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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

27 Jan 2022


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Iran Signals Willingness to Engage Directly with US on Deal

  • As per reports, Iran signaled a willingness to engage directly with the United States in ongoing discussions over the nuclear deal with world powers if it is necessary to reach a good agreement.
  • In 2018, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, banned any negotiations with the U.S. saying negotiations with the U.S. would harm Iran.
  • Earlier this month Khamenei indirectly gave the green light to the Iranian negotiation team to talk with the U.S. and said that negotiating and interacting with the enemy does not mean surrender.
  • Iran and world powers have begun another round of nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria aimed at salvaging the tattered 2015 nuclear deal. The meetings include all the deal's remaining signatories Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China.

Pakistan Slips Further on Corruption Perceptions Index

  • Pakistan dropped 16 spots on the global Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021 and was ranked 140th out of 180 countries, according to Transparency International report released in January 2022.
  • The report released by the Berlin-based non-profit organisation formed to combat global corruption said that corruption levels remain at a standstill worldwide, with 86 per cent of countries making little to no progress in the last 10 years.
  • In its 2021 edition, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), drawing on 13 expert assessments and surveys of business executives.
  • In 2020, Pakistan's CPI was 31 and it was ranked 124 out of 180 countries.
  • According to the report, the top-performing countries are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand — all having a corruption perceptions score of 88 — followed by Norway, Singapore and Sweden, all of them scoring 85.
  • In contrast, the worst-performing countries were South Sudan with a corruption perceptions score of 11, followed by Syria (13), Somalia (13), Venezuela (14) and Afghanistan (16).

Italy's Third President Vote Fails

  • Italy's lawmakers failed to elect a new head of state for a third day, with no consensus candidate emerging to replace outgoing President Sergio Mattarella.
  • The race for the prestigious, seven-year role is wide open and on paper neither the centre-right nor the centre-left bloc have enough votes to ram through their candidate, meaning some sort of compromise deal will probably be needed.
  • A fourth round of voting may prove less predictable because the threshold required for election is considerably lower.
  • Prime Minister Mario Draghi remains in the frame but worries that his promotion to president might cause his coalition government to disintegrate and trigger an early parliamentary election have clouded his prospects.
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Amin Lakhani Elevated as CEO Mindshare, Parthasarathy Mandayam CSO GroupM

  • GroupM, the media investment group of WPP, announced the appointment of Parthasarathy Mandayam (Maps) as the Chief Strategy Officer – GroupM South Asia and Amin Lakhani was elevated to the role of Chief Executive Officer – Mindshare South Asia, which was earlier led by Maps.
  • With more than 25 years of experience in the advertising & communication industry, Maps has successfully managed multiple leadership roles in Mindshare – across Data, Analytics, Strategy, Client Leadership and Business Unit leadership.

NSE IFSC Appoints Rajiv Mehrishi as Chairman of Governing Board

  • NSE IFSC, NSE's International Exchange in GIFT City, appointed Rajiv Mehrishi as the chairman of its governing board.
  • The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) had earlier approved his appointment as Public Interest Director (PID) on the Governing Board of NSE IFSC in December 2021.
  • Mehrishi, a retired IAS officer, was the 13th Comptroller and Auditor General of India and vice-chairman of the United Nations Panel of External Auditors.
  • Few of his prior roles include being finance secretary, home secretary and the chief secretary at government of Rajasthan.

PMC Bank's Branches Begin Functioning as Unity SFB Outfit

  • The branches of beleaguered Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank (PMC) began functioning as branches of Unity Small Finance Bank (Unity SFB).
  • The Government of India notified the scheme of amalgamation of PMC Bank with Unity Small Finance Bank.
  • The scheme of amalgamation notified envisages takeover of the assets and liabilities of PMC Bank, including deposits, by the Unity Small Finance Bank in terms of the provisions of the scheme.
  • Unity SFB, which is a 51:49 joint venture between the Centrum Group and Bharat Pe, is making necessary arrangements to implement the provisions of the scheme.
  • Unity SFB started its operations in November 2021 after receiving a final nod from the central bank. The promoters of Unity Small Finance Bank along with the joint investor have infused a capital of Rs. 1,105.10 crore in Unity Small Finance Bank as on November 1, 2021.
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Malinga is Specialist Bowling Coach for SL's Australia Tour

  • Legendary pacer Lasith Malinga was appointed as a specialist bowling coach for Sri Lanka's senior men's national team's upcoming tour of Australia.
  • Malinga, in his new short-term role as a specialist coach, will support Sri Lanka's bowlers, providing tactical insight and technical expertise to help the on-field execution of strategic plans.
  • Sri Lanka is scheduled to play five T20 Internationals in Australia starting from February 11.
  • The former player, one of the island nation's greatest fast bowlers, has worked as a mentor for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League in 2018.

Ladakh Team Wins 9th Women National Ice Hockey Championship 2022

  • The women's team from Ladakh lifted the 9th National Women's Ice Hockey Championship in Himachal Pradesh. The championship was organised by the Ice Hockey Association of India at Kaza area in the Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. A total of six teams participated in the championship from Delhi, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Telangana and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
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RPN Singh Quits Congress, joins BJP Ahead of UP Assembly Elections

  • Just weeks ahead of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Congress leader RPN Singh quit the party and joined the BJP, in a setback to the grand old party, which is already battling for its existence in the state.
  • Singh, who was named as a star campaigner by the Congress for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, posted his resignation to party chief Sonia Gandhi.
  • Singh was also the Congress in charge for Jharkhand, where the party is in power along with the JMM.

Avinash Pande Made Jharkhand Congress Head

  • The Congress appointed veteran leader Avinash Pande the AICC general secretary in-charge of Jharkhand. Pande was AICC general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan when former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot led a rebellion against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot in 2020.

IAF's Fly-past Formations on 73rd Republic Day

  • India is celebrating its 73rd Republic Day. The Republic Day parade at the Rajpath this year witnessed the "grandest and largest" fly-past ever with the participation of 75 aircraft from the IAF to mark the 'Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav' celebrations.
  • Vintage as well as current modern aircraft, like Rafale, Sukhoi, Jaguar, Mi-17, Sarang, Apache and Dakota displayed different formations -- including Rahat, Meghna, Eklavya, Trishul, Tiranga, Vijay and Amrit -- at the fly-past.
  • For the first time, viewers had the feel of a cockpit while watching the flypast on Republic Day on their TVs, smart phones or laptops.
  • Mesmerising footage from cameras fitted onboard aircraft that took part in the fly-past gave a glimpse of what the pilots saw from their cockpit. This was a whole new experience for the viewers and a welcome change from the past.
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Indian Navy Conducts 20-day Joint Maritime Exercise at Arabian Sea

  • The Indian Navy conducted a 20-day joint maritime exercise Paschim Lehar at the Arabian Sea to validate operational plans of the Western Naval Command and enhance inter-service synergy among the Navy, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard.
  • The intra-theatre exercise included mobilisation and participation of over 40 ships and submarines of the Indian Navy.
  • Additionally, the IAF (Indian Air Force) deployed SU 30 MKI and Jaguar maritime strike aircraft, flight refuelling aircraft and airborne warning and control system (AWAC), alongside the Indian Navy's maritime reconnaissance aircraft P8i, Dorniers, IL-38SD, unmanned aerial systems and MiG-29K strike aircraft.
  • Various elements of the Indian Army including air defence batteries were also mobilised for the exercise. After a long gap, many OPVs (offshore patrol vessels), FPVs (fast patrol vessels) and air cushion vessels of the Coast Guard also participated in the exercise.

India's First Woman Rafale Fighter Jet Pilot Part of IAF Tableau

  • The country's first woman Rafale fighter jet pilot Shivangi Singh was part of the Indian Air Force tableau at the Republic Day parade 2022. She is only the second woman fighter jet pilot to be part of the IAF tableau. Last year, Flight Lieutenant Bhawna Kanth became the first female fighter jet pilot to be part of the IAF tableau.
  • Singh, who is from Varanasi, joined the IAF in 2017 and was commissioned in the IAF's second batch of women fighter pilots. She had been flying MiG- 21 Bison aircraft before flying the Rafale.
  • She is part of the IAF's Golden Arrows squadron based out of Ambala in Punjab.
  • The IAF tableau was based on the theme -- 'Indian Air Force transforming for the future'. Scaled down models of Rafale fighter jet, indigenously developed light combat helicopter (LCH) and 3D surveillance radar Aslesha MK-1 were part of the float.
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Kathakali patron Milena Salvini Passes Away

  • Padma Shri winner and Kathakali artist Milena Salvini passed away. Paris-born Milena joined Kerala Kalamandalam to learn the dance in 1965. She later became an ambassador of Indian dance forms.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of noted Kathakali dancer Milena Salvini of France and said she will be remembered for her passion towards Indian culture.
  • She was conferred with Padma Shri in 2019 by the Government of India for her contribution to the field of performing arts.
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International Holocaust Remembrance Day

  • International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust (International Holocaust Remembrance Day) is observed on January 27. In 2022, the theme guiding the United Nations Holocaust remembrance and education is "Memory, Dignity and Justice". The objective of the day is to commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War.
  • A genocide occurred during World War II in which Nazi Germany, aided by its collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe, between 1941 and 1945. United Nations designated the day in 2005 to serve as a date for official commemoration of the victims of the Nazi regime and to promote Holocaust education throughout the world.
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Shankarnarayan Honored with Padma Shri, at the Age of 93

  • The martial art of Kerala instructor Sankaranarayan Menon received the Padma Shri at the age of 93 years. On the 63rd Republic Day, the names of the recipients of the Padma Awards were announced by the Central Government.
  • Sankaranarayanan Menon is 93 years old and is still the chief instructor of Vallabhatta Kalari (a variant of Kalaripayattu) in Kerala. Under his leadership, about 5000 youth are learning martial arts, including women. The entire family of Shankarnarayan is associated with this martial art. Sankaranarayana's family used to lead the army of the king of Vettathu Nadu at Labar.

Jhajharia Honoured with Padma Bhushan, Neeraj Chopra Gets Padma Shri

  • Star para athlete Devendra Jhajharia was named for the prestigious Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in the country while Olympic gold winning javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra was among the eight sportspersons named for Padma Shri award.
  • Jhajharia has two gold medals in the javelin competition of Paralympic Games, 2004 Athens and in Rio 2016.
  • He won a silver in the F46 event at the Tokyo Paralympics in 2021.
  • Chopra, the 24-year-old javelin thrower, made history in the Tokyo Olympics by becoming the first Indian to win a gold in a track and field event in Games' history.
  • He also became only the second Indian to win an individual Olympic gold after shooter Abhinav Bindra.

Gen Rawat awarded Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan for Google, Microsoft CEOs

  • Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Hindutva poster boy late Kalyan Singh and India's first Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat who died in a helicopter crash were awarded Padma Vibhushan, while veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and former West Bengal CM and CPI(M) leader Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee were given Padma Bhushan.
  • Cyrus Poonawalla of the Serum Institute of India, which manufactured COVID-19 vaccine Covishield, and Krishna Ella and Suchitra Ella of Bharat Biotech, which produced India's indigenous coronavirus vaccine Covaxin, were also given Padma Bhushan.
  • Kalyan Singh and General Rawat were given Padma Vibhushan, the country's second-highest civilian award, posthumously.
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were conferred Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award.
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Jai Bhim & Marakkar Shortlisted for the Oscars 2022

  • Indian Movie's Jai Bhim and Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham have been officially shortlisted for the Oscars 2022. Jai Bhim is the fourth Indian film to get nominated for Oscars after Mother India, Salaam Bombay, and Lagaan. Marakkar Arabikadalinte Simham has been also nominated for the Global Community Oscar Awards 2021. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has released the list of 276 films eligible for the awards this year.
  • Not just Jai Bhim and Marakkar, directors Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh's Writing with Fire, a film about a newspaper run by Dalit women, has been shortlisted in the Best Documentary Feature category at the Oscars 2022. The voting for the nominations began on January 27 and conclude on February 1. The nominations will be announced on February 8. The 94th Academy Awards will be held on March 27.

Last Roman Gladiator Arena ever Built Unearthed in Switzerland

  • Archaeologists in Switzerland uncovered the ruins of a Roman-era amphitheater, possibly the youngest on record, where spectators likely watched gladiator fights and animal hunts with bated breath.
  • The oval-shaped amphitheater was built in an abandoned Roman quarry that had been in use until late antiquity. This clue, combined with the discovery of a coin dating to between A.D. 337 and 341 at the site, indicates that the amphitheater dates to the fourth century A.D., which would make it the youngest amphitheater in the Roman Empire.
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