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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

23 Feb 2021


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Panel to Vet Chinese Investment

  • The government has set up a coordination committee comprising officials from the Ministries of Home, External Affairs and Commerce, besides the Niti Aayog, for case-by-case vetting of Chinese foreign investment proposals stuck for nearly a year.
  • The plan is to divide the proposal into sensitive and non-sensitive categories. There could be faster clearances for proposals from automobiles, electronics, chemicals and textile sectors while the ones in sensitive categories, such as data generation and finance, may see slower clearances.
  • Among the proposals is a car plant to be set up by US giant General Motors in collaboration with Chinese firm Great Wall ($1 billion investment). SAIC, owner of UK brand MG Motor, plans to invest $250 million.
  • In April last year, the government had amended the FDI policy to keep out China. The approach was in line with Germany, Italy and Australia to safeguard Covid-hit industries that could be soft takeover targets.

Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet Abstain from China Genocide Vote

  • Canada's House of Commons has voted to declare that China is committing genocide against more than 1 million Uighurs in the western Xinjiang region but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet abstained from the vote.
  • The non-binding motion passed 266-0 as virtually all but Trudeau and his cabinet voted for the measure that also called on the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Winter Olympics from Beijing.
  • As per reports, Canada's foreign minister will make the government's position clear but said declaring something in Parliament is not going to adequately get results in China and that work with international allies and partners is needed. 

Russia Welcomes Iran-IAEA Deal

  • The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed the agreement reached by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to continue "essential verification" for up to three months.
  • "We hope that this step will help improve the general political situation regarding Iran and its nuclear program," the ministry's spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
  • The IAEA and Iran have made a "tangible" contribution to the formation of conditions for the start of "a substantive conversation" between the current participants in the Iran nuclear deal and the US.
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Bharat Forge Joins Hands with Paramount to Manufacture Armoured Vehicles

  • Bharat Forge inked a pact with global aerospace and technology firm Paramount Group to manufacture armoured vehicles in the country.
  • An agreement to this effect was signed by both companies during the International Defence Expo (IDEX 2021) in Abu Dhabi.
  • This collaboration brings together the manufacturing and technology excellence of two leading companies, which have matching synergies and complementary capabilities. 

PM Modi Launches Petro and Gas Projects in Assam

  • Opening the coffers of his government for poll-bound Assam, Prime Minister Narendra Modi slammed the successive Congress dispensations that ruled the country since Independence for neglecting the state and the northeast for decades.
  • On his third visit to Assam in a month, Modi, who dedicated to the nation three major projects in the petroleum sector worth over Rs. 3,222 crore, enumerated steps taken by the state government led by Sarbananda Sonowal and the centre over the past few years for its balanced growth.

Indian Oil Signs Pact with Greenstat Norway

  • Days after India unveiled a national hydrogen mission to accelerate plans to generate the carbon-free fuel from renewables, state-owned Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) signed a pact with Greenstat Norway for setting up a Centre of Excellence on Hydrogen.
  • In the Union Budget for 2021-22, the government pledged to focus on generating hydrogen from green power sources as well as build more diverse and efficient energy infrastructure.
  • The partnership between IOC and Greenstat will actively assist partners/stakeholders to develop business models based upon feasibility studies besides facilitating consultancies to industry, utilities and regulators on hydrogen storage, hydrogen production, refuelling stations, fuel cells and CCUS technologies.
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Astronomers Find the Fastest Spinning Black Hole to Date

  • Six decades after its discovery, the first black hole ever detected is still causing astronomers to scratch their heads. It turns out that the cosmic behemoth at the heart of the Cygnus X-1 system is 50% more massive than previously thought, making it the heaviest stellar-mass black hole ever observed directly.
  • Based on new observations, an international team of researchers estimates the black hole is 21 times the mass of our sun and spinning faster than any other known black hole. The recalculated weight is causing scientists to rethink how bright stars that turn into black holes evolve, and how fast they shed their skins before they die.
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Indian Women Boxers Win 5 Gold Medals at Montenegro Youth Tournament

    • Babyrojisana Chanu and Arundhati Choudhary stretched India's tally to five gold medals as the country's women boxers topped the overall list at the 30th Adriatic Pearl Tournament in Budva, Montenegro.
    • Lucky Rana secured a silver to help India finish with 10 medals – five gold, three silver and two bronze.
    • Uzbekistan (2 gold) and Czech Republic (1 gold) ended at second and third positions respectively.
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Mehbooba Mufti Re-elected PDP President

  • Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was unanimously re-elected as the president of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for a three-year term. Mufti's name was proposed by senior leader Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura and seconded by Khurshid Alam, a party spokesperson said after the election. Senior leader Surinder Chaudhary was the returning officer for the election.
  • After getting re-elected, she said, "PDP is born to fight for the rights of people. Let IGP Kashmir do his duty, I will do mine." Reacting to the statement of the IGP Kashmir that political activists are trying to instigate people, Mehbooba said, "I have talked for the people right all the problems people are facing I have to talk about that and if the IGP thinks I am doing against law then let him do his duty, I will do my duty."

Narayanaswamy Resigns as Puducherry CM after Losing Majority in Assembly

  • Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy submitted his resignation to Lieutenant Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan as his Congress-led government lost the majority ahead of the floor test in the Assembly. 
  • Speaker VP Sivakolundhu announced that the Chief Minister could not prove his majority in the Assembly and adjourned the house sine die. The Treasury benches also raised the issue of voting rights to nominated MLAs. 
  • He alleged that former Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi and the Central government colluded with the Opposition in a bid to topple his government in the Union territory.

BJP Wins Both Seats: Gujarat

  • BJP nominees Dineshchandra Anavadiya and Rambhai Mokariya were declared elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat as the opposition Congress did not field candidates for the two vacant seats, one of which was held by its veteran leader Ahmed Patel.
  • The two seats had fallen vacant following the demise of the sitting MPs belonging to the Congress and the BJP.
  • One of the seats was held by veteran Congressman Ahmed Patel since 1993 till his death on November 25 last year due to complications related to COVID-19.
  • The other seat fell vacant as BJP's Abhay Bharadwaj, a first time MP elected to the RS in 2019, too, died in December 1, 2020.
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DRDO Successfully Launches Missile Capable of Neutralising Aerial Threats

  • The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted two successful launches of Vertical Launch Short Range Surface to Air Missile (VL-SRSAM). The launches were carried out from a static vertical launcher from Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha.
  • Indigenously designed and developed by DRDO for the Indian Navy, VL-SRSAM is meant for neutralizing various aerial threats at close ranges including sea-skimming targets. The current launches were carried out for a demonstration of vertical launch capability as part of its maiden launch campaign.
  • On both occasions, the missiles intercepted the simulated targets with pinpoint accuracy. The missiles were tested for minimum and maximum range. VL-SRSAM with Weapon Control System (WCS) were deployed during the trials. 

Hindustan Shipyard to Build 5 Naval Support Vessels with Turkish Help

  • Visakhapatnam-based Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) is expecting an order from the Indian Navy by the year-end for building five mammoth naval support vessels with transfer of technology from a Turkish shipbuilding firm.
  • The project, estimated to cost between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, will involve transfer of technology from Anadolu Shipyard, part of the TAIS consortium of Turkey, with which HSL signed an agreement for technical collaboration last year.
  • HSL is expected to deliver the first fleet support vessel (FSV) to the navy within four years of the go-ahead, with the other ships to be delivered at the rate of one every 10 months to 12 months. The vessels will be 230 metres long and have a displacement of 45,000 tonnes. FSVs carry fuel and other supplies for warships.
  • The agreement with the Turkish consortium will kick in after HSL gets an order from the Indian Navy.
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TVS Motor Company Appoints Timothy Prentice as Vice President

  • TVS Motor Company appointed Timothy Prentice, a globally renowned motorcycle designer, as its vice-president for design. Prentice brings with him an experience of 35 years in motorcycle designing, project management and product development. His appointment was expected, TVS said, to boost its ability to stay ahead of rapid changes in design trends and maintain its competitive edge in future technology.
  • Prentice specialised in advanced design planning, and his experience in designing high-performance electric vehicles (EV) would take the company's EV line-up design to the next level.
  • Through his design studio 'Motonium Design Inc', Prentice has worked on design, project management and creative direction for many clients.
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Mongabay Founder Wins Environmental Journalism Award

  • Mongabay founder and CEO Rhett A. Butler has been awarded a 2020 SEAL Environmental Journalism Award in recognition of his coverage of environmental issues for the website. The honor is presented by the SEAL (Sustainability, Environmental Achievement & Leadership) Awards, an environmental advocacy organization.
  • His fellow winners – at outlets ranging from The Guardian to The New York Times and The Washington Post – were selected based on each journalist's work, a data-driven analysis of the impact and reach of their articles, and the bringing of fresh perspectives and social relevance to environmental issues, the organizers said. Butler has been publishing on Mongabay since he founded it in 1999.
  • "I'm humbled to receive a 2020 SEAL Journalism Award," Rhett said. "I accept this honor on behalf of the Mongabay team and our network of contributors, who work tirelessly to deliver news and inspiration from nature's frontline."
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IIT-Delhi Launches Certificate Programme in Digital Marketing

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has launched a certificate programme in digital marketing.
  • The programme will be for six months and classes will be conducted online twice a week on Saturday and Sunday. The course fee is Rs. 50,000.
  • The 18 modules programme will cover topics on digital marketing, traditional marketing versus digital marketing, website planning and development, email marketing, advertising, Google Analytics, Facebook advertising, Linkedin marketing. The lectures will be delivered online.
  • The candidates with a Bachelor's degree can apply for the certificate programme, the final-year students may also apply.
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Vice President Releases 'Maverick Messiah', a Political Biography on NTR

  • Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu paid tributes to former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, late NT Rama Rao and said that the actor-politician was a phenomenon, who strode the political stage like a colossus.
  • Releasing a book, 'Maverick Messiah,' a political biography authored by senior journalist, Ramesh Kandula, the Vice-President said that the political landscape underwent a profound change after NTR's arrival on the scene. "Power, in NTR's case, was truly drawn from the people.
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Australia's Oldest Rock Painting is an Anatomically Accurate Kangaroo

  • A nearly-life-size depiction of a kangaroo — realistic genitalia included — is the oldest known rock painting in Australia. Scientists recently pinpointed its age to 17,300 years ago with a technique that had never been used on Australian ancient art before: measuring radioactive carbon in wasp nests from rocks near the artwork. 
  • The kangaroo painting extends across the ceiling of a rock shelter and spans nearly 7 feet (2 meters), which is roughly the height of a modern kangaroo. This and other paintings in northwestern Australia's Kimberley region share certain stylistic features with the earliest cave art from Europe and Asia, the researchers reported. Very old animal paintings such as these are typically life-size (or close to it); they represent anatomy in a similar way, and their outlines are only partly filled-in with sketched lines. Because of these features, the paintings were thought to be among Australia's oldest. 
  • However, to precisely date such art, scientists often turn to radiocarbon dating, which measures the ratio of different versions, or isotopes, of carbon in an object. But it requires organic material, which is scarce in rock paintings.
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