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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

18 Jun 2021


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Iran Votes in Presidential Poll Tipped in Hardliner's Favour

  • Iran began voting in a presidential election tipped in the favour of a hard-line protege of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, fuelling public apathy and sparking calls for a boycott in the Islamic Republic.
  • State-linked opinion polling and analysts put hard-line judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi as the dominant front-runner in a field of just four candidates.
  • Former Central Bank chief, Abdolnasser Hemmati, is running as the race's moderate candidate but hasn't inspired the same support as outgoing President Hassan Rouhani, who is term limited from seeking the office again.

Canada's First Judge of Colour in Supreme Court

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made history by nominating the first judge of colour to sit on the country's Supreme Court, which has only ever had white justices in its 146-year existence.
  • Mahmud Jamal, who has been a judge on Ontario's court of appeal since 2019, trained as a lawyer and appeared before the Supreme Court in 35 appeals addressing a range of civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.
  • Jamal will replace Justice Rosalie Abella, who is due to retire from the nine-person court in July.

Botswana Unearths World's Third Largest Diamond

  • According to a joint venture between Anglo-American's De Beers and the government, a 1,098-carat diamond, believed to be the third largest gem-quality stone ever to be mined, has been discovered in Botswana.
  • The stone was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi by Debswana Diamond Company's acting managing director Lynette Armstrong. It is the third largest in the world, behind the 3,106 carat Cullinan stone recovered in South Africa in 1905 and the 1,109 carat Lesedi La Rona unearthed by Lucara Diamonds in Botswana in 2015.
  • This is the largest diamond to be recovered by Debswana in its history of over 50 years in operation.
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Google Maps Detects Mysterious Underwater Island

  • In a fascinating development, Google Maps detected a possible bean-shaped 'underwater island' in the Arabian Sea near Kerala's Kochi, which has become a subject of curiosity among experts.
  • The satellite image showing the mysterious island was first noticed out by the Chellanam Karshika Tourism Development Society. The president advocate KX Julappan posted a screenshot of Google Maps showing the island-like structure on Facebook.

ACME Joins Hand with UNSOPS & IFU for Solar Project

  • Gurgaon based solar power project developer ACME signed a shareholders' agreement with UNOPS S3i and IFU for developing a 250-megawatt (Mw) solar power plant located in the Rajasthan state of India.
  • The total value of the project is close to US$ 200 million, of which about a quarter would be financed through equity contributions by the three co-investors.
  • The 250 MW project was won by ACME in 2019 at a tariff of Rs. 2.48 per unit.
  • S3i is a fund by UNOPS or United Nations Office for Project Services for investing in projects in affordable housing, renewable energy, and health, and innovation.
  • IFU is a Danish investment fund for developing countries. IFU provides risk capital to companies operating in developing countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and parts of Europe. Investments are made on commercial terms in the form of equity, loans, and guarantees.
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PE major Carlyle to Sell 5.1% Stake in SBI Cards

  • Private equity (PE) major Carlyle plans to offload 5.1 per cent stake in SBI Cards and Payment Services.
  • A total of 48 million shares of the credit card company will be on offer in the range between Rs. 1,002 to Rs. 1,041.3 per share--- a discount of 1 per cent and 4.7 per cent to last closing price of Rs. 1,051.7.
  • At the top-end, the share sale is worth Rs. 4,998 crore. At the end of March quarter, Carlyle held 11.61 per cent stake in SBI Card.

IMD's World Competitiveness Index

  • India maintained 43rd rank on an annual IMD World Competitiveness Index compiled by the Institute for Management Development (IMD) that examined the impact of COVID-19 on economies around the world this year.
  • The 64-nation list was led by Switzerland, while Sweden has moved up to the second position (from sixth last year), Denmark has lost one place to rank third, the Netherlands has retained its fourth place and Singapore has slipped to the fifth place (from first in 2020).
  • The IMD World Competitiveness Ranking ranks 64 economies and assesses the extent to which a country promotes the prosperity of its people by measuring economic well-being through hard data and survey responses from executives.

Exim Bank Extends $100 Million Line of Credit to Sri Lanka

  • Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) has extended USD 100 million worth of line of credit (LOC) to the Sri Lankan government for financing projects in the solar energy sector.
  • With the signing of this agreement, Exim Bank, so far, has extended nine LOCs to Sri Lanka, on behalf of the Indian government, taking the total value of LOCs extended to USD 1.68 billion.
  • Projects covered under the finance extended to Sri Lanka include the supply of petroleum products, railway projects, defence and infrastructure projects.
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Telangana Government Launches Revv Up for AI Start-ups

  • As part of the Year of AI 2020 initiative, the Telangana government launched the Telangana Artificial Intelligence Mission (T-AIM) accelerator programme Revv Up, which is exclusively designed for growth-stage artificial intelligence (AI) start-ups.
  • The vision of T-AIM is to develop Telangana as a global hub for AI start-ups. Revv Up, which will begin its first cohort in July this year, is another step towards making Telangana and Hyderabad a global destination for AI and other emerging technologies.
  • The Revv Up accelerator will provide the opportunity for start-ups to solve tough business problems in collaboration with the government and industry.
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Rafael Nadal Pulls Out of Wimbledon

  • Rafael Nadal pulled out of Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics. He took the decision after consultations with his team in a bid to prolong his career.
  • The two-week gap between the French Open and Wimbledon, which starts on June 28, was not enough time for him to recuperate after a demanding clay court season where he played in five tournaments.

IOA Signs MPL as Principal Sponsor for Olympics

  • The Indian Olympic Association announced a Rs. 8 crore sponsorship deal with MPL Sports Foundation till the end of 2022 and covering major events in the period.
  • The deal will see MPL coming on board as the principal sponsor for the Indian contingents at the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Asian Games & Commonwealth Games.
  • In addition, it will also supply the official sports kit for the contingents at the Asian and Commonwealth Games.
  • The IOA said that diary giant Amul has agreed to be a sponsor for the Tokyo Games to be held from July 23 to August 8.
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Lok Janshakti Party Elects Pashupati Kumar Paras as President

  • Amid the ongoing tussle between Chirag Paswan and his uncle Pashupati Kumar Paras, the latter has been elected as national president of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
  • The executive committee of the LJP has 76 members and the majority of them are with Paras, electing him as the president of the LJP. The election was held at the official residence of strongman leader Suraj Bhan Singh in Patna.

PM Narendra Modi's Approval Rating Highest among World Leaders

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to fare better than other global leaders in terms of approval ratings as per a survey conducted by an American data intelligence firm, Morning Consult.
  • Despite a decline in popularity ratings during the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, PM Narendra Modi's global approval ratings have stood at 66 percent, which is better than other world leaders of over 13 countries including US, UK, Russia, Australia, France, Canada, Brazil and Germany.
  • The American data intelligence firm, Morning Consult, regularly tracks approval ratings of world leaders. As per the ratings issued in June 2021, PM Modi had bagged first position, followed by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi with 65% and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with 63%. 

Centre Opens 14 Disability Early Intervention Centres

  • The Union Social Justice and Empowerment (SJE) Ministry launched 14 cross disability early intervention centres across the country to provide support to infants and young children at risk of or with disabilities.
  • SJE Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot virtually inaugurated the centres that are located at seven national institutes and seven composite regional centres of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Through the centres, which have been started as a pilot, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are covered. The DEPwD said all its 21 composite regional centres would have early intervention centres gradually.
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Defence Minister Inaugurates 12 Strategic Projects of Border Roads Organisation (BRO)

  • Enhancing road infrastructure is key to ensuring connectivity in border areas of Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh while inaugurating 12 border roads.
  • He said that the roads that were being inaugurated hold "strategic and socio-economic importance" as they will play an important role in strengthening national security as well as promoting development of the Northeastern states.
  • These border road projects are part of India's 'Act East Policy' wherein special emphasis is being laid on the overall development of border areas.

China, India and Pakistan Expanding Nuclear Arsenal

  • According to a study by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China, Pakistan and India have 350, 165 and 156 nuclear warheads respectively as of January 2021 and the three countries appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals.
  • It also said as per its assessment, Russia and the US together possess over 90 percent of the estimated 13,080 global nuclear weapons.
  • There are nine countries in the world that have nuclear weapons: the US, Russia, the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
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MyGlamm Names Shraddha Kapoor as Brand Ambassador

  • D2C beauty and personal care brand, MyGlamm, has announced Shraddha Kapoor as its brand ambassador. With this, Kapoor is also investing in the company.
  • Founded in 2017 by Darpan Sanghvi and co-founded by Priyanka Gill, MyGlamm offers a range of over 600 cruelty-free products across makeup, skincare and personal care. MyGlamm embraces the philosophy of building a community with its users, engaging with them and eventually co-creating products with them. While it is digital-first, MyGlamm also has over 10,000 offline points of sales across 70 cities in India.

Montek Ahluwalia Named Member of World Bank-IMF High-Level Advisory Group

  • Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and distinguished fellow at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress (CSEP), was named as a member of a High-Level Advisory Group (HLAG) formed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the face of the dual crisis posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.
  • The World Bank Group and IMF announced that the aim of the HLAG on sustainable and inclusive recovery and growth is to "help secure a strong recovery and set a path for green, resilient, and inclusive development over the coming decade".
  • The group will be jointly led by Mari Pangestu, Managing Director for Development Policy and Partnerships, World Bank; Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Director, Strategy, Policy and Review Department, International Monetary Fund; and Lord Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics.

Kenneth Kaunda: Zambia's First President Dies

  • Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia's first President and one of the last of the generation of African leaders who fought colonialism, died aged 97.
  • Kaunda was admitted to a military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, suffering from pneumonia.
  • In the 1950s, Kaunda was a key figure in what was then Northern Rhodesia's independence movement from Britain.
  • He became President following independence in 1964.
  • As head of the left-leaning United National Independence Party (UNIP), Kaunda then led the country through decades of one-party rule.
  • He stepped down after losing multi-party elections in 1991.
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Autistic Pride Day

  • Autistic Pride Day is a pride celebration for autistic people held on June 18 each year. Autistic pride recognises the importance of pride for autistic people and its role in bringing about positive changes in the broader society.
  • Although Autistic Pride Day is June 18, pride events are often held on the weekend of that year for logistical reasons, but can be held at any time during the year.
  • Autistic Pride Day was first celebrated in 2005 by Aspies for Freedom (AFF), who selected June 18 because it was the birthday of the youngest member of the group at that time.

Juneteenth a National Holiday

  • US President Joe Biden is to sign a law to make June 19 or "Juneteenth" a national holiday. This holiday will be recognised by federal government to commemorating end of slavery after American Civil War.
  • Bill to establish Juneteenth National Independence Day was supported in both houses of US Congress and now needs to be approved by the White House to become law.
  • It was passed in the backdrop of killing of George Floyd that triggered anti-racism protests in US.
  • Juneteenth is going to be the first new federal holiday created in almost four decades.
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Mamata Banerjee Launches Krishak Bondhu Scheme

  • West Bengal government announced the approval of Krishak Bondhu Scheme which will extend financial benefits to farmers with a minimum Rs. 4,000 to each farmer in the state. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee informed that the 'Notun Krishak Bondhu Scheme' is expected to benefit 60 lakh farmers in Bengal.
  • Farmers will now receive an increased financial support from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000 for one acre or more of cultivable land.
  • Those having less than one acre of cultivable land will now receive a minimum of Rs. 4,000 per annum, on a pro-rata basis.

Cabinet Nod for Inland Vessels Bill

  • The Union Cabinet gave the nod to the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, which will replace the Inland Vessels Act, 1917.
  • Total 4,000 km inland waterways have been operationalised. The Bill will regulate safety, security and registration of inland vessels.
  • A key feature of the Bill is a unified law for the entire country, instead of separate rules framed by the States. The certificate of registration granted under the proposed law will be deemed to be valid in all States and Union Territories, and there will be no need to seek separate permissions from the States.
  • The Bill provides for a central database for recording the details of vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal. It requires all mechanically propelled vessels to be mandatorily registered. All non-mechanically propelled vessels will also have to be enrolled at district, taluk or panchayat or village level.
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