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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

31 Dec 2020


Argentina First Major Latin American Country to Legalise Abortion

  • Argentina became the first major country in Latin America to legalise abortion when the Senate voted to allow it through the 14th week of pregnancy, in the face of opposition from the influential Catholic Church.
  • The fiercely contentious vote, passed with 38 in favour, 29 against and one abstention, came after a marathon debate.
  • Across the region, abortions are available on demand only in Communist Cuba, comparatively tiny Uruguay and some parts of Mexico.

Iran to Resume Gas Exports to Iraq

  • Iran's Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian confirmed that his country will resume full natural gas exports to Iraq after reducing the supplies due to unpaid bills, which caused an acute electricity shortage in Iraq.
  • Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi met Ardakanian, who's leading a delegation of high-ranking Iranian officials to Baghdad, to discuss the bilateral relations and means to boost cooperation.
  • Ardakanian conveyed the Iranian government's pledge to urgently resume pumping Iranian gas.
  • During the meetings, the two sides discussed financial cooperation, including Iraq's payment of dues for importing Iranian gas and electricity.
  • Due to the unpaid bills, Iran slashed its natural gas exports to Iraq from 50 million cubic metres to 5 million two weeks ago, causing an acute power shortage in Iraq.

India to Open Three New Missions

  • The Union Cabinet approved the opening of three missions in Estonia, Paraguay and Dominican Republic in 2021.
  • The opening of the Indian Missions in these countries will help expand India's diplomatic footprint, deepen political relations, enable growth of bilateral trade, investment and economic engagements, facilitate stronger people-to-people contacts, and help garner support for India's foreign policy objectives.
  • Indian missions in these countries will also better assist the Indian community and protect their interests.
  • Enhancement of India's diplomatic presence will provide market access for Indian companies and bolster Indian exports of goods and services. This would have a direct impact in augmenting domestic production and employment in line with our goal of a self-reliant India or 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'.
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US Environment Protection Agency Finalising First-ever Aeroplane Emissions Rules

  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was finalising the first-ever proposed standards regulating greenhouse gas emissions from aeroplanes.
  • The EPA said that its new requirements for aeroplanes used in commercial aviation and for large business jets would align the United States with international standards.
  • In 2016, the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) agreed on global aeroplane emissions standards aimed at makers of small and large planes, including Airbus SE and Boeing Co, which both have backed the standards.
  • The final rule is vital for protecting the environment and supporting the sustainable growth of commercial aviation and the United States economy.
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Godrej Consumer Forays into Home Cleaning Products

  • FMCG maker Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL) forayed into home cleaning products, a segment which is witnessing fast growth after the pandemic.
  • The Godrej group firm would provide surface cleaning and disinfecting solution under its newly-launched brand Godrej ProClean.
  • According to the marketing research firm AC Nielsen, the home cleaning products segment, which includes branded floor, toilet and bathroom cleaners, is estimated to be around Rs. 2,600 crore.
  • ProClean aims to cater to the rising demand for home hygiene products especially in the current context where there is emphasis on products that offer protection against germs.

Chhattisgarh Signs MoU to Set Up India's 1st Ethanol Plant under PPP Model

  • Chhattisgarh government signed a contract execution (MoU) for the country's first ethanol plant to be set up in the state under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.
  • The contract was signed by Bhoramdev Cooperative Sugar Factory Kawardha and Chhattisgarh Distillery Limited's subsidiary NKJ Biofuel for a period of 30 years.
  • Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said that setting up of ethanol plant will prove to be important in ensuring timely payment of sugarcane price to farmers and ensuring full utilisation of sugar factory capacity.
  • The establishment of the ethanol plant will generate direct and indirect employment opportunities and will form the basis for economic prosperity in the region.
  • The present government of Chhattisgarh has kept the issues related to farmers and their development work paramount. The State government was the first to waive the agricultural loans and in view of the interest of the sugarcane farmers, the ethanol plant is being set up by the PPP model as a permanent solution to the economic hardship of sugar factories.

Kalpataru Power Transmission Bags Orders

  • Kalpataru Power Transmission Ltd (KPTL) secured new orders worth Rs. 900 crore in the domestic and overseas markets. The company won orders in the T&D (transmission and distribution) business from the overseas market.
  • KPTL also bagged engineering, procurement and construction orders for pipeline laying and associated works in India.
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BHEL Wins Order for Supply of 32 Reactor Header Assemblies

  • Bharat Heavy Electricals has won a prestigious order for the supply of 32 Reactor Header Assemblies from the Nuclear Power Corporation of India.
  • The order has been won under NPCIL's Fleet mode procurement for India's highest rated indigenously-developed 700 MWe Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) to be set up at four different locations in the country.
  • Significantly, this is the first equipment order placed by NPCIL under the Fleet Mode Procurement program and will give an impetus to domestic manufacturing.
  • Notably, BHEL has the distinction of being associated with all the three stages of the Indian Nuclear Power Programme and has been the primary supplier for Reactor Headers, Steam Turbines, Steam Generators, Motors, etc., to NPCIL. Till now all the Reactor Header Assemblies for 700 MWe PHWR based Nuclear Power Projects in India have been supplied by BHEL.
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Southee Takes 300th Wicket Test Wicket

  • Tim Southee became the third New Zealand bowler to capture 300 Test wickets as he dismissed two Pakistan batsmen to help push his side into a strong position.
  • Pakistan were 71-3, still 302 runs from their victory target of 373.
  • Southee joined Richard Hadlee (431) and Daniel Vettori (361).

BWF Bans Nikita Khakimov for 5 Years

  •  The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has imposed a 5-year ban on Russian shuttler Nikita Khakimov for charges of 'betting, wagering and irregular match results'. Khakimov was part of the Russian men's team that won the bronze medal at the 2020 European Team Championships. 
  • The 32-year-old Khakimov was found to breach BWF's integrity regulations, including approaching a player and offering money to manipulate a match, betting on badminton games and deliberately destroying evidence of a corruption offence to conceal from the BWF. 
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Karnataka Rejects Kasturirangan Panel Report on Western Ghats

  • Karnataka has decided to reject the K Kasturirangan committee report on protecting Western Ghats and will convey the same to the Union government.
  • "The report is unscientific and there are plenty of ambiguities which makes it difficult to implement. The report is opposed everywhere right from the gram panchayat level to an assembly segment," Revenue Minister R Ashoka said, adding that if the government goes ahead and implements the report, it will create uncertainties for people in the Western Ghat villages.
  • The cabinet sub-committee formed to study the K. Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats chaired by Forest Minister Anand Singh held its last meeting and decided to outrightly reject the recommendations. The state will now communicate its stand to the Centre as the National Green Tribunal has set December 31 deadline to implement the report.
  • The report has identified more than 1,500 villages in Karnataka as ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs), and if the government were to implement the Kasturirangan panel recommendations, it would prohibit developmental activities in those villages. 

Odisha 7th State to Complete Ease of Doing Business Reforms

  • Odisha has become the 7th state in India to successfully undertake the 'Ease of Doing Business' reform stipulated by the Ministry of Finance. The state is now eligible to mobilise additional financial resources of Rs. 1,429 crores through Open Market Borrowings.
  • The Department of Expenditure gave permission for the same on December 30, 2020. Odisha has now joined the six other states namely, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana, who have completed this reform. 
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India to Export Indigenous Akash Missile System

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced that India will start exporting the indigenous Akash missile system as it got an approval for the same from the cabinet.
  • The cabinet chaired by PM approved the export of Akash Missile System and a Committee for faster approvals has been created.
  • The Akash missile system is an important defence asset for the country with over 96 per cent indigenisation.
  • Developed by DRDO, it is India's first indigenously designed missile system and can target fighter jets, cruise missiles, drones and other aerial assets.
  • The export version of Akash will be different from the system currently deployed with Indian Armed Forces.
  • The Government of India intends to focus on exporting high value defence platforms, to achieve target of 5 Billion USD of defence export and improve strategic relations with friendly foreign countries.
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Pierre Cardin Father of Fashion Branding Passes Away

  • French couturier Pierre Cardin, who made his name by selling designer clothes to the masses, and his fortune by being the first to exploit that name as a brand for selling everything from cars to perfume, died at the age of 98.
  • In a career spanning more than 60 years, Cardin drew scorn and admiration from fellow fashion designers for his brash business sense. He maintained that he built his business empire without ever asking a bank for a loan.
  • Cardin was the first designer to sell clothes collections in department stores in the late 1950s, and the first to enter the licensing business for perfumes, accessories and even food - now a major profit driver for many fashion houses.

Renowned Music Director Shantanu Mohapatra Passes Away

  • Legendary music director Shantanu Mohapatra passed away at a private hospital. He was 84.
  • Mohapatra has been associated with Odia music industry for almost 60 years. He has many firsts to his credits in the field of Odia music as a music composer.
  • He composed the first modern Odia ballad 'Konark Gatha' with lyricist Gurukrushna Goswami and sung by Akshay Mohanty.
  • He also worked with several Bollywood artists like Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd Rafi, Manna Dey, Usha Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadekar, Anuradha Paudwal, Usha Uthup, and Kavita Krishnamurthy.
  • Born in Mayurbhanj district in 1936, the legendary music director was a geophysicist (an IIT-Kharagpur alumnus) and worked with Odisha Mining Corporation.
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President Confers Digital India Awards

  •  President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Digital India 2020 awards via video conferencing. He stated that the Digital India Awards reflect the overall vision of the government to empower citizens to achieve their aspirations and make India a digital superpower.
  • While appreciating the digital inclusion during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the country, he said that due to proactive digital interventions, people have been able to ensure operational continuity of important government services during and after the lockdown, equally importantly, they have helped in pandemic management too.
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Madhya Pradesh Cabinet Approves Ordinance on Interfaith Marriages

  • The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet approved the Dharma Swatantrata (Religious Freedom) Ordinance.
  • The Madhya Pradesh Cabinet approved the bill. The bill provides for up to 10 years in jail for anyone found guilty of forcing women, minors, and people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to undergo religious conversion.
  • Under this legislation, the re-conversion to the ancestral religion will not be treated as conversion, said the draft law. It defines ancestral religion as the religion of the father of the person at the time of his birth.
  • Madhya Pradesh is the third BJP-ruled state to clear anti-Love Jihad bill after Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
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Chitkara University Launches India Innovation Championship

  • Chitkara University has launched the 'India Innovation Challenge- 2021' (IIC-2021) funding fest and university-driven platforms for upcoming start-ups. Designed to provide the innovators and thinkers to compete in a grand event to get mentored for their new and novel ventures by fast-tracking impact savvy innovations.
  • The Championship is open to innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, thinkers, students, engineers, scientists, coders, trainers, academicians from any background.
  • With approximate Rs. 1 crore in total prize and grant money, the innovators will be competing for angel investor's funds worth Rs. 40 lakh from the Orbit Future Academy and Angel Investors network, 10 lakh worth of cash prize from Chitkara University.

Government Unani Medical College Gets Permission to Admit First Batch of Students

  • The Union Ministry of Ayush has issued the letter of permission for starting the course in the Government Unani Medical College (GUMC), Kashmir. The college has been granted permission to start its first batch of Bachelors in Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS) course from the academic session of 2020-21 with an intake capacity of 60 seats.
  • On the recommendations from the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), the Ministry of AYUSH had earlier issued a Letter of Intent to start a new Unani Medical College in the name of Government Unani Medical College and Hospital, Kashmir with 60 seats subject to the fulfilment of requisite pre-conditions.
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National Gallery of Art Acquires 40 Works from Souls Grown Deep

  • The Souls Grown Deep Foundation, an Atlanta-based organization focused on Black artists of the American South, has given 40 works to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
  • Included in the acquisition are works by 21 artists, including nine pieces by the Gee's Bend quilters, three sculptures by Lonnie Holley, and seven pieces by Thornton Dial. Also in the group are four sculpted heads by James "Son Ford" Thomas that had been on view in the National Gallery's 2018 show "Outliers and American Vanguard Art." 
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India Tourism Mumbai Launches Seven-Day Brand Activation Event

  • The Ministry of Tourism's Regional Office, India tourism Mumbai launched its domestic tourism marketing campaign 'Dekho Apna Desh' under the theme 'Explore Incredible India' with a successful brand activation event in Reliance Mall from 25th Dec. 2020 to 31st Dec. 2020.
  • In time when destinations in India are unlocking and with objective to woo the domestic travellers to choose their preferred destination for their upcoming holiday season and weekend holidays, mall visitors of all ages were provided travel information through promotional staff and special promotional packages prepared by local travel agents and tour operators located in Borivali, Mumbai.
  • The seven-day event was designed to capture the essence and unique atmosphere of the many holiday options that India offers including the driving holidays, weekend destinations around Mumbai.
  • The Incredible India Installation in Reliance Mall, Borivali also showcased the tourism potential of Odisha which is paired with Maharashtra under the 'Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat initiative of Government of India.'
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