Daily GK Update - 17th August 2015

1. Taj Mahal becomes first monument in world to have Twitter account
i. The iconic Mughal monument Taj Mahal became the first historical monuments in the world to have a Twitter account of its own.
ii. The monument’s official Twitter handle @TajMahal was launched by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on eve of 69th Independence Day in Lucknow.

iii. Taj Mahal is a 17th century white marble mausoleum located on the southern bank of Yamuna River in the present city of Agra. Then Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628–1658) had commissioned the monument in 1632 to house the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal.
iv. It is based on Mughal architectural style and was constructed under guidance of chief architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.
v. In 1983, UNESCO had accorded World Heritage Site status on it. It is one of the world’s most celebrated structures and a symbol of India’s rich history. Presently it plays important role in India’s tourism industry and attracts around 3 million visitors every year.

2. HDFC to sell its 9 percent stake in HDFC life to JV partner Standard Life for Rs. 1700 Crore
i. HDFC has announced to sell its 9 per cent stake in HDFC Life Insurance to its British joint venture partner Standard Life for sum of 1,700 crore rupees. Prior this agreement HDFC had 70.65 per cent stake while Standard life had 26 per cent stakes which will be change to 61.65 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.
ii. This move was taken in line to increase the role of its foreign partner which followed the Centres approval to hike FDI to 49 per cent from 26 per cent in Insurance sector. As per the agreement HDFC will issue 17.5 crore shares at the rate of Rs. 95 per share to Standard life.
iii. There are over 52 insurance companies in India out of which 24 are in life insurance business and 28 are non-life insurers. Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) is the sole public sector company among Life Insurance Company and there are six public sector insurers among non-life insurers.
iv. Apart from that there is sole national re-insurer the General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC). The market size of India’s Insurance sector is 70 billion US dollars. Kotak Mahindra Bank is the first bank to set wholly-owned non-life insurance company.
v. As per Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana even the Zero balance account opened prior to August 28, 2014 get Rs 1,00,000 insurance cover.

3. Birla Corp to acquire Lafarge’s two Indian units for Rs. 5000 crore
i. Birla Corporation has signed an agreement with French-based Lafarge Group to acquire its Jojobera unit in Jharhkand and Sonadih in Chattisgarh for sum of Rs. 5000 crore.
ii. The Lafarge disinvested these two units in order fulfil the directions given by Competition Commission of India (CCI) as a part to conclude its mega global merger with Swiss-based Holcim Ltd and its operations in Indian, the merger took place on 15 July 2015.
iii. As per the acquisition deal Birla Corp will acquire these cement units along its brands ‘Concreto’ and ‘PSC’ and also its management team. These two plants have total cement capacity of 5.15 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) and have adequate reserves of limestone.
iv. After the disinvestment by Jafarge-Holcim group, its cement capacity will come around 68 million tonnes in India. The local cement companies ACC cement and Ambuja Cement are part of this group.

4. Ajit Seth to head Public Enterprises Selection Board
i. Former Cabinet Secretary, Ajit Seth, will take charge as the Chairman of the Public Enterprises Selection Board. Seth, an IAS officer from the Uttar Pradesh cadre of the 1974 batch, will be in charge of the post till the age of 65 or for three years, whichever is earlier.
ii. Seth will replace Atul Chaturvedi, who was also an IAS officer from the Uttar Pradesh cadre of the 1974 batch.
iii. The decision was announced in a statement from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet on Monday.

5. Hero Cycles acquires leading UK-based Avocet Sports
i. World’s largest bicycle manufacturer Hero Cycles acquired majority stake in UK-based Avocet Sports for an undisclosed amount. It is the first overseas acquisition of Hero Cycle with an aim to enter into high-end bicycle market in Europe.
ii. Manchester-based Avocet is among top three players in bicycles, e-bikes, bicycle parts and accessories in the UK and with Hero Cycles it aims to capture high-end bicycle market in UK and Germany.
iii. With the experience of 20 years in high-end bicycles market Avocet has Tie-ups with leading retailers around the globe which includes Tesco, ASDA, Halfords, Amazon.com, Shop Direct, and Hero Cycles.
iv. It is a part of Hero Group that has its foot prints in sectors like bicycle components, automotive, automotive components, IT, services, Hospitality, Home Decor etc. Hero Cycles manufactures over 7.5 million bicycles per year from its manufacturing units in Bihta (Bihar), Ludhiana (Punjab) & Ghaziabad (UP)

6. India, Bangladesh ink MoU to fight fake currency
i. India and Bangladesh have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for full cooperation to tackle the menace of fake Indian currency notes (FICN) smuggling. The MoU was signed at a maiden meeting of the Joint Task Force on Fake Currency Notes (JTFFC) in Dhaka held on 12 and 13 August, 2015.
ii. Both countries have agreed to share intelligence inputs on operatives engaged in circulating FICN on real time basis in order to curb
iii. India will provide Advance note sorting machines to Bangladesh to detect FICN circulation at international airports, immigration points, integrated crossing points, banks and financial institutions in Bangladesh.
iv. India will establish State-of-the-art facilities for examination of fake currency notes in Bangladesh. It will facilitate maintaining a digital record of analysis and seizures of fake notes which will include creation of a database on smugglers for use by both countries.
v. India will help Bangladesh to set up Forensic Science Laboratory for examination of fake notes and maintaining a digital depository of forensic reports. As part of the MoU, both countries in future will organise capacity building training programmes in future and the next Joint Task Force meeting will be held again in November 2015.

7. MHA to setup pan-India National Fingerprint Database
i. Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to establish a pan-India National fingerprint database to aid in the speedy identification of criminals and investigation of crimes across the country.
ii. The database will have fingerprint records of nearly 28 lakh convicts from all the states including of those who were arrested for criminal offences.
iii. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) will be nodal agency for creating this cloud based national record by linking finger print database of all States and Union Territories bureaus. The integration of all fingerprint databases will help police from any part of the country to furnish criminal finger prints record on real time basis.
iv. Presently, the Delhi-based Central Finger Print Bureau (CPFB) has digitized data of over 9.7 lakh finger print records of convicted or arrested persons. While Gujarat has the biggest database of fingerprints with nearly 12 lakh records followed by Andhra Pradesh which has 5.3 lakh records and Madhya Pradesh 3 lakh records.

8. Badminton World Championship 2015: Saina Nehwal wins silver medal
i. Defending champion Carolina Marin Martin of Spain has won the prestigious World Badminton Championship 2015 in women’s single category.
ii. In the final match she defeated India’s Saina Nehwal by two set score of 16-21 and 19-21. This second time Carolina Marin had won this championship. Earlier she had won it in 2014 becoming first Spanish women player to win this prestigious title.
iii. It should be noted that Saina Nehwal is first Indian women badminton player to reach finals of Badminton World Championship. In the semifinal match she had defeated Indonesian’s Lindaweni Fanetria in straight-game by two set score of 21-17 and 21-17.
iv. India’s PV Sindhu had won the bronze medal twice in World Badminton Championship in 2013 and 2014. Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa won the bronze in women’s doubles in 2011. Prakash Padukone was the first Indian to win a bronze in 1983.