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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

24 Feb 2022

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

World Powers Impose Fresh Sanctions after 'Russia's Invasion of Ukraine', Germany halts gas pipeline project

  • Responding swiftly to Russian President Vladimir Putin's order sending troops to separatist regions of Ukraine, world leaders hit back with non-military actions against Moscow in hopes of averting a full-blown war in Europe.
  • Germany made the first big move, taking steps to halt certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, a massive, lucrative deal long sought by Moscow but criticized by the US for increasing Europe's reliance on Russian energy supplies.
  • US President Joe Biden announced financial sanctions as punishment for what he called 'the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.'
  • The European Union announced sanctions taking aim at the 351 Duma legislators who voted in favour of recognizing separatist regions in Ukraine, as well as 27 other Russian officials and institutions from the defence and banking world.

President Vladimir Putin Asks West for Recognition of Crimea as Russia

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin called for international recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, an end to Ukraine's NATO membership bid and a halt to weapons shipments there.
  • Putin claimed that Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula should be internationally recognised as a legitimate reflection of the local population's choice, likening it to a vote for Kosovo independence. The annexation has been widely condemned by Western powers as a breach of international law.

Putin Announces Ukraine Military Operation

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine and warned other countries that any attempt to interfere with the Russian action would lead to "consequences you have never seen".
  • Putin accused the US and its allies of ignoring Russia's demand to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and offer Moscow security guarantees. He said Russia doesn't intend to occupy Ukraine but will move to demilitarise it and bring those who committed crimes to justice.
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ENVIRONMENT

Two New Prehistoric Bird Species Identified in China

  • Paleontologists found six specimens from three species of ornithuromorph birds, two of which are new to science, at the Changma locality in China's Gansu province.
  • The Changma locality in northwestern China is an important place for paleontologists studying bird evolution.
  • It's the second-richest Mesozoic fossil bird site in the world, but more than half of the fossils found there belong to Gansus yumenensis, a species of aquatic bird that lived approximately 120 million years ago (Early Cretaceous epoch).
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Vodafone Looks to Sell 5% Stake in Indus Towers to Bharti Airtel

  • British telecom giant Vodafone is in discussions to sell around five per cent stake in Indus Towers to Bharti Airtel. The stake is estimated to be valued at over Rs. 3,300 crore, and the proceeds will be pumped into the Indian entity Vodafone Idea.
  • Bharti Airtel's parent Bharti Enterprises is Indus' largest shareholder.
  • Vodafone launched an initial sale of 63.6 million Indus shares and was in talks with various parties regarding the sale of its remaining shares.

TCS Tweaks Leadership, Suresh Muthuswami Made Chairman, North America

  • IT major Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) made changes to its leadership roles in North America. As part of the changes Suresh Muthuswami was elevated to the role of chairman, North America.
  • The reason for the changes in the North American region, the largest in terms of revenue for TCS, is because Surya Kant who has been at the helm of North America for the past 16 years is stepping down by the end of the fiscal year.

Rajasthan Budget: Pension Scheme, Free Power, Job Guarantee in Urban Areas

  • Presenting a populist budget, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced a pension scheme for state government employees, a job guarantee scheme for urban areas, free electricity of up to 50 units for domestic users and free treatment in government hospitals, among other proposals.
  • No new tax was imposed and relief worth Rs. 1,500 crore was provided to all sectors in the budget presented by Gehlot in the Assembly.
  • Gehlot also announced the Indira Gandhi Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme to provide 100 days of employment to families in urban areas.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

SpaceX Launches 46 Starlink Satellites, Lands Falcon 9 Rocket for 100th Time

  • SpaceX launched nearly four dozen satellites and landed the returning rocket Monday (Feb. 21) on a mission that tied the company's booster-reuse record.
  • A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket topped with 46 of SpaceX's Starlink broadband spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
  • After liftoff, the Falcon 9's first stage came back down to Earth for a vertical touchdown on SpaceX's droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas, which was stationed in the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred miles off the Florida coast. It was the 100th Falcon 9 rocket landing for SpaceX and the company's 107th landing overall.

DRDO Successfully Tests Quantum Key Distribution Tech between 2 Cities

  • A joint team of scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi, for the first time in the country successfully demonstrated Quantum Key Distribution link between Prayagraj and Vindhyachal in Uttar Pradesh, a distance of more than 100 km.
  • Quantum key distribution is a secure communication method which implements a cryptographic protocol involving components of quantum mechanics. It enables two parties to produce a shared random secret key known only to them, which can then be used to encrypt and decrypt messages.
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SPORTS

World Para Championships: Archers make History

  • India scripted history in the World Archery Para Championships as the duo of Shyam Sundar Swami and Jyoti Baliyan assured the country of at least a silver medal by reaching the final of the compound mixed team open event.
  • Sundar and Baliyan downed the French pair of Julie Chupin and Thierry Joussaume 151-145 in the semi-finals. In the quarter-finals, the Indians had pipped Maria Andrea Virgilio and Matteo Bonacina of Italy 147-146.
  • India's para-archers have won medals in almost every event since 2017, except in the World Championships.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

ED Arrests Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik in Money Laundering Case

  • In a blow for the coalition government in Maharashtra, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested NCP leader and state cabinet minister Nawab Malik in connection with a case of alleged money laundering and "active involvement in terror funding" linked to a land deal in 1999 with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's sister.
  • Malik is the second senior NCP leader to be arrested by the central agency over the last four months, after Anil Deshmukh, the former state Home Minister, was taken into custody and jailed last November over another alleged case of money laundering.

Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia Gets PWD Portfolio from Satyendar Jain

  • Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia was allocated the Public Works Department, which was held by Health Minister Satyendra Jain.
  • This new responsibility is in addition to the portfolios already held by him.
  • Sisodia is already handling 10 important departments which include Education, Finance, Planning, Tourism, Art and Culture, and Employment among others. With the new responsibility, now he holds charge of a total of 11 departments.
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DEFENCE

Indian Air Force to Send 5 Tejas jets for Multilateral Air Exercise in the UK

  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) will participate in a three-week multilateral air exercise at Waddington in the UK from March 6 with a fleet of five Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA).
  • The IAF said that 'Cobra Warrior 22' exercise is aimed at providing operational exposure and sharing best practices amongst the participating air forces. 'It said the exercise from March 6 to 27 will be a platform for the indigenously developed Tejas aircraft to demonstrate their manoeuvrability and operational capability.
  • The exercise is aimed at providing operational exposure and share best practices amongst the participating air forces, thereby enhancing combat capability and forging bonds of friendship.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

25th Meeting of Financial Stability and Development Council

  • The Financial Stability and Development Council's (FSDC) 25th meeting was held in Mumbai. This meeting was held under the chair of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
  • The council discussed the different mandates of the FSDC as well as important macro-financial concerns that have arisen as a result of certain domestic and global developments.
  • The council also stated that government, as well as other authorities, must keep a close watch on the financial operations and conditions of major financial institutions since this could expose financial vulnerabilities in the long and medium-term.
  • The council also talked about the steps that need to be taken to further expand the financial sector and ensure economic growth while maintaining macroeconomic stability.
  • The council also talked about currency management operational issues as well as noted the activities of the FSDC Sub-Committee, which is chaired by the RBI Governor, as well as the actions taken in response to previous FSDC judgments.
  • The government had set up the Financial Stability and Development Council in association with financial market regulators. This was done to institutionalize and strengthen the system for maintaining financial stability, improve inter-regulatory coordination, and promote financial sector development.

Central Excise Day

  • Central Excise Day is observed on February 24 and it commemorates the Central Excise and Salt Act which was enacted on February 24, 1944. The annual event highlights the essential role played by the Central Excise Department in the industrial development of the country.
  • Central Excise Day honours the contribution of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) to the country, the officers associated with it and their services. The day also encourages CBIC employees to carry out their duties with utmost sincerity as they have the responsibility of checking the corruption of goods from the manufacturing sector.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians

  • Professor Neena Gupta was conferred the Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians 2021.
  • Neena Gupta is a mathematician from Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata.
  • She was conferred the award for her outstanding work in affine algebraic geometry and commutative algebra.
  • The Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians is a mathematics prize that is awarded annually by "International Centre for Theoretical Physics" in Italy. It has been named after Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. The prize was founded in 2004 and first awarded in 2005.
  • The Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians is awarded to researcher from a developing country who is aged below 45 years and has conducted outstanding research in developing country. It is supported by Ministry of Science and Technology (India) as well as Norwegian Academy of Science & Letters through the Abel Fund, in cooperation of "International Mathematical Union".

Gen M. M. Naravane Presents Presidential Colours to Four Para Battalions

  • Chief of Army Staff General M. M. Naravane presented Presidential Colours to four parachute battalions at Parachute Regiment Training Centre in Bengaluru.
  • The four battalions are the 11 Para (Special Forces), 21 Para (Special Forces), 23 Para, and 29 Para battalions.
  • The award of President's Colours or the 'Nishan' is one of the highest honours bestowed upon a military unit in recognition of its exceptional service to the nation, both during the war and in peace.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IGNOU PG Diploma in Sindhi-Hindi-Sindhi Translation Launched

  • IGNOU launched a new post-graduate diploma programme in Sindhi-Hindi-Sindhi Translation. The School of Translation Studies and Training (SOTST) started a Postgraduate Diploma in Sindhi-Hindi-Sindhi Translation (PGDSHST). The announcement of this programme was made on the occasion of International Mother Language Day.
  • The PG Diploma in Sindhi-Hindi-Sindhi Translation programme was launched by Professor Nageswara Rao, Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU.

University of Essex Launches Scholarships worth £5,000 for Indian Students

  • University of Essex, United Kingdom (UK) launched a scholarship for Indian students looking to pursue a master's degree in the UK. The university will now offer various scholarships to Indian students under the Academic Excellence International Masters Scholarship programme.
  • The scholarship is available for the University of Essex's September 2022 and January 2023 intakes, and will offer support worth up to £5,000 for Indian students.
  • For these scholarships, eligible courses are those which are full-time taught masters courses leading to MA, MSc, LLM and MRes degrees. These will be awarded to students who have completed relevant school or university studies in one of the specified countries, and in the case of the UK, who are domiciled in one of the other specified countries.
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ART AND CULTURE

ISRO Chairman Inaugurates Renovated Space Museum

  • S. Somanath, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), inaugurated the renovated Space Museum at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). He also declared the museum open to the public. VSSC director S. Unnikrishnan Nair and other senior officials were present.
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