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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

20 Sep 2021

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

UNSC Extends Mandate for its Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

  • The UN Security Council extended for six months the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), unanimously voting on a resolution that emphasises the importance of the establishment of an inclusive and representative government.
  • The 15-nation Council voted on the draft resolution that extended the mandate of UNAMA until March 17, 2022.
  • The resolution, stressing the important role that the United Nations will continue to play in promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan, recognises the need for strengthened efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and the important coordination role of the United Nations, and reaffirming that the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance requires all parties to allow full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, for United Nations humanitarian agencies and other humanitarian actors.

Voters Choose New Hong Kong Electors

  • Select Hong Kong residents voted for members of the Election Committee that will choose the city's leader in the first polls following reforms meant to ensure candidates with Beijing loyalty.
  • The Election Committee will select 40 of 90 lawmakers in the city's legislature during elections in December, as well as elect the Hong Kong leader during polls in March next year.
  • In May, the legislature amended Hong Kong's electoral laws to ensure that only patriots, people who are loyal to China and the semi-autonomous territory, will rule the city. The committee also was expanded to 1,500 members, from 1,200, and the number of direct voters for committee seats was reduced from about 246,000 to less than 8,000.

France Pulls Out of UK Defence Talks amid Row

  • France's Defence Minister has cancelled talks with her UK counterpart amid the row prompted by a new security deal between Britain, the US and Australia.
  • Paris is angry after Australia signed the Aukus pact to build nuclear-powered submarines, pulling out of a major contract with France in the process.
  • UK PM Boris Johnson said that France had nothing to worry about from the deal.
  • But Florence Parly's meeting with UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in London this week has been called off.
  • The Aukus agreement brokered last week, widely seen as an effort to counter China's influence in the contested South China Sea, ended a deal worth $37bn (£27bn) signed by Australia in 2016 for France to build 12 conventional submarines.
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ENVIRONMENT

Europe's Mediterranean Leaders Pledge Cooperation on Climate, Security

  • The leaders of Europe's Mediterranean countries pledged to expand cooperation in the fight against climate change and to back common security and defense initiatives in the European Union.
  • The meetings in Athens were held in the aftermath of massive summer wildfires that ravaged parts of southern Europe, and the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
  • The nine Mediterranean countries expressed their "strong conviction that urgent and ambitious global action" to fight climate change is needed at national, regional and local levels.
  • Attending the talks were President Emmanuel Macron of France, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and leaders and senior representatives from Malta, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, Croatia and Portugal.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Flipkart, Davinta Tie up to Offer Credit Facilities to Small Businesses

  • Flipkart Wholesale, the digital B2B marketplace of the e-commerce firm, has formed a partnership with SME lending platform Davinta offering a 'Buy Now Pay Later' credit facility to all its retailers.
  • 'Buy Now Pay Later' or BNPL has emerged as a credit innovation from new-age fintechs. They are offering this as an alternative to customers who struggle to be eligible for traditional credit constructs such as credit cards.

Advent International Buys Majority Stake in Eureka Forbes

  • Private equity major Advent International signed an agreement with Shapoorji Pallonji Group to acquire a majority stake in Eureka Forbes at an enterprise valuation of Rs. 4,400 crore.
  • Eureka Forbes (EFL), a 100% subsidiary of Forbes & Company, would be demerged into a standalone company, and then listed at the stock exchanges. Upon listing of EFL, Advent would purchase up to 72.56 per cent of the company's then outstanding stock on a fully diluted basis from SP Group. Advent would make an open offer, according to SEBI's takeover regulations.

KEC International Acquires Oil Gas Firm Spur Infra

  • RPG group company KEC International Ltd has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100 per cent equity in Spur Infrastructure for an enterprise value of Rs. 62 crore.
  • Spur Infra, incorporated in 2016, is an Indian EPC company engaged in setting up of cross country oil & gas pipelines and city gas distribution networks.
  • During the past three years, Spur Infra has achieved an annual revenue in excess of Rs. 100 crore, a profitable track record, technical expertise, and experienced manpower.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

SpaceX Tourists Return to Earth

  • Four SpaceX tourists returned to Earth from a three-day extra-terrestrial excursion, marking the end of the first-ever flight to Earth's orbit flown entirely by tourists or otherwise non-astronauts.
  • SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off coast Florida.
  • Though they're not the first tourists to travel to orbit, their mission, called Inspiration4, was notable because it did not involve a stay at the International Space Station under the tutelage of professional astronauts, as previous missions involving space tourists have.
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SPORTS

Raninder Singh Re-elected NRAI President for Fourth Time

  • Raninder Singh was re-elected as the President of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) the governing body for the sport of Shooting in India, in the General Body Elections held at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali.
  • The General Body Election of the NRAI had representation from 59 of its members, of whom 56 voted in favour of the re-election of Raninder Singh while 3 votes were cast in favour of Shyam Singh Yadav.
  • Kunwar Sultan Singh was elected unopposed as the secretary general of the national shooting body while Randeep Mann was made the treasurer.
  • Odisha MP Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo will continue to be the federation's senior vice-president besides the eight VP.
  • Pawan Kumar Singh will remain the apex body's joint secretary alongside Sheila Kanungo.
  • The NRAI decided to go ahead with the polls despite the impediments it faced after the petition filed by challenger Yadav in the Delhi High Court, followed by the sports ministry's directive to initiate elections afresh.

Pankaj Advani Lifts Asian Snooker Championship

  • India's Pankaj Advani successfully defended the Asian Snooker Championship at the Al Messila in Doha, Qatar outplaying Amir Sarkhosh of Iran 6-3 (72-42, 72-0, 70-49, 41-66, 70-17, 30-68, 74-34, 12-50, 64-44) in the best of 11 frames final.
  • Pankaj had triumphed in 2019 but in 2017 he was the runner-up. In 2019, Pankaj also became the only player who won the titles in all forms of billiards, snooker, 6Reds, and 10Reds competitions.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

BJP Nominates Sonowal, L. Murugan for Rajya Sabha by-polls

  • The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominated Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Minister of State L Murugan for the upcoming Rajya Sabha polls on October 4.
  • While Sarbananda Sonowal is the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways in the Union Cabinet, L. Murugan serves as the MoS in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Both leaders need to be elected to the Rajya Sabha in order to continue their current roles in the government.
  • The Election Commission hsd announced by-polls to seven vacant seats of the Rajya Sabha on October 4. Two seats from Tamil Nadu and one each from West Bengal, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry and Maharashtra are vacant.
  • While Sarbananda Sonowal has been nominated from Assam, L. Murugan has been nominated from Madhya Pradesh.

Charanjit Singh Channi is New Punjab Chief Minister

  • Congress leader Charanjit Singh Channi took oath as the Chief Minister of Punjab.
  • He was flanked by state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu and other leaders.
  • Channi is the first Dalit to hold the post in the state.
  • A minister in the outgoing Amarinder Singh cabinet, Channi's selection assumes significance as the dissension-riven Congress faces the Assembly polls in less than five months.
  • Sukhjinder Randhawa and Brahm Mohindra are the two new Deputy Chief Ministers of Punjab.

Rajasthan CM's OSD Lokesh Sharma Resigns

  • Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Lokesh Sharma submitted his resignation, hours after he posted a tweet which was seen as an indirect criticism of the Congress over the change of leadership in Punjab.
  • Sharma has been associated with Gehlot for over a decade now and he has been looking after his social media. He was made the OSD after Gehlot came to power in December 2018.
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DEFENCE

Indo-Nepal Joint Military Exercise Surya Kiran-XV

  • The 15th India-Nepal joint military exercise Surya Kiran began in the Himalayan border town of Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, India. The previous edition of the Exercise Surya Kiran was conducted in Nepal in 2019. The exercise was called off in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The approximately 48-hour exercise will see the participation of at least an infantry battalion from each country's national army. The purpose of the drills is to improve inter-operability with regard to counter-insurgency operations in mountainous terrain. The exercise will also feature academic discussions on subjects ranging from humanitarian disaster relief to high altitude and jungle warfare.

Army to Launch UAV-based Digital Intelligence System

  • To overcome the functional limitations of ground-based electronic intelligence gathering equipment, the Army has launched a project to develop an airborne system that can be mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
  • Operating height is of great importance as the range and capability of electronic signal capturing equipment, when placed on an elevated platform, enhances manifold. Termed as an elevated platform for gathering intelligence through electronic support measures (ESM), the project is being executed by the Army's Military College of Telecommunication Engineering at Mhow, near Indore. The ESM gather intelligence through passive "listening" to radio transmissions or electromagnetic radiations and the data so generated can be used to assess the enemy's activity.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Earthshot Prize: Two Indian Projects to Get the Prize

  • A 14-year-old Tamil Nadu schoolgirl's solar-powered ironing cart project and a Delhi entrepreneur's agricultural waste recycling concept were named among 15 finalists from hundreds of nominations across the world for the first-ever Earthshot Prize, launched by Britain's Prince William last year (2020).
  • Vinisha Umashankar made the cut within the "Clean Our Air" category with her concept of a solar-powered clean alternative to the charcoal-powered street irons that press clothes for millions of Indians each day. Takachar, co-founded by Vidyut Mohan, has also been nominated in the same category for its cheap, small-scale, portable technology that converts crop residues into sellable bio-products.

Veerappa Moily, Arundhathi Subramaniam, other Winners Receive Sahitya Akademi Award

  • Politician-writer M. Veerappa Moily and poet Arundhathi Subramaniam were among the 20 authors who received the Sahitya Akademi Award for 2020.
  • While Moily received the prestigious award for his epic poetry 'Sri Bahubali Ahimsadigvijayam' in Kannada, Subramaniam won the award for her English poetry collection, 'When God is a Traveller'.
  • The other winners in poetry include Harish Meenakshi (Gujarati), Anamika (Hindi), RS Bhaskar (Konkani), Irungbam Deven (Manipuri), Rupchand Hansda (Santali), and Nikhileswar (Telugu).
  • Nanda Khare (Marathi), Maheshchandra Sharma Gautam (Sanskrit), Imaiyam (Tamil) and Sri Hussain-ul-Haque bagged the award for their novels.
  • Apurba Kumar Saikia (Assamese), (late) Dharanidhar Owari (Bodo), (late) Hiday Koul Bharti (Kashmiri), Kamalkant Jha (Maithili) and Gurdev Singh Rupana (Punjabi) have received the award for short stories.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

"Ek Pahal Campaign" for Justice Delivery at Doorstep

  • The Ministry of Law and Justice has launched a pan-India special campaign called "Ek Pahal Drive" for justice delivery at doorstep.
  • The campaign was launched in a bid to encourage mass registration under Tele-Law.
  • The campaign was launched by Department of Justice and NALSA.
  • This campaign seeks to actualise the aspiration of access to justice for citizens in India.
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BOOKS AND AUTHORS

Rajnath Singh Launches Book Title 'Shining Sikh Youth of India'

  • The Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh released a book titled 'Shining Sikh Youth of India' in New Delhi, as a part of the commemoration of the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of Sikhs. The book has been authored by Dr. Prabhleen Singh, administrative officer at the Punjabi University, Patiala. It covers 100 inspirational and motivational success stories of Sikh youth in India who have done exemplary work in their respective fields.
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

IRCTC Launches Cruise Liner Tours to Goa, Lakshadweep, Sri Lanka

  • In partnership with Cordelia Cruises – a private company, India's first luxury, the indigenous cruise liner was launched by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
  • The luxury cruise will take guests on-board to some of the most popular Indian and international tourist destinations – such as Goa, Diu, Kochi, the Lakshadweep islands and Sri Lanka.
  • Cordelia Cruises is one of India's premium cruise liners and wants to promote and drive the cruise culture in India through experiences that are stylish, luxurious, and most importantly, inherently Indian.
  • Cordelia Cruises offers a whole package of recreational and leisure activities including- restaurants, swimming pool, bar, open cinema, theatre, kids' area, gymnasium, etc. According to reviews, the kind of luxury opportunities provided aboard Cordelia Cruises matches the standard of international cruise liners.
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ART AND CULTURE

Scientists Discover Human Footprints Dating Back to Over 2,00,000 Years

  • A new study has found the oldest known examples of immobile art on the surface of a rock in Tibet. The immobile art consists of hand and footprints on the surface of a rock found in the Quesang region of the Tibetan Plateau. The group of scientists studied the prints, which are speculated to be 1,69,000 to 2,26,000 years old. The age of the rock shows that the hand and footprints were created during the middle of the Ice Age. There are a total of five handprints and five footprints discovered in the region which have been preserved in freshwater limestone deposited around a hot spring known as travertine. Judging by the size and height of the prints, the group of scientists speculates that they were carefully placed by children around the age of 7 to 12.
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