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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

03 Mar 2021


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Zimbabwe VP Resigns

  • Zimbabwe's second Vice-President Kembo Mohadi has resigned a week after he denied accusations of sexual impropriety.
  • Mr. Mohadi repeated his defence that he was the victim of hacking and "voice cloning" after an online newspaper published lurid phone call recordings with several women allegedly including a subordinate.

Zanzibar's new vice-president sworn in

  • The new vice-president of Tanzania's semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar was sworn in less than two weeks after his predecessor died.
  • Othman Masoud Othman Sharif replaced Seif Sharif Hamad who died in 17 February 2021, aged 77.
  • Mr. Masoud has previously served in senior positions in Zanzibar government, including as attorney-general.

China Asks Australia to Abandon its Interference in Hong Kong's Affairs

    • China has condemned Australia for granting protection visas to Hong Kong passport holders in December and asked Canberra to abandon its interference in Hong Kong's affairs.
    • Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that China's position on Hong Kong-related issues is consistent and clear. Hong Kong affairs fall entirely within China's internal affairs.
    • No foreign country has the right to interfere.
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Reserve Bank India Remains Net Buyer of US Dollar in December

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) remained net buyer of the US dollar in December after it purchased USD 3.991 billion from the spot market.
  • During the reporting month, the central bank bought USD 10.014 billion and sold USD 6.023 billion in the spot market, the RBI said in its monthly bulletin for February 2021.
  • In November 2020, it was the net buyer of the US dollar after it had purchased USD 14.289 billion and sold USD 4.028 billion.
  • In December 2019, the central bank had bought USD 5.374 billion and sold USD 1.014 billion in the spot market.
  • In FY20, the central bank had net purchased USD 45.097 billion. It had bought USD 72.205 billion and sold USD 27.108 billion in the spot market.

Flipkart Ramps up Grocery Operations

  • E-commerce giant Flipkart, India's home grown e-commerce marketplace has expanded its grocery services to more than 50 cities in the country through its pan India marketplace. This expansion will provide users of 7 metro cities and over 40 neighbouring cities access to high-quality grocery products, quick deliveries and a seamless shopping experience.
  • In the grocery space, Flipkart competes with players such as BigBasket, Swiggy, Amazon, Grofers and Reliance's JioMart.

ORIX and Teesta Urja Deal Complete

  • Japan's financial services firm ORIX Corp. and Greenko Energy Holdings have concluded a deal for the investment of $980 million in Greenko. This is the single largest foreign investment transaction in India's clean energy space.
  • In addition, Greenko has also completed the acquisition of 40% stake in Teesta Urja Ltd, which is setting up the 1.2 gigawatt (GW) hydropower project in North Sikkim, for $250 million.
  • With the ORIX deal also adding 873 MW of its operating wind assets to Hyderabad-based Greenko's portfolio, the completion of both these transactions takes Greenko's operational portfolio to 7.3 GW—India's largest operational clean energy portfolio.
  • The ORIX deal, announced last September, also pegged GIC Holdings Pte. Ltd and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) backed Greenko's equity and enterprise value at $5.75 billion and $10.2 billion respectively.
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ISRO to Send First Unmanned Flight by this December

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to send the first unmanned flight into space by the end of 2021.
  • Under Gaganyaan mission, India plans to send three astronauts into space. They will orbit at about 400 km above the earth for five to seven days before returning.
  • Prior to that, there will be two unmanned space missions to test the rocket and the crew module systems.
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Indian shuttlers Win Uganda International Titles

  • Indian shuttlers Varun Kapur and Malvika Bansod registered hard-fought wins to clinch the men's and women's singles titles respectively at the 2021 Uganda International in Kampala.
  • Varun beat seventh seeded Sankar Muthusamy  in the men's singles final, while second seed Malvika notched up a come-from-behind victory over compatriot Anupama Upadhyaya in the women's singles summit clash.
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Centre Merges Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Television Channels

  • The government merged two Parliament channels - Lok Sabha TV and the Rajya Sabha TV, which will now be called Sansad TV.
  • The government also said that retired IAS officer Ravi Capoor has been appointed as the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Sansad TV for a period of one year or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

India Falls Two Places in Democracy Index's Global Ranking

  • India slipped two places to the 53rd position in the 2020 Democracy Index's global ranking, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, which said that the democratic backsliding by authorities and crackdowns on civil liberties has led to a further decline in the country's ranking. However, India is ranked higher than most of its neighbouring countries.
  • India's overall score fell from 6.9 in 2019 to 6.61 in the index that provides a snapshot of the current state of democracy worldwide for 167 countries.
  • Norway topped The Economist Intelligence Unit's latest Democracy Index report titled Democracy in sickness and in health, with Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Canada making up the top five.
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Australia and Boeing Co Complete First Flight Test of Pilotless Fighter-like Jet

    • The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Boeing Co have announced that they completed the first flight test on a pilotless fighter-like jet which was designed to operate in concurrence the with crewed aircraft.
    • Loyal Wingman" is the first military aircraft that has been designed and manufactured in more than 50 years in Australia. This first military aircraft make its flight under the supervision of a Boeing test pilot who was monitoring it from the ground control station located in South Australia.
    • In the development of the product, the Australian government invested A$40 million. The aircraft has also attracted interest from the United States and United Kingdom.

India to Export Defence Equipment to Philippines

    • Expanding its defence footprint in the Indo-Pacific, India has reached an understanding with the Philippines for exporting military equipment to the nation which has been at the receiving end of China's expansionist plans in the South China Sea.
    • The deal which was concluded in Manila would enable a wider defence interface between India and the Philippines.
    • The Philippines will be the first country to receive BrahMos missiles jointly developed by India and Russia. Earlier, New Delhi had extended a $100 million defence-related line of credit to Manila. The Philippines, a key US ally for decades, has been keen to diversify sources for defence hardware.

Air Force to Participate in Exercise Desert Flag VI in UAE

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) will participate in the Exercise Desert Flag-VI along with the air forces of the UAE, the US, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Bahrain for the first time.
  • The exercise is scheduled from March 3 to 21 at the Al-Dhafra airbase in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • The Exercise Desert Flag is an annual multi-national large force employment warfare exercise hosted by the UAE Air Force.
  • The IAF is participating with six Su-30 MKI, two C-17 and one IL-78 tanker aircraft. The C-17 Globemaster will provide support for the induction and de-induction of the IAF contingent.
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BJP MP Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan Passes Away

  • Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan, the BJP Lok Sabha member from Khandwa in Madhya Pradesh, passed away.
  • The six-term MP was suffering from COVID-19.
  • The leader started his political career in 1978 from the Shahpur Municipal Council and was later elected as member of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly.
  • He was an MLA from 1985 to 1996.

Lufthansa Appoints Elise Becker as Vice-president for Asia-Pacific

  • German airliners group Lufthansa has appointed Elise Becker as its vice-president for Asia-Pacific.
  • Becker, who succeeds Alain Chisari, will assume her new position at the Lufthansa Group's regional headquarters in Singapore from May 1.
  • Chisari has been assigned a new role within the Lufthansa Group sales organization.
  • She will be responsible for directing all commercial activities of the Group's premium airlines Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines. Becker's new role includes managing and strategically developing all airline joint ventures and partnerships in the region.

Jaideep Bhatnagar Takes over as Principal DG, PIB

  • Mr. Jaideep Bhatnagar took over as Principal Director General, Press Information Bureau.
  • Mr. Bhatnagar is an Officer of the Indian Information Service belonging to 1986 Batch.
  • He has earlier served in Doordarshan as Head of the Commercial, Sales and Marketing Division.
  • He also served as Prasar Bharati Special Correspondent in West Asia.
  • Furthermore, he later went on to head the News Services Division of All India Radio.
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Modi Inaugurates Second Edition of Maritime India Summit 2021

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 'Maritime India Summit 2021'.
  • Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the second edition of the summit via video conferencing.
  • Prime Minister also launched an e-book of maritime vision 2030, which is aiming to make the Indian maritime industry at par with the top global benchmark in the next 10 years.
  • The three-day summit, had ministers from eight nations, over 50 global CEOs and more than 160 speakers which include 115 international speakers from 24 nations.
  • The Maritime India Summit 2021 was organised by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways on a virtual platform. 

World Wildlife Day

  • On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in its resolution UN 68/205, decided to proclaim 3 March, the international day of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on the planet raise awareness and benefits fauna and flora in 1973, as World Wildlife Day, which was proposed by Thailand, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild fauna and flora.
  • World Wildlife Day in 2021 was celebrated under the theme "Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet", as a way to highlight the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas.

Yoga Festival Begins in Rishikesh

  • The International Yoga Festival began with nearly 400 yoga enthusiasts participating in the event.
  • Speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural function, Uttarakhand Agriculture Minister Subodh Uniyal said that yoga activates positive energies inside human body. 
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Govt. to Decriminalise 12 Offences under LLP Act

    • The corporate affairs ministry plans to decriminalise 12 offences as well as omit a provision entailing criminal liability under the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) Act, 2008, for greater ease of doing business for law-abiding LLPs.
    • The objective of the de-criminalisation exercise is to remove criminality of offences from business laws where no malafide intentions are involved. An exercise was undertaken to identify those provisions of the LLP Act, violations of which do not result in injury to the public interest but are presently criminal in nature with fine as well as punishment after conviction being provided for in the Act.
    • Offences that relate to minor/ less serious compliance issues, involving predominantly objective determinations, are proposed to be shifted to the In-House Adjudication Mechanism (IAM) framework instead of being treated as criminal offences.
    • Further, offences that are more appropriate to be dealt with under other laws are proposed to be omitted from the LLP Act.

Haryana Governor Approves Bill Allowing 75% Reservation in Private Jobs

  • Haryana Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya has given assent to the Bill providing 75 per cent reservation in the private sector to job seekers from the state.
  • The Haryana Assembly had late last year passed the Bill, a key poll promise made by the ruling alliance partner Jannayak Janta Party.
  • The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Bill, 2020 provides quota for local people in private sector jobs that offer a salary of less than Rs. 50,000 a month.
  • The quota will initially apply for 10 years, according to the Bill.
  • The Bill covers private companies, societies, trusts and partnership firms in the state. It provides for training to eligible local candidates when qualified people are not available.

Uttar Pradesh Passes Bill for Recovery of Damages from Protesters

  • The Uttar Pradesh Assembly passed two bills including one that relates to recovery of damages to public and private properties from protesters, amid opposition demands that it be referred to a select committee.
  • According to the Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Property Bill, 2021, protesters found guilty of damaging government or private properties will face imprisonment of one year or a fine ranging from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 1 lakh.
  • The House also passed the Uttar Pradesh Goonda Control (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to empower joint and deputy commissioners of police to act under the legislation.
  • The Goonda Act allows police to keep habitual offenders under preventive detention for a year. According to the law, a "goonda" is a person who, either by himself or as a member or leader of a gang, habitually commits or attempts to commit or abets the commission of offences.
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AM and NS India Signs MoU with BITS Pilani to Upskill its Engineers

  • The ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India), a joint venture between ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel - two of the world's leading steel companies - signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS) Pilani, a leading premier educational institute, to provide a sponsored BTech.
  • Process engineering degree through Work Integrated Learning Programme without the need for a career break. Facilitated through digital infrastructure over three and half years, the higher education programme will help strengthen employees' technical foundation and build a strong knowledge base, preparing them to work more efficiently through this skill up-gradation opportunity.
  • The course is spread across seven semesters and would be conducted digitally by the BITS, Pilani faculty. The course also provides enlisted employees easy access to the institute's online state-of-the-art laboratories and libraries as well as to a plethora of recorded lectures on all relevant topics. As part of the course, one semester would be dedicated to practical learning through projects.

Principal Scientific Adviser to GOI Launches Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship

  • The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India under its Waste to Wealth Mission has launched the Swachhta Saarthi Fellowship to recognise students, community workers or Self-Help Groups, SHGs and municipal or sanitary workers who are engaged in tackling the enormous challenge of waste management, scientifically and sustainably.
  •  The Waste to Wealth Mission is one of the nine national missions of the Prime Minister's Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council, PM-STIAC.
  • Targeted to encourage community participation, the Swachhta Saarthi Fellowships invites applications from students and community workers who have done previous work or are currently engaged in waste management activities, including awareness campaigns, surveys and studies.
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Kenya Museums Appeals for Historical Artefacts

  • The National Museums of Kenya (NMK) is asking Kenyans to donate cultural artefacts and other items, as it seeks to build a museum on the country's early history.
  • NMK is desirous of acquiring relevant objects or memorabilia by way of donation, long-term loan or any other suitable arrangement.
  • The proposed museum dubbed a 'Museum of Heroism', will include key aspects such as the early history and peoples of Kenya, colonisation, independence and military history.
  • "Such materials may include but not limited to photographs, films, unique literature and writings, newspaper cuttings, maps, info graphics, traditional weaponry, instruments of power, traditional musical instruments and trade merchandise" the museums body says.
  • The museums body is also looking for traditional farm tools and equipment, body adornments, furniture, crafts, traditional attire, court artefacts, pass books and religious artefacts.

Rare Ming Dynasty bowl Found at US Yard Sale

  • As far as antiques hunting goes, this might just be as good as it gets.
  • A small bowl bought for just $35 (£25) at a market sale in the US state of Connecticut has turned out to be a rare 15th-century Chinese artefact.
  • The white porcelain bowl was spotted by an unidentified antique enthusiast near New Haven last year, and they quickly sought an expert evaluation.
  • The experts came back with good news, revealing that the bowl is thought to be worth between $300,000 and $500,000.
  • In fact, it is believed to be one of only seven such bowls in existence and most of the others are in museums.
  • The style of painting, the shape of the bowl, even just the colour of the blue is quite characteristic of that early, early 15th-Century period of porcelain.
  • The 6-inch (16 cm) diameter bowl features cobalt blue floral paintings and an intricate design around the rim.
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