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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

28 May 2021


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Hong Kong Electoral Reform: LegCo Passes 'Patriots' Law

  • Hong Kong has passed a controversial electoral reform law, aimed at keeping people China deems "unpatriotic" from positions of political power.
  • The reform will allow a pro-China panel to vet and elect candidates, reducing democratic representation.
  • Critics warn it is designed to remove all opposition from the city's parliament, allowing Beijing to tighten its control over Hong Kong.
  • It is the latest measure designed to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong.
  • Since the electoral reform law was initiated by the Chinese government in March, it has drawn widespread international condemnation, including from the US, the EU and UK.
  • On Thursday the bill was passed by an overwhelming majority in Hong Kong's parliament, the Legislative Council (LegCo), which has been dominated by pro-Beijing lawmakers since a mass opposition walkout last year.
  • The bill will be signed into law soon by city executive Carrie Lam.

Ecuador's Lasso Sworn in as First Right-wing Leader in 14 Years

  • Guillermo Lasso, a conservative, assumed the presidency of Ecuador and has become the first right-wing leader in 14 years in Ecuador. The 65-year-old former banker beat left-wing economist Andres Arauz in a second-round run-off last month and succeeds the hugely unpopular Lenin Moreno.
  • Guillermo Alberto is a banker, businessman, writer and politician who recently became the 47th president of Ecuador. He is the first centre-right president in two decades.
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Paytm Plans to Launch India's Biggest IPO

  • Digital payments provider Paytm is all set to make its market debut as early as this year, with an aim to raise $3 billion (around Rs. 22,000 crore). If successful, this could be the biggest initial public offering (IPO) by an Indian company, breaking Coal India's 2010 record of Rs. 15,475 crore.
  • According to reports, the board of One97, parent company of Paytm, is all set to meet to formally approve the IPO plan.
  • Paytm -- backed by investors like SoftBank Group, Ant Group and Berkshire Hathaway -- is targeting a valuation of $25 billion to $30 billion, 1.5-1.8 times the current valuation of $16 billion.
  • Paytm has emerged as one of the largest digital payments players in the country and ranks third in terms of UPI payments with a market share of around 12 per cent.

Maruti Suzuki Ties up with Three Firms for Production of Oxygen Generators

  • The country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki is collaborating with manufacturers to boost production of oxygen generators in the country.
  • Maruti has tied up with three small-scale companies, Airox Nigen Equipments, SAM Gas Products and Gaskon Engineers, for producing oxygen generators.
  • Maruti Suzuki decided to involve itself in scaling up production of oxygen generators by small scale units to help overcome the critical shortage of oxygen.

Amazon Buys MGM

  • Amazon is going Hollywood. The online shopping giant is buying MGM, the movie and TV studio behind James Bond, 'Legally Blonde' and 'Shark Tank', with the hopes of filling its video streaming service with more stuff to watch.
  • Amazon is paying $8.45 billion for MGM, making it the company's second-largest acquisition after it bought grocer Whole Foods for nearly $14 billion in 2017.
  • The deal is the latest in the media industry that's aimed at boosting streaming services to compete against Netflix and Disney+. AT&T and Discovery announced on May 17 that they would combine media companies, creating a powerhouse that includes HGTV, CNN, Food Network and HBO.
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Assam Appoints 'Guardian Ministers'

  • The Assam Cabinet appointed ministers who would act as guardians for different districts in the state.
  • These guardians, each a minister of the Himanta Biswa Sarma Cabinet, have been given the responsibility of 2-3 districts to take stock of welfare schemes, implementation of infrastructure projects etc.
  • The guardian ministers will be responsible for administration in the districts under their charge. But they won't be directly involved with people from those districts.
  • Earlier, there was a provision of in-charge ministers, but their specific roles and responsibilities were not clearly defined. The guardian ministers will follow the decisions taken by the Cabinet about their duties.
  • The guardian ministers will be assigned with a secretary each and both will have to visit their districts at least once a month. They will also have to visit the districts during emergency situations and conduct extensive tours during natural disasters like floods, cyclones etc.

RAW Chief Goel Gets One-year Extension

  • Research and Analysis Wing chief Samant Kumar Goel and Intelligence Bureau head Arvind Kumar were given a one-year extension in their services.
  • Goel, a 1984-batch IPS officer from Punjab cadre, would continue to be the Secretary of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for a period one-year beyond the presence tenure which ends on June 30.
  • Similarly, Kumar, an IPS officer of Assam and Meghalaya cadre, will continue to head the Intelligence Bureau for a period of one year after June 30.

Govt. Approves Appointment of B. V. R. Subrahmanyam as Commerce Secretary

  • J&K Chief Secretary, B. V. R. Subrahmanyam, was posted as OSD in the Union Commerce Ministry and will succeed Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan on his retirement next month-end.
  • An order issued by the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions said: The appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of B.V.R. Subrahmanyam IAS (CG; 87), Chief Secretary Jammu & Kashmir as officer on special duty in the Department of Commerce.
  • With the shifting of Subrahmanyam from J&K, three seniormost IAS officers -- Pradip Kumar Tripathi, Sudhanshu Panday and Arun Kumar Mehta -- are front runners for the Chief Secretary's post.
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World Hunger Day

  • World Hunger Day is observed globally on 28 May every year. The objective of this day is to raise awareness about more than 820 million people living in chronic hunger worldwide. It is observed since 2011 to not only spread awareness about the malaise of chronic hunger but also to solve hunger and poverty through sustainable undertakings.
  • The initiative recognizes the dire need to save nearly a quarter of a billion lives from malnourishment and chronic hunger. The need to provide outreach globally during the pandemic for the distribution of food is seen as paramount to save those who have been vulnerable even in pre-pandemic times.
  • World Hunger Day is an initiative by The Hunger Project, first started in the year 2011. This year marks the 10th annual WHD to look at hunger as a whole.

International Day of Action for Women's Health

  • International Day of Action for Women's Health or International Women's Health Day is a day dedicated to women in order to spread awareness about women's right to health. The special day is observed globally on May 28 every year by women and health groups. The International Women's Health Day came into existence in 1987 and the government of South Africa officially recognized it in 1987.
  • International Day of Action for Women's Health is being coordinated by the Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) which was founded in 1984.
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C.N.R. Rao Receives 2020 International ENI Award

  • Noted Indian scientist and Bharat Ratna Professor, C.N.R. Rao has been felicitated with the International Eni Award 2020 (also called the Energy Frontier award). The International Eni Award is considered to be the Nobel Prize in Energy Research. He has been conferred the prize for his work on metal oxides, carbon nanotubes and other materials and two-dimensional systems.
  • Professor Rao will be presented the Eni Awards 2020 on 14 October 2021, during an official ceremony held at the Quirinal Palace in Rome. The Eni Award is awarded annually by the Italian oil and gas company Eni to encourage better use of energy sources and increased environmental research.
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Jadavpur University Ranks 18th among Indian Higher Education Institutions

  • Jadavpur University occupies the 18th ranking among all Indian higher educational institutions in World University Rankings 2021/22 in the Centre for World University Ranking (CWUR).
  • Among the top 2,000 institutions across the globe, 68 Indian institutions have made the positions in that list and Jadavpur University has been accorded the 18th position among the Indian institutions.
  • Another premier state university of West Bengal, Calcutta University occupies the 20th rank among the Indian higher educational institutions in CWUR. Among the state universities of the country, Jadavpur University has been ranked second, just below the Panjab University.

Jharkhand Promotes 8 Lakh Students of Without Exams

  • The Jharkhand government has decided to promote 8 lakh students of classes 9 and 11 directly without exams due to Covid-19.
  • Director Secondary Education Harsh Mangla has issued a notification and advisory to all DCs of the state to this effect, asking them to promote the students of Classes 9 and 11 to Classes 10 and 12 following the lockdown and pandemic situation.
  • Such a large number of Jharkhand students have been promoted directly without exams because very few classes were held for the academic session 2020-21 as schools were able to reopen for a very short time only. The chances of schools reopening now are also bleak.
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Neena Gupta Announces Autobiography "Sach Kahun Toh"

  • Bollywood actor Neena Gupta is all set to launch her autobiography "Sach Kahun Toh", publisher Penguin Random House India. She wrote the book in 2020 during the lockdown. The book addresses issues like casting couch, film industry politics, and also talks about what it takes for a young actor to survive without a godfather or guide.
  • From her time at the National School of Drama (NSD) to moving to Bombay (Mumbai) in the 80s and her single parenthood, the book will share Gupta's life story in the most "unapologetically honest" manner. "She details the big milestones in her life, her unconventional pregnancy and single parenthood, and successful second innings in Bollywood.
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