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Daily G.K. - Top Stories

21 Feb 2024

DAILY G.K. TEST

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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

PML-N and PPP to Form Coalition Government

  • Two major Pakistan political parties reached a formal agreement to form a coalition government, ending days of intense negotiations after an inconclusive national election did not return a clear majority.
  • The agreement between Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of three-time Premier Nawaz Sharif ended days of uncertainty and negotiations after the elections produced a hung national assembly.
  • Bhutto Zardari confirmed that former premier Shehbaz Sharif would be the coalition's candidate for Prime Minister.
  • He added that his father Asif Ali Zardari will be the alliance's candidate for the country's president.
  • PML-N is the largest party with 79 seats and PPP is second with 54. They, along with four other smaller parties, have a comfortable majority in the legislature of 264 seats.
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BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Kotak Mahindra Bank Announces Changes in Senior Management

  • The Kotak Mahindra Bank announced changes in the senior management of the company. The bank re-designated KVS Manian as the new Joint MD with effect from March 1, 2024.
  • Manian was serving as the whole-time Director and a key managerial personnel of the bank.
  • Shanti Ekambaram was appointed as the Deputy MD with effect from March 1, 2024.
  • The current Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Devang Gheewalla was appointed as the President and Group Chief Financial Officer with effect from April 1, 2024. This came as a consequence of the superannuation of Jaimin Bhatt.

TVS Supply Chain Solutions Extends Contract with Rolls-Royce for 5 Years

  • TVS Supply Chain Solutions (TVS SCS), one of the largest integrated supply chain solutions providers in India, announced that their contract with Rolls-Royce, a global leader in technology and innovation, was extended for five years until 2029. The partnership extension is for the state-of-the-art Parts Distribution Centre (PDC) in Singapore serving the Asia Pacific markets for Rolls-Royce's Power Systems business unit.
  • This extension reflects the confidence and trust placed by Rolls-Royce in TVS SCS's service performance and underscores the continued success of the collaborative efforts between the two companies.

HDFC Life International Launches Health Plan for Overseas Indian Students

  • GIFT IFSC based HDFC Life International announced the launch of a comprehensive US Dollar Student Health Insurance Plan, under the plan name 'Global Student Health Care'. The product is designed for students who are currently studying abroad.
  • The Global Student Health Care plan with cashless facility offers comprehensive coverage, allowing worldwide access to top-notch medical facilities outside the home country, with an extensive network of hospitals, clinics, doctors, and professionals.
  • The plan enables customers to access top private medical facilities and services while avoiding the conventional hassle of going through lengthy appointment wait times, as seen in various countries. Enhancing the usefulness of this plan is its cashless facility that makes the claims process convenient for the student.
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Scientists Uncover Universe's Brightest Object

  • A team of astronomers in Australia identified an extraordinary celestial phenomenon. The most brilliant object ever detected in the universe. This massive quasar, energised by a colossal black hole, surpasses the brightness of our sun by an astonishing 500 trillion times.
  • The black hole central to this quasar is no ordinary one. With a mass 17 billion times that of our sun, it consumes the equivalent of the sun's material every day. This voracious consumption powers the quasar's remarkable luminosity, allowing it to be visible despite its light travelling an astonishing distance of 12 billion years to reach us.
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SPORTS

Women's Premier League 2024

  • The Women's Premier League's second season, a women's T20 cricket championship, is scheduled to kick off on February 23, as previously disclosed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). This prestigious event will commence on February 23 and conclude on March 17, featuring a total of 22 games – 20 regular season matches, one eliminator, and the championship match.
  • The M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru will host all games up until March 4, after which the venue will shift to the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi for the remaining fixtures. The opening game will see the Mumbai Indians, the reigning champions, go head-to-head with the previous year's runner-up, the Delhi Capitals, in Bengaluru. Teams vying for the WPL 2024 title include the Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Giants, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and UP Warriorz.

Pranati Nayak Clinches Bronze Medal in Women's Vault Event

  • Indian gymnast Pranati Nayak clinched the bronze medal in the women's vault event at the FIG Apparatus World Cup in Cairo, Egypt.
  • The event crucial for the Paris Olympics qualification, witnessed Nayak's stellar performance as she earned an impressive aggregate score of 13.616 points, securing her spot on the podium. Korea's An Chang-Ok who scored 14.230 points won the gold medal while Bulgaria's Valentina Georgieva clinched silver with 13.620 points.
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NATIONAL AFFAIRS

India Contributes 1 Million USD to Poverty and Hunger Alleviation Fund

  • India contributed 1 million US Dollars to the Poverty and Hunger Alleviation Fund established by India, Brazil, and South Africa, IBSA. The fund is aimed at alleviating poverty and hunger. India's Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj handed over the cheque to the Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Dima Al-Khatib.
  • The IBSA countries, India, Brazil and South Africa, each contribute one million dollars annually to the Fund in a spirit of partnership and support for Southern-led, demand-driven, transformational projects in developing countries.
  • India's contribution to the IBSA Fund has cumulatively exceeded USD 18 million since the Fund was established in 2004 and became operational in 2006. UNOSSC serves as the Fund Manager and Secretariat of the IBSA Fund.

Sonia, Nadda among 41 Elected Unopposed

  • The Rajya Sabha elections saw 41 candidates getting elected without any opposition, including former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, BJP president J. P. Nadda, Union Ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and L. Murugan, and BJP's new entrant Ashok Chavan. The remaining 15 seats in Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh will go to polls on February 27. The BJP emerged as the biggest winner, securing 20 seats, followed by the Congress (6), Trinamool Congress (4), YSR Congress (3), RJD (2), BJD (2) and NCP, Shiv Sena, BRS and JD(U) one each. The returning officers declared these 41 candidates as winners on the last date of withdrawal of nominations, as there were no other contenders for these seats.

Chandigarh Mayor Election: Supreme Court Declares AAP-Congress Candidate Kuldeep Kumar as Winner

  • The Supreme Court declared AAP-Congress mayoral candidate Kuldeep Kumar as the winner in Chandigarh Mayor election. A bench of Chief Justice of India D. Y. Chandrachud, Justice J. B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Mishra passed the verdict after it dismissed Returning Officer Anil Masih's explanation on why he had declared the eight votes of the AAP candidate to be invalid.
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DEFENCE

Indian Air Force (IAF) Conducted 'Exercise Vayu Shakti-24'

  • Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted 'Exercise Vayu Shakti-24' at the Pokhran range near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, presenting a formidable display of its aerial firepower. The event, attended by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Anil Chauhan, marked a significant demonstration of the IAF's offensive capabilities through a series of meticulously planned aerial manoeuvres and precision strikes.
  • Adhering to this year's theme, 'Lightning Strike from the Sky', the exercise involved over 120 aircraft showcasing the IAF's day and night offensive prowess. A variety of fighter aircraft including the Rafale, Su-30 MKI, MiG-29, Mirage-2000, Tejas, and Hawk participated, executing precision attacks on simulated enemy targets using an array of Precision Guided Munitions and conventional ordnance.
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PERSONS IN NEWS

Actor Rituraj Singh Passes Away

  • Rituraj Singh, a versatile actor passed away at the age of 59. Singh, whose career spanned over several decades, was revered for his dynamic performances across television, cinema, and web series.
  • Rituraj Singh's journey in the entertainment industry is marked by an array of memorable roles that showcased his acting prowess. He was an integral part of the television landscape, featuring in iconic shows such as "Banegi Apni Baat," "Kahani Ghar Ghar Kii," and "Kutumb." His role in "Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai" further solidified his standing as a household name, endearing him to audiences across the nation.

Eminent jurist Fali S. Nariman Passes Away

  • Eminent jurist and senior advocate of the Supreme Court Fali S. Nariman died at the age of 95.
  • Nariman started his law practice at the Bombay High Court.
  • When he was 38 years, below the minimum qualifying age, he declined an invitation to be a judge of the High Court.
  • He was a senior advocate of the Supreme Court since 1971 and had also served as President of the Bar Association of India from 1991 to 2010.
  • Nariman was a recipient of some of the country's highest civilian awards, including the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
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DAYS AND EVENTS

International Mother Language Day

  • International Mother Language Day is observed on February 21, every year. It is a significant day to raise awareness about the importance of mother tongue and to promote multilingualism.
  • The day was first proposed in Bangladesh in 1952. Four students were killed while starting the movement to make Bengali the official language of the country.
  • In 1999, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated February 21 as International Mother Language Day. The General Assembly of the UN also welcomed the proposal.
  • The theme for International Mother Language Day 2024 is 'Multilingual education – a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning'.
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AWARDS AND HONOURS

Shashi Tharoor Conferred France's Highest Civilian Honour

  • Shashi Tharoor, a prolific author and a diplomat-turned-politician, was conferred France's highest civilian honour 'Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur'.
  • Author of several books and a Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor was conferred the prestigious award at the French Embassy by French Senate President Gerard Larcher.
  • The French government had announced the award for Tharoor, a former Union Minister, in August 2022.
  • The highest French civilian award came in recognition of Tharoor's tireless efforts to deepen Indo-French ties, commitment to international peace and cooperation, and as a long-standing friend of France.
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GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND SCHEMES

Maharashtra Cabinet Approves Draft Bill for 10% Maratha Reservation in Education, Govt. Jobs

  • The Maharashtra cabinet approved a draft bill introducing a 10 per cent quota for Marathas.
  • The bill, which will extend the state's total reservations in government jobs and educational institutions beyond the 50 per cent cap imposed by a 1992 Supreme Court judgment — follows a report submitted by the Maharashtra Backward Classes Commission (MBCC). This report classifies Marathas as socially and educationally backward and cites "extraordinary circumstances" to justify exceeding the reservation cap.
  • The decision was prompted by the hunger strike by Maratha quota activist Manoj Jarange-Patil at the Antarwali Saarati village in Jalna district.
  • The bill is similar to the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Act, 2018, which was introduced by the then Devendra Fadnavis government.
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GENDER/ HEALTH/ EDUCATION

IIT-Madras Gets CEO of Centre of Excellence in Sports Science and Analytics

  • In a move towards fostering "innovation in sports technology," the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) appointed Ramesh Kumar, former ESPN vice president as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Centre of Excellence in Sports Science and Analytics (CESSA).
  • The CESSA at IIT Madras aims to be a global platform dedicated to advancing sports technology, delivering products and solutions to enhance athlete performance, and promoting general fitness and health, as per a press release issued by the institute.
  • Ramesh Kumar, an alumnus of IIT Madras, brings over three decades of industry experience, including close to 24 years in the sports industry. He has played a key role in driving digital leadership, innovation, and growth for ESPNcricinfo.

IIM-Kozhikode, Emeritus Launch Chief Marketing and Growth Officer Programme

  • The Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIM Kozhikode) in association with ed-tech learning platform Emeritus announced the launch of the Chief Marketing and Growth Officer programme. This 10-month live online programme will be delivered by IIMK's faculty and industry experts, offering real-world case studies, a three-day immersion at the IIMK campus for networking opportunities, hands-on business simulations and a capstone project guided by the IIMK faculty.

Dharmendra Pradhan Inaugurates India's First Skill India Centre in Sambalpur, Odisha

  • Union Minister for Education and Skill Development Dharmendra Pradhan inaugurated India's inaugural Skill India Centre (SIC) in Sambalpur, Odisha, affirming its role in enhancing the nation's workforce.
  • Pradhan stressed the need for skilled workers to drive India's progress in the 21st century. He highlighted the significance of affordable education to empower the youth, underscoring the importance of democratising access to quality education.
  • Pradhan mentioned that the introduction of low-cost courses at the centre would empower a large number of young people, making them a part of the evolving job market.
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ART AND CULTURE

The 11th International Puppet Festival in Chandigarh

  • The Union Territory of Chandigarh became a melting pot of cultural heritage and artistic innovation as it hosted the 11th International Puppet Festival at Tagore Theatre. The event, inaugurated by Punjab Governor and Administrator of Union Territory Chandigarh, Banwarilal Purohit, alongside Adviser to the Administrator Rajeev Verma and other dignitaries, marked a significant celebration of puppetry's rich legacy and its enduring appeal across ages.
  • The festival commenced with a spellbinding performance by the Novosibirsk Regional Puppet Theatre from Russia, captivating the audience with the renowned puppet show "Petrushka." This opening act set the tone for the festival, showcasing the global appeal and artistic depth of puppetry.
  • In a bid to make the festival accessible to a broader audience, the Department organized special morning shows exclusively for school students, while evening shows were open to the general public. This thoughtful scheduling ensured that enthusiasts of all ages had the opportunity to experience the magic of puppetry firsthand.
  • This exhibition offered visitors a unique opportunity to explore the art of puppet-making through live demonstrations. Artisans and puppeteers shared their skills and insights, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the intricate craftsmanship that goes into creating these enchanting figures.
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