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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

17 Feb 2021


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Myanmar Military Defends Seizure of Power

  • Myanmar's military has promised that it would hold an election and hand over power as police filed an additional charge against toppled former leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • It also defended its February 1 seizure of power, denying it was a coup even as protesters took to the streets again in support of Suu Kyi and other arrested leaders and China dismissed social media rumours that it had helped with the military's action.
    • The military has not given a date for a new election but has imposed a state of emergency for one year. Zaw Min Tun said the military would not hold power for long.
    • Suu Kyi spent nearly 15 years under house arrest for her efforts to end military rule.

Russia Ready to Foster Constructive Cooperate with New WTO Chief

  • According to Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov, Russia is prepared to foster constructive cooperation with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the newly-appointed director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • "Okonjo-Iweala's extensive professional experience and strong international standing will help her solve the urgent challenges facing the WTO and strengthen the role of the organization in the multilateral trading system," said Reshetnikov.

Separatist Win in Catalan Election Ripples Throughout Spain

  • The future government of Spain's restive Catalonia region is in the hands of a man who is spending his nights in a prison cell for committing acts of sedition against the state.
  • Republican Left of Catalonia led by Oriol Junqueras, who is serving a 13-year sentence for his part in a 2017 secession attempt by Catalonia, is positioned to choose its governing partners after this weekend's inconclusive regional election boosted the separatists' power.
  • While the pro-union Socialist Party of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez claimed a narrow victory in votes, candidate Salvador Illa has a very difficult path to forming a government.
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Amazon Announces its First Electronic Devices Manufacturing Line in India

  • Amazon said it will begin manufacturing Amazon Devices, including Fire TV sticks, in Chennai later this year in partnership with Foxconn's subsidiary, Cloud Network Technology.
  • The e-commerce giant claimed that the production line will have an annual capacity of "hundreds of thousands" of units, and will also continuously evaluate manufacturing capacity based on domestic demand for its devices.
    • The move, the company said, is in line with its plan to partner with the government's vision of a self-reliant India, or Atmanirbhar Bharat. It reiterated its commitment to invest $1 billion into the country to digitize 10 million small and medium businesses by 2025 and create 1 million additional jobs by then.

Gibraltar Tech Buys HCL Arm

  • UAE-based Gibraltar Technologies (GT) has acquired HCL Infotech Ltd, part of India's HCL Group, for 74.6 million dirhams (about Rs. 147 crore).
  • As part of the deal, the AI-based digital solutions company will absorb the assets, 800 employees and customer contracts managed by HCL Infotech.
  • Gilbraltar Technologies hopes to strengthen and grow its service offerings and offer better solutions to customers by combining its 20-year-long experience servicing large government organizations in the Middle East with the organizational capabilities of HCL Infotech.
  • This acquisition not only unlocks a huge market potential for GT, but also comes as a positive move for the partners, customers, employees and shareholders in the Middle East.

RBI Issues Draft Guidelines for Derivatives Trading in Credit Default Swaps

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) came out with the draft guidelines for allowing derivatives trading in the credit default swaps (CDS) in over-the-counter (OTC) markets and on recognized stock exchanges in the country.
  • As per the draft, the debt instruments eligible to be a reference or deliverable obligation in a CDS contract will include commercial papers, certificates of deposit and non-convertible debentures of original maturity up to one year, rated corporate bonds (listed and unlisted) and unrated rupee bonds issued by the special purpose vehicles set up by infrastructure companies.
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NASA's TESS Discovers Three Hot Planets

  • Using NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers have discovered a young star called TOI 451 with three planets revolving around it. The recently discovered mini solar system is located in the Eridanus constellation, which is a part of the Pisces-Eridanus stream.
  • The star of this system is 400 light-years away from us and is just 120 million years old, which makes it a lot younger when compared to our Sun. The three hot planets orbiting it were discovered while studying images taken by TESS between October and December 2018.
  • The reason why astronomers are interested in exploring these planets is because their size can help them understand how planetary atmosphere evolves, given the system is not that far off from Earth.
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Olympics Boxing Qualification Event Cancelled

  • A global boxing qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics has been cancelled and a European event was postponed from April to June.
  • The International Olympic Committee said that plans were changed because of current challenges to international travel and related restrictions in many countries during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Boxers worldwide were to compete for 53 places in the Tokyo lineup at a tournament in Paris in June. Those places will now be allocated equally across continents by world rankings based on results since 2017.
  • Olympics entries from Africa and the Asia-Oceania region will now be allocated by rankings while boxers in the Americas and Europe can still earn qualifying places in the ring.

Odisha CM Lays Foundation stone of India's Largest Hockey Stadium in Rourkela

  • Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laid the foundation stone of India's largest hockey stadium in the steel city of Rourkela that would be finished on time before the next edition of men's Hockey World Cup in 2023.
  • Patnaik announced that the proposed international hockey stadium, with a seating capacity of more than 20,000 people, would be named after freedom fighter Birsa Munda.
  • The stadium will be a model of green, functional, cost-effective design. Designed to deliver the best match-day atmospheres in the world, each seat will have uninterrupted sightlines and the spectators will be closer to the pitch than at any other hockey stadium in the world.
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Kiran Bedi Removed as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry

  • Kiran Bedi was removed as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry.  Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan has been given additional charge of Puducherry. 
  • Earlier senior Congress legislator Malladi Krishna Rao had urged President Ram Nath Kovind to replace Bedi for her alleged interference in administration in the union territory. 
  • Kandaswamy said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Puducherry L-G Kiran Bedi have been harassing the Congress government for four and a half years. They are trying to dissolve the regime. We are working to dissolve the cabinet headed by CM Narayanasamy and win the assembly elections again."

Siddharth Chatterjee of India Takes over as Top UN Diplomat in China

  • Senior UN official Siddharth Chatterjee of India has formally taken over as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in China, a key posting of overseeing the work of 27 agencies, funds and programmes of the global organisation in the world's most populous country.
  • He will be UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's senior-most UN Representative in China as the UN Resident Coordinator.
  • Chatterjee, whose early career was in the Indian Army, was decorated for gallantry by the President of India in 1995.

Jal Jeevan Mission-Urban

  • Launching a new project to install water connections to every urban household, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has selected 10 pilot cities to survey for the Jal Jeevan Mission-Urban by March 2021.
  • A Pey Jal Survekshan will determine the distribution of water, wastewater, and water bodies in 10 cities: Patiala, Rohtak, Churu, Agra, Surat, Badlapur, Bhubaneswar, Tumkur, Kochi and Madurai. Five of these cities are water-scarce and five are water abundant.
  • The Jal Jeevan Mission-Urban aims to create universal coverage of water supply in all 4,378 statutory towns as well as sewage management in 500 AMRUT cities.
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India Joins Iran-Russia's Two-day Navy Exercise

  • India has joined Iran and Russia in a two-day navy exercise dubbed "Iran-Russia Maritime Security Belt 2021" in the northern part of the Indian Ocean.
  • As per reports, forces and vessels from the navy divisions of both the Iranian army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) participated in the drill alongside several vessels from the Russian navy.
  • The drill will cover an area of 17,000 square kilometres (6,500 square miles). It will include shooting at sea and air targets and liberating hijacked ships, as well as search and rescue and anti-piracy operations.

First Joint Commands to be Launched by May

  • India is set to begin a formal roll-out of its long-awaited theaterisation plan to best utilise its military's resources amid growing security threats, with the Air Defence Command and the Maritime Theatre Command set to be launched by May.
  • The commands are being set up in the backdrop of border tensions with China on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh and Pakistani hostility along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir, with a joint threat from the two nuclear-armed neighbours being acknowledged as a reality by the country's military leadership, and at a time when India is demonstrating a muscular stance in the Indo-Pacific region.
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Jeff Bezos Reclaims Title of World's Richest Person

  • Elon Musk's reign as the world's richest person was brief.
  • Tesla Inc. shares slid 2.4 per cent, erasing $4.6 billion from its chief executive officer's fortune and knocking him from the top spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranking.
  • Jeff Bezos, who'd held the title for more than three years until last month, reclaimed his No. 1 position with a net worth of $191.2 billion, or $955 million more than Musk.

Justice Puligoru Venkata Sanjay Kumar Sworn-in as Chief Justice of Manipur HC

  • President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Justice Puligoru Venkata Sanjay Kumar as the Chief Justice of the Manipur High Court.
  • Manipur Governor Dr. Najma A. Heptulla administered the oath of office to the new Chief Justice. 
  • Kumar, was enrolled as an advocate on August 25, 1988, and practised in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in civil, constitutional and Service matters.
  • He was appointed as an additional judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on August 8, 2008 and as a permanent judge on January 20, 2010. He was transferred to Punjab and Haryana High Court on October 14, 2019. 

Eminent Jurist, Former Governor and Ex-Chief Justice, Rama Jois Passes Away

  • Eminent jurist and former Governor of Bihar and Jharkhand, Justice (Retd) M Rama Jois, passed away.
  • Jois, also a noted writer and historian, was not keeping well due to old age-related ailments and suffered a cardiac arrest.
  • He also served as Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha.
  • Not only that, but he made a lasting contribution to Indian judiciary. He made great effort in restoring democracy during the 1975 emergency.
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Manipur Doctor Gets Japan's Highest Honour

  • Japan has conferred the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays decoration on Manipur physician and former president of state tourism forum, Dr Thangjam Dhabali Singh, to honour his contribution to strengthening ties between Japan and India, and Japan and Manipur. He was honoured in a simple event in Imphal.
  • "We appreciate that Dr Singh has earnestly dedicated himself to deepening the bonds between Japan and Manipur. During his tenure from 2012 to 2017 as president of Manipur Tourism Forum (MTF), Japan and Manipur rediscovered each other and got even closer, going beyond our historical ties," said a statement from Japanese ambassador Suzuki Satoshi.

Theodore Baskaran Wins Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award 2020

  • S. Theodore Baskaran who is a writer, a historian, a naturalist and an activist has won the Sanctuary Lifetime Service Award, 2020. The award was instituted by the Sanctuary Nature Foundation.
  • Theodore Baskaran was chosen for the award in the light of his dedication to the wildlife conservation. He won the award for his writing prowess in English and Tamil contributing towards the conservation discourse. He was also chosen for the award in the backdrop of inspiring the young naturalists.
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Israel and Greece Sign New Tourism Partnership

  • Israel and Greece have signed a bilateral agreement on tourism cooperation in Jerusalem, providing hope to an industry which has come to a standstill because of the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs, Orit Farkash-Hacohen, told Greek Minister of Tourism, Harry Theoharis that she looked forward to welcoming Greek and other visitors to Israel, as it continues to vaccinate its population and position itself as a healthy post-Covid destination.
  • Following a working meeting between the ministers, they signed an agreement to strengthen the cooperation in the fields of research and training in the field of tourism, as well as to promote joined packages and initiatives between the tourism industries in both countries.
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Reliance Entertainment Partners with Ribhu Dasgupta to Form Film Hangar

  • Reliance Entertainment has joined hands with filmmaker Ribhu Dasgupta to form Film Hangar, a joint venture company to produce clutter-breaking content.
  • The first film under this banner is the highly anticipated thriller, "The Girl On The Train", an adaptation of the bestselling novel with the same name by Paula Hawkins. The film starring Parineeti Chopra is slated to release on Netflix on February 26.
  • Reliance Entertainment is the media and entertainment arm of Reliance Group and is engaged in the creation and distribution of content across film, television, digital and gaming platforms.
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