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Daily GK Updates: 23rd Sept 2014

1.    'Liar's Dice' to represent India at Oscars 
i. Hindi film 'Liar's Dice', a road drama starring Geetanjali Thapa and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in lead roles, has been selected as India's official entry to the best foreign film category at the Oscar 2015 awards.
ii. 'Liar's Dice', which is Malayalam actress Geetu Mohandas' feature film directorial debut, beat 29 other films including 'Mary Kom' to represent India at the 87th edition of Oscars next year, Supran Sen, secretary general of the Film Federation of India (FFI), said. 
iii. The other films which were in the race included 'Shahid', 'Queen', 'Mardaani', Marathi films 'Yellow' and 'Fandry' and Bengali films 'Jatishwar' and 'Apur Panchali'. 

iv. The 104-minute feature film was selected by a 12-member jury headed by eminent filmmaker T Hariharan from 30 entries.
v. 'Liar's Dice' follows a young tribal woman living in a village near the Indo-Tibetan border who embarks on a journey with her young daughter to Delhi in search of her missing husband. 
Note: i. The last Indian film that made it to the final five nominees at the Oscars was Ashutosh Gowariker's 'Lagaan'. 'Mother India' and 'Salaam Bombay' are the only other two Indian films to have made it to the top five. 
ii. The 87th Academy awards event will take place in the US on February 22.
2.    Next PBD meet in Gandhinagar to mark Mahatma's homecoming
i. The next Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the world's largest annual gathering of the Indian diaspora, will be held in Gujarat capital Gandhinagar in January next year to mark 100 years of Mahatma Gandhi's return to India from South Africa, officials said on Monday.
ii. The 13th edition of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) will be held for the first time in Gujarat, at the Mahatma Mandir Convention Centre in Gandhinagar from Jan 7-9. 
iii. Terming the meeting with Sushma Swaraj "very successful", Patel said that the theme of the PBD has been decided to be 100 years of Mahatma Gandhi's return to India from South Africa. Mahatma Gandhi returned to his homeland from South Africa on Jan 9, 1915 and hence all the celebrations at PBD 2015 will be focused on the centenary year of Gandhi's homecoming, Patel added, according to a Gujarat government press statement. 
3.    V.G. Mathew appointed new MD and CEO of South Indian Bank
i. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on 22 September 2014 approved the appointment of V.G. Mathew as Managing Director (MD) and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kerala-based South Indian Bank Ltd.
ii. V.G. Mathew is appointed for a period of three years with effect from 1 October 2014. He will replace V.A. Joseph who will retire on 30 September 2014 after serving the bank for 12 years.

iii. His appointment was made under the Section 35B of the Banking Regulation Act 1949.
4.    Royal Mint of Britain launched its own online trading service for gold coins
Who: Royal Mint of Britain
What: launched its own online trading service
When: 22 September 2014
Why: for gold coins
 
The Royal Mint of Britain on 22 September 2014 launched its own online trading service for gold coins. The move is aimed to entice investors away from shares and into gold sovereigns.

In a move that would spark a new gold rush, the customers will be able to buy unlimited quantities of gold coins anywhere in the world directly from the Mint.

The gold will be stored in the Mint’s high-security vault and guarded by Ministry of Defence personnel. The initiative is designed to overcome some of the key objections to investing in physical gold, including worries about shipping, storage and finding a trustworthy broker.

Highlights of the online trading

• The online trading will allow a much more active role in what has become an expanding trade in gold for investment.
• The launch of the Mint’s new website will provide updated prices for gold and silver as per the current market values.
• The sovereign also has its weight and purity guaranteed to five decimal places by a 1971 Act of Parliament.
• Gold coins can be kept at the Mint’s vault, in return for an annual storage fee of 1 percent of the market value of the gold being held, plus VAT. Alternatively customers can take delivery of the coins through an insured postal service.
• When investors want to sell, the Mint will offer a buy-back service on gold coins stored in its vault, quoting a price pegged to current market prices.

Comment
The Mint has been producing coins for more than 1000 years. It has previously tended to sell gold coins in small quantities to collectors.
Gold is often seen as a defensive investment in times of stock market uncertainty.  In recent years, there have seen a rapid expansion in the number of online gold companies.

5.    Punjab, tops in CPSE investments
i.  “Punjab, Maharashtra, Bihar and Odisha are the only four states amid top 20 major states in India that have seen a surge in employment generated by the CPSEs while rest of the states have recorded a fall ranging between 3-22 per cent,” said D.S. Rawat, Secretary-General, Assocham.
ii. The number of people employed by the CPSEs (excluding contractual workers) across India came down from about 15.33 lakh to 14.04 lakh during the period, a fall of about eight per cent. “
iii. Gujarat has rank 12th recorded a decline of over 14 per cent in employment generated by the Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) between 2008-09 and 2012-13, apex industry body Assocham said on Tuesday.
iv. The CPSEs investment growth rate was recorded at 9.05 per cent in 2012-13 on year on year basis as compared to 13.42 per cent in 2011-12 and 9.48 per cent in 2010-11 and 15.52 per cent in 2009-10.
6.    Google India launches new campaign to help women get online
i. Search giant Google today launched a new social campaign in association with Bollywood actor-director Farhan Akhtar’s initiative MARD, to increase internet literacy among women in the country.
ii. Google India had first time launched a ‘digital literacy’ initiative campaign called ‘Helping Women Get Online’ (HWGO) in collaboration with Intel, HUL and Axis Bank late last year.
iii. “The first phase has been very successful. In the last 12 months, the number of women using the internet has grown 35 per cent as against 31 per cent by men. This for the first time that women have surpassed men in using internet.
iii. This is just the start of the programme as it’s only 10 months when we launched it (the first phase),” Google India vice president and managing director Rajan Anandan said.
7.    Shooter Abhinav Bindra wins individual bronze
i. Shooter Abhinav Bindra today broke his Asian Games jinx by clinching his first individual medal — a bronze — in the men’s 10m air rifle and then said it could be his last major international competition as he has decided to become a hobby shooter from now on.
ii. The Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medallist had a fine sequence of scores barring 9.9 and 9.6 on his 6th and 12th shots, and had to be content with the bronze medal after shooting 10.6 and 10.7 in his last two shots.
iii. The gold medal was won by 18-year-old Chinese sensation Yang Haoran who came into the tournament as the clear favourite after winning the world title at Granada, Spain just prior to the Games.
8.    Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar appointed as ISI chief
i. Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar on 22 September 2014 was appointed as the new head of the Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He will replace Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam who is scheduled to retire in October 2014.
ii. Rizwan Akhtar was promoted from major-general to lieutenant-general to assume the new role. He is considered as an ally of Army chief General Raheel Sharif.
9.    Google India to launch a nationwide contest to develop a mobile app for PMO
i. Google India on 22 September 2014 announced to launch a nationwide contest to develop a mobile app for Prime Minister’s office (PMO). The contest will be held in collaboration with the citizen engagement platform of the government, MyGoV.
ii. Google is working with the department of information technology and other state governments to draft the outlay of the contest. The contest will showcase how Indians can build a world class app.
iii. Google will also work with the government to encourage digital literacy and internet safety by introducing curriculums for schools, officials and elected representatives. 

10. Ex-Ambassador of India to UN Hardeep Singh Puri appointed as Secretary General of ICM

Who: Hardeep Singh Puri
What: appointed as Secretary General of ICM
When: 23 September 2014

Hardeep Singh Puri was appointed as Secretary General of Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) on 23 September 2014. He is a former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations.

Under the direction of the Secretary General, and in close cooperation with the chair and co-chairs, the final report of the ICM will be finalized.

Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM)
Independent Commission on Multilateralism (ICM) launched by International Peace Institute (IPI) is aimed at identifying policy proposals to enhance the multilateral system's ability to respond to evolving global challenges.

ICM will be chaired by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and co-chaired by Foreign Minister of Norway Borge Brende and Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird.
The commission will be a comprehensive two-year programme and it will be funded by the Canada and Norway governments.

The structure of ICM
The commission would have a three-tier structure.
  • Advisory council of eminent persons: It would meet at least once a year to provide advice and serve as a sounding board for the commission
  • Ministerial-level board: It is expected to meet every six months with each minister serving in his or her personal capacity
  • Ambassadorial-level board: It is expected to meet every six months. Each ambassador will serve in his or her personal capacity.
About Hardeep Singh Puri
  • Singh served at various diplomatic posts in Brazil, Japan, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.
  • He was the Coordinator of the UNDP/UNCTAD Multilateral Trade Negotiations Project to help Developing Countries in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations.
  • He served as the chairman of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee from 2011 to 2013.

11. Union Ministry of Sports inaugurated National Academies for Athletics & Golf in Thiruvananthapuram

Who: Union Ministry of Sports
What: Inaugurated National Academy for Athletics and National Golf Academy
When: 22 September 2014
 
Union Ministry of Sports inaugurated National Academy for Athletics and National Golf Academy at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. It was inaugurated by the Union Minister of State for Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, Youth Affairs and Sports, Sarbananda Sonowal on 22 September 2014.

National Academy for Athletics
The National Academy for Athletics will give training for sub junior, junior and senior athletes selected across the country by the expert coaches including foreign ones.
The Academy has been established as the first Academy in Sports in the country under Public-Private Partnership with M/s. JSW.

National Golf Academy
Initially 20 children selected in the age group of 8 to 14 from various schools in Kerala for National Gold Academy. This will be the first batch of Golfers in the Academy.
In India, golf has become an Olympic discipline and India will participate in next Olympics in Rio in Brazil from 2016 onwards.

12.  Union government submitted Action Plan on Rejuvenation of River Ganga to the SC

Who: Action Plan on Rejuvenation of River Ganga
What: Placed before the SC by Union government
When: 22 September 2014
 
The Union Government on 22 September 2014 placed a blueprint of short, medium and long term measures to restore the glory of the river Ganga before the Supreme Court of India. The blueprint submitted in the court spreads over 18 years and investment of thousands of crore rupees.

The affidavit of the blueprint for Ganga rejuvenation was submitted by the Union Government after the Supreme Court of India on 13 August 2014 asked the Union Government to come up with a stage-wise road-map to make river Ganga pollution free.

Brief outline of the action plan on rejuvenation of River Ganga
The government in its affidavit of action plan envisages phase wise rejuvenation of the Ganga. It has divided the time line into terms and the terms are
  • Short term – a period of three years
  • Medium term – a period of next five years
  • Long term – a period of next ten years and more
First, the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has identified seven river fronts namely Kedarnath, Haridwar, Varanasi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Patna and Delhi for development of Ghats.

In medium term, Union Ministry of Urban Development has identified 118 urban habitations to extend the coverage of sewage infrastructure. It also has plans to make 1649 number of gram panchayat located on Ganga free from open defecation. The total cost entailed to achieve these medium term goals has been kept at 51000 crore rupees.

The long term plan that would emerge from the Ganga River Basin Management Plan would be prepared by consortium of seven IITs for restoring wholesomeness of river Ganga in terms of defining concept of ensuring nirmal dhara, aviral dhara and maintaining the geological and ecological integrity of the river.

The time line for completion of ongoing projects had been prepared in consultation with five Ganga basin states which are primarily responsible for implementation of projects for rejuvenation of the 2500 kilometer long Ganga.

13. Reliance Jio signed Master Services Agreement with Indus Towers

Who: Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited
What: signed Master Services Agreement with Indus Towers
When: 22 September 2014

Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited on 22 September 2014 signed a Master Services Agreement (MSA) with Indus Towers for tower infrastructure sharing.

With this latest tie-up with Indus Towers, Reliance Jio will have access to over 288000 towers countrywide. Earlier in 2013, it tied up with major infrastructure providers and telecom companies that own towers Reliance Communications, Viom Networks and Bharti Infratel.

Highlights of the Master Services Agreement
Under the agreement, Reliance Jio will utilize the telecom tower infrastructure services being provided by Indus Towers to launch its services across the country. It will utilize around 113490 towers of Indus. The pricing will be based on prevailing market rates.

The agreement will help in avoiding duplication of infrastructure and preserving the environment. It will ensure seamless services to Reliance Jio customers through world class tower infrastructure of Indus Towers.

About Indus Towers
• Founded in 2007, Indus is headquartered in the National Capital Region, New Delhi.
• Indus Towers Limited is an independently managed company offering passive infrastructure services to all telecom operators.
• Indus Towers is a three-way joint venture between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular where the first two own 42 percent each.
• Indus has a presence in the 15 major telecom circles of India and has achieved 237562 tenancies, the first in the telecom tower industry globally.
• Indus Towers is honoured and is the winner of the coveted, most prestigious the Gallup Great Workplace Award 2014.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (RJIL)

• Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited (RJIL) is a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).
• RJIL is the first telecom operator to get a unified licence for all 22 service areas in India. This licence allows RJIL to offer all telecom services including voice telephony.
• RJIL won radiowaves in the 1800 Mhz band also known as 2G spectrum which is presently used for 4G services worldwide.

14. Union Government removed three independent directors from the ONGC board

Who: Union Government
What: removed three independent directors from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) board
When: 21 September 2014
 
Union Government on 21 September 2014 removed three independent directors from the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) board.

The three directors P Umashankar, S Ravi and RK Singh have ceased to be independent directors with effect from 19 September 2014.

P Uma Shankar along with S Ravi and R K Singh were appointed on ONGC board on 29 November 2013.

P Umashankar is a former bureaucrat who retired from the position of Power Secretary in 2013. R.K.Singh is former Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Petroleum Corp (BPCL). S.Ravi is a chartered accountant.
Other independent directors, Samir Kumar Barua and former State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman OP Bhatt were continued to be directors on its board. They were appointed on 13 December 2011.

Background

In the second week of September 2014, independent directors of other PSU’s like ONGC, HPCL, MRPL, IOC and EIL were also removed.

These removals follow sacking of all the previous government appointed independent directors on board.

However, the directors removed from boards of ONGC, HPCL, MRPL, IOC and EIL were appointed after the last shareholders meeting and their appointment was to be ratified at the respective AGMs of shareholders.

In absence of the company moving a resolution seeking confirmation of their appointments, the five ceased to be directors on the company board.

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