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Daily GK Updates: 19th Sept 2014

1.    Asian Games opening Ceremony on the move
i. The opening ceremony of the 17th Asian Games is now on at the coastal city of Incheon in South Korea. In the athletes march past, Indian hockey captain Sardar Singh led the country's contingent. Nepal led the march past. 
ii. Around 13,000 athletes from 45 nations will be competing in the quadrennial event. For India, 516 athletes will be seen vying for top honours.
iii. A rich cultural heritage of the Korean peninsula will be showcased in tonight's opening ceremony, before the Games are officially declared open with the lighting of symbolic flame.
Note: Sardar Singh, captain of the men’s hockey team is the Indian contingent’s flag bearer at 17th Asian Games
2.    Indonesia will host 2018 Asian Games: OCA 
i. The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) executive board on Friday approved Indonesia as hosts for the 2018 Asian Games which faces a growing battle to find venues because of the cost. 
ii. The continent's sports leaders had to find a quick replacement after Vietnam said in April that it could no longer afford to stage the next Asian Games. 
iii. "Today it has been approved by the EB (executive board) that in 2018 will be the next Asian Games in Jakarta in Indonesia," said council president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. 
3.    US President nominates Richard Rahul Verma as next US envoy to India
i. Richard Rahul Verma has been nominated as the next US Ambassador to India, becoming the first Indian-American to be appointed for the top diplomatic position in Delhi. 
ii. His appointment came days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's maiden visit to Washington. Verma's nomination was announced by President Barack Obama late yesterday.
iii. The post in US Embassy in New Delhi has been vacant since the resignation of the ambassador Nancy Powell.
4.    RBI proposed to split Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) post of PSU banks
i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) proposed to segregate the post of Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) banks. It also proposed a separate committee for appointment of directors on the board of PSU banks.
ii. These proposals are a part of corporate governance reforms in PSU banks and are based on the recommendations of various committees including the PJ Nayak Committee recommendations.
iii. The proposal of RBI may delay the appointments of Chairman in at least ten PSU banks or may bring changes in the top management of the PSU banks. Already top position of 4 PSU banks is lying vacant which are likely to be filled once government finalises the new norms for appointment of bank chairman.
Note: i. At present, the post of CMD in PSU banks is vested with one person only. As a result CMDs of PSU banks enjoy absolute power and often dominate the board during their tenure.
ii. The only exception among the PSU banks is State Bank of India where the top position is commanded by the chairman and there are four managing directors with clearly defined executive roles.
5.    Scotland rejects independence, to remain part of UK
i. Scotland has rejected independence and decided to stay with United Kingdom. In a referendum that threatened to break up 307 years union between them, 55 percent Scottish people polled NO vote and 45 percent yes vote to a simple , Should Scotland be an independent country?
ii. The 'Yes' camp scored four big successes in the cities of Glasgow,West Dunbartonshire, Dundee and North Lanarkshire. But the "No" camp was victorious in 26 of the 32 authorities including the capital Edinburgh.
iii. British Prime Minister David Cameron expressed delight on the result of the referendum and said it is time that the people of all parts of the United Kingdom get a fair deal and the country should move forward and united.
iv. The outcome was a deep disappointment for the pro-independence movement led by the Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond. Conceding defeat, he said Scotland has by a majority decided not at this stage to become an independent country.
v. The vote is the culmination of campaign that began two years ago. Talks will now begin on devolving more powers to Scotland. Prime Minister David Cameron is set to outline plans for Scotland to have draft legislation on its power on tax, spending and welfare by January.
6.    Centre joins hands with Gates for universal sanitation 
i. With the objective of addressing sanitation related health concerns, the Urban Development Ministry and the Bill & Milinda Gates Foundation have agreed on a partnership to promote user friendly toilets to ensure universal sanitation in the country.
ii. During a meeting with Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi, Bill Gates enquired about the government's sanitation initiatives. 
iii. Naidu apprised Gates about the government's initiatives to ensure housing for all by 2022 and that 'Swachchh Bharat Mission' would be launched on October 2 this year, under which every household is to be enabled with toilet facility by 2019. 
iv. Appreciating India's focus on improving sanitation in the country, Gates said the Foundation's core competency is research and technology promotion, and it would like to share them with the government. 
7.    Keeping a tradition alive, President Xi Jinping meets family of Dr. Kotnis
i. It has been a tradition with visiting Chinese leaders to meet the family of Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis and President Xi Jinping followed it by meeting the sister of the famed physician and recalling “the fine representative who gave his precious life in China”.
ii. Dr. Kotnis, who is revered in China for his contributions, was an Indian physician who died while treating Chinese soldiers during the second China-Japan war in 1942.
iii. General Mao Zedong once wrote in his honour ‘The Chinese Army has lost a helping hand, the nation a friend. Let us always bear in mind his international spirit’,” Mr. Xi said, remembering Dr. Kotnis.
iv. Appreciating the gesture of the Chinese leadership who keeps meeting the family till date, Ms. Manorama, who has partially lost her vision, said, “Even when a new Consul-General takes charge in Mumbai, he comes to visit the family of Dr. Kotnis.”
Note: i. Dr. Kotnis went to China in 1937 as part of an Indian medical mission after China was invaded by Japan. He served on the battlefield and saved lives of many Chinese soldiers. After working for four years in China, he fell ill and died at a young age of 32.
ii. Last year, Premier Li Keqiang had met his family. In 2006, when Chinese President Hu Jintao visited India, he met the family. In the past, the Kotnis family met with then premier Zhou Enlai in 1950, followed by president Jiang Zemin in 1996.
8.    Padma Shri 'Mandolin Srinivas' passes away
i. Renowned Mandolin exponent Uppalapu Srinivas passed away at a private hospital on 19 September, 2014 after a prolonged illness.
ii. Srinivas (45), popularly known as 'Mandolin Srinivas', is a renowned mandolin player of South Indian Carnatic music. He was being treated for a liver related illness.
iii. Srinivas, who used to play an electric mandolin, had collaborated with several global artistes including John McLaughlin and Michael Nyman.
9.    Bajpai panel to assess investment guidelines for private sector pension plan
i. Pension regulator PFRDA has set up an expert committee under chairmanship of former SEBI chief G N Bajpai to review the investment guidelines for national pension system (NPS) schemes in private sector.
ii. This committee will look at the investment guidelines in a “wholesale” manner so as to enable flow of pension monies in new instruments such as long term infrastructure bonds to be floated by banks, infrastructure debt funds and Basel 3 compliant bonds.
iii. The review of investment guidelines will also help revamp the role of pension fund managers (PFMs) and could allow them to proactively promote pension products, R.V.Verma, PFRDA Chairman, told Business Line here on Thursday.
iv. Besides review of investment guidelines for NPS in private sector, the committee has also been asked to recommend measures for bringing other pension/superannuation funds under the regulatory purview of PFRDA.
10.  Sushma Swaraj inaugurates Nalanda University
i. Ancient Nalanda University, which once attracted students from across the world, was formally inaugurated on Friday in its modern ‘avatar’ by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Rajgir.
ii. Hailing the occasion, Ms. Swaraj said as in the past the university would serve as ‘bridge and foundation’ in linking the country with the world through knowledge.
iii. “It is wrong to say that today we are rejuvenating the 427 AD Nalanda University because tradition never dies ... Nalanda is not just a university but a tradition.
iv. “Nalanda University is a link between the past, present and future,” she said at the function held at the International Conventional Centre.
v. Nalanda University was deeply etched in history and like in ancient times would serve as a magnet to attract students from across the globe, Ms. Swaraj said, adding during her recent visit to Bangladesh she found people there were interested in it.
11.  2-time Grand Slam winner Li Na retires from tour
i. Li Na, a two-time Grand Slam champion from China who took tennis in Asia to a new level, has retired due to recurring knee injuries. 
ii. The 32-year-old Li posted a statement on social media sites on Friday, ending a week of intensifying speculation that she would announce her retirement ahead of the new WTA tournament at Wuhan, her home town. 
iii. The WTA, which runs women's tennis, has described Li as a trailblazer and credits her with being the first player from Asia to win a major title -- she won the 2011 French Open, beating four Top 10 players in succession to wrap up the title -- a few months after becoming the first from the region to reach a Grand Slam final, which she did at the 2011 Australian Open. 

iv. She clinched the Australian Open title in January, in her third trip to the final at Melbourne Park, to reach a career-high No. 2 ranking, another continental milestone. 
v. Li hasn't played since a third-round defeat at Wimbledon, withdrawing from the US Open citing a knee injury.

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