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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

21 Jan 2022


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Angela Merkel Rejects United Nations Job Offer

  • Former Chancellor Angela Merkel turned down an offer from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a job.
  • Guterres had offered Merkel the chair of a high-level UN advisory body on global public goods. The advisory board is one of the flagship reform projects that Guterres proposed for the UN in his second term, which started in January.
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Explorers Discover Giant Pristine Coral Reef

  • Marine explorers discovered a pristine 3 km coral reef at depths of 30 m off the coast of Tahiti, French Polynesia.
  • It is one of the largest discovered at that depth, said the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which led the mission.
  • The reef was found during a diving expedition to a depth known as the ocean's "twilight zone" - part of a global seabed-mapping mission.
  • Coral reefs are among the ocean's most threatened ecosystems - vulnerable to pollution, rising sea temperatures and the change in chemistry caused by carbon-dioxide emissions dissolving in the water.
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L&T Technology Services Wins $45 Million EV Deal from US Auto Tier 1

  • L&T Technology Services, a global pure-play engineering services company was awarded a deal worth $45 million from an automotive Tier 1 company based in the United States to be its strategic engineering partner and provide engineering services for its Electric Vehicle (EV) product portfolio.
  • LTTS will work with the customer to deliver solutions leveraging its e-mobility technology competence under the terms of the five-year agreement. This will be delivered from LTTS' ER&D centre in Krakow, Poland.
  • The company plans to have more than 300 engineers working from its Krakow, Poland centre in the next three years as part of its expansion into Eastern Europe.

RBI Approves Vinod Rai's Appointment as Independent Chairman of Unity SFB

  • Vinod Rai, the former comptroller and auditor general of India, was granted approval by the Reserve Bank of India to be appointed as the independent chairman of Unity Small Finance Bank (SFB), a joint venture between Centrum group and Bharat Pe.
  • Apart from Rai, the SFB appointed Sandip Ghose, an RBI veteran, Basant Seth, the former chairman and managing director of erstwhile Syndicate Bank, and Subhash Kutte, former chairman RBL Bank to its board to guide its journey in becoming a successful digital bank.
  • Unity SFB started its operations in November last year after receiving a final nod from the central bank.

SIDBI Sanctions Rs. 650-crore Loan to AU SFB and Jana SFB

  • Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) has sanctioned Rs. 650 crore to two small finance banks — AU SFB and Jana SFB - to provide funds to finance companies and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).
  • An amount of Rs. 530 crore was already released to these SFBs.
  • The financial assistance has been extended out of the Special Liquidity Facility sanctioned by the Reserve Bank of India. This liquidity line has been provided to SIDBI to meet the challenges being faced by the MSMEs due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation.
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Yutu-2 Lunar Rover Finds Sticky Soil on the Far side of the Moon

  • The first rover to visit the far side of the moon, China's Yutu-2, has found stark differences between there and the near side. These include stickier, more supportive soil on the far side and a greater abundance of small rocks and impact craters.
  • Despite several exploratory missions to the moon, crewed and uncrewed, the moon's far side has remained unexplored because of difficulties communicating with Earth from there. But in 2019, China's Chang'e 4 mission deposited the Yutu-2 rover to roam the far side's surface.
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Sania Mirza Reveals Retirement Plans

  • Trailblazing India tennis star Sania Mirza announced that she will hang up her racquet at the end of 2022 season.
  • Winner of six Grand Slam titles, including three mixed doubles trophies, Sania will retire as India's most accomplished woman tennis player.
  • She made the retirement announcement after losing the Australian Open women's doubles first round with partner Nadiia Kichenok. They lost to Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek and Kaja Juvan.
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Cabinet Extends Tenure of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

  • The Union Cabinet approved the extension of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) for three years with effect from April 1, 2022. Now it will remain in effect till March 31, 2025.
  • The commission is responsible for giving recommendations to the government regarding specific programmes for welfare of safai karamcharis, study and evaluate the existing welfare programmes for safai karamcharis, investigate cases of specific grievances.
  • The commission was established in 1993 as per the provisions of the NCSK Act till March 31, 1997.

Haryana, Himachal to Sign MoU on Plan to Revive Saraswati River

  • In a bid to revive the Saraswati River, the governments of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh entered into an agreement that entails the building of a dam to supply round-the-year water flow to the river channel. The MoU was signed by Khattar and his Himachal Pradesh counterpart Jairam Thakur at Adi Badri in Haryana's Yamunanagar district, which is situated near the Himachal Pradesh border and is believed to be the river's point of origin.
  • A portion of the Som River — a tributary of the Yamuna that passes through Adi Badri — will be diverted to the Rs. 215-crore dam from where it will flow into the stream of the Saraswati River.

Statehood Day: PM Modi Greets People of Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 21, 2022, greeted the people of Manipur, Meghalaya, and Tripura on their statehood day and praised them for their "vibrant contributions" to the country's development.
  • The three States were formed on this day 50 years back in 1972 with the enactment of North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971.
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BSF: Operation Sard Hawa

  • The Border Security Force, BSF launches Operation Sard Hawa. Under the operation, the BSF increases the surveillance in the Pakistan border. It is usually launched in the Rajasthan border, especially in the Jaisalmer region. It is a regular annual exercise. It is launched in the month of January.
  • The Operation Sard Hawa is conducted during winters and Operation Garam Hawa is conducted during summers. These operations are held to control the infiltration in the borders. During winters thick fog blocks the vision in the border area. This scenario is highly advantageous for the terrorists to cross the border. It is essential for the security forces to stay alert during this season. The BSF conducts Operation Sard Hawa during winter for this reason. This year, the Operation Sard Hawa is to be conducted between January 23 and January 28.
  • The Operation is also launched to keep a hawk's eye and enhance the security before Republic Day celebrations.
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Professional Mountaineer Major Hari Pal Singh Ahluwalia Passed Away

  • The well-known Professional mountaineer Major Hari Pal Singh Ahluwalia passed away. Major Hari Pal Singh Ahluwalia was the recipient of Arjuna Award-1965 Padma Shri-1965 Padma Bhushan-2002 and Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award for lifetime achievement in 2009.
  • He has written over 13 books including his autobiography "Higher Than Everest". Major Ahluwalia has also been a former president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and the Delhi Mountaineering Association.
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First BRICS Sherpas Meeting of 2022 Held under Chinese Chairship

  • The first BRICS Sherpas meeting of 2022 was held virtually on January 18-19 under the Chinese chairship with the members thanking India for its BRICS chairship in 2021.
  • Programme and priorities for the year were discussed at the first BRICS Sherpas Meeting of 2022 held virtually under the Chinese chairship.
  • Members thanked India for its BRICS Chairship in 2021.
  • BRICS is a grouping of five major emerging economies -- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
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Axis Bank & CRMNEXT Win IBSi Innovation Awards 2021

  • Axis Bank & CRMNEXT Solution won the IBS Intelligence (IBSi) Global FinTech Innovation Awards 2021 for the "Best CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System Implementation". It is one of the most prominent awards for global bankers and IT (Information Technology) consultants across the world.
  • The Axis Bank implemented CRMNEXT for sales and service modernisation and it also enables smarter lead processing, automated routing, complete tracking, and visibility. It identified and honoured technology players and banks for their excellence in banking technology implementations and innovations using emerging technologies.
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IIT Roorkee Wins National Award for Outstanding Research on Citizen-centric Services

  • IIT Roorkee researchers led by Prof. Dharmendra Singh won the national award called the National Gold Award for e-governance for 'Outstanding Research on Citizen-Centric Services by Academic/Research Institutions'. The Covid-19 period spurred various institutes around the world to come up with many different kinds of solutions for various problems being faced by common people.
  • The IIT Roorkee team won the award for the development of e-waste-based microwave absorbing material for electromagnetic shielding and stealth applications.
  • This development has applications in both civilian and military domains.
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800-year-old Afghan Minaret in Danger of Collapse after Quakes

  • An 800-year-old minaret considered one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture in Afghanistan was damaged by two earthquakes this week and is in danger of collapse.
  • The Minaret of Jam, a UNESCO world heritage monument in the central province of Ghor, was in desperate need of repair even before the quakes, but provincial official Abdul Hai Zaeem said the 65-metre (213-foot) structure had weakened further.
  • Some of the bricks have come off and the minaret itself has tilted more.
  • Built in the 12th Century during the reign of Sultan Ghiyasuddin, the Minaret of Jam has weathered earthquakes, floods and harsh desert storms -- and the years have taken their toll.
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A Book Titled "Bose: The Untold Story of An Inconvenient Nationalist" by Chandrachur Ghose

  • A new biography titled "Bose: The Untold Story of An Inconvenient Nationalist" authored by Chandrachur Ghose will be released in February 2022. The book contains the thoughts and opinions of Subhas Chandra Bose about the development of independent India, communalism, geopolitics and political ideology. It also marked the untold and unknown stories of Netaji (Subhas Chandra Bose).
  • The biography attempts to bring new perspectives on Netaji's thoughts on independent India's development, the problem of communalism, geopolitics, his political ideology, and how he negotiated with the political parties, revolutionary societies, and the government.
  • The book throws light on Bose's intense political activities around the revolutionary groups in Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra, and the United Provinces; his efforts to bridge the increasing communal divide and his influence among the splintered political landscape; his outlook on and relations with women; his plunge into the depths of spirituality; his penchant for covert operations; and his efforts to engineer a rebellion among the Indian armed forces.
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