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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

03 Feb 2021


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Sri Lanka Opts Out of Port Deal with India

  • India said that it expected Sri Lanka to abide by an agreement on the trilateral development and operation of a key port terminal in Colombo after the Rajapaksa government decided to hand over the facility to a state-run body.
  • The development marks the latest twist in the troubled project to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) of Colombo Port under a trilateral agreement signed in 2019 by the governments of India, Japan and Sri Lanka.
  • The Sri Lankan government has succumbed to pressure from labour unions, which are opposed to a joint venture with Indian and Japanese investors having a 49% stake in the ECT. Its cabinet decided to run the facility as a fully- owned operation of state-run Sri Lanka Port Authority (SLPA).
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Indian Researchers Discover New Gecko Species In Arunachal Pradesh

  • A team of researchers from five institutes across India have discovered a new gecko species in Arunachal Pradesh. Their discovery was published in the international peer-reviewed journal Evolutionary Systematics.
  • The new species, which belongs to the genus Cyrtodactylus commonly known as bent-toed geckos, was discovered by Zeeshan Mirza of the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru, Harshal Bhosale and Mandar Sawant of the Bombay Natural History Society in Mumbai, Faizan Ansari of the Madras Crocodile Bank in Chennai, Gaurang Gowande of Ferguson College in Pune, Pushkar Phansalkar from Pune, and Harshil Patel of the Veer Narmad South Gujarat University in Surat.
  • The researchers have named the species Cyrtodactylus arunachalensis after the state in which it was discovered.
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Indian Oil May form Subsidiary for Retail Assets to Unlock Value

  • Indian Oil Corp could create a subsidiary for its retail assets to help unlock value, the head of finance at India's largest refiner, a day after the government announced plans to monetise IOC's pipeline assets.
  • "Presently it is not on our radar but a possibility of any such thing to unlock the value cannot be ruled out," Sandeep Kumar Gupta said on an analysts call when asked if IOC plans to hive off its fuel retailing business into a separate company.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget for fiscal year from April, announced a plan to monetise oil and gas pipeline assets of IOC, gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd.
  • Shares of IOC fell 27.6% in 2020, while the broader Nifty 50 index gained 14.9%.

SBI Launches 'YONO Super Saving Days' Carnival

  • The State Bank of India has announced the launch of its shopping carnival- 'YONO Super Saving Days' from February 4, 2021.
  • The carnival which will continue for four days and will be live till February 7 will offer an exclusive range of discounts and cash backs to SBI's banking and lifestyle platform YONO's users.
  • YONO users can avail up to 50% discounts from various merchant partners in multiple categories
  • Currently, over 100 e-merchants have partnered with YONO, SBI stated.
  • YONO has partnered with some top merchants including Amazon, OYO, Pepperfry, Samsung, and Yatra.

RBI Appoints External Firm to Conduct IT Audit at HDFC Bank

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has appointed an external professional IT company to conduct an audit of HDFC Bank's IT Infrastructure and has sought a report from the company at the earliest, said a person familiar with the development.
  • This is part of the RBI's inspections to examine if the bank had improved on it digital capabilities following the recent issues, the person said.
  • The HDFC Bank has also informed the exchanges that the RBI move is in the backdrop of incidents of outages in the internet banking/ mobile banking/ payment utilities of the Bank over the past two years, including the recent outages in the Bank's internet banking and payment system on November 21, 2020 due to a power failure in the primary data centre.
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Stardust 1.0, The First Rocket to Run On Biofuel

  • On January 31, 2021 Stardust 1.0 was launched from Loring Commerce Centre in Maine, US, a former military base, becoming the first commercial space launch powered by biofuel, which is non-toxic for the environment as opposed to traditionally used rocket fuels.
  • The launch marked another historic first for Maine since Stardust 1.0 has become the first commercial rocket launch for the state located in the northeastern US.
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PFRDA Allows Aadhaar-based Online, e-KYC to Open NPS Account

  • The Pension Funds Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) allowed online Aadhaar e-KYC process for onboarding of new subscribers under the National Pension System (NPS).
  • The permission given by Dept of Revenue to perform online e KYC shall further simplify the process of account opening since the process offers the Subscribers a unique experience of NPS Digital Journey.
  • Last year in May, the regulator had allowed Aadhaar-based offline paperless KYC (Know Your Customer) for onboarding of new subscribers under the pension plan. The process helped in immediate activation of NPS accounts following instant KYC verification and also immediate deposit of NPS contribution by the subscriber.

BJP Appoints Election in-charges for Puducherry, 3 Poll-bound States

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced election in-charges for three poll-bound states and Union Territory of Puducherry that will pick new assemblies in the next few months.
  • Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar has been appointed the election-in-charge for Assam while Union minister of state (MoS) in the Prime Minister's Office, Jitendra Singh has been given the additional charge.
  • The BJP leadership also appointed MoS for home affairs G. Kishan Reddy as the in-charge for Tamil Nadu and Dr. VK Singh as the deputy in-charge.
  • Prahlad Joshi, Union minister for parliamentary affairs will oversee elections in Kerala and deputy CM of Karnataka, Ashwath Narayan will be the deputy in charge. For Puducherry, the party has named Union minister of state for Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and parliamentary affairs Arjun Singh Meghwal as in-charge and national spokesperson Rajeev Chandrasekhar as the deputy.

Aero India takes off on Feb 3 amidst Covid, buzz around 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'

  • With a combination of both physical and virtual exhibition, the 13th edition of the biennial international event at Air Force Station Yelahanka will be the world's first hybrid aerospace show.
  • The country's premier aerospace and defence exhibition, Aero India 2021 takes off here amidst the Covid-19 pandemic with buzz around "AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan" and "Make in India" push.
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Rajnath Singh Inaugurates New Tejas LCA Production Line in Bengaluru

  • The Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the second Light Combat Aircraft- LCA production line of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
  • During his address at the inauguration, the Union Minister emphasized that India cannot remain dependent on other nations for defending its borders. He also assured that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited- HAL will be getting new orders in the future.
  • The Defence Minister also added that despite the pandemic, HAL received orders of Rs. 48,000 crores from the armed forces making it the biggest procurement in terms of indigenous defence procurement which will provide new heights to the Indian aerospace sector.
  • The new facility will help Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to produce 16 LCA's annually and the orders will also help in generating 5,000 primary and secondary jobs across the country.
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Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos to Step Down in Third Quarter

  • E-commerce giant Inc beat estimates for holiday-quarter sales and said that Jeff Bezos would move to the role of executive chair in the third quarter and be replaced by Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy as chief executive officer.
  • The announcement came as Amazon released its financial results for its fourth quarter that ended December 31, 2020.
  • Bezos, who founded Amazon in 1994 had stepped back from much of the day-to-day business over several years, though the pandemic pulled him back in last spring.
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PM Modi to Inaugurate Chauri Chaura Centenary Celebrations

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the 'Chauri Chaura' centenary celebrations at Chauri Chaura in Uttar Pradesh via video conferencing.
  • The day marks the beginning of the 100th year of the 'Chauri Chaura' incident, a landmark event in the country's fight for independence.
  • The centenary celebrations and various events planned by the state government will begin in all 75 districts of the state from February 4, 2021 and will continue till February 4, 2022. 
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Meghalaya Selected for Special Award for Information Technology Applications in Elections

  • The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Meghalaya was selected for a Special Award for Information Technology applications in Elections by the Election Commission of India (ECI), in the National Best Electoral Practices Awards-2020.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind virtually conferred the award to Meghalaya CEO F.R. Kharkongor at the National Voters' Day Award function held in New Delhi today, a statement from the CEO's office informed.
  • The award recognises the sustained and consistent IT application efforts in electoral activities being made by the Office of the CEO in the entire Enrolment to Elections (E2E) process and for leveraging technology for the benefit of all categories of voters, both general and persons with disabilities (PWDs).
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Punjab CM launches 'Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai' mission

  • To accomplish the goal of 100 percent potable piped water supply in all rural households by 2022, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh launched the 'Har Ghar Pani, Har Ghar Safai' mission as part of the state government's campaign.
  • He also inaugurated one Mega Surface Water Supply Scheme covering 85 villages in the Moga district, 144 new water supply schemes for 172 villages, 121 Arsenic, and Iron removal plants. The scheme is being funded by the World Bank, Jal Jeewan Mission of GoI, NABARD, and State Budget.

14 New Minor Forest Produce Items Included Under MSP Scheme

  • The government has decided to include 14 new minor forest produce items under the mechanism for marketing of minor forest produce through a minimum support price scheme to provide remunerative and fair prices to tribal gatherers of forest produces. Newly included items are Tasar Cocoon, elephant apple dry, bamboo shoot, malkangani seed and wild dry mushroom among others.
  • The Central government had introduced a minimum support price for a selected list of minor produce items through mechanism for marketing of Minor Forest Produce through Minimum Support price and development of Value Chain of MFP Scheme in 2011. It aims to provide a social safety net to these underprivileged forest dwellers, and to aid in their empowerment.

Assam CM Launches Schemes For College Students, Literary Bodies

  • Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched two schemes to provide monetary assistance to college students and literary bodies of the state.
  • Under Pragyan Bharati scheme, 3,26,046 college students were given Rs 1,500 each for purchasing textbooks, while a total of Rs 161 crore was reimbursed for the free admission of 4 lakh eligible students.
  • The second scheme is Bhasha Gourab, under which the state government provided 21 Sahitya Sabhas (literary bodies) with a total of Rs 43 crore as a contribution towards their corpus funds.
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Ayesha Aziz Becomes India's Youngest Female Pilot

  • This 25-year-old woman from Kashmir is acting as a source of inspiration and a beacon of empowerment for numerous Kashmiri women after becoming the youngest female pilot in the country.
  • In 2011, Ayesha Aziz became the youngest student pilot to get a license at the age of 15 and underwent training to fly a MIG-29 jet at Russia's Sokol airbase the following year. She later graduated in aviation from the Bombay Flying Club (BFC) and obtained a commercial license in 2017.

'Aatmanirbharta' named Oxford Hindi word of the year for 2020

  • After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's emphasis on Aatmanirbharta in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, this particular word has been named by Oxford Languages as its Hindi Word of the Year 2020 as it "validated the day-to-day achievements of the countless Indians who dealt with and survived the perils of a pandemic".
  • Aatmanirbharta means self-reliance. The word was chosen by an advisory panel of language experts Kritika Agrawal, Poonam Nigam Sahay and Imogen Foxell.
  • The Oxford Hindi word of the year is a word or expression that is chosen to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.

New Zealand Approves Its First Coronavirus Vaccine

  • New Zealand's medical regulator has approved its first coronavirus vaccine, and officials hope to begin giving shots to border workers by the end of March.
  • New Zealand has no community transmission of the virus, and border workers are considered the most vulnerable because they deal with arriving travellers.
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Dalai Lama pens new book 'The Little Book of Encouragement'

  • Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has come out with his new book titled 'The Little Book of Encouragement', in which he has shared quotes and words of wisdom to promote human happiness.
  • The book has been edited by Renuka Singh and published by Penguin Random House.
  • The Little Book of Encouragement contains 130 quotes related to how to deal with the new realities of the panic-stricken world, combat rising extremism, polarity and climate change besides Dalai Lama's views on Tibet.
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