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General Awareness

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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

29 May 2023


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China Select Committee of US House Recommends Making India Part of NATO Plus

  • In a significant development ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the United States, a powerful Congressional Committee recommended strengthening NATO Plus by including India.
  • NATO Plus, currently NATO Plus 5, is a security arrangement that brings together NATO and five aligned nations – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and South Korea – to boost global defence cooperation.
  • Bringing India on board would facilitate seamless intelligence sharing between these countries and India would access the latest military technology without much of a time lag.
  • The House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), led by Chairman Mike Gallagher and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi, overwhelmingly adopted a policy proposal to enhance Taiwan's deterrence, including through strengthening NATO Plus to include India.
  • An initiative of the Republican leadership, the Select Committee is popularly called the China Committee.

Saudi Arabia and Canada to Restore Full Diplomatic Ties

  • Canada and Saudi Arabia agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, both countries said, bringing to a close a 2018 dispute that damaged relations and trade.
  • The decision followed discussions held between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Bangkok in November 2022.
  • As part of the restoration of ties, Canada will appoint Jean-Philippe Linteau as its new ambassador to Riyadh.

Erdogan Wins Turkish Presidential Elections

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won reelection, extending his increasingly authoritarian rule into a third decade as the country reels from high inflation and the aftermath of an earthquake that leveled entire cities.
  • A third term gives Erdogan an even stronger hand domestically and internationally, and the election results will have implications far beyond the capital of Ankara. Turkey stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and it plays a key role in NATO.
  • With more than 99% of ballot boxes opened, unofficial results from competing news agencies showed Erdogan with 52% of the vote, compared with 48% for his challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The head of Turkey's electoral board confirmed the victory, saying that even after accounting for outstanding votes, the result was another term for Erdogan.
  • Erdogan, who has been at Turkey's helm for 20 years, came just short of victory in the first round of elections on May 14, 2023. It was the first time he failed to win an election outright, but he made up.
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RBI Approves Merger of Maratha Co-op Bank with Cosmos Co-op Bank

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) granted approval for the voluntary Scheme of Amalgamation of Maratha Sahakari Bank with The Cosmos Co-operative Bank. The merger took effect from May 29, 2023, as announced by the RBI. This decision came after Maratha Sahakari Bank, established in 1946 with seven branches in Mumbai, had been placed under regulatory directions by the central bank since August 31, 2016. The Scheme was sanctioned under the authority of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949.
  • The Maratha Sahakari Bank, a prominent co-operative bank in Mumbai, has faced regulatory intervention by the RBI since 2016. Under the Directions imposed by the central bank, the bank's operations were closely monitored and regulated. The decision to merge with The Cosmos Co-operative Bank represents a strategic move to ensure the stability and continued services of the Maratha Sahakari Bank.
  • The Cosmos Co-operative Bank, an urban co-operative bank operating across multiple states, boasts a network of 140 branches. With deposits and advances amounting to Rs. 16,522 crore and Rs. 12,293 crore, respectively, as of March-end 2022, Cosmos Co-operative Bank has a strong financial position and a well-established presence in the co-operative banking sector.

PhonePe: The First Payment App to Link 2 Lakh Rupay Credit Cards to UPI

  • PhonePe became the first digital payments app to successfully enable the linkage of two lakh RuPay credit cards to the Unified Payments Interface (UPI). In addition, PhonePe also processed a total payment value (TPV) of Rs. 150 crore via RuPay credit on UPI. TPV refers to the total transaction value processed through the platform in a given time period.
  • The company has already enabled the acceptance of RuPay Credit Cards on UPI across 12 million merchant outlets in the country, achieving the highest merchant penetration in the ecosystem. This widespread acceptance has ensured that customers have ample opportunities to utilize their Rupay credit cards for transactions through UPI.

Adani Wilmar Enters Whole Wheat Market in India under its Brand Fortune

  • Adani Wilmar entred into the whole wheat market with its brand Fortune. It will offer several wheat varieties, including Sharbati, Poorna 1544, Lokwan, and MP Grade 1 in Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • The company aims to increase its market share and expand its presence into high-value metro markets such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Surat and Ahmedabad.
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ISRO Launches Its Next-generation Navigational Satellite - NVS-1 from Sriharikota

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation conducted the fifth launch of 2023 as it lifted off a 2232-kilogram satellite, part of its NavIC series, into space. The NVS-1 launched onboard GSLV F12 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
  • The NVS-1 is the first satellite of the next-generation NavIC satellite aimed to augment the navigational capabilities of the country. The system was developed looking at the growing requirements of the Civil Aviation sector in the country for better positioning, navigation, and timing.
  • The NavIC satellites are used in terrestrial, aerial, and marine transportation, location-based services, personal mobility, resource monitoring, surveying and geodesy, scientific research, time dissemination and synchronization, and safety-of-life alert dissemination.
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India Shotgun Coaches Russell Mark, Lauryn Mark Resign

  • In a big loss to the shotgun team, India's foreign trap coach Russell Mark and skeet coach Lauryn Mark, who was also the high performance manager of the team, have resigned from their posts over delay in contract renewal.
  • As per reports, the husband-wife duo sent in a joint resignation letter after they were put off by the delay in contract negotiations and their long-standing disagreements with the high performance director Dr Pierre Beauchamp.
  • Their contracts had ended in March and negotiations were underway to extend it.

Magnus Carlsen Wins 2023 Superbet Rapid and Blitz Poland

  • India's H. S. Prannoy beat China's Weng Hong Yang 21-19, 13-21, 21-18 in the Malaysia Masters 2023 final in Kuala Lumpur and claimed his first BWF World Tour title.
  • Prannoy was vital in India's thrilling Thomas Cup victory in 2022, but he had not won an individual trophy since the 2017 US Open Grand Prix Gold. The Kerala shuttler came close to ending his title drought in 2022 when he reached the finals of the Swiss Open and finished in the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open and the Indonesia Super 1000.

Magnus Carlsen Wins 2023 Superbet Rapid and Blitz Poland

  • World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen won the 2023 Superbet Rapid & Blitz Poland, the second leg of the Grand Chess Tour (GCT) at the Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The Norwegian Grandmaster, the World No.1, Magnus Carlsen finished with a score of 24/36 and took home the $40,000 1st place prize. Jan-Krzyzstof Duda was placed second, the local favourite and defending champion who led until the final day and ended just a point behind with 23/36, after nearly winning a final game against Carlsen that would have forced a playoff.
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Suman Sharma Sworn in as UPSC Member

  • Senior bureaucrat Suman Sharma was sworn in as the member of the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
  • Sharma is a 1990-batch Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax) officer.
  • UPSC Chairman Manoj Soni administered the oath of office and secrecy to the newly appointed member.
  • Sharma was working as Managing Director of Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) Ltd. under Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, to her parent cadre.
  • During her stint as MD, SECI, the company witnessed significant growth in its revenue and profits and also received 'Mini Ratna' status during her tenure.
  • Sharma, in her illustrious career of more than 30 years, has held several important positions and has been closely involved with the subject matters of international taxation, transfer pricing, power trading agreements and new foreign trade policy in India.

Modi Inaugurates New Parliament Building

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the country's new Parliament building. It is a modern complex built as part of the government's grand plan to give a makeover to the British colonial-era architecture in the nation's capital. Several religious leaders lauded the Prime Minister for the inauguration of the new building, which also houses the historic 'Sengol'.
  • The inauguration of the new Sansad Bhavan coincided with the birth anniversary of Hindutva ideologue V. D. Savarkar. Several opposition parties targeted the government, with the Congress calling it a complete insult to the country's founding fathers.
  • Besides modern technology, the new parliament has a total of 1,272 seats in two chambers, nearly 500 more than the old building, and at least three times as much space to accommodate new lawmakers in the world's most populous nation.
  • The triangular-shaped parliament complex is just across from the old, circular heritage building built by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker in 1927, two decades before India's independence.
  • The old parliament will be converted into a museum.

PM Presides over 8th NITI Aayog Governing Council Meeting

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the eighth governing council meeting of the NITI Aayog.
  • Themed on 'Viksit Bharat @2047: Role of Team India', the meeting was held at the new Convention Centre in the national capital's Pragati Maidan.
  • As the chairman of NITI Aayog, PM Modi presided over the meeting, which deliberated on issues related to health, skill development, women empowerment and infrastructure development, with an aim to make India a developed nation by 2047.
  • Chief Ministers of several states participated in the council meeting that was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
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India-Saudi Naval Drill Concludes

  • The second edition of the bilateral exercise "Al Mohed Al Hindi 23" between the Indian Navy and the Royal Saudi Naval Force (RSNF) has concluded off Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia.
  • INS Tarkash, INS Subhadra and Dornier Maritime Patrol aircraft participated in the exercise from the Indian side; the RSNF was represented by HMS Badr, Abdul Aziz and MH 60R copters.
  • The three-day exercise at sea witnessed a wide spectrum of maritime operations. It culminated with debrief at sea followed by traditional steam past.
  • The successful conduct of 'Al Mohed Al Hindi 23' showcased a high degree of professionalism, interoperability and exchanges of best practices between the two navies.
  • The bilateral exercise met all its objectives and both sides intend to graduate more advanced level of exercises in the next edition.
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Micky Jagtiani, Founder of Retail Giant Landmark Group, Passes Away

  • Dubai-based billionaire businessman Micky Jagtiani, who founded retail giant Landmark Group, passed away. He was 70 years old.
  • With a net worth of $5.2 billion, he was ranked 511 on the Forbes' 37th annual world billionaires list earlier this year (2023).
  • Jagtiani was originally from India and started the business in 1973 with one store in Bahrain. He then expanded the business across west Asia, Africa and India. According to Forbes, Jagtiani drove a taxi in London before moving to Bahrain and starting a baby products shop.
  • The Landmark Group also entered India in 1999 and has a range of retail brands like Lifestyle and Max for clothes and Home Centre for furniture and home furnishings.
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International Day of UN Peacekeepers

  • The International Day of UN Peacekeepers is observed annually on May 29. It is a day dedicated to honouring the contributions and sacrifices of United Nations (UN) peacekeepers in maintaining peace and security around the world. The day also serves as a tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
  • The International Day of UN Peacekeepers has its origins in the United Nations General Assembly. In 2002, the General Assembly designated May 29 as the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers to honour the memory of peacekeepers who lost their lives in the service of peace.
  • The choice of May 29 as the date for this observance was significant. It marks the anniversary of the creation of the first UN peacekeeping mission. On May 29, 1948, the UN Security Council authorised the establishment of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to oversee the ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This mission became the first-ever peacekeeping operation conducted by the United Nations.
  • The theme for the International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2023 was 'Peace begins with me'. This year (2023) it marked the 75th anniversary of peacekeeping.

Memorial Day

  • Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the US that is observed on the last Monday of the month of May (in 2023 May 29) every year. The occasion is aimed at honouring and mourning the loss of the US military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.
  • Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday through an act of Congress in 1971. Notably, Memorial Day in the US was observed on May 30 between 1868 to 1970.
  • Historically, Memorial Day can be traced back to the Civil War era in the US. However, it was declared a national holiday through an act of Congress in 1971. The occasion is meant to establish a way to set aside some time to honour the troops who had given their lives in service to America.

International Everest Day

  • May 29 is observed as International Everest Day. This day is in the memory of two persons who climbed Mt. Everest in 1953. The persons are Nepalese Tenzing Norgay and New Zealand's Edmund Hillary. Mount Everest is located between Nepal and China. On this day in Nepal's capital Kathmandu, several events and processions take place to praise the mountaineers.
  • Nepal decided to observe the day as International Everest Day in 2008 when the legendary climber Hillary passed away.
  • Mount Everest attracts climbers, including highly experienced mountaineers, every year from across the globe. The British named it Mount Everest after Sir George Everest, a 19th-century British surveyor of South Asia.
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Princess Sophia Duleep Singh's UK Home Gets Commemorative Blue Plaque

  • Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the last ruler of the Sikh empire, and the goddaughter of Queen Victoria, was honoured with a commemorative Blue Plaque in London.
  • The Blue Plaque scheme, run by the English Heritage charity, honours the significance of particular buildings associated with historical figures. In memory of the British-Indian Princess, it now adorns Faraday House, which was granted to Sophia and her sisters as a grace and favour apartment at Hampton Court Palace southwest of London by Queen Victoria.

Three Indian Peacekeepers Honoured posthumously with UN Medal for Supreme Sacrifice

  • Three Indian peacekeepers, who lost their lives serving under the UN flag in 2022, were among the 103 military, police, and civilian peacekeepers who were honoured posthumously with a prestigious medal for their service and supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.
  • The three Indians were Border Security Force personnel Head Constables Shishupal Singh and Sanwala Ram Vishnoi, who served with the Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Shaber Taher Ali, employed in a civilian capacity with the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.
  • They were honoured with the Dag Hammarskojold Medal, the highest honour awarded to UN Peacekeepers, at a solemn ceremony held at the UN headquarters.

Damodar Mauzo Gets Jnanpith Award

  • Goan writer Damodar Mauzo Goa received the prestigious Jnanpith Award, the country's highest literary honour, from state Governor P. S. Sreedharan Pillai.
  • Mauzo's 25 books have been published in Konkani and one in English. Many of his books have also been translated in different languages.
  • Mauzo's famous novel 'Karmelin' received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1983.
  • The novel, published in 1981, has been translated in Hindi, Marathi, English, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Odia and Maithili languages.
  • Mauzo is the second Goan to receive the Jnanpith Award. Earlier, Ravindra Kelekar got the award in 2008.
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Assam Higher Secondary Education Council to Introduce Bodo as Medium of Instruction for Arts Courses

  • The Assam Higher Secondary Education Council (AHSEC) issued a notification to introduce Bodo as a medium of instruction for Higher Secondary Arts courses from the academic year 2023-24.
  • In the notification, AHSEC said that institutions willing to offer a Bodo medium of instruction to students are required to intimate it immediately.
  • History, Geography, Education, Logic and Philosophy, Economics, Political Science, Environmental Education, Mathematics and Swadesh Adhyayan are the subjects for which Bodo medium of instruction has been introduced.

IIT Gandhinagar and VIPS-TC Forge Partnership to Drive Technological Advancements in IT

  • The Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) and Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies Technical Campus (VIPS-TC) signed of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a strategic partnership aimed at fostering innovation, academic excellence, and research collaboration in the field of Information Technology and related disciplines. This landmark collaboration is set to create significant opportunities for students, faculty members, and researchers from both institutions.
  • The MoU was signed between Professor Rajat Moona, Director, IIT Gandhinagar, and Mr Vineet Vats, Vice-Chairman, VIPS-TC in the presence of Dr. Ashwini Kumar Sharma, Director General VIPS-TC, Suneet Vats, Vice Chairman VIPS-TC and Ajay Bindal, Vice Chairman, VIPS-TC.
  • This MoU aims to facilitate administrative support, improving or initiating new Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral programmes at VIPS-TC, internships programmes, special training programmes, faculty support, guidance in infrastructure development, and joint organisation of seminars, conferences, workshops on topics of mutual interest.
  • The collaboration will create a unique opportunity for faculty members and students from both institutions to work together on cutting-edge technological advancements and address the emerging challenges in the IT sector.
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First Urban Climate Film Festival to Begin in New Town, Kolkata

  • The first-ever Urban Climate Film Festival, which aspires to employ the powerful medium of film to enlighten audiences about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of climate change on urban settlements, is going to take place in New Town, Kolkata from June 3 to 5, 2023. Sixtenen films from 12 countries are scheduled to be screened, along with Q&A sessions with filmmakers in order to spark conversations about building climate-resilient cities and invite inputs from the public; further encouraging the citizens to undertake 'environmentally responsible behaviour' in line with the U20 priority areas and the Prime Minister's clarion call through the LiFE Mission.
  • Launched in New Delhi in March 2023, the film festival is being organised by the National Institute of Urban Affairs, through the CITIIS program under the engagement events of U20 (the urban track of G20). The festival is supported by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the French Development Agency (AFD), the European Union, and the New Town Kolkata Green Smart City Corporation Limited.
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'Naam Namak Nishan' Quiz Book on Indian Armed Forces

  • A new quiz book, 'Naam, Namak, Nishan', piques curiosity of history buffs and military personnel alike as it explores the fascinating world of the Indian Armed Forces -- one question at a time.
  • Written by Group Captain Anurakshat Gupta and his team of ardent quizzer-doctors from the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) Pune, the book takes readers on a journey across 250 questions as it explores trivia that connects the Indian Armed Forces to topics ranging from mythology, history and art to geography, fashion and sport.
  • The quiz book is published by Penguin Random House India (PRHI).
  • The book is divided into four sections: The Colonial Era, India at the World Wars and in the Years Between, Wars of Independent India and The Operations, Warriors, Traditions, and Colours of the Men in Uniform.
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Five Judges Elevated as High Court Chief Justices

  • Five judges were elevated as Chief Justices of High.
  • The Department of Justice in the Union Law Ministry issued separate notifications announcing the appointment of acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Justice Sanjay Vijaykumar Gangapurwala as the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court and Justice Ramesh Deokinandan Dhanuka as the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court.
  • Dhanuka will demit office on May 30, upon attaining the age of 62 and will have a tenure as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court of effectively four days.
  • Justice Augustine George Masih of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court.
  • Justice Mamidanna Satyaratna Ramachandra Rao, of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.
  • Justice Sarasa Venkatanarayana Bhatti of the Kerala High Court was appointed as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.
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