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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

01 Mar 2021

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

US Democrats Reintroduce Legislation to Prevent Future Muslim Bans

  • As many as 140 Democratic lawmakers have reintroduced a legislation in the US Congress to prevent future Muslim bans and prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion.
  • The Muslim travel ban, introduced by former US President Donald Trump, targeted several Muslim-majority nations and restricted the entry of people from Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Venezuela. President Joe Biden ended the Muslim ban on his day one in the office last month.
  • In the House of Representatives, the National Origin-Based Anti-discrimination for Non-immigrants (NO BAN) Act was reintroduced on Friday by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and Judy Chu, while in the Senate it was done by Senator Chris Coons.

Iran Says it Will Continue to Support Syria in War against Terrorism

  • Iran will keep supporting the Syrian government in the fight against terrorism, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a telephone conversation with the Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.
  • Zarif reaffirmed that the Islamic Republic will continue its supports for Syria in various fields and in its efforts to ensure security and stability across Syria, the Xinhua news reported.
  • The Iranian foreign minister also stressed the need for a solution that preserves the interests, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Arab country.
  • For his part, Mekdad thanked Iran for supporting the Syrian people in the economic arena with the purpose of mitigating the effects of unilateral economic sanctions.
  • The two sides also urged the western states to abide by the UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Myanmar Envoy Appeals to UN to Stop Military Coup

  • Myanmar's U.N. envoy urged the United Nations to use "any means necessary" to stop a military coup there, making a surprise appeal on behalf of the ousted government as police cracked down on anti-junta protesters.
  • The Southeast Asian country has been in crisis since the army seized power on Feb. 1 and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership, alleging fraud in a November election her party had won.
  • Myanmar's ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun told the U.N. General Assembly he was speaking on behalf of Suu Kyi's government and appealed to the body "to use any means necessary to take action against the Myanmar military and to provide safety and security for the people".
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Indian Oil to Expand Panipat Refinery

  • Oil marketing firm Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is expanding its Panipat refinery's capacity from 15 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) to 25 MMTPA at a cost of Rs. 32,946 crore.
  • The expansion will include installation of a polypropylene unit and a catalytic dewaxing unit. The project is expected to be commissioned by September 2024.
  • The capacity expansion will improve operational flexibility of the refinery to meet domestic energy demand and also enhance the petrochemical's intensity.
  • The Panipat refinery meets demand of petroleum products in Haryana and northwestern region including Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

Maruti Suzuki Achieves 2 Million Vehicle Export Milestone from India

  • The country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) has achieved the milestone of 20 lakh cumulative exports.
  • The auto major achieved the milestone as a batch of products comprising S-Presso, Swift and Vitara Brezza left for South Africa from the Mundra Port in Gujarat.
  • The company has been exporting vehicles for the past 34 years much before India became a prominent player in the global automobile business. This early global exposure helped the company enhance its quality and attain global benchmarks.
  • The automaker currently exports 14 models comprising nearly 150 variants, to over 100 countries.

McDonald's Considers Selling Part of Digital Startup Dynamic Yield

  • McDonald's Corp is exploring selling part of Israeli artificial intelligence startup Dynamic Yield Ltd, which it acquired two years ago in an attempt to boost online marketing efforts.
  • Dynamic Yield, run as a standalone company within McDonald's, personalizes customers' experience by changing offerings on the chain's Drive Thru menu displays, according to time of day, weather, customer traffic and trending choices.
  • The startup, whose customers include IKEA and Lacoste, has businesses with more than 300 brands globally.
  • "The potential sale of the non-McDonald's part of our business has been discussed from the outset and now feels like the right time to explore that possibility," its chief executive, Liad Agmon, said in a statement.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Russia Launches Satellite to Monitor Climate and Environment in the Arctic

  • Russia launched its space satellite Arktika-M on a mission to monitor the climate and environment in the Arctic amid a push by the Kremlin to expand the country's activities in the region.
  • The Arctic has warmed more than twice as fast as the global average over the last three decades and Moscow is seeking to develop the energy-rich region, investing in the Northern Sea Route for shipping across its long northern flank as ice melts.
  • The satellite successfully reached its intended orbit after being launched from Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome by a Soyuz rocket.

Indian School Students Discover 18 New Asteroids

  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU), an organisation which assigns official names and designations to celestial bodies, has confirmed the discovery of 18 new asteroids by Indian students as part of a global science programme.
  • The International Asteroid Discovery Project was conducted by STEM and Space, an organisation working towards the learning of astronomy and space science in India, along with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC) as part of a NASA citizen science project.
  • Over the last two years, 150 students from all around India participated in this two month long campaign to find asteroids, making this the largest asteroid discovery project in India, Mila Mitra, Co-founder and Academic Head of STEM and Space.
  • In the project, the students from India and across the globe analysed the high quality astronomical data provided by IASC -- an online scientific program for kids to discover Asteroids and Near Earth Objects (NEO).
  • NEOs are rocky objects in an orbit between Mars and Jupiter, which pose a challenge to Earth as they may get perturbed out of their orbit and pose a threat of impact.
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SPORTS

ISSF World Cup in Korea Postponed

  • The ISSF World Cup in Changwon, Korea, scheduled to be staged from April 16 to 27, has been postponed owing to restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Last week, the Indian contingent pulled out of the tournament because of South Korea's mandatory two-week quarantine rules, which would come in the way of the shooters' training.
  • The tournament in Korea was a combined World Cup with shooters from rifle, pistol and shotgun competing for top honours.

Sri Lanka Appoints Tom Moody as Director of Cricket

  • Former Australia all-rounder Tom Moody has been appointed as the director of cricket of Sri Lanka.
  • Moody was appointed to the post on the recommendations by the Technical Advisory Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket after the recent poor showings against South Africa and England.
  • Moody has been handed a three-year contract and as per the agreement, the 55-year-old is expected to carry out 300 days of 'Mandatory Assignment'.
  • His job profile entails the Analysis of the Future Tour Program, focusing on the Domestic Tournament Structure, Player Welfare, Education and Skill Development, Coaching and Support Staff Structure and High Performance and Data Analytics.
  • Moody was Sri Lanka's head coach between 2005 and 2007 when the island nation made it to the final of the World Cup in the Caribbean.

Vinesh Phogat Wins Gold in Ukraine Wrestling Event

  • India's star wrestler Vinesh Phogat defeated 2017 world champion V. Kaladzinskay to win the gold medal at the Outstanding Ukrainian Wrestlers and Coaches Memorial tournament.
  • Up against the world number seven Belarusian, it was not an easy bout for the world number three Indian as the two grapplers kept testing each other with consistent attacks in the sea-saw battle in which Vinesh prevailed.
  • Vinesh opened up a 4-0 lead in the 53 kg final with a throw which she initiated with a left-leg attack but Kaladzinskay made it 4-4 with her brilliant move.
  • Vinesh took the break leading 6-4, adding to her score with a takedown, 10 seconds before the break.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

India-Bangladesh Hold High Level Talks to Discuss Security Issues

  • India and Bangladesh discussed early completion of the pending fencing work along the international border they share as they reiterated their commitment to address issues related to terrorism and extremism during the home secretary-level talks.
  • The 19th edition of the dialogue was held online in the backdrop of 'MujibBarsho', 50 years of the Bangladesh Liberation War and establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
  • Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla led the Indian side, while the Bangladeshi delegation was headed by senior secretary, public security division of the neighbouring country's ministry of home affairs, MostafaKamal Uddin.
  • India and Bangladesh attach the highest importance to their bilateral relations. Both secretaries reiterated their commitment to further expand and strengthen mutual cooperation in the security and border related issues.
  • "Both sides reaffirmed not to allow the territory of either country to be used for any activity inimical to each other's interests.

PM Narendra Modi Inaugurates India Toy Fair

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the India Toy Fair 2021 via video conferencing.
  • Toys play a significant part in the development of a child's mind and also help improve psychomotor and cognitive skills in children. In his Mann ki Baat address in August 2020, the Prime Minister had said that toys not only augment activity, but also give flight to aspirations.
  • The Fair will be held from February 27 to March 2, 2021.
  • The fair aims to bring together all stakeholders including buyers, sellers, students, teachers, designers etc. on a virtual platform to create sustainable linkages and encourage dialogue for the overall development of the industry.

Opposition Parties in Bengal Welcome Eight-phase Elections

  • The opposition parties in West Bengal welcomed the eight-phase elections in the state announced by the Election Commission with the BJP saying that it was hopeful about the polls being free and fair.
  • The state Congress said that it was looking forward to an election in 10 to 12 phases, while the CPI(M) maintained that the number of phases does not matter if the elections are held violence-free. 
  • Elections for the West Bengal assembly will be held in eight phases, beginning with polling for 30 seats on March 27. Votes will be counted on May 2. 
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DEFENCE

Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar New Chief of Western Naval Command

  • Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar took over as Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Naval Command.
  • He succeeded Vice Admiral Ajit Kumar, who served at the helm of this premier command since January 2019, and who retired after an illustrious career spanning 40 years.
  • Vice Admiral R. Hari Kumar is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and was commissioned in the Navy on January 1, 1983.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Tarun Bajaj Gets Additional Charge of Revenue Secretary

  • Department of economic affairs secretary Tarun Bajaj has been given the additional charge of revenue secretary.
  • Present revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey retired on February 28.
  • The change takes place amid the Budget session in Parliament, which is currently in recess. The second part of the session will begin March 8 and go on till April 8 during which the Finance Bill will be discussed.
  • Pandey, a 1984 batch IAS officer from the Maharashtra cadre, was appointed finance secretary last year in March, more than a year after he was appointed as revenue secretary in December 2018.

Ligia Noronha Appointed UN Assistant Secretary-General

  • UN chief Antonio Guterres has appointed leading Indian economist Ligia Noronha as Assistant Secretary-General and head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
  • Noronha will succeed fellow Indian and development economist Satya Tripathi to whom Secretary-General Guterres is grateful for his leadership and dedicated service during his tenure.
  • Noronha is an economist with over 30 years of international experience in the field of sustainable development.
  • She has worked since 2014 as Director of UNEP's Economy Division based in Nairobi, leading UNEP's work on climate mitigation and energy transitions; on inclusive green economies, sustainable consumption and production, as well as on trade and sustainable finance, and the nexus of environment, pollution and health.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Zero Discrimination Day

  • Zero Discrimination Day is an annual day celebrated by the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations. The day aims to promote equality before the law and in practice throughout all the member countries of the UN. The day was first celebrated on March 1, 2014, and was launched by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé on 27th February of that year with a major event in Beijing.
  • Zero Discrimination Day 2021 is dedicated to taking action to end the inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, sexual orientation, drug use, gender identity, race, class, ethnicity and religion that continue to persist around the world.
  • The report mentions that inequality is growing for more than 70% of the global population. This is not only exacerbating the risk of division but also hampering economic and social development. Unfortunately, the inequalities worldwide have been deepened due to COVID-19, which is hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest.
  • Even vaccines against COVID-19 are becoming available, there is great inequality in accessing them. The report then states that many intellectuals have equated this to vaccine apartheid.

World Civil Defence Day

  • World Civil Defence Day is observed on 1st March every year, all over the world. The theme of World Civil Defence Day 2021, is "Civil Defence and a first aider in every home." celebrated on 1st March 2021. This day was incorporated in 1990 by the International Civil Defence Organisation (ICDO).
  • The day marks the entry into force of the ICDO Constitution as an intergovernmental organisation in 1972 and has two main purposes:
  • The attention of the world public the vital importance of Civil Protection and of raising awareness of the preparedness for, and prevention and self-protection measures in the event of accidents or disasters.

Saras Aajeevika Mela-2021 Starts at Noida Haat

  • The Saras Aajeevika Mela 2021 is underway at Noida Haat. The fair was inaugurated by Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. It will continue till 14th March. The fair remains open from 11 AM to 8 PM daily. More than 300 rural self-help groups and craftsman from 27 states are participating in the Mela which is being by the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • Addressing the gathering, Mr. Tomar said that the Ministry of Rural Development is working to include more women in Self Help Groups (SHGs). He said these SHGs played a vital role in increasing family income and improving quality of life.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

PM Modi to Receive Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will receive the CERAWeek Global Energy and Environment Leadership Award during an annual international energy conference next week.
  • The Prime Minister will also deliver the keynote address at the CERAWeek Conference-2021, which will be held virtually from March 1 to 5.
    • Prominent speakers at the conference include US special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and founder of Breakthrough Energy Bill Gates and president and CEO, Saudi Aramco, Amin Nasser.
    • The annual international conference is a gathering of energy industry leaders, experts, government officials and policymakers, leaders from the technology, financial and industrial communities, and energy technology innovators.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

MP Cabinet Approves Law to Give Life Imprisonment to Food Adulterators

  • Madhya Pradesh Cabinet approved a Penal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2021 to give life imprisonment to food adulterators.
  • Informing about it, the state's Home Minister Narottam Mishra said, "Madhya Pradesh Cabinet has approved Penal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2021 to give life imprisonment to food adulterators." 
  • It is noteworthy, in December 2019, an awareness rally was held in Bhopal to fight the menace of adulteration. The rally saw the participation of the people of all age groups. The rally was held from Roshanpura to Lal Parade in the capital city. The enthusiastic volunteers were heard raising slogans against adulteration and demanded pure food products. 
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Four of Top 5 US Banks Hire 25% of MBA Students from IFMR Business School

  • Despite the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, students of the 2-year MBA programme of the IFMR Graduate School of Business (IFMR-GSB), now part of Krea University, saw a good placement season and witnessed a 10 per cent growth in average salaries offered by finance, consulting and technology giants.
  • With over 80 per cent of the students already placed in the ongoing placement season, finance, consulting and technology companies have hired over 87 per cent of the students already placed. The full batch comprises 175 students.
  • In the past three years -- between 2017-18 and 2019-20 -- anywhere between 50 and 75 per cent of the students were placed in finance, consulting and technology companies in areas such as financial strategy, business management, risk management, data analytics, compliance and governance, and financial control.
  • IFMR-GSB said that one of the highlights of this year is that four of the Top 5 US Banks—JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citi—have together hired over 40 students which is more than 25 per cent of the students placed till now.

Delhi University Becomes 1st Institution in the Country to Award Digital Degrees

  • The Delhi University became the first institution in the country to award "digital degrees" to its 1,78,719 students during its 97th annual convocation, its acting vice-chancellor P. C. Joshi claimed.
  • Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the convocation ceremony was conducted in a hybrid manner,  a mix of both online and physical mode.
  • It is for the first time, not only in the history of DU but all universities, that with a click of a button, nearly 1,80,000 students received their Bachelors/Master degrees in various disciplines in their mail. This is a historic step for all of us," claimed Tyagi.
  • Over 156 medals and 36 prizes were also awarded to the students in person by Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ''Nishank'', who was the chief guest of the occasion. Over 600 doctoral degrees and 44 DM/M CH degrees were also awarded in person during the ceremony. 
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