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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

06 Feb 2021


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Denmark to Build 'First Energy Island' in North Sea

  • A project to build a giant island providing enough energy for three million households has been given the green light by Denmark's politicians.
  • The world's first energy island will be as big as 18 football pitches (120,000sq m), but there are hopes to make it three times that size.
  • It will serve as a hub for 200 giant offshore wind turbines.
  • It is the biggest construction project in Danish history, costing an estimated 210bn kroner (£24bn; €28bn: $34bn).
  • Situated 80km (50 miles) out to sea, the artificial island would be at least half-owned by the state but partly by the private sector.
  • It will not just supply electricity for Danes but for other, neighbouring countries' electricity grids too. Although those countries have not yet been detailed, Prof Jacob Ostergaard of the Technical University of Denmark told the BBC that the UK could benefit, as well as Germany or the Netherlands. Green hydrogen would also be provided for use in shipping, aviation, industry and heavy transport.
  • Under Denmark's Climate Act, the country has committed to an ambitious 70% reduction in 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and to becoming CO2 neutral by 2050. Last December it announced it was ending all new oil and gas exploration in the North Sea.

Russia Expels EU Diplomats over Navalny Protests

  • Moscow said that it was expelling diplomats from Poland, Germany and Sweden for participating in unsanctioned demonstrations last month in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
  • The move comes hours after the European Union's top diplomat Josep Borrell met Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow and described the bloc's ties with Russia as at a "low point" over Navalny's jailing.
  • Borrell "strongly condemned" the action, while Sweden branded it "completely unfounded".
  • The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that an unspecified number of diplomats from the three EU countries took part in "illegal demonstrations" on January 23 and had been declared persona non grata.
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Plan to Split GAIL Deferred

  • The Oil Ministry has put on hold a plan to bifurcate state-owned gas utility GAIL (India) Ltd so as not to dilute the firm's ability to finance the massive infrastructure building plan.
  • It was proposed that GAIL's pipeline business should be hived off into a separate entity.

India to Emerge as Second most Resilient Economy in 2021

  • India will emerge as the second most resilient economy in 2021, as per the International Economic Resilience (IER) Rank, released by industry body, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI). The ranking has been topped by Germany, among the top-10 leading economies. South Korea is at the third position in the list.
  • Apart from this, India's real GDP growth rate is projected to be the highest in the year 2021 among the top-10 leading economies in the world, at 11.5%. It reflects India's strong "economic resurgence" to the global economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

HSBC Opts Out of Britain's Pandemic Loan Collection Plan

  • HSBC has opted out of an industry-wide plan for collecting unpaid emergency COVID-19 business loans, in a blow to efforts by other banks to team up to limit any reputational damage if firms struggling to repay are treated unfairly.
  • As per reports, only 10 of 23 lenders that have granted 'bounce back' loans (BBLs) had at the time joined the body, with most smaller ones opting out believing it did not offer value for money.
  • HSBC told industry body UK Finance, which is setting up the central body, that it would not be joining, after a decision by senior HSBC managers in recent weeks.
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ISRO to Launch iBrazilian, Indian Startup Satellite in First Mission of 2021

  • In its first mission in 2021, India's space agency ISRO planned to launch on February 28 Brazilian satellite Amazonia-1 and three Indian payloads, including one built by a home-grown start-up.
  • The satellites are slated to be launched onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-51 at 10.28 am from the Sriharikota spaceport, over 100 km from Chennai.
  • Amazonia-1, reportedly the first earth observation satellite entirely developed by Brazil, is the primary payload.
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Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka Withdraw from Australian Open Warm-up Tournaments

  • World No. 3 and former Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka has pulled out from the semi-finals of Gippsland Trophy, a warm-up tournament in the lead up to the season's first Grand Slam with an unspecified niggle. World No. 13 Victoria Azarenka also opted out of her quarter-final match in Melbourne with injury concerns.
  • Osaka said that she wanted to be cautious in the lead up to the Australian Open and that she is looking forward to playing in the Grand Slam tournament, starting February 8.
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Over 22 lakh Public Grievances, Highest in Last 3 Years, Received in 2020

  • Over 20 lakh public grievances, highest in the last three years, have been received on an online platform run by the central government, the Rajya Sabha was informed.
  • In a written reply to the Upper House, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said that a total of 22,71,270 grievances were received on the Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System (CPGRAMS) in 2020, as against 18,67,758 in 2019 and 15,86,415 in 2018.
  • Of these, 23,19,569 grievances were disposed last year, 16,39,856 in 2019 and 15,05,950 in 2018.
  • As many as 10,23,300 grievances were pending in 2020.

Andhra Pradesh to Set up 3 IT-related Concept Cities to Create more Jobs

  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy directed the officers to come up with an motion plan to set up three concept cities close to Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, and Bengaluru to home info expertise and related industries within the state.
  • As per an official launch, the Chief Minister stated that these cities ought to contribute to the IT progress and assist in the event of the state by bringing in as many industries as doable and deal with creating numerous jobs.
  • The Chief Minister has directed officials to focus on ensuring uninterrupted internet service should be provided in every village. He had stressed on the construction of libraries with accessible bandwidth internet connections in every village. Apart from building libraries, the Chief Minister instructed that all the secretariats and Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs) in the village should also be connected to the internet.

JP Nadda Set to Launch Rath Yatra in Bengal

  • BJP president J P Nadda is set to launch the party's 'Rath Yatra' in West Bengal to mobilise public support ahead of the assembly elections but confusion prevails over the grant of permission for the march during which party leaders intend to crisscross the state.
  • Nadda is scheduled to kick off the 'Parivartan Yatra' from Nabadwip, the birthplace of 15th century saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in Nadia district. Union Home Minister Amit Shah is also likely to inaugurate two of the five proposed yatras later this month.
  • However, confusion prevailed till Friday evening over its prospects as Nadia district administration is yet to accord permission for the Rath Yatra.
  • Although the BJP claimed it has received permission, the district police insisted it is for a public meeting and not the Rath Yatra.
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No Blanket Waiver on S-400, Urge India to Avoid Russian Deals: US

  • The US has urged India to refrain from military transactions with Russia, saying that there is no blanket waiver under its Sanctions Act for the recent S-400 missile system purchase, in the first detailed comments on the tricky issue after the Biden administration has come to power.
  • Speaking ahead of the Aero India summit in Bengaluru, the head of the US delegation has said that India is an important and trusted partner for Indo-Pacific security and Washington DC is keen to work with India to develop key capabilities in the quest for self-reliance. On the S-400 issue — India has ordered the Russian surface to air missile system with deliveries expected towards the end of this year — US charged'affaires Don Heflin said that there is a provision for case-by-case waiver of sanctions but no assurance has been given to India.

BEL Delivers Modules to Thales for Radars on Rafale Fighter Jets

  • Bharat Electronics Limited has delivered transmit/receive (T/R) modules to Thales for the RBE2 radar that is used by Rafale fighter aircraft.
  • These modules were delivered to Thales by BEL after the French company transferred its technology as per the Rafale fighter jet purchase agreement between India and France.
  • The BEL's engineers were trained at the French facility of Thales as per the offset agreement.
  • The modules produced in India (by BEL) are then integrated with the RBE2 radar in France. BEL and Thales teams are, thus working closely to transfer advanced technological know-how.

Historic Defence Order of 118 Indigenous Arjun 1A Tanks on the Anvil

  • An order for two regiments of the new indigenous Arjun 1A tank for the Indian Army is on the anvil. The two regiments, comprising 118 tanks, have been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and incorporates 71 improvements from the original version.
  • They are expected to go through the usual route for clearance: The Defence Acquisition Council and the Cabinet Committee on Security. This deal is worth Rs 8,956 crore, not just for the tanks but also, spares and servicing.
  • The Army already has to regiments of the earlier version of the Arjun. While the T-90, a Russian designed armoured vehicle, is the Army's MBT or main battle tank, the Arjun is being considered suitable for use, particularly in the southern Rajasthan area, in the Thar Desert. Tank movement in the Punjab and northern Rajasthan is now more difficult because of urban settlements, canals and the increase in vegetation.
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Virat Kohli Remains Most-valued Celebrity for 4th Year in Row

  • According to an industry ranking, ace cricketer Virat Kohli has been ranked as the most valuable celebrity for the fourth consecutive year in 2020 with a brand value of USD 237.7 million, and the second and third slots have gone to Hindi film actors Akshay Kumar and Ranveer Singh.
  • Of the top ten most-valued celebs, only Kohli is outside of the filmdom and of the nine film stars only two are females in the 2020 ranking.
  • While Kohli's brand remained the same, the top 20 celebs lost 5 per cent of their combined value to USD 1 billion in 2020, Duff & Phelps, which specialises in brand valuation.
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International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation

  • International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation is a United Nations-sponsored annual awareness day that takes place on February 6 as part of the UN's efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation. It was first introduced in 2003.
  • One of the beliefs in support for this day acknowledges that culture is in "constant flux," and with the concerns begetting FGM being so high-risk, the abolition of such practices must be prompt. This is a movement for the rights of women and their bodies, as well as the protection of their physical health- which can be tremendously affected later in life. These efforts are to benefit actions fighting violence against women and girls as a whole. Every Woman, Every Child (a global movement), reports that "Although primarily concentrated in 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East, FGM is a universal problem and is also practiced in some countries in Asia and Latin America.
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India Society for Spices to Confer Sugandha Bharathi Awar

  • The Indian Society for Spices (ISS), located at the ICAR- Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR) here, will present the Sugandha Bharathi and Sugandhasree awards during SYMSAC-2021, International Symposium on Spices and Aromatic Crops.
  • Dr. P.N. Ravindran, plant breeder, author and writer, best known for his contributions in the field of spices research, development and documentation, has been selected for the Sugandha Bharathi Award. He was former director and project coordinator of the ICAR-IISR and a distinguished scientist who has authored spices-related books for many international publishers.
  • The ISS has been honouring outstanding achievements in the field of spices research and development with the Sugandha Bharathi Award once in four years. The awardees are selected for their lifetime contribution for the development and improvement of spices, aromatic crops and medicinal plants. The award consists of a gold medal and a citation.
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Hebrew University of Jerusalem Launches MA in Smart Cities and Urban Informatics

  • The Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem launched MA in smart cities and urban informatics. Taught by the Department of Geography, faculty of social sciences, the programme aims to develop a new generation of urban planners, analysts, and policymakers with the requisite toolbox for addressing the challenges of the smart city.
  • The university claims that the course capitalists on the existing programme in urban planning at the Hebrew University and the geoinformatics track in the department of geography. It is curated for social science students who want to acquire a broad-based understanding of contemporary urban development utilising state of the art techniques in spatial analysis.
  • The programme focuses on smart cities and urban informatics.

Gujarat Govt. to Set Up Indian Institute of Skills in Gandhinagar

  • The Gujarat government is setting up an Indian Institute of Skills (IIS) at Nasmed village in Gandhinagar district.
  • The state Labour and Employment department is setting up the institute in collaboration with the Tata Group on a not-for-profit PPP model.
  • As per reports, the state government has allotted around 20 acres of land for the institute at Nasmed village, which is 20 km away from Ahmedabad.
  • The institute will prepare skilled manpower in the fields of artificial intelligence, cyber security, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, system integration, cloud- based application, simulation solutions, among other areas.
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Nirma University to Conduct 'International Teaching Month'

  • The Institute of Law of Nirma University will be virtually hosting over 70 speakers from across the world during its flagship programme 'International Teaching Month', over February. The keynote address will be delivered by Judge Thomas Griffith, former federal judge of the US Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit on the issue of civility and the law, and how, public debates need more civility.
  • The speakers from fields of judiciary, diplomacy, academics, public policy, clinical legal education and practice from countries like United States of America, Brazil, Peru, Bosnia, Hungary, Germany, Italy Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Spain, London, Australia, New Zealand, Croatia, Russia, Bangladesh, Italy, Canada, South Africa, Romania and India will be addressing various issues during the programme over this month.
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