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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

07 Feb 2021


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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Set to Make History at WTO

  • Having survived the murky waters of politics in Nigeria, where her mother was kidnapped to send her a message, and rising to number two at the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala should have no trouble dealing with international trade negotiators in her new job at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • She will be the first woman and the first African to occupy the position.
  • Despite recently taking out US citizenship, she revels in being Nigerian and is fiercely patriotic - flaunting her African identity in her African-print tailored outfits.
  • The Harvard-educated development economist is seen as a down-to-earth, hard worker, who told BBC HardTalk in July that what the WTO needed was a shake-up.
  • During her 25 years at the World Bank, she is credited with spearheading several initiatives to assist low-income countries, in particular raising nearly $50bn in 2010 from donors for the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank's fund for the poorest countries.

Libya Crisis: Vote to Unite Splintered Nation

  • A Libyan interim unity government has been chosen to replace the war-torn country's rival administrations and oversee elections in December.
  • Delegates at a UN-led forum voted for a three-member presidential council and a prime minister at the end of five days of talks in Geneva.
  • It is a key step in a peace process that builds on last year's ceasefire.
  • Libya has been in chaos since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011 by Nato-backed forces.
  • The turmoil in the North African nation, which has one of the continent's biggest reserves of oil and gas, has had repercussions for the whole region with Gaddafi's looted arsenal fuelling a variety of militants and groups.
  • It has also allowed the country to become a key trafficking point for migrants seeking to reach Europe across the Mediterranean.

Yemen Government Willing to Work with Biden

  • As per Yemen's Foreign Minister, his government will work with President Joe Biden's administration to end the war in the Arab world's poorest country. Still, Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak insisted the country's Houthi rebels and their Iranian backers remain the main obstacle to peace - an apparent defense of Saudi military involvement in Yemen.
  • Biden announced the U.S. was ending support for the grinding Saudi-led war in Yemen. The five-year conflict has killed some 130,000 people, including over 13,000 civilians, and resulted in the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
  • Yemen's war began in September 2014, when the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and began a march south to seize the entire country. Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates and other countries, entered the war alongside Yemen's internationally recognized government in March 2015.
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Smallest Reptile on Earth Discovered in Madagascar

  • Scientists believe they may have discovered the smallest reptile on earth - a chameleon subspecies that is the size of a seed.
  • Two of the tiny lizards were discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in Madagascar.
  • The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body of just 13.5 mm.
  • This makes it the smallest of about 11,500 known species of reptiles, according to the Bavarian State collection of Zoology in Munich.
  • Its length from top to tail is 22 mm (0.86 in).
  • The female is far bigger at around 29 mm, the institute said, adding that other specimens were yet to be located, despite "great effort".
  • The new chameleon is only known from a degraded montane rainforest in northern Madagascar and might be threatened by extinction.
  • Oliver Hawlitschek, a scientist at the Center of Natural History in Hamburg, said that the nano-chameleon's habitat has unfortunately been subject to deforestation, but the area was placed under protection recently, so the species will survive.
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RBI Eases Rules for FPI Investments in Defaulted Bonds

  • In order to further boost foreign portfolio investments in the corporate bond segment, the RBI has proposed to exempt FPI investment in defaulted corporate bonds from the short-term limit and the minimum residual maturity requirement under the Medium Term Framework.
  • Detailed guidelines are being issued separately. At present, foreign portfolio investors can invest in security receipts and debt instruments issued by Asset Reconstruction Companies and debt instruments issued by an entity under the Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process, as per the resolution plan approved by the National Company Law Tribunal under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, and these investments are exempted from the short-term limit and minimum residual maturity requirement under the Medium Term Framework for investment by FPIs in corporate bonds.

Aditya Birla Capital Posts Highest ever Consolidated Net at Rs. 289 crore

  • Aditya Birla Capital Ltd (ABCL) posted a 15 per cent jump in consolidated net profit to Rs. 289 crore for the quarter ended December 2020, the highest ever consolidated quarterly profit.
  • Company's net profit was at Rs. 250 crore in the same quarter of the previous fiscal.
  • Consolidated revenue for Q3FY21 grew 16 per cent to Rs. 5,346 crore as against Rs. 4,612 crore in the December quarter of FY20.
  • The robust quarterly performance was driven by strong growth across businesses.
  • ABCL, which is the holding company of the financial services of Aditya Birla Group, has subsidiaries across insurance, investment and non-banking financing activities among others.

ICICI Lombard First Private Insurance Company to set up IFSC Insurance Office in GIFT City

  • ICICI Lombard General Insurance, private sector non-life insurance company has received approval from 'International Financial Services Centre' (IFSC) Authority to set up an IFSC Insurance Office (IIO) in GIFT City at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
  • IIO will enable ICICI Lombard to harness new opportunities in direct insurance and reinsurance areas. It will allow the company to offer offshore direct insurance solutions especially to Indian corporates and individuals present in overseas locations.
  • One of the key advantages of setting up an IIO in GIFT City for ICICI Lombard is the opportunity to expand its international business to service our clients located in foreign locations.
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China Releases Space Probe's First Image of Mars

  • China's maiden space exploration mission to Mars has captured its first image of the red planet, some six months after the probe left Earth.
  • The uncrewed Tianwen-1 took the picture at a distance of around 2.2 million km (1.4 million miles) from Mars, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), which supplied a black-and-white image.
  • The Tianwen-1 was launched in July from China's southern Hainan Island and expected to reach the orbit of Mars this month. In May, it will try to land in Utopia Planitia, a plain in the northern hemisphere, and deploy a rover to explore for 90 days.
  • If successful, the Tianwen-1 will make China the first country to orbit, land and deploy a rover in its inaugural mission to Mars, further boosting China's space credentials after it last year became the first nation to bring back samples from the moon since the 1970s.
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Novak Djokovic Keeps Serbia Alive, Spain Reach Semis

  • Novak Djokovic rallied to overhaul Alexander Zverev 6-7(3), 6-2, 7-5 in a high-quality ATP Cup clash and help defending champions Serbia level their knockout tie against Germany after Spain qualified for the semi-finals in Melbourne.
  • A year after crashing out of the inaugural ATP Cup with a huge tally of double-faults, Alexander Zverev's serving demons returned under pressure at Rod Laver Arena when he was broken twice late in the deciding set. Uncharacteristically, Djokovic also dropped serve when looking to close out the match but made no mistake on his second chance, as Zverev conceded with a backhand that sailed long.
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Govt. Invites Applications for Joint Secretaries, Director Posts

  • The Centre invited applications for the post of joint secretaries and directors in various ministries, including finance, civil aviation, law, agriculture and education, as part of its lateral entry policy.
  • Online Applications are invited from talented and motivated Indian nationals willing to contribute towards nation building to join the Government at the level of Joint Secretary or Director, Group 'A' for a period of 3 years, by March 22, 2021.
  • The government is looking to appoint three joint secretaries and 27 directors through the lateral entry route to work for 13 ministries on contract basis.

Odisha Unveils Welfare Projects for Villages Caught in Border Row with Andhra

  • Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik unveiled a slew of developmental projects for the villages bordering Andhra Pradesh in Koraput district even as the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government stoked the on-going border dispute by allegedly including three villages of Odisha in its electoral roll and conducting gram panchayat elections there.
  • Inaugurating several welfare projects worth Rs. 18 crore including laying the foundation stone of a Rs. 5 crore bridge through video-conferencing, Patnaik said that Kotia gram panchayat on the Andhra-Odisha border would be developed into a model gram panchayat. "The state government has already implemented developmental activities in the sectors of education, health, communication, drinking water, and electricity," he said, assuring that he would be visiting the panchayat soon.
  • The CM's unveiling of projects worth Rs. 18 crore came in addition to the on-going projects of Rs. 150 crore for the development of 21 disputed villages in Kotia gram panchayat under Potangi block of Koraput where neighbouring Andhra Pradesh is also asserting its authority by distributing forest land rights and buildings roads.

Mamata Presents Vote on Account, Announces Pension for All Ahead of Bengal Polls

  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sought a vote on account for Rs. 2.99 lakh crore as she opened the doors of state exchequer for common people ahead of the assembly polls, showering the farm sector with sops and wooing the elderly and widows with pensions.
  • Banerjee presented the vote on account in the absence of Finance Minister Amit Mitra, who is not keeping well.
  • The estimates for the first few months of the new fiscal, starting April, will be taken up for discussion over the next two days before the assembly passes it.
  • Banerjee, while criticising the Centre for not extending "necessary help", insisted the state tirelessly undertook welfare measures for its people.
  • The TMC supremo, who is locked in a tug of war with challenger BJP ahead of the elections over claiming the legacy of Bengal icons, said her government will construct an Azad Hind Munument in Kolkata, Jai Hind Bhavans in districts and a State Planning Commission after legendary freeedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose. She announced an overall outlay of Rs. 215 crore for the projects.
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Defence Ministry Signs Contract with BEL at Aero India 2021

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has signed a contract for procurement of Software Defined Radio Tactical (SDR-Tac) worth over Rs. 1,000 crore, during the 'Bandhan' ceremony at Aero India 2021 at Air Force Station Yehalanka in Bengaluru.
The SDR-Tac, jointly developed by Navy, BEL, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and DEAL, will bring strategic depth to the Armed Forces.
The delivery will take place within three years. The BEL is already supplying SDR-Naval Combat (NC) and SDR-Air is under user evaluation trial. The DRDO and BEL are planning to provide the latest SDR with security grading to the Armed Forces.
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S.N. Subrahmanyan is Chairman of the National Safety Council

  • S.N. Subrahmanyan, CEO and Managing Director of L&T Ltd, has been appointed as Chairman of the National Safety Council.
  • "Subrahmanyan's experience will guide the National Safety Council which has a major role to play to ensure safety in workplaces under new Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSH Code, 2020).
  • The National Safety Council will assist DGFASLI in re-writing the regulations governing OSH in the country which have not been updated for over 50 years. The NSC will also be involved in framing the scheme for third party audit and certification under the OSH Code. The NSC is already working on establishments' safety rating based on their OSH readiness and performance, which can be extended through the country and linked to the inspection system.
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India Hosts Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers' Conclave

  • India hosted the Indian Ocean Region- IOR Defence Ministers' Conclave in 2021. The event took place on the sidelines of Aero India 2021.
  • According to the release by Defence Ministry, the theme of the Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers' Conclave is 'Enhanced Peace, Security, and Cooperation in the Indian Ocean'.
  • The Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers' Conclave is an initiative to promote dialogue in an economic, institutional, and cooperative environment that can help in fostering the development of stability, peace, and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region.
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Education Ministry to Rename Residential Schools, Hostels after Netaji

  • The Ministry of Education has decided to name the residential schools and hostels funded under the Samagra Shiksha Scheme as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose residential schools.
  • A total of 1,063 residential facilities (383 residential schools and 680 hostels) have been sanctioned to States and UTs so far. It has been decided to rename the residential schools and hostels funded under the Samagra Shiksha Scheme as "Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose residential schools.
  • In addition to the regular school curriculum, interventions for all-round development of children such as the provision of Specific Skill Training, physical self-defense, medical care, community participation, monthly stipend are also made available to children. These residential schools and hostels follow the same norms as followed by Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBV) and aspire to achieve the standards set by the KGBVs.

IIT Patna Collaborates with WileyNXT to Deliver Specialised PG Certificate Programmes

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Patna, institute of education and research in science, engineering and technology collaborated with WileyNXT, Wiley's innovative learning solution for new and emerging technologies and announced the launch of three post-graduate certification programmes: PG Certification in Cybersecurity and Blockchain, PG Certification in AI & Machine Learning and PG Certification in Big Data Engineering.
  • IIT Patna courses with WileyNXT are designed for final year students and early-stage professionals who aim to build their competencies in new emerging fields to grow their careers further. Post the successful completion of the programme the participants will get a certificate of proficiency from WileyNXT and IIT Patna.
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