GK Update 18th and 19th July 2021

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

  • The US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have 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.

2. Haryana to introduce ‘One Block, One Product’ scheme

  • The Haryana government will soon introduce the ‘One Block, One Product’ scheme, to encourage and promote small industries in the rural areas.
  • Under the scheme, the state government plans to connect every block of the state with some industrial vision and the government is working expeditiously on this scheme.
  • Arrangements for common services, lab testing, packaging, transportation, accountancy will be set up in the cluster itself. Haryana’s ‘One District, One Product’ Scheme which is being implemented under MSME, has come up as a model across the country.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Haryana Capital: Chandigarh;
  • Haryana Governor: Bandaru Dattatraya;
  • Haryana Chief Minister: Manohar Lal Khattar.

3. India’s first monk fruit cultivation exercise begins in HP’s Kullu

  • The ‘monk fruit’ from China, which is known for its properties as a non-caloric natural sweetener, was introduced for field trials in Himachal Pradesh by the Palampur-based Council of Scientific Research and Industrial Technology Institute of Himalayan Bio-resource Technology (CSIR-IHBT) in Kullu.
  • The field trials have begun three years after the CSIR-IHBT imported its seeds from China and grew it in the house.
  • Fifty seedlings were planted in the fields of progressive farmer Manav Khullar from Raison village for field trials and CSIR-IHBT signed a ‘Material Transfer Agreement’ with Manav.
  • The economic benefits of the new crop are estimated to be between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 3.5 lakh per hectare. The plant prefers mountainous area with an annual mean temperature of about 16–20 °C and humid conditions.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Himachal Pradesh Governor: Bandaru Dattatreya;
  • Himachal Pradesh CM: Jai Ram Thakur.

4. IOA names B K Sinha as Press Attache of India’s Olympic contingent

  • Indian Olympic Association has appointed retired IPS officer B K Sinha will perform the dual role of Security as well as Press Attache of the country’s contingent at the Tokyo Games, which begins on July 23.
  • Sinha is a former Haryana DGP and also a recipient of the President’s Police Medal.
  • India will be represented by a 228-strong contingent, including 119 athletes, at the Tokyo Olympics, being held under strict health protocols sans spectators in the wake of the raging COVID-19 pandemic.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Indian Olympic Association President: Narayana Ramachandran;
  • Indian Olympic Association Founded: 1927.

5. Microsoft acquires cybersecurity firm RiskIQ for $500M

  • Microsoft has reached a deal to acquire RiskIQ, a San Francisco-based provider of cybersecurity services, including malware and spyware monitoring and mobile app security.
  • RiskIQ’s services and solutions will join Microsoft’s suite of cloud-native security products, including Microsoft 365 Defender, Microsoft Azure Defender, and Microsoft Azure Sentinel.
  • While Microsoft hasn’t valued the deal, Bloomberg reported that the company is said to be paying more than $500 million for RiskIQ. 

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Microsoft CEO and Chairman: Satya Nadella;
  • Microsoft Headquarters: Redmond, Washington, United States.

6. 35% of India’s tiger ranges are outside protected areas

  • Thirty-five per cent of India’s tiger ranges are outside protected areas and human-animal conflict affects over 75 per cent of the world’s wild cat species, according to a WWF-UNEP report.
  • The report “A Future for All – A necessity for Human-Wildlife Coexistence”, examined rising human-wildlife battle, and has discovered that marine and terrestrial protected areas solely cowl 9.67 per cent globally.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • World Wide Fund for Nature, Headquarters: Gland, Switzerland;
  • UNEP HQ: Nairobi, Kenya.

7. 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’.

8. Google Cloud launches second ‘Cloud Region’ in India

  • Google Cloud has announced the launch of its new Cloud Region in Delhi NCR, for customers and the public sector in India and across the Asia Pacific.
  • With the new region, the customers operating in the country will benefit from lower latency and higher performance of their cloud-based workloads and data.
  • This new Google Cloud region is the second such in India after Mumbai and the 10th in Asia-Pacific.
  • As the second cloud region, customers are expected to benefit from improved business continuity planning, while maintaining data sovereignty. Totally, 26 Google Cloud regions are present across the world.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Google CEO: Sundar Pichai.
  • Google Founded: 4 September 1998, California, United States.
  • Google Founders: Larry Page, Sergey Brin.

9. Cannes Film Festival 2021 winners list announced

  • The Cannes Film Festival 2021 concluded on 17 July 2021. The jury, presided by Spike Lee, presented the awards at the Closing Ceremony. Julia Ducournau won the Cannes’ top prize, the Palme d’Or, for her film Titane, making her the second woman ever to win the award.
  • The first was Jane Campion in 1993. This year’s Cannes had a wide range of films, from Wes Anderson The French Dispatch to Julia Ducournau’s Titane, and Leos Carax’ Annette. Jodie Foster and Marco Bellocchio won the Honorary Palme d’Or.

Here is the list of Cannes 2021 winners in key categories:

  • Palme d’Or: Julia Ducournau for Titane (France)
  • Grand Prix (TIE): Ashgar Farhadi for A Hero (Iran) and Juho Kuosmanen for Compartment No.6 (Finland)
  • Best Director: Leos Carax Annette (France)
  • Best Actress: Renate Reinsve for Worst Person in the World (Norway)
  • Best Actor: Caleb Landry Jones for Nitram (US)
  • Best Screenplay: Hamaguchi Ryusuke and Takamasa Oe for Drive My Car (Japan)
  • Jury Prize (TIE): Shared by Nadav Lapid for Ahed’s Knee (Israel) and Apichatpong Weerasethakul for Memoria (Thailand)
  • Best First Film: Antoneta Kusijanovic for Murina (Croatia)
  • Best Short Film: Hong Kong’s All The Crows In The World Tang Yi
  • Short Film Palme d’Or: Tian Xia Wu Ya by Tang Yi
  • Special Jury Mention for Short Film: Ceu de Agosto by Jasmin Tenucci

This year’s jury, with Spike Lee as president, consisted of director Mati Diop, director Maggie Gyllenhaal, writer-director Jessica Hausner, songwriter Mylène Farmer, director Mélanie Laurent, writer-director Kleber Mendonça Filho, actor Tahar Rahim, and actor Song Kang-ho.

10. Bangladesh Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus to get Olympic Laurel

  • Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus will receive the Olympic Laurel at the Tokyo Games, the second time the trophy will be awarded.
  • Yunus, whose pioneering micro-lender has been hailed for cutting poverty across the globe, will be honoured for “his extensive work in sport for development. The 81-year-old economist-turned-globe-trotting celebrity speaker won the Nobel in 2006.
  • He will be given the award at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony on July 23. The Olympic Laurel was created five years ago to recognise endeavours in culture, education, peace and development through sport.
  • It was given for the first time at the 2016 Rio Games to Kenyan former Olympian Kip Keino, who opened a children’s home, a school and an athletes’ training centre in his home country.

11. India’s Payal Kapadia wins best documentary award in Cannes 2021

  • Director Payal Kapadia’s, “A Night of Knowing Nothing” won the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award for best documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival.
  • The Mumbai-based filmmaker’s first feature bagged the prestigious prize in a formidable field made up of 28 documentaries presented across various sections of the festival. A Night of Knowing Nothing screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight, a section that runs parallel to the festival.
  • The award was instituted in 2015 by LaScam (the French-Speaking Writers’ Society) and Bertuccelli in collaboration with the Cannes Film Festival and its general delegate Thierry Fremaux.

12. 2-Indian organisations win UNDP Equator Prize 2021

  • Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited and Snehakunja Trust are among the 10 awardees of the prestigious Equator Prize 2021 for their work in the field of conservation and biodiversity.
  • The UNDP gives a biennial award to recognize community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.
  • Aadhimalai Pazhangudiyinar Producer Company Limited is a 1,700-member cooperative, managed and run entirely by indigenous people from the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in Tamil Nadu and its work in the past eight years has improved livelihood across 147 villages by processing and marketing a diverse range of forest produce and crops.
  • Snehakunja Trust has protected sensitive wetland and coastal ecosystems in the Western Ghats and the Karnataka coast for 45 years with a focus on community-based restoration and conservation.

13. A new book titled ‘The India Story’ by Bimal Jalan

  • Former RBI governor Bimal Jalan writes a new book titled ‘The India Story’. The book focuses on India’s economic history and aims to provide lessons for the future of India’s political economy.
  • He traces India’s economic policies from 1991 to 2019 to offer insights on learning from the past, before moving ‘Beyond the Metrics of Economy’ to talk about the role of governance in implementing these policies. He also authored the books ‘India Then and Now’, ‘India Ahead’.

14. Lewis Hamilton wins British Grand Prix 2021

  • Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-Great Britain), won the British Grand Prix 2021, for a record-extending eighth time. The event was held on July 18, 2021, at the Silverstone Circuit in the United Kingdom.
  • This is the 99th career win of seven times world champion Hamilton and the fourth win of the current season after 10 races. Monaco based Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) stood second. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas from Finland, finished third.

15. Nelson Mandela International Day celebrated on 18 July

  • The United Nations observes 18 July every year as Nelson Mandela International Day. The day acknowledges Nelson Mandela’s contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.
  • Nelson Mandela Day is an occasion for all to take action and inspire change. On 18 July 2009, the first Mandela Day was observed in New York. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on 10 November 2009 declaring 18 July as “Nelson Mandela International Day”.
  • This day marks his contribution to peace through his active involvement in resolving conflicts, promoting human rights, international democracy and reconciliation and addressing racial issues.

16. HC of J&K and Ladakh renamed as ‘High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh

  • The ‘Common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh’ has been officially renamed as the ‘High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.’
  • The order was notified by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, Department of Justice.
  • President Ram Nath Kovind has signed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Removal of Difficulties) Order, 2021 to effect the change, in the exercise of the powers conferred Section 103 (1) of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

Important takeaways for all competitive exams:

  • Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of J&K: Manoj Sinha;
  • Lieutenant Governor of Ladakh: Radha Krishna Mathur.



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