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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

12 Feb 2021


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US Senators Revive Bill to Make Refugee Status Easier for Hong Kong Protesters

  • A bipartisan group of senior US senators reintroduced a bill to make it easier for people from Hong Kong fearing persecution after joining protests against China to obtain US refugee status.
  • The 12 senators, led by Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bob Menendez, said the bill was a response to a Draconian national security law introduced by China in Hong Kong last year that was the focus of mass street protests.
  • The Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act would make "Hong Kongers who participated peacefully in the protest movement and have a well-founded fear of persecution" eligible for processing as refugees in Hong Kong or a third country.

Tanzania's President 'Will Not Be Seeking Third Term

  • The ruling party in Tanzania has dismissed growing calls from its MPs for President John Magufuli to extend his term in office.
  • The 61-year-old President, who won elections in October, is currently serving his second and final five-year term in office.
  • Humphrey Polepole, the CCM party's publicity secretary, has told parliament that Mr. Magufuli has no intentions of remaining in power beyond his current constitutional mandate.
  • Some ruling party MPs have been proposing the Constitution be changed to allow for a third term for him.
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SBI Achieves Rs. 5 lakh Trillion Mark in Home Loan Segment

  • Maintaining its leadership in the home loan segment intact, the State Bank of India (SBI) has reached another landmark by crossing the Rs. 5 trillion (5 Lakh crore) mark in its home loan business. The bank has set its sight on achieving a home loan AUM of Rs. 7 trillion by FY24.
  • The Real Estate and Housing Business unit of SBI has grown 5 times in the last 10 years with an AUM of Rs. 89000cr in 2011 to Rs. 5 trillion in 2021. Despite a massive setback to the real estate sector triggered by pandemic-induced lockdown, the REHBU vertical registered unparalleled growth in the home loan business.

Realty Firm Prestige Group Partners Awfis to Set up 6 Co-working Centres

  • Realty firm Prestige Group has tied up with co-working operator Awfis to set up six centres, comprising around 4,000 desks, in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai with an investment of about Rs. 40 crore.
  • Bengaluru-based Prestige Group and Awfis will jointly invest to set up these centres and also share revenues.
  • These six centres, spread over 2 lakh square feet area, will come up at Prestige Group's commercial properties in the three cities.
  • Of the six centres, four are located in Bengaluru's prime commercial locations, namely Koramangala, Outer Ring Road and two in Whitefield. The other two centres are at Guindy in Chennai and Begumpet in Hyderabad.

CCI Approves BOI's 49% Stake-buy in BOI AXA Investment Managers, BOI AXA Trust

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved Bank of India's acquisition of 49 per cent stake each in BOI AXA Investment Managers Pvt Ltd (BAIM) and BOI AXA Trustee Services Pvt Ltd (BATS).
  • Pursuant to this transaction, Bank of India will hold 100 per cent equity in BAIM and BATS.
  • Prior to this transaction, BOI AXA Mutual Fund was a joint venture between BOI (51 per cent stake) and AXA Investment Managers Asia Holdings Pvt Ltd (AXA IM), which held 49 per cent stake each in BAIM and BATS.
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Tianwen-1 Spacecraft Enters in Orbit around Mars

  • China says it has successfully put its Tianwen-1 mission in orbit around Mars.
  • It's the first time the country has managed to get a spacecraft to the Red Planet and comes a day after the United Arab Emirates accomplished the same feat.
  • Tianwen-1, or "Questions to Heaven", comprises an orbiter and a rover.
  • Engineers will bide their time before despatching the wheeled robot to the surface, but the expectation is that this will happen in May or June.
  • This orbit insertion underlines again the rapid progress China's space programme is making.
  • It follows December's impressive mission to retrieve rock and soil samples from Earth's Moon - by any measure a very complex undertaking.
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Rohan Bopanna and Ben McLachlan Out at Australian Open

  • India endured a second successive disappointing result at the Australian Open with Rohan Bopanna and Ben McLachlan bowing out after a close opening-round defeat to Ji Sung Nam and Min-Kyu Song in the men's doubles event, in Melbourne.
  • Bopanna and his Japanese partner lost 4-6 6-7(0) to the Korean wild card pair in one hour and 17 minutes.
  • Not having enough court time due to hard quarantine seemed to have an effect on Bopanna's sharpness. McLachlan, on his part, struggled to negotiate volleys and that hurt them.
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Odisha Govt. Approves Re-promulgation of Farm Reform Ordinance

  • Even as the agitation by farmers demanding repeal of three farm laws rages on across the country, the Naveen Patnaik government decided to re-promulgate the ordinance to reform the Odisha Agricultural Produce Markets Amendment Act to enable geographically restriction-free trade and transaction of agricultural produce including livestock across the state.
  • The state cabinet which met under the chairmanship of chief minister Naveen Patnaik, gave assent to the re-promulgation of the Odisha Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing promotion and facilitation) Ordinance for the third time, enabling the state to move ahead with the abolition of notified market area in so far as enforcement of regulation by Agricultural Produce and Livestock Market Committee (APLMC) was concerned.
  • The ordinance would also help the government create an environment for setting up and operating private market yards and farmer consumer market yards (Krushak Bazar), sub-market yard and market sub yard with the aim to enhance competition for the farmer's produce to the advantage of farmers.
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DroneShield Partners with M2K Technologies for the Indian Market

  • "DroneShield" or the "Company", a global leader in drone detection and mitigation, and M2K Technologies, part of M2K Group with business interests in Defence & Aviation, Biologicals, Real Estate and Entertainment, have entered into an Agreement to collaborate and distribute DroneShield solutions in the Indian market.
  • Oleg Vornik, DroneShield's CEO, commented, "M2K Technologies is a strong business partner in the Indian market, which has been seeing a rapid rise in the c-UAS requirements, being driven by non-State (such as criminal and terrorist) and State-based use of UAS, including escalation of the India-China border conflict along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)."

Indian Army Leases 4 Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles from Israel

  • The Indian Army has leased four Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) from Israel as part of its emergency procurement programme. The Heron, with the Indian Army for some years, can be particularly effective in intelligence gathering as it is a long-endurance UAV and can be in the air for about 50 hours at a time. 
  • The lease comes with the Defence Ministry changing the rules and allowing for the leasing of certain weapon systems. Similarly, the Navy has leased Predator drones from the United States.
  • The Herons apart, the Army has used its emergency powers to ensure that it has enough ammunition and spares for a two-week war, even if it is on two-fronts, high-level sources said. The emergency powers, given by the government in the wake of the situation in Ladakh, have allowed the army to get necessary spares and ammunition and also, strengthen its anti-tank weaponry and buy much needed anti-aircraft systems.
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14th International Children's Film Festival Concludes in Bangladesh

  • The 14th International Children's Film Festival of Bangladesh (ICFFB) came to an end in Dhaka. 179 films from 37 countries were shown at various venues during the 7-day-long festival organized by the Children's Film Society (CFS) of Bangladesh. Apart from Bangladesh, films from India, Armenia, US, UK, Ireland, Japan and China among others were shown in the course of the festival.
  • Dutch Film Jackie and Oopjen was awarded the Best International Feature Film Award. The Best Director award went to Ani Oganesyan for his film Stork's Nest from Armenia. A total of 12 awards were presented to the winners at the concluding ceremony.
  • Bangladeshi film Maati got The Young Talent Award while Lottery won the Special mention under the Young Talent Award.

Five-day National Horticulture Fair Begins in Bengaluru

  • This year's edition of the five-day national horticulture fair organized by the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) began at the Institute's Hessarghatta campus on the outskirts of Bengaluru city.
  • The country's premier horticulture fair, being held both in physical and virtual formats for the first time, showcases cutting edge technologies, crop varieties, pest and disease management practices and processing methods among others.
  • The fair, is being held under the theme 'For start-up and stand-up India' aims to increase farmers' incomes by turning horticulture into a business enterprise especially in the wake of the recent trend of educated youth taking to farming. 
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Rajya Sabha Passes Bill to Regularise Unauthorised Colonies in Delhi

  • The Upper House of Parliament passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to regularise unauthorized colonies in Delhi.
  • The Bill replaces the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 which was promulgated by President Ram Nath Kovind in December 2020.
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ICAI Launches International Curriculum on CA Course

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has launched international curriculum on CA course- international affairs policy and international curriculum. The curriculum was launched by Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan at the national capital. The courses will be provided in distance learning mode, but considering the pandemic situations, the classes will be held online.
  • "The International Affair Policy and International Curriculum launched by ICAI is a step in the right direction to enhance ICAI's global presence and recognition. The International Affair Policy of ICAI aims to develop Indian CAs as a truly global brand at international level," he said.

IIT Gandhinagar Director Elected Member of US National Academy of Engineering

  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar director and Padma Shri awardee Sudhir K. Jain has been elected as an international member of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE), a premier independent body of eminent engineers, business leaders and academicians from across the globe.
  • Presently, there are only 16 other international members from India in the US NAE, including Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani, N. R. Narayana Murthy, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Raghunath A. Mashelkar.
  • Jain is among 23 international members elected in 2021 and the only current director of IITs to be ever elected to this prestigious body. He will be formally inducted during the NAE's annual meeting on October 3, 2021.
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"Platform Scale: For a Post-Pandemic World" by Sangeet Paul Choudary

  • A book titled 'Platform Scale: For a Post-Pandemic World' has been authored by Sangeet Paul Choudary. It is published by Penguin Random House India. It explains the importance of inner workings of platform business models and their ability to scale rapidly. The 1st edition of Platform Scale was published in 2015.
  • The book tells how the decade leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic witnessed the rise of platform business models as they drove stock market gains and extended their influence across the economic and political activity.
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Discovered in Bhimbetka, India's Lone Fossil of World's Oldest Animal

  • Hidden in plain sight, one of the rarest fossils in the world may have been discovered in the fascinating Bhimbetka rock shelters, a UNESCO site about 40 km from Bhopal.
  • Researchers believe they have found the first-ever fossil in India of a Dickinsonia, the Earth's 'oldest animal', dating back 570 million years, on the roof of what's called the 'Auditorium Cave' at Bhimbetka.
  • Dickinsonia fossils have shown they could exceed four feet in length, but the one found in Bhimbetka is 17 inches long.

Jallikattu Fails to Make the Cut at Oscars

  • Filmmaker Lijo Jose Pellissery's Jallikattu, India's official entry in the Best International Feature category at the 93rd Academy Awards, is out of the Oscars race.
  • The Malayalam-language movie is not part of the shortlist of 15 features that will be vying for a spot in the final five, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced.
  • Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, starring Mads Mikkelson, has made it to the shortlist that also includes Andrei Konchalovsky's Dear Comrades! (Russia), Agnieszka Holland's Charlatan (Czech Republic) and two documentaries -- The Mole Agent from Chile and Collective from Romania.
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