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Current Affairs Today – August 17 2015

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Dear Readers, We cover some important news in Current Affairs Today Section, which are not covered in Daily Detailed News, More Current Affairs coverage will help you to Score Good Marks in Competitive Exam.

**Blue Heading are Detailed News, Click the News to Read More**

Indian Affairs 

Maharashtra using drones, satellites to assess crop damage

  • There are drones flying over the fields in Marathwada region, assessing crop losses due to deficit rainfall, as the Maharashtra government turns to technology to ensure timely intervention and compensations for farmers in an area notorious for farmer suicides.
  • Private weather forecaster Skymet is using drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to map 51 villages of Marathwada under a pilot project of the BJP .
  • The state has also started cloud seeding on a pilot basis in the Marathwada region to create artificial rains.
  • Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh governments, too, are expected to soon start using lowcost drones to assess crop losses.
  • The state government has decided to carry out pilot projects for assessing crop yields using different technologies from four different companies.
  • Reinsurance giant Swiss Re and Climate Change for Agriculture, a not-for-profit organisation based in Delhi, are also participating in the project to assess 186 villages in the state, using drones and satellite imagery.
  • As per data provided by government officials, 6,000 hectares of agriculture land will be covered in the first phase of the project. Skymet will use drones in Osmanabad rural, Bembli and Jagjee to assess the crop.
  • Maharashtra government has promised plot-based settlement of insurance claims for farmers. “By next year, the government wants to cover 500 villages.

India stands alone on ‘name & shame’ policy- sex offender registration

  • The government’s announcement that it would maintain a publicly available database of sex offenders. The home ministry’s proposal to ‘name and shame’ those charged for sexual offences by putting their names in the public domain runs completely contrary to the principle.
  • 2014 report of the office of sex offender sentencing, monitoring, apprehending, registration and tracking (SMART), the US government agency to monitor such crimes, states that such registers are maintained by at least 19 countries.
  • US, the first country to pass a national sex offender registration law in 1994.
  • Other major countries that have similar laws include the UK, Canada, France, Germany, South Africa and South Korea,Austria, Finland, Israel, Malaysia, New Zealand, Switzerland and UAE are among many countries that have considered or were considering such laws.

International Affairs

China, Russia set for naval assertion in Sea of Japan

  • China and Russia are stepping up their military collaboration by holding another round of naval exercises, this time in the Sea of Japan, following recent measures adopted by Tokyo that could deepen its military ties with Washington.
  • Chinese navy dispatched seven Chinese warships for the Sea of Japan. They will join the Russian Navy’s 16 surface ships, two submarines, 12 naval aircraft, nine amphibious vehicles and 200 marines.
  • The drills are an extension of Joint Sea-2015 (I), another naval exercise that the two countries had held in May in the Mediterranean Sea, on the doorstep of Europe, and in the backdrop of the crisis in Ukraine. The nine-day manoeuvres under Joint Sea-2015 (II) will simulate anti-submarine combat, evident from the presence of the two Russian submarines, air defence and other related missions.
  • Apart from the Sea of Japan, these drills will also take place in the Peter the Great Gulf and waters off the Clerk Cape.
  • The Chinese Defence Ministry had earlier stated that the exercise is meant to “bolster the comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership between Russia and China, and to increase the military capabilities of both countries to counter maritime threats.”

Acquisitions & Mergers

Greenko to sell India’s assets to GIC of Singapore for Rs. 1,600 crore

Housing.com acquired Bengaluru-based HomeBuy360

  • Real estate listing portal Housing.com has acquired Bengaluru-based HomeBuy360, a customer relationship management software company, for $2 million or Rs 13 crore, the company said in a release.
  • The cloud-based a sales lifecycle management platform connects developers, agents and buyers and streamlines the entire sales lifecycle, by tracking inventory, managing customer relations and in effect drives efficiencies in their sale operations.
  • This is the third acquisition by Housing.com, which counts SoftBank as its investor, so far this year. Earlier in 2015, Housing.com had acquired Indian Real Estate Forum (IREF), a platform providing property information to consumers and Realty BI that allows property buyers and financial institutions to assess risks and take decisions.

Birla Corp to acquire Lafarge’s two Indian units for Rs. 5000 crore

  • Birla Corporation today said it will acquire two cement units from Lafarge India having a capacity of 5.15 million tonnes per annum for Rs. 5,000 crore.
  • It has agreed to a transaction with Lafarge India Private Ltd, whereby Birla Corp, either directly or through its wholly-owned subsidiary, shall acquire both the Jojobera and Sonadih cement businesses (Acquisition business) from Lafarge India for an Enterprise Value of Rs 5,000 crore.”
  • Birla said it will acquire the cement business, comprising an integrated cement unit at Sonadih (Chhattisgarh), a cement grinding unit at Jojobera (Jharkhand), along with Concreto and PSC brands
  • The company said that upon completion of this transaction, Birla Corporation will consolidate its position in the eastern India cement market, where the demand supply scenario and outlook continue to remain buoyant.
  • KRISCORE Financial Advisors and SBI Capital Markets Ltd were financial advisors and Nishith Desai Associates acted as counsel to Birla Corp for this transaction.

HDFC will sell 9 percent stake in HDFC Life to its British joint venture partner Standard Life for a little over Rs 1,700 crore.

  • The British firm would be increasing its stake to 35 per cent from 26 per cent as the Indian government has allowed up to 49 per cent FDI in the domestic insurance sector.
  • HDFC’s stake in the joint venture would come down to 61.65 per cent.
  • HDFC Life Insurance, launched in 2000, was the first private life insurer to be granted a licence to operate in India.
  • HDFC to sell its 9% stake in HDFC life to JV partner Standard Life for Rs. 1700 Crore
  • HDFC Life MD and CEO : Amitabh Chaudhry
    HDFC Chairman:  Deepak Parekh

Banking & Finance 

SBT launches new mobile ATM facility

  • With an aim to bring banking facility at the doorstep of customers,State bank of Travancore  here has launched a new mobile ATM in Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala’s capital.
  • The ATM is installed in a mobile air-conditioned van equipped with uninterrupted power, CCTV and guarded security with satellite connectivity.
  • The mobile ATM, which also serves as an Information Kiosk to public to help them know about banking products and services, moves from place to place in the city, delivering customers safe and swift banking
  • With the launch of Mobile ATM, SBT adds one more ATM to its network of 1632 ATMs linked to State Bank Group ATM network, the largest ATM network in the country.

Appointments

Union Government appointed two private sector professionals to head BoB, Canara Bank

  • Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank today became the first state-owned banks to be headed by private sector professionals as government announced appointment of MD and CEOs of five PSU lenders.
  • Managing Director and CEO of VBHC (Value Homes Pvt Ltd) P S Jayakumar (53) has been selected to head Bank of Baroda. MD and CEO of private sector lender The Laxmi Vilas Bank Rakesh Sharma (57) will head Canara Bank.
  • Ravi Venkatesan (51), Independent Director, Infosys has been appointed as non-Exeuctive Chairman of Bank of Baroda. T N Manoharan (59), Director, Tech Mahindra, Public Health Foundation is non-Executive Chairman of Canara Bank
  • The entire process of selection for MD & CEO was revamped. Private sector candidates were also allowed to apply for the position of MD & CEO of the five top banks. Three stage screening was done for the MD’s position culminating into final interview by three different panels.

Awards & Recognition

Indian siblings become ‘youngest climbers’ to reach the base camp of Everest

Science & Technology

NASA’s engine for next-generation rocket test-fired

  • NASA has performed a nearly 9-minute-long test of the engine at the heart of the US space agency’s next-generation megarocket.
  • The agency successfully tested an RS-25 engine at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
  • The test was the sixth of seven planned hot-fire trials for the RS-25, which also served as the main engine for NASA’s now-retired space shuttle fleet.
  • 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).
  • Gary Benton:RS-25 test project manager

Sports

Andy Murray won Rogers Cup Masters tournament

Andy Murray won Rogers Cup Masters

  • Andy Murray run against Novak Djokovic to win the Rogers Cup in Montreal,Canada.
  • A first win over the Serb since the 2013 Wimbledon final.The Scot dominated from the baseline as he claimed an 11th Masters title.
  • Murray is now set to overtake Roger Federer in Monday’s new ATP rankings to return to number two for the first time since 2013.

Other Winners:

  • In the Women’s section, 18-year old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland lifted her maiden Canadian Open Masters title after world number two Simona Halep retired hurt.
  • In the Women’s Doubles, the French-Slovenian team of Caroline Garcia and Katarina Srebotnik lost the Final against the American-Czech duo of Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova.
  • The Men’s Doubles trophy was bagged by America’s top seeded Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike.

Obituary

Viji Manuel,keyboard player par excellence passed away

  • Viji Manuel (64), the keyboard player who was part of music director Ilayaraja’s troupe for four decades, died .
  • Viji was the son of late pianist Handel Manuel who was instrumental in popularising classical music in Chennai in a big way.
  • He can play any complicated music effortlessly and also without referring to the notations. In hundreds of songs of Ilayaraja, you can listen to his contribution.
  • In 1971, he won the best drummer award at an all-India contest.