Current Affairs of 11 August 2015

1. President Pranab Mukherjee presented Saraswati Sammaan to Dr. M Veerappa Moily
President of India, Pranab Mukherjee presented the 24th Saraswati Sammaan for the year 2014 to Dr. M Veerappa Moily, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) in New Delhi. He received the award for his epic Sri Ramayana Mahanveshanam written in Kannada.
Divided into five volumes, Ramayana Mahanveshanam was first published in 2007 in Kannada. Later the poem was translated into English, Hindi, Telugu and Tamil.
Moily’s work was selected for the award in March 2015 by a 13-member panel of scholars and writers headed by former Chief Justice of India RC Lahoti.

2. Sundar Pichai is Google CEO; Sergey Brin President
India-born Sundar Pichai will be the new CEO of Google under a major restructuring at the
technology giant, as co-founder Larry Page lauded the IIT alumnus’ “progress and dedication” and said it is “time” for him to take over the company’s reins.

In a surprise and significant re-organisation, Page announced the formation of a new parent company Alphabet Inc which will replace Google as the publicly-traded entity and all shares of Google will automatically convert into the same number of shares of Alphabet, with all of the same rights.

Born in Chennai, Pichai, did his schooling from Jawahar Vidyalaya. He received a B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur and holds an M.S. in Engineering and Materials Science from Stanford University and an MBA from the Wharton School.
He had joined Google in 2004 as its vice president of product management, where he led the team working on Google’s Chrome browser and operating system.
Google will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet, which will have Page as CEO and co-founder Sergey Brin as President.

3. Kochi became first Indian city to join World Tourism Cities Federation Council
Kochi on 10 August 2015 became the first Indian city to be a member of Beijing headquartered World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) Council and join its league of leading tourism cities across the world.
The invitation to Kochi to be the member of the council was sent to Kerala Tourism Department by WTCF, which was formally accepted by the department. The membership acceptance document was handed over to Chinese Ambassador to India Le Yucheng by the Kochi Mayor Tony Chammany. 
Kochi became the member of the council on ground of its partnerships in culture, sports and tourism. Kochi's cuisine, martial arts and snake and dragon boat races fulfil the set ground for membership. 

4. International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples observed
International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples was observed on 9 August 2015 with the theme Post 2015 Agenda: Ensuring indigenous peoples' health and well-being. 
This year's theme puts a spotlight on the issue of indigenous peoples' access to health care services, as improving indigenous peoples’ health remains a critical challenge for indigenous peoples, Member States and the United Nations.

5. Veteran Marathi stage actor Bhalchandra Pendharkar died
Veteran Marathi stage actor, singer and drama producer Bhalchandra Pendharkar died at a private hospital in Mumbai on 11 August 2015. He was 94.
Born on 25 November 1921, at Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, Pendharkar was affectionately known as Anna. He gained popularity through his play Duritanche Timir Javo. His other memorable contributions in the field of theater included Panditrao Jagannath, Gita Gaati Dnyaneshwar, Shabbas Birbal Shabbas and few others.

6. Union Ministry for Minority Affairs launched Nai Manzil Scheme in Patna
The Union Minister for Minority Affairs Najma Heptulla launched a new Central Sector Scheme Nai Manzil in Patna. 
The scheme will address educational and livelihood needs of minority communities in general and muslims in particular as it lags behind other minority communities in terms of educational attainments.
Highlights of the scheme
• The scheme gives a new direction and a new goal for the all out of school or dropped out students and those studying in Madrasas. It is so because they will not be getting formal Class XII and Class X Certificates rendering them largely un employed in organised sector. 
• The Nai Manzil scheme is aimed at this target group as an integrated intervention in terms of providing education as well as skill development. 
• It aims at providing educational intervention by giving the bridge courses to the trainees and getting them Certificates for Class XII and X from distance medium educational system.
• It will also provide them trade basis skill training in 4 courses including Manufacturing, Engineering, Services and Soft skills.
• The scheme is intended to cover people in between 17 to 35 age group from all minority communities as well as Madrasa students.
• It will provide avenues for continuing higher education and also open up employment opportunities in the organised sector.

7. Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu launched new train services in Northeast
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu  launched new train services in the Northeast after the completion of North Lakhimpur-Murkongselek and Balipara- Bhalukpong sections into broad-gauge. He launched the service through video-conferencing from New Delhi.
Prabhu described the occasion as a Golden Day in the history of Arunachal Pradesh and flagged off few train on the occasion.

8. Google launched its parent company Alphabet Inc
Search engine giant Google Inc on 10 August 2015 launched a new parent company called Alphabet Inc that separates its highly profitable search and advertising business.
The new parent company was formed as part of Google’s new organisational structure which will help the company to keep tremendous focus on the extraordinary opportunities and products.
With this, Google will be replaced by Alphabet Inc as the publicly-traded entity and all its shares will automatically converted into the of shares of new parent entity with same rights. Alphabet Inc will comprise of the search engine unit and all other subsidiaries.

9. World Bio-Fuel Day observed globally on 10 August
The World Bio-Fuel Day was observed across the world on 10 August 2015. The day is observed every year with an aim to create awareness about non fossil-fuels (Green Fuels).

10. Payworld launches ‘assisted e-commerce’
One of e-commerce’s bigger challenges is reaching a product to a customer in a far-flung area, especially if it is ‘cash on delivery’, for, if the receiver is not there, the cost of delivery goes up. On the other hand, ignore remote areas, and you lose a market.
Smart Payments Solutions, which runs the e-wallet service under the brand ‘Payworld’, has launched ‘assisted e-commerce’ — essentially, an aggregator in small towns or villages, typically a customer touchpoint such as a kirana store, that will place orders on behalf of the buyers.
‘Assisted e-commerce’ has been piloted for mobile phones in a town near Coimbatore and for solar lamps in Uttar Pradesh, he said. Over time, there will be more ‘assisted eCommerce’ centres and more products to buy there.
Smart Payment Solutions has 60,000 active retail outlets where Payworld digital wallets can be topped up by paying cash. This would be expanded to 300,000 over the next three years, Dhabhai said. The wallet can be used on more than 15,000 websites.
The retail outlets that lie in far-flung areas could serve as assisted e-commerce centres.

11. ISRO commissions Titanium Sponge Plant in Kerala
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 10 August has fully commissioned and started commercial production at the first indigenous Titanium Sponge Plant at Chavara in Kerala. The initiative was taken by ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre to establish Titanium Sponge Plant (TSP) a dedicated 500 MT per annum plant at M/s Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML), Chavara in Kollam district, Kerala. This plant has commercially started producing Titanium Sponge which is exclusively applicable in space programme and strategic areas. For space programme ISRO annually requires approximately 200-300 metric tonnes of Titanium Sponge and the plant projects to enhance its capacity to 1,000 tonnes per annum in near future. It should be noted that it is the only integrated plant in the world that undertakes all activities right from mining of Ti minerals to manufacturing of aerospace grade Ti sponge under one roof.

12. ICICI Bank launches ‘Saral-Rural Housing Loan’ Scheme for weaker sections
India’s largest private sector lender Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India (ICICI) Bank has launched ‘ICICI Bank Saral-Rural Housing Loan’ Scheme for weaker sections of society. The scheme is new home loan proposition of the bank with special interest rate to cater people from rural areas including women borrowers as well as from weaker sections. Key facts Housing loan will be provided at the ICICI Bank Base Rate (known as I-Base) which is currently at 9.70%. An eligible customer can avail of loan to purchase, construction or renovation of a home in the rural areas. The loan will range from five to fifteen lakh rupees for a period of 3–20 years and the loan can be up to 90 per cent of the property value. This scheme will be available be available in 189 cities across the country. With the launch of this scheme, the private bank seeks to support the socio-economic development of a larger section of the society especially economically deprived sections. It also seeks to empower customers including women borrowers in the rural locations in order to realize the dream of owning a house.

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