General Knowledge & Current Affairs

May 2020 - 23rd to 31st

1. Benjamin Netanyahu secures 5th term as Israeli Prime Minister

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Israeli national election and hence secured a record fifth term in office, after a controversial power-sharing deal with rival-turned-partner Benny Gantz
  • According to the three-year coalition deal, Netanyahu will serve as Prime Minister while Benny Gantz will serve as the Defence Minister for the coming 18 months, which would keep him in power until November 13, 2021.
  • After 18 months, both of them will swap their roles and Netanyahu will become Defence Minister while Gantz will be the new Prime Minister

2. Prime Minister of Lesotho,  Thomas Thabane resigns

  • Thomas Thabane has formally resigned as the Prime Minister of Lesotho. Thabane and his current wife are suspected of conspiring to murder his former wife nearly three years ago
  • Lesotho’s Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro has been named by parliament as the interim Prime Minister of the country

1. Defence Ministry approves procurement of 26 defence items from local suppliers

  • The Department of Defence Production (DDP), Ministry of Defence in an attempt to further encourage procurement from local suppliers to boost ‘Make in India’, has given approval to 26 defense items out of 127 already notified clause 3(a) of the Public Procurement ( Preference to Make in India) order 2017
  • The government will make individual budgetary provisions for procuring Indian made defense equipment to help reduce the defense import bills & boost the Make In India scheme

2. India became 2nd largest manufacturer of PPE in the world

  • India has become the second-largest manufacturer of Personal Protective Equipment in the world following China which is currently leading producer of PPE in the world
  • A PPE kit basically consists of shoe cover, gloves, eye shield, mask, and gown. The data given above was provided by the Ministry of Health

3: Lok Sabha Passed Mineral Law Amendment Bill

  • Lok Sabha has passed the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which aims to amend Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 along with Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015
  • Commercial mining will completely be open up in the coal sector by this bill and it also intends to remove end-use restrictions to participate in coal mine auction

4. Import duty on Green Energy Equipment Increased by 20%

  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has increased the import duty of green energy equipment like cells by 20% in the Budget 2020-21
  • The aim is to drive local manufacturing of the equipment and lowering the import of low-quality Chinese equipment

5. 440 meter-long Tunnel under Chardham Pariyojana in Chamba inaugurated

  • Union Minister for Road Transport, Nitin Gadkari has inaugurated the 440 metre-long tunnel as part of the Chardham Connectivity Project in Chamba. It will significantly reduce the time taken by travellers on the Rishikesh-Dharasu and Gangotri stretch of the Chardham Highway (NH 94)
  • The tunnel has been developed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

6. Rehabilitation package for Amphan hit West Bengal & Odisha

  • Rehabilitation package for the “Cyclone Amphan” hit West Bengal & Odisha was announced by the Government of India. As part of rehabilitation package, the financial assistance of Rs 1,000 crore for cyclone hit West Bengal, and Rs 500 crore for Odisha was announced for immediate relief activities in the two states
  • Along with financial assistance, an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh for the next of kin of the dead, and Rs 50,000 for the injured was also announced

7. Finance Minister launches facility of Instant Allotment of PAN

  • The facility for instant allotment of Permanent Account Number (PAN) has been formally rolled out by the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman on near to real-time basis
  • The PAN applicants who has a valid Aadhaar number and have a mobile number registered with Aadhaar will be able to avail the facility. Launching this facility will create further ease of compliance to the taxpayers

1. Mizoram Cabinet grants “Industry” status to “Sports”

  • The Mizoram Cabinet has granted “industry” status to “sports” to invest more in sports in order to generate employment and increase value. Giving the industry status to sports would also ensure sustainability, proper registration as well as management of sports
  • With this move, the sports and its infrastructure will be eligible to avail the facility of subsidy, loan and assistance from the private and government sources

2. R Sreerekha to become Kerala’s first woman DGP

  • R Sreerekha will be the first woman Director General of Police in Kerala as the Kerala government has appointed her as Fire and Rescue Services DGP
  • She is presently an Additional Director General of Police, heading the Prisons and Correctional Services Department

3. U’khand govt starts “Mukhyamantri Swarozgar Yojana” for returnee migrants

  • Uttarakhand chief minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat has inaugurated the “Mukhyamantri Swarozgar Yojana” for returnee migrants. The project aims at giving self-employment opportunities to youth and a boost to reverse migration, especially entrepreneurs returning to Uttarakhand and encourage skilled and unskilled artisans, handicrafts and unemployed youths to start their own business
  • The scheme will offer credit facility through nationalised banks, scheduled commercial banks and cooperative banks

4. MP govt starts ‘Rozgar Setu’ scheme for skilled workers

  • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan has announced the launch of the ‘Rozgar Setu’ scheme. This scheme would help to secure employment for skilled workers who have returned to the state in the COVID-19 situation
  • The government of Madhya Pradesh launched a portal ‘MP Rojgar Setu Portal’ for the unemployed migrants to register and find jobs in the field related to their skills

1.NPCI rolls out AI virtual Artificial Intelligence assistant PAi

  • An Artificial Intelligence (AI) based chatbot “PAi” has been launched by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI)
  • This chatbot has been rolled out to create awareness around NPCI’s products such as FASTag, RuPay, UPI, AePS on a real time basis, hence improving the digital financial inclusion in India. The chatbot “PAi” has been developed by Bengaluru based startup CoRover Private Limited

1. NASA renamed its telescope after ˜Mother of Hubble’ Nancy Grace Roman

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has renamed its next-generation space telescope “Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)” in honour of Nancy Grace Roman
  • Nancy Grace Roman is the US space agency’s first chief astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe. The newly named Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope will help in research of long-standing astronomical mysteries, like the force behind the universe’s expansion and look for distant planets beyond our system

2.Army Commanders’ Conference commences in New Delhi

  • The Army Commanders’ Conference has commenced in New Delhi. It is an apex level biannual event that was earlier scheduled to be held in April 2020, but was postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic
  • In the first phase of Army Commanders’ Conference, the apex level leadership of Indian Army will deliberate on various aspects pertaining to operational and administrative issues including studies pertaining to logistics and human resources

3. Missile park “Agneeprastha” to be set up at INS Kalinga

  • The foundation stone for a missile park “Agneeprastha” was laid at INS Kalinga, Naval base in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. The park “Agneeprastha” once completed will be dedicated to all the officers, sailors and support staff of INS Kalinga, who has served in this premier op-support Base of the ENC since its establishment in 1981
  • A 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant was also commissioned at INS Kalinga by Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain. It is the largest plant in the Eastern Naval Command and has an estimated life of 25 years

1. Sri Lanka’s Shehan Madushanka suspended after heroin arrest

  • Sri Lankan fast bowler, Shehan Madushanka has been suspended from all forms of cricket with immediate effect for alleged possession of heroin
  • The decision to suspend will stand until the board conducts a full inquiry of the matter

2. 36th National Games postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19

  • The 36th National Games, planned for October-November in Goa, was deferred indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Committee to convey a social event in September end and decide on fixing dates for National Games
  • Goa Government to require guidance from Union Sports Ministry, need four months notification ahead of time to compose games. The last edition of the Games was held in 2015 in Kerala

3. SAI’s extends Sandip Pradhan tenure as DG for 2 year

  • The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has extended the tenure of Sandip Pradhan as Director-General of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) by two years
  • The extended tenure will come into effect from 6 June 2020. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the proposal of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for extension

1. Padma Shri awardee, Urdu Writer Mujtaba Hussain passes away

  • Noted Urdu author, humorist and satirist Mujtaba Hussain passed away. He was born on July 15, 1936, in Hyderabad, Telangana. Hussain was described as the Mark Twain of Urdu
  • He began his literary career from “Siasat”, a leading Urdu daily published from Hyderabad

2. First Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh Ajit Jogi passes away

  • The first Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Ajit Jogi has passed away. A bureaucrat-turned politician, Ajit Jogi was a mass leader who dominated the state’s politics for long time
  • He was an MLA from Marwahi seat in the current assembly. He served as the first Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh from November 2000 to November 2003

1. Rajiv Joshi wins NYIPLA Inventor of the year Award 2020

  • Rajiv Joshi has bagged the prestigious NYIPLA “Inventor of the Year award” for the year 2020 for his contribution to advancing the electronic industry and improving artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities
  • This award is presented by the New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA). He works at the IBM Thomson Watson Research Center in New York.

2. Major Suman Gawani to be honored with UN Military Gender Advocate Award

  • Indian Army officer Major Suman Gawani is going to be awarded the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year 2019. She was stationed in South Sudan under the United Nations Mission. Recently she has completed her mission
  • The award is going to be presented to Major Suman Gawani and Brazilian military officer Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo during a web ceremony chaired by UN Secretary-General Guterres on May 29, the International Day of the United Nations Peacekeepers

3. Quarraisha Abdool Karim wins Christophe Merieux Prize

  • South African HIV researcher, Quarraisha Abdool Karim has been awarded Christophe Merieux Prize for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), which she heads
  • Christophe Merieux Prize is one of France’s top science prizes

1. Facebook launches calling application “CatchUp”

  • A calling application named as “CatchUp” has been launched by the social media major Facebook to coordinate call timings with friends and family members, and will enable users to check availability of time with a group of up to eight people
  • With the help of calling application “CatchUp”, the user will be able to indicate the availability to talk and call other users, and will enable other users to do the same and chose a common time for the call. The users will be able to avail the services of this calling application with their existing Facebook account

2. IIT Madras creates light-weight alloy to replace steel, aluminum in cars

  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM), partnered with the University of North Texas and United States Army lab, have developed a magnesium alloy to replace the steel and aluminium in the automobile industry to reduce the carbon footprint and increase fuel efficiency

1. World Thyroid Day celebrated on 25 May

  • World Thyroid Day is observed globally on 25 May every year. The main purpose of the WTD is to aware of the importance of Thyroid and the prevention and treatment of thyroid diseases.
  • This day is established in 2008 as a part of the campaign led by European Thyroid Association (ETA) and the American Thyroid Association(ATA) followed by Latin American Thyroid Society(LATS) and Asia Oceania Thyroid Association (AOTA) to commemorate the patients with Thyroid diseases and doctors and physicians who treat them.

2. International Day of UN Peacekeepers: 29 May

  • International Day of UN Peacekeepers is observed globally on 29 May every year to honour all the women and men who have served as military, police or civilians in UN Peacekeeping operations.
  • The theme of International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2020 is “Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace”. It helps to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.

1. Jahnabi Phookan appointed as National President of FLO

  • FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) has appointed Assam-based entrepreneur Jahnabi Phookan as its National President. As a National President, she will work towards empowering women with entrepreneurship capabilities and professional excellence
  • FICCI FLO works towards women’s economic empowerment and represents over 8,000 women entrepreneurs and professionals across 17 chapters nationally

2. Abhas Jha becomes World Bank’s Practice Manager for Climate Change

  • Abhas Jha has been appointed as the World Bank’s Practice Manager for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management for South Asia and will be responsible to nurture, lead, inspire and position a team of highly qualified professionals to provide the best solutions for South Asian countries
  • During his tenure, he will work along with other Practice Managers, Global Leads as well as the Global Solutions Groups to incubate, pilot and scale-up innovative and high-quality development solutions

3. Leo Puri to become Chairman of JP Morgan South Asia and South East Asia

  • Leo Puri has been announced to become the new Chairman of JP Morgan South Asia and South East Asia, replacing Kalpana Morparia who will be serving as the chairman until the 1st Quarter of 2021
  • In another major top-level change, Murali Maiya will become the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of JP Morgan South and South East Asia

4. IOC appoints Narinder Batra as member of Olympic Channel Commission

  • Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra has been designated as a member from the Olympic Channel Commission. The Olympic Channel Commission exhorts the IOC (International Olympic Committee) meeting, the IOC Executive Board, the IOC President and provides guidance throughout the launch and operation of the Olympic Channel
  • The commission advise the growth & development of the Olympic Channel from its initial launch phase through to its mature and established form

5. Venkataramani Sumantran becomes new independent director of Indigo

  • Venkataramani Sumantran has been appointed the independent director of airline company IndiGo
  • He presently served as the chairman and managing director of Chennai-based Celeris Technologies. He will hold the post for the next five years

1. Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh chairs SIDM MSMEs E-conclave

  • Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) E-conclave was chaired by the Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh
  • The virtual conference of MSMEs E-conclave was organised jointly by the Department of Defence Production, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM).

2. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman chairs 22nd Meeting of FSDC

  • The 22nd Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was chaired by the Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi
  • During the meeting, the present global and domestic macro-economic situation was reviewed including the financial stability and vulnerabilities issues. They also reviewed major issues that are likely to be faced by banks as well as other financial institutions

3. Russia hosts BRICS Heads of Tax Authorities meet

  • The meeting of the Heads of Tax Authorities of the BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was held on 29 May
  • The meeting was hosted by the Federal Tax Service of Russia, which currently holds the BRICS Presidency, to discuss the response of BRICS Tax Authorities to the COVID-19 pandemic and to explore potential areas of cooperation in tax matters

1. JK Rowling to release her latest book “The Ickabog”

  • The “Harry Potter” author, JK Rowling will release her latest book, “The Ickabog”, online for free, for the children during this lockdown period
  • The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power

1. Flipkart signs MoU with Karnataka Mango Board to support mango farmers

  • India’s leading web-based business commercial centre Flipkart has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Karnataka State Mango Department and Marketing Corporation, to empower mango farmers to sell their produce online
  • This association will give farmers the genuinely necessary market access to shoppers, making a potential income stream during these testing times of coronavirus

2. India & ADB signs $177 mn loan to improve road in Maharashtra

  • The Asian Development Bank and the Government of India have signed a $177 million loan to upgrade the 450 km of state highways and major district roads in the state of Maharashtra. The road improvement project consists of improving 2 major district roads and 11 state highways having the combined length of 450 km
  • The project will also involve the strengthening of road safety measures with the development of a road safety audit framework that will lead to the protection of vulnerable groups including the elderly, women, and children. It will also train the Maharashtra Public Works Department project staff to enhance their capacity in climate change adaptation and disaster-resilient features in various aspects such as road design, road maintenance planning, and road safety

3. PFC partners with NBPCL to fund various projects in Madhya Pradesh

  • Power Finance Corporation (PFC), the central PSU under Ministry of Power has signed an MoU with Narmada Basin Projects Company Ltd. (NBPCL), a wholly-owned company of Govt. of Madhya Pradesh, to fund various power projects to be executed in the State of Madhya Pradesh
  • The projects will include the setting up of hydroelectric projects of 225 MW along with power components of 12 other major multipurpose projects to be executed in Madhya Pradesh

1. “Zaggle” partners “Visa” for innovative payment solutions for SMEs

  • In order to launch innovative payment solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups, a Fintech startup Zaggle has partnered with payments technology major “Visa”.
  • Both the companies will work towards enhancing the productivity and efficiency of the SMEs and startups. They will also automate the processes and reduce the costs simultaneously focusing on easy and faster credit. The faster credit would be made available through a unique card which will have forex, prepaid along with credit

2. RIL rolls out WhatsApp chatbot to address rights issue queries

  • Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has launched a “WhatsApp chatbot” to address rights issue queries of its 2.6 million shareholders on the offering
  • With a task of executing massive Rs 53,125 crore rights issue amid a nationwide lockdown, RIL has turned to WhatsApp Chatbot which has been developed by Jio Haptik Technologies

3. Airtel Payments Bank team up with Mastercard for farmers, SMEs

  • Airtel Payments Bank has collaborated with Mastercard to create customized financial products for Indian farmers and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). These financial products particularly for those territories where there is less access to bank administrations
  • The coordinated effort will unite Mastercard’s worldwide and nearby involvement with developing advanced financial solutions and Airtel Payments Bank’s circulation system to arrive at the last mile and its large customer base.

4. SEBI imposes a penalty of Rs 7 lakh on NHAI

  • The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been penalised with amount of Rs 7 lakh by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). SEBI has imposed the penalty on NHAI for delay in disclosing half yearly financial results between FY16 and FY19
  • The penalty has been imposed on the basis of SEBI’s listing obligation and disclosure norms (LODR) according to which half yearly results have to be filed within 45 days from the end of the half year

1. Fitch forecasts India’s GDP growth rate to contract 5% in FY21

  • Amid Novel Coronavirus pandemic, rating agency Fitch Ratings has released its its latest Global Economic Outlook (GEO)
  • In its Global Economic Outlook, the rating agency has forecasted the GDP growth rate of the world and individual countries

2. S&P forecasts Indian economy to contract 5% in FY21

  • S&P Global Ratings has slashed India’s GDP growth rate to 5% in the Fiscal Year 2021.
  • The reduction in the growth rates has been made due to a slump in the economic activities in the whole country amid lockdown imposed to contain Covid-19 pandemic

3. India’s GDP growth slows to an 11-year low of 4.2%

  • National Statistical Office, under Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, has estimated India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 4.2 per cent in 2019-20 as compared to 6.1 per cent expansion in 2018-19, the slowest growth in GDP in 11 years
  • The earlier estimate by various arms of the government was 5 per cent growth in ’19-20
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