Current Affairs, News & Facts of 11 Aug 2015

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  • ICICI Bank announces ‘Saral-Rural Housing Loan’



    India’s largest private sector bank "ICICI Bank" announced a new home loan product ‘ICICI Bank Saral-Rural Housing Loan’.The applicants from rural areas including women borrowers as well as seekers from weaker sections can avail this home loan either to purchase or construct or renovate a home in rural areas.

    Key facts about "ICICI Bank Saral-Rural Housing Loan":-

    • Loan will be provided at the ICICI Bank Base Rate (known as I-Base) which is currently at 9.70% which is 0.2 percentage points below what is offered to non-rural segment it should be current interest rate offered by ICICI Bank on home loans is 9.9% per year .
    • The loan amount will be between Rs 5 lac and Rs 15 lac, while the tenure can be anywhere from 3 years to 20 years. Interest rate will keep changing as the bank changes its base rate
    • This scheme will be available be available in 189 cities across the country interested customers can apply for the ‘ICICI Bank Saral-Rural Housing Loan’ at any ICICI Bank branch in the locations where the loan is being offered. ICICI Bank has 4052 branches and 12,811 ATMs in India.

    Rural area :- ‘Rural area’ is defined as the area comprised in any village, including the area comprised in any town, the population of which did not exceed 50,000 as per the 1991 Census

  • Union Government launches School Nursery Yojana



    • In a bid to bring students closer to nature by involving them in raising saplings in nurseries created in school the Union Government and forests ministry has launched" School Nursery Yojana"
    • School Nursery Yojana was launched by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in New Delhi. The scheme involves students from Class 6 to Class 9 in nursery activities and thus create an everlasting bond with plants and trees.

    About School Nursery Yojana

    • The Yojana in its first phase would cover 1000 schools and would be extended to 5000 schools in 2016 and 10000 schools the following year
    • The selected schools will receive grant of Rs 25,000 in the first year and Rs 10,000 per year for the subsequent two years
    • Students will sow seeds and grow saplings in the school nursery as part of practical exercise for Biology classes or as their extra-curricular activities.
    • The students will also carry out tree census in their school and the locality under this Yojana and will Plant in their homes and surrounding areas to create a clean green environment
    • Each School Nursery is expected to create a 1,000 saplings every year and the students will also be encouraged to to take up composting, rain water harvesting and water recycling 
    • The ministry will support schools through the School Nursery Yojana to provide all essential facilities for raising of saplings for use of students and schools

    School Nursery :- A school Nursery will have a small space of a minimum of 100 sq meter for preparing beds for raising saplings and for nursery-related activities, including preparing, planting a mixture of good earth, soil and manure, filling earthen pots and storage of seeds

  • ISRO's titanium sponge plant in Kerala fully commissioned 



    • The annual requirement of titanium sponge for area programme is roughly 200-300 metric tonnes. ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre has established a devoted 500 MT every year plant at M/s Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd (KMML), Chavara, Kollam district.The plant has started commercial production of titanium sponge
    • By the Commissioning of ISRO's titanium sponge plant in Kerala India has become the seventh country in the world to have the technology to make Titanium Sponge. The project is fully funded by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC under ISRO) and the sponge produced will be used for their aerospace applications. 
    • The Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL under DRDO) developed the process of sponge production after twenty years of continuous R&D and established an experimental facility at Hyderabad
    • Approximately 350 metric tonnes of titanium sponge has been realised until date with almost 70 per cent yield of aerospace grade (>99.7 % purity). Analysis of the outcomes exhibits that the sponge produced is of superior high quality
    • Titanium sponge was being imported from nations like Russia, Japan and China even though India is endowed with the third largest reserve of Titanium bearing minerals. 

    Titanium Sponge :-

    • Titanium Sponge is an alloy of Titanium produced by conversion of raw titanium through Kroll process which is subjected to leaching or heated vacuum distillation to remove impurities and gaining the purest form (99.7 per cent) of Titanium Sponge.

    Application of  Titanium Sponge:-

    • Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant (including sea water, aqua regia and chlorine) transition metal (metal in periodic table) with a silver color. The two most useful properties of the metal form are corrosion resistance and the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any metal.
    • Properties like excessive power to weight ratio and wonderful corrosion resistance make Titanium alloys (like Ti6Al4V) helpful for liquid propellant tanks for launch  satellites, fuel bottle/liners, inter tank buildings and interface rings for satellites.
  • Kochi first city in India to become World Tourism Cities Federation member



    • Kochi has become the first city in India to be a member of Beijing-headquartered World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) Council. The Kerala government has accepted the invitation extended by WTCF to Kochi to be a member of the Council.
    • Beijing mayor Wang Anshun, who is also the chairman of the WTCF Council, extended the invitation to Kerala chief secretary Jiji Thomson during a meeting held on the sidelines of the recent BITE expo in Beijing
    • The membership acceptance document was handed over to China's ambassador to India Le Yucheng in the presence of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy
    • The membership to the WTCF Council will enable Kerala to share experiences in the development of the tourism industry and explore new tourism markets and will also open scope of partnership in culture, sports and tourism. In case of Kochi its cuisine, martial arts and snake and dragon boat races

    About WTCF:-

    • The WTCF headquartered at Beijing is a non-profit, non-governmental international organisation voluntarily formed by tourism cities and organisations from various countries and regions, aims at creating a global platform for cooperation and development of tourism
    • The WTCF was formerly founded in Beijing on September I5, 2012, and is the first international tourism organization to take cities as its focus in the entire world.
  • New train services launched in Northeast  



    • Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on 10 August 2015 launched new train services in the Northeast after the completion of North Lakhimpur-Murkongselek and Balipara- Bhalukpong sections into broad-gauge
    • Suresh Prabhu described the occasion as a "Golden Day" in the history of Arunachal Pradesh, earlier in 2015, direct train service was launched between Arunachal Pradesh’s capital Itanagar and Delh

    Background of the project

    • The 510 km gauge conversion project costing about Rs 3600 crore was sanctioned in 2002-03. The project suffered delay mainly due to funds constraint in the past. But in 2014-15, an outlay of Rs 713 crore was provided for this line and the balance Rs 300 crore has been provided in 2015-16. 

    Other projects

    • 13 new lines, 3 Gauge Conversion and 4 Doubling projects with balance fund requirement of Rs 37,000 crore have been taken up in Northeast. These projects on completion will augment network by 1915 km. 
  • Google unveils restructuring under new parent company Alphabet Inc



    • Search engine giant Google Inc has created a new holding company, Alphabet Inc., that will encompass each of its growing cast of businesses, including those building robots and self-driving cars, helping to cure disease, developing nanoparticles and extending Internet connectivity via balloons.
    • Alphabet Inc. will replace Google Inc. as the publicly traded entity, and all shares of Google will automatically convert to shares of Alphabet, with all of the same rights
    • Google will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet. The Google unit will include the search engine, search ads, maps, apps, YouTube, Android and related technical operations
    • Alphabet will include units focusing on life sciences products, such as a glucose-sensing contact lens, and the health research firm Calico

    Restructuring in the leadership

    Alphabet will be run by Google’s current leaders, including Chief Executive Larry Page, co-founder Sergey Brin and Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat.Mr Page will become chief executive of Alphabet, with senior vice president Sundar Pichai becoming CEO of Google.

    Mr Page's fellow Google co-founder Sergey Brin will become president of Alphabet, and Eric Schmidt, the current Google chairman, will be executive chairman of the holding company. Google's new chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, will hold the same title for both Google and Alphabet.

    How was the name chosen ?

    The name Alphabet was chosen for two reasons, Mr Page said. It represents language, "the core of how we index with Google search", and because Alpha-bet means "investment return above benchmark, which we strive to do".

  • Telecom Minister launches mobile app ‘Disha’ to aid digital literacy in Bihar



    • Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has launched a new mobile app  'DISHA ' to promote digital literacy in Bihar.The app is designed to educate the tribal and Dalit women.  
    • The app aims to help people learn about computers and Internet through self learning modules and  can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. 
    • To offer digital literacy to tribal and Dalit women in Bihar, the minister awarded tablet computers to women who received training from common service centres in the state. 
    • Under the initiatives to improve digital connectivity in Bihar, BSNL will install 1,000 new base stations in the state and 184 of these will be located in Naxal-affected areas. All 8,354 gram panchayats of Bihar will be connected under Bharat Net in next three years 

    Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (DISHA)

    • The Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (DISHA) mission was launched on 21 August 2014 with an aim to provide digital literacy to non IT literate citizens. 
    • The scheme imparts IT training to 52.5 lakh persons that include Anganwadi and ASHA workers and authorised ration dealers in all the States/UTs across the country.
    • The training is conducted in collaboration with Intel, which is working with the Common Service Centres (CSCs) for the purpose of digital literacy in India. So far Intel has trained over 200 Dalit women.
  • Professor Raghavendra Gadagkar honoured with highest German civilian award



    • Professor Raghavendra Gadagkar has been honoured with the Germany's highest civilian honour Cross of Order of the Merit at the German Consulate in Bengaluru.
    • He was bestowed with the honour for the substantial contribution made by him in the field of behavioural ecology and sociobiology and for strengthening research corporation between India and Germany.

    About Raghavendra Gadagkar

    • Currently, Gadagkar is a professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) 
    • Prof Gadagkar is the founding chairman of the Centre for Contemporary Studies and also the president of Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi.
    • Prof Gadagkar  is recipient of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Biology (1993). He has published more than 270 research papers and two books. 
    • In 2012, he was elected member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina . 

    About Cross of Order of the Merit 

    • Cross of Order of the Merit  was established in 1951 by the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany Theodor Heuss.
    • It is highest civilian award of Germany awarded  by  the President of the Federal Republic of Germany for outstanding achievements in political, economical, cultural, intellectual, and volunteering fields. It is awarded to Germans as well as to foreigners

2nd Aug

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Todays test

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