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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

07 Jan 2021

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Curfew Imposed in Washington after Violence at US Capitol Hill

  • Hundreds of supporters of US President Donald Trump breached the US Capitol disrupting the lawmakers as they were about to certify Democrat President elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
  • The riot-like situation took place after Trump supporters responded to his call to protest against the loss in November 3, 2020 presidential election. 
  • Vice President Mike Pence condemns violence at Capitol Hill by President Trump supporters who attempted to block certification of the presidential election results.

Joe Biden to Name Merrick Garland as US Attorney General

  • US President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Merrick Garland, a Federal Court Chief Judge, as Attorney General.
  • Garland leads the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and was nominated by former President Barack Obama to the Supreme Court but Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time, had blocked him.
  • As Attorney General, Garland will be Biden's top law enforcement official.
  • Garland will have to be confirmed by the Senate, which will not be difficult as Democrats are poised to take control of the chamber after the Georgia run-offs.
  • The selection of Garland will resonate with Democrats after Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell prevented him from even getting a confirmation hearing for the high court in 2016.
  • The move fills the last with the big four cabinet posts Biden had remaining, after earlier naming his choices for secretaries of defence, state and treasury.
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ENVIRONMENT

Chengalpattu Records Heaviest Single-day Rainfall in over a Century

  • Heavy rainfall battered Tamil Nadu with Chengalpattu district recording 21 cm of rainfall, the heaviest single-day rainfall for January in over a century. Earlier, the adjoining district of Chennai had recorded its highest single-day rainfall in this month on January 15, 1915 at 21.5 cm.
  • This was recorded in Kelambakkam station that comes under Chengalpattu district.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Shapoorji Pallonji's Bid for Central Vista Avenue Lowest

  • The Shapoorji Pallonji Group emerged as the lowest bidder for the Centre's tender for the redevelopment and restructuring of the Central Vista Avenue after it quoted a financial bid of Rs. 477 crore, nearly 5% lower than the estimated cost of the project pegged at Rs. 502 crore.
  • The redevelopment of the avenue, which comprises Rajpath, leading from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to India Gate, will involve restructuring the avenue, creating underground passes, landscaping the green areas and giving a commitment to comprehensive maintenance and operation of the same for five years.
  • Four firms qualified for the financial bid that opened on January 1 to redevelop the avenue: ITD Cementation quoted Rs. 490 crore, NCC Limited quoted Rs. 601 crore and Tata Projects Limited quoted Rs. 488 crore.

IRDAI to Roll Out Standard Home Insurance Policy

  • In a significant move, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has decided to introduce a standard home insurance policy that will cover the risks associated with natural calamities like cyclone, flood, earthquake and also fire. The regulator also announced two schemes that cover insurance cover to micro and small enterprises.
  • Besides offering coverage for the home building, the proposed policy — Bharat Griha Raksha — covers general home contents automatically (without any need for declaration of details) for 20 per cent of the sum insured for the building subject to a maximum of Rs. 10 lakh. One can also opt for a higher sum insured for general contents by declaring the details.
  • The IRDAI initiative has come after the country had witnessed massive loss of human lives and properties in natural calamities and fire in recent years.

Ramesh Pokhriyal Launches Toycathon-2021 to Promote Manufacturing of Toys

  • The Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' and Union Minister WCD and Textiles Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani jointly launched Toycathon-2021 and the Toycathon Portal.
  • Toycathon is being organized to develop India as the global Toy manufacturing hub. Toycathon will provide a platform to conceptualize innovative toys based on the Indian value system which will inculcate the positive behaviour and good value among the children.
  • The Toycathon will be based on the following nine themes: Indian Culture, History, Knowledge of India and Ethos, Learning, Education and Schooling, Social and human values, Occupations & specific fields, Environment, Divyang, Fitness and sport, out of the box, creative and logical thinking and Rediscovering/redesigning traditional Indian toys.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Japan to Launch the First Wood-based Satellite by 2023

  • Japan's Sumitomo Forestry Company and Kyoto University aims to launch the world's first wood-based space satellite by 2023 to combat the problem of space junk.
  • Currently, the initiative is in the nascent stage as several wooden materials are being tested by the research team to find a suitable one for space missions. It is also reported that the team is also working towards developing wooden materials extremely resistant to temperature changes and sunlight.
  • According to the European Space Agency (ESA) statistical model, there are more than 130 million pieces of anthropogenic space debris—waste residue due to human activities—smaller than a millimetre around our planet. The debris can travel at a speed of more than 22,300 mph and can impact other satellites.
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SPORTS

Claire Polosak Creates History in Sydney

  • Australia's Claire Polosak became the first female match official in a men's Test match as she took up the fourth umpire's role in the third Test between India and Australia starting in Sydney.
  • Claire from New South Wales has already earned the distinction of being the first woman on-field umpire in a men's ODI match in ICC's Division 2 league between Namibia and Oman played at the Windhoek in 2019.
  • As per ICC rules for Test matches, the fourth umpire is appointed by the home cricket board from their nominees to the International Panel of ICC Umpires and from the host country.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Welcomes Evolution and Rise of Africa

  • India's foreign secretary Harsh Shringla has made a pitch for New Delhi's support to Africa at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), not only backing an African seat at the council but also how India's partnership for the continent.   
  • Shringla said that India will continue to support Africa's aspirations and work towards empowering Africa for a future that is found on the principles of inclusivity, sustainability, transparency, and socio-economic development with dignity and respect.
  • India has executed 189 developmental projects in 37 African countries and around 77 projects are currently under execution. 
  • New Delhi has also committed US$ 1.7 billion as soft loans for solar projects in the continent and has offered 50,000 scholarships to African students.

India Welcomes Restoration of Ties between Qatar and Four other Arab States

  • India welcomed the restoration of diplomatic ties between Qatar and four other Arab countries that had imposed an embargo on it in 2017, saying such a move would give a boost to peace and stability in the region.
  • Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhad said that Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had agreed to fully set the differences aside with Qatar at a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit at Al-Ula.

India and France to Hold Annual Strategic Dialogue

  • India and France will hold their annual strategic dialogue in Delhi. National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval will lead the Indian delegation while the French side would be led by Emmanuel Bonne, who is the diplomatic advisor to President Emmanuel Macron.
  • The two sides will hold discussions on wide-ranging bilateral and global issues. Emmanuel Bonne will also call on other Indian dignitaries. The last edition of the Strategic Dialogue was held in February 2020 in Paris.
  • The announcement of the meet comes after France had welcomed India's fresh stint at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for a period of two years. French ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain said that France was eager to work side by side to uphold international law, fight terror and defend multilateralism.  
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DEFENCE

Lt Gen Shantanu Dayal to Take Charge as Deputy Chief of Army Staff

  • Lt Gen Shantanu Dayal has been named the new Deputy Chief of Army Staff (DCOAS). Lt Gen Dayal is the Corps Commander of the Tejpur based 4 Corps.
  • He will take the place of Lt Gen SS Hasabnis who superannuated on December 31 as soon as his replacement arrives.
  • Indian Army has undergone a major reshuffle at the top within the Army Headquarters and at the various other formations including the Corps Commanders, administrative and training institutions witnessing the change of guard.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

UJALA and SLNP Schemes Complete Six Years

  • The UJALA (Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All) and SLNP (Street Lighting National Programme) completed six years of successful implementation. The two programmes revamped the household and public lighting system across the country.
  • Under UJALA, the EESL distributed 6.69 crores of LED bulbs. It has installed more than 1.14 crores of LED street lights. This has helped to save more than 55.33-billion-kilowatt hour of energy per year.
  • The scheme helped to reduce Greenhouse gas emissions by 38.59 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
  • The scheme distributed 72 lakhs of LED tube lights and 23 lakhs of energy efficient fans at affordable prices.
  • Under SLNP the EESL installed more than 1.1 crores of LED street lights under SLNP. This helped to save 7.67-billion-kilowatt hour of energy per year.
  • The scheme helped to reduce the greenhouse gas emission by 5.29 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
  • With the help of the scheme the municipalities were able to save 5,210 crores of Rupees in their electricity bills.

MP Launches 'Launch Pad Scheme' to Make Youth Self-reliant

  • The government of Madhya Pradesh has launched a 'Launch Pad Scheme' for the boys and girls coming out of child care institutions and having completed 18 years of age. This scheme has been launched by the Women and Child Development Department of the state with the objective to provide a platform to these youths, through which they will be able to become self-reliant by continuing their education and training.
  • Under the scheme:
  • The District Administration will provide space to these youths for the opening of coffee shops, stationery, photocopying, computer typing and DTP work.
  • All the 52 districts of the state have been divided into 5 clusters with headquarters at Indore, Sagar, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Bhopal.
  • An amount of Rs. 6 lakh will be provided by the Women and Child Development Department for the installation of each launch pad.
  • These launch pads will be operated through non-governmental organisations.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Wipro Signs MoU with Tel Aviv University

  • Strengthening the India-Israel scientific collaboration, Indian multinational corporation Wipro has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Israel's Tel Aviv University for research and analysis in quantum science and technology.
  • According to the MoU, Tel Aviv University's Center for Quantum Science & Technology (QuanTAU) faculty members will work with Wipro and its customers to analyse use cases and potential applications of quantum computing for the Indian IT major's large organisational clients.
  • Tel Aviv University researchers and Wipro scientists will develop and study various approaches, define potential research solutions and implement these solutions.
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ART AND CULTURE

In a swift Post-Brexit Move, UK Rejects EU's Strict Import Rules on Cultural Property

  • Just days after leaving the European Union, the UK has rejected the new import licensing regulations for cultural property introduced by the EU in 2019 and due to be enforced by 2025.
  • Aimed at preventing crime—in particular terrorism financing—the controversial law faced stiff opposition from the art market, which argued that its compliance measures would make business impossible for many dealers, auction houses and collectors.
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