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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 Sep 2021


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UK PM Boris Johnson Reshuffles Cabinet

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has carried out a reshuffle of his cabinet, removing several key ministers including Gavin Williamson.
  • This is the second major reshuffle since Johnson became leader of the Conservative party and took over as Prime Minister from Theresa May in July 2019. The last one took place in February 2020.
  • Johnson sacked four members of the cabinet as part of his latest reshuffle: Gavin Williamson, who was education secretary; Robert Jenrick, who was housing secretary; Robert Buckland, who was justice secretary; and Amanda Milling, who was Conservative Party co-chair.
  • Dominic Raab, who had been the foreign secretary, was demoted to justice secretary.
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Niti Aayog Launches 'Shoonya' Programme to Promote Zero-pollution Delivery Vehicles

  • Government think tank Niti Aayog and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) launched an initiative to promote zero-pollution delivery vehicles by working with consumers and industry.
  • The campaign, Shoonya, aims to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the urban deliveries segment and create consumer awareness about the benefits of zero-pollution delivery.
  • Initially, close to 30 companies including Mahindra Electric, Tata Motors, Zomato, Ashok Leyland, Sun Mobility, Lightning Logistics, Big Basket, Bluedart, Hero Electric, and Swiggy among others attended the kick-off meeting chaired by Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.
  • Subsequently, additional industry players will be invited to join the initiative.
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Govt. Approves PLI Scheme for Auto, Drone and Auto-component Industries

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the production linked incentive scheme for auto, auto-component, and drone industries, which will enhance India's manufacturing capabilities. A sum of Rs. 25,938 crore will be allotted to the auto sector and Rs. 120 crore to the drone industry under the budgetary provision for the PLI scheme.
  • The automobile industry contributes to 35% of the manufacturing GDP of the country. It is a leading sector in generating employment.
  • The PLI scheme has been brought keeping in mind the needs of the present as well as the future, and for local markets too.

Govt. to Sell 10% Stake in Hindustan Copper via OFS

  • The government will sell up to 10 per cent stake in Hindustan Copper through an offer for sale (OFS) in a move that would help the exchequer garner about Rs. 1,120 crore in divestment receipts.
  • The government will sell 5 per cent or 48.3 million shares in the copper miner at Rs. 116 apiece. The OFS also includes a green shoe option to sell an additional 5 per cent shareholding of the public sector undertaking (PSU).
  • The entire 10 per cent sale would bring down the sovereign's shareholding in the state-owned company to 62.76 per cent.

EESL Executive Vice Chairman Saurabh Kumar Resigns

  • Energy Efficiency Services Ltd Executive Vice Chairman, Saurabh Kumar has resigned from the post.
  • Kumar was serving his probation period after being appointed as Executive Vice Chairman on April 1, 2021.
  • His appointment was for five years. According to his terms and conditions of service, Kumar has to serve a notice period of one month.
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OneWeb Launches 34 Satellites into Orbit

  • British-based firm OneWeb launched 34 satellites into orbit from a cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, expanding its in-orbit constellation to 322 satellites.
  • The satellites lifted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome.
  • OneWeb plans to launch a total of 648 low earth orbit satellites to roll out a high-speed global internet connection including to the most remote corners of the world.

SpaceX Makes History, Sends First All-civilian Crew into Earth Orbit

  • SpaceX's first private flight blasted off with two contest winners, a health care worker and their rich sponsor, the most ambitious leap yet in space tourism.
  • It was the first time a rocket streaked toward orbit with an all-amateur crew, no professional astronauts. The Dragon capsule's two men and two women are looking to spend three days circling the world from an unusually high orbit, 100 miles (160 kilometers) higher than the International Space Station, before splashing down off the Florida coast this weekend.
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Raja Randhir Singh is Olympic Council of Asia's Acting President

  • India's Raja Randhir Singh has taken over as acting president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) as Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah appeals a guilty verdict in a Swiss forgery trial.
  • A five-time Olympic shooter and an Asian Games gold medallist in 1978, Singh was promoted to the role from his position as an honorary life vice president.
  • Sheikh Ahmad was convicted of forgery in a trial over whether he used a bogus Kuwaiti coup plot to gain advantage over political rivals. He has led the OCA since 1991.

Brendan Taylor Announces Retirement from International Cricket

  • Former Zimbabwe captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Brendan Taylor announced retirement from international cricket during the 3rd and final ODI against Ireland in Belfast in September 2021. Taylor has played 34 Tests, 204 ODIs and 45 T20Is.
  • Brendan Taylor made his debut for Zimbabwe in 2004.
  • Brendan Taylor has scored 6677 runs in ODIs, 2320 runs in Tests and 934 runs in T20s.
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India-Africa Defence Dialogue to be Held Biennially at every DefExpo

  • Two years after the first India-Africa Defence Ministers' Conclave held in February 2020 in Lucknow, India will hold the India-Africa Defence Dialogue on the sidelines of DefExpo in March next year.
  • India has proposed to make it a regular event, to be held with the biennial DefExpo military exhibition.
  • The dialogue will help build on existing partnerships between African countries & India" and will "explore new areas of convergence for mutual engagements.
  • Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will host the Defence Ministers of African nations in the next India-Africa Defence Dialogue in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, in March 2022.

Lieutenant General Gurmit Singh Sworn in as Uttarakhand Governor

  • Lt Gen (Retd) Gurmit Singh was sworn in as the new governor of Uttarakhand.
  • Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court Justice R. S. Chauhan administered the oath of office to Singh.
  • The function was attended by Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, his cabinet colleagues Satpal Maharaj, Dhan Singh Rawat, Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Premchand Aggarwal and a number of senior government officials.

Maoist Violence Highest in Chhattisgarh in 2020

  • According to the annual report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Chhattisgarh recorded the highest number of crimes committed by Maoists in 2020. The NCRB statistics show that Chhattisgarh topped in number of murders, attempted murders, loot and arson by Maoists by a long margin followed by Jharkhand and Maharashtra. The statistics only goes on to show the grim reality of left-wing extremism in the state.
  • Chhattisgarh also lost most police personnel in Maoist attacks and counter-insurgency operations, the data shows.
  • As per NRCB, a total of 533 cases against Maoist were registered in eight states in 2020 and Chhattisgarh accounted for 296 of these, followed by Jharkhand (133) and Maharashtra (32). In 2019, total cases registered against Maoist numbered 514, including 310 in Chhattisgarh and 70 in Maharashtra.
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South Korea Carries out its First Underwater-launched Missile Test

  • South Korea has carried out its first underwater-launched missile test, hours after rival North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea.
  • President Moon observed the test of a domestically built submarine-launched ballistic missile.
  • The missile fired from a 3,000-tonne-class submarine flew a previously set distance before hitting a designated target.

Australia to Buy U.S. Nuclear Submarines

  • As per report, Australia decided to invest in U.S. nuclear-powered submarines and dump its contract with France to build diesel-electric submarines because of a changed strategic environment.
  • President Joe Biden announced a new U.S. security alliance with Australia and Britain that would develop an Australian nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
  • As a result, Australia notified France that it would end its contract with state majority-owned DCNS to build 12 of the world's largest conventional submarines. Australia has spent 2.4 billion Australian dollars ($1.8 billion) on the project since the French won the contract in 2016.

India Takes Part in SCO Joint Military Exercise in Russia

  • India is participating in the sixth edition of multinational military exercise organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Russia's Oregon.
  • The Indian military contingent comprising an all arms combined force of 200 personnel including 38 personnel from the Indian Air Force is participating in the exercise Peaceful Mission -2021. The Indian contingent was inducted to the exercise area by two IL-76 aircrafts.
  • The aim of the exercise is to foster close relations between SCO member states and to enhance abilities of the military leaders to command multi-national military contingents.
  • The sixth edition of the military exercise 'Peaceful Mission-2021' is being hosted by Russia in the Orenburg region.
  • The SCO is an economic and security bloc in which India and Pakistan were admitted as full members in 2017. Its founding members included China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
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Time's 100 most Influential People of 2021

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla have been named among the world's 100 most influential people of 2021 by Time magazine.
  • Time unveiled its annual list of 'The 100 Most Influential People of 2021', a global list that includes US President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry and Meghan, former US President Donald Trump and co-founder of the Taliban Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
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World Ozone Day

  • World Ozone Day also known as International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is observed on September 16, every year. The day reminds the signing of the Montreal Protocol on substances that depletes the Ozone Layer. On this day people from all over the world are expected to join the Montreal protocol for talks and seminars.
  • Life is not possible on Earth without the ozone layer. It is found in the upper layers of the atmosphere and is a highly reactive gas. It protects life on Earth by absorbing Sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation and so is also known as Ozone Shield.
  • The theme of World Ozone Day 2021 is 'Montreal Protocol – keeping us, our food, and vaccines cool'. As per the UN, this year the day highlights, Montreal Protocol does so much more like slowing climate change and helping to boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector, which contributes to food security.

India-Chile 7th Foreign Office Consultations

  • The 7th Foreign Office Consultations between India and Chile were held in Santiago.
  • India was represented by Secretary (East) in Ministry of External Affairs Riva Ganguly Das.
  • Chile was represented by Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ms. Carolina Valdivia Torres.
  • During the consultations, both sides reviewed their bilateral relations including trade & investments, agriculture, defence, health & pharmaceuticals, space, energy, disaster management, cooperation in Antarctica, cultural & consular issues.
  • They also exchanged talks on COVID-19 situation and possibilities of enhancing trade & investment partnerships in post covid-19 pandemic economic recovery.
  • Chile acts as window to Latin America and to Pacific Alliance for India. It is the fifth largest trading partner of India across the Latin American region. Both the countries signed the Preferential Trade Agreement in 2017 in order to enhance the trade. Bilateral trade between both the countries is growing with time. Both the countries are partners in International Solar Alliance as well. In 2019, 70th year of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations was commemorated.
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UNESCO Literacy Prize Awarded to NIOS

  • The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) of India won the prestigious UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize 2021 for 'enabling education of persons with disabilities through technology-enabled inclusive learning materials, with a specific focus on Indian Sign language-based content'.
  • On behalf of NIOS, professor Saroj Sharma, Chairperson, NIOS received the international Literacy prize and thanked UNESCO for recognising the efforts and innovations of NIOS in the field of education and literacy.
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Pondicherry University Ranks 8th among Central Institutions

  • Pondicherry University took the 8th spot among the 54 Central universities in India in the National Institutional Ranking Framework 2021 released by the Ministry of Education.
  • Pondicherry University was placed in 58th position with a score of 44.36 under 'University Category' and 87th place with a score of 43.10 under 'Overall Category' among the 1,657 participating institutions this year in the Ministry of Education–NIRF survey.

ISB, IIM-Bangalore in Top 10 Asia-Pacific Varsities

  • Bloomberg Businessweek released the global ranking of best business schools 2021. In the Asia-Pacific B-Schools ranking, the Indian School of Business has been ranked at the fifth position while IIM Bangalore secured the sixth rank. The best B-Schools results for 2021 are divided into four regions: Europe, Asia-Pacific, Canada and the United States.
  • China Europe International Business School has been placed at the top followed by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology at second rank and the National University of Singapore at the third spot in the Asia Pacific region.
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Saudi Arabia Camel Carvings Dated to Prehistoric Era

  • As per a study, a series of camel sculptures carved into rock faces in Saudi Arabia are likely to be the oldest large-scale animal reliefs in the world.
  • When the carvings were first discovered in 2018, researchers estimated they were created about 2,000 years ago.
  • This was based on their similarity to reliefs at Jordan's famous ancient city of Petra.
  • But a fresh study puts the camels at between 7,000-8,000 old.
  • Precisely ageing rock sculptures is a challenge for researchers. Unlike cave paintings, say, there is often no organic matter to sample. Rock art of this size is also rare in the region.
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