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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

16 Mar 2023


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US Senate Confirms Eric Garcetti as US Ambassador to India

  • Eric Garcetti, who is President Joe Biden's close aide, was confirmed by the US Senate as the country's next ambassador to India. The Senate voted 52-42 to fill the key diplomatic position that had been vacant for over two years. The former Los Angeles mayor's nomination was pending before the US Congress since July 2021 when he was nominated for the prestigious diplomatic posting by Biden.
  • His nomination was not brought to the Senate floor for a vote during the last Congress as the ruling Democratic Party did not have enough support to get the close aide of Biden through.
  • Kenneth Juster, the last occupant of the ambassadorial residence of the US in New Delhi, stepped down in January 2021 after the change of government in America.

India's K.R. Parvathy Appointed as UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan

  • India's Kavilmadam Ramaswami Parvathy, who served in leading roles at the World Food Programme in Türkey and Afghanistan, was appointed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan.
  • Parvathy took up her new post as Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan, following the appointment by the Secretary-General and confirmation from the host Government.
  • Parvathy brings more than 30 years of experience in development and humanitarian sectors, focusing on strategic planning, performance, risk management, people management, conflict analysis and humanitarian access negotiations.
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World's First Octopus Farm Proposals Alarm Scientists

  • A plan to build the world's first octopus farm raised deep concerns among scientists over the welfare of the famously intelligent creatures.
  • The farm in Spain's Canary Islands would raise about a million octopuses annually for food, according to confidential documents seen by the BBC.
  • They have never been intensively farmed and some scientists call the proposed icy water slaughtering method cruel.
  • The Spanish multinational behind the plans denies the octopuses will suffer.
  • The confidential planning proposal documents from the company, Nueva Pescanova, were given to the BBC by the campaign organisation Eurogroup for Animals.
  • Nueva Pescanova sent the proposal to the Canary Islands' General Directorate of Fishing, which has not responded to a BBC request for comment.
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Competition Commission of India Clears Reliance's $344 million Buy of Metro's Local Business

  • India's competition regulator, Competition Commission of India (CCI) cleared Reliance Industries Ltd's 28.50 billion rupees ($346.16 million) acquisition of the Indian business of German retailer Metro AG (B4B.DE).
  • The deal, announced nearly three months ago, will help Reliance strengthen its wholesale format and cement its position as the biggest player in India's burgeoning retail industry with stores spanning electronics, groceries and fashion.
  • Metro has been active in the Indian market since 2003 and reported sales of about 77 billion rupees for the financial year ended September 2022. It operates 31 stores in 21 cities and is mostly a supplier to restaurants and smaller businesses.

RBI Allows Banks from UK, 17 other Countries to Open Vostro Accounts for Rupee Trade

  • Banks from 18 countries were permitted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to open Special Vostro Rupee Accounts (SVRAs) for settling payments in Indian rupees, the government told the Rajya Sabha.
  • Karad informed that as per records, the RBI had granted approval to domestic and foreign AD Banks in 60 cases for opening SRVAs of banks from 18 nations — Botswana, Fiji, Germany, Guyana, Israel, Kenya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Oman, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda and the United Kingdom.

Deepak Mohanty New PFRDA Chairperson

  • Deepak Mohanty was appointed the chairperson of the Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority (PFRDA), which oversees the state system serving the old age income needs of people.
  • Mohanty will have a five-year tenure, effective from the date of assumption of charge of the post or till attaining the age of 65 years or until further orders, whichever is the earliest.
  • The PFRDA's chairperson position was vacant for some two months. In August last year, the government started searching for a successor to former chairperson Supratim Bandypadhyay, whose term ended in January 2023.
  • The government also appointed Mamta Shankar, senior economic advisor in the Department of Food and Public Distribution, as a whole-time member (economics) in PFRDA. Shankar is an officer of the Indian Economic Service (1993 cadre).
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ISRO Officials and Bhutan Government Inaugurate Ground Station of Indo-Bhutan Satellite

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman S. Somnath, Bhutan's Foreign Minister Lyonpo Tandi Dorji, Bhutan's Minister for Information and Communication Lyonpo Karma Donnen Wangdi and Ambassador of India to Bhutan Sudhakar Dalela inaugurated a Ground-Earth station for the India-Bhutan satellite in Thimphu.
  • The ground station of the India-Bhutan Satellite, built in Thimpu, is also known as the ISRO Nano Satellite 2 for Bhutan (INS-2B).
  • It was launched as a payload on ISRO's PSLV C54 rocket on November 26, 2022.
  • It has been jointly developed by scientists from both countries.
  • The satellite contains two payloads:
  • NanoMx multispectral optical imager: It is developed by India'sSpace Applications Centre (SAC). It will provide high-resolution images to Bhutan for its natural resources management.
  • Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) repeater: It is jointly developed by Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT) Bhutan and ISRO's UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) to serve the amateur radio community, relaying realtime information about the region.

Active Volcano on Venus Shows it's a Living Planet

  • Choked by a smog of sulfuric acid and scorched by temperatures hot enough to melt lead, the surface of Venus is sure to be lifeless. For decades, researchers also thought the planet itself was dead, capped by a thick, stagnant lid of crust and unaltered by active rifts or volcanoes. But hints of volcanism have mounted, and now comes the best one yet: direct evidence for an eruption. Geologically, at least, Venus is alive.
  • The discovery came from NASA's Magellan spacecraft, which orbited Venus some 30 years ago and used radar to peer through the thick clouds. Images made 8 months apart show a volcano's circular mouth, or caldera, growing dramatically in a sudden collapse. On Earth, such collapses occur when magma that had supported the caldera vents or drains away, as happened during a 2018 eruption at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.
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David Warner to Lead Delhi Capitals in IPL 2023

  • David Warner will captain Delhi Capitals in the upcoming IPL 2023. With Rishabh Pant out of action due to injury, Warner will temporarily take over the mantle for the season.
  • Ricky Ponting and the team management finally made the decision with little over 2 weeks left for the tournament. Axar Patel, who is highly rated in the Delhi Capitals, was also considered for the post.
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Business20 Meeting under India's G20 Presidency in Gangtok, Sikkim

  • Sikkim hosted the third of four B20 or Business20 events organized in the Northeast region under India's G20 presidency in Gangtok. Two have already been held earlier in Imphal and Aizawl and the fourth will be held in Kohima.
  • The vibrant organic farming of Sikkim was prominently showcased to the world through the third B20 Conferences organized in Gangtok, Sikkim. It also highlighted opportunities for Multilateral Business Partnerships in Tourism, Hospitality & Pharmaceuticals. Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) is organizing four B20 Conferences in the North Eastern region to showcase the untapped potential and opportunities within the region.

Union Minister Pratima Bhoumik Quits as MLA from Dhanpur Seat

  • Union Minister Pratima Bhoumik, who had contested and won elections from Dhanpur seat, resigned as the member of legislative assembly (MLA).
  • She thanked the electors of Dhanpur constituency for ensuring her victory in the relatively tough contest from the seat that was earlier held by former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar.
  • The BJP high command allowed her to contest the assembly election, despite being an MP and a Union Minister. Rules don't permit her to work as MP and MLA simultaneously. So, she tendered her resignation as MLA.
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Defence Start-up Hyper Stealth Technologies Bags First Order under iDEX

  • The Indian Army took a lead in awarding the first ever procurement order of an Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) project as per the revised procedure. The contract for procurement of an indigenously developed 'Integrated Mobile Camouflage System (IMCS)' for Mechanised Forces was signed with Indian start-up Hyper Stealth Technologies Pvt Ltd, in presence of the Lt Gen JB Chaudhari, Deputy Chief of the Army Staff (CD&S) and Anurag Bajpai, Joint Secretary, DDP in Sena Bhawan.
  • iDEX was launched by Narendra Modi during Def Expo India 2018. The aim of iDEX was to create an eco-system to foster innovation and encourage technological development in Defence and Aerospace by engaging R&D Institutes, Academia, Industries including MSMEs, Start-Ups, Individual Innovators and provide them grants/ funding and other support to carry out R&D which has good potential for future adoption by Indian Defence and Aerospace Organisation.
  • iDEX is funded and managed by Defence Innovation Organisation (DIO) under MoD (DDP). Over past four years, iDEX under DIO has been able to emerge as a front-runner in establishing the right kind of contact with the start-ups and Innovators and has gained substantial traction in the Defence start-up Community.
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National Vaccination Day

  • Every year, National Vaccination Day or National Immunization Day is observed in India on March 16 with an aim to spread awareness about the importance of vaccines in the healthcare system. The day is observed to create awareness regarding how effective vaccinations are to prevent deadly diseases.
  • The day was first observed in 1995 when the government of India officially launched the Pulse Polio Immunisation program to eradicate polio from the country. On March 16, 1995, the first dose of the oral polio vaccine was administered in India as part of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which began in 1988. The vaccination program was popularised through a nationwide campaign called 'Do Boond Zindagi Ki'.
  • The last case of polio was recorded in 2011 in Bengal and the WHO declared India Polio free on March 27, 2014.
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RBI Governor Das Gets the 'Governor of the Year' Award for 2023

  • Reserve Bank Governor Shaktikanta Das awarded the 'Governor of the Year' award for 2023 by the international publication Central Banking for captaining the financial markets through the turbulent periods of the pandemic and the crippling impact of the Ukraine war.
  • Former governor Raghuram Rajan was the first to be conferred the title back in 2015 from the country.
  • The Central Banking Publications is a financial publisher specialising in public policy and financial markets, with an emphasis on central banks, and international financial institutions.

Journalist Dhanya Rajendran to Receive Chameli Devi Jain Award for 2022

  • Dhanya Rajendran of The News Minute was declared the winner of the Chameli Devi Jain Award for an Outstanding Woman Media person for 2022, the Media Foundation announced.
  • Bengaluru-based Rajendran is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of digital news platform The News Minute.
  • A three-member jury comprising Nirmal Pathak, Editor, PTI Bhasha, columnist Nidhi Razdan, and Harish Damodaran, National Rural Affairs and Agriculture Editor, The Indian Express, agreed that Rajendran's work "showed a blend of meticulous reportage and data reflecting not only individual merit, but the pursuit of committed journalism".
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Atal Innovation Mission Launches ATL Sarthi

  • Atal Innovation Mission – NITI Aayog launched ATL Sarthi, a comprehensive self-monitoring framework to strengthen the ecosystem of Atal Tinkering Labs. NITI Aayog has said that Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories in schools across the country to foster curiosity, creativity, and imagination in young minds. Atal Tinkering Labs Sarthi is a charioteer and it will enable the Atal Tinkering Labs to be efficient and effective.
  • Mission Director Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog Dr. Chintan Vaishnav said that Atal Innovation Mission aims to foster millions of young innovators in India by setting up Atal Tinkering Labs in schools. He said, to further improve their performance, Atal Innovation Mission has launched ATL Sarthi. He said, it will provide a monitoring and evaluation framework to enhance the performance of Atal Tinkering Labs.
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Assam to Get its 12th Medical College

  • Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the number of medical colleges in the state will increase to 12 with a new one at Nalbari getting approval from the National Medical Commission (NMC) to start the MBBS course from the academic session, 2023-24.
  • The Nalbari Medical College will be under Srimanta Sankaradeva University of Health Sciences and have an annual intake of 100 MBBS students.
  • As per state Health Minister Keshab Mahanta, with the latest approval, the total number of MBBS seats in the state will increase to 1,500.

NTA to Conduct CUET UG in 3 Shifts; Merger with JEE, NEET to be Announced 2 Years in Advance

  • The Common University Entrance Test (CUET)-UG will be conducted in three shifts this year instead of two and plans for its merger with crucial entrance exams like JEE and NEET will be announced at least two years in advance, according to the UGC chairman M. Jagadesh Kumar.
  • As per Kumar, the proposal to merge CUET with the engineering entrance exam JEE and the medical entrance exam NEET is definitely doable. The details are being worked out but whenever the merger happens, an announcement will be made at least two years in advance so the students can prepare accordingly.
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Bar Council of India Permits Foreign Lawyers and Law Firms to Practice in India

  • In a move that could transform the legal landscape, the Bar Council of India (BCI) allowed foreign lawyers and law firms to practise law in India on a reciprocity basis.
  • The BCI, which had earlier opposed the move, notified the Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022.
  • Although appearing in courts is prohibited, foreign law firms can set up offices in India to practise transactional and corporate work on reciprocal basis.
  • A foreign lawyer registered under rules shall be entitled to practise law in India in non-litigious matters only.
  • The foreign lawyers or foreign law firms shall not be permitted to appear before any courts, tribunals or other statutory or regulatory authorities. They shall be allowed to practise on transactional work/corporate work such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property matters, drafting of contracts and other related matters on reciprocal basis.

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear the Writ by Telangana Government Seeking Directions to Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan for Clearing Bills

  • The Supreme Court agreed to hear the writ petition filed by Telangana Government to seek directions for Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan to clear ten bills which were passed by the legislative assembly, which are awaiting her assent.
  • The matter was mentioned before bench of CJI D. Y. Chandrachud for urgent listing, saying that several bills are stuck.
  • The Government of Telangana said in the petition that it is constrained to move before the Supreme Court under its extraordinary jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution of India in view of "a very prequent constitutional impasse created on account of the refusal of the Governor to act on several bills passed by the State Legislature.
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