Daily GK Update 26 March 2015

1.MUDRA Bank launch on April 8

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch MUDRA (Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency) Bank on April 8. On Wednesday, Financial Services Secretary Hasmukh Adhia chaired a stakeholders meeting to review the preparations for setting up the bank.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his Budget Speech for 2015-16, had announced formation of MUDRA Bank, which aims to help 5.77 crore small business units in getting institutional credit at cheaper rates. Initially, the bank will be carved out of SIDBI as a separate subsidiary and will be registered as an NBFC.

2.Jaitley favours interest rate cut, but leaves decision to RBI

At a time when many experts are expecting higher growth rate for India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made it clear that there is no room for ‘complacency.’

“When you say is there a room for complacency, my answer is no… for various reasons. Agriculture, job creation, infrastructure, manufacturing, these are all areas where we still have a lot of distance to cover,” Jaitley said while inaugurating an annual business event, ‘The Growth Net’ here on Wednesday. The Minister’s remark comes in the backdrop of expectations that India will grow by over 8 per cent during next fiscal, overtaking China.

3.Ratan Tata invests in Grameen Capital

Tata Group Chairman emeritus Ratan Tata has bought minority stake in debt vehicle of micro financial advisory firm Grameen Capital India, a non-banking financial company.

Tata, along with Goa-based Dempo group promoter Shrinivas Demo, former top Credit Suisse investment banker Vikram Gandhi, Patni group promoters Amit Patni and Arihant Patni, has invested in the NBFC that focuses on the social impact segment.

Grameen Capital plans to raise close to $10 million (about Rs 50 crore) in the initial round, the company said in a statement.

4.TN budget 2015 : focus on welfare, no new taxes

Despite a slowdown in tax revenues, the Tamil Nadu Government continues to focus on social sector spending and supporting primary sector while pushing for infrastructure development and investments in manufacturing, said Chief Minister O Panneerselvam in the Assembly today.

Presenting the budget for 2015-16, the Chief Minister, who also handles the Finance portfolio, said the government has not hiked any taxes or levied new taxes but would mobilise resources through better tax administration and “tightening the collection system” to meet revenue projections.

5.Centre approves 10 FDI proposals worth Rs 2,858 cr

The Centre has approved 10 proposals for foreign direct investment (FDI) amounting to Rs 2,857.83 crore.

The 10 proposals include Air Works India (Engineering) Private Ltd’s proposal for increasing foreign equity investment (Rs 40 crore); Ostro Energy’s proposal to invest Rs 1,400 crore over four-five years in wind energy assets in India via downstream investment; IPCA Laboratories’ proposal for FII investment up to 35 per cent (Rs 900 crore); and Syngene International, Bangalore’s approval for 10 per cent foreign equity participation in the company (Rs 380 crore)

6.Spectrum auction ends: Govt to get Rs 1.10 trn

The Government raised a record Rs 109,874 crore in the country’s biggest and the fiercest auction of telecom spectrum that ended today, triggering fears of hike in call and data rates.

Incumbents Airtel and Vodafone bid aggressively to protect their businesses as new players like Reliance Jio participated in the auction that lasted 19 days and saw 115 rounds of bidding among eight operators. In two of the spectrum bands, prices jumped by over two-fold in some circles.

“Today spectrum auction has concluded at Rs 1,09,874 crore. This is highest ever in history of India. The spectrum auction conducted in 2010 brought about Rs 1,06,000 crore which included Rs 30,000 crore payment from BSNL and MTNL. This time all amount is non-BSNL, non-MTNL money,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

7. Standard Chartered appoints new Group CIO

Standard Chartered (StandChart) today announced the appointment of Michael Gorriz as Group Chief Information Officer.

He will join in the third quarter of 2015 and be based in Singapore, reporting directly to incoming Group Chief Executive, Bill Winters, the foreign bank said in a statement.

Michael will succeed Jan Verplancke, Director, current Group Chief Information Officer, who will retire after 10 years of service. Jan will leave on the completion of an appropriate hand-over period, the bank said.

8.Govt offers cash reward to ex HSBC employee for providing info on black money

Government has offered a cash reward to a former HSBC bank employee turned whistleblower in exchange for any fresh information about its citizens holding illegal accounts in various tax haven countries, including in Swiss banks, as it looks to combat black money and unearth funds stashed away abroad. As per rules, up to 30 per cent of the tax amount realised could be offered to whistleblowers who provide specific information on illegal funds.

9. Australian researchers discover new treatment for prostrate cancer

Australian researchers have made a breakthrough by discovering a new treatment for prostrate cancer which can starve cancer cells. The discovery was made by a team led by a researcher Jeff Holst at Sydney’s Centenary Institute which identified three specific nutrients that prostate cancer cells need to grow. If we can block the pumps that bring glutamine into the cells, then we can actually starve the cancer cells and stop them from growing.

10. Akhil Sharma Wins Folio Prize

Novelist Akhil Sharma has won the Folio Prize 2015 for his 2014 novel entitled Family Life.

He won the 40,000 pounds prize amidst competition from novelists like Ali Smith Coilm and Colm Toibin

11.Chhattisgarh to get country’s first Skill University

Chhattisgarh will have India’s first National Skill Development University. This was stated by Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy in Raipur.

12.New Rajasthan CJ takes charge

Justice Sunil Ambwani took oath as the Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court. He was administered the oath by Governor Kalyan Singh. Justice Ambwani was the acting Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court.

13.Tata Power’s global collaboration for power project in Georgia

Indian electric utility company Tata Power said it has completed the financial closure to develop a hydel-power project in the Adjaristsqali River in the southwestern European nation of Georgia along with two other companies. The project will develop the 187-megawatt Shuakhevi hydropower scheme, consisting of the Shuakhevi and Skhalta hydropower plants located in the Adjara region, in southwest Georgia. Tata Power recently commissioned the second 126 MW Dagachhu hydro projects in Bhutan.

14.Narendra Modi today launched his ambitious multi-purpose and multi-modal platform PRAGATI .

PRAGATI – Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation

PRAGATI is a unique integrating and interactive platform. The platform is aimed at addressing common mans grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.

15.Govt launches Digital India initiative with Twitter Samvad

The Union government launched a new platform, in association with Twitter, for direct communication among leaders, government agencies and citizens through tweets and text messages, helping boost e-governance plans.

Through Twitter Samvad, a set of curated Tweets will be delivered every day from the accounts of the government and the leaders to mobile-phone users across the country as text messages.

  • Twitter global CEO : Dick Costolo

The service can come in handy during emergencies as government agencies can share live updates, even time-sensitive information on law and order or rescue.

As of now, 16 government offices, including the ministry of railways, the Bengaluru police and the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are participating in Twitter Samvad.

16.Bangladesh has won the prestigious Women in Parliaments (WIP) Global Forum Award for regional leadership in reducing gender gap in politics.Bangladesh won this award for its outstanding success in closing the gender gap in the political sphere in the regional category “South and Southeast Asia”.

Prime Minister : Sheikh Hasina

State Minister for Foreign Affairs : Md. Shahriar Alam

17.I&B Ministry bags the Platinum icon award for the Comprehensive Web presence.The award was conferred by the Ministry for Communications & Information Technology under the category of Web Ratna Awards 2014.

Web Ratna Awards have been instituted by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, acknowledges unique initiatives/practices of various states/UTs in the realm of e-governance.

18.Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee to be conferred Bharat Ratna on 27th March 2015.

Madan Mohan Malaviya’s family to be given the Bharat Ratna award on 30th March 2015.

19.Noted Hindi poet Gopaldas Neeraj has received the first National Kavi Pradeep Samman.This award carries a cash prize of Rs two lakh, a shawl and a citation.

20.The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has signed a 400 million US Dollars currency swap agreement with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

The agreement will allow the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to make withdrawals of US Dollar or Euro in multiple tranches up to a maximum of USD 400 million or its equivalent. The agreement will be valid for a period of 3 years.

21.The Delhi Government Transport Department has requested the Department of Electronic and Information Technology (DEITY) to block the web-based apps of three major taxi operators Uber, Ola and Taxi For Sure alleging that they were still using their apps and providing service despite the ban.

The said ban was imposed on taxi operators providing their services through web-based apps by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) after a rape of a private executive last year.

22. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today approved the launch of the National Supercomputing Mission, a visionary programme to enable India to leapfrog to the league of world.

Estimated cost : Rs 4,500 crore

23.Man Booker International prize 2015 shortlist announced

Indian author Amitav Ghosh was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize. He is the only Indian among the 10 finalists shortlisted for the prize.

Kolkata born, 58-year-old Mr. Ghosh had narrowly missed out on the Booker Prize back in 2008 when he was shortlisted for his work Sea of Poppies.

The international version of the popular literary prize, to be held in London on May 19, is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.

24.Gujarat Philatelic Exhibition Gujpex-2015 inaugurated in Ahmedabad

Hon. Governor of Gujarat Shri O.P. Kohli inaugurated Gujpex-2015 at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Memorial, Ahmedabad. Gujpex-2015 is the 13th state level philatelic exhibition of Gujarat postal circle.

Hon. Governor also inaugurate a special cover on ‘River front’ and a book ‘Collector’s guide to british India bazaar card- Edwardian & Georgian period’ written by philatelist Shri Prafful Thakkar.

This exhibition will run from 24 March to 27 March 2015 and is organized by the Gujarat Postal Circle with the active support of philatelic associations of Gujarat.

25.Largest ever asteroid impact’ found in Australia

Scientists at Australian National University (ANU) found the world’s largest asteroid impact zone in the Warburton Basin of central Australia.

Dr Andrew Glikson from the Australian National University (ANU) School of Archaeology and Anthropology was the lead author of the study.

The 400-kilometre (250-mile) wide area is buried deep in the earth’s crust and consists of two separate impact scars. The asteroid broke into two before it hit, with each fragment more than 10km across.

26.Veteran poet Gopaldas Neeraj awarded inaugural National Kavi Pradeep Samman

Noted Hindi poet Gopaldas Neeraj was awarded with first National Kavi Pradeep Samman.

He was presented the award by Madhya Pradesh Culture Minister Surendra Patwa at a function held in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

27.Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit France, Germany and Canada next month, on a tour expected to focus on attracting investment to the country.

    • France : 9th to 12th April 2015
    • Germany: 12th to 14th April 2015
    • Canada: 14th to 16th April 2015

28. Prime minister Narendra Modi holds delegation level talks with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani in New Delhi today.

    • India and Qatar signed Six agreements. Those are,
      1. Transfer of sentenced prisoners
      2. MoU for Cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology
      3. MoU between the ministry of earth sciences and Qatar Meteorological Department for Scientific and Technical cooperation
      4. MoU between Diplomatic Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar and Foreign Service Institute of the ministry of external affairs
      5. MoU for cooperation in the field of Radio and Television
      6. An agreement for Mutual Cooperation and Exchange of News

29.2 mega food parks each for Punjab, Haryana; among 17 approved

Union Government has approved 17 mega food parks for food processing across the country.

It was announced by Union Cabinet Minister of Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal. Out of these 17 food parks, 7 parks have been allotted to state agencies whereas 10 to private players in 11 states.

These food parks will attract more investment in the concerned states and generate employment opportunities. It will also benefit five lakh farmers who are suffering due to lack of storage and proper transport system.

30.Amazon Established Logistics Company

Amazon has established a logistics company in the nation for delivering products directly to the consumers

Amazon Transportation Services Private Limited is a subsidiary of US based Amazon which ships goods from sellers on online marketplace

31.Super Salamander’s Fossil Found

Fossil of a crocodile like super salamander as long as a small car has been found in Southern Portugal

This was the top predator 200 million years ago

32. Utah is the First US State To Reinstate Execution by Firing Squad

Utah has become the first state in the US to reinstate execution through a firing squad due to lethal drug shortages existing in the prison system.

33.Amnesty International has conferred 2015 human rights award to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei and US folksinger Joan Baez

34.Balasubramaniam Ganesh, head of the banking products and solution group at Wipro has submitted his resignation.

35.Accel Launches Start Up Fund

Accel Partners, a venture capital firm is releasing a USD 305 million India focused fund.

It aims to capitalise on start ups in India.

36. ADB Projects Indian Growth Rate to Surpass China

Asian Development Bank has projected that India’s growth rate will surpass China to reach 7.8% in the next fiscal and further to 8.2% in 2016-2017 in its Asian Development Outlook

37. Pamela Anderson divorcing hubby Rick Salomon

Rick Salomon has reportedly revealed that Pamela Anderson called it quits with him because of bad sex and some dog issues.

Sources revealed that Anderson laid it all out in an email to Salomon and stated that they were not compatible sexually, so she was bored and frustrated, TMZ.com reported.

38.Delhi govt asks IT ministry to block Uber, Ola apps

New Delhi authorities on Wednesday asked the information technology ministry to block the taxi-hailing apps of US-based Uber and its local rival Ola in the city in a bid to enforce a ban on the companies’ services.

39. Iru-Mudipu region in Dakshin Kannada to get industrial estate

Karnataka government is developing an industrial estate at Bantwal taluk in Dakshina Kannada district, according to an official.

Inaugurating the national vendor development programme-cum-industrial exhibition in Mangaluru on Wednesday, SG Hegde, Joint Director of District Industries Centre, said that the government is developing an industrial estate on an area of 250 acres in Ira-Mudipu villages of Bantwal taluk in the district. This will help boost industrial growth in the region.

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