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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

12 Apr 2021

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Israel Vows to Work with US on Tehran

  • The Israel Defence Minister pledged to cooperate with the United States on Iran, voicing hope that Israel's security would be safeguarded under any renewed Iranian nuclear deal that Washington reaches.
  • "Israel views the United States as a full partner across all operational theatres, not the least Iran," Benny Gantz said after hosting visiting US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin
  • Netanyahu said that will not be bound by a renewed deal, which he describes as a temporary cap on Iranian nuclear capabilities that would pave the way to bomb-production in the longer run. Tehran says its atomic ambitions are purely peaceful.
  • Israel and Iran have in recent weeks reported sabotage to their ships at sea. Syria has accused Israel of air strikes on its territory. Israel says it is trying to stem a build-up of Iranian forces within next-door Syria.

US Warns of Consequences to Russian Aggression

  • The Biden administration is carrying a review of its policies against Russia over its escalating aggression in eastern Ukraine and there will be consequences, some seen and some unseen, to Kremlin, the White House has warned.
  • The long-running conflict in Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking east has claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2014.
  • Fighting in the conflict, which erupted after Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, subsided in 2020 as a new ceasefire agreement took hold last July.
  • From his first phone call with President Putin, President Biden has been clear that the United States will respond to a number of destabilising Russian actions, in a manner and timing of our choosing.

Conservative Ex-banker Ecuador's New President

  • A conservative former banker, Guillermo Lasso, won Ecuador's presidential election following a run-off vote.
  • His opponent, the left-wing economist Andrés Arauz, conceded defeat hours after polls closed.
  • With almost all the ballots counted, Mr. Lasso had won 52.5% of the vote compared to Mr. Arauz's 47.5%.
  • Mr Lasso will assume office on 24 May.
  • The former banker, who has twice finished second in presidential votes, represents the country's business sector. He has vowed to break away from the leftist policies of past administrations that he says have dragged Ecuador down.
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ENVIRONMENT

Many Endemic Species may GO Extinct if GHG Emissions Rise

  • As per a new study, many animals and plants might face extinction if green house gas emissions continue to rise.
  • All the Endemic species in islands are at high risk of extinction due to climate change.
  • Four out of every five endemic species in mountains are at the high risk of extinction due to climate change.
  • 95% of marine species and 92% of land-based species will face reduction in numbers.
  • In tropical region, over 60% of endemic species are facing extinction due to climate change.
  • By maintaining the global heating well below two degrees Celsius as mentioned in the revised Paris Agreement will help to save majority of the species.
  • The Endemic species are the most iconic plants and animals in the world. The species that are highly threatened by climate change are lemurs (especially those that are unique to Madagascar), snow leopard.

Third of Antarctic Ice Shelf Area at Collapse Risk

  • The research found that 34 per cent of the area of all Antarctic ice shelves -- around half a million square kilometers -- including 67 per cent of ice shelf area on the Antarctic Peninsula, would be at risk of destabilisation under such a warming scenario.
  • The team also identified Larsen C -- the largest remaining ice shelf on the peninsula, which split to form the enormous A68 iceberg in 2017 -- as one of four ice shelves that would be particularly threatened in a warmer climate.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

L&T's Arm Bags Order to Set up Solar Power project in Saudi Arabia

  • The renewable arm of Larsen & Toubro's Power Transmission & Distribution Business has bagged an order to set up Sudair solar power project of 1.5 GW in Riyadh province of Saudi Arabia.
  • The EPC (engineering procurement construction) contract, was awarded by the consortium of ACWA Power and the Water and Electricity Holding Company, a subsidiary of the Public Investments Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).
  • L&T has been a provider of EPC services for several green projects in recent years. The L&T has over 2.1 GW of Utility Scale Solar projects commissioned and are also operating and maintaining several of them.

Morgan Stanley India Infra Invests in iBus

  • Morgan Stanley India Infrastructure acquired a stake in iBus Networks for $21 million (around Rs. 150 crore).
  • iBus offers in-building wireless solutions, outdoor small cells and other last-mile connectivity solutions to mobile operators to enable them to serve their customers seamlessly. With Covid forcing professionals and companies to adopt to WFH, the demand for robust in-building connectivity has increased manifold. The need for low latency, high-speed internet is being demanded be it for running schools and colleges online or WFH, e-comm, online transactions and remote health monitoring has never been felt so urgently before.
  • iBus, through its coverage of 277 million sq ft across top 10 cities, serves approx four million customers. The company currently deploys its infrastructure across 233 commercial, residential and retail sites across the country.

Saudi Aramco Agrees $12.4 Billion Deal

  • Saudi oil producer Aramco has agreed a $12.4 billion deal to sell a 49% stake in its pipelines to a consortium led by U.S.-based EIG Global Energy Partners.
  • It is the company's largest deal since its record $29.4 billion initial public offering in late 2019.
  • The lease and leaseback agreement includes a 49% stake of newly formed Aramco Oil Pipelines Co and rights to 25 years of tariff payments for oil carried on Aramco's pipelines, it said in a statement.
  • Aramco will retain a 51% stake in the new company.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

UAE Names its First Female Astronaut Noura Al-Matroushi

  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) revealed its next two astronauts, which includes the Kingdom's first-ever woman astronaut, that it plans to send for the future manned space missions at a state program. Noura al-Matroushi, the UAE's first female astronaut, and her counterpart Mohammed al-Mulla were identified by the ruler of Dubai, also the Prime Minister and vice president Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
  • The two astronauts, selected from among 4000 applicants across seven sheikhdoms, will commence training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, US.
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SPORTS

Paula Badosa Ousts Ashleigh Barty at Volvo Car Open

  • Paula Badosa beat top-ranked Ashleigh Barty at the Volvo Car Open.
  • The Spaniard reached the tournament semi-finals in her first time at the season's opening clay-court tournament. And she was rarely pressured by Barty on the way to her first victory over a No. 1 player.

Suyash Mehta First Indian-origin Referee in NBA

  • What started as a part-time job soon turned into a passion for Suyash Mehta, as it eventually saw him become the first Indian-origin referee in National Basketball Association (NBA). Since joining the world's top-most basketball league, which features some of the sport's MVPs like LeBron James, Steph Curry, the 29-year-old has gone on to officiate in several high-octane NBA matches.

Kiren Rijiju Inaugurates Khelo India State Centre of Excellence for Rowing in Srinagar

  • Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju inaugurated the Khelo India State Centre of Excellence (KISCE) for rowing at the Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council Water Sports Academy. At present, the KISCE will focus on rowing and will be provided a first-time grant of Rs. 145.16 lakh and an annual recurring grant of Rs. 96.17 lakh.
  • This is one of the two KISCEs from Jammu and Kashmir, with the Maulana Azad Stadium for fencing in Jammu being the other.
  • Currently, there are 24 KISCEs across 23 states and union territories and each of them focuses on Olympics sports.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

More ROPAX Ferries and Water Taxis to be Part of Mumbai's Transportation

  • In order to promote eco-friendly waterways transportation and reduce the traffic load of crowded Mumbai city roads, the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has planned more water taxis and RO-PAX ferries for the city's transportation.
  • Four new routes for ROPAX-ferry services and 12 new routes of water taxi are likely to be operational by December 2021. It was decided in a meeting chaired by Minister of State (I/C) for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Mansukh Mandaviya, with the senior officials of the Ministry, Chairperson of Mumbai Port and officials of Maharashtra Maritime Board.
  • Currently, the ROPAX (roll-on/roll-off passenger) service is operational from Bhaucha Dhakka (Ferry Wharf) to Mandwa (Alibag) and reduces the road journey of 110 km to about 18 km by using waterways. It has also reduced the travel time of daily commuters from about 3-4 hours to one hour.

India and Netherland Strategic Partnership in Water Sector

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a virtual summit with his Netherlands counterpart Mark Rutte. The leaders agreed to diversify the ties in trade and economy between the countries. They also agreed to expand their relations in smart cities, agriculture, science and technology, healthcare, and space.
  • A fast-tracking mechanism is to be set up between the two countries to facilitate bilateral trade and resolve issues of the companies in both countries. For the investors in India and Dutch companies, it is to be set up in Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
  • During the summit, India and Netherlands launched a strategic partnership on water. Under the partnership, the countries agreed to alleviate the joint working group on water to ministerial level. It also aimed to broaden bilateral cooperation in new areas of water.
  • Under the partnership the countries will focus on water budgeting, converting wastewater to energy and decentralized treatment technologies and cost effective water technologies.
  • Netherlands is the world leader in water management. One-fourth of Netherlands lies under sea level. Yet, the Dutch have successfully comprehended water related challenges and have tested technologies and solutions in delta management, desalination, flood control.

Nirmala Sitharaman Attends 103rd Development Committee Meeting of World Bank-IMF

  • Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman participated in the 103rd Meeting of the Development Committee Plenary, via video conferencing. During the meeting, she shared the measures taken to combat COVID-19 including social support measures for the poor and vulnerable, and relief measures for firms in statutory and regulatory compliance matters.
  • World Bank Group (WBG) and International Monetary Fund Support for Debt Relief Under the Common Framework and Beyond;
  • As a part of the meeting, Sitharaman also informed that the Government of India has announced Aatma Nirbhar Packages of Rs. 27.1 trillion, which amounts to more than 13% of the GDP. These packages would provide social protection to the poor and vulnerable as well as push forward the economic reforms.
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DEFENCE

NanoSniffer Microsensor Based Explosive Trace Detector

  • The Union Education Minister launched the world's first Microsensor based Explosive Trace Detector called the "NanoSniffer".
  • The NanoSniffer was developed by an IIT Bombay incubated startup called NanoSniff Technologies. It is marketed by the IIT Delhi incubated startup Kritikal Solutions.
  • The NanoSniffer can detect explosives in less than ten seconds.
  • It can detect all class of military, homemade and conventional explosives.
  • It uses MEMS system.
  • It can detect even nano gram quantities of explosives.
  • The Explosive Trace Detection is the technology used to detect explosives of small magnitude. The three main characteristics of Explosive Trace Detection are sensitivity, light weight, and size. The sensitivity or detection limit is the lowest amount of explosive matter a detector can detect. The NanoSniffer can detect even nano quantities of explosives.

Gen M. M. Naravane Attends the Army Chiefs' Conclave in Bangladesh

  • Indian Army chief Gen. M.M. Naravane attended the Army Chiefs' Conclave held in Bangladesh on the sidelines of a multinational military exercise.
  • Gen. Naravane, who is on a five-day official tour, delivered a keynote address on Changing Nature of Global Conflicts: Role of UN Peacekeepers.
  • During the event, the Army chief also interacted with the senior officers of the participating nations and military observers from the other nations.
  • The Shantir Ogroshena (Frontrunners of Peace) 2021 exercise commenced on April 4 at Bangabandhu Senanibas to commemorate the birth centenary of Bangladesh's Father of the Nation' Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and mark 50 years of the country's liberation from Pakistan.
  • Military observers from the US, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Singapore are also attending the exercise.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Britain's Prince Philip Passes Away

  • Prince Philip, the longest serving royal consort in British history who was a constant presence at Queen Elizabeth II's side for decades, died aged 99.
  • The Duke of Edinburgh, as he was officially known, had been by his wife's side throughout her 69-year reign, the longest in British history, during which time he earned a reputation for a tough,
  • The former naval officer admitted he found it hard to give up the military career he loved and to take on the job as the monarch's consort for which there was no clear-cut constitutional role.

Sonu Sood Brand Ambassador for Punjab's Anti-COVID Vaccination Programme

  • Actor Sonu Sood has been made the brand ambassador for Punjab's anti-coronavirus vaccination programme.
  • During the coronavirus-induced lockdown last year, the actor had helped migrants reach their home states.
  • Sood catapulted to the national spotlight for feeding thousands of underprivileged people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • He was viewed as a messiah of sorts for migrants.
  • Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh made the announcement, a day after his meeting with the actor who called on him at his residence.

Ramsey Clark, Former U.S. Attorney General Passes Away

  • Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who helped shape U.S. civil rights law during the Johnson administration but went on to travel the globe to fight human rights abuses by his own country as he saw them, has died at age 93.
  • In a lengthy career of representing unpopular causes, Clark defended or gave advice to Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Liberian political figure Charles Taylor and Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
  • In the 1990s, he helped found the leftist International Action Center in New York, which drew attention in 1999 for street protests condemning the U.S.-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
  • The United Nations recognized Clark's work in 2008 by naming him one of the winners of its prestigious prize in the field of human rights. Others who have received the prize include former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and South African leader Nelson Mandela.
  • He joined the Justice Department under Democratic President John Kennedy in 1961 and served in top posts until Democratic President Lyndon Johnson nominated him as attorney general in 1967.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

International Day of Human Space Fligh

  • The International Day of Human Space Flight is the annual celebration, held on 12 April, of the anniversary of the first human space flight by Yuri Gagarin. It was proclaimed at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 7 April 2011, a few days before the 50th anniversary of the flight.
  • April 12, 1961 was the date of the first human space flight, carried out by Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet citizen. This historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

BAFTA Awards 'Nomadland' Wins 4 Awards

  • Gig-economy Western 'Nomadland' won four prizes including best picture at the British Academy Film Awards, which were handed out during a pandemic-curbed ceremony that recognised a diverse array of screen talent.
  • 'Nomadland' filmmaker Chloe Zhao became only the second woman, and the first woman of colour, to win the BAFTA for best director, and star Frances McDormand was named best actress. 'Nomadland' also took the cinematography prize.
  • Emerald Fennell's revenge comedy 'Promising Young Woman' was named best British film, while the best actor trophy went to 83-year-old Anthony Hopkins for playing a man grappling with dementia in 'he Father.'
  • Director Remi Weekes, who won the British debut prize for his first feature, 'His House,' noted the surreal sensation of accepting the award while sitting in his living room in a tuxedo.

Ramesh Pokhriyal Presents the AICTE Lilavati Awards 2020

  • Union Minister of Education Ramesh Pokhriyal presented the AICTE Lilavati Awards 2020 on women empowerment to the winners in New Delhi.
  • Mr. Pokhriyal welcomed the initiative of All India Council for Technical Education, AICTE for instituting the Lilawati Awards and stressed that such innovative steps shall be great motivation for girls to join higher education.
  • He said that this initiative will pave a path towards equality in education and innovation for women.
  • The Education Minister highlighted that the new National Educational Policy has greatly emphasised on gender equality and students should participate in such initiatives to promote women empowerment.
  • Based on the theme 'Women Empowerment', AICTE finalized the winners from a total of 456 entries who competed across 6 sub themes, which include, Women's Health, Self-Defense, Sanitation and Hygiene, Literacy, Women Entrepreneurship and Legal Awareness.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

World's First Gamified Sanskrit Learning Application

  • The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) tied up with the Gamapp Sportswizz Tech Private Limited to launch "LITTLE GURU" application. It is a specialised mobile application for learning Sanskrit.
  • Little Guru is a gamified application.
  • It teaches Sanskrit in an interactive platform. This makes learning easier.
  • The app was launched during the celebrations of the 71st Foundation Day of ICCR.
  • It is world's first Gamified Sanskrit learning application.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

NITI Aayog Launches Online Dispute Resolution Handbook

  • NITI Aayog launched the first-of-its-kind Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) handbook in India. The handbook is an invitation to Indian business leaders to embrace ODR. It emphasises the need for such a mechanism, as well as the types of ODR models that companies can use and a direction for them to follow.
  • Supreme Court Judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud delivered the opening address and launched the handbook. He said that this is a unique handbook on ODR that will make us reconsider the mechanism for dispute resolution. It has the potential to become a watershed document for the dispute resolution ecosystem in India.
  • According to NITI Aayog, ODR is the use of digital technology and techniques of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, to resolve disputes outside of courts, especially in "small and medium-value cases.
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

Odisha Government to Identify Locations to Boost Eco-Tourism

  • In a move to boost eco-tourism in Odisha, Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra has directed to develop more places for eco-tourism in the state.
  • Eco-tourism has made a successful stride in Odisha with rewarding livelihood opportunities to 600 local communities and immense benefit to the wildlife and forest conservation. The journey started in 2016 under the trend-setting guidance of Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra from the time of his tenure as Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) forest and environment (Forest and Environment) department. This was known from a high-level meeting held in Lokseba Bhawan today under the Chairmanship of Mahapatra in which Additional Chief Secretary of Forest and Environment, Dr Mona Sharma outlined the present eco-tourism scenario in the State along with its administrative and financial contours for discussion.
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ART AND CULTURE

K-pop Stars Prepare for London Art Exhibition

  • In a Seoul cafe, K-pop stars Song Min-ho and Kang Seung-yoon talk through a selection of their paintings and photographs that will be headed for a London exhibition this autumn. Mainly known for their music, the WINNER bandmates will showcase their art, alongside fellow K-pop singer Henry Lau, at the START Art Fair, held at the Saatchi Gallery and coinciding with the famed Frieze Art Week.
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