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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

03 Aug 2021

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Thailand Moves to Strengthen EU Ties

  • According to analysts, European investors are increasingly playing a bigger role in the Thai economy, allowing the Southeast Asian country to diversify trade and business away from the United States and China.
  • In 2020, European Union investment accounted for 8.2% of all overseas investment in Thailand, compared with 3.8% for the US and 15.4% for China. The figure has increased each year from just 4.4% in 2016.
  • The bloc is also Thailand's fourth-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth €29 billion ($35 billion) in 2020.
  • According to the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute's latest State of Southeast Asia report, around 47% of Thai respondents chose the EU as their preferred "third country" to hedge against the uncertainties of the US-China strategic rivalry.

Nikol Pashinyan Re-appointed as PM of Armenia

  • Nikol Pashinyan has been re-appointed as the Prime Minister of Armenia by President Armen Sarkissian on August 02, 2021. Pashinyan, the leader of the Civil Contract Party, won the majority of seats in parliamentary elections in June 2021. The 46-year-old Pashinyan was first appointed as the Prime Minister in 2018.

Myanmar Military Leader Extends Rule, Pledges to Hold New Multiparty Elections in 2023

  • Nearly six months after the Myanmar military snatched power from the country's civilian government, the chief of the armed forces said that the new elections would be held in the country and the prevailing state of emergency would be revoked by August 2023, thus extending the rule of the military by nearly 18 months.
  • The state of emergency was imposed initially for a period of one year, according to the military's announcement days after it ousted the elected leader of the country Aung San Suu Kyi in February this year.
  • The state administration council, as the junta calls itself, also appointed Min Aung Hlaing as the Prime Minister of the caretaker government.
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ENVIRONMENT

Shantanpara Shalom Hills Blossom with Neelanurinkji Flowers after 12 Years

  • Idukki`s Shalomkunnu (Shalom Hills) under the Santhanpara Panchayat are blossoming with the blue Neelakurinji flowers, which bloom once every 12 years. Strobilanthes kunthiana, known as Neelakurinji and Kurinji in Malayalam and Tamil, is a shrub that is found in the Shola forests of the Western Ghats in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
  • The Nilgiris Hills, which means 'blue mountains', got its name from these Neelankurinji flowers. This time over 10 acres of Neelakurinji flowers have covered the Shalomkunnu. However, these hills are not open for tourists this time due to COVID-19.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Vedanta Aluminium Purchases 354 Million Units from IEX

  • Vedanta Aluminium procured 354 million units of solar and non-solar renewable energy primarily from Green Term-Ahead Market (GTAM) at IEX for its aluminium production facility at Jharsuguda, in Odisha.
  • IEX is a premiere energy marketplace and is the largest power exchange in the country.
  • GTAM, introduced last year by IEX, supports buyers in procuring green energy in the most competitive and flexible manner. The purchase of green power from the exchange has enabled organisations like Vedanta and the industry at large to achieve their carbon-mitigation targets while producing 'green' value-added products.

Tata Sons' Arm Panatone Finvest Acquires Stake in Tejas Networks

  • Tata Sons' arm Panatone Finvest picked up 8 per cent stake in domestic telecom equipment maker Tejas Networks through an open market transaction.
  • The shares were bought at an average price of Rs. 258, aggregating the transaction size to Rs. 193.5 crore.
  • In July, Panatone Finvest had announced that it has purchased 16.8 per cent equity shares of Tejas Networks for around Rs. 404 crore.

Reliance Slips 59 Places on Fortune List

  • Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd slipped 59 places to rank 155th on the 2021 Fortune Global 500 list released. Reliance took a beating on the rankings as revenues dropped owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is its lowest ranking since 2017.
  • Walmart continues to top the Fortune list with a revenue of USD 524 billion, followed by China's State Grid at USD 384 billion. With USD 280 billion revenue, Amazon came in at the third spot, replacing Chinese giants. China National Petroleum was ranked fourth and Sinopec Group fifth.
  • Other Indian oil companies on the list too slipped ranks as their revenues tumbled because of the fall in oil prices. State Bank of India (SBI) moved up 16 places to rank 205 but Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) dropped 61 places to 212th rank. This is the second straight year of SBI improving its ranking. It had moved up 15 places last year.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Astronomers Measure Rotation Speeds of Planets in HR 8799 System

  • Using the Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer (KPIC) on the Keck II telescope at the W.M. Keck Observatory, astronomers have obtained and analyzed the high-resolution spectra of the four giant planets orbiting HR 8799.
  • HR 8799 is a 30-million-year-old star located approximately 129 light-years away in the constellation Pegasus
  • It hosts a massive debris disk and four super-Jupiters: HR 8799b, c, d, and e.
  • Unlike most exoplanet discoveries, which are inferred from analysis of data, these planets are directly visible through ground-based telescopes.
  • HR 8799 is a notable planetary system, as it is the only known system with four directly imaged exoplanets.

CERN Discover New Tetraquark Particle

  • The new exotic particle discovered by physicists from the LHCb Collaboration at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) contains two quarks and two antiquarks. Labeled Tcc+, it is the longest-lived exotic particle ever discovered and the first to contain two heavy quarks and two light antiquarks.
  • Quarks are the fundamental building blocks from which matter is constructed.
  • They combine to form hadrons, namely baryons, such as the proton and the neutron, which consist of three quarks, and mesons, which are formed as quark-antiquark pairs.
  • Several tetraquark particles have been discovered in recent years, but Tcc+ is the first one that contains two charm quarks, without charm antiquarks to balance them. Physicists call this 'open charm' (in this case, 'double open charm').
  • Particles containing a charm quark and a charm antiquark have 'hidden charm' — the charm quantum number for the whole particle adds up to zero, just like a positive and a negative electrical charge would do. Here the charm quantum number adds up to two, so it has twice the charm.
  • Tcc+ is also the first particle to be found that belongs to a class of tetraquarks with two heavy quarks and two light antiquarks.

NASA's X-ray Solar Imager to Probe Sun's Corona

  • Scientists at NASA have successfully launched a sophisticated X-ray solar imager on a suborbital flight via sounding rocket to gather new insight regarding how and why the suns corona grows so much hotter than the actual surface of Earth's parent star.
  • Developers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, call the mission "MaGIXS" -- Marshall Grazing Incidence X-ray Spectrometer. It was launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
  • The MaGIXS mission dispatched its payload, which included a high-powered camera, telescope, and X-ray spectrometer containing a matched pair of grazing incidence parabolic mirrors, to study so called "soft" X-rays at a wavelength that has not been previously observed in such detail.
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SPORTS

Indian Men's Hockey Team to Compete for Bronze

  • The Indian men's hockey team's dream of entering the Olympics final after 41-years remained unfulfilled as it lost 2-5 to world champions Belgium in the last-four stage but the side is still in the hunt for a bronze in the Tokyo Games. Alexander Hendrickx the tournament's highest goal getter, scored a hat-trick while Loick Luypaert and John-John Dohmen also struck to hand the reigning silver-medalists their second successive entry into the final of the Olympics.
  • India's goals came from the sticks of Harmanpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh. India's last appearance in the final of the Olympics came way back in 1980 Moscow Games, where they went on to win their last of the eight gold medals.

Viktor Axelsen Wins Olympic Badminton Gold

  • Denmark's Viktor Axelsen won the men's Olympic badminton gold in Tokyo, becoming the first non-Asian man to win the singles title since 1996.
  • World No. 2 Axelsen beat China's defending champion Chen Long 21-15, 21-12.
  • Axelsen, who won bronze at the 2016 Rio Games, followed in the footsteps of compatriot Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen, the Atlanta Games champion and the last winner from outside Asia.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

PM Modi's Adviser Sinha Resigns

  • A senior bureaucrat in the Prime Minister's Office, Amarjeet Sinha, has resigned from his post.
  • A retired IAS officer, Sinha was an advisor in the PMO and handled projects related to the social sector.
  • A Bihar-cadre IAS officer of 1983 batch, Sinha had superannuated as the rural development secretary in 2019 and was then appointed to the PMO.
  • He is the second top officer to quit the PMO in recent months after former cabinet secretary P. K. Sinha, who worked there as principal advisor, resigned in March 2021.

UP's Firozabad District Name Change

  • As per reports, the newly elected Firozabad Zila Panchayat has passed a proposal to rename the district Chandra Nagar. Firozabad is famous for its glassware, particularly bangles. The proposal was passed at the first meeting of the district's panchayat board and it will be sent to the government for approval.
  • Yadav, who moved the proposal, said that the district was earlier known as Chandrawad, but was later renamed Firozabad in the 15th century by Emperor Akbar. It is necessary to change the name to Chandra Nagar.
  • The official website of the Firozabad district administration mentions, "The ancient name of this town was Chandwar Nagar.

Jawhar Sircar Elected Unopposed to RS

  • The Trinamool Congress candidate for Rajya Sabha by-election, Jawhar Sircar, was declared elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal.
  • After the scheduled period for withdrawal of candidature was over and there was no other nomination from the Opposition BJP and the ISF, Mr. Sircar was declared elected unopposed and was handed over the certificate in the State Assembly. The BJP had last week announced that it would not field any candidate for the bypoll to the Upper House of Parliament, paving the way for Mr. Sircar, a former CEO of Prasar Bharati, to be elected without contest from the State.
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DEFENCE

German Air Force Declares Meteor Missile Ready for Eurofighter Fleet

  • The German air force has completed flight tests for its newest air-to-air missile, the Meteor, and has deemed the weapon ready for use aboard the nation's Eurofighter Typhoon fleet.
  • The Luftwaffe's Tactical Air Wing 74 completed initial flight tests of Eurofighter aircraft loaded with operational Meteor missiles last June at Neuberg Air Base in Bavaria. Two jets were involved in the campaign, and the air force gathered live flying data to consider aircraft performance and system indications when carrying the missile.
  • The Meteor, built by European missile maker MBDA, is the third and latest missile in the nation's Eurofighter weapon arsenal, which also includes AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) and Infra-Red Imaging System-Tail (IRIS-T) short-range missiles. A Eurofighter pilot interviewed in the video said that the service will incorporate four Meteor missile systems, two AMRAAMs and two IRIS-T missiles on each aircraft.

US Approves Sale of Harpoon Joint Common Test Sets

  • The United States has approved the sale of Harpoon Joint Common Test Set (JCTS) and related equipment to India for an estimated cost of $82 million.
  • The proposed Foreign Military Sale will improve India's capability to meet current and future threats by providing with flexible and efficient Harpoon missile maintenance capabilities to ensure maximum force readiness.
  • Noting that India will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces, the Pentagon said the proposed sale of this equipment and support would not alter the basic military balance in the region.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Jagdish Bhagwati, C. Rangarajan Conferred with Inaugural Prof CR Rao Centenary Gold Medal

  • Renowned economist Jagdish Bhagwati and C. Rangarajan have been conferred with the inaugural Prof CR Rao Centenary Gold Medal (CGM). Bhagwati is professor of economics, law and international relations at Columbia University and director of the Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies while C. Rangarajan is the former chairman of the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister and former governor of the Reserve Bank of India.
  • The Indian Econometric Society (TIES) Trust instituted the award to commemorate the contributions of its professor CR Rao to the quantitative economic theory and practice and also the TIES over the last several decades.
  • The award will be presented once in two years to an Indian or Indian-origin scholar for her or his lifetime contributions to the fields of theoretical and applied aspects of quantitative economics, and official statistics.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Lok Sabha Passes Bill to Amend Public Sector General Insurance Law

  • Lok Sabha passed a bill to amend the general insurance law to allow the government to pare its stake in state-owned insurers.
  • The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 is aimed at generating required resources from the Indian markets so that public sector general insurers can design innovative products.
  • As per the statement of objects and reasons of The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021, it seeks to remove the requirement that the central government should hold not less than 51 percent of the equity capital in a specified insurer.

Parliament Passes 'Inland Vessels Bill, 2021'

  • Parliament passed The Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, which aims to bring uniformity in the application of the law relating to inland waterways and navigation within the country.
  • Lok Sabha had passed the Bill in July. It was cleared by the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote.
  • Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, moved The Inland Vessels Bill, 2021 in the Upper House for consideration and passing.
  • The Bill will promote economical and safe cargo transportation in the inland water and bring uniformity in the application of the law relating to inland waterways and navigation in the country.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT Roorkee Launches Seven New Academic Programmes in Technology

  • The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee launched seven new academic programmes to cater to the rising demand for new-age technologies.
  • The seven new programmes are in select areas of engineering, architecture, economics and management along with specialisation in data science and artificial intelligence.
  • The new programmes involve the transmission of relevant knowledge and using the knowledge we produce. They are interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary, and also in line with National Education Policy 2020.
  • The programmes, which include six postgraduate degree programmes and one five-year integrated programme, would be offered to students from the next autumn session (2021-2022).

IIT Mandi Launches Start-up Exploration Programme

  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi Catalyst started its 2nd Start-up Exploration programme of 2021 with Rajesh Kumar Prajapati, Director, Dept. of Industries, H.P., virtually flagging off the programme. Along with the chief guest, the virtual event was graced by the esteemed presence of Prof. Ajit K. Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Mandi; Samir Shah, Managing Partner, Peak Ventures, and faculty members of IIT Mandi.
  • As many as 23 start-up teams including 11 from Himachal Pradesh working in sectors including Waste Management, Agrotech, Healthtech, Enterprise Management, and Cleantech participated in the inaugural session.
  • The 23 startups selected by IIT Mandi Catalyst will go through a rigorous training and mentoring process over the next three months after which they will present their refined ideas on a demo-day. Most suitable ideas will be further supported by IIT Mandi Catalyst through a one-year program under various funding schemes.

UGC Declares 24 Universities Fake

  • In response to the question asked in the Lok Sabha whether the government has taken note that many fake/non-recognised universities are running in the country, the Education Minister informed that the University Grants Commission (UGC) has declared 24 self-styled institutes fake and found two more in violation of norms.
  • Based on the complaints received from the students, parents, general public, and also through electronic print media, University Grants Commission (UGC) has declared 24 self-styled institutes as fake universities.
  • Uttar Pradesh has the highest eight such fake universities and Delhi has seven such fake universities.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Kunal Basu's 'In An Ideal World' to Come Out in 2022

  • Renowned novelist Kunal Basu's new work of fiction, 'In An Ideal World', will be released next year, Penguin Random House India (PRHI) announced. The book, scheduled to be released under the publishing house's 'Viking' imprint, is touted to be a "powerful, gritty and fast-paced literary novel" exploring a variety of themes relevant to the current times — college, politics, family, crime investigation and fanaticism.
  • According to the publishers, the story of his upcoming book revolves around the disappearance of a member of the Liberal Party of a college in Manhar. The prime suspect of this abduction is the leader of the Nationalist group of the same college.
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