Current Affairs of 14 August 2015

1. OP Rawat appointed as Election Commissioner of India
Om Prakash Rawat, a 1977 batch Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, on 13 August 2015 was appointed as the Election Commissioner of India. His appointment will come into effect from the day he assumes office. 
With Rawat’s appointment, the sole vacancy in the three-member poll body has been filled.
Born on 2 December 1953, Rawat will have tenure of more than three years which will end in December 2018. He had retired from government service in December 2014. During his career, he served as Secretary, Department of Public Enterprises in the Ministry of Heavy Industries. Earlier he had served with two chief ministers as their principal secretary. 
An awardee of state government's 'recognition of forest rights' in 2009, Rawat did his MSc in Social Development Planning in 1989 in the United Kingdom.

2. Pahal Scheme acknowledged by Guinness Book of World Records as largest cash transfer program

Union Government’s ambitious Pratyaksha Hastaantarit Laabh (PAHAL) scheme was on

 13 August 2015 acknowledged as the world’s largest cash transfer program (households) by the Guinness Book of World Records.
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. 
The scheme was modified and named as Pahal in November 2014 and was then again launched in 54 districts. Later it was extended nationwide on 1 January 2015.

3. Axis Bank launched the First Multi-Currency Contactless Card service in India
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. 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. To facilitate contactless cards operations bank will upgrade 50,000, of its point of sale (PoS) machines across the country.

4. Om Prakash Munjal, founder of Hero Cycle Limited, passed away
Om Prakash was born on 26 August 1928 in Kamalia, Punjab (then British India). Later, he shifted to Amritsar in 1944 to start a bicycle spare parts business with his three brothers and began the complete manufacturing of bicycle under brand name Hero. 
Today the Hero Cycles Limited is the world’s largest integrated bicycle manufacturing company that manufactures 7.5 million cycles per year. Hero Group now has its foot print in sectors like bicycle components, automotive, automotive components, IT, services etc. 
Om Prakash had also recieved various awards including Udyog Rattan Award from Punjab Government, Punjab Ratna 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.

5. India, Slovak Republic signed MoU for technical cooperation in Railway Sector
India and Slovak Republic on 13 August 2015 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on technical cooperation in railway sector. The MoU was signed in New Delhi by Ganga Ram Agarwal, Secretary of Railway Board of India and Zigmund Bertok, Ambassador of Slovak Republic to India.
The potential cooperation areas mentioned in the MoU are: 
• Infrastructure building and management– station development and workshop modernisation
• Information & communication technologies especially for passenger amenities
• Modernisation of rolling stock
• Modernisation of Signaling & Telecom
• Any other area mutually agreed between the Parties, falling within the scope of this MoU
The MoU will be valid for a period of two years and after completion of valid term, it will be automatically renewed for further successive period of two years at a time.

6. RBI notified Interest Subvention Scheme 2015-16 of Union Government for banks
Reserve Bank of India on 13 August 2015 notified the Union Budget-2015-16 Interest Subvention Scheme (ISS) and asked all banks to provide interest concession of 2 percent on short term crop loans of up to 3 lakh rupees.
The central bank in its notification said that interest subvention of 2 percent per annum will be made available to public and private sector banks provided they lend short term credit at the ground level at 7 percent per annum to farmers.
The bank said that additional interest subvention of 3 percent will be available to farmers for repaying the loan promptly from the date of disbursement of the crop loan. This implies that farmers paying promptly would get short term crop loans at 4 percent during the year 2015-16.
To provide relief to farmers affected by natural calamities, the Reserve Bank has said that interest subvention of 2 percent will continue to be available to banks for the first year on the restructured amount. However, such restructured loans may attract normal rate of interest from the second year onwards. 

7. 2015 United States-India Cyber Dialogue held in Washington, DC
2015 US - India Cyber Dialogue was held on 11 and 12 August 2015 at the US Department of State in Washington, DC. The dialogue was held with an aim to increase global cyber security and promote the digital economy. 
The whole-of-government Cyber Dialogue, fourth in the series, was led by the US Cyber security Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President Michael Daniel and by India's Deputy National Security Advisor Arvind Gupta.
Outcomes of the dialogue
• The United States and India have committed to robust cooperation on cyber issues
• The delegations discussed a range of cyber issues including cyber threats, enhanced cyber security information sharing, cyber incident management, cyber security cooperation in the context of 'Make in India', efforts to combat cyber crime, Internet governance issues, and norms of state behavior in cyberspace.
• The two delegations identified a variety of opportunities for increased collaboration on cyber security capacity-building, cyber security research and development, combatting cyber crime, international security, and Internet governance, and intend to pursue an array of follow-on activities to bolster their cyber security partnership and achieve concrete outcomes.

8. Indian Men's Hockey team won European series against Spain 2-1
Indian Men's Hockey Team on 13 August 2015 won three match series of their European Tour 2-1 after registering second win in the third and final match of the series. Indian team defeated Spain 4-2 at Teresa in Spain.
For India, Rupinder Pal scored the first goal in 24th minute followed by Akashdeep Singh in 45th minute and the third and fourth goals by Ramandeep Singh. 
The first match of the series was won by Spain 4-1. The second match was won by India 2-0.

9. Tata Sons raise stake in AirAsia India from 30% to 41%
Tata Sons has decided to increase its stake in low-cost carrier AirAsia India from 30 per cent to 41 per cent by infusing fresh capital. AirAsia India is a joint venture between Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia Berhad, Tata Sons and Arun Bhatia’s Telestra Tradeplace. As per the original agreement these three partners holds 49%, 30%, 21% stakes in Air Asia India and had committed to invest 30 million US dollar in the airline. Tata Sons will acquire the additional stake from Arun Bhatia’s Telestra Tradeplace which was subscribe to 21 per cent equity in the airline but it hasn’t done so. With this change in ownership structure the top deck of the company has also changed, now the AirAsia India’s chief executive officer (CEO) Mittu Chandilya would also be its managing director. Apart from Air Asia Tata Sons also holds 51 per cent stake in full-service airline Vistara a Joint venture with Singapore Airlines.

10. IRDAI allows Banks to tie up with insurers
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has allowed banks to tie up with insurers. 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. 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. Earlier, IRDAI had constituted a 7 member committee to study the reviewing of the existing architecture of the Banacassurance model.

11. NASA test- fires engine for next-generation megarocket
 NASA has performed a nearly nine-minute-long test of the engine at the heart of the US space agency’s next-generation megarocket that will take astronauts to asteroids, Mars and other deep-space missions.
The agency successfully tested an RS-25 engine at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Four RS-25s will power the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) megarocket that will launch astronauts in the Orion spacecraft on missions to deep space and eventually on the journey to Mars.
The RS-25 blazed on the test stand for 535 seconds – the same amount of time the core engines will fire during an actual SLS launch.
SLS and Orion are scheduled to blast off together for the first time in 2018, on a flight known as Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1).
The seven-day EM-1 will send an unmanned Orion on a journey around the Moon, to test out many of the capsule’s key systems.

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