Current Affairs of 7 August 2015

1. Indian-American Atul Keshap appointed as the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives
Indian-American Atul Keshap was  appointed as the United States (US) Ambassador
to Sri Lanka and Maldives. Earlier, Keshap had been an official at the US Embassy in India.
He is currently working as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau of State Department. He joined the Foreign Service in 1994. He was the deputy political counsellor at the US Embassy in New Delhi from 2005 to 2008.
Keshap also served as special assistant for the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia for the under secretary of state for political affairs.

2. PM Narendra Modi inaugurated first National Handloom Day
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 7 August 2015 inaugurated first National Handloom Day at the Centenary Hall of Madras University in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where he also unveiled 'India Handloom' brand.
Modi, while addressing the function, sought greater use of handloom in people's daily lives and also emphasised on innovative initiatives for making handloom as fashionable choice among consumers.
This was his first visit to the Tamil Nadu capital since he assumed office. On his arrival to the city, he was received by Governor K Rosaiah and Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
Besides, the Prime Minster visited the exhibition of handloom products from various states kept for display at the University Auditorium. He also gave away the Sant Kabir Awards and National Awards for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 to distinguished handloom personalities.

3. RBI relaxed Branch Authorisation Policy to allow banks to merge or close branches in urban areas
Reserve Bank of India (RBI)  notified Section 23 of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949 -Relaxations in Branch Authorisation Policy. The notification allows banks to shift, merge or close branches, in urban areas, at their own discretion.
The decision will provide more operational freedom to banks. The central bank said that customers of the branch should be informed well in time before actual shifting, merger or closure of the office.
Some guidelines that should be followed for Merger/Closure/ Shifting of branches includes
Banks may shift, merge or close all branches except rural branches and sole semi-urban branches at their discretion.
Shifting, merger, or closure of any rural branch as well as a sole semi urban branch would require approval of the DCC/DLRC.
Further, while shifting/merging/closing sole rural or semi urban branches, banks may ensure that the banking needs of the centre continue to be met through either satellite offices/mobile vans or through Business Correspondents. Thus the centre should not be left unbanked.
Banks should, however, ensure that customers of the branch, which is being shifted/merged/closed, are informed well in time before actual shifting/merger/closure of the branch, so as to avoid inconvenience to them.
Further, while considering shifting/merger/closure of branches, banks should ensure that they continue to fulfil the role entrusted to these branches under the Government sponsored programmes and DBT Schemes.
It may further be ensured that branches are shifted/ within the same or to a lesser population category, i.e., semi urban branches to semi urban or rural centres and rural branches to other rural centres.
In all such cases, the license, if any was issued, of the merged/closed/shifted branch may be surrendered to the Regional Office concerned of DBS except in respect of branches in Maharashtra and Goa, which should be surrendered to DBR, CO, Mumbai.
Thus banks may shift their metropolitan, urban and semi urban branches outside the State, and their rural branches outside the block without prior approval of RBI.

4. SBI Life Insurance launched Smart Humsafar Plan
Private insurer SBI Life Insurance  launched Smart Humsafar, a unique plan which offers multiple benefits of savings and insurance cover for husband and wife under a single policy.
The plan complements the couple's efforts to achieve prosperity along with protection to fulfill their dream of leading a better life.
In case of death of one of the spouses, a payment of sum assured is made to the surviving spouse, in addition to waiver of future premiums. And, in the event of death of surviving spouse during the reminder of the policy term, the nominee gets the sum assured along with all the accrued bonuses. 
The basic sum assured with all accrued bonuses will be paid upon survival of any or both lives on maturity.

5. Rajasthan signs MoUs for Rs 2,452-cr investments at the investment meet in New Delhi
Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) worth 2,452 crore rupees at an investor event organised in New Delhi. The event was organised in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) by the Bureau of Industry Promotion in Rajasthan. Investment pacts were signed between the state government and several private companies that plan to set up industrial units in Rajasthan. These investments are expected to generate over 7000 direct and more than thousand indirect jobs.

6. Egypt launches Suez Canal expansion
Egypt has launched a major expansion of the Suez Canal. It was inaugurated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a lavish ceremony held at port city of Ismailiya ( located on west bank of canal). 
Suez Canal expansion project 
The project was started in August 2014 for the expansion of the Ballah Bypass from 61 metres to 312 metres. The project was dubbed as the New Suez Canal. Expansion aims to increase the traffic handled by the canal in order to boost Egypt’s economy and global standing by turning the Suez Canal zone into a global logistics and trade center. Completed in one year span with an estimated cost of US 8 billion dollars. It comprises 72km of new channel and bypasses which has deepened the main waterway. It allows ships especially larger vessels to transit the canal in both directions simultaneously, thus increasing canal traffic and revenue. The expansion is expected to double the ship capacity of the Suez Canal from 49 to 97 ships a day by 2023.

7. Colonel Harwant Singh (Retd), World War-II hero passes away
Retired Colonel Harwant Singh, a World War-II veteran and hero passed away in Patiala, Punjab. He was 95. He was commissioned in 2nd battalion of the Sikh Regiment of then British Army in September 1941. During the World War (WW)-II he had served in Palestine, North Africa, Iraq, Cyprus and Italy for the British Army. In 1944, he was awarded with the Military Cross (highest award of the British Army) for gallantry during an offensive against the German forces on the Gothic Line in Italy. During the first Independence Day celebration of 1947, he was officer in charge of the flag-hoisting ceremony held at Princess Park on August 15 and Red Fort on August 16. In October 1947, during the outbreak of hostilities with Pakistan in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir he was one of the leading company commanders on the field. For his role in these hostilities he was felicitated as one of the saviours of Srinagar.

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