Current Affairs of 18 August 2015

1. SBI launches mobile wallet app ‘Buddy’
India’s largest banking entity State Bank of India (SBI) launched a Mobile wallet application dubbed as ‘SBI Buddy’. It was launched by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at a function held at State Bank Bhavan, Nariman Point in Mumbai. SBI’s first female Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya was also present on the occasion.
Key features of SBI Buddy 
Aims at providing convenient and secure digital payment system to its customers.
It was launched in collaboration with Accenture and Mastercard. The application is available in 13 languages with several features including bill payment, all types of ticket bookings for movies, flights, payment and cash transfer among others. It also has features like reminders to recharge, bill payments, dues settlement etc. At present the app is available only on android based phones and can be downloaded from Google Play Store. SBI soon is going to launch this app on Apple App Store.
SBI Foundation 
State Bank of India also launched SBI Foundation, a subsidiary as an implementing agency for its corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Union Finance Minister unveiled website and the logo of SBI Foundation on the occasion of launching the SBI Buddy application. SBI foundation will encourage, promote and develop causes related to environment, education, children welfare, women empowerment and manage all the CSR activities of the SBI Group.

2. ICICI Bank launched locker facility named Smart Vault
ICICI Bank  launched Smart Vault, a first-of-its-kind locker facility by a bank in India with latest robotic technology. The facility was launched by Chanda Kochhar, MD & CEO of ICICI Bank at the Defence Colony branch of Delhi.
The Smart Vault uses robotic technology to access the lockers from the safe vault and enables customers to conveniently access their lockers at any time of their preference, in the comfort of a secure lounge where the locker automatically comes up to the customer.
Smart Vault locker is equipped with multi-layer security system, including biometric and PIN authentication and debit cards, among others. Customers can access it without any intervention by the branch staff.
The lockers are of two-three different sizes and the charges of availing this facility would depend on their size. Also, the locker charges in a city would vary depending on the real estate cost.

3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited United Arab Emirates
Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi visited United Arab Emirates (UAE) between 16 August and 17 August 2015. He is the first Prime Minister of India to visit UAE after 34 years. The last Indian Prime Minister to visit the UAE was Indira Gandhi in 1981.
He visited the country on invitation of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
During the visit, the Prime Minister held talks with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The two nations had fruitful discussion on lateral issues and resolved to maintain regular summits, high level ministerial dialogue and meetings of bilateral mechanisms to realize their vision of a strong comprehensive strategic partnership.
Important events held during Modi’s visit to the nation includes
• His Highness the Crown Prince decided to allot land for construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi.
• He also visited the historic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, which is the third largest mosque in the world and can accommodate around 40000 people at a time. It is named after the founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The other two mosques’s which are larger than the Zayed Grand Mosque ate the ones in Mecca and Madina in Saudi Arabia.
• He visited Masdar City, a zero carbon city, where he met with investors.
• He addressed Indian Diaspora of the country at the Dubai Cricket Stadium. Indian Diaspora forms 30 per cent of the UAE’s population.
• He also interacted with Indian workers at the ICAD Residential Labour Camping, Abu Dhabi, which houses thousands of migrant labourers from the Indian subcontinent.
Besides this, the Prime Minister announced that the Indian mission in UAE has set up an e-migrant portal to help Indian migrant workers and an online platform 'MADAD' to assist them.
He also announced a new scheme as part of various measures for the welfare of Indian diaspora living in United Arab Emirates (UAE). The welfare fund will be set up for their benefit, to help them legally so that they can deal with problems.

4. Telangana Government launched Grama Jyothi Scheme across the state
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on 17 August 2015 launched a flagship programme Grama Jyothi across the state. The scheme is aimed at comprehensive development of rural areas allowing planning and execution of works by villages themselves.
For the successful implementation of the scheme, the state government has decided to invest 25000 crore rupees to empower villages.
The scheme will focus on improving the Human Development Index (HDI) by addressing core issues such as drinking water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, infrastructure, natural resources management, agriculture, social security and poverty reduction.
The Grama Jyothi programme aims to empower gram panchayats. The programme introduces a participatory approach in preparing village development plans involving the panchayats, self help groups, people and all interested in the holistic development of the village. 

5. Delhi government announced City Taxi Scheme
Delhi government  announced a new City Taxi Scheme 2015 under which permits will be issued to 600 CC vehicles. 
Small size taxis between 600 cc and 749 cc operational under the scheme will have minimum flag down rate of 25 rupees for first two kilometres, which is same in the auto rickshaws. After two kilometres passengers will have to pay 10 rupees per kilometer, which is higher than the present 8.5 rupees per kilometre fare that auto rickshaws charge.
About the City Taxi Scheme 2015
• Taxies under the scheme will be equipped with a panic and hooter button as a safety feature. 
• Not just existing taxi operators, large aggregators such as Uber and Ola will be eligible to partake in providing the service.
• Under the new scheme, small size taxi between 600 CC to 749 CC can register for the permit. Earlier, only vehicles with a capacity of 750 cc or more were issued permits.
• Taxis operating under this scheme will be white in colour with provision for advertisements. They will have a LCD display on top in green and red colour to indicate if they are available or not.
Besides, the present taxi services, namely Radio Taxi Scheme 2006 and Economy Taxi Scheme 2010 will be amalgamated in the new scheme. But, the black and yellow taxi as well as All India Tourist Permit Taxi will be retained.

 6. RBI suspended licence of seven non-banking finance companies (NBFCs)
On 17 August the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) suspends licence of seven non-banking finance companies (NBFCs). The seven NBFCs whose licences were suspended are – Religare Finance, Artisans Micro Finance, Eden Trade & Commerce, RCS Parivar Finance, Nott Investments, Dewra Stocks & Securities, Swetasree Finance. Being a dormant entity, Religare Finance licence was suspended by RBI as it did not conducted lending operation for long period of time.

7. Queen Elizabeth II set to become Britain’s longest-reigning Monarch
Queen Elizabeth II is set to become Britain’s longest-reigning Monarch in the history. On 10th September 2015, she will become the longest-reigning British head of state and the longest-reigning female monarch in history. She will surpass record held by her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, who reigned thousand-year-old institution of Britain for more than 63 years. It should be noted that, presently Queen Elizabeth II (88 years old) is world’s oldest living monarch.

8. Tamil Nadu tops in organ donation in India
Tamil Nadu state has topped in organ donation in the country by harvesting organs of 683 persons and donating them to over 3000 beneficiaries. It was announced by State Health Minister C Vijaya Bhaskar after state observed Organ Donation Day on 13th August 2015. In Tamil Nadu, the overall organ transplantations included 144 heart transplants, 636 liver transplants, 1233 kidney, 69 lung transplants, 4 pancreas, 618 heart valves, 2 small bowels, 1,032 cornea, 22 skin and 2 blood vessels. The success of the voluntarily organ donation in the state has been attributed of Transplant Authority of Tamil Nadu (TATN) which was established in 2008. The TATN had played pivotal role in streamlining organ transplantation in the state.

9. China successfully tests power system for largest space rocket
China successfully tested the power system (engines) of its stated to be the largest space launch vehicle viz. Long March-5 carrier. In the test engines of the rocket were successfully fired on the ground. This power system will be used in China’s ambitious Chang’e-5 lunar mission of 2017.

10. Sachin Tendulkar to be Maharashtra’s Tiger ambassador
Maharashtra government has roped Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar as its new ambassador for the Tiger Conservation Project. His association will help state government to raise awareness about saving the tigers in the state. In this regard Mr. Tendulkar has accepted an offer which was forwarded by state Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on July 29, 2015 on the eve of World Tiger Day. State government had forwarded this proposal to Mr. Tendulkar after Tiger Protection Foundation approved a proposal of his appointment along with superstar Amitabh Bachchan as ambassador to promote the Save Tiger campaign in July 2015. Earlier Mr. Amitabh Bachchan had accepted the request from the government and met the minister to discuss details of his role and involvement in the project.

11. President’s wife Suvra Mukherjee passes away
President Pranab Mukherjee’s wife Suvra Mukherjee, who has been ailing for some time, passed away today.
Suvra, an accomplished Rabindra Sangeet singer, was 74.
The First Lady, who remained hospitalised for 11 days, breathed her last at 10.51 am at the Army Research and Referral Hospital .
he has written two books — ‘Chokher Aloey’, which is a personal account of her close interaction with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and ‘Chena Achenai Chin’, a travelogue recounting her visit to China.
Suvra had entered the portals of Rashtrapati Bhawan bringing in her harmonium and a tanpura, gifted by Bengali music maestro D L Roy.

12. Ranil Wickremesinghe set to return as Sri Lankan PM
Incumbent Ranil Wickremesinghe is set to take oath as Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister of a unity government today after his United National Party (UNP) appears close to a simple majority, with rival Mahinda Rajapaksa admitting defeat in the closely contested parliamentary polls.

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