Daily GK Update - 14th August 2015

1. Axis Bank launched the First Multi-Currency Contactless Card service in India
i. India’s third largest private sector lender, Axis Bank has launched the first Contactless Debit, Credit and Multi-Currency Forex Card in association with VISA payWave in the country.
ii. Axis Bank will offer a contactless debit/credit cards to its 1.7 million premium customers which also enables withdrawal of 15 currencies via Multi-Currency Forex facility.

iii. To facilitate contactless cards operations bank will upgrade 50,000, of its point of sale (PoS) machines across the country.
iv. Axis Bank Contactless cards contain a chip and an antenna (based on radio frequency) that facilitates seamless, faster and hassle free payments.
v. The customer has to enter the purchase amount in the contactless PoS terminal and then simply has to tap the card on the terminal to complete his/her payment wirelessly and in a secure manner.

2. IRDAI allows Banks to tie up with insurers
i. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has allowed banks to tie up with insurers.
ii. This decision was taken as part of the IRDAI’s new Bancassurance model guidelines which will be notified soon. Prior to this decision, banks were not allowed to  have insurance agency tie-ups with more than one insurer.
iii. As per new decision banks can tie up with nine insurers from three segments viz. life, non–life and standalone health. It will not be binding on banks and they are free to take their call.
iv. Earlier, IRDAI had constituted a 7 member committee to study the reviewing of the existing architecture of the Banacassurance model.
v. Bancassurance is a French term referred as selling of insurance through a bank’s. Thus it can be said that Bancassurance= Banks as Insurance Agents. In this case, selling insurance means distribution of insurance and other financial products of insurance companies through Banks.

3. Government approves MoU between India and America to establish PACEsetter Fund
i. The Union Cabinet gave its ex-post-facto approval for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between American and India to establish the PACEsetter Fund.
ii. The PACEsetter Fund is a fund that supports the Promoting Energy Access through Clean Energy (PEACE) an initiative between US and India through Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE).
iii. Accordingly both the countries has raised corpus of about 8 million US dollars (Rs. 50 crore) on a 50:50 sharing basis.
iv. PACE is a flagship initiative initiated between the U.S. and India in 2009, to work jointly on energy security and clean energy, which primly focuses on accelerating the transition to high-performing, low emissions, and energy-secure economies.
v. It endeavours to boost joint efforts to demonstrate the viability of existing clean energy technologies as well as identify new technologies that can increase energy access and security.

4. PAHAL scheme enters into Guinness Book of world records
i. Union Government’s ambitious Pratyaksha Hastaantarit Laabh (PAHAL) scheme has been acknowledged as the world’s largest cash transfer program (households) by the Guinness Book of World Records.
ii. The scheme was formally launched as Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme for LPG subsidy in 2013 in 291 districts under the aegis of Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
iii. It was modified and christened as PaHal in November 2014 and was launched in 54 districts. Later it was extended nationwide on 1 January 2015.
iv. Under the scheme, subsidized liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders are sold at market rates and consumers are entitled to receive LPG subsidy directly into their bank accounts.
v. It is done either through bank account or Aadhaar linkage. Currently it covers more than 9.75 crore LPG consumers across the country. The scheme aims at eliminating duplication or bogus LPG connections and its diversion. It also seeks to meet substantive savings in LPG subsidy.

5. President appoints Om Prakash Rawat as Election Commissioner
i. President Pranab Mukherjee has appointed former IAS officer Om Prakash Rawat as an Election Commissioner (EC) in the Election Commission of India (ECI). He will have tenure of more than three years which will end in December, 2018 i.e. till he attains the age of 65 years.
ii. Rawat was born on 2 December 1953 and is a 1977 batch IAS officer from Madhya Pradesh cadre. During his long bureaucratic career, he had served at various important portfolios at Centre and state level.
iii. In 1993, he had served as a Director in the Defence Ministry. He has also served as Principal Secretary to then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh to Babu Lal Gaur from 2004 and 2006.
iv. He also had served as Secretary at Department of Public Enterprises in the Ministry of Heavy Industries from 2012 till December 2014 when he retired. With Rawat’s appointment, the sole vacancy in the three-member ECI has been filled. Other two members are Nasim Zaidi (Chief Election Commissioner) and A K Joti (EC).

6. NTPC signed two MoUs for Skill Development
i. National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has signed two Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) for skill development training in eastern states and Bihar.
ii. As per the MoU NTPC will provide skill training to 5000 youth and women across 22 locations with special focus on the eastern states. The MoU is for two years with a project cost of Rs 6.5 Crore.
iii. As per second MoU NTPC will train over 25000 candidates in services and manufacturing sectors across under-served locations in Bihar. The MoU is for five years with a project cost of Rs 30 crore. Both the projects will be funded by NTPC and executed by NSDC through its Training Partners.
iv. The National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) is a Public Private Partnership Company with the primary mandate of promotion of the skills landscape in India. It aims to proactively catalyse creation of large, quality vocational training institutions by providing grants and equity.

7. Odisha Cabinet gave nod to new Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) 2015
i. Odisha cabinet approved the much awaited Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) 2015 after several rounds of consultation with different administrative departments and industry associations.
ii. The IPR 2015 lays focus on various sectors for the next five years which includes infrastructure development, auto & auto components, agro and food processing, IT and ESDM (electronic system design & manufacturing), tourism, civil aviation, manufacturing, pharma sector, handicrafts and textiles and petroleum & petro chemicals.
iii. State Cabinet further cleared the State Capital Region Improvement of Power System (SCRIPS) scheme and 650.64 km ambitious Biju Expressway.
iv. SCRIPS is a scheme with an outlay of Rs 1,500 crore that aims to avail quality and uninterrupted power to the consumers in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. This scheme will be implemented entirely out of state’s own finances from 2015-16 to 2019-20, which would have different components like underground cabling of important lines, smart grid and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition).
v. Biju Expressway Project is an ambitious 650.64 km four-lane economic corridor stretching from Rourkela to Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh) that aims to upgrade road connectivity in Naxal infested regions. The project got Central government nod and accordingly out of 650.64 km the state government would develop 307.44 km of roads into four-lane at an estimated cost of Rs 3,630 crore.

8. The founder of Hero Cycle Om Prakash Munjal passes away
i. The founder of Hero Cycle and a leading industrialist Om Prakash Munjal breathed his last in the DMC Hero Heart Centre, Ludhiana on 13 August. He was 87.
ii. On Prakash was born on 26 August 1928 in Kamalia, Punjab (then British India). He moved with his family to Amritsar in 1944 to start a bicycle spare parts business with his three brothers.
iii. The complete manufacturing of bicycle was started in 1956 under brand name Hero. This unit became the first bicycle manufacturing unit in India which produced 639 bicycles in that first year.
iv. Yesterday the Hero Cycles Limited is the world’s largest integrated bicycle manufacturing company that manufacture 7.5 million cycles per year.
v. Om Prakash has received the Udyog Rattan Award from Punjab Government, Punjab Rattna award, The Samman Patra award towards for the contribution to exchequer of the Punjab state government and The Indira Gandhi National Unity award to recognize his social contribution.