Daily GK Update: 25th December, 2015 Important Current Affairs

1. Modi inaugurates new Afghan Parliament built by India in Kabul
i. Prime Minister Modi received a warm embrace and welcome by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani in Kabul where he arrived on Friday for delegation-level bilateral talks and for inaugurating the new Afghan Parliament building. Calling India and Afghanistan’s friendship antiquated and “bound by a thousand ties”, Ghani thanked India for its “valuable assistance” as Afghanistan weathers “hard times”.
ii. “Pleased to welcome PM Modi to Kabul. Though, India & Afghanistan need no introduction, we are bound by a thousand ties… We have stood by each other in the best and worst of times,” Ghani tweeted.
iii. Delegation-level bilateral talks between the two countries were held at Dilkosha Palace, the Afghan presidential office. Modi later inaugurated the Afghan parliament building that was constructed by India at a cost of USD 90 million. The Prime Minister also addressed the two houses.
iv. Ghani and Modi toured the parliament building and arrived at the main session hall in the presence of the guests, including member of the Afghan parliament, Khaama press reported.

2. IndianOil, Oil India sign MoU with Rosneft
i. Indian Oil Corporation and Oil India Ltd have signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian national oil company Rosneft for cooperation in geologic survey, exploration and production of hydrocarbons in select onshore areas in Russia.
ii. The MoU document was signed during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Russia. In all, 16 agreements were signed between Indian and Russian firms in the field of nuclear energy, hydrocarbon, defence and other sectors.
iii. “The MoU document lays the foundation for a long-term partnership between IndianOil, OIL and Rosneft. As a first step, the parties have agreed to examine the possibility of cooperation in respect of the Taas-Yuryakh Neftegazodobycha LLC asset,” an official statement from IndianOil stated.
iv. “Implementation of the terms of the agreement signed will give additional impetus to the development of one of the largest oil assets in East Siberia,” the statement added.

3. Veteran actress Sadhana passes away in Mumbai
i. Yesteryear Hindi film actress Sadhana, known for popularising the fashionable Sadhana cut (fringe haircut), passed away in Mumbai at the age of 74, according to reports.
ii. Known for memorable films, such as Love in Shimla, Parakh, Waqt, Woh Kaun Thi, Mera Saaya, Geeta Mera Naam among others, Sadhana was known for her on-screen simple looks as well glamour quotient, and is closely associated with some of the most memorable Hindi film songs during the 1960s.
iii. Sadhana was said to be ailing for some time and had been operated for a lesion in her mouth last year.
iv. “RIP Sadhana aunty...Your legacy of beauty, poise and utmost grace....will live on forever...”, tweeted Karan Johar, well-known Hindi film producer and director.

4. Reliance Defence signs $6 billion pact with Russian arms firm as Modi visits Moscow
i. Reliance Defence said on Thursday it had signed a manufacturing and maintenance deal potentially worth $6 billion with Russia's Almaz-Antey, the maker of an air defence system that sources said the Indian military was poised to buy.
ii. The partnership between the Indian firm controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani and the Russian firm was announced as Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a trip to Moscow aimed at strengthening defence ties.
iii. Earlier this week, Indian defence ministry sources said the government had cleared the purchase of five S-400 air defence systems that are estimated to cost about $4.5 billion in a bid to modernise the country's defences against airborne attacks.
iv. India is forecast to spend $250 billion over the next decade to upgrade its military and Modi's government wants a greater role for Indian state and defence firms. Reliance is forging close ties with Russia to jumpstart its ambitions to develop a defence business from scratch. It said it had also discussed joint implementation of modernisation, repair and overhaul of Almaz-Antey systems already in service in India.
v. The company also plans to bid for contracts for local manufacture of helicopters, submarines and ships. Earlier this month, Ambani's Reliance Infrastructure took sole management control of Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Co which has built patrol vessels for the Indian navy.

5. Reserve Bank of India Invites Applications for Innovative Payment Solutions
i. India’s central bank The Reserve Bank of India has invited applications for “Payment System Innovation Awards” to encourage innovative solutions in the field of Payment and Settlement System. With this initiative, the RBI is hoping to transform the way transactions are processed in the world’s fastest growing emerging economy.
ii. Some broad areas which the contest will hope to cover are:

  • Payment security including fraud prevention
  • Customer convenience and cost reduction
  • Mobile payments
  • Acceptance/electronic payment infrastructure
  • Use of emerging technologies for payments

iii. The Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), which is the technology arm of the RBI, will organize the competition. A panel of experts will shortlist the most innovative applications, and the best three will be rewarded with citations/prizes. The winners may also be given a chance to present their ideas/ technologies to the industry representatives.
iv. Among the most revolutionary technologies that are disrupting the payments sector is the blockchain technology, which is the technology underpinning the cryptocurrency bitcoin. The blockchain is able to serve the crucial purpose of cutting down transaction costs while facilitating fast, reliable, and secure payments. The initiative by the central bank will also lend confidence to the cryptocurrency businesses in India as the regulator has often maintained a cautious stance on the digital currencies.
v. RBI has already issued new licenses to 10 small banks and 11 payment banks that would use technology to disrupt banking. India has been lagging behind in the fintech race, but similar initiatives may catapult the nation to a higher spot.


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