General Knowledge & Current Affairs

July 2021 - 11th to 20th

1.UAE becomes 1st Gulf nation to open embassy in Israel

  • The United Arab Emirateshas became the first Gulf nation to open an embassy in Israel, nearly a year after both countries signed an agreement to normalise diplomatic ties. The new mission is located in Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building.
  • The ceremony was attended by new Israeli President Isaac Herzog. UAE Ambassador Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah officially presented his credentials at the beginning of March.

2.US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan to form new quad grouping

  • The US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistanhave agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity.
  • The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing.
  • Afghanistan’s strategic location has for a long time been touted as a competitive advantage for the country. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, and China to the northeast

1.Nitin Gadkari inaugurates India’s first private LNG Facility plant at Nagpur

  • The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari,inaugurated India’s first private Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility plant at Nagpur in  The plant has been set up on Kamptee Road near Nagpur Jabalpur Highway, by Baidyanath Ayurvedic Group, the makers of Ayurvedic medicines.
  • Once operational, this LNG filling station in Nagpur will be the first such facility to operate on a commercial basis. LNG is a clean, pollution-free and cost-effective liquid fuel, which is also easy to store and reduces logistics costs.

2.Rail Cargo movement between India and Nepal gets a big boost

  • India and Nepalhave signed a Letter of Exchange(LoE) to revise the 2004 India-Nepal Rail Services Agreement (RSA). The revised agreement allows all authorized cargo train operators to utilize the Indian railway network to carry Nepal’s container and other freight – both bilateral between Indian and Nepal or third countries from Indian ports to Nepal.
  • The authorized cargo train operators include public and private container trains Operators, automobile freight train operators, special freight train operators, or any other operator authorized by Indian Railways.
  • It will allow market forces (such as consumers and buyers) to come up in the rail freight segment in Nepal and is likely to increase efficiency and cost- competitiveness.
  • It will reduce transportation costs for automobiles and certain other products whose carriage takes place in special wagons and will boost rail cargo movement between the two countries.
  • The agreement is another milestone in India’s efforts to enhance regional connectivity under the “Neighbourhood First”.

3.Amit Shah inaugurates centre of excellence at National Forensic Science University

  • Home Minister Amit Shah has inaugurated a research-based centre of excellence at National Forensic Science University in Gandhinagar,
  • The research-based centre of excellence at the National Forensic Science University in Gandhinagar will help our youths to become free from the addiction of drugs and narcotics.
  • This centre will help in research and analysis of drugs and narcotics seized in the different parts of the country and its routes. Home Minister Amit Shah also inaugurated the virtual training model on Investigation of Crime against women for Indian Police.
  1.  PM Narendra Modi inaugurates ‘Rudraksh’ convention centre in Varanasi
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the International Cooperation and Convention Centre “Rudraksh”, in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
  • The centre will become an attractive destination for conferences and pull in tourists and businesspersons to the city.
  • The international cooperation and convention centre has been named “Rudraksh” and has as many as 108 Rudraksha at the centre. Its roof is shaped like a ‘Shiva Linga’.
  • The objective is to provide opportunities for social and cultural interactions between people at the international convention centre. The convention centre has been built with the assistance from Japan International Cooperation Agency.
  • An environment-friendly building, the centre is equipped with adequate security and safety systems. It features a regular entrance, a service entrance and a separate VIP entrance, making it an ideal destination for holding all types of international events

1.UP population draft bill proposes two-child policy

  • Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath has launched a population policy that aims to incentivise couples who do not have more than two babies. Stating that population control is related to awareness among masses and poverty, Adityanath said every community has been taken care of in Population Policy 2021-2030.
  • The health minister Jai Pratap Singh said Uttar Pradesh is aiming for stability by 2050 and the government is trying to reduce the population growth rate to 2.1 per cent.
  • The UP law commission that has formulated a population control bill said the policy would be voluntary and nobody would be forced to follow any rule.
  • However, if any person decides to on his or her own to not have more than two babies, they will be eligible for government schemes., while those who do not follow the policy will face restrictions in government jobs, availing ration, and other benefits.

2.Maharashtra govt launches new EV Policy 2021

  • The Maharashtra state government has launched the new Electric Vehicle Policy-2021. The policy announced by the State Environment Minister, Aaditya Thackeray aims to accelerate the adoption of Battery Electric Vehicles in the country.
  • The new EV policy introduced in Maharashtra is a revision of the 2018 policy. It is introduced with an aim to make Maharashtra the “topmost producer of battery-powered electric vehicles in India.”
  • The policy also aims for electric vehicles (EVs) to make up 10 per cent of all new vehicle registrations, by 2025.
  • For this ambitious mission, the state government has rolled out an Rs. 930 crore policy, valid up to 31st March 2025. To make this successful, EVs will be exempted from road tax and registration charges

1.Cabinet approves increase in DA and Dearness Relief from 17% to 28%

  • The Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved an increase in the Dearness Allowance to Central Government employees and Dearness Relief to pensioners to 28 per cent.
  • This hike represents an increase of 11 per centover the existing rate of 17 per cent of the basic pay/pension.
  • The increased DA and DR rates will be effective from July 1, 2021.
  • It must be noted that both Dearness allowance and dearness relief was put on hold from January 2020, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • As a result, the DA and DR instalments are due for four periods including January 1, 2020, July 1, 2020, January 1, 2021, and July 1, 2021.
  • However, the rate of DA/DR for the period between January 2020 to June 2021 shall remain at 17%.

2.FDI limit in NPS fund managers hiked to 74%

  • The government notified a hike in the foreign direct investment limit in pension fund management to 74% from 49%under the national pension system (NPS).
  • This step is opening doors for experienced foreign partners in this space and facilitating more competition in the fledgling segment.
  • Pension Fund Regulatory &Development Authority (PFRDA) Act links the FDI ceiling in the insurance sector.
  • Many companies need capital for their expansion and due to the increase in FDI limit, they will get more money.
  • Existing fund holders will also be able to sell their excess stake.
  • Foreign companies will be able to provide new products, technology.
  • Help in increasing the reach of pensions

1.Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo wins Golden Boot in EURO 2020

  • Portugal captain and modern-day great Cristiano Ronaldo won the Euro 2020 Golden Boot after finishing as the top-scorer in the tournament.
  • Despite playing just four games, Ronaldo clinched the top honours as he scored five goals.
  • Czech Republic’s Patrik Schick also ended the tournament with five goals but the award went to Ronaldo via the tie-breaker of assists

1.Twitter appoints Vinay Prakash as resident grievance officer for India

  • Twitter has named Vinay Prakashas the Resident Grievance Officer (RGO) for India, as per the information updated on its website. Users can contact Vinay Prakash using an email ID listed on the page.
  • Earlier the US-based company had announced the appointment of California-based Jeremy Kessel as the new Grievance Officer for India.
  • However, as per the new IT rules in India, social media platforms with over 50 lakh users are mandated to appoint three key personnel namely chief compliance officer, nodal officer and grievance officer, and all these three personnel have to be residents in India

1.Nepal Inks USD 1.3 billion mega-deal with India to develop Hydropower project

  • Nepal has signed a USD 1.3 billion deal with India, to develop a 679-megawatt Lower Arun Hydropower project, located between Sankhuwasabha and Bhojpur districts in eastern Nepal.
  • As per the deal, India’s state-owned Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN), will develop the 679-megawatt hydropower project in the neighbouring Himalayan nation.
  • This will be the second mega project undertaken by India in Nepal, after the USD 1.04 billion 900-MW Arun-3 hydroelectric projects.
  • The project will be developed under the build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) model.
  • This 679 MW Hydropower project is the single largest foreign investment project in the country, based on the 2017 cost estimates.

2.IAHE inks pact with University of New South Wales to set up CATTS in Noida

  • The Indian Academy of Highway Engineers (IAHE) under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has inked an agreement with the University of New South Wales, Australia for setting up a Centre for Advanced Transportation Technology and Systems (CATTS) in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Agreement was signed in a virtual ceremony in the presence of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
  • The Agreement is for a project for capacity building, technology transfer and creation of enabling environment for establishment of Centre for Advanced Transportation Technology and Systems in, IAHE.
  • The University of New South Wales will also deliver a course on smart transport systems and modelling.
  • The project will help improve the road safety scenario in the country

1.RBI Launches ‘Retail Direct Scheme’

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched ‘the RBI Retail Direct’ scheme for retail investors, through which they can directly buy and sell government securities (G-Secs), both primary and secondary.
  • The bond-buying window was opened to increase retail participation in G-Secs and democratize ownership of G-Secs beyond the managers of pooled resources such as banks and mutual funds. The date of commencement of the scheme will be announced later.
  • The RBI Retail Direct scheme is a one-stop solution to facilitate investment in Government Securities (G-Secs) by individual investors.
  • This dedicated bond-buying window is a part of RBI’s effort to increase retail participation in government securities.
  • The scheme also provides the facility to Retail investors (individuals) to open and maintain the ‘Retail Direct Gilt Account’ (RDG Account) with RBI.
  • Under this scheme, retail investors are able to open and maintain their gilt securities account named ‘Retail Direct Gilt Account’ (RDG Account) through a ‘With RBI’online portal‘.

1.Wimbledon Championships 2021: Complete List Of Winners

  • In the men category, Novak Djokovic defeated Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final, 6-7(4-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3, to win his sixth Wimbledon title and 20th Grand Slam trophy.
  • With this win, he has equalled his total major men’s singles titles record with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with each of them winning 20 titles.

2.Argentina beats Brazil to Lift Copa America 2021

  • Lionel Messi-led Argentina beat Neymar’s Brazil 1-0to win the Copa America final match, held at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. With this win, Lionel Messi has secured his first major international trophy.
  • The 2021 Copa America was the 47th edition of the annual international men’s football championship organised by South America’s football ruling body CONMEBOL.
  • Earlier the tournament was scheduled to be held in July 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first time since 1991 that no guest nation took part in the tournament.

3.Deepak Kabra becomes first Indian gymnastics judge at Olympics

  • Deepak Kabra has become the first Indian to be selected for judging the gymnastics competition of the Olympic Games, a life goal achieved for the man who knew he wouldn’t have made it there as an active gymnast because of his not-so-strong fundamentals.
  • He will be seen officiating the men’s artistic gymnasts at the Tokyo Games, which gets underway on July 23.

4.ICC welcomes Mongolia, Tajikistan and Switzerland as new members

  • The International Cricket Council (ICC)inducted Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Switzerland as members at its 78th Annual General Meeting. Mongolia and Tajikistan as the 22nd and 23rd members of the Asia region.
  • Switzerland is Europe’s 35th member. With the ICC now comprising 106 members in total, including 94 associates

1.In a first, Himalayan yaks to be insured

  • National Research Centre on Yak (NRCY)in West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh has tied up with the National Insurance Company Ltd. for insuring Himalayan Yak.
  • The insurance policy would shield the yak owners against the risks posed by weather calamities, diseases, in-transit mishaps, surgical operations and strikes or riots.
  • The owners of the Yaks would have to get their yaks ear-tagged and provide a proper description in order to get their animals insured.
  • Himalayan Yak is a long-haired domesticated cattle found throughout the Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent, Tibetan Plateau, Myanmar and as far north as Mongolia and Siberia.
  • The total yak population in India is about 58,000.
  • The Highest Yak Population is in the Union Territories of  Ladakh and  Jammu and Kashmir. It is followed by Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal and Uttarakhand.

2.India’s first pod taxi to operate between Noida Airport and Film City

  • Indian Port Rail and Ropeway Corporation Ltd (IPRCL) has prepared a Detailed Project Report or DPR for the pod taxi service between Noida Airport at Jewar and Film City.
  • There are plans to run a driverless taxi between the two destinations. This will cost about Rs 862 crore, according to the detailed project report (DPR) submitted to the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (Yeida). This is a 14 km stretch. This will be India’s first pod taxi service.
  • Pod taxis can accommodate four to six passengers per car. This important project will provide smooth connectivity to residential and industrial areas falling between film city and the Noida International Airport. As per the DPR, the corridor will pass through various sectors such as 21, 28, 29, 30 and 32, among others, falling under the Yeida region

1.Adani Group takes over Mumbai airport management

  • Adani Group led by Gautam Adani has completed the takeover of ‘Mumbai International Airport’ from the GVK group.
  • With this takeover, Adani group has become the top company in terms of airport infrastructure companies in India. Mumbai International Airport will be operated by Adani Airport Holdings which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Adani Enterprises.
  • With the takeover, Adani group’s airports now account for a fourth of total footfalls at airports across India, and a third of total air cargo handled

1.ISRO plans to launch geo imaging satellite on August

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)is getting back into launch activity fully at Sriharikota spaceport with the planned orbiting of geo imaging satellite GISAT-1 onboard GSLV-F10 rocket on August 12.
  • GISAT-1 will be placed in a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit by GSLV-F10 and, subsequently, it will be positioned in the final geostationary orbit, about 36,000 km above earth’s equator, using its onboard propulsion system.
  • The 2,268-kg GISAT-1 was originally slated to be launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district, about 100 kms north of Chennai, on March 5 last year but was postponed a day before the blast-off due to technical reasons.
  • According to ISRO, GISAT-1 will facilitate near real-time observation of the Indian sub-continent, under cloud-free conditions, at frequent intervals.
  • The earth observation satellite will provide the country near real-time images of its borders and also enable quick monitoring of natural disasters.

2.ISRO successfully conducts 3rd test on Vikas Engine for Gaganyaan Program

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully conducted the third long-duration hot test of the liquid propellant Vikas Engine for the core L110 liquid stage of the human-rated GSLV Mk III vehicle, as part of the engine qualification requirements for the Gaganyaan Programme.
  • The engine was fired for a duration of 240 seconds at the engine test facility of ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu. The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

3.IIT-Madras develops AI algorithm called ‘NBDriver’

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras Researchers has developed an Artificial Intelligence-based Mathematical Model called ‘NBDriver’to identify cancer-causing alterations in cells.
  • The algorithm uses a relatively unexplored technique of leveraging DNA composition to pinpoint genetic alterations responsible for cancer progression, which is difficult using present methodologies.
  • Understanding the underlying mechanism of these alterations will help identify the most appropriate treatment strategy for a patient in an approach known as ‘precision oncology’.
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