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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

28 Aug 2021


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Tajikistan's Red Line on Taliban

  • In a significant development, Tajikistan has drawn a clear red line on the Taliban and said that Dushanbe will not recognize a government formed through oppression. The point was made during Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and Pakistan Foreign minister SM Qureshi's meeting.
  • During the meeting, the Tajik President pointed, "Evidence clearly shows that the Taliban are abandoning their previous promises to form an interim government with the broad participation of other political forces in the country and are preparing to establish an Islamic Emirate."
  • Tajikistan has been worried over the developments in Afghanistan, and this has been the main focus during various Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meetings it has hosted. It will host the SCO heads of level meeting next month as the chair of the grouping.

Algeria Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Morocco

  • Algeria's Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra said Tuesday that his country has severed diplomatic relations with Morocco due to "hostile actions", following months of resurgent tensions between the North African rivals. The countries have long accused one another of backing opposition movements as proxies, with Algeria's support for separatists in the disputed region of Western Sahara a particular bone of contention for Morocco.
  • Their rivalry took a new twist last year when the outgoing U.S. President, Donald Trump, recognised Moroccan sovereignty over the territory — in exchange for Morocco normalising ties with Israel.

Hamid Karzai, Abdullah Abdullah Under House Arrest in Kabul

  • Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, High Council for National Reconciliation chief Abdullah Abdullah are effectively under house arrest in Kabul after the Taliban took away their security teams.
  • As per reports, the Taliban also confiscated cars of politicians who are currently at the mercy of the terrorist group. They also searched Abdullah's home.
  • Since taking over Kabul, the Taliban has promised to form an inclusive government. The group has held talks with former president Karzai and former chief executive Abdullah, both of whom stayed in Kabul after the Taliban's ascent to power after a lightning offensive.
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Infosys Hits $100 Billion m-cap, Fourth Indian Firm to Reach Milestone

  • Infosys crossed the $100 billion mark in terms of market capitalisation, becoming the fourth Indian company and the second Indian software exporter after Tata Consultancy Services to reach the coveted milestone as investors put their might behind technology service providers powering the digital transformation of businesses worldwide.
  • Reliance Industries (m-cap of $140 billion), Tata Consultancy Services (m-cap $115 billion) and HDFC Bank (m-cap $100.1 billion) are the other Indian firms in the club with Infosys.

Infosys Public Services Bags Contract from Manitoba Public Insurance

  • Infosys Public Services Inc (IPS), a subsidiary of Infosys, has been awarded a contract by Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) to digitise driver licensing, vehicle registration, and International Registration Plan (IRP) services for over 900,000 Manitobans.
  • Infosys has partnered with Celtic Systems a leading DMV solutions provider to implement the Infosys Celtic Vehicle and Licensing Solution, built on Celtic's portfolio of products for Manitoba.
  • Infosys Celtic Vehicle and Licensing Solution consist of interoperable modules that digitise both the core and ancillary functions including driver licensing, vehicle registration, billing, analytics, and reporting for motor vehicle agencies.

Megha Engineering Hands over Oil Rig to ONGC

  • Megha Engineering and Infrastructure (MEIL) handed over an indigenously built oil and gas rig to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). This is part of a Rs. 6,000 crore tender bagged by MEIL in 2019 to supply 47 rigs to ONGC.
  • ONGC's order of 47 rigs to MEIL comprises 20 workover rigs and 27 land drilling rigs.
  • The first such rig was handed over in April while the second rig was delivered. By March 2022, it is going to deliver 23 rigs to ONGC.
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Astronomers Identify New Class of Exoplanets

  • Hycean worlds are composed of water-rich interiors with massive oceans underlying hydrogen-rich atmospheres; with densities between those of rocky super-Earths and larger mini-Neptunes, these exoplanets can be optimal candidates in the search for exoplanetary habitability and may be abundant in the exoplanet population.
  • Of the thousands of exoplanets known today, the vast majority are low-mass planets with sizes of 1-4 Earth masses, between the terrestrial planets and ice giants of our Solar System.
  • With no analogs in the Solar System, these planets are variedly classed as super-Earths or mini-Neptunes depending on inferences about their bulk compositions based on their densities.
  • Earlier studies of such planets have found that the pressure and temperature beneath their hydrogen-rich atmospheres would be too high to support life.
  • However, Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer in the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, and colleagues recently found that in certain conditions these planets could support life.
  • The result led to a detailed investigation into the full range of planetary and stellar properties for which these conditions are possible, which known exoplanets may satisfy those conditions, and whether their biosignatures may be observable.
  • The investigation led the astronomers to identify a new class of planets, Hycean planets, with massive planet-wide oceans beneath hydrogen-rich atmospheres.
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Canada, UAE and Papua New Guinea Qualify for 2022 U-19 Men's World Cup

  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed that the Americas, Asia and EAP qualifiers to the ICC U19 men's cricket World Cup have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The apex body of cricket said that based on guidelines approved by the ICC Development Committee and the ICC Board, the three events cannot be staged.
  • Therefore, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and Papua New Guinea will all progress to the ICC U19 Men's Cricket World Cup 2022 on the basis of them securing the most wins in the last five U19 qualifying events in each respective region.
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PM Modi Chairs 37th PRAGATI Meeting

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the meeting of 37th edition of PRAGATI (Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation).
  • During the meeting, nine agenda items comprising of eight projects and one scheme were taken for review.
  • PRAGATI meeting is held once every month on the fourth Wednesday. The day is dubbed as PRAGATI Day.
  • PRAGATI is a platform, enabling the Prime Minister to discuss issues with concerned Central and State officials with full information and visuals of ground-level situation. This platform was launched in 2015. It has been designed by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) team in collaboration with National Informatics Center (NIC). Platform is a three-tier system namely PMO, Union Government Secretaries and Chief Secretaries of States.
  • Three objectives of PRAGATI are Grievance Redressal, Programme Implementation and Project Monitoring.

NERDSD Goal Index Report & Dashboard Launched

  • NITI Aayog and Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) launched the first edition of the North Eastern Region District Sustainable Development (NERDSD) Goal Index Report and Dashboard 2021-22.
  • This is the first of its kind region-wide district SDG index in India.
  • Launch of NERDSD goal index report is also a milestone in the efforts towards localising Sustainable Development Goals across 120 Districts of the north-eastern states of India namely Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Nagaland and Tripura.
  • This index has been prepared by collaborative efforts of NITI Aayog and DoNER Ministry.
  • The index was launched in order to facilitate a platform to identify crucial gaps and inform interventions in order to fast track progress towards achieving the SDGs. It measures the performance of the districts across eight States.

Mansukh Mandaviya Takes Charge as Chairperson of Stop TB Partnership Board

  • Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, took charge as the Chairperson of Stop TB Partnership Board on August 26, 2021.
  • He will hold the position until 2024.
  • He will now lead the efforts of Stop TB Partnership Secretariat, partners, and TB community in order to reach towards reaching United Nations TB targets by 2022. Thus, it is a milestone moment in the effort of ending TB by 2030.
  • This partnership was established in the year 2000 in a bid to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) as a public health problem. It comprises of 1500 partner organizations including international organizations, nongovernmental & governmental organizations as well as patient groups. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland. It is administered by UNOPS since 2015. Earlier, it was hosted by the World Health Organization.
  • Stop TB Initiative was established after the meeting of the First Session of Ad Hoc Committee on Tuberculosis Epidemic. It was held in London in March 1998.
  • Stop TB Partnership came up with the Amsterdam Declaration in March 2000 in order to Stop TB.
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25th Malabar Exercise

  • Indian Navy participated in the sea phase of Exercise Malabar in August 2021 along with the US Navy (USN), Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF), and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
  • The 25th edition of ex-Malabar was hosted by the US Navy in the Western Pacific.
  • Malabar Exercise commenced in 1992 between India and the United States.
  • In 2015, the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) joined Malabar as a permanent member.
  • The 2020 edition witnessed the participation of the Royal Australian Navy.
  • The Indian Navy's participation includes INS Shivalik and INS Kadmatt and P8I patrol aircraft. The US Navy was represented by USS Barry, USNS Rappahannock, USNS Big Horn and P8A patrol aircraft.
  • The Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force was represented by JS Kaga, Murasame and Shiranui, in addition to a submarine and P1 patrol aircraft. The Royal Australian Navy was represented by HMAS Warramunga.
  • The Malabar-21 witnessed complex exercises including anti-surface, anti-air and anti-submarine warfare drill, and other manoeuvres and tactical exercises.

Rajnath Singh to Commission Coast Guard's Offshore Patrol Vessel Vigraha

  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will commission offshore patrol vessel Vigraha of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) in Chennai.
  • The ship will be based in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and operate on the eastern seaboard under the operational and administrative control of the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East).
  • The 98-meter vessel, with a complement of 11 officers and 110 sailors, has been designed and built indigenously by Larsen & Toubro Ship Building Limited.
  • The vessel is fitted with advanced technology radars, navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machinery capable of operating in tropical sea conditions.
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India-ASEAN Engineering Partnership Summit

  • Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Ms. Anupriya Patel inaugurated the "India-ASEAN Engineering Partnership Summit" organised by the Engineering Exports Promotion Council (EEPC) with the support from the Ministry of External Affairs and Department of Commerce. The focus of the summit was on collaborations in the engineering sector. The summit offered an important platform for engagement of Indian industry on India-ASEAN partnership in engineering trade and investments. This forum will also be instrumental in achieving the landmark export target set by the government both in terms of engineering as well as merchandise exports.
  • She said that engineering exports constitute one-fourth of the merchandise exports and are the largest foreign exchange earners among all export sectors and the performance of engineering exports has been remarkable in the last few years. ASEAN, with over 15 percent share in India's global engineering shipment, is likely to be a key region to focus on with a target of around USD 16 billion of exports for 2021-22.
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Finance Ministers Awards Best Performing PSBs

  • Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the fourth edition of the Public Sector Bank (PSB) Reforms Agenda 'EASE 4.0' for 2021-22 – tech-enabled, simplified, and collaborative banking.
  • She unveiled the annual report for the PSB Reforms Agenda EASE 3.0 for 2020-21 and participated in the awards ceremony to felicitate best performing banks on EASE 3.0 Banking Reforms Index.
  • Pankaj Jain, Additional Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Amit Agrawal, Additional Secretary, Department of Financial Services & Chairman IBA, Rajkiran Rai G. were also present at the event.
  • State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda and Union Bank of India won the awards for best performing banks for PSB Reforms EASE 3.0 based on the EASE index.
  • Indian Bank won the award for the best improvement from the baseline performance. SBI, BoB, Union Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Canara Bank won the top awards in different themes of the PSB Reforms Agenda EASE 3.0.
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Govt. Replaces Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rules 2021

  • The civil aviation ministry notified the liberalised Drone Rules, 2021 that replace the Unmanned Aircraft System Rules (UAS), 2021, which came into force in March 2021. The new rules are aimed at making it significantly easier for people and companies to own and operate drones. They also streamline a labyrinthine certification process for manufacturers, importers and users.
  • Quantum of fee reduced to nominal levels and delinked with the size of the drone. For instance, the fee for a remote pilot license fee has been reduced from INR 3000 (for large drones) to INR 100 for all categories of drones; and is valid for 10 years.
  • No permission is required for operating drones in green zones. Green zone means the airspace up to a vertical distance of 400 feet or 120 metres that has not been designated as a red zone or yellow zone in the airspace map; and the airspace up to a vertical distance of 200 feet or 60 metres above the area located between a lateral distance of 8 and 12 kilometres from the perimeter of an operational airport.
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IIM Ahmedabad, Bank of America Partner to Set up CDT

  • Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), the global management institution, has partnered with Bank of America to launch a Centre for Digital Transformation (CDT). The Centre aspires to become a vibrant knowledge hub for academia, policymaking, and the private sector by facilitating cutting-edge research on digital transformation and innovation.
  • The Centre for Digital Transformation was launched with an event that was attended by faculty members of IIMA, along with well-known leaders from industry and academic institutions from India and abroad.
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Ryanair Signs Greek Tourism Partnership

  • Ryanair has signed a partnership with the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) in a bid to boost the hospitality recovery in the country.
  • The low-cost carrier and the GNTO will partner in a joint communications campaign with the aim of strengthening the positioning of the Hellenic destination as a tourist hub in the British, German and Italian markets.
  • The campaign, 'All you want is Greece', will promote the Greek Islands as a must destination for a summer getaway through Ryanair's owned channels as well as external digital platforms.
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