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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

23 Jan 2021

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Joe Biden Announces US Will Rejoin Paris Climate Accord

  • President Joe Biden returned the United States to the worldwide fight to slow global warming in one of his first official acts and immediately launched a series of climate-friendly efforts that would transform how Americans drive and get their power.
  • Biden signed an executive order rejoining the Paris climate accord within hours of taking the oath of office, fulfilling a campaign pledge.
  • The move undoes the US withdrawal ordered by predecessor Donald Trump, who belittled the science behind climate efforts, loosened regulations on heat-trapping oil, gas and coal emissions, and spurred oil and gas leasing in pristine Arctic tundra and other wilderness.

European Union Leaders Agree to Keep Borders Open, Want to Limit Travels

  • European Union leaders agreed that borders should remain open and assessed more measures to counter the spread of coronavirus variants during a video summit as the bloc's top disease control official said urgent action was needed to stave off a new wave of hospitalizations and deaths.
  • Expressing great concern about the virus' mutations, the 27 leaders looked at further border restrictions like limits on all non-essential travel, better tracking of mutations and improving coordination of lockdowns.
  • Though worried that another surge of deaths across the EU was imminent, they could not immediately agree on whether to halt non-essential travel.
  • European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen insisted on the importance of keeping borders open to ensure that goods continue to move smoothly.

Joe Biden's US Revives Support for WHO, Reversing Donald Trump Retreat

  • President Joe Biden's top adviser on the pandemic said the United States will resume funding for the World Health Organization and join its consortium aimed at sharing coronavirus vaccines fairly around the globe, renewing support for an agency that the Trump administration had pulled back from.
  • Just hours after Biden's inauguration, Dr. Anthony Fauci wrote a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres saying the US had reversed the planned pull out from the WHO that was expected to take effect in July.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Airtel Payments Bank Launches 'Safe Pay' to Curb Online Frauds

  • Airtel Payments Bank launched 'Airtel Safe Pay', a mode of safe digital transactions to protect its customers from online payment frauds.
  • Airtel Payments Bank said that with 'Airtel Safe Pay', Airtel customers making UPI or net banking-based payments through Airtel Payments Bank, no longer have to worry about money leaving their accounts without their explicit consent.
  • Airtel Safe Pay leverages Airtel's telecom exclusive strength of network intelligence to provide an additional layer of payment validation compared to the industry norm of two-factor authentication.

NSE is World's Largest Derivatives Exchange for 2nd Consecutive Year

  • The National Stock Exchange of India Ltd (NSE) remained the world's largest derivatives exchange for the second consecutive year in 2020 in terms of number of contracts traded, according to the Futures Industry Association (FIA).
  • In addition, the bourse has been ranked fourth in the world in cash equities by number of trades by the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) for calendar year 2020.
  • The exchange said it has been focused on building robust markets for all asset classes and had launched a host of new products and services last year.
  • In the capital market segment, NSE has listed T-bills (Treasury Bills) and SDLs (State Development Loans) facilitating investors to transact in these securities, in addition to the existing dated Government Securities (G-sec) available for trading.

SEBI Penalises HDFC Bank in BRH Wealth Kreators Case

  • The Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has imposed a fine of Rs.1 crore for invoking securities pledged by BRH Wealth Kreators in violation of the regulator's interim orders.
  • The markets' regulator in an order issued said that the bank had extended loan facility to BRH and BRH commodities to the tune of Rs. 87.75 crore against shares, however, it invoked securities pledged to the extent of Rs. 158.68 crore without giving any notice to the clients.
  • According to the regulator, the invocation of pledge of client securities was not in conformity with the directions contained in the interim order which was issued on 7 October 2019. SEBI has therefore asked HDFC Bank to deposit an equivalent amount of ₹158.68 crore along with interest from 14 October 2019 till date, at the rate of 7% per annum in a separate interest bearing escrow account, till the issue of settlement of clients' securities is reconciled.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

NASA Investigating Distant Galaxy Mysteriously Shooting Flares Out Every 114 Days

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is investigating a distant galaxy that erupts once roughly every 114 days and has been spotted 570 million light-years away.
  • According to NASA, scientists have studied 20 repeated outbursts, classified as ASASSN-14ko, as observed by its Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) by measuring different wavelengths of light.
  • These are the most predictable and frequent recurring multi wavelength flares which have been seen from a galaxy's core, and they give a unique opportunity to study this extragalactic Old Faithful in detail.
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SPORTS

Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes Top Goal-scorer in Football History

  • Portugal and Juventus' goal-scoring Phenom Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed Josef Bican for the most goals scored for club and country in football history -- with his tally now at 760. The Juventus striker continued to defy his age since arriving from Real Madrid for around £100 million in 2018 — and his strike against Napoli in the Italian Super Cup on Wednesday has now moved him top of the all-time scoring charts.
  • Juventus won the Italian Super Cup title after securing a 2-0 win over Napoli. It was the club's ninth Italian Super Cup title and Andrea Pirlo's first trophy as a manager.

Liverpool's 68-match Unbeaten EPL Home Run Ended by Burnley

  • Liverpool's 68-match unbeaten streak at Anfield in the Premier League ended with a 1-0 loss to Burnley in the latest setback of a fading title defence.
  • Ashley Barnes scored from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute after the forward was brought down by goalkeeper Alisson Becker as Burnley became the first team to win in the league at Anfield since April 2017.
  • It was Burnley's first win at Liverpool since 1974, and it leaves Jürgen Klopp's side six points behind leader Manchester United halfway through its title defence, having not scored in four successive games.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Maharashtra Renames Gorewada International Zoo after Bal Thackeray

  • The Maharashtra government has renamed Gorewada International Zoo in Nagpur as 'Balasaheb Thackeray Gorewada International Zoological Park. The zoological park will come up on nearly 2,000 hectares of forest land.
  • Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will inaugurate the Indian safari at the zoo on January 26. Three special 40-seat capacity vehicles and an online ticket booking facility will be made available to the people as soon after the Indian safari is inaugurated.

Telangana: 10% Quota for Economically Weaker Sections in Jobs and Education

  • The Telangana government announced 10 per cent reservation for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in government jobs and educational institutions. 
  • As of now, 50 per cent reservation for the weaker sections is in force in the state. With an additional 10 per cent quota for the EWS, the total percentage of reservation will rise to 60.

Shahnawaz Hussain and Mukesh Sahni Elected Unopposed to Bihar Legislative Council

  • JP leader Shahnawaz Hussain and Bihar minister Mukesh Sahni were elected unopposed to the Bihar legislative council.
  • Shahnawaz Hussain has been elected on the seat vacated by former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, the term of which expires in 2024.
  • Mukesh Sahni, the founding president of NDA partner Vikassheel Insaan Party, has been elected from the seat vacated by former minister and BJP leader Binod Narayan Jha, who is now a member of the assembly.
  • Both Hussain and Sahni were handed over their certificates by Patna Divisional Commissioner Sanjay Agarwal, who had been designated as the returning officer for by-elections to the two seats.
  • Both Hussain and Sahni have made their debut in the state legislature.
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DEFENCE

Iran Kicks Off Ground Forces Drill on Coast of Gulf of Oman

  • Iran's military kicked off ground forces drill along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported, the latest in a series of snap exercises that the country is holding amid escalating tensions over its nuclear programme and Washington's pressure campaign against Tehran.
  • According to the report, commando units and airborne infantry were participating in the annual exercise, along with fighter jets, helicopters and military transport aircraft. Iran's National Army chief Abdolrahim Mousavi was overseeing the drill.
  • Iran has recently stepped up military drills as part of an effort to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of. Mr. Biden has said the U.S. could rejoin the multinational accord meant to contain Iran's nuclear programme.

Joe Biden Seeks Five-year Extension of New START Arms Treaty with Russia

  • The Biden administration plans to seek a five-year extension to the New START arms control treaty with Russia, the White House announced, only days before the crucial nuclear arms pact was set to expire. 
  • "The President has long been clear that the New START treaty is in the national security interests of the United States. And this extension makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing.
  • The New START arms control treaty was signed by then-US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2010. It restricts the number of strategic nuclear warheads the pair can deploy to not more than 1,550. There is also a limit on the missiles and bombers that carry them.
  • The agreement, one of the last restraints on Russia and the United States' nuclear forces, was set to expire on February 5. 
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Funskool India Wins Award for Performance in SGEPC

  • Funskool India, the MRF group promoted toy manufacturer, announced that it has been conferred with Platinum Award for outstanding performance in export of Sports Goods & Toys by the Sports Goods Export Promotion Council (SGEPC).
  • The toy maker said that the recognition is for achieving the second highest export of sport goods and toys during the year 2019-20. Funskool also said it is also recognised as the largest exporter of toys from India in 2019-20 by SGEPC.
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

Kerala is most Welcoming Region in India Third Year in Row

  • Kerala ranked most welcoming region in India! Travelling portal Booking.com has announced the Traveller Review Awards 2021 and in it, the booking site has highlighted the most welcoming regions and cities in India.
  • Even amid a raging pandemic, Kerala was ranked the most welcoming region in the country by the platform, now holding the position for the third consecutive year. Kerala was followed by Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The ranking took into account the hospitality and friendliness of these regions.
  • The list of most welcoming regions were mostly located in south India, accounting for three out of five regions. While Rajasthan is famous for its rich legacy of palaces and royalties, with forts accounting for most of the tourist destinations, Goa is a popular destination for its party beaches. On the other hand, south Indian states, especially Kerala, are known for the natural beauty and diversity they offer, being known for their eco-tourism.
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ART AND CULTURE

Motifs Inspired by Dravidian Temple Architecture Feature in this Series of Artworks

  • Gandaberunda, the mythical two-headed bird, often seen as one of Lord Vishnu's many incarnations in Hindu mythology, lies on a circular board of thick brown paper intricately etched out using a black pen.
  • At first glance, a satisfying network of patterns is all one sees. But the motif also opens doors to history; especially that of the temple structures seen in Tamil Nadu. The gandaberunda is one of the many creatures that feature in artist and architect Mathew Samuel's Divine Fauna, a 12-part series of sketches inspired from temple reliefs, manifested as motifs on circular boards.
  • Hailing from Coimbatore and based out of Chennai, Matthew's interest in temple architecture is the starting point of this personal project that came to fruition during the pandemic-led lockdowns.
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