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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

17 Feb 2022

DAILY G.K. TEST

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ENVIRONMENT

Ravi in Pakistan is the Most Polluted River in the World

  • River Ravi in Pakistan is the most polluted river in the world, followed by water bodies in Bolivia and Ethiopia, a US-based research academy has said, warning that local populations in these areas are exposed to serious risks.
  • In its study, the University of York monitored 1,052 sampling sites along 258 rivers in 104 countries across all continents to quantify the presence of pharmaceutical ingredients - paracetamol, nicotine, caffeine and epilepsy and diabetes drugs - in these ecological environments.
  • The study concluded that contaminants in surface water posed a threat to environmental and/or human health in more than a quarter of the studied locations globally - mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and South America.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

BaoB Signs MoU with Assam Rifles to Provide 'Central Forces Salary Package'

  • Bank of Baroda signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Assam Rifles, the country's oldest paramilitary force, to provide 'Central Forces Salary Package'.
  • Under the agreement, Bank of Baroda will offer the Baroda Central Forces Salary Package to all personnel of the Assam Rifles, both serving and retired. Further, the bank will also provide special benefits, including Personal Accident Insurance and a co-branded credit card.
  • As part of the MoU, Bank of Baroda will offer a comprehensive bouquet of services such as free unlimited transactions at all Bank ATMs, free remittance services - NEFT/ RTGS online or through the branch, free debit card, free unlimited demand draft facilities, 50 per cent discount on locker rentals, 100 per cent waiver on Demat annual maintenance charges and 75 per cent waiver on issuance charges for Gift and Travel cards.

Wipro Signs a 5-year Strategic Engagement Deal with ABB Info System

  • Wipro was awarded a five-year, strategic engagement to drive transformation for ABB's Information Systems digital workplace services. The agreement, worth over $150 million, will help ABB's Information Systems deliver enhanced, consumer-grade digital experiences for its 105,000 employees in over 100 countries.
  • ABB is a leading global technology company that energises the transformation of society and industry to achieve a more productive, sustainable future. This engagement, led centrally from Switzerland by ABB and Wipro, will deliver increased automation and enhanced user experience through personalised services underpinned by real-time analytics—all wrapped with Wipro's superior endpoint security services. Wipro will also provide ABB with managed services support leveraging Wipro's LiVE Workspace solution.

India and Germany Sign Work Plan for Collaboration to Strengthen Quality Infra

  • India and Germany signed a work plan for cooperation to strengthen quality infrastructure, reduce technical barriers to trade, enhance product safety and strengthen consumer protection.
  • The work plan 2022 was signed during the virtually held 8th annual meeting of the Indo-German Working Group on Quality Infrastructure, led by the Indian Ministry for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
  • The areas identified for collaboration include mobility, energy, circular economy, smart farming/ agriculture, medical devices, digitalisation (artificial intelligence, Industry 4.0 and other new technology areas), machinery safety, medical devices and equipment and market surveillance.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

NITI Aayog Partners with PhonePe to Host First-ever Open-to-all Hackathon Event

  • NITI Aayog partnered with PhonePe to host the first-ever open-to-all hackathon event for ideating and coming up with creative solutions for the FinTech space.
  • The hackathon will provide an opportunity for innovators, digital creators and developers from all over India to think, ideate and code.
  • Participants at the hackathon need to use any open-data APIs like PhonePe Pulse along with frameworks such as account aggregator as a foundation to power some the use cases.

LOFAR Telescope Spots Biggest Radio Galaxy Ever

  • The newly-discovered radio galaxy, dubbed Alcyoneus, has a projected length of 16.3 million light-years (4.99 Mpc).
  • The giant radio galaxy definition accommodates our limited ability to infer a radio galaxy's true proper length from observations.
  • A radio galaxy is called a giant radio galaxy if and only if its proper length projected onto the plane of the sky exceeds some threshold, usually chosen to be 2.3 or 3.3 million light-years.
  • Currently, there are about a thousand giant radio galaxies known, the majority of which have been found in the northern sky.

First-Ever Quadruple Asteroid

  • Astronomers discovered a third moon orbiting the main-belt asteroid (130) Elektra. This is the first quadruple asteroid ever found.
  • Elektra is a large main-belt asteroid. It was first discovered by Litchfield Observatory astronomer Christian Peters on February 17, 1873.
  • Elektra has an effective diameter of 199 km.
  • The first moon of Elektra was discovered in 2003 by Dr. William Merline and his team. It was discovered using "Keck II telescope" at the Mauna Kea Observatory.
  • First moon of Elektra is designated as S/2003 (130) 1 or S1.
  • It has a diameter of 6 km. It orbits 1,300 km away from the parent asteroid, with a period of 5.3 days.
  • The second moon of Elektra is designated as S/2014 (130) 1 or S2.
  • It was discovered on December 6, 2014 by Dr. Bin Yang and his team, using SPHERE facility on ESO's Very Large Telescope.
  • It has a diameter of around 2 km.
  • It orbits 500 km away from Elektra, once every 1.2 days.
  • Astronomers have now discovered the third moon, orbiting Elekta and is designated as S/2014 (130) 2 or S3. It has the diameter of 1.6 km and an orbital period of 0.679 days. It revolves inside S2 orbit, with a semi-major axis of 344 km. It has an orbital period of 0.679 days.
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SPORTS

Keegan Petersen, Heather Knight ICC Players of the Month for January

  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced Heather Knight and Keegan Petersen as the winners of the ICC Players of the Month Award for January 2022.
  • Petersen pipped compatriot Dewald Brevis and Bangladesh fast bowler Ebadot Hossain to claim the ICC men's player of the month award for January. Among women, Knight won the award. Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu and West Indies star Deandra Dottin were the other contenders.

Kolkata Knight Riders Appoint Shreyas Iyer as New Captain

  • Kolkata Knight Riders appointed India batter Shreyas Iyer as their new captain for the upcoming Indian Premier League after having bought him for a whopping Rs. 12.25 crore at the mega auction.
  • Iyer, who had captained Delhi Capitals to their only IPL final back in 2020, was released after the 2021 season and it was an open secret that KKR, who were supposed to replace Eoin Morgan, were in need of a new captain.

J-K Alpine Skier Arif Khan Fails to Finish Men's Slalom Event at Winter Olympics

  • India's campaign at the Winter Olympics came to disappointing end after the country's lone participant, alpine skier Arif Khan, logged a 'Did Not Finish' in the men's slalom event.
  • The 31-year-old from Baramulla district in Jammu and Kashmir, who had finished 45th in the giant slalom event, was unable to complete Run 1 at the Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre.
  • Since Khan, who was making his Winter Olympics debut, was unable to finish Run 1, he won't be competing in the second run of men's slalom event.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

Uddhav Thackeray Extends Support for Unified Opposition to KCR

  • Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray extended support to his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao for the latter's efforts to unite political organisations against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
  • Senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut had called KCR's initiative an important step in the direction of forming a stronger Opposition against the BJP-led government.

Supreme Court Collegium Clears 16 Names for Bombay, Madras HCs

  • The Supreme Court Collegium recommended the names of 16 candidates for appointment as judges of Bombay and Madras High Courts. Of the 16 names recommended, 10 are for the Bombay High Court, while six are for the Madras High Court.
  • Ten advocates recommended for judgeship of the Bombay HC are: Kishore Chandrakant Sant, Valmiki Menezes SA, Kamal Rashmi Khata, Sharmila Uttamrao Deshmukh, Arun Ramnath Pednekar, Sandeep Vishnupant Marne, Gauri Vinod Godse, Rajesh Shantaram Patil, Arif Saleh Doctor and Somasekhar Sundaresan
  • The advocates recommended for judgeship at the Madras HC are Nidumolu Mala, Sunder Mohan, Kabali Kumaresh Babu, S. Sounthar, Abdul Ghani Abdul Hameed and R. John Sathyan.

Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link Project

  • In a breakthrough development, the main tunnel of the Katra-Banihal section, T-49, was successfully connected between Sumber and Arpinchala stations.
  • Once completed, the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) mega project will be the longest tunnel of the Indian Railways.
  • Tunnel T-49 of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramula Rail Link project is 12.75 km long.
  • T-49 tunnel has two tubes: the main tunnel and an escape tunnel. It has been constructed by new Austrian tunneling method (NATM), which uses a modern drilling and blast technique. The cross-section profile of the tunnel is a modified horseshoe-shaped.
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DEFENCE

India Gets First Maritime Security Coordinator

  • Former vice Chief of Navy Vice Admiral G. Ashok Kumar, who retired last year, was appointed as the country's first National Maritime Security Coordinator (NMSC).
  • Proposed after the 26/11 terror attacks, the NMSC will be part of the National Security Council Secretariat, and will report to National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.
  • As the NMSC, Kumar will have the responsibility of coordinating between all the agencies involved in maritime security and maritime civil issues as well. He will also be tasked with improving the country's blue economy needs. He will look at all aspects of maritime security, and will be the nodal point for all issues related to it.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Gaming Platform A23 Appoints Shah Rukh Khan as Brand Ambassador

  • Online skill gaming company Head Digital Works roped in Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan as the brand ambassador for its online multi-gaming platform – A23. The actor will feature in the company's Chalo Saath Khele campaign coupled with a first-of-its-kind responsible gaming campaign.
  • The campaign will showcase all of A23's offerings which include games of skill such as carom, fantasy sports, pool and rummy, among others.

Google Doodle Celebrates Chickenpox Vaccine Pioneer Dr. Michiaki Takahashi's 94th Birth Anniversary

  • Google Doodle celebrated Japanese virologist Dr. Michiaki Takahashi's 94th birth anniversary on February 17. Dr Takahashi developed the first vaccine against chickenpox.
  • Michiaki Takahashi was born on this day in 1928 in Osaka, Japan. He earned his medical degree from Osaka University and joined the Research Institute for Microbial Disease, Osaka University in 1959. After studying measles and polio viruses, Dr. Takahashi accepted a research fellowship in 1963 at Baylor College in the United States. It was during this time that his son developed a serious bout of chickenpox, leading him to turn his expertise toward combating the highly transmissible illness.
  • Dr. Takahashi returned to Japan in 1965 and began culturing live but weakened chickenpox viruses in animal and human tissue. After just five short years of development, it was ready for clinical trials. In 1974, Dr. Takahashi had developed the first vaccine targeting the varicella virus that causes chickenpox. It was subsequently subjected to rigorous research with immunosuppressed patients and was proven to be extremely effective. In 1986, the Research Foundation for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University began the rollout in Japan as the only varicella vaccine approved by the World Health Organization.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

Maru Mahotsav or Jaisalmer Desert Festival Concludes

  • The renowned Jaisalmer Desert Festival, also known as Maru Mahotsav of the Golden City was held from February 13 to 16, 2022 at Pokaran village in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. The four-day-long annual event started with a colorful grand procession followed by Miss Pokaran and Mister Pokran competitions. Regional folk dances such as Kalbelia, Kachhi Ghodi, Gair were performed.
  • Rajasthan Minority Affairs Minister, Shale Mohammad flagged off the event. The festival is celebrated amidst the beautiful dunes of the Thar Desert in the Sam dunes (42 kilometres from Jaisalmer).
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs

  • Government launched a Scheme for Economic Empowerment for DNTs, SEED for the welfare of De-notified, Nomadic and semi-nomadic communities in New Delhi.
  • De-notified Tribes communities are the most neglected, marginalized and economically and socially deprived communities. Historically, these communities never had access to private land or home ownership and used forests and grazing lands as a mean for their livelihood and residential use.
  • Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Dr. Virendra Kumar said that this scheme signifies Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas in a true manner. Highlighting the various features of the scheme, he expressed confidence that, this scheme with free education opportunity, health insurance worth five lakh rupees under Ayushman Bharat, better facilities for livelihood and financial assistance for construction of houses, will prove to be a game changer towards empowering the De-notified Tribes communities.

Govt. Approves Plan for 60,000 Houses under PMAY across Five States

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs approved project proposals for over 60,000 houses across five states, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan, at the 58th meeting of Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).
  • The total number of sanctioned houses under PMAY(U) now stand at 114.04 lakh, of which around 93.25 lakh have been grounded for construction and around 54.78 Lakh have been completed and delivered to the beneficiaries.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IGNOU Launches Online Certificate Programmes in Spanish and French

  • IGNOU's School of Foreign Languages has launched Certificate Programmes in Spanish and French (Online). The Programmes were launched through a virtual ceremony by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Nageshwar Rao.
  • Certificate in Spanish Language and Culture (CSLCOL) aims to help learners interested in learning Spanish language in a non-native context and who desire to receive culture information on the Spanish-speaking countries.
  • Certificate in French Language (CFLOL) aims to introduce the French language to beginners and gradually build up skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking, simultaneously developing intercultural competence.

Assam Governor Launches 'Bodoland Super 50 Mission' to Train Youth for Competitive Examinations

  • Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi launched the 'Bodoland Super 50 Mission', an initiative of BTR chief Pramod Boro to prepare Bodo youths for competitive examinations.
  • The project of the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR) administration aims at transforming the lives of engineering aspirants coming from economically weaker sections of five Bodo dominated districts of Assam.
  • The initiative is similar to some of the well-known examples of enhancing students' achievements such as Anand Kumar-Super30 in Bihar, Oil India Super 30, ONGC Super 30 and Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS).

IIT-Guwahati Introduces Master's in Liberal Arts

  • The Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati launched a master's programme in liberal arts. The programme will be offered by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati from the academic year 2022-2023. The first batch of 30 students will be admitted from the upcoming July 2022 semester based on specific admission criteria to be announced soon.
  • The programme aims to offer cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary training to students and hone their ability to think critically and creatively about social, political, and aesthetic issues that concern the world today and would align with the NEP 2020.
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TOURISM AND HOTEL INDUSTRY AWARENESS

Kerala village Aymanam on List of 30 Best Places to Visit in 2022

  • Aymanam, a quaint village in Kerala made it to the Condé Nast's list of 30 best places to visit in the world in 2022.
  • Featured alongside locations in countries like US, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Singapore, Japan and Egypt on the list, Aymanam's tourism initiatives were awarded in 2021 for its focus on boosting local employment and nature conservation. Other places in India that made it to the list were Bhimtal, Sikkim, Odisha, Goa, Kolkata among others.
  • Travellers to Aymanam can experience bird-watching, long walks through paddy fields, visit temples and churches, taste rich coconut-preparations, hop on boat rides and watch performances of Kathakali and martial artform Kalaripayattu.
  • The village, located on the idyllic backwaters in Kottayam district, has Lake Vembanad to its west and is also bordered by the Meenachil River.
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