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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

14 Jun 2021

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Google to Build World's Longest Undersea Cable to Connect Latin America and the US

  • Alphabet's Google announced on June 9, 2021, that it will be building an undersea cable that will connect the United States, Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina, to bolster the capacity of internet connection between these regions.
  • The undersea cable called Firminia, named after a Brazilian abolitionist and author Maria Firminia dos Reis, will be the longest cable in the world.
  • The announcement by Google has also come at a time when the demand for the cloud and internet services has surged because of an increase in online activity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, UAE Elected To UN Security Council For 2022-23 Term

  • Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates were elected unopposed to the powerful UN Security Council as non-permanent members for the 2022-23 term.
  • The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections to elect five non-permanent members who will take their seats on the 15-nation Council for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2022.
  • All the five countries won the elections unopposed as they were the only candidates from their respective regional groups vying for the allotted seats on the Council.
  • As per regional distribution for the 2021 election, three seats were available from the African and Asian States that went to Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates, one Latin American and Caribbean Group seat to which Brazil was elected and the Eastern European Group seat that went to Albania.

Netanyahu's Tenure Ends; Bennett is Israel's New PM

  • After a record 12 years under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel entered a new era, voting in a motley coalition united by animosity towards "Bibi" and installing his one-time protege Naftali Bennett as the prime minister.
  • Sixty members of the Knesset voted in favour of the ideologically divided alliance and 59 against, with one abstention.
  • Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years, after which coalition architect, centrist Yair Lapid, will take over.
  • Earlier in the day, Bennett said that renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran would be a major mistake. In a speech to parliament prior to the vote, Bennett said that Israel remains ready to act against Iran.
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ENVIRONMENT

Maharashtra Govt. Clears Action Plan to Protect Heritage Trees

  • The Maharashtra Cabinet passed an action plan to protect and preserve trees older than 50 years in urban areas by terming them heritage trees.
  • The plan includes the concept of heritage tree and plan of action for conservation; method to define age of the tree; compensatory plantation; rules to be followed before hacking trees; formation of the Maharashtra Tree Authority; structure of the local tree authority and their duties; tree census; fixing land of tree plantation; transplantation of trees; and tree cess and fine to be charged.
  • The State will also bring about amendments in the Maharashtra (Urban Area) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act. As per the plan, trees older than 50 will be termed heritage trees. The Environment and Climate Change Department will issue guidelines in consultation with the State Forest Department based on the existing methods.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

India Slips 12 Spots to 55th Position in Global Home Price Index: Knight Frank

  • India has moved down 12 spots in the global home price index to 55th rank in Q1 2021 against 43rd rank in Q1 2020, with a decline of 1.6 percent year-on-year (YoY) in home prices, Knight Frank, an international property consultancy, in its latest research report - Global House Price Index - Q1 2021, has said.
  • India gained a spot, compared to last quarter (Q4 2020), where India ranked last globally amongst the 56 countries tracked by the Index.
  • With respect to 6-month (Q3 2020 – Q1 2021) and 3-month (Q4 2020 – Q1 2021) changes, residential prices in India witnessed a growth of 0.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively. The report highlighted that the United States witnessed the highest annual price growth rate since 2005, with a 13.2 percent increase YoY. 

Exports of India's Organic Farm Products Jump 51% in 2020-21

  • Exports of India's organic farm products surged 51 percent in 2020-21 beating Covid induced hiccups in the supply chain.
  • Commerce Secretary, Anup Wadhawan said that outbound shipments of organic products hit 1,040 million dollars last fiscal compare with 689 million dollars a year before.
  • Farm exports rose over 17 percent last fiscal to 41.25 billion dollars.
  • Even in volume term, exports of organic products grew at 39 per cent to 8 lakh 88 thousand 179 tonnes last fiscal.
  • The key organic products that were shipped out include oil cake and meals, oil seeds, cereals, millets, spices and condiments, tea, medicinal plant products, dry fruits, sugar, pulses and coffee.

At $605 bn, India Ties With Russia as Fourth Largest Forex Reserves Holder

  • India's foreign exchange reserves crossed $600 for the first time. As on June 4, 2021 the foreign exchange reserves stood at $605 billion, almost tying with Russia as the fourth-largest reserve holder in the world.
  • While India's forex reserve was $605.008 billion, Russia's was $605.2 billion.
  • It took just about a year for the reserves to rise by $100 billion, which has generally been the pace of accumulation since Shaktikanta Das became the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in November 2017.
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SPORTS

Australian Swimmer Kaylee McKeown Shatters 100m Backstroke World Record

  • Swimmer Kaylee McKeown says the death of her father 10 months ago inspired her to break the 100-meter backstroke world record at the Australian Olympic trials.
  • The 19-year-old McKeown had a time of 57.45 seconds at the South Australian Aquatic Centre to improve on the previous mark of 57.57 set by American Regan Smith in 2019.

Central Athlete Injury Management System Launched

  • Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has launched the Central Athlete Injury Management System (CAIMS) for streamlining the sports medicine and rehabilitation support offered to the athletes.
  • It aims to provide the best of sports injury management support nearest to the athlete's geographical location. CAIMS will help to standardize appropriate injury treatment protocol for athletes across the country.
  • It will start with support for athletes who are a part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) development group expected to participate in 2024 and beyond. The core committee of CAIMS includes eminent top of the line experts such as Dr SKS Marya, Dr Dinshaw Pardiwala, Dr BV Srinivas and Shrikant Iyengar.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Rijiju hailed the move to start CAIMS. He said, it was long desired by everyone to have a Centralised Athlete Injury Management system in the country. The Minister said, he had seen sometimes that even for common injuries, treatment is not done in time which has led to affecting the career of the athlete.

Wrestler Vinesh Phogat Wins Gold in Women's 53 kg Freestyle

  • Tokyo Olympic Games bound wrestler Vinesh Phogat won the women's 53kg freestyle gold with an 8-0 win over Khrystyna Bereza of Ukraine at the Poland Ranking Series in Warsaw. With less than 50 days to go for the Olympic Games to begin, Vinesh looked strong in defence and swift in attacks and counter-attacks.
  • The gold-winning effort of Vinesh is likely to improve her seeding in the 53kg freestyle event at the Olympics, to be held from July 23 to August 8. Khrystyna settled for silver.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Delhi Master Plan 2041

  • "Foster a Sustainable, Liveable and Vibrant Delhi".  That is the aim of the Delhi Master Plan 2041 (DMP) put out last week for the public to offer their comments and suggestions.
  • According to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the "anchor agency for the master plan", it is "one of the key instruments that facilitates Delhi's development by assessing the present condition and guiding how to achieve the desired development".
  • The draft of DMP says that the first-ever master plan for the National Capital was put together in 1962.

Govt Refuses to Exempt Websites of News Channels, Print Media From of New IT Rules

  • The Centre refused to exempt digital news websites of mainstream TV channels and newspapers from the ambit of the IT Rules, 2021 and asked them to take "urgent steps" to comply with the provisions of the digital media rules immediately.
  • In a clarification to digital news publishers, publishers of online curated content or OTT platforms and associations of digital media publishers, the Ministry of Information and Technology (MeitY) said that the rationale for bringing the websites of the organisations under the purview of the law is well reasoned.
  • "Making any exception to the nature proposed will be discriminatory to the digital news publishers who do not have a traditional TV/print platform," the ministry said.

FAME-II Electric 2-wheeler Discount Policy

  • The news that electric two-wheeler makers can give a discount of almost 40 per cent of their scooter or bike value has definitely lifted the sentiments of buyers as well as manufacturers.
  • The amendments to the FAME-II electric vehicle policy was rolled out and manufacturers have lauded the efforts in adopting EV mobility in the country.
  • This scheme also favours electric rickshaws as well as buses, but the details of these have to be worked out. We have got the reaction of the electric vehicle manufacturers on the changes to the FAME-II policy.
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DEFENCE

498 cr. for Innovations for Defence Excellence Challenge Approved

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has approved the budgetary support of 498.8 crore to Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) challenge under the Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) for the next five years.
  • The iDEX framework and establishment of the DIO by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) is aimed at promoting innovation and indigenisation in the aerospace and defence sector at the start-up level.
  • "The scheme, with budgetary support of 498.8 crore for the next five years, is aimed at providing financial support to nearly 300 start-ups, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), individual innovators and 20 partner incubators under the DIO framework," the Ministry said. It aims at empowering a culture of technology co-creation and co-innovation in the sector and boosts innovation among the start-ups and encourages them to be a part of the ecosystem.

Rajnath Singh Approves New Policy for Declassification of War History

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh approved a policy on archiving, declassification, compilation and publication of war and operations histories by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
  • However, declassification of older wars like the 1962 war is not automatic and will be taken up on case by case basis by a committee to be constituted under the new policy.
  • "According to the policy, records should ordinarily be declassified in 25 years. Records older than 25 years should be appraised by archival experts and transferred to the National Archives of India once the war/operations histories have been compiled," the Ministry said.

A Year After Galwan Clash, China Beefing up Positions Along LAC

  • A year since the violent clash between the Armies of India and China in the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has built additional accommodation in the depth areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on its side and is preparing for the long haul, official sources said.
  • "PLA has built additional accommodations, both permanent and temporary, in Rudok, Kangxiwar, Gyantse and Golmud areas. Construction of field hospitals and procurement of additional snow mobility vehicles by the PLA also indicate that they are preparing for the long haul and permanent winter occupation of these posts," a source said.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Leader of Opposition in Uttarakhand Assembly Indira Hridayesh Passes Away

  • Leader of Opposition in the Uttarakhand Assembly Indira Hridayesh passed away in New Delhi on June 13, the Congress party said.
  • She was 80. Hridayesh had attended a meeting chaired by party in-charge for Uttarakhand, Devendra Yadav, in New Delhi on June 12.

Milkha's Wife Nirmal Kaur Passes Away at 85

  • Even as legendary Milkha Singh battles for life in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, his wife Nirmal Kaur, 85, lost battle to Covid-19 almost three weeks after contracting the virus. Nirmal breathed her last at Fortis hospital in Mohali. 
  • Former captain of the Indian women's volleyball team, Nirmal's health deteriorated a few days after she was admitted to the hospital. 
  • Meanwhile, Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh condoled the death of Nirmal Milkha Singh.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

World Day Against Child Labour 2021

  • World Day Against Child Labour is observed on 12 June every year around the world. The day aims to spread awareness about the illegal practice of child labour that still prevails. The objective of this day is also to spread awareness to eradicate it completely across the globe.
  • This special day was first observed in 2002 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a United Nations agency. As per the latest report by the ILO and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), child labour has increased to 160 million worldwide.
  • This year, the theme of World Day Against Child Labour is 'Act Now: End Child Labour'. Amid the coronavirus pandemic and global crisis, there has been a drastic surge in child labour across the world due to people facing employment woes.

International Albinism Awareness Day

  • International Albinism Awareness Day is observed by the United Nations on June 13 every year. This year, the theme of the celebration is 'Strength Beyond All Odds'.
  • According to the global body, the theme was chosen to highlight the achievements of people with albinism around the world, show that people with albinism can defy all odds, celebrate how people with albinism worldwide meet and exceed expectations in all domains of life and encourage everyone during this time of a global pandemic to join the global effort to build back better.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Tendulkar 'Delighted' to See Vinoo Mankad Inducted into ICC Hall of Fame

  • Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar expressed "delight" to see former India cricketer Vinoo Mankad being inducted into the International Cricket Council (ICC) Hall of Fame.
  • The ICC announced a special edition intake of 10 cricket icons into the ICC Hall of Fame to celebrate the prestigious history of Test cricket, and to coincide with the first-ever ICC World Test Championship final.
  • The 10 legends of the game to be inducted have all made a significant contribution to the history of Test cricket, and join an illustrious list of ICC Hall of Famers, taking the total number to 103 as a result of this intake. 

Pulitzer Prize 2021

  • Megha Rajagopalan, an Indian-origin journalist, along with two contributors has won the Pulitzer Prize for innovative investigative reports that exposed a vast infrastructure of prisons and mass internment camps secretly built by China for detaining hundreds of thousands of Muslims in its restive Xinjiang region.
  • 'Rajagopalan's Xinjiang series won the Pulitzer Prize in the International Reporting category.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

UN body Lauds Success of Centre's Aspirational Districts Programme

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has lauded the Centre's Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP), saying that it should serve as a "best practice" for other countries where regional disparities in development status persist for many reasons.
  • In a report, the UNDP said, "Overall, ADP is a very successful model of local area development. It is aligned to the principle of "leave no one behind" – the vital core of the SDGs."
  • "Political commitment at the highest level has resulted in rapid success of the programme. It should serve as a best practice for several other countries where regional disparities in development status persist for many reasons," the UNDP said in the report.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

'Namaste Yoga' Mobile App Launched

  • 'Namaste Yoga' a mobile application was launched in the curtain raiser event for the 7th International Day of Yoga. The event was organised by the Ministry of Ayush in association with the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga.
  • Speaking on the occasion, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said that yoga is a way to a healthy and happy life and the government strives to promote Yoga among all sections of society. Talking about the 'Namaste Yoga'mobile application, Ayush Minister Kiren Rijiju said that it has been designed as an information platform for the public.
  • Ayush Ministry said that it aims to raise awareness about yoga and make it accessible for the larger community. Ayush Ministry said that the event also marked the beginning of a 10-episode series on various aspects of Common Yoga Protocol which would be telecast on DD India. The series has been produced by Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga.
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