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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

28 Apr 2021


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Lanka Cabinet Approves Proposal to Ban Face Coverings in Public Places

  • Sri Lanka's Cabinet approved a controversial proposal to ban all forms of face coverings in public places, citing a threat to national security.
  • The move came weeks after Minister of Public Security Sarath Weerasekara signed a note in March, seeking the approval of the Cabinet to ban burqas—outer garments that cover the body and face worn by some Muslim women.
  • The proposal now must be approved by Parliament to become a law.

Brexit: Tensions Overshadow EU Vote on UK Trade Deal

  • The European Parliament is expected to ratify the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal - a key move to ensure that tariff-and quota-free trade continues.
  • The Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA) has been operating provisionally since January. MEPs voted on Tuesday and a result is due on Wednesday.
  • Brexit tensions remain, including a French threat of "reprisals" against the UK over new fishing restrictions.
  • Northern Ireland trade is also a thorny issue.
  • Under a separate protocol, Northern Ireland remains de facto part of the EU's single market, so goods arriving there from Britain have to undergo EU checks. Since Brexit there has been some disruption to that trade.
  • The TCA covers EU-UK trade in goods, but not services. The UK economy is dominated by services - sectors such as banking, insurance, advertising and legal advice.

Nigeria Wants US Military Base to Move to Africa

  • Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari called on the US to move its Africom military headquarters to the continent from Germany.
  • He made the request during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's online virtual visit to Africa, a substitute for an in-person visit that didn't happened because of coronavirus restrictions.
  • "Considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating Africom headquarters... near the theatre of operation," President Buhari said.
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Area in Andaman & Nicobar Becomes First Large Territory to Get Organic Certification

  • About 14,491 hectare (ha) area in Andaman and Nicobar has been certified as organic, the first large contiguous territory to be done under a government scheme.
  • After Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands, Lakshadweep and Ladakh are proactively taking steps for the transformation of their traditional organic areas to certified organic.
  • There are traditional areas in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, north-eastern states and tribal belts of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and desert districts of Rajasthan which can be transformed to certified organic.
  • The organic certification has been given under the Large Area Certification (LAC) Scheme of the PGS-India (Participatory Guarantee System) certification programme.
  • Under LAC, each village in the area is considered as one cluster/group. All farmers with their farmland and livestock need to adhere to the standard requirements and on being verified get certified enmass without the need to go under conversion period. Certification is renewed on annual basis through verification by a process of peer appraisals as per the process of PGS-India.
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Stellantis Makes Top-level Appointments for Indian Region

  • Stellantis India & Asia Pacific announced key leadership appointments for its operations both within India and the region. The Amsterdam-based Stellantis is a multinational automotive manufacturer, formed in 2021 on the basis of a 50:50 cross-border merger between the Italian-American Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the French PSA Group.
  • The company has appointed Roland Bouchara as CEO & Managing Director for Stellantis in India. Bouchara will be responsible for the Jeep and Citroën national sales companies (NSCs), coupled with the group's manufacturing operations.
  • Since 2017, Bouchara has led the Citroën India operations in his capacity as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the brand. This included end-to-end execution of the recent launch of the Citroën brand and its first product in India – the new Citroën C5 Aircross.
  • The company also announced the appointment of Partha Datta as head of Engineering, Design, Research & Development (R&D) operations across the India & Asia Pacific Region.

Korean Auto firm Kia Unveils a New Brand Identity in India

  • In line with its global strategy, the India arm of South Korean major Kia has dropped 'Motors' from its name. This is to reflect the transition from an automaker to a provider of advanced and eco-friendly mobility solutions.
  • With a new brand identity and slogan, the fourth-largest car maker in India by sales aims to accelerate growth and strengthen its premium positioning. Close to 60 per cent models that Kia sells in India are top trims of the models, the company claims.
  • Kia has updated its compact SUV Seltos and the subcompact crossover SUV Sonet with the newly stylized logo. The models, with the refashioned logo, will go on sale in the first week of May.
  • It also unveiled a new slogan — Movement that inspires'. Tae-Jin Park, executive director and chief sales and business strategy officer, said the new identity goes beyond just the logo change and will manifest in various ways, from the kind of product it brings in the future to the way it goes about the business.

Promoter Company Worldone Acquires JSPL's Thermal Power Business

  • Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL) has sold off its thermal power business to Worldone, a company owned by the promoter group of JSPL.
  • JSPL has divested 96.42 per cent stake in Jindal Power (JPL) to Worldone.
  • As per reports, the estimated deal size is close to Rs. 12,000 crore, which includes Rs. 6,500 crore debt, Rs. 7,000 crore redeemable preference shares and Rs. 3,015 crore equity infusion. It also includes Rs 4,400 crore of an old loan, which JPL had taken from JSPL.
  • JSPL has two coal-fired power plants in Raigarh and Tamnar totaling 3400 Mw. JPL had earlier tried to sell the units to JSW Energy but the deal did not close.
  • V R Sharma, managing director, JSPL said that the company will now focus on steel production and double the output of its Angul steel plant to 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA).
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Jeff Bezos' Rocket Company Challenges NASA

  • Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, two of the richest men in the world, both with dreams of leading humanity out into the solar system, are fighting over the moon.
  • Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Mr. Bezos filed a 50-page protest with the federal Government Accountability Office, challenging a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX from NASA to build a lander for American astronauts to return to the moon.
  • NASA announced this month that Mr. Musk's SpaceX was the sole winner in the competition, beating Blue Origin and a third company, Dynetics of Huntsville, Ala., a defense contractor.
  • The dispute highlights that whatever the outsize ambitions of Mr. Musk and Mr. Bezos for the future, the present fortunes of their space companies and the ability to generate the profits needed to pay for their grandiose dreams depend on mundane business concerns like jousting for government contracts.
  • Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, said NASA's decision was based on flawed evaluations of the bids — misjudging advantages of Blue Origin's proposal and downplaying technical challenges in SpaceX's. He also said that NASA had placed a bigger emphasis on bottom-line cost than it said it would.
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BCCI Assures Foreign Players for Safe Return

  • The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has attempted to calm the frayed nerves of foreign cricketers, especially from Australia, who are playing for various teams in the IPL and are worried about being locked out of their countries due to the alarming Covid-19 crisis in India.
  • The Australian government suspended air flights from India to their country, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking the players to make their own arrangements for return.
  • The fear of being locked out of Australia made Andrew Tye take a flight back home. Two other Australians, Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa, exited their team Royal Challengers Bangalore's bio-bubble in preparation for leaving for their country.
  • The BCCI will do everything to ensure that you reach your respective destinations seamlessly. The BCCI is monitoring the situation very closely and is working with the government authorities to make arrangements to get you home once the tournament concludes.

Australian Olympians Fast-tracked for Jabs

  • All Australian athletes and officials heading to the Tokyo Olympics will be fast-tracked for vaccination ahead of the games.
  • More than 2,000 Olympians, Paralympians, their coaches and support staff will get the jabs.
  • The summer Olympics, delayed from 2020, will open on 23rd July, followed by the Paralympic games on 24th August.
  • Before the government intervention, most Australian athletes would have been given the shots later in the year.
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Justice Bindal is Acting Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court

  • The senior-most Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Rajesh Bindal, was appointed Acting Chief Justice of the Calcutta HC. Justice Bindal was transferred to the Calcutta HC four months ago and was functioning as the senior-most Judge there as well.

India Ranks 49th in CGGI

  • India has been ranked 49th in the Chandler Good Government Index (CGGI), which classifies 104 countries in terms of government capabilities and outcomes.
  • Reuben Abraham, CEO of IDFC Foundation and IDFC Institute, and CGGI Advisory Panel Member, said: "Civil service innovation and capacity building is a key focus for the Indian government. The Chandler Good Government Index shows the importance of measuring and investing in governance capabilities that matter. It highlights a key need for 'pracademics' in government – people who combine a rigorous understanding of research and data with a practical and grounded sense of what governments need to do to succeed."
  • Finland has topped the CGGI list, in which each country is measured across over 50 open data points. The index focuses on seven pillars: leadership and foresight; robust laws and policies; strong institutions; financial stewardship; attractive marketplace; global influence and reputation; and helping people rise.

Panel to Monitor Air Quality in Delhi-NCR

  • The Union environment ministry has reconstituted the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas after having disbanded it in March, just five months after it was created.
  • Earlier this month the Union government promulgated the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2021 and now has issued a notification to constitute the commission.
  • The chairperson of the commission continues to be MM Kutty, former secretary in the ministry of petroleum and natural gas and former chief secretary of Delhi.
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Coast Guard Conducts Successful Landing, Deck Trial of ALH Mk-III Helicopter

  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) conducted successful landing and deck trial of the newly-inducted ALH Mk-III helicopter on one of its ships off Chennai coast.
  • The ICG called it a landmark event in "ship integration" of this indigenously-built helicopter.
  • The integration will increase reach and operational capabilities of the ICG manifold.
  • The ICG will induct 16 ALH Mk-III built by HAL, Bangalore under Atmanirbhar Bharat to enhance preparedness towards coastal surveillance and search and rescue operations.
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Noted Hindi Litterateur Manzoor Ahthesham Passes Away

  • Noted Hindi litterateur and Padma Shri awardee Manzoor Ahthesham died in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Incidentally, Ahthesham''s first story was titled ''Ramzan Ki Maut'' and he died in the holy month currently underway.
  • He did his studies at the Aligarh Muslim University. He was the author of five novels and several short story anthologies and plays.

Eminent Odia and English Writer Manoj Das Dead

  • A Padma awardee and an eminent 20th century Odia and English writer, Manoj Das, died in Puducherry. He was 87. He was under treatment for old-age related ailments.
  • For his work in Odia, Das is best known for 'Shesha Basantara Chithi', 'Manoj Dasanka Katha o Kahani', 'Dhumabha Diganta', 'Manojpancabimsati' (short stories), 'Tuma Gam o Anyanya Kabita' (poetry). His notable English works include, The crocodiles lady: A collection of stories, The submerged valley and other stories, Farewell to a ghost: Short stories and a novelette, Cyclones, A tiger at twilight, Mystery of the Missing Cap and other short stories.
  • In 2004, he wrote his memoir Chasing the Rainbow: Growing up in an Indian Village.
  • A number of his short stories were translated into major Indian and foreign languages. He received numerous national awards, including the Padma Bhushan last year. He was also awarded with the Kendriya Sahitya Akademi Award, Odisha Sahitya Akademi Award, Sarala Award, Sahitya Bharati Award, Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad (Kolkata) Award, Sri Aurobindo Puraskar (Kolkata) and BAPASI (Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India) Award as the best writer in English in the South.
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World Day for Safety and Health at Work

  • The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is celebrated every year on 28th April to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.
  • In 2003, the International Labour Organization (ILO), began to observe World Day in order to stress the prevention of accidents and diseases at work, capitalizing on the ILO's traditional strengths of tripartism and social dialogue.
  • This celebration is an integral part of the Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health of the ILO, as documented in the Conclusions of the International Labour Conference in June 2003. One of the main pillars of the Global Strategy is advocacy, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a significant tool to raise awareness of how to make work safe and healthy and of the need to raise the political profile of occupational safety and health.
  • The World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021 focuses on leveraging the elements of an OSH system as set out in the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187).
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Army Project to Help Ladakh Students Prepare for Competitive Exams

  • As part of the Indian Army's initiative to secure a better future for Ladakhi youth, the army's Leh-based Corps signed an MoU with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and National Integrity and Educational Development Organisation, (NIEDO) to help students to prepare for competitive examinations.
  • The project, Ladakh Ignited Minds: A Centre of Excellence and Wellness, is a full-time residential programme to mentor and guide students for a period of twelve months for entrance examinations of various medical and engineering colleges spread across the country.
  • The programme being run under the aegis of the Indian Army will be executed by Kanpur-based NIEDO. The Army will oversee the overall operations that include administration and logistics with requisite funding support from HPCL.
  • NIEDO will not only mentor and guide the students but will also provide value-based education, soft skill training, critical life competencies, develop leadership capabilities and personality development.

Bangalore University to Commence Online Classes for UG, PG Courses

  • In view of the surging spike in Covid-19 cases across the country, Bangalore University notified to conduct online classes for all the final semesters- Sem IV of PG courses of faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce, Management, Education and Physical Education for the academic year 2020-21 from May 5, 2021.
  • The classes for UG courses will also commence in online mode for all the even semesters (IInd, IVth, VIth, and VIIIth semester) for the academic year 2020-21 from April 28 onwards.

IIM Udaipur Confers 317 Students with MBA Degrees

  • The Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Udaipur, hosted its 9th Annual Convocation for the two-year MBA (Batch 2019-21), and the one-year MBA in Global Supply Chain Management and Digital Enterprise Management (Batches 2020-21) in virtual mode.
  • A total of 317 students graduated in the convocation of two-year MBA (batch 2019-21) and one-year MBA GSCM and DEM, (batches 2020-21).
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New Book "Living Mountain" by Amitav Ghosh

  • 'The Living Mountain' is a new story by Jnanpith winner and internationally renowned author Amitav Ghosh, written during the course of the pandemic. It is a fable for the current times: a cautionary tale of how humans have systematically exploited nature, leading to an environmental collapse.
  • HarperCollins Publishers India will publish 'The Living Mountain' as a special standalone edition in January 2022 under its prestigious Fourth Estate imprint. The book will also be published simultaneously in Hindi, and as an e-book and an audio-book.
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Byzantine-Period Floor Mosaic Found in Israel

  • The multicolored mosaic pavement was unearthed during archaeological excavations directed by IAA archaeologist Dr. Avishag Reiss.
  • Dated to the Byzantine period (4th-5th century CE), it is decorated with colorful geometric motifs, and has a black rectangular frame.
  • "The pavement may have been part of a splendid residential building in a wealthy neighborhood adjacent to the industrial zone," IAA archaeologists said.
  • "At first, we did not realize that the floor is multicolored," they added.
  • "We assumed that it was simple white mosaic paving belonging to yet another industrial installation."
  • "But black patches dotted around the mosaic suggested that it was more than one color and prompted us to remove the whitish patina that had coated it for years."
  • "The conservation director went to work cleaning the mosaic with a special acid and, to our astonishment, a colorful mosaic carpet was revealed, ornamented with geometric motifs."
  • Once the mosaic had been documented, drawn, and photographed in the field, it was removed and temporarily transferred to the IAA's mosaic workshop at the Rockefeller Museum, where it has been treated and preserved by the conservation experts.
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