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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

20 Jan 2021

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Qatar Says it's Time Gulf Arab Nations Start Talks with Iran

  • Qatar has urged Gulf Arab nations to enter a dialog with Iran, saying the time was right for Doha to broker negotiations now the neighbors have begun to patch up their own differences.
  • Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, who's long called for a summit between leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and the Islamic Republic, said that his government was hopeful that this would happen, and we still believe this should happen.
  • The comments come days before Joe Biden moves into the White House with a promise to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and roll back the "maximum pressure" campaign that won the support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He's already named a series of diplomats who helped forge the original agreement to top policy posts.

Seven Nations Lose Right to Vote in UNGA

  • Seven countries including Iran have lost their right to vote in the UN General Assembly because of upaid dues.
  • The UN charter calls for such a voting rights suspension for countries whose arrears equal or surpass the amount of the contributions due from them to UN coffers in the previous two years.
  • The other six countries are Niger, Libya, the Central African Republic, Congo Brazzaville, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
  • The letter spells out an amount each country can pay, short of their total debt, to recover their right to vote.
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ENVIRONMENT

Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary in Meghalaya is Northeast's Best Protected Area

  • According to a management effectiveness evaluation (MEE) report of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary in Ri Bhoi district of Meghalaya has been found to be the best protected area (PA) in the North East.
  • The report ranked Meghalaya at 79.17% (Very Good).
  • Nongkhyllem is an area where annual community hunting had been a tradition, but with sensible intervention of the forest department and conscientious support of the neighboring communities, it is now a pristine sanctuary. 
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Adani Group Signs Concession Agreement with AAI for 3 Developing Airports

  • The Adani Group  signed concession agreements with the Airports Authority of India for the management, operations and development of Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram airports.
  • The concessionaires are required to take up the Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram airports fulfilling certain conditions precedents within 180 days from 19th January, 2021.
  • The Centre had in February 2019 privatised six major airports of the country -- Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati.
  • Through a competitive bidding process, the Adani group won the rights to run all of them for 50 years.

Upstox Launches Digital Gold Platform

  • Digital brokerage firm Upstox announced the launch of a digital platform for trading in gold, named Upstox Digital Gold.
  • "Apart from investing in the stock market and mutual funds, Upstox customers can now also invest online in gold," said Upstox, which is also known as RKSV Securities India.
  • The platform, as per the company, enables customers to buy 24-karat digital gold of 99.9 percent purity at live market rates, updated in real-time on the platform.
  • The purchased gold can then be converted into physical coins or bars or stored in the vault.
  • Upstox said that it has partnered with Augmont, an integrated precious metals management company that empowers customers to begin investing in digital gold, starting at just Rs. 1.

Paytm Bank Account Holders can Now avail FD services from Suryoday Bank

  • Paytm Payments Bank Limited (PPBL) announced its partnership with Suryoday Small Finance Bank to facilitate the Fixed Deposit services to its customers.
  • The customers of Paytm payments bank are already enjoying the fixed deposits service in collaboration with the IndusInd Bank at a minimum investment of Rs. 100.
  • With this new partnership, PPBL has become the first payments bank in the country to launch the multi-partner FD service where an account holder can select the partnered bank as per their preference.
  • The customers can also compare various features such as minimum investment, interest rate, tenure, among other things before making a decision.
  • Paytm Payments Bank Limited also offers zero penalty charge for liquidation of the FD which are placed in either of the banks it has entered into the partnership with. It has been witnessed that there are several account holders who prefer "Auto-Create Fixed Deposit" feature wherein the user can set the FD limit on their savings account.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Italy's Eni Eyes Foray into Indian Clean Energy Space

  • Underpinning the growing focus of global super energy majors on India' green economy, Italy's Eni SpA is exploring the feasibility of participating in the world's largest clean energy programme.
  • Eni is eyeing gigawatt (GW)-scale investments in India and plans to reach 55GW installed capacity globally by 2050. The Rome-headquartered firm is studying the build quality of projects, players' profiles, and the market in India.
  • Oil giants are aiming to diversify and invest in India's clean energy programme as the conventional hydrocarbon space undergoes technological disruptions. With a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment, marquee global oil and gas firms, such as French energy giant Total SA, and Malaysia's state-run oil and gas company Petroliam Nasional Bhd, or Petronas, have already invested in India. Thailand's PTT Group is looking to acquire a stake in ReNew Power from Goldman Sachs Group.
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SPORTS

India Breaches Australia's Brisbane Fortress, Wins Test Series 2-1

  • India created history as they became the first team to beat Australia in a Test match in Brisbane in 33 years after winning the series-deciding fourth and final match at the Gabba by 3 wickets.
  • Australia, who last lost at this venue against the West Indies in 1988, were in for a rude shock on Day 5 of the Brisbane Test as India chased down the target of 328 thanks to brilliant knocks from Shubman Gill (91), Rishabh Pant (89 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (56).
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Kiren Rijiju Gets Additional Charge of Ministry of AYUSH

  • The Minister of State for Youth Affairs & Sports (Independent Charge) and Minister of State, Minority Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, got additional charge of the Ministry of AYUSH till the treatment of the Union Minister Shripad Y Naik, who met an accident on January 11.

India Innovation Index, 2020

  • The NITI Aayog is to launch the second edition of India Innovation Index. The Index ranks states of the country based on how they support innovation. The first edition of India Innovation Index was launched in 2019.
  • The India Innovation Index was developed on the lines of Global Innovation Index. It attempts to create an extensive framework for the continuous evaluation of the innovation environment of the states and union territories in India.
  • The index is calculated as the average of scores of two dimensions namely enablers and performance. The enablers provide the innovative capacities of the states and the performers give the benefits derived by the nation from the state's innovation. The enablers are human capital, investment, business environment, knowledge workers and safety and legal environment. The performance parameters are knowledge diffusion and knowledge output.

Assam Congress to Join Hands with AIUDF, AGM, 3 Left Parties for Assembly Polls

  • Ending months of speculation, Congress announced that the party would have a pre-poll alliance with the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) for the coming assembly polls in Assam.
  • Newly-formed Anchalik Gana Morcha (AGM) of journalist-turned-politician and Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan and three Left parties, CPI, CPI-M and CPI-ML, will also be part of this pre-poll tie up.
  • Leaders of the six parties announced formation of this alliance at a press meet in Guwahati in presence of Congress observers for Assam polls, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and senior party leader Mukul Wasnik.
  • Assembly polls in Assam are due in April-May and tenure of the present 126-member House expires on May 31.
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DEFENCE

Global Firepower Index, 2021

  • The Global Firepower Index ranks the countries based on their potential military strength. India was ranked fourth in the index. The Global Firepower Index ranked 138 countries. The countries were evaluated based on prolonged offensive and defensive military campaigns.
  • The United States topped the index with 904 attack helicopters and eleven aircraft carriers. Also, the country has sixty-eight submarines and 40,000 armoured fighting vehicles.
  • The US was followed by Russia with 189 fighter aircrafts and 538 attack helicopters. Russia has 13,000 tanks and 64 submarines.
  • China was ranked third with 1,200 combat aircrafts and 327 attack helicopters and seventy-nine submarines. Also, China has 35,000 armoured vehicles.
  • India was ranked fourth in the Global Firepower Index with 542 combat aircraft, 17 submarines, 4,730 tanks and 37 attack helicopters.
  • Japan was ranked fifth in the Global Firepower Index with 2 helicopter carriers, 27 destroyers.
  • South Korea was ranked sixth in the world and North Korea was ranked 28th.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Vishwavir Ahuja Re-appointed as RBL Bank Chief

  • The board of directors of RBL Bank approved the re-appointment of Vishwavir Ahuja as the Managing Director and CEO of the bank for three years.
  • The re-appointment is with effect from June 30, 2021, to June 29, 2024, and the same is being recommended to the Reserve Bank of India and shall be subject to their approval.
  • Ahuja has been MD & CEO of RBL Bank since June 30, 2010. Prior to joining RBL Bank, he was the MD & CEO of Bank of America, India, from 2001 to 2009.

Renowned Oncologist Dr. V Shanta Passes Away

  • Padma Award-winning renowned oncologist Dr. V Shanta passed away. She was the chairperson of Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai, which she joined in 1954. The institute is known for providing state-of-the-art healthcare to all patients.
  • Dr. V Shanta was a recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri (1986) and Padma Bhushan (2006) for her efforts for making quality and affordable cancer treatment accessible to everyone. She was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan and the Ramon Magsaysay awards.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Nitish Kumar Inaugurates State's First Bird Festival 'Kalrav'

  • Chief Minister Nitish Kumar inaugurated Bihar's first state bird festival 'Kalrav' by lighting the traditional lamp at Nagi Bird Sanctuary in Jamui district.
  • The festival was organised by the state environment, forest and climate change department to create awareness among people about birds, especially the migratory birds.
  • The Nagi- Nakti Bird Sanctuaries have been the home of a wide variety of indigenous species of birds and of migratory birds that turn up during the winters from places like Eurasia, Central Asia, the Arctic Circle, Russia and Northern China.
  • Over 136 species of birds have been spotted at these sanctuaries.
  • Not just that, around 1,600 bar-headed geese, which is about 3% of the global population of this variety, have been seen here, as per a report of the Wetlands International and because of this rare phenomenon, the Birdlife International, a global body, has held the Nagi Dam Bird Sanctuary to be globally important for the conservation of birds' population and has declared it as an important bird area.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Azim Premji, Dr. Devi Shetty Chosen for Press Club of Bangalore Awards

  • Azim Premji and the founder chairman of Narayana Health Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty are among those who have been selected for the annual awards given by the Press Club of Bangalore.
  • Premji has been chosen for 'Press Club Person of the Year', while Dr. Shetty and actor-Director Sudeep Sanjeev have been selected for the 'Press Club Special Award.'
  • Besides them, 25 senior journalists have also been selected for the 'Press Club Annual Awards.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Draft Scheme to Provide Jobs to 25 Youth in every Tribal Village

  • Union minister Nitin Gadkari asked the Tribal Affairs Ministry to coordinate with the MSME Ministry and come up with a scheme to provide employment to 25 people in every tribal village in India.
  • The minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) and Road Transport & Highways said five crore jobs should be created by the MSME sector this year.
  • He observed that there are 6.5 crore MSME units in the country and 11 crore jobs have been created through the sector till now.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT Roorkee Organises One-of-a-kind Online Spoken Sanskrit Course

  • IIT Roorkee and Samskrita Bharati jointly organised a one-of-a-kind online spoken Sanskrit course which received enthusiastic participation of over 5000 delegates from 32 countries.
  • This initiative titled 'Subhashitam Samskritam' was organised online by Sanskrit Club, IIT Roorkee and Samskrita Bharati, a non-governmental organisation.
  • The valedictory ceremony witnessed the august presence of Padma Bhushan awardee and former Chief Election Commissioner Dr. N Gopalaswami as Chief Guest and Dr. P Nandakumar, the course designer and International Coordinator, Samskrita Bharati as Special Guest. Shri BVR Mohan Reddy, Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Roorkee presided over the function.

Varsity Launches Scholarship for Children of Police Personnel

  • Ajinkya DY Patil University has launched a scholarship programme exclusively for the ward of policemen. ADYPU believes that the endeavours of the policemen during the Covid-19 crisis should not go unrecognised.
  • As a token of gratitude, ADYPU has introduced a scholarship programme Yashwant Dyanarthi Shishyavratti in the name of the grandfather of Chairman Dr Ajeenkya DY Patil.
  • For every admission, ADYPU will offer up to 50% scholarship to the ward/child of Police personnel. ADYPU is committed to providing 100% scholarships to students who have scored more than 95% marks in their class 12 exams.
  • In recognition of this, ADYPU has signed an MOU with several police departments including Pune Rural Police, Solapur Police and Kolhapur Police and in talks with many more.
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