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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

28 Jul 2021

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

North, South Korea Agree to Restore Severed Communication Links

  • North and South Korea restored their cross-border communication lines that had been severed for over a year.
  • This comes 13 months after North Korea cut off all communication lines with South Korea in protest over Seoul`s supposed failure to stop activists from sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets into the communist nation.
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged personal letters several times since April to communicate about issues on the restored inter-Korean relations.

Veena Reddy Sworn in as First Indian-American Mission Director of USAID

  • Indian-American Veena Reddy has been sworn in as the new mission director for US Agency for International Development (USAID). Reddy is the first Indian-American to be elected to this position.
  • Veena Reddy, a foreign service officer with the US Agency for International Development, is USAID/Cambodia's Mission Director. According to USAID, Reddy arrived in Cambodia in August 2017 and currently oversees a staff of 75 as well as USAID programs in the food security, environment, health, education, child protection, and democracy and governance sectors.
  • Veena Reddy has served as the deputy mission director in Haiti, where she oversaw post-earthquake reconstruction efforts, elections support, economic growth, food security interventions, hurricane response, and the development of a new strategy.
  • Prior to this posting, Veen Reddy served in Washington as an assistant general counsel, covering legal matters for USAID's programs in Asia, Middle East, and Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Axis Bank Buys Stake in IBBIC

  • Axis Bank bought 5.55 per cent stake in financial technology firm IBBIC.
  • The bank has subscribed to 50,000 equity shares of face value of Rs. 10 each fully paid up of IBBIC Private Ltd (IBBIC) for a consideration of Rs. 10 per equity share constituting 5.55 per cent of the issued and paid up capital of IBBIC.
  • Incorporated in May this year, IBBIC platform offers distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions to the Indian financial services sector.
  • DLT, more commonly known as blockchain technology, is a protocol to enable secure functioning of a decentralised digital database. It stores information securely using cryptography.

Vedanta to Invest Rs. 6,600 cr on Balco Expansion

  • Oil and gas and metals company Vedanta plans major expansion at Bharat Aluminium Company's (Balco) smelter capacity which will involve an investment of Rs. 6,611 crore over the next 18-24 months.
  • This would be first major investment after a long gap by Vendanta in the entity it acquired by purchasing majority government shareholding nearly two decades back.
  • As part of the expansion, Balco's smelter capacity will increase by 414 KTPA, taking its total capacity to close to 1 million tonnes. With this fresh investment, Balco's value-added products portfolio will increase to 92 per cent.
  • In addition, the carbon plant adequacy business at Jharsuguda (Odisha) will set up a new carbon facility at a cost of Rs. 635 crore.

ICICI Lombard, SVAAS Wellness Tie Up

  • ICICI Lombard General Insurance Company and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories-owned SVAAS Wellness have joined hands to offer cashless outpatient services to health insurance policyholders.
  • "The partnership marks the launch of Dr. Reddy's digital health solution SVAAS and demonstrates ICICI Lombard's deeper foray into the wellness space.
  • It is a first-of-its-kind integrated and cashless digital health solution in India. To begin with, there will be pilot launch of the service in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.
  • The outpatients will get the benefit of doctor consultations, pathology laboratories and diagnostics services, pharmacies, and insurance through various suitable collaborations.
  • ICICI Lombard will offer wellness solutions to the policyholders through its comprehensive ILTakeCare app to a larger set of health conscious consumers.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Hubble Detects Water Vapor in Atmosphere of Ganymede

  • Jupiter's icy satellite Ganymede is the largest moon in the Solar System. Water ice on its surface is frozen solid in frigid temperatures as low as minus 185 degrees Celsius (minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit). A rain of charged particles from the Sun is enough to turn the ice into water vapour at high noon on the Ganymede. Using high-sensitivity spectra and spectral images acquired by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, planetary researchers have now detected water vapour in the icy moon's tenuous atmosphere.

Alphabet to Launch a New Robotics Company- Intrinsic

  • Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has announced of the launch of a new company that will be solely focused on software developing for robots. The company has been named Intrinsic.
  • Intrinsic, the new robotic firm has been announced after years of work within "X", the subsidiary of Alphabet which mainly functions as an incubator for all entrepreneurial and innovative ideas by putting together talents from the tech industry.
  • Wing, Waymo, Google Watch and Google Glass are some other companies that came out of X.
  • Wendy Tan White has been appointed as the CEO of Intrinsic.
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SPORTS

Polina Guryeva Wins Turkmenistan's First Olympic Medal

  • Sparsely populated and isolated from most of the outside world, Turkmenistan has finally won its first Olympic medal since independence from the Soviet Union.
  • Weightlifter Polina Guryeva won a silver medal for the Central Asian nation at the Tokyo Games, and then predicted she would go down in the country's history.
  • Guryeva lifted a total 217 kg in the 59 kg category, edging Mikiko Andoh of Japan for second place. Kuo Hsing-Chun of Taiwan won gold by lifting 236 kg.

India's Lovlina Borgohain Makes Quarterfinals of Olympic Boxing

  • Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain (69 kg) advanced to the quarterfinals in her debut Olympic appearance, defeating German veteran Nadine Apetz in a closely-fought last-16 stage bout.
  • Borgohain prevailed 3-2 over her rival who is 12 years her senior. Both the boxers were making their Games debut and the Indian became the first from her nine-strong team to make the quarterfinal stage.
  • Apetz was the first German woman to qualify for a boxing event at the Olympics. She is a two-time world championship bronze-medallist, a former European champion.

Tokyo Olympics: Flora Duffy Claims Historic First Gold for Bermuda

  • With a population of just 63,000, Bermuda became the smallest nation or territory to win an Olympic gold medal at a summer Games when Flora Duffy won the triathlon in Tokyo.
  • The 33-year-old, making her fourth appearance at an Olympics, came out on top of the 56-woman field with a time of 1 hour 55 minutes 36 seconds - more than a minute ahead of Great Britain's Georgia Taylor-Brown and USA's Katie Zaferes.
  • Bermuda already held the record for being the least populated country to win a summer Olympic medal thanks to a bronze for boxer Clarence Hill in 1976 but now they have their first gold medal winner.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Basavaraj Bommai Takes Oath as 23rd Chief Minister of Karnataka

  • Lingayat leader Basavaraj Somappa Bommai took oath as the new Chief Minister of Karnataka. In the ceremony at the Glass House of the Karnataka Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru, Governor Thaawarchand Gehlot administered the oath of office and secrecy.
  • Ever since speculations regarding Yediyurappa's started gaining ground, Bommai was always among the top contenders to replace him. Born on January 28, 1960, Bommai hails from the Sadara Lingayat community. He is a two-time MLC and three-time MLA from Shiggaon in Haveri district in North Karnataka. In the past, he has held the portfolio of water resources in the Yediyurappa cabinet.

Peddi Reddy Resigns from BJP

  • In another shock to the Telangana unit of BJP, former Minister E. Peddi Reddy has resigned from the party ahead of the Huzurabad by-poll.
  • After tendering his resignation, Reddy said that he will join the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) Party.
  • Notably, Reddy is the second senior BJP leader to quit the party within a span of few days. Earlier, another former Minister and senior leader Motukupalli Narsimhulu had resigned from the party.
  • Both leaders, before quitting had openly expressed their resentment against the entry of former TRS leader Eetela Rajender into BJP.

Rakesh Asthana is New Delhi Police Chief

  • Rakesh Asthana, the former senior official of the Central Bureau of Investigation, was appointed as the Commissioner of the Delhi Police.
  • A 1984-batch IPS officer from Gujarat cadre, Asthana was appointed as Delhi police chief, three days before he was to superannuate. He also had a controversial stint in the CBI, was removed in 2018 and was made chief of the Border Security. In 2017, then CBI chief Alok Verma had opposed the appointment of Asthana as a Special Director.
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DEFENCE

India, Russia to Hold 13-day Mega Military Exercise in Volgograd

  • India and Russia will carry out a 13-day mega military exercise with a focus on counter-terror operations in the Russian city of Volgograd from August 1. The 12th edition of the "INDRA" exercise will be yet another "milestone" in strengthening the bilateral security cooperation and will serve to reinforce the longstanding bond of friendship between India and Russia.
  • As per reports, 250 personnel from each side will participate in the 12th edition of the joint military exercise.
  • Volgograd is a major Russian city situated on the western bank of the Volga River.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

World Nature Conservation Day

  • World Nature Conservation Day is observed on July 28 every year. The day marks the importance of nature and environment. Special awareness campaigns are organised worldwide to acknowledge that a healthy environment is a foundation for a stable and healthy human society.
  • World Nature Conservation Day assumes significance as the main purpose is to conserve resources that play a pivotal role in protecting Earth.

World Hepatitis Day

  • World Hepatitis Day (WHD) is celebrated every year on July 28 in order to spread awareness about viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that can cause severe liver disease and hepatocellular cancer. This day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of knowing one's hepatitis status and to spread the word about its treatment.
  • This day is marked on July 28 on the birthday of Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Baruch Blumberg to honour him. He discovered the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). He also developed a diagnostic test and vaccine to treat the Hep-B virus.
  • The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2021 was 'Hepatitis Can't Wait', conveying the urgency of efforts needed to eliminate hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Indian-origin Sunjeev Sahota among 13 Contenders for Fiction's Booker Prize

  • Indian-origin British author Sunjeev Sahota is among the 13 authors longlisted for the prestigious 2021 Booker Prize for fiction for his novel 'China Room', alongside Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro and Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Powers.
  • The 2021 long list or "The Booker Dozen" of 13 novels was unveiled after judges evaluated 158 novels published in the UK or Ireland between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.

T.N. Govt. Institutes 'Thagaisal Thamizhar' Award

  • The Tamil Nadu government has instituted the 'Thagaisal Thamizhar' (distinguished Tamil) Award to honour an eminent personality who has contributed a great deal to the welfare of Tamil Nadu and development of the Tamil community.
  • Chief Minister M.K. Stalin has directed that a committee be constituted to select the recipient of the award. It will include Mr. Stalin, the Minister for Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture and the Chief Secretary.
  • The award will be presented by the Chief Minister at the Independence Day celebrations each year. It will include a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh and a citation.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Rajya Sabha Passes Maritime Bill

  • The Parliament passed the Marine Aid to Navigation Bill, 2021, with the Rajya Sabha clearing it amid din caused by the members of Opposition parties. The Opposition benches indulged in sloganeering and held placards at the time of passage of the Bill in spite of persuasion by the Chair against the disruptions.

Lok Sabha Passes Factoring Amendment Bill

  • The Lok Sabha passed the Factoring Amendment Bill to amend the Factoring Regulation Act 2011. This bill will broaden the scope of the entities which can participate in the factoring business and also will ensure that strong oversight and regulatory mechanisms are put in place. Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister of India, stated that the changes are being made to help the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector.
  • In September 2020, this was introduced in the Lok Sabha. This bill will help the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sectors of the country to settle their issue regrinding delayed payments.
  • The bill is will also enhance traction on the TReDS platform which was introduced by the Reserve Bank of India in the year 2014 for the entrepreneurs so that they can unlock working capital which is tied to their unpaid invoices.

Lok Sabha Passes National Institutes of Food Technology Bill

  • The National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021 was passed in the Lok Sabha.
  • This bill was moved by Pashupati Kumar Paras who is the Food Processing and Industries Minister.
  • This bill lays down various provisions for institutes of food technology, management and entrepreneurship.
  • This bill got introduced and passed in a time of just 8 minutes making it a record.
  • This bill also seeks to declare the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology which is located at Thanjavur and the National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management which is located at Kundli as institutions of national importance
  • This bill also seeks to provide for research and instructions in these fields.
  • This bill had already been passed in the Rajya Sabha in the month of March.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

30 Delhi Govt. Schools will Come under New Education Board from 2021-22

  • Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced that the newly formed Delhi Board of School Education (DBSE) will affiliate 30 government schools from the 2021-22 academic session.
  • Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, said the government will launch 20 Schools of Specialised Excellence (SoSE) by August 15. The decisions were taken at the second General Body meeting of DBSE and SoSE, chaired by Sisodia.
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ART AND CULTURE

Harappan-era city Dholavira Inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List

  • Dholavira, a Harappan-era metropolis, in Gujarat has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • The ongoing 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of the UNESCO has already given India a new world heritage site in the form of the Rudreswara/ Ramappa Temple in Telangana, which dates back to the 13th century.
  • Gujarat so far has three world heritage sites Champaner near Pavagadh, Rani ki Vav in Patan and the historic city of Ahmedabad.
  • This session of the World Heritage Committee is being chaired from Fuzhou in China and is being held online. It started on July 16 and will end on July 31.

UNESCO Adds 4 Natural, 3 Cultural Sites to World Heritage List

  • Four natural sites and three cultural sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • The natural sites added are the four islands with rich biodiversity in Japan; a coastal area of geo-diversity and bio-diversity in South Korea; part of the mountain ridge running down the Malay Peninsula in Thailand; and a corridor along the eastern coast of the Black Sea in Georgia, reports Xinhua news agency.
  • The three cultural sites are the Dutch Water Defence Lines; the Arslantepe Mound archaeological tell in Turkey; and the Colonies of Benevolence in Belgium and the Netherlands.
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