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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 Apr 2021


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China's Official in Hong Kong Warns of Retaliation against Foreign Meddling

  • Beijing's top official in Hong Kong warned foreign forces not to interfere with the bottom line of national security in the city, threatening retaliation amid tensions between China and Western powers.
  • The US, Britain and their allies have condemned China's tightening control over Hong Kong's freedoms, including the sweeping national security law and electoral reforms that have all but silenced the once-vibrant opposition in the semi-autonomous territory.
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Antarctica's 'Doomsday Glacier' Close to Tipping Point, Unmanned Sub Reveals

  • Thwaites Glacier, a gigantic ice shelf in West Antarctica, has been on climate scientists' radars for two decades now. But they didn't know just how fast the glacier was melting, and how close it was to complete collapse, until researchers sent an unmanned submarine below the ice shelf.
  • As one of Antarctica's fastest melting glaciers, Thwaites Glacier, nicknamed the "Doomsday Glacier," has lost an estimated 595 billion tons (540 billion metric tons) of ice since the 1980s, contributing to a 4% rise in global sea levels since that time. The glacier acts like a cork in a wine bottle, stopping the rest of the ice in the region from flowing into the sea, so Thwaites Glacier's collapse could potentially take the rest of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet with it, causing a 10-foot (3 meter) rise in global sea levels.
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Citigroup Announces Retail Business Exit from India

  • Citigroup said that it was exiting retail banking in India and 12 other countries across Asia and parts of Europe to focus on its wealth management business, as it lacked the scale to compete in this space.
  • The decision to exit retail businesses from a few markets was one of the first moves by newly appointed CEO Jane Fraser after she took over the US-headquartered bank in February.
  • Citigroup, while announcing its quarterly results, said it would exit its consumer franchises in India, Australia, Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Citigroup's Institutional Clients Group will continue to serve clients in these markets, which remain important to Citi's global network.

Amazon Launches $250 mn Venture Fund for Indian Start-ups, Entrepreneurs

  • E-commerce giant Amazon India launched $250 million Amazon Smbhav Venture Fund (the venture fund) to invest in start-ups and entrepreneurs focusing on technology innovations in SMB (small and medium business) digitization, agriculture and healthcare. The venture fund will invest in technology-led start-ups that are passionate about unlocking the possibilities of a digital India.
  • The fund will specifically focus on encouraging the best ideas to digitize SMBs (small and medium businesses). It would drive technology-led innovation in agriculture to improve farmer productivity and enable them to bring the best of India's farms to consumers. It would also enable universal and quality healthcare access for all using technology.
  • Additionally, Amazon announced plans to digitally empower and bring 1 million offline retailers and neighbourhood stores online, on the Amazon India marketplace, by 2025 through the Local Shops on Amazon program. At the same event, Amazon also launched the 'Spotlight North East' initiative to bring 50,000 artisans, weavers and small businesses online from the 8 states in the North East region of India by 2025 and to boost exports of key commodities like tea, spices and honey from the region.

Honda Motorcycle & Scooter Sets up Separate Business Vertical for Exports

  • Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India (HMSI) set up an overseas business vertical to spearhead its exports from the country.
  • The new vertical would harness the strength of over 100 associates across different functions to make the company a global hub for two-wheeler exports.
  • Based out of company's Manesar facility, the new Overseas Business Expansion vertical strategically integrates SEDBQ (sales, engineering, development, purchasing and quality) functions under one roof to create a globally optimal operating system.
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India and France Sign Agreement for Cooperation on Gaganyaan Mission

  • Space agencies of India and France signed an agreement for cooperation for the former's first human space mission, Gaganyaan, a move that will enable Indian flight physicians to train at French facilities.
  • French space agency CNES said that under the agreement, equipment developed by it, tested and still operating aboard the International Space Station (ISS) will be made available to Indian crews.
  • The CNES will also be supplying fireproof carry bags made in France to shield equipment from shocks and radiation.
  • The agreement was announced during French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's visit to the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) headquarters in Bengaluru.

India Ranks 49th in Inclusive Internet Index 2021

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), in partnership with Facebook, has released the Inclusive Internet Index 2021. India has been ranked at 49th spot globally. It shares its rank with Thailand. This index measures the extent to which the internet is available and affordable by region, and highlights additional insight into how people around the world are using the web.
  • The 'Inclusive Internet Index' surveyed 120 countries, representing 98 per cent of global GDP and 96 per cent of the global population.
  • The overall Index score is based on four parameters, which are: Availability, Affordability, Relevance and Readiness categories. The Inclusive Internet Index is commissioned by Facebook and developed by The Economist Intelligence Unit.
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Kohli Wisden's ODI Player of the 2010s

  • India captain Virat Kohli has been named the One Day International cricketer of the decade for the 2010s in the 2021 edition of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.
  • Kohli is one of five cricketers been named for each decade from the 1970s. He was part of the team that won the 2011 World Cup at the start of the decade and went on to establish himself as one of the leading batsmen in all formats of the game, particularly in ODIs. He scored more than 11,000 runs in the ten-year stretch, averaging over 60 and scoring 42 centuries.
  • Sri Lanka spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan was named the ODI Cricketer of the 2000s.
  • Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev have been named the best players of the 1990s and 1980s, respectively.
  • West Indies batting great Viv Richards was named the ODI cricketer of the year for the 1970s, which was the first decade of the format.
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SC Asks Govt. for Reasonable Timeline to Clear Names Given by Collegium

  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre to apprise it of a reasonable time frame within which it can respond to the recommendations made by its collegium for appointment of judges as the government said that it will adhere to the timeline fixed in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP).
  • The government blamed the delay on clearing of names on High Courts for not sending the recommendations on time and said that many of them have not sent the names for the last five years against the existing vacancy.

Mamata Banerjee Urges EC to Hold Elections for Remaining Phases at One Go

  • West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged the Election Commission to think about conducting polls for the remaining assembly seats at one go, in view of rising cases of COVID-19 in the state. She also stressed that her party had earlier opposed the prolonged eight-phase poll schedule.

Indian Government Revises OCI Card Rules

  • Indian-Americans have welcomed the Indian government's decision to simplify the process of maintaining Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cards, saying more overseas citizens will now opt for this form of residency.
  • OCI cardholders will now be required to get their document re-issued only once at the age of 20 instead of multiple times needed to be done currently, according to the Home Ministry.
  • Highly popular among overseas Indians, the OCI card provides long term visa free travel and stay in India and gives the cardholders a host of privileges normally not given to a foreign national. So far, India has issued about 37.72 lakh OCI Cards.
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Army Moves to Identify Indian Partners to Develop Advanced Protection System for Tanks

  • With the Ministry of Defence (MoD) having approved the procurement of advanced protection and counter-measure system for its fleet of T-90 tanks, the Army has moved to identify Indian partners to develop the system that would enhance the survivability of armoured vehicles against incoming missiles and projectiles in the battlefield.
  • Contemporary combat vehicles have onboard protective-cum-warning systems that warn the crew of impending attacks and create a physical interference between the platform and hostile threat to significantly degrade the effectiveness of hostile weapons.
  • T-90 S/SK tanks are the mainstay of the mechanised forces and are likely to remain in service beyond 2050. Hence, the tanks must be periodically upgraded to cater for the futuristic warfighting capabilities as also facilitate obsolescence management.
  • The Army could initially procure over 800 protection systems.
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Former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha Passes Away

  • Former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Ranjit Sinha passed away in Delhi. He was 68.
  • Sinha, an 1974-batch IPS officer of the Bihar cadre, was the CBI director between 2012 and 2014.
  • He had also headed the Railway Protection Force and served at senior positions in the Central Bureau of Investigation in Patna and Delhi before his appointment as CBI chief.
  • Sinha's tenure was easily the most tumultuous of a CBI director in recent years. He landed in one controversy after another in 2014. He also had a tiff with the Intelligence Bureau over the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
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HAL bags Indian Society for Training and Development Award

  • Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has bagged the first place for Innovative Training Practices 2019-20 at the 30th National Award ceremony held at New Delhi by Indian Society for Training & Development (ISTD).
  • "This is a recognition of our relentless efforts to strive for excellence in the area of training and development," said Alok Verma, Director (HR). Apart from using the in-house talent, HAL has tied up with the best management and training institutes to impart the right training to the professionals.
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NEET PG 2021 Postponed

  • After the CBSE board exams were postponed for class 12 and cancelled for class 10, the central government took the decision to postponed NEET PG 2021 which was scheduled to be held on April 18. The final NEET exam date will be decided later on.
  • Decision has been taken keeping wellbeing of medical students.

Gujarat Govt. to Mass Promote Students from Classes 1 to 9, 11

  • Gujarat class 10 and 12 exams cancelled or postponed decision will be announced after May 15, 2021. Gujarat Government has decided to conduct a meeting on May 15, 2021, to discuss whether to postpone or cancel class 10 and 12 exams.
  • The state government has decided to mass promote students from classes 1-9 and 11 due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation in the state.

IIT Madras Industry Conclave 2021

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras is going to host an 'Industry Conclave 2021' on April 17 and 18, 2021 to promote Industry-Academic Collaboration and develop means to generate new ideas for constructive partnerships.
  • This is the first edition and will become an annual event to enhance collaboration between academia and the industry. The event will feature representatives from various Government agencies, multinational corporate groups and IIT Madras.
  • Being organized by the Corporate Relations Cell of the International and Alumni Relations Student Council, IIT Madras, this initiative also aims to showcase the cutting-edge work research, innovation, and start-up community of the Institute ecosystem.
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Coronavirus Hug Image Named World Press Photo of the Year

  • A photo symbolising "love and compassion" of an 85-year-old Brazilian woman getting her first embrace in five months from a nurse through a transparent "hug curtain" was named the World Press Photo of the Year.
  • The choice of a winning photo portraying the global pandemic was almost inevitable for the contest covering a year in which news around the globe was dominated by the virus that has killed nearly 3 million people, including more than 360,000 in hard-hit Brazil.
  • The image by Danish photographer Mads Nissen captured the moment Rosa Luzia Lunardi was hugged by nurse Adriana Silva da Costa Souza at the Viva Bem care home in Sao Paulo.
  • Judges looked at 74,470 photographs by 4,315 photographers before selecting winners in eight categories including general news, sports, the environment and portraits.
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