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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

13 Mar 2023


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Colombia Opens Military Service to Women for First Time in 25 Years

  • Colombia opened military service to women for the first time in 25 years.
  • Colombia has long had compulsory military service for men ages 18 to 24. The army relies heavily on those young recruits to staff bases, protect infrastructure and carry out administrative tasks, while its professional soldiers confront drug trafficking gangs and rebel groups. In 2023, officials allowed females in the same age range to voluntarily join the military, in what the army says is part of an effort to strengthen the role of women in its ranks.

Saudi Arabia and Iran Agree to Restore Diplomatic Ties with the Help of China

  • Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to resume diplomatic ties that were severed for years, following Beijing-hosted talks.
  • The two countries plan to reopen their respective embassies in Tehran and Riyadh within two months.
  • They also vowed to respect countries' sovereignty and not interfere in internal affairs.
  • Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 2016. The decision followed the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran after the Sunni kingdom executed a Shiite Muslim cleric.

China Names US-sanctioned Gen Li Shangfu as Defence Minister

  • China's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), gave approval to key appointments in the government as it gears towards tackling economic challenges on the home front and abroad.
  • Among the key appointments was one of the Defence Minister and Li Shangfu, a US-sanctioned military general, was nominated for the top post.
  • He succeeds Wei Fenghe, who had stepped down from the Central Military Commission at the Communist Party's congress.
  • Before being elevated to the top post, Gen Li was appointed to Communist Party's Central Military Commission, thus becoming the first soldier on the body from the army's Strategic Support Force, the branch created in 2015 and restructured to focus on space, cyber, political and electronic warfare.
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Uttarakhand's Rudraprayag, Tehri Top Landslide Index

  • Uttarakhand's Rudraprayag district, which houses the Kedarnath shrine, has "maximum exposure to landslide risk in the country", according to the 'Landslide Atlas' report prepared by Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • Rudraprayag has 32 chronic landslide zones, with the maximum located on NH-107 that leads to the holy town.
  • Another Uttarakhand district, Tehri Garhwal is at the second spot in the list of landslide prone districts. It has over two dozen landslide zones, including Totaghati which was identified as a "very chronic landslide site".
  • The ISRO database covered landslide vulnerable regions in 17 states and two UTs of India in the Himalayas and Western Ghats.

Indonesia's Merapi Volcano Erupts

  • Indonesia's Mount Merapi erupted with avalanches of searing gas clouds and lava, forcing authorities to halt tourism and mining activities on the slopes of the country's most active volcano.
  • Merapi, on the densely populated island of Java, unleashed clouds of hot ash and a mixture of rock, lava and gas that travelled up to 7 kilometres down its slopes.
  • It was Merapi's biggest lava flow since authorities raised the alert level to the second-highest in November 2020.
  • The 2,968-metre (9,737-foot) mountain is about 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Yogyakarta, an ancient centre of Javanese culture and the seat of royal dynasties going back centuries.
  • Merapi volcano is the most active of more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia and has repeatedly erupted with lava and gas clouds.
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Rohit Jawa to Replace Sanjiv Mehta as HUL Managing Director and CEO

  • Rohit Jawa was named as the new Managing Director and CEO of Hindustan Unilever with effect from June 27, 2023. Jawa is currently the Chief of Transformation for Unilever, London. He will be a whole-time director of the company from April 1, up to June 26, 2023.
  • Jawa started his career with HUL as a management trainee in 1988 and has a proven track record of sustained business results across, India, South East Asia, and North Asia. As EVP for North Asia and chairman for Unilever China, he led a significant transformation of Unilever China into a competitive, profitable, and consistent business — now Unilever's third biggest globally.
  • Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is an Indian consumer goods company headquartered in Mumbai. It is a subsidiary of the British company Unilever.
  • HUL was established in 1931 as Hindustan Vanaspati Manufacturing Co. Following a merger of constituent groups in 1956, it was renamed Hindustan Lever Limited. The company was renamed again in June 2007 as Hindustan Unilever Limited.

Siddhartha Mohanty is Interim Chairman of LIC

  • The government appointed Siddhartha Mohanty as the interim chairman of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for three months. As per reports, current LIC chairman M. R. Kumar won't get the extension.
  • Mohanty was appointed as the MD of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), effective February 1st, 2021. In place of T. C. Suseel Kumar, who retired in 2021.

IDFC Mutual Fund Rebrands Itself as Bandhan Mutual Fund

  • IDFC Mutual Fund rebranded itself as Bandhan Mutual Fund and its schemes will reflect the new name.
  • The fund house also unveiled a new logo.
  • Consequently, each scheme of the fund house will be renamed to replace the word 'IDFC' with the word 'Bandhan'.
  • The company, which was earlier a part of the IDFC group, was acquired by a Bandhan Financial Holdings-led consortium in April 2022.
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SpaceX 'Endurance' Crew Returns to Earth after 5-Months aboard Space Station

  • NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 returned to Earth after a five-month stay aboard the International Space Station.
  • The SpaceX "Endurance" capsule carried Koichi Wakata of Japan, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada.
  • It splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the west coast of Florida.
  • Crew-5, which launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral in early October 2022, was the fifth mission in space for Wakata and the first for Cassada, Kikina and Mann -- who also became the first Native American woman in space.
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Brenda Clinches ITF Women's Open Title

  • Brenda Fruhvirtova defeated India's Ankita Raina 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the singles final of the KPB Trust ITF Women's Open at the KSLTA Stadium, Karnataka.
  • Brenda won $6,094, while Ankita received $3,257. K. P. Balaraj, the founder of KPB Family Trust, Sunil Yajaman, Joint Secretary of KSLTA,and Shruthi Iyer, Mrs. India Universe 2021, attended the prize distribution function.

India Eliminated from U-20 Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers

  • India settled for a 1-1 draw against hosts Vietnam and was knocked out of contention for Round 2 of the AFC U-20 Women's Asian Cup Qualifiers.
  • Needing a win in their final Group F match to make the cut, India drew first blood through Babina Devi's 12th-minute strike. But the goal was cancelled out by Tran Nhat Lan.
  • Both teams finished on seven points from three matches each in the four-team group.
  • However, India (+13) was knocked out because of its inferior goal difference with Vietnam (+14).

ISSF Shotgun World Cup: Prithviraj, Shreyasi Finish Sixth in Mixed Trap

  • The Indian trap mixed team of Prithviraj Tondaiman and Shreyasi Singh finished sixth as the country's shooters ended the ISSF Shotgun World Cup with just a bronze medal.
  • The USA team comprising William Hinton and Alicia Kathleen Gough beat Kuwait's Talal Alrashidi and Sarah Alhawal 6-0 in the gold medal match to clinch the title. Poland won bronze.
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Kochi Metro Becomes the First to Accept Digital Currency for Parking

  • Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) became the first metro to accept the central bank digital currency issued by the RBI. Kochi Metro prepared a system to pay parking charges in e-rupees. The programme was inaugurated by KMRL MD Loknath Behera at Thykoodam Metro Station.
  • Technology start-up Anantham Online made this service available at Kochi Metro Parking in collaboration with IDFC First Bank. This initiative came as a pilot programme launched by the Reserve Bank of India. RBI also announced the launch of Central Bank Digital Currency for retail users.

NITI Aayog Releases Task Force Report Titled Production and Promotion of Organic & Bio Fertilisers

  • NITI Aayog released the Task Force report titled "Production and Promotion of Organic and Bio fertilisers with Special Focus on Improving Economic Viability of Gaushalas".
  • The Task Force was constituted by NITI Aayog to suggest measures to make Gaushalas economically viable, address the problem of stray and abandoned cattle, and effective utilisation of cow dung and cow urine in the agriculture and energy sectors. The report provides a factual estimate of operating costs and fixed costs and other issues in respect of Gaushalas and the cost and investments involved in setting up the Bio-CNG plant and PROM plant in Gaushalas.

CEC & Members of ECI Inaugurate Vote Fest 2023 in Bengaluru

  • In Karnataka, the Chief Election Commissioner and other members of ECI inaugurated Vote Fest 2023 to create awareness on the election process in Bengaluru.
  • The Full Commission from the Election Commission of India was on a three-day visit to the city. The Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar and Election Commissioners Anup Chandra Pandey and Arun Goel inaugurated the Fest to create awareness of the election process and educate the voters. They also inaugurated Electhon 2023, a 30-hour hackathon for securing the electoral future. This is an exercise to seek people's suggestions on improving voter turnout, ensuring the registration of new voters, and how to ensure the involvement of urban youth in the democratic process.
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'Rajmata' Sushila Kumari of Erstwhile Bikaner Royal Family Passes Away

  • A member of the erstwhile Bikaner royal family, "Rajmata" Sushila Kumari, died owing to a prolonged illness. She was 94.
  • Sushila Kumari's granddaughter and incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Bikaner East, Siddhi Kumari, had paid a visit to her ailing grandmother at the hospital where she was admitted.
  • After the death of Karni Singh in 1988, Sushila Kumari was looking after the affairs of the erstwhile royal family.
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Oscars 2023 Awards

  • Oscars 2023 took place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.
  • Here is a short list of winners list of Oscars 2023.
  • Best Picture - Everything Everywhere All At Once, Best Actress - Michelle Yeoh - Everything Everywhere All at Once, Best Actor - Brendan Fraser – The Whale, Best Director - Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert – Everything Everywhere All at Once, Best Original Song - Naatu Naatu – RRR and Best Documentary (Short Subject) - The Elephant Whisperers.
  • The 1st Academy Awards were held in 1929 at a private dinner hosted by Douglas Fairbanks in The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
  • A total of 3,140 Oscar statuettes have been awarded since its inception in 1929 (as in 2023).

Award in Memory of Navy's 1971 War Hero Mulla

  • An award was instituted in the memory of Navy Capt Mahendra Nath Mulla, who was decorated with Mahavir Chakra for gallantry during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.
  • The award, which has a rolling trophy and a cash award of Rs. 1.50 lakh, was instituted for students of Navy Children School, Delhi.
  • Named 'Capt MN Mulla, MVC, Memorial Outstanding Student Award', the award will be given to a boy and a girl "selected on the basis of clarity of vision, courage of conviction and commitment".
  • Ameeta Mulla Wattal and Anjali Kaul, daughters of Capt Mulla, instituted the award.
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Uttarakhand First State to Start Insurance Scheme for Sericulturists

  • Uttarakhand became the first state in the country to start 'Resham Keet Bima' scheme for protecting its sericulturists.
  • Under the pilot project, which started from Uttarakhand, in the first phase, 200 sericulturists from five blocks of four districts, Dehradun, Haridwar, Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital, were insured from the ill effects of climate change, scarcity of water and other hazards.

Odisha Announces Livelihood Scheme for Tribals

  • The Odisha government announced a new livelihood and income-generating scheme for the tribal people with an outlay of Rs. 500 crore.
  • The ST & SC Development, Minorities & Backward Classes Welfare department will implement the livelihood cluster development initiative under Mukhya Mantri Janajati Jeebika Mission.
  • The state-funded scheme will be implemented in 119 tribal sub-plan (TSP) blocks of the state through 22 integrated tribal development agencies (ITDAs) over a period of three years (2023-24 to 2025-26).
  • This new initiative will supplement the Odisha government's vision of improving the lives and livelihoods of the tribal communities in the state by enhancing their economic power and strengthening their sources of livelihood.
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IIT Kanpur Licenses Gene Therapy Technology to Reliance Life Sciences

  • The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur licensed a gene therapy technology that has the potential to treat many hereditary eye diseases to Reliance Life Sciences Pvt Ltd. The gene therapy technology from IIT Kanpur will be further developed as an indigenous product by Reliance Life Sciences.
  • Developed by Jayandharan Giridhara Rao and Shubham Maurya from the Department of Biological Sciences and Bioengineering (BSBE), IIT Kanpur, the patented technology modifies the gene of an organism to treat a hereditary disorder.
  • Reliance Life Sciences is developing several gene therapies to address unmet clinical needs. Besides, the company is also developing a range of human and animal health vaccines and mRNA products.

IIM Ahmedabad Hosts Two Day International Research Conference on 'FinTech: Innovation, Inclusion and Regulation'

  • Misra Centre for Financial Markets and Economy (MCFME) at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA), along with the Centre for Advanced Financial Research and Learning (CAFRAL) organised the 'International Research Conference on FinTech: Innovation, Inclusion, and Regulation' on campus.
  • The two-day conference was organised with the objective of bringing top researchers, practitioners, and regulators from across the globe together to deliberate on key issues that accompany the exponential growth that FinTech has seen in the past few years.
  • IIMA-CAFRAL FinTech conference came at an opportune time during India's Presidency of the G20. The G20 Finance Track emphasizes improving financial inclusion through harnessing emerging technologies, improving the financial architecture, digital financial literacy, and bridging the digital divide.

BITS Pilani Launches BITS Law School in Mumbai

  • BITS Pilani launched BITS Law School in Greater Mumbai. The law school would offer two five-year integrated degree programmes, BA LLB (Hons) and BBA LLB (Hons). The first academic year will commence on August 1, 2023.
  • The law students will also gain access to and benefit from the over 1,70,000 BITS Pilani Alumni Network spanning across 55 countries. BITS Law School will seek intellectual guidance from luminaries of the legal fraternity, higher education, business, and policymaking.
  • As per reports, scholarships will be offered for meritorious students to enable access and preserve diversity. Among the specialisations offered are technology and media law; entertainment and sports law; corporate and financial law; and alternate dispute resolution and mediation.
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Arjun Ram Meghwal Inaugurates Exhibition on 133rd Foundation Day Celebrations of National Archives of India

  • Minister of State for Culture Arjun Ram Meghwal inaugurated the exhibition "Women and Nation Building: 1857 to the Republic" at the National Archives of India in New Delhi. The exhibition was held on the occasion of the 133rd Foundation Day celebrations of the National Archives of India.
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VP Jagdeep Dhankhar Releases 'Mundaka Upanishad: The Gateway to Eternity', Written by Karan Singh

  • Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar released of the book "Mundaka Upanishad: The Gateway to Eternity". Karan Singh, a former member of parliament, wrote the book at Upa-Rashtrapati Nivas in New Delhi. He is a philosopher and politician from India.
  • Dr. Karan Singh is well recognised as an intellectual and a patron of scholarship and artistic endeavours in addition to his extraordinary record of 70 years in public life, which began at the age of 18 when he was named Regent of Jammu & Kashmir by his father Maharaja Hari Singh. His most recent novels are Shiva: King of the Cosmic Dance (Speaking Tiger) and Reflections, which are among his more than 20 published works (Shubhi Publications). He formerly served as chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, and the Jammu & Kashmir University.
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Central Railway Achieves 100 % Electrification of Broad Gauge Network

  • The Central Railway achieved 100 per cent electrification of its broad gauge network of 3,825 km, which was resulting in an annual reduction of 5.204 lakh tonnes of carbon footprints.
  • The CSMT-headquartered zonal railway said that the 52-km Ausa Road-Latur Road stretch in Solapur division was the last non-electrified section and its electrification was completed. This move helps in reducing carbon footprints of 5.204 lakh tonnes every year as well as savings of 1670 crore rupees. It will reduce fuel bills and help earn carbon credit.
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Justice Dipankar Datta of Supreme Court to be the New Chairperson of the National Court Management Systems Committee

  • As per the mandate of the 'Scheme of National Court Management Systems for enhancing timely justice, the Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud reconstituted the National Court Management Systems Committee (NCMSC).
  • The Supreme Court judge Justice Dipankar Datta will be the new chairperson of the 16-member committee, which also includes judges of four High Courts.
  • The four High Court judges are Justice Rajiv Shakdher of Delhi High Court, Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque of Kerala High Court, Justice Joymala Bagchi of Calcutta High Court and Justice Arun Bhansali of Rajasthan High Court.
  • Expert members of the committee are the Director of the Welingkar Institute of Management, Uday Salunkhe, and National Informatics Centre Deputy Director General R. S. Mani.
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