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August 20, 2015

20th August 2015 - Important Current Affairs updates

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National Affairs
  • The Taj Mahal has made it to the top five of a prestigious new list of the World's Best tourist attractions.
    • According to the Lonely Planet's "Ultimate Travelist" top five tourist attractions in the world are,
      • The Temples of Angkor
      • The Great Barrier Reef
      • Inca city of Machu Picchu
      • Great Wall of China
      • Taj Mahal
  • The Allahabad High Court has lifted its stay on the demotion of SC/ST employees, who were promoted under the ‘reservation in promotion policy’ of the Uttar Pradesh Government.
    • During the Mayawati regime, the SC/ST employees were promoted through reservation. 
    • However, the policy was challenged in the Supreme Court, which in 2012 quashed the promotion based reservation.

International Affairs
  • Today is World Mosquito Day
    • This day is a commemoration of Indian doctor Sir Ronald Ross's discovery in 1897 that female mosquitoes transmit malaria between humans.
  • The Union Cabinet has approved the signing and ratification of an agreement between India and Seychelles for exchange of information with respect to taxes.
    • It will enable competent authorities of both countries to provide assistance through an exchange of information that is foreseeably relevant to the administration.
  • Pakistan today announced that it will not host next month's Commonwealth Parliamentary Union meeting amid a row with India over its refusal to invite the speaker of Jammu & Kashmir assembly for the conference.
    • Note : India had threatened to boycott the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference which is going to be held from September 30 to October 8 after Islamabad refused to invite Jammu & Kashmir assembly speaker Kavinder Gupta for the event.
    • The conference was to bring together speakers of Commonwealth nations in Islamabad.
  • The 2nd FIPIC Summit is going to begin in Jaipur tomorrow.
    • The meeting will be attended by the heads of 14 island nations from Indo-Pacific oceanic region.
    • Note : India is hosting this summit for the first time. 
    • FIPIC - Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation

Business & Economy
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has granted ‘in-principle’ approval to 11 entities to set up payments banks and proposed such licences ‘on tap’ in future.
    • The entities which have been given ‘in-principle’ approval are,
      • Reliance Industries
      • Aditya Birla Nuvo, 
      • Vodafone,
      • Airtel,  
      • Department of Posts, 
      • Cholamandalam Distribution Services, 
      • Tech Mahindra, 
      • National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL), 
      • Fino PayTech, 
      • Sun Pharma’s Dilip Shantilal Shanghvi 
      • PayTM’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
    • Note : This ‘in-principle’ approval granted will be valid for a period of 18 months, during which time the applicants have to comply with the requirements under the guidelines and fulfil the other conditions as may be stipulated by the Reserve Bank.
  • RBI today said it will announce small finance bank licences next month and allayed concerns that these new entities can pose any threat to existing banks.
    • RBI Governor : Raghuram Rajan
  • Three Indian companies figure in Forbes' annual list of The World's Most Innovative Companies.
    • They are,
      • Hindustan Unilever - 41st
      • Tata Consultancy Services - 64th
      • Sun Pharma Industries - 71st  
    • Note :  This list was topped by Tesla Motors, leading maker of fully electric vehicles.
  • Taking banking in India to the next level, ICICI Bank has recently launched a new digital initiative -- Smart Vault.
    • Important Note : Smart Vault is India's first automated locker facility with high-end robotic technology.
    • Launched by Chanda Kochhar, Managing Director & CEO, ICICI Bank
  • State-run insurer Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has launched its maiden Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) product across the country.
    • Endowment Plus, a ULIP will offer investment cum insurance during the term policy and provide due benefit of risk cover and benefits of investment markets.
    • Policy holders will have options to choose from any of the four funds — bond fund, secured fund, balance fund and growth fund — and also with added conveniences of switching between these funds.

Science & Technology
  • Google Inc. launched OnHub, a Wi-Fi router today, the latest move in the company’s efforts to get ready for the connected home and draw more users to its services.
    • The cylinder-shaped router  comes with in-built antennas that will scan the airwaves to spot the fastest connection.
    • With the router, users will be able to prioritise a device so that they can get the fastest Internet speeds for data-heavy activities such as downloading content or streaming a movie.

  • Renowned Malayalam actor Paravoor Bharathan (86) passes away.
    • Some of his notable films are "In Harihara Nagar", "Aniyan Bava Chetan Bava", "Mazhavilkavadi", "Peruvannapurathe Visheshangal", "Mrigaya", "Aniyathipraavu", "Gajakesariyogam" and "Meleparambil Aanveedu".
    • He was also honoured with the Bahadoor Award in 2004.
  • Uttar Pradesh Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Chitranjan Swarup (70) passed away after a prolonged illness at a Delhi hospital this morning .
    • He was a sitting MLA from Muzaffarnagar. 

New Appointments
  • Veteran actor Anupam Kher has been appointed as the UN ambassador of the 'HeForShe' campaign for gender equality.
    • The 'HeForShe' campaign has been initiated by UN Women. Its goal is to engage men as agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women's rights, by encouraging them to take action against inequalities faced by women and girls.
    • Note : Hollywood actress Emma Watson was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in July 2014. 
  • Ashwani Lohani, a Railway Service officer who is now the chief of Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC), was today appointed as CMD of Air India, the state-run carrier whose combined losses currently stood at Rs 30,000 crore. 

  • The selection committee headed by ex-India hockey captain Zafar Iqbal, today recommended former India volleyball captain TPP Nair, Davis Cup captain SP Misra and hockey goalkeeper Romeo James for this year's Dhyan Chand award.
    • Important Points to Note
      • Dhyan Chand Award is India's highest award for lifetime achievement in sports and games, given by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. 
      • This award is named after the legendary Indian hockey player Dhyan Chand.
  • Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal regains the No. 1 spot in World Badminton Rankings.
    • Top 10 in Women's Singles
      • Saina Nehwal (India)
      • Carolina Marin (Spain)
      • Tai Tzu Ying (Chinese Taipei)
      • Li Xuerui (China)
      • Ratchanok Intanon (Thaiand)
      • Wang Yihan (China)
      • Wang Shixian (China)
      • Sung Ji Hyun (Korea)
      • Nozomi Okuhara (Japan)
      • Akane Yamaguchi (Japan)
    • Top 10 in Men's Singles
      • Chen Long (China)
      • Jan O Jorgensen (Denmark)
      • Kento Momota (Japan)
      • K. Srikanth (India)
      • Lin Dan (China)
      • Viktor Axelsen (Denmark)
      • CHOU Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei)
      • Parupalli Kashyap (India)
      • Wang Zhengming (China)
      • Son Wan Ho (Korea)
  • Saina Nehwal has signed a two-year deal with leading sports management group, IOS Sports & Entertainment.
    • IOS will now manage Saina’s endorsements, appearances, brand profiling, patents, licensing and digital rights, images and visibility on social networking sites.

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