General Knowledge & Current Affairs

September 2020 - 13th to 19th

1. TikTok chooses Oracle as its technology partner for its US operations

  • TikTok has chosen Oracle to be its technology partner for its American operations
  • Microsoft was also in a bid to acquire TikTok in the United States but the Chinese owner of the video-sharing platform “TikTok” chose Oracle over Microsoft to be its technology partner for its American operations
  • The partnership was signed by the two entities as in an executive order signed last month, President of the United States, Donald Trump stated that TikTok would be blocked in the US if it did not sell its US operations to an American company by the 20th of September 2020

2. Mexico issues the world’s first sovereign bond

  • Mexico has become the first country in the world to issue a sovereign bond linked to the sustainable development goals set by the United Nations. It has raised EUR 750 million ($890 million) by such bonds
  • The SDG bond will mature in September 2027 and offers a yield to maturity rate of 1.603% and a coupon rate of 1.350%.
  • This new bond was issued under Mexico’s new “SDG Sovereign Bond Framework,” which was released in February in partnership with French investment bank Natixis

1. India becomes a member of the UN’s ECOSOC body

  • India has been elected as a member of the United Nation’s Commission on Status of Women, a body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • India will be a member of the United Nation’s Commission on Status of Women for four years, 2021 to ’25.
  • India, Afghanistan, and China had contested the elections to the Commission on Status of Women. Even as India and Afghanistan won the ballot among the 54 members, China could not cross the half-way mark
  • The Economic and Social Council is at the heart of the United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development economic, social and environmental
  • It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals
  • It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits

2. Lok Sabha passes bill to cut salaries of MPs by 30%

  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on 15 September 2020
  • The bill seeks to cut salaries of all Members of Parliaments (MPs) by 30 percent for a period of one year commencing April 1, 2020, to meet the urgent financial need arising out COVID-19 pandemic
  • The Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020 will replace the Salary, Allowances, And Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020
  • This ordinance was cleared by the Union Cabinet on April 6, 2020

1. Union Cabinet approves establishment of AIIMS at Darbhanga, Bihar

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has approved the establishment of a new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Darbhanga, Bihar
  • This will be established under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY). The approved AIIMS would be established at a total cost of Rs. 1264 crore and is likely to be completed within a period of 4 years from the date of the approval of the Government of India
  • The new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Darbhanga, Bihar will have 15-20 Super Specialty Departments
  • The proposed institution shall have a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds which will include Emergency / Trauma beds, ICU beds, AYUSH beds, Private beds, and Specialty & Super Specialty beds

2. Rajasthan Govt signs MoU with SIDBI to develop its MSME ecosystem

  • The Government of Rajasthan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) to develop its micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) ecosystem
  • This MoU will support the state government to have a better understanding and provide better solutions for the problems of MSMEs
  • Under this MoU, the Department of Industries of Rajasthan and SIDBI will work together to provide financial, technical, marketing, and export support to the MSMEs in the state
  • This partnership with SIDBI will promote the state’s innovative cluster-based thinking.

3. Union Cabinet approves Haryana Orbital Rail Corridor Project

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to the Haryana Orbital Rail Corridor Project from Palwal to Sonipat via Sohna-Manesar-Kharkhauda
  • The project will be implemented by Haryana Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (HRIDC) and the estimated completion cost of the project is Rs. 5,617 crore
  • The Rail Line will start from Palwal and end at the existing Harsana Kalan station (On Delhi-Ambala section).
  • This project will offer connectivity en route to existing Patli Station (On Delhi-Rewari line), Sultanpur station (On Garhi Harsaru-Farukhnagar Line), and Asaudha Station (On Delhi Rohtak Line)
  • The project will connect unserved areas of the state of Haryana, and hence, will boost the economic and social activities in Haryana State

1. Bandhan Bank sets up new vertical “Emerging Entrepreneurs Business”

  • Bandhan Bank has set up a new vertical called œEmerging Entrepreneurs Business (EEB)”.
  • The new vertical has been launched to support the emerging needs of the unbanked and underbanked segment of customers
  • In addition to microloans, the vertical will also manage micro home loan, micro bazaar loan, and micro-enterprise loan

2. Canara Bank introduces i-Lead 2.0 to boost customer services

  • Public sector lender Canara Bank has launched a lead management system (LMS)  i-Lead 2.0 (Inspiring Leads System version 2.0).
  • The system has been launched to provide its services to customers irrespective of where they reside
  • Through lead management system (LMS), customers can enquire and get services rendered through simple modes such as internet banking, mobile banking, call center, SMS, and missed call
  • This new initiative is being introduced with the motive of building and sustaining business relationships with both new customers to bank and existing customers to bank

1. IIT Delhi launches “Chakr DeCoV'” to decontaminate N95 masks

  • The IIT Delhi incubated startup Chakr Innovation has launched a special decontamination device called ‘Chakr DeCoV’, to decontaminate N95 masks
  • The Chakr DeCoV device is designed in the shape of a cabinet
  • Chakr DeCoV is built with an innovative decontamination mechanism, which utilises the high penetrability of Ozone gas for cleaning the pores of the N95 mask, ensuring complete decontamination of its intricate layers

2. DRDO successfully test scramjet technology for hypersonic missiles

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully flight-tested a Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), which is an unmanned scramjet vehicle with the ability to travel at six times the speed of sound
  • The test was conducted from Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Launch Complex at Wheeler Island, off the coast of Odisha.  Now, India has joined the elite club of the United States, Russia and China to develop and successfully test Hypersonic Technology
  • The HSTDV tests the indigenously developed hypersonic air-breathing scramjet technology. The scramjets are a variant of air-breathing jet engines and have the ability to handle airflows of speeds much higher than the speed of sound
  • The hypersonic cruise vehicle was launched using a proven solid rocket motor, which took it to an altitude of 30 kilometers, where the aerodynamic heat shields were separated. The cruise vehicle separated from the launch vehicle and the air intake opened as planned
  • The hypersonic combustion sustained and the cruise vehicle continued on its desired flight path at a velocity of six times the speed of sound, which is nearly two kilometers per second, for more than 20 seconds

1. Thomas and Uber Cup Finals postponed to 2021 by BWF

  • The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has announced that the Thomas Cup and the Uber Cup, which were scheduled to be held from 3 to 11 October 2020 in Denmark, has been postponed for 2021
  • This decision has been taken following the withdrawal of many participating countries from the tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The alternative dates to reschedule the World Men’s and Women’s Team Championships is yet to be decided by BWF

1. Renowned social activist Swami Agnivesh passes away

  • Social activist and Arya Samaj leader, Swami Agnivesh, who is widely known for his work against slavery and bonded labor, has passed away
  • Agnivesh was elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Haryana in 1977 and served as a cabinet Minister for Education in 1979
  • Agnivesh became president (20042014) of the World Council of Arya Samaj, which is the highest international body of the Arya Samaj

2. Veteran Ayurveda physician PR Krishnakumar passes away

  • Tamil Nadu based prominent Indian Ayurveda physician, PR Krishnakumar passed away
  • He was the Founder and Managing Director of the iconic Coimbatore Arya Vaidya Pharmacy (AVP) as well as the Chancellor of the renowned Avinashilingam University in Coimbatore
  • The Government of India honored him with the Padma Shri award in 2009 for his contribution to medicine

1. Aditya Puri conferred Lifetime Achievement Award by Euromoney 2020

  • Managing Director of HDFC Bank, Aditya Puri has been conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award by Euromoney Awards of Excellence 2020
  • He has been awarded for his skills in building a world-class bank in India at a time where there were no similar institutions in existence
  • Euromoney’s Awards for Excellence are the awards that matter to the banks and bankers who matter. They were established in 1992 and were the first of their kind in the global banking industry

2. Chef Vikas Khanna honoured with Asia Game Changer Award 2020

  • Chef Vikas Khanna has been chosen to be honoured with the prestigious Asia Game Changer Award 2020
  • This award is given to him for feeding millions of people across India in the COVID-19 pandemic through a massive food distribution drive ‘FeedIndia’
  • He is the only Indian among the six honourees named by the leading organisation. He coordinated his massive food distribution drive in India from thousands of miles away in his Manhattan home in New York

3. Margaret Atwood awarded 2020 Dayton Literary Peace Prize

  • Margaret Atwood has won the 2020 Dayton Literary Peace Prize’s lifetime achievement award
  • The award celebrates literature’s power to foster peace, social justice and global understanding
  • The Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award is named for the late U.S. diplomat who brokered the 1995 Bosnian peace accords reached in the Ohio city
  • Margaret Atwood is a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays and comic books
  • In the recent years, she has drawn a new round of acclaim for “The Handmaid’s Tale”, her bestselling 1985 novel of a dystopian future in which women are subjugated after a theocratic group overthrow the US government

1. Amazon signs Amitabh Bachchan for its Alexa voice assistant

  • Inc has signed up Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan for its Alexa voice assistant
  • Amitabh Bachchan is the first Indian celebrity to lend his voice to Alexa
  • Alexa users will be able to access Amitabh Bachchan’s voice on Alexa by purchasing the Amitabh Bachchan voice experience
  • Amazon first used a celebrity voice when Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson made a debut on Alexa
  • It has since added professional voice actors who recite Shakespeare, Mark Twain, proverbs and fables. Last year, rival Google Assistant added the voice of American singer John Legend

2. Udit Singhal named in UN’s 2020 list of Young Leaders

  • Indian teenager Udit Singhal has been named in the 2020 Class of 17 Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • He has been named in the 2020 list of young leaders who promote sustainable development goals
  • Udit Singhal is the founder of Glass2Sand, an initiative that is based on a zero-waste ecosystem to tackle the challenge of glass waste in Delhi
  • This initiative has prevented empty glass bottles of getting dumped into landfills and turned it into sands, making it commercially viable

3. Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology celebrates ‘Himalaya Diwas’

  • Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India, virtually celebrated the ‘Himalaya Diwas’
  • On the occasion of ‘Himalaya Diwas’, the scientists who are specializing in different aspects of the Himalayas deliberated on a range of areas namely landslide disaster risk reduction, Himalayan seismicity, risk awareness, and mitigation, and journey of black carbon towards the Himalayan cryosphere

1. International Day of Democracy: 15 September

  • International Day of Democracy is observed globally on 15th September every year. The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world
  • Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere
  • The Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly through a resolution in 2007 to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy

2. World Water Monitoring Day: September 18

  • The World Water Monitoring Day is observed globally on 18th September since 2003
  • This day is celebrated to increase public awareness and involvement in water monitoring and protecting water resources around the world. World Water Monitoring Day engages people of all ages in monitoring the condition of local rivers, streams, estuaries, and other water bodies
  • This year’s theme for World Water Monitoring Day 2020 is ‘Solve Water.’

1. Rajesh Khullar appointed Executive Director at World Bank

  • A 1988 batch IAS officer, Rajesh Khullar has been appointed as Executive Director at World Bank in Washington DC
  • The Appointment Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has approved the appointment of Rajesh Khulla for a tenure of three years from the date of assumption of charge or till the date of his superannuation (August 23, 2023)
  • Khullar is currently posted as principal secretary to chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. He will join the World Bank in the first week of November
  • As executive director, Khullar will represent India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka in the World Bank
  • The World Bank Group comprises 25 executive directors who each represent a country or constituency of countries, are either appointed or elected to the position

2. ADB appoints Takeo Konishi as Country Director for India

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has appointed Takeo Konishi as its new Country Director for India
  • Konishi will replace Kenichi Yokoyama who has taken over as Director-General of ADB’s South Asia Department. India is the fourth-largest shareholder of ADB and has been its largest borrower since 2010
  • As head of the country office in New Delhi, Konishi will lead to ADB operations and policy dialogue with the government and other development partners in India
  • He will oversee the implementation of ADB’s India Country Partnership Strategy, 2018-2022 that focuses on building industrial competitiveness to create more jobs, providing inclusive infrastructure networks and services, and addressing environmental and climate change concerns

3. Narendra Singh Tomar takes additional charge of FPI Ministry

  • Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has been given the additional charge of Food Processing Industries Ministry
  • He has been given the additional charge as President Ram Nath Kovind has accepted the resignation of Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal from the Union Council of Ministers, with immediate effect, under clause (2) of Article 75 of the Constitution

1.10th Meeting of BRICS National Security Advisors

  • 10th Meeting of the BRICS High Representatives on National Security was held virtually
  • The 10th meeting of the NSAs was hosted by the current chair of BRICS i.e. Russia
  • National Security Advisor Ajit Doval represented India in a virtual meet of top security officials from Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping
  • The participants exchanged views on combating terrorism and extremism besides deliberating on global and regional security issues
  • They also exchanged views on key issues of global and regional security, discussed the main areas of practical cooperation in the field of security among law enforcement agencies of the member nations

2. Environment Ministerial Meeting of G20 held virtually

  • The Environment Ministerial Meeting (EMM) of the G20 countries was held through video conferencing under the Presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Union Environment, Climate Change, and Forest Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar represented India in the meeting
  • Global Initiative to reduce Land Degradation and Coral Reef program was launched at G20 Environment Ministers Meet
  • It aims to strengthen the implementation of existing frameworks to prevent, halt, and reverse land degradation within G20 member states and globally


1. S&P Global Ratings Projects India’s GDP at -9% in FY21

  • S&P Global Ratings has projected the GDP of India to contract by 9% in the fiscal year 2020-21 (FY21), as against its previous estimate of a 5% contraction, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • For the FY22 (2021-22), S&P expects GDP growth of 6% and for the FY23 (2022-23), GDP growth is projected at 6.2%

2. Asian Development Bank projects India’s GDP at -9% in FY21

  • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has estimated that the GDP of India is expected to contract by 9% in fiscal 2020-21 (FY21). This estimate is worse than ADB’s previous estimate of -4%.
  • However, for the FY22 (2021-22), ADB expects India’s GDP at 8 percent
  • ADB also expects the gross domestic product (GDP) growth for developing Asia at  0.7 per cent in 2020, the first negative economic growth since 1962

3. OECD projects India’s GDP at -10.2% in FY21

  • The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) expects the Indian economy to contract by 10.2% in FY21 (2020-21) as compared to its previous estimate of 16.7% in June
  • For FY22 (2021-22), the Paris-based OECD projects India’s gross domestic product (GDP) to grow at 10.7%.

1. SBI General Insurance inks corporate agency agreement with YES Bank

  • SBI General Insurance and YES Bank have signed a corporate agency agreement
  • Under the corporate agency agreement, the YES Bank will distribute the general insurer’s retail products to its customers
  • The products of SBI General Insurance Company will be offered to YES BANK’s customers across 28 states and 8 Union Territories
  • The partnership between SBI General Insurance and YES Bank will be committed to offering customers a broad range of non-life insurance products and services and deploying technology across the customer value chain to facilitate superior experiences for them


1. Vodafone Idea rebrands itself as ‘Vi’

  • Vodafone Idea has announced its new unified brand identity by renaming all its products under a new name and logo “Vi”.
  • The Beleaguered telecom operator, announced the rebranding of the company through a virtual platform
  • The integration into one brand is believed to be the company’s efforts to reduce the cost of maintaining two brands
  • The rebranding also comes at a time when Vodafone Idea has seen its user base falling from 408 million at the time of the merger to 280 million at the end of June 2020
  • With Vodafone focusing on premium urban brand, Idea has been a mass rural-focused brand. Following the merger, the urban-rural appeal of the two brands took a hit
  • VI is built to be strong, ever-dependable, agile, intuitive and a brand in tune with the needs of the customers in these ever-changing times. It is designed to help customers move ahead in life, for a better today and a brighter tomorrow

1. India & US conducts 10th DTTI Group Meeting virtually

  • The 10th Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) Group Meeting was held virtually by the Indian and U.S. Defense Delegations
  • The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Raj Kumar, Secretary, Defence Production, from the Indian Ministry of Defence and Ms. Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, from the U.S. Department of Defense
  • During the meeting, the co-chairs signed a Statement of Intent (SOI) that declared their intent œto strengthen our dialogue on defense technology cooperation by pursuing detailed planning and making measurable progress on several specific DTTI projects
  • DTTI Group meeting aims to bring sustained leadership focus to the bilateral defense trade relationship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defense equipment
  • Four Joint Working Groups focused on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies have been established under DTTI to promote mutually agreed projects within their domains. DTTI Group Meetings are held twice a year, alternating between India and the United States
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