Current Affairs: 15 April 2017

PM Narendra Modi launches BHIM-Aadhaar platform to push digital payments 

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the BHIM-Aadhaar platform, putting in place yet another keystone of a digital payment system that will help India make the shift to a less-cash economy. 
  • The biometric-based indigenous payment solution will enable real-time bank-to-bank money transfers even for those without a phone and at no additional cost. 
  • This app can work even on a Rs 1,000-1,500 phone, you don’t need a smartphone. If you don’t have a phone you can use your thumb.
  • Close to 30 banks, including the country’s biggest have adopted BHIM-Aadhaar, also known as Aadhaar Pay. 
  • The Unified Payment Interface (UPI), BHIM, Bharat QR code and Aadhaar Pay form the basis of a digital payment ecosystem that’s part of the government’s initiative to reduce the dependence on cash, track transactions and end the scourge of black money 
  • The BHIM-Aadhaar channel is "reverse” MDR 
  • The government has allocated Rs 495 crore for a period of six months for the scheme, which will be paid from the Digital Inclusion Fund. Almost 715,000 merchants are already on the BHIM platform 
  • Referral Bonus and Cash Back schemes were also launched to promote digital payments. The first will pay Rs 10 to a BHIM user who refers a new one. Under the Cash Back scheme, merchants will get money back on every transaction using BHIM 
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World Bank approves $375-mn loan for India’s first waterway project

  • The World Bank has approved a $375 million loan to India’s first waterway project. 
  • The National Waterway 1 project is to create a water transport fairway on a 1,360-km stretch of the Ganga river between Varanasi and Haldia.
  • NW1 passes through one of India’s most densely populated areas, and a sizeable 40 per cent of the country’s traded goods either originate from this resource-rich region or are destined for its teeming markets. 
  • While the region generates about 370 million tonnes of freight annually, only about 5 million tonnes currently travels by water
  • The project will help build the infrastructure needed to develop water transportation in the area. It will finance the construction of six multi-modal terminals, 10 RORO jetties, ship-repair facilities as well as passenger jetties along the river. 
  • It will also help modernise the ageing Farakka lock and add a new lock to allow for smoother passage of boats. 
  • The project will also help the Inland Waterways Authority of India acquire a state-of-the-art River Information System as well as navigation aids to make travel on the river safer and more reliable.
  • The project will also support the design and development of a new fleet of low-draft barges capable of carrying up to 2,000 tonnes of cargo in these shallower depths. 
  • Where needed, temporary structures (bandals) made of natural materials such as bamboo will be erected to provide additional sailing depth. 

PM launches GNFC’s cashless/less cash township model across 12 States

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched in Nagpur a cashless/less cash township model, developed by Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GNFC), across 81 townships in 12 States.
  • These townships will deliver 2.5 lakh cashless transactions per day, translating into 9 crore cashless transactions in a year. GNFC’s township at Bharuch in Gujarat became India’s first cent per cent cashless township after demonetisation.
  • The 81 townships included 56 in Gujarat and 25 in other States that have chosen to follow the cashless or less cash model. GNFC facilitated the model across these States under the auspices of National Institution for Transforming India Aayog, said Rajiv Kumar Gupta, Managing Director, GNFC, here.
  • National Institution for Transforming India Aayog had appreciated GNFC’s initiative and model of cashless townships and advised the Central ministries and CMDs of 300-plus central PSUs for adopting this model quickly.

Canada’s Liberal government goes ‘bold’ and ‘risky’ by legalization of marijuana


  • The Liberal government of Canada is moving ahead with legalizing recreational marijuana use for those 18 and older.
  • It’s being called a “bold and risky social experiment” by many and would include tough laws against illicit dealers and those who break them.
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said legalizing pot is the best way to keep the drug from being used by younger, impressionable children.
  • The law change would become effective in July of next year and end the prohibition on marijuana use

U.S. unleashes 'mother of all bombs' for first time in Afghanistan

  • The United States dropped "the mother of all bombs," the largest non-nuclear device it has ever unleashed in combat, on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan
  • The 21,600 pound (9,797 kg) GBU-43 bomb, which has 11 tons of explosives, was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province, close to the border with Pakistan
  • The GBU-43, also known as the "mother of all bombs," is a GPS-guided munition and was first tested in March 2003. It is regarded as particularly effective against clusters of targets on or just underneath the ground. Other types of bombs can be more effective against deeper, hardened tunnels.

Infosys appoints Ravi Venkatesan co-chairman

  • Infosys today appointed independent director Ravi Venkatesan co-chairman amid calls from founders to diversify the board.
  • The board expansion comes against the backdrop of an ongoing tussle between the founders and the management over contentious issues such as CEO salary hike, severance package to former employees and corporate governance standards.
  • Venkatesan, who has been on the Infosys board since April 2011, has made "valuable contribution to the development of strategic direction of the company during his tenure"

IBM appoints a chief digital officer for India

  • IBM has appointed a chief digital officer (CDO) for India, one of the first countries outside the US to have such a position, and marks the importance the country holds as IBM morphs into a platform company with the focus on cloud and cognitive.
  • Mehrotra's mandate is to transform the way IBM engages and partners with startups, developers, investors, academia and businesses.
  • One of the objectives of DBG is to make startups, developers, academia, investors and incubators embrace IBM's digital tools and platforms like Bluemix, Watson and its commerce platforms. 
  • A team is being set up to catalyse this.
  •  For businesses, Mehrotra's team will build proofs of concept around digital.

Jharkhand Police initiate Tare Zameen Par program for underprivileged kids

  • With a motive to enlighten children in naxal-affected areas of Jharkhand?s Palamau district, Jharkhand Police has initiated Tare Zameen Par program to encourage children to lead happy lives.
  • Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Vipul Shukla appealed to locals to donate bags, shoes, books and clothes that would be distributed among poor children.
  • People from all sections of society took part in the program held in Jharkhand?s Daltongunj city, contributing basic amenities for children.

Dr. (Ms.) Mukulita Vijayawargiya takes charge as Whole Time Member, IBBI 

  • Dr. (Ms.) Mukulita Vijayawargiya took charge as Whole Time Member, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India in New Delhi 
  • Dr. (Ms.) Vijayawargiya will look after Administrative Law Wing. She will also look after Information Technology, Limited Insolvency Examination, National Insolvency Examination, Finance and Accounts and Communication. 
  • Dr. (Ms.) Vijayawargiya was a member of Bankruptcy Law Reforms Committee (BLRC) based on which, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 has been framed. 
  • She played a key role in drafting the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 as Additional Secretary in the Legislative Department, Ministry of Law & Justice. 
  • The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) is the regulator for overseeing insolvency proceedings and entities like Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPA), Insolvency Professionals (IP) and Information Utilities (IU) in India. 
  • It was established on 1 October 2016 and given statutory powers through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, which was passed by Lok Sabha on 5 May 2016.

Alia Bhatt makes it to the Forbes Under 30 Asia list

  • Alia Bhatt is undoubtedly one of most loved actress of the current generation. After debuting in Bollywood with the 2012 super hit Student of the Year under Karan Johar's direction, Alia has indeed come a long way. In just a span of five years, the gorgeous lady has made it to the prestigious Forbes list.
  • Alia has made it to the Forbes Under 30 Asia list that was released today. The list comprises of 300 names from Asia, who made it big in different fields. Alia Bhatt is one of them.
  • Alia Bhatt has acted in over 20 high-grossing Bollywood movies. 
  • At least six of the films she has acted in grossed well over $15 million worldwide in opening weeks. With a huge fan-following in India and overseas, she has been recognized multiple times for her acting, including winning the 2016 Filmfare Award for best Actress. 
  • In 2012, she got her first leading role as an 18-year-old in the movie 'Student of The Year'. Bhatt also launched own eponymous fashion-label, for Indian e-commerce portal Jabong.
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