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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

18 May 2022


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Elisabeth Borne France's New PM

  • Elisabeth Borne was appointed France's new Prime Minister to become the second woman to hold the post in the country. Borne, 61, succeeds Jean Castex, whose resignation was expected after President Emmanuel Macron's reelection. Borne is the second woman to hold the position after Edith Cresson, who was Prime Minister in 1991-1992 under Socialist President Francois Mitterrand.
  • She has served as Labour Minister in Macron's previous government since 2020. Before that, she was Transport Minister and then minister of Eological Transition, also under Macron.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud Elected as New President of Somalia

  • Somalia's former leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected president after a final vote that was only open to the country's MPs. He defeated the current president, Mohamed Abudallahi Farmajo, who has been in office since 2017. The ballot was limited to Somalia's 328 MPs due to security concerns over holding a wider election, and one of them did not cast a vote.
  • Mr Mohamud received 214 votes, defeating Mr Farmajo who won 110 votes. Three MPs are reported to have spoiled their ballots. The unusual circumstances highlight Somalia's security issues as well as the lack of democratic accountability. The instability is one of the reasons why Somalia has been unable to hold direct elections. Somalia has not had a one-person-one-vote democratic election since 1969.
  • The result marks a comeback for Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia's president between 2012 and 2017 before he was defeated by Mr. Farmajo.

Sweden Ends Neutrality, Joins Finland in Seeking NATO Berth

  • Sweden's prime minister announced that Sweden will join Finland in seeking NATO membership in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a historic shift that comes after more than 200 years of military nonalignment in the Nordic country. The move, which is likely to upset the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, came after neighboring Finland announced that it too would seek to join the 30-country military alliance.
  • Public opinion in both Nordic countries was firmly against joining NATO before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, but support for NATO membership surged quickly in both nations after that. Once a regional military power, Sweden has avoided military alliances since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Like Finland it remained neutral throughout the Cold War, but formed closer relations with NATO after the 1991 Soviet collapse.
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Austrian Glaciers Likely to Disappear by End of Century

  • Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), warned that Austrian glaciers are likely to disappear entirely by the end of this century due to global warming. He said that the melting of glaciers and polar ice will continue for centuries in spite of the fight against climate change, and he has no more hope for the Austrian glaciers.
  • The melting of glaciers will impact the supply of drinking water and electricity production and raise the sea level, threatening a number of megacities.
  • However, the WMO Secretary-General said he remains cautiously optimistic about the global efforts to mitigate climate change, with politicians' strong climate pledges at the Glasgow climate conference held in UK in 2021 and private companies' technological advances.
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B. Govindarajan Appointed as CEO of Royal Enfield

  • Eicher Motors Limited (EML), the parent company of Royal Enfield, announced the appointment of B. Govindarajan as the motorcycle brand's Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Previously, Govindarajan was serving as the Executive Director of Royal Enfield since August 2021, and prior to that, he was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the company since 2013.
  • In addition, Govindarajan will also serve as a Wholetime Director on the Board of EML. He has spent over 23 years working across Royal Enfield and Eicher Motors, and over the years, has led several key developments including the likes of Himalayan, Continental GT 650 and Interceptor INT 650 as well as the more recent J-platform based Meteor and Classic 350 models.
  • Eicher Motors posted a 16% increase in its consolidated net profit after tax at INR 610 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 2022, on the back of steady growth across business verticals. The company had reported INR 526 crore during the January-March period of 2021-2022 fiscal.

Adani Become India's Second-biggest Cement Maker Company

  • The Adani Group officially acquired a controlling stake in Holcim AG's cement businesses in India in a deal worth $10.5 billion and became the second-biggest cement producer in the country. The richest person in Asia, Gautam Adani's conglomerate, obtained 63.19 per cent of Ambuja Cements Ltd and its subsidiary ACC in an assertive bidding war with other local companies.
  • Ambuja Cement has a total of 14 cement plants that employ approximately 4,700 people. Meanwhile, ACC has 17 cement plants, 78 ready mix concrete factories and nearly 6,000 employees.

Reliance Top-ranked Indian Firm on Forbes Global 2000 List

  • Forbes Global 2000 ranks the largest companies in the world using four metrics: sales, profits, assets and market value. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd climbed two spots to No. 53 on Forbes' Global 2000 list of public companies worldwide 2022. Reliance is the top-ranked Indian firm on the list, followed by State Bank of India at No. 105, HDFC Bank at No. 153 and ICICI Bank at No. 204.
  • Globally, Berkshire Hathaway took the No. 1 spot for the first time since Forbes started publishing the Global 2000 in 2003, dethroning the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which dropped to No. 2 after nine consecutive years at the top of the list. Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) took the 3 Spot.
  • Other top 10 Indian firms on the list include state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at 228 ranks, Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd (HDFC) at No. 268, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) at No. 357, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS) at No. 384, Tata Steel at No. 407 and Axis Bank at No. 431.
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Scientists Grow Plants in Soil from Moon

  • For the first time, scientists have grown plants in lunar soil brought back by astronauts in the Apollo missions. It is a step towards producing food and oxygen on the Moon. Researchers designed a simple experiment: plant seeds in lunar soil, add water, nutrients and light, and record the results.
  • Researchers had no idea whether anything would sprout in the harsh moon dirt and wanted to see whether it could be used to grow food by the next generation of lunar explorers. The results stunned them. 

Ransomware Gang Threatens to overthrow Costa Rica Government

  • A ransomware gang that infiltrated some Costa Rican government computer systems upped its threat, saying its goal is now to overthrow the government. The Russian-speaking Conti gang attacked Costa Rica in April 2022, accessing multiple critical systems in the finance ministry, including customs and tax collection.
  • Other government systems were also affected and not all are fully functioning. President Rodrigo Chaves declared a state of emergency over the attack as soon as he was sworn in May 2022. The US state department offered a $10 million reward for information leading to the identification or location of Conti leaders. Conti responded by writing, "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency. " The gang also said it was raising the ransom demand to $20 million. It called on Costa Ricans to pressure their government to pay.
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South Korea Wins Uber Cup 2022

  • After a thrilling final at the Impact Arena in Bangkok, Thailand, Korea stunned defending champions China to capture their second Uber Cup title. Korea fought back from behind twice to deny China a record-extending 16th title in the famous team tournament in a tie that lasted close to 90 minutes apiece.
  • In the deciding singles match, Korea's 46th-ranked Sim Yu-jin faced China's 15th-ranked Wang Zhiyi, with the final knotted at 2-2. Sim, who turned 23, beat Wang 28-26, 18-21, 21-8 in an hour and 28-minute match.
  • After a surprising run in Bangkok, Korea won the Uber Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Asian giants beat India 5-0 to win their group, then defeated Denmark and Japan 3-0 in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively.

Sift Kaur Samra Clinches Gold at ISSF Junior World Cup in Germany

  • India's Sift Kaur Samra won the individual women's 50m rifle 3 positions (3P) like Prone, the Standing and the Kneeling positions, event to take India's gold medal tally to 10 at the ISSF Junior World Cup 2022 in Suhl, Germany. Sift Kaur Samra beat Norway's Julie Johannessen 17-9 in the final.
  • India's Ashi Chouksey also won bronze in the event. India now has a total of 25 medals – 10 gold, 12 silver and three bronze – and sit atop the medals table. Italy, the next best team, has four gold and three bronze medals.

Wrestler Satender Malik Gets Life Ban for Assaulting Referee

  • The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) banned wrestler Satender Malik for life after he assaulted senior referee Jagbir Singh after losing the final match of the 125 kg category at the ongoing trials for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
  • Unhappy over points given in match, Malik had walked up to Jagbir and began cussing before punching and slapping him. The incident halted the final match of the 57 kg category between Ravi Dahiya and Aman, which was in progress at the time at an adjacent mat.
  • Following the ugly scenes, Malik was asked to leave the KD Jadhav Hall even as all the referees mobbed WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh to voice their concerns.
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Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Partners with Indian School of Business

  • In line with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious programme 'Mission Karmayogi,' which is a first-of-its-kind experiment in the direction of capacity building and modernising the mindset, methodology, and skill set of government employees, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) partnered with the Indian School of Business (ISB) to conduct capacity-building programmes for MSDE officials.
  • A total of 120 officers (30 per batch) across divisions under MSDE would be undergoing a comprehensive five day long residential training across ISB Hyderabad and Mohali campuses. The first batch of 30 officers has completed their training from ISB Mohali campus with a convocation ceremony held for the officers.
  • The primary goal of the programme is to strengthen leadership skills while developing a strategic mindset that will aid in gaining insights into data analytics and digital transformation.

Eight MoUs Signed at Incredible India International Cruise Conference

  • Eight Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) were signed at the first Incredible India International Cruise Conference that was jointly organised by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, the Government of India and FICCI.
  • Strategies for developing India as a cruise hub, policy initiatives and port infrastructure, the potential of river cruise tourism, and the role of technology in the post-pandemic world were some of the key issues deliberated at the two-day event.
  • Addressing the first Incredible India International Cruise Conference (IIICC) in Mumbai, Union Minister for Culture, Tourism G. Kishan Reddy invited domestic and international tourists to 'Come, Cruise in India.'

Naveen Srivastava Appointed New Envoy to Nepal

  • India announced the appointment of Naveen Srivastava, currently additional secretary in the external affairs ministry, as the next ambassador to Nepal. Srivastava, who headed the East Asia division in the ministry, has played a key role in diplomatic and military talks with China to tackle the military standoff on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) since 2020. The East Asia division deals with China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Mongolia, and Srivastava is seen as an experienced China hand. This experience is expected to come in handy for his stint in Kathmandu in view of China's stepped up efforts to increase its influence in Nepal's politics and economy.
  • India and Nepal are currently repairing ties that were hit by several controversies during the term of former Nepalese prime minister KP Sharma Oli, who was removed from his post in a vote of no confidence. Oli's government published a new political map of Nepal in 2020 that included the Indian territories of Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani, triggering a row that lasted several months.
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Two Warships 'Surat', 'Udaygiri' Launched

  • Two indigenously built warships 'Surat' and 'Udaygiri' were launched at Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai. With this, India take a step forward to speed up production and match China's growing prowess at the sea and the pace of shipbuilding. 'Surat' and 'Udaygiri' are part of the 37 ships and submarines currently under construction at Indian shipyards.
  • The Navy's target is to have 170 combat ships by 2027. At present, it has 130 warships and 230 aircraft. The Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA-N) is estimated to be a 355-warship force.
  • China added 138 warships in the last 10 years while India commissioned just 28 ships and submarines over the last seven years.
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World AIDS Vaccine Day

  • Worlds AIDS Vaccine Day or HIV Vaccine Awareness Day is observed every year on 18 May. This day marks the efforts of thousands of researchers, scientists, and health professionals who have contributed to the process of finding safe and effective AIDS medicine. It is also an opportunity to educate communities about the importance of preventive HIV vaccine research. World AIDS Vaccine Day is a day dedicated to emphasize the ongoing urgent requirement of an HIV vaccine; and also acknowledge the insurmountable work done by healthcare professionals, researchers on HIV, all across the globe, World AIDS Vaccine Day is an extremely significant event.

International Museum Day

  • International Museum Day is observed on 18 May every year to raise awareness about the museum and its role in society. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) created International Museum Day in 1977.
  • Each year, the event highlights a specific theme that reflects a relevant issue facing museums. This year's theme is The Power of Museums. More than 37,000 museums across the globe took part in the event in 158 countries and territories.
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Drake Wins Billboard Music Awards 2022 in Top Artist Category

  • The Billboard Music Awards 2022 opened to performances by a couple of controversial singers and some expected wins. Drake was named top artist, male artist, rap artist, rap male artist and rap album for Certified Lover Boy. The rapper extended his record as the most decorated winner in the history of the awards show with 34 wins.
  • Olivia Rodrigo and Kanye West, known as Ye, took home the most awards with six during a non-televised ceremony. Rodrigo was awarded best new artist. Doja Cat came away with four awards. She won top R&B artist and R&B female artist for the second consecutive year, along with top R&B album and female artist.

Ukrainian Band 'Kalush Orchestra' Wins 2022 Eurovision amid War

  • Ukrainian band 'Kalush Orchestra' won the Eurovision song contest in a clear show of popular support for the war-ravaged nation that went beyond music. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory, Ukraine's third since its 2003 Eurovision debut, and said "we will do our best" to host next year's contest in the hotly contested port city of Mariupol.
  • Kalush Orchestra's front man, Oleh Psiuk, took advantage of the enormous global audience, last year numbering more than 180 million, to make impassioned plea to free fighters still trapped beneath a sprawling steel plant in Mariupol following their performance.
  • Kalush Orchestra's song, "Stefania", was sentimental and bookmakers' favorite among the 25 competing performers in the grand finale. The public vote from home, via text message or the Eurovision app, proved decisive, lifting them above British Tik Tok star Sam Ryder, who led after the national juries in 40 countries cast their votes.
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Cannes Film Festival: Anurag Thakur Leads Biggest Indian Contingent at Red Carpet Event

  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur led the Indian contingent at the Cannes Film Festival, where India was named as the 'country of honour' for 'Marche du Film', the business counterpart of the marquee event. Thakur was received by India's Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf.
  • Thakur walked the red carpet at the festival along with Indian delegation comprising top personalities, including Shekhar Kapur, A R Rahman, Prasoon Joshi, R Madhavan, Tamannaah Bhatia, Vani Tripathi, Pooja Hegde and folk artist Mame Khan, ahead of the screening of opening film "Coupez" (Final Cut) by Michel Hazanavicius.
  • Thakur inaugurated the India Pavilion at the business event alongside the Cannes Film Festival and participate in the opening night festivities of Marche Du Film at the Majestic Beach.
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Supreme Court Orders Release of AG Perarivalan, Convict In Rajiv Gandhi Assassination Case

  • The Supreme Court ordered the release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict A. G. Perarivalan, exercising its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution. A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B. R. Gavai said that the Tamil Nadu Cabinet had in September 2018 recommended his release to the Governor taking into account relevant considerations. Article 142 enables the court to pass orders to do complete justice in a case.
  • In his plea, Perarivalan said that the Governor was yet to take a call on a recommendation by the state government on September 9, 2018, to grant him remission and release him forthwith.
  • Arrested at the age of 19, Perarivalan was sentenced to death in May 1999 after being convicted for purchasing the 8-volt battery that was used by the assassins to trigger the belt bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In 2014, his sentence and that of two others, Murugan and Santhan (both Sri Lankans), was commuted to life citing the long pendency of their mercy petitions.
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