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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

22 Jun 2021


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Taiwan to Maintain Hong Kong Consulate

  • Taiwan said that it will continue operating its de facto consulate in Hong Kong in spite of visa difficulties for its staffers while also providing consular services online.
  • The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong has been unable to get new visas for its staff after the Hong Kong government in 2018 began requiring that Taiwanese personnel at the office sign a statement accepting the one-China principle, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said. The office currently has just one staffer left in Hong Kong whose visa is due to expire next month.
  • The one-China principle holds that Taiwan is part of China and the Communist government in Beijing is China's sole legitimate government. Taiwan has refused to sign the statement.

Sweden's PM Loses Confidence Vote

  • Stefan Lofven, Sweden's Social Democratic Prime Minister since 2014, lost a no-confidence vote, making him the first Swedish government leader ever to lose such a motion.
  • The vote was initiated by the small Left Party, an ally of the minority government that is not in the two-party center-left coalition.
  • It is unclear what will happen next in Sweden. Lofven wanted to wait the outcome of no-confidence vote and then think through what is best for Sweden. The Prime Minister has two options: calling a snap election or become the head of a caretaker government.

Iran's President-elect Backs Nuclear Talks

  • President-elect Ebrahim Raisi backed talks between Iran and six world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal but flatly rejected meeting US President Joe Biden, even if Washington removed all sanctions.
  • In his first news conference since he was elected, the hardline cleric said that his foreign policy priority would be improving ties with Iran's Gulf Arab neighbours, while calling on Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia to immediately halt its intervention in Yemen.
  • Raisi, a strident critic of the West, will take over from pragmatist Hassan Rouhani in August.
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UN Committee: Great Barrier Reef should be Listed as 'in Danger'

  • The Great Barrier Reef should be added to a list of "in danger" World Heritage Sites a UN committee recommended, prompting an angry response from Australia which said it had been blindsided by the move and blamed political interference.
  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation committee, which sits under UNESCO, said the world's biggest coral reef system should be added to the list due to the impact of climate change.
  • Australia has for years been battling to keep the Great Barrier Reef, a major tourist attraction that supports thousands of jobs, off the "in danger" list. In 2015, UNESCO noted the outlook for the reef was poor but kept the site's status unchanged. Since then, scientists say it has suffered three major coral bleaching events due to severe marine heatwaves.
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Indians' Funds in Swiss Banks Rise

  • Funds parked by Indian individuals and firms in Swiss banks, including through India-based branches and other financial institutions, jumped to 2.55 billion Swiss francs (over Rs. 20,700 crore) in 2020 on a sharp surge in holdings via securities and similar instruments, though customer deposits fell, annual data from Switzerland's central bank showed.
  • While the UK topped the charts for foreign clients' money in Swiss banks at CHF 377 billion, it was followed by the US (CHF 152 billion) at the second spot -- the only two countries with 100-billion-plus client funds.
  • Others in the top 10 were West Indies, France, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, Luxembourg, Cayman Islands and Bahamas.
  • India was placed at 51st place, ahead of countries like New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Mauritius, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

CCI Approves Heineken's Additional Stake Acquisition in United Breweries

  • CCI approved Heineken International B.V's proposed acquisition of an additional equity stake in United Breweries Ltd (UBL).
  • This, however, is subject to the outcome of certain court proceedings, a combination notice filed with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) noted.
  • United Breweries is engaged in the manufacture, sale and distribution of beer in India.
  • Heineken International B.V. (HIBV) is an investment holding company and is itself not engaged in any business activity. It is a direct and an indirect shareholder for all non-Dutch companies that form part of the Heineken Group.

HCL Tech Appoints Leaders to Expand in Asia

  • HCL Technologies has made three appointments in Asia to strengthen its presence in South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam
  • It has named Joonho Moon in South Korea, Terry Tai in Taiwan and Nguyen Ha Tuan in Vietnam to lead and drive growth in these geographies.
  • Prior to joining HCL, Joonho spent more than two decades at Samsung SDS in various leadership positions.
  • Tai is an experienced co-founder, chief strategy officer of a start-up company and was the head of sales and business development for about two decades in Taiwan's IT services industry.
  • Tuan has 20 years of experience in the IT Industry.
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Samsung Set to Unleash the Power of 5G

  • As 5G begins to enrich customer experiences in several countries across industries, South Korean tech giant Samsung is all set to showcase its continued innovations around 5G and what lies ahead on the 6G cellular technology.
  • The company which has started working on the 6G technology and expects completion of the 6G standard and its earliest commercialisation by as early as 2028, will hold 'Samsung Networks: Redefined' virtual event to unleash the full power of 5G.

NASA Sends Squid from Hawaii into Space for Research

  • Dozens of baby squid from Hawaii are in space for study.
  • The baby Hawaiian bobtail squid were raised at the University of Hawaii's Kewalo Marine Laboratory and were blasted into space on a SpaceX resupply mission to the International Space Station.
  • Researcher Jamie Foster, who completed her doctorate at the University of Hawaii, is studying how spaceflight affects the squid in hopes of bolstering human health during long space missions.
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Tokyo Olympics 2021: Maximum of 10,000 Spectators to be Allowed for Each Event

  • Tokyo Olympics organising committee confirmed that the spectator limit for the Games has been set at 50 per cent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people.
  • The decision on the Paralympic Games will be made by July 16. Residents of Japan will be allowed to attend the Games this summer.
  • During a meeting held between the five parties, the IOC, IPC, Tokyo 2020, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Government of Japan agreed for the spectator limit for the Olympic Games to be set at 50 per cent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people at all venues, taking into consideration the government's restrictions on public events.
  • Students in the schools' spectator programme and their supervisors will not be considered in these limits and will be treated separately, as they are not spectators.

Breaking Asia Record, Toor Books Ticket for Tokyo Olympics

  • Breaking Asia's record, Punjab's shot putter, Tejinder Pal Singh Toor, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at Indian Grand Prix-4 held at National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala.
  • Toor hurled the iron ball at 21.49 m in his first attempt itself and booked the ticket for Tokyo. The qualifying mark for shot put was 21.10 m.
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BJP's North Bengal Leader, Seven others Join TMC

  • In yet another jolt to the BJP, the party's Alipurduar district president, Ganga Prasad Sharma, joined the TMC, as senior leader of the state's ruling party Mukul Roy, who also switched sides two weeks ago, claimed that this was the beginning of the saffron party's end in the state.
  • Seven other BJP leaders from the region, too, followed in Sharma's footsteps and joined the Mamata Banerjee camp.

NHRC Constitutes Committee to Enquire into Complaints of Post Poll Violence in West Bengal

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) set up a seven-member committee headed by its member Rajiv Jain to enquire into complaints of post-poll violence in West Bengal hours after the Calcutta High Court rejected a plea by the Mamata Banerjee government to recall its order on setting up such a mechanism.
  • The committee was formed in accordance with the orders of the Calcutta High Court.
  • The committee, formed by the NHRC chairperson, will be headed by Rajeev Jain.
  • The other members are Atif Rasheed, Vice Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities, (Dr.) Rajulben L. Desai, Member, National Commission for Women, Santosh Mehra, Director General (Investigation), NHRC, Pradip Kumar Panja, Registrar, West Bengal State Human Rights Commission, Shri Raju Mukherjee, Member Secretary, West Bengal State Legal Services Authority and Manzil Saini, DIG (Investigation), NHRC.

ECI Releases Atlas on 2019 General Elections

  • Election Commission of India released 'General Elections 2019: An Atlas'.
  • Atlas was released by Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioner Anup Chandra Pandey.
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Turkish Aerospace Builds Europe's 2nd Biggest Wind Tunnel

  • Turkish Aerospace is building Turkey's biggest and Europe's second largest subsonic wind tunnel facility. The facility is underway for the purpose of carrying out wind tunnel tests of Turkish Fighter. The wind tunnel is intended to be used in the development of indigenous, rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft, especially the Turkish Fighter.
  • The tunnel will have three different test sections, large, small and open. The test specimens will be positioned in these sections and will be equipped with state of the art technology measurement and sensing devices for advanced testing.
  • With the integrated moving ground belt system, landing and take-off tests for aircraft will be carried out only in this tunnel in Turkey. In addition to these test capabilities, the production, integration and instrumentation of the models to be tested will also be carried out in this facility and significant contributions will be made to the product development process.

Israel Successfully Tests Airborne High-power Laser

  • Israeli military has successfully tested an airborne high-power laser which has the capability to shoot down drones.
  • Israel already has large and sophisticated air defense system.
  • This system had 90 per cent interception rate against thousands of rockets which were fired from Gaza during 11-day war of May 2021.
  • Laser is a prototype developed with Elbit Systems. It was mounted on a civilian plane and successfully shot down drones in recent test conducted over Mediterranean Sea.
  • Laser weapon is a directed-energy weapon based on lasers. As of January 2020, directed-energy weapons including lasers are currently at experimental stage. It is yet to be seen if or when laser weapons will be deployed as practical, high-performance military weapons. Laser generates a beam of light which needs clear air or a vacuum to work without thermal blooming.
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Bihar Government Extends 'Mukhya Mantri Udyaymi Yojana'

  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has launched two ambitious schemes christened as the 'Mukhya Mantri Yuva Udyaymi Yojna' and the 'Mukhya Mantri Mahila Udyami Yojana. Both the schemes launched to promote entrepreneurship among youth and women of all sections under the state's 'Mukhaya Mantri Udyami Yojana scheme. The schemes were promised by the Chief Minister during the 2020 Bihar elections.
  • Youth and Women-irrespective of caste and creed, wishing to start entrepreneurship, will get a loan of Rs. 10 lakh, in which Rs. 5 lakh would be a grant from the state government and the rest Rs. 5 lakh will come as a loan, refundable in 84 instalments. He also launched a portal on which youth and women from all sections can register themselves for availing of the loan from the government.
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Haryana Includes Yoga in Govt. School Curriculum

  • Addressing an event on the occasion of International Yoga Day, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that yoga has been included in the school curriculum for classes 1 to 10 from the current academic session.
  • In December, the Haryana government had announced that yoga would be included as a separate subject in all government schools from the next academic session.
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Amitav Ghosh's New Book 'The Nutmeg's Curse'

  • Jnanpith Awardee and renowned author Amitav Ghosh's authored a book titled, 'The Nutmeg's Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis'. It is published by John Murray. The book talks about the history of the influence of colonialism on the world today, through the story of the nutmeg.
  • In 'The Nutmeg's Curse', Ghosh discusses that the nutmeg's journey from its native Banda islands sheds light on a widespread colonial mindset of exploitation of human life and the environment, which is present even today. Some of Ghosh's other notable works include the Ibis trilogy and 'The Great Derangement' among others.
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Flying Milkha Singh Club for Adventure Sports to Open at Morni Hills

  • Morni Hills in Panchkula region of Haryana is pegged to become a tourist hub and the groundwork for this has begun. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar inaugurated the 'Flying Milkha Singh Club' which will be used for training youth in adventurous sports. The club- dedicated to the athlete Milkha Singh- will soon be set up at Morni Hills where many adventure sports, water sports and tourism activities can take place.
  • Apart from this, the Haryana CM inaugurated other adventure activities as well and this included parasailing, paramotor gliding, paragliding and water sports. Tikkar Taal within Morni Hills also received a water jet scooter. All ministers present drove the water jet scooter and also tried out paramotor gliding. Khattar said that development of Tikkar Taal, Morni Hills area is being done in a way so it can provide international level support in adventure sports.

First-of-its-kind Eco-friendly Forest Trail to Come up in Malabar Hill

  • Sustainable tourism set to get a boost in Mumbai! Malabar Hill in Mumbai is getting a first-of-its-kind forest trail that would let people take in the serene view of nature. The forest trail is an elevated leisure walkway, the design for which has finally been approved, and it would be built by IMK Architects along with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Tourism Ministry of Maharashtra and the JSW Foundation. However, along with giving a boost to tourism in the city, the walkway is also meant to be environment friendly, and would be built without intervening with the forest. To understand more about the walkway and how the plan of making it eco-friendly would be realised.
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