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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

15 Jan 2021


Kuwait's Government Quits

  • Kuwait's Cabinet submitted its resignation, the latest development in a cycle of clashes between the government and lawmakers that long has convulsed the sheikhdom with the strongest parliament in the Gulf.
  • The move, while not a surprise after some 30 lawmakers backed a no-confidence motion against the government this month, reveals how the country's politicking has caused instability, diminished public confidence and aggravated the oil-rich state's worst economic crisis in decades.
  • The ministers quit after the recently elected members of parliament, more than 60 per cent of them new faces, grilled the prime minister to protest his new Cabinet appointments. The decision to reinstate the old parliament speaker who hails from an elite merchant family stirred anger among new lawmakers skeptical of corruption and the country's patronage system.
  • The Prime Minister must now submit the resignations to the country's ruling emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who is widely expected to accept them.

In First, UN Rights Body to Vote on President after Standoff

  • The UN Human Rights Council will this week hold an unprecedented secret ballot to pick its President after China and others blocked a candidate from Fiji considered a rights champion.
  • The dispute could underscore growing jostling in the top UN rights body by countries intent on steering it away from criticising nations over alleged abuses of individual rights and towards focusing on advances in economic and social rights.
  • The council's presidency rotates each year between regions and is typically agreed by consensus within each regional group.
  • This year, though, the Asia-Pacific group (APG) due to take the helm failed to agree on a candidate -- or even on holding a vote within the group.
  • That means the council, which for the first time in its 15-year history began the year with no President, will hold an unprecedented vote among all 47 members.

Trump Administration Takes Final Swipe at China

  • The Trump administration in its waning days took another swipe at China and its biggest firms, imposing sanctions on officials and companies for alleged misdeeds in the South China Sea and imposing an investment ban on nine more firms.
  • The moves will further increase tensions with China, Washington's strategic rival in Asia, days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The Biden transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • Executives of state-owned enterprises, officials of the Chinese Communist Party and military, along with oil giant CNOOC will face new restrictions for allegedly using coercion against states with rival South China Sea claims.
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Eleven Indian Companies in Top-500 Globally by Value

  • As per a report, eleven private Indian firms have made it to the list of 500 most valuable companies across the world, and the country is ranked 10th on the chart.
  • The total value of these 11 companies grew 14 per cent and has been pegged at USD 805 billion or nearly a third of the Indian GDP.
  • All these companies in the list of non-state enterprises have gained in value during 2020, which was hit by the pandemic, barring tobacco major ITC and second largest private sector lender ICICI Bank, as per the 'Hurun Global 500' report.
  • The US accounted for nearly half of the enterprises with 242 of the 500 entries, followed by China at 51 and Japan at 30 companies.

Taiwan's Foxconn Joins Hands with China's Geely

  • Taiwan's Foxconn and Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group said that they will join hands to provide contract manufacturing for automakers.
  • They will each hold 50 per cent of a venture that will also provide consulting services on electric vehicle (EV) technologies to automakers.
  • It marks the latest move by Foxconn, a major Apple Inc supplier, into autos after a tie-up with Chinese electric car startup Byton and comes amid reports that Apple is likely to launch a self-driving electric car by 2024. For Geely, the partnership will allow it to share its first EV-focused platform with other automakers.

Google Closes Deal to Buy Fitbit

  • Search and advertising giant Google has closed its deal to buy Fitbit, even as the Justice Department said that it was continuing its probe of the $2.1 billion transaction.
  • The Justice Department, which sued Alphabet Inc's Google in October for allegedly violating antitrust law in its search and search advertising businesses, said it "has not reached a final decision about whether to pursue an enforcement action" regarding the Fitbit deal.
  • Google had said it was buying Fitbit, which makes a watch-like device to measure physical activity, as a way to enter the devices market and was hoping to address privacy concerns.
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OneWeb Satellite Company Launches into New Era

  • The OneWeb satellite broadband company is back launching again, putting up 36 new satellites on Friday from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Eastern Russia.
  • OneWeb is now owned principally by the Indian conglomerate Bharti Global and the UK government after they bought the enterprise out of bankruptcy this year.
  • Fifteen more launches of satellites must follow Friday's deployment to complete the internet delivery service.
  • These flights should be occurring on a near-monthly basis from February.
  • "We will be on track for our 50-degree North service by October next year - so, in 10 months' time. Then, slowly getting to 22 degrees and then global by May or June 2022," OneWeb chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.
  • This means, for example, that UK citizens could be using beta broadband connections in the autumn of 2021.

Adani Enterprises Bags Highway Project in Kerala from NHAI

  • Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) has won a Rs. 1,838-crore highway project from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in Kerala. The project, under hybrid annuity mode (HAM), is a part of Bharatmala Pariyojna.
  • AEL has recently participated in tender issued by NHAI under HAM.
  • The 40.80-km project pertains to six-laning of Azhiyur to Vengalam section of NH-17 (New NH-66) in Kerala.

Mars Digger Bites the Dust after 2 Years on Red Planet

  • NASA has declared the Mars digger dead after failing to burrow deep into the red planet to take its temperature. Scientists in Germany spent two years trying to get their heat probe, dubbed the mole, to drill into the Martian crust. But the 16-inch-long (40-centimetre) device that is part of NASA's InSight lander couldn't gain enough friction in the red dirt.
  • It was supposed to bury 16 feet (5 metres) into Mars, but only drilled down a couple of feet (about a half metre). Following one last unsuccessful attempt to hammer itself down over the weekend with 500 strokes, the team called it quits on Thursday.
  • The effort will benefit future excavation efforts at Mars, he added in a statement. Astronauts one day may need to dig into Mars, according to NASA, in search of frozen water for drinking or making fuel, or signs of past microscopic life.
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Sophie Devine Scores the fastest-ever Century in the History of Women's T20 Cricket

  • New Zealand's Sophie Devine returned scored the fastest-ever century in the history of women's T20 cricket for Wellington Blaze as they beat the Otago Sparks in the Super Smash. The White Ferns captain only left managed isolation after a 14-day stay upon returning from Australia, but showed no signs of rust as she powered her side to a 10-wicket win at University of Otago Oval.
  • Devine brought up her century off just 36 balls, beating West Indies batter Deandra Dottin's previous record of 38 balls, set in an international against South Africa in 2010. She hit nine fours and nine sixes during her innings, and one of her shots that cleared the boundary grazed a girl watching on from the bank.
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Former Surat Collector Appointed BJP's State Unit Vice-president

  • Gujarat BJP president C. R. Paatil made nine more appointments in the party's organisation. Significant among the appointments are Mahendra Patel, a retired Gujarat-cadre IAS officer, as vice-president, and Yamal Vyas as party's chief spokesperson.
  • A 2003-batch IAS officer, Patel is also a former collector of Surat district who has also been appointed as executive director of the Metro Rail Project in Surat. During Covid-19 pandemic, he was appointed as an officer on special duty and was made the in-charge of Covid-19 related activity in Surat district. He also held the post of commissioner of municipalities administration in Gandhinagar.

Congress Promises NYAY Scheme in Manifesto for Kerala Assembly Election

  • Ahead of Kerala Assembly polls, the United Democratic Front (UDF) released salient features from the draft of the upcoming Election Manifesto with NYAY scheme proposed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during the Lok Sabha election included in it.
  • We will be implementing NYAY scheme proposed by Rahul Gandhi in Kerala when UDF comes to power. Every deserving family will be given Rs. 6,000 per month which will be Rs. 72,000 annually," said Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala.
  • Ramesh said that draft of people's manifesto is getting ready and the final manifesto will come after receiving opinions from people.
  • The manifesto is being prepared by the UDF committee after taking opinions from people. Salient features include secular values, equality and will lay emphasis on issues of farmers, women, children and youths.

No Boundary Talks During Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali's Visit

  • In a subtle message ahead of the Nepal Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali's visit to India for the India-Nepal Joint Commission Meeting (JCM), Delhi has made it clear that boundary issues will not be discussed.
  • Gyawali arrived in the national capital on a three-day visit during which he will co-chair the JCM with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar and is expected to discuss COVID-19-related cooperation while reviewing the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
  • This is the first high-level visit from Kathmandu in over a year and comes in the backdrop of India-Nepal row over the new map issued by the KP Sharma Oli government. The new Nepali map showed Indian territories of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura as Nepali territories drawing the ire of New Delhi which dismissed the "Unjustified Cartographic Assertion".
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India's First Indigenous 9 mm Machine Pistol Co-developed by DRDO, Army

  • India developed its first indigenous 9 mm machine pistol, the Defence Ministry informed that the machine gun was co-developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Army.
  • The Army's infantry school in Mhow and the DRDO's Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) in Pune have designed and developed the weapon.
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Army Day

  • Since independence, the soldiers and jawans of the Indian Army have been serving the nation with pride and honour, laying down their lives to protect the country. Thus to honour those valiant soldiers, we observe Army Day on January 15 every year.
  • January 15 is observed as Army Day because it was this day in 1949 when Field Marshal Sir Kodandera "Kipper" Madappa Cariappa took over the charge of Indian Army from British General Sir Francis Butcher. Field Marshal Cariappa, who was the first officer of the Indian Army to hold a five-star rank, had led his troops in the World War II and the first Indo-Pak war of 1947. He was known for his bravery and ability to lead troops from the front.
  • The Indian Army celebrates Army Day by organising military parades at its headquarters in New Delhi. The personnel of the Army perform stunts and showcase their valour and strength at the parade that is held at the Cariappa Parade ground in the national capital. Gallantry awards and Sena medals are also awarded to the soldiers and jawans of the Army on this day.
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AIIMS Bhubaneswar Receives Kayakalp Award for 3rd Time

  • The All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bhubaneswar has proved its mettle once again for promoting cleanliness, hygiene and creating sustainable practices in public health facilities by winning the Kayakalp Award Scheme. AIIMS Bhubaneswar will get an award of Rs. 2 crore for the performance.
  • The institute has been adjudged as the best central government hospital under B category for cleanliness for a third consecutive year. It had earlier received the award in 2018 as well as in 2019 for becoming second cleanest hospital in the country among category B hospitals (less than 1000 beds) and received Rs. one crore as prize money.
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Amazon India Launches Free Study Material for JEE Aspirants

  • Amazon India launched Amazon Academy to help students in the preparation for the JEE (Joint Entrance Examination). The online preparation offering will equip students with in-depth knowledge and practice routines required for the JEE, through curated learning material, live lectures and comprehensive assessments in Math, Physics and Chemistry.

British Council Launches Scholarships for Women in STEM

  • The British Council launched a number of scholarships for women in STEM. It has established programmes to support women and girls in STEM around the world, designed with a lifecycle approach in mind, from inspiring young girls to stay in STEM to supporting women working in STEM fields reach positions of leadership and network with their peers in their region and the UK.
  • This year, supported by the British Council, the University of Strathclyde is delighted to announce six fully funded scholarships for female students from South Asia interested in pursuing master's studies in the field of Energy Transition.
  • The six scholarships are on offer for female students from the following countries: Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
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Archaeologists Find World's Oldest Animal Cave Painting

  • Archaeologists have discovered the world's oldest known animal cave painting in Indonesia - a wild pig - believed to be drawn 45,500 years ago.
  • Painted using dark red ochre pigment, the life-sized picture of the Sulawesi warty pig appears to be part of a narrative scene.
  • The picture was found in the Leang Tedongnge cave in a remote valley on the island of Sulawesi.
  • It provides the earliest evidence of human settlement of the region.
  • "The people who made it were fully modern, they were just like us, they had all of the capacity and the tools to do any painting that they liked," said Maxime Aubert, the co-author of the report published in Science Advances journal.
  • A dating specialist, Aubert had identified a calcite deposit that had formed on top of the painting, and used Uranium-series isotope dating to determine that the deposit was 45,500 years old.
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"The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India" by Ex-CEC

  • Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) S. Y. Quraishi has come out with his book titled "The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India". The book will hit the stands on February 15, 2021. It has been published by HarperCollins India.
  • The book evaluates India's demographics from a religious perspective and seeks to demolish two basic myths that 'Islam is against family planning' and "Muslim rate of growth" is linked to capture political power.
  • The book is a detailed analysis of the 'Muslim rate of growth' in the light of population data and national and international reports.
  • The book examines the crucial and urgent question of the politicisation of demography in India.
  • Quraishi, who was CEC from July 30, 2010, to June 10, 2012, introduced a number of electoral reforms, such as the creation of a voter education division, expenditure monitoring division, the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, and launched the National Voters Day.
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Uttarakhand Organises Winter Snow Leopard Tours, Promotes Conservation

  • The Uttarakhand forest department has decided to begin the first ever snow leopard tours in high altitude areas of Uttarkashi district to promote conservation along with sustainable tourism.
  • The tours will be conducted in collaboration with the state tourism department and United Nations Development Programme, which has already been working in the area through the Secure Himalaya project (aimed at promoting conservation along with improvement of livelihood opportunities).
  • A maximum of six participants will be allowed for every tour, who will travel with medical and forest staff. These tours will increase chances of snow leopard sightings as due to peak winters all animals come down to lower reaches.
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