malinga, Imran Tahir, David Warner.
  • Virat Kohli was announced the Skipper of ICC Test team of the Decade.
  • In Women T20I Australia Meg Lanning was announced the Captain of the decade.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

PM Modi to Inaugurate EDFC

  • The 'New Bhaupur-New Khurja' section of Indian Railways' Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor will be inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi tomorrow. Besides, the Prime Minister will also inaugurate the operation control centre of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor at Prayagraj.
  • The 351 kilometres long stretch of New Bhaupur-New Khurja is located in the state of UP and has been built at a cost of Rs 5,750 crore. The EDFC section of New Bhaupur-New Khurja will benefit local industries like the aluminium industry in Pukhrayan region of Kanpur Dehat, glassware industry of Firozabad, asafoetida production of Hathras, textile production and block printing of Etawah, dairy sector of Auraiya, pottery products of Khurja, as well as locks and hardware of Aligarh district.
  • The new EDFC section will also decongest the existing mainline between Kanpur-Delhi and will also enable the national transporter to run faster train services. The Prayagraj's Operation Control Centre will act as the command centre for the entire Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor's route length. 

PM Modi Launches National Common Mobility Card, Flags off India's First Driverless Train

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) services on the Airport Express Line and said that the launch of this service will further India's development.
  • The Prime Minister said that the time has come for a unified technological interface to be used across services in order bring all-round development in the country. Speaking at the launch of the NCMC services on the Airport Express Line, PM Modi said that the launch of this service is one such interface.
  • The NCMC will be very useful for passengers as the card will allow passengers carrying a RuPay debit card to swipe these for Metro travel. According to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), those carrying NCMC will now be able to travel on the Airport Express line without any trouble. This facility will become available on the entire Delhi Metro network by 2022.

Election Commission to Push for Absentee Vote, Digi-ID, New Service Rules

  • Four items on the Election Commission's agenda, which could go a long way in increasing the voter base and facilitate higher turnout during polls, will likely come up before the government in January.
  • Linkage of the Aadhaar number with voter ID, allowing voter registration as soon as a person turns 18 years, ensuring gender-neutral voting rights to service voters and launching of the digital voter ID for new voters have been on the to-do list of the EC for some time now.
  • While the first three require amendments to the Representation of People's Act, 1951, the fourth one — a digilocker-enabled version of the voter ID — is set to be launched on January 25 at a National Voter's Day event. All new voter cards issued from next month will be downloadable, like the e-Aadhar.
  • It is also expected that all or some of the required amendments to the RP Act may be brought in through the Budget session of Parliament.
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DEFENCE

VFJ to Provide Upgraded Mine Protected Vehicles

  • The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Para-Military Forces will be strengthened to counter Maoist attacks in Naxal affected areas for saving precious lives of soldiers with the availability of upgraded version of Mine Protected Vehicles (MPVs).
  • Vehicle Factory Jabalpur (VFJ) is working on war footing to complete the upgradation of existing MPVs and likely to soon hand over the first vehicle. The VFJ already has production order for more than 300 upgraded MPVs including around 200 from Indian Army and 120 from Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The VFJ has successfully upgraded the MPV and likely to soon handover to the users. Upgraded vehicle is more compatible to counter heavy land mine attacks by militants. 
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Ramesh Chandra is New CBI Chief Information Officer

  • Senior Indian Information Service (IIS) officer Ramesh Chandra Joshi became the new face of the CBI for interactions with the media by taking charge as its chief information officer. The post was lying vacant since March.
  • Joshi was posted as the additional director general of the government's Press Information Bureau (PIB), from where he was picked for the high-pressure job at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
  • Joshi who has handled crucial positions in the PIB and the erstwhile Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP), may bring a new outlook at the CBI, which does not have any presence on social media unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and relies mostly on its spokespersons to communicate with the media. 
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Digital India Awards 2020

  • The Chief Minister of Bihar, National Informatics Centre and the Disaster Management Department have been jointly chosen as winners in "Pandemic Category" in Digital India Awards, 2020.
  • Earlier the Uttar Pradesh Food and Civil Supplies Department won the Digital India Award, 2020 under the "Excellence in Digital Governance" category. It was selected for its Points of Sale based food distribution, online billing and payment for food grains purchased from farmers, GPS tracking of vehicles transporting food grains.
  • Bihar was selected under the Pandemic Category for its financial assistance to more than 21 lakhs of stranded workers outside Bihar. The assistance was provided through "Bihar Sahayata Mobile App".
  • The Bihar Government provided Rs 1000 to workers coming from outside to Bihar and also to persons stuck in other states. The State government also provided financial assistance to the workers of other states, who got stuck in Bihar due to COVID-19. The Bihar Corona Sahayata Mobile App was used to implement the initiative. The workers will have to simply register on the mobile app. Once the verification of the workers was complete, the amount will be directly added to their account.
  • The Digital India Awards are presented by President Ram Nath Kovind every year.

ICC Awards of Decade

  • India skipper Virat Kohli won the ICC men's ODI Player of the Decade award for his superb performance with the bat in the 50-over format. Kohli also walked home with the Sir Garfield Sobers Award for ICC Men's Cricketer of the Decade.  Kohli was nominated for the player of the decade award across all three formats.
  • Former Australia skipper Steve Smith won the ICC men's Test Player of the Decade award, while Afghanistan's Rashid Khan was awarded the ICC men's T20I Player of the Decade award. 
  • Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni got the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award of the Decade for calling back England batsman Ian Bell back to the crease after he was ruled out by the umpire. 
  • Among women's cricketers, Australia's Ellyse Perry won ICC Women's Player of the Decade, ODI Player of the Decade and T20I Player of the Decade award.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Assam Government Tables Bill to Abolish All State-run Madrassas

  • The Assam Government tabled a bill that will abolish all the state-run Madrassas and will convert them into schools from April 1, 2021. The bill is called Assam Repealing Bill, 2020.
  • The bill will abolish two existing acts namely,
  1. The Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation) Act, 1995.
  2. Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialisation of Services of Employees and Reorganisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018.
  • There will be no change in allowances, change of status or service conditions of the teaching and non-teaching staff.
  • There are 610 state run Madrassas in Assam. According to the survey conducted by a Guwahati University Professor found that the parents and guardians of most of the students of Madrassas are not aware that the children are not taught regular subjects in Madrassas. Rather they are imparted lessons of theology. Therefore, it is essential to convert the Madrassas into regular schools that provide primary and secondary education.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT Kharagpur to Train Indian Engineers and Scientists in High-Performance Computing and AI

  • IIT Kharagpur will be training Indian scientists and engineers in high-performance computing (HPC) and AI. The institute has received a project titled 'NSM Nodal Center for training in HPC and AI' from Department of Science and Technology, C-DAC under the National Super Computing Mission of Govt. of India.
  • The center will focus on manpower creation and upskilling of students, faculty, scientists, researchers, scientific users in large scale computing across different science domains with an aim to bridge the gap between application and development aspects in HPC.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Shripad Naik Releases Book 'Sutranivednachi Sutra- ek anbav'

  • Union Minister of State (I/C) for AYUSH and Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik released a Konkani book "Sutranivednachi Sutra- ek anbav", by Dr. Roopa Chari. It is published by Sanjana Publications.
  • Dr. Roopa Chari is a well-known personality in the field of Compèring in Goa.
  • This book will help to aspire youngsters, who wish to make a career in this field. 
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

Park Hotels Group Launches Mid-segment Brand Zone Connect

  • The Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Group, which runs The Park branded five-star hotels, is going aggressive on small towns with a souped down version of its three-star offering Zone and has signed up three properties for the same.
  • To be known as Zone Connect, the three-star offering targeted at small towns, will begin with around 130 keys across three properties in Coimbatore, Goa and Port Blair over the next few months.
  • Zone Connect will come as a limited service brand under the Zone by The Park portfolio and will have 55 keys in Coimbatore to begin with opening next month, 49 rooms in Goa in the first quarter and 25 rooms in Zone Connect Port Blair opening in the second quarter.
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