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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

19 Jan 2021


US Designates UAE and Bahrain as 'Major Strategic Partners'

  • The United States has designated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain as its major strategic partners, the White House announced, amid preparations for a transition from the Donald Trump administration to that of President-elect Joe Biden.
  • The announcement was made by White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
  • This decision demonstrates a new level of partnership between the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom Bahrain, and represents an enduring commitment to economic and security cooperation. It also reflects their extraordinary courage, determination, and leadership in entering into the Abraham Accords.

PM Giuseppe Conte Wins Lower House Confidence Vote

  • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte won a crucial confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies, hanging on to power after a junior partner quit his coalition and opened a political crisis amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic. Had he lost the vote, Conte would have been forced to resign.
  • After his appeal to opposition and non-aligned lawmakers to back him following last week's walk-out by former premier Matteo Renzi's Italia Viva party, Conte's government won the lower-house vote by 321 to 259.
  • The margin was wider than expected and gave the government an absolute majority in the 629-seat chamber.
  • Conte will face a tougher test in the Upper House Senate, where the government had only a slim majority even when Italia Viva was still part of the coalition.
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ZSI Starts Tagging Olive Ridleys to Track Migration Path

  • The Zoological Survey of India has started tagging endangered olive Ridley to track their migration path in the off-shore waters of Odisha.
  • The ZSI scientists took six turtles floating in the deep water of the Bay of Bengal and attached the tags made of aluminium before releasing them back in the sea.
  • Tags were attached to six including four female and two male turtles. Basic information such as their weight and length was recorded by the researchers.
  • According to Amlan Nayak, Divisional Forest Officer of Berhampur, ZSI would tag 30,000 turtles to know where they come from and go to.
  • The Rushikulya beach is one of the largest mass nesting sites for sea turtles where 3,23,062 were enumerated last year.
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China Only Major Economy with Positive GDP Growth in 2020

  • China has become the only major economy in the world the end up with positive GDP growth in 2020. Data released by China's National Bureau of Statistics put GDP growth in the December quarter at 6.5%. This has catapulted the annual growth figure for 2020 to 2.3%, despite a 6.8% contraction in the quarter ending March 2020, which was when China was dealing with a spike in Covid-19 cases.
  • The 2.3% GDP growth in 2020 is 30 basis points — one basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point — more than the 2% projection made by the World Bank's Global Economic Prospects released earlier this month. All major economies, country groups and sub-regions (East Asia and Pacific being the only exception, thanks to China) are expected to experience a contraction in their GDP in 2020.

India and Japan Sign Agreement to Give Skilled Indian Workers Access to Japanese Job Market

  • India and Japan signed an agreement to boost the mobility of skilled Indian workers in 14 fields, including nursing, industrial machinery, shipbuilding, aviation, agriculture and the food services industry.
  • The two countries have stepped up trade and economic cooperation across areas, ranging from the steel industry and investments to creating alternative and more resilient supply chains, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and Japan's ambassador Satoshi Suzuki signed the memorandum of cooperation (MoC) on a framework for partnership for specified skilled workers (SSWs), whereby Indian workers in 14 categories who meet skill requirements and pass Japanese language tests will be eligible for employment on a contractual basis.
  • The two sides will set up a joint working group of officials to work out operational details and smooth implementation of the programme.
  • Japan would grant these workers the status of 'specified skilled worker'. It is also expected that Indian skilled workers who go to Japan under this MoC will acquire new skills while working in Japan.

Energy Group Total Buys to Acquire Stake in Adani Green Energy

  • French oil and energy group Total will buy a 20% minority stake in Adani Green Energy Limited (AGEL) from Adani Group, as Total builds up its presence in the renewable energy sector.
  • Total's purchase of the stake in AGEL would give it a seat on the board of directors of AGEL. Total and Adani had earlier struck a partnership deal back in 2018 in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) sector.
  • Total is trying to reduce its dependence on oil and shift to renewable energy.
  • Total aims to have 35 gigawatts (GW) of gross renewable energy generation capacity by 2025 from around 9 GW now.
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Robert Lewandowski Breaks 42-year-old Bundesliga Record

  • After already bagging most of the individual honors in 2020, Robert Lewandowski continued to impress with his rich form in the New Year. The Polish striker, who was named as the FIFA men's player of the year, broke a 42-year Bundesliga record in Bayern Munich's 2-1 victory over Freiburg. 
  • Lewandowski took just seven minutes after kick-off to register his name on the goal sheet as he converted a pass coming from Thomas Muller, helping his side take a 1-0 lead. This was his 21st goal from 15 appearances in the ongoing season.

Kiren Rijiju Inaugurates Khelo India State Centre of Excellence

  • Union Minister of Youth Affairs & Sports Shri Kiren Rijiju launched the Khelo India State Centre of Excellence (KISCE) at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Mhalunge-Balewadi in Pune. This is the 9th KISCE formally inaugurated by the Union Minister so far and the Maharashtra-based sports complex will focus on three Priority Olympic disciplines — Shooting, Athletics and Cycling.
  • The Khelo India State Centre of Excellence (KISCE) in Pune will be supported financially for renovation to operationalise the 25 m electronic target shooting range besides support in providing of road and track cycles. They will also be provided financial support for sports science backup, engagement of coaches, support staff, sports equipment and more. The Sports Authority of India will keep providing technical expertise and assistance on routine basis.
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At UNSC, India Welcomes Abraham Accords and Lauds Role of Arab League

  • At the United Nations Security Council, India has welcomed the concluded Abraham accords that saw several countries in West Asia establishing ties with Israel.  Calling the signing of 'Abraham accords' a 'positive development', India's envoy to the United Nations TS Tirumurti said, "We welcome these agreements regarding normalization of relations between Israel and other countries, which, we believe will contribute to peace and stability in West Asia."
  • The accords signed in 2020 saw UAE, Bahrain establishing ties with Israel. The development comes after more than 2 decades, since the last time any Arab country recognized Israel, which was -- Jordan in 1994 and Egypt in 1979.

Narendra Modi Named Somnath Temple Trust Chairman

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi was appointed the new chairman of the trust which manages the world-famous Somnath Temple at Prabhas Patan town in Gujarat's Gir-Somnath district, becoming the second PM to hold the post. PM Modi, one of the trustees of the Shree Somnath Trust, was elected to the top post unanimously.
  • After former PM Morarji Desai, Narendra Modi is the second Prime Minister who has been appointed the chairman of the temple trust. As per trust records, PM Modi has become the eighth chairman of the trust.
  • The post of the Somnath Trust's chairman fell vacant after the death of the incumbent, former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, in October 2020. Patel had served as the chairman for 16 years (2004-2020).
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Ex-Desert Knight 21

  • For the first time, French and Indian and Rafale jets would be flying and exercising together during the Desert Knight-21 war games scheduled between January 20 and 24 in Jodhpur.
  • The Indian Air Force is hosting the French Air and Space Force (Armée de l'Air et de I'Espace) at Air Force Station Jodhpur for Ex-Desert Knight 21, a bilateral Air exercise. The French forces are currently deployed in Asia as part of their 'Skyros Deployment', and will transit through India.
  • The aim of the exercise is to provide operational exposure and share best practices towards enhancing combat capability. Both the forces will participate with Fighter, Transport, and Tanker aircraft.
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Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's Birthday to be Celebrated as 'Parakram Diwas'

  • In a significant development, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre has decided to celebrate the birthday of iconic freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as 'Parakram Diwas' every year on January 23.
  • The announcement was made by the Union Ministry of Culture.
  • In the recent past, the Government of India has taken several steps towards preserving and conserving the precious heritage of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. A museum has been set up on Netaji at Red Fort, New Delhi, which was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on 23.01.2019. 
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Biswajit Chatterjee Awarded 'Indian Personality of the Year'

  • Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar announced veteran actor, director and singer Biswajit Chatterjee as the recipient of the 'Indian Personality of the Year' award. The 84-year-old actor is known for featuring in films like "Bees Saal Baad", "Night In London" and "April Fool".
  • Chatterjee started his career in the late 1950s and went on to work in films like "Biwi Aur Makan", "Sagaai", "Kohra" among others. In 1975, he directed and produced "Kahte Hain Mujhko Raja", featuring himself along with Dharmendra, Hema Malini and Rekha.
  • The honour aims to celebrate film personalities for their exemplary contribution to cinema. During Javadekar's address, he also made a strong pitch for the film industry as well as other private companies to start participating in the annual festival from its next edition.
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PM Modi Launches Rs. 1,000-crore 'Startup India Seed Fund'

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched Rs. 1,000-crore 'Start-up India Seed Fund', while addressing the 'Prarambh: Start-up India International Summit' 2021. This initiative will help in setting up new start-ups and promote their growth.
  • The Start-up India Seed Fund would support start-ups in need of initial capital to start and grow their business and help budding entrepreneurs pursue innovative ideas.
  • The government has been implementing the Fund of Fund Scheme to help start-ups raise equity capital. Going forward, the government will also help start-ups in raising debt capital.
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Tech Programme exclusively for women by Newton School

  • Newton School has introduced a tech programme exclusively for women which will help them in skill-building and re-entering the workforce.
  • The course that begins mid-January will not only help women to re-join the workforce after maternity leave but also enable them to switch their careers and join the tech industry.
  • Newton School is an online edtech platform that trains people to be highly skilled software developers and gets them placed in top companies as frontend, backend, and full-stack software developers among other roles.
  • The first batch will have a strength of 100 students. The course is expected to run multiple batches in the coming months and will follow the Pay after Placement model just like other courses being offered by the start-up.
  • The tech programme introduced by the Newton School, founded in 2019 by serial entrepreneurs and college friends will allow women to learn industry skills without any financial burden.
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Ramchandra Guha's Latest Book 'The Commonwealth of Cricket'

  • Ramchandra Guha's book 'The Commonwealth of Cricket' would be launching virtually in the Tata Literature Live (The Mumbai Lit fest) this month. His latest book juxtaposes his life with his abiding love for the game & this conversation could not come at a better time with India and Australia in the midst of an enthralling test series.
  • In his upcoming book, 'The commonwealth of cricket: The most subtle and sophisticated game known to mankind', Guha has penned down his personal account of being intimately involved with the game starting from the time he was a child growing up in Dehradun to his days in college, from his encounters with the best Indian and foreign cricket players to becoming part of the BCCI.
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MOT Organises 'DekhoApnaDesh' Webinar on 'Exploring Buddhist Circuit by Train'

  • The Ministry of Tourism organised an interesting webinar titled 'Exploring Buddhist Circuit by Train' as a part of 'Dekho Apna Desh' Webinar series.
  • The Webinar focused on promoting and showcasing the rich Buddhist Heritage in India and highlighted the major destinations visited by Buddha personally across the country besides showcasing the Buddhist Heritage left behind by his disciples including the modern monasteries.
  • Further, the webinar also focused on providing first-hand information to the viewers on arrangements for travel (Especially by Train) & accommodation to the Buddhist Sites in India.
  • According to Arun Srivastava, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Buddhist tourism in India has tremendous potential to draw the 500 million strong Buddhists across the world to "India -The Land of Buddha".   
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UK Set New Laws to Protect Historic Statues

  • The UK government unveiled new laws to protect England's cultural and historic heritage in the form of statues and monuments to ensure they are not removed at a whim.
  • The move comes in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests in the country last year targeting several historic monuments, including with graffiti on Mahatma Gandhi's statue in Parliament Square in London.
  • Another set of protesters had succeeded in pulling down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol and dumping it into the river during UK-wide demonstrations against the killing of 46-year-old African-American George Floyd in the US.
  • The new legal protections mean that historic statues should be retained and explained for future generations and individuals who want to remove any historic statue, whether protected with a listed status or not, will now require listed building consent or planning permission.
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