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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

20 Apr 2021

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Britcoin Digital Currency Being Considered by UK

  • British authorities are exploring the possibility of creating a new digital currency that Treasury chief Rishi Sunak indicated could be known as Britcoin.
  • The Bank of England and the Treasury said that they will work together to assess the benefits of a central bank digital currency, at a time when cash payments are generally on the decline, partly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The bank said that the new currency, if it comes to pass, would be a new form of digital money for use by households and businesses and would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them.

EU Releases Indo-Pacific Strategy

  • The European Council approved and released the European Union (EU) strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific which aims for 'regional stability, security, prosperity, and sustainable development' at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.
  • The European Union has now joined blocks like ASEAN which has its own outlook on the Indo-Pacific vision, strongly backed by India and the US.
  • The EU intends to reinforce its role as a cooperative partner in the Indo-Pacific, bringing added-value to relations with all its partners in the region.
  • The EU intends to reinforce its role as a cooperative partner in the Indo-Pacific, bringing added-value to relations with all its partners in the region.

Tanzania Approves $3.5b Oil Pipeline Construction

  • Tanzania's government has given the green light for the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline, a 1,445 km (897 miles) project stretching from the coastal region of Tanga to Uganda.
  • The country's Minister for Energy, Dr. Medard Kalemani, said that the negotiation process that had started in May 2017 was finally complete.
  • This paves the way for the start of the $3.55bn (£2.5bn) pipeline. Between 10,000 and 15,000 jobs are expected to be created once the project kicks off.
  • Last week, Tanzania's President Samia Suluhu Hassan made her first foreign trip to Uganda to oversee the signing of the agreement with her Ugandan counterpart.
  • Once completed, the project will be the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world.
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ENVIRONMENT

Forgotten' Coffee Plant Rediscovered in West Africa

  • A forgotten coffee plant that can grow in warmer conditions - and which scientists say could help future-proof the drink against climate change - has been rediscovered in West Africa.
  • Coffea stenophylla is a wild coffee species from West Africa which, until recently, was thought to be extinct outside Ivory Coast.
  • The plant was rediscovered growing wild in Sierra Leone, where it was historically grown as a coffee crop about a century ago.
  • A small sample of coffee beans from Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast were roasted and made into coffee, which was then tasted by a panel of coffee connoisseurs.
  • They also modelled climate data for the plant, which suggests it can potentially tolerate temperatures at least 6C higher than Arabica.
  • Seedlings will be planted this year in order to start assessing the wild coffee's potential in safeguarding the future of high-quality coffee.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Tech Mahindra Acquires 100% Stake in DigitalOnUS

  • Tech Mahindra acquired DigitalOnUS, a hybrid cloud and DevOps services provider, for a consideration of $120 million. Tech Mahindra has acquired 100 per cent stake in the organisation to strengthen cloud-native development, hybrid cloud infrastructure, and SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) automation.
  • The acquired company is headquartered in San Jose, California and reported revenue of $30.6 million, at the end of CY2020.
  • The strategic acquisition will further elevate Tech Mahindra's position as a partner of choice for hybrid-cloud digital transformation, providing end-to-end transformation and new-age capabilities including enterprise DevOps and cloud-native development technologies.

Paytm Expands ESOP Scheme

  • Digital financial services company Paytm added 242,904 stock options, taking the overall Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) valuation to $604 million.
  • The addition takes the existing ESOP pool to 2.4 million equity options.
  • Paytm, valued at over $16 billion, plans to award the expanded stock options to more employees during its annual performance appraisal.
  • To attract and retain talented professionals, Paytm last year amended certain aspects of its ESOP policy, introducing performance-based ESOPs.
  • These are given at the time of hiring or during the appraisal cycle and all key roles across different levels are eligible for it. It has linked ESOPs to individual goals that are reviewed and approved by the business heads with the flexibility to accommodate multiple scenarios and also meet employees' aspirations.

IEX Expands beyond India with Launch of Cross-border Electricity Trade

  • In a first, Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) commenced the Cross Border Electricity Trade (CBET) on its power trading platform. This would help the exchange expand its power markets beyond India to the South Asia region.
  • The company said that it will lead towards building an "integrated South Asian regional power market.
  • The government designated nodal agency for CBET is NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd (NVVN), a fully-owned subsidiary of NTPC limited. The company has secured approval for Nepal to participate in the day-ahead market on IEX.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Takes Flight, 1st for another Planet

  • NASA's experimental Mars helicopter 'Ingenuity' rose from the dusty red surface into the thin air, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.
  • The triumph was hailed as a Wright Brothers moment. The mini 4-pound (1.8-kg) copter named Ingenuity, in fact, carried a bit of wing fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer, which made similar history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
  • Flight controllers in California confirmed Ingenuity's brief hop after receiving data via the Perseverance rover, which stood watch more than 200 feet (65 metres) away. Ingenuity hitched a ride to Mars on Perseverance.
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SPORTS

Champions League: UEFA announces New format for CL

  • The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced the new Champions League format which will come in force from the 2024 season.
  • Champions League will now be competed between 36 teams, adding four more teams to the competition. All 36 teams are brought together into one pool instead of the current system of four-team groups.
  • The reforms come after an extensive consultation across the football family. The changes made are designed to secure the positive future of European football at every level.

Mirabai Chanu Creates a New Clean and Jerk World Record

  • Mirabai Chanu set a new World Record in the women's 49kg Clean and Jerk with a massive 119 kg lift at Asian Weightlifting Championships in Tashkent. She won the bronze medal at the event. The gold medal went to Hou Zhihui of China who created a new world record in snatch. Asian Games, held once every 4 years, is the 2nd largest multi-sport event after Olympics.

India Open Badminton Tournament Postponed

  • The India Open Super 500 tournament, one of the last three qualifying events for the Tokyo Olympics, was postponed due to raging COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
  • The USD 4,00,000 India Open was scheduled to be held behind closed doors in the National Capital from May 11 to 16.
  • Several rounds of discussions were held with BWF as well as the Delhi government and other stakeholders and accessing the safety of players and officials BAI needed to take this decision.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Jaishankar Discusses Bilateral Ties, Economic Recovery with UAE Counterpart

  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar held another round of productive interaction with his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan here where the two leaders discussed the entire gamut of bilateral relations, especially the strong focus on economic recovery post COVID-19.
  • Jaishankar arrived was in Abu Dhabi with a focus on boosting bilateral economic cooperation. His visit to the United Arab Emirates comes amid evolving geo-political developments in the region, particularly in Afghanistan.
  • As per reports, the two leaders discussed ways to develop and enhance bilateral cooperation in all domains, in a way that will fulfil the aspirations of the leadership of India and the UAE and benefit their peoples.

Boris Johnson Cancels Trip to India

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled a planned trip to India, scheduled to take place next week, due to the current coronavirus situation in India.
  • Johnson had already postponed the trip once from January, when COVID-19 infections were high in Britain. Infections in India are currently surging as the country endures a second wave of the virus.

Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative: Australia Grants Rs 8.12 crore under its Partnership with India

  • As India and Australia increase engagement under the Indo-Pacific vision, Canberra announced a Rs. 8.12 crore grant under the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI).
  • The IPOI was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the East-Asia Summit in November 2019 and Australia is co-leading New Delhi in the marine ecology pillar of the initiative.
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DEFENCE

Indian Navy's First Unit of Indigenously-built Advanced Light Helicopters Enters Service

  • Indian Naval Air Squadron 323 (INAS 323), Navy's first unit of the indigenously-built Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Mk III, was commissioned at INS Hansa, Goa.
  • The squadron will operate three state-of-the-art ALH Mk III helicopters — a multi-role chopper with the Shakti engine manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Mk III version of the ALH has an all glass cockpit and will be used for search and rescue, special operations and coastal surveillance. Six ALHs are under procurement and all the aircraft are being delivered in a phased manner.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Kannada Writer, Lexicographer Ganjam Venkatasubbiah Passes Away

  • Kannada writer, editor, lexicographer and critic Ganjam Venkatasubbiah passed away. The writer was 107-years-old.
  • Ganjam Venkatasubbiah was a recipient of the Kannada Sahitya Akademi Award, the Pampa Award and contributed significantly to the world of Kannada Lexicography.
  • Venkatasubbia was known for his work 'Igo Kannada', an eclectic mix of Kannada phrases, usages, idioms, phrases, and serves as a reference for linguists and sociologists.
  • He was renowned as a walking encyclopaedia of the language and culture.

Former US Vice-President Walter Mondale Passes Away

  • Former US Vice-President Walter Mondale died in Minneapolis aged 93.
  • Mr. Mondale was Jimmy Carter's running mate for his winning 1976 presidential bid and defeat four years later.
  • Mr. Carter said that he considered Mr. Mondale the best vice-president in our country's history.
  • Mr. Mondale lost heavily to Ronald Reagan in the 1984 presidential election, securing only his home state of Minnesota and Washington DC.
  • Mr. Mondale is also remembered for choosing Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his running mate - the first woman on a major-party presidential ticket.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

UN Chinese Language Day

  • UN Chinese Language Day is observed globally on April 20 every year. The day has been chosen to pay tribute to Cangjie, who is a mythical figure who is presumed to have invented Chinese characters about 5,000 years ago.
  • The first Chinese Language Day was celebrated in 2010 on the 12th of November, but since 2011 the date has been the 20th of April, roughly corresponding to Guyu in the Chinese calendar. Chinese people celebrate Guyu (which usually begins around April 20) in honour of Cangjie, because of a legend that when Cangjie invented Chinese characters, the deities and ghosts cried and it rained millet; the word "Guyu" literally means "rain of millet".
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Saudi Activist Wins Top Europe Rights Award

  • Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul was awarded a top European rights prize on Monday in recognition of her fight for women's rights in the kingdom, including her efforts to end a ban on women driving.
  • The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, named after the former Czech dissident and later President, is awarded annually for civil society action in defence of human rights by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
  • Ms. Hathloul "is one of the leaders of the Saudi feminist movement, having campaigned to end the male guardianship system, as well as the Saudi ban on women driving, and for greater protection for women facing abuse in the Kingdom.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

Internshala and Nestlé Bring Virtual Internships

  • Recruitment and training platform Internshala is hosting Nestlé India's 'Nesternship'. The internship programme offers 1000 virtual internships in 2021 in various fields including finance, human resources, sales, e-commerce, marketing, legal, corporate affairs, engineering, food technology, IT, and supply chain.
  • For the summer batch, interested students can apply to 350 virtual internships from April 22, 2021 to April 24, 2021.
  • On the launch of Nesternship, the founder and CEO of Internshala, Sarvesh Agrawal said, "Internshala has always strived to bring the best of opportunities for the students of India."
  • The initiative aims at enhancing the competence and employability of the youth in India. These internships will offer experiential learning to empower students with skills and to make them future-ready.
  • Each intern will be assigned a mentor from Nestlé to guide them during the course of their internship. Additionally, each intern will be provided with Amazon vouchers worth 5,000 per month.

Gender Samvaad Event

  • The Ministry of Rural Development launched the Gender Samvaad Event. It is a joint initiative between DAY-NRLM and IWWAGE. The main objective of Gender Samvaad event was to create awareness on gender related interventions under the DAY-NRLM.
  • DAY-NRLM is Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission. IWWAGE is Initiative for What Works to Advance Women and Girls in the Economy.
  • It provides opportunities to understand the best practices of other states to improve women agencies. For instance, facilitating women's access to land rights and their engagement in farmer producer organisations, establishing strong institutions for public service delivery, best practices around Food, nutrition, health and water and sanitation.
  • The DAY-NRLM launched a gender operational strategy in 2016 to mainstream gender issues. This was achieved through training and capacity building of staff. Also, institutional platforms were established so that women could approach them for their grievances.

IIM Rohtak Virtually Hosts Annual Convocation

  • The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Rohtak, hosted its annual convocation ceremony. A total of 480 students from the MBA programme and 12 students from the doctoral programme attended the convocation ceremony.
  • Education Minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal congratulated the graduating students and their families for their success. He encouraged the students to work hard and contribute meaningfully in realising the India@75 mission.
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