The Daily Brief – 21st September, 2016

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  • The Urban Development Ministry has announced a list of 27 new smart cities. With five cities, Maharashtra has the highest number of cities on the list. The 27 new cities are from 12 States, including four each from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, three from Uttar Pradesh and two each from Punjab and Rajasthan. Nagaland and Sikkim have made it to the list for the first time. Amritsar topped the list.
  • The NITI Aayog’s proposal for shutting down 17 sick or loss-making government companies has received the go-ahead from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). A second set of proposals from the Aayog for strategic sales aimed at reducing government ownership to below 51 per cent in about 22 public sector companies has also got the green signal from the PMO.
  • Iceland has announced that the country would offer a 20 per cent rebate to foreign production houses that shoot movies and TV programmes in the country. This is expected to especially benefit Indian filmmakers. Tourism is Iceland’s largest foreign exchange earner. With a population of over 300,000 the picturesque country receives 1.5 million tourists a year. The industry is growing at 16-18 per cent a year.
  • India and Sri Lanka will jointly operate 30 oil tanks in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, kick-starting a plan to develop the coastal town into a regional petroleum hub.
  • India successfully test fired its new, long range surface-to-air missile called the Barak-8, jointly developed with Israel from a defence base off the Odisha coast. The missile was launched from a mobile launcher at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur.
  • India’s first inter-State river interlinking project, the Ken-Betwa project, was given approval by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) at a meeting chaired by Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Anil Madhav Dave. This would be the first time that a river project will be located within a tiger reserve. The Rs. 10,000-crore Ken-Betwa project will irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region but, in the process, also submerge about 10 per cent of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, feted as a model tiger-conservation reserve.
  • India has been ranked 112th out of 159 countries in the 2016 World Economic Freedom Index (WEFI). The index was release as part of the 2016 annual report of the Economic Freedom. The report measures economic freedom by analyzing the policies and institutions of all 159 countries and territories and was based on data from the year 2014.
  • The Supreme Court has directed Karnataka to release 6000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to neighbouring Tamil Nadu. A Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra directed Karnataka to release this amount from its reservoirs for the period between September 21 to September 27, the next date of hearing in the Supreme Court.
  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M), have discovered a way to convert brackish water into drinking water at about 12 paisa per litre right on the kitchen table by using a potential difference of just 1.8 volts. A prototype has been developed and tests are under way.
  • Monika Kapil Mohta has been appointed as India’s Ambassador to Sweden. Mohta is an 1985 batch Indian Foreign Services officer. Previously, she has served as the ambassador of India to Poland and Lithuania.
  • Rushiraj Barot has won the Gold Medal in the 25-metre rapid fire pistol event in the Junior World Cup shooting in Gabala, Azerbaijan. 
  • Three Indian shooters — one each in pistol, rifle and shotgun — Jitu Rai, Sanjeev Rajput and Mairaj Ahmad Khan will compete in the World Cup Finals to be held in Italy. The rifle and pistol competition will be held in Bologna from October 4 to 10. The shotgun events will be in Rome from October 10 to 16.
  • India’s Sania Mirza and her partner Barbora Strycova of Czechoslovakia entered the second round of the women’s doubles event at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.
Aung San Suu Kyi
  • Nobel laureate and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been honoured as the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year by the students and faculty at the Harvard Foundation. She gained international prominence as the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy in Myanmar in 1990. Suu Kyi, elected head of Myanmar’s government in April 2016, was placed under house arrest in 1989 for protesting against the country’s dictatorship and served 15 years in detention. In 1991, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights.
  • The United Nations suspended all aid convoys in Syria the day after a deadly airstrike on trucks loaded with crucial supplies of food and medicine. The airstrike came after the Syrian military had declared an end to a seven-day partial cease-fire. The attack came shortly after the Syrian army had announced that the partial cease-fire was over and resumed offensive operations, reportedly including airstrikes on rebel-held parts of the city of Aleppo.
  • International Day of Peace is observed across the world on 21 September every year to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. This day coincides with its opening session of the UNGA which is usually held annually on the third Tuesday of September.
  • World leaders have adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The declaration expresses the political will of world leaders to protect the rights of refugees and migrants to save lives and share responsibility for large movements on a global scale.
  • The 193 member countries of the United Nations (UN) have signed a landmark declaration to rid the world of drug-resistant infections or Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) or superbugs. It is the fourth time a UN declaration has been reached on a health issue, following HIV in 2001, non-communicable diseases in 2011 and Ebola in 2013.
  • Scientists have precisely dated the world’s oldest rock at 4.02 billion years, which suggests that early Earth was largely covered with an oceanic crust-like surface. Only three locations worldwide exist with rocks or minerals older than 4 billion years old.
  • The United States overtook France to become the world’s top destination during the northern hemisphere winter ski season. Over the winter, France suffered a three percent fall in visitors, compared with a year earlier, putting it in second place behind the United States, while Austria took third place.
  • Myanmar is scrapping part of a hated law that forced people to report overnight guests and was used by authorities to barge into houses late at night, often targeting activists. The country’s Parliament voted to remove the controversial clause, despite opposition from the military, which still controls a quarter of seats.
  • Nazi-era newspapers, coins, documents and copies of Hitler’s Mein Kampf have been found in a “time capsule” that was buried in 1934 in the foundations of a Nazi training centre in Poland. Explorers in Zlocieniec, in northwestern Poland, dug for the copper cylinder at the remains of the former Ordensburg centre’s foundations after learning it could hold a documentary movie showing celebrations of the town’s 600 years, in 1933. At the time, the city was in Germany and was called Falkenburg. Poland lost some 6 million citizens in the war, half of them Jews. After the war, borders were redrawn and Falkenburg became Zlocieniec.

Today’s Quiz

  1. Who has been honoured as the 2016 Humanitarian of the Year by the Harvard Foundation?





2. Which country recently overtook France to become the world’s top destination during the northern hemisphere winter ski season?





3. How many countries are member nations of the UN?





4. Where was the Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted?





5. When is International Day of Peace observed?





6. Where does Sania Mirza's doubles partner, Barbora Strycova hail from?





7. Who has won the Gold Medal in the 25-metre rapid fire pistol event in the Junior World Cup shooting in Gabala, Azerbaijan?





8. What is India's ranking in the 2016 World Economic Freedom Index?





9. Where is the Panna Tiger Reserve located?





10. Who has been appointed as India's new ambassador to Sweden?









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