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Economy Current Affairs February 4th Week 2016

1) Empowered Group of State Transport Ministers formed to suggest measures on transport sector.

  • The Road Transport and Highways ministry has announced formation of an Empowered Group of State Transport Ministers to advice on policy issues to make the country`s transport sector modern, efficient and transparent.
  • The Empowered Group will be headed by Rajasthan`s transport minister Yunus Khan. Transport minister Nitin Gadkari made this announcement.
  • The formation of the group is in tune with the Union Government’s concerted action plan to reduce road accidents by half by 2019.


2) Ricoh India wins Rs. 344 crore contract to supply computer hardware to Odisha schools.

  • Printing and IT solutions firm Ricoh India has bagged an order worth Rs. 344 crore from Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation to supply computer hardware to 2,000 government schools in Odisha.
  • "The company has got an order...for supply, installation and commissioning of computer hardware, connected accessories, software, maintenance of equipment and provision of computer education devices in 2,000.
  • Government and government-aided high schools in Odisha on five years BOOT Model Project under ICT@School Scheme``, Ricoh India said in a BSE filing.
  • Last month, Ricoh India, a subsidiary of Ricoh Group, Japan, had said it is eyeing 55% growth in revenues this fiscal.

3) CII inks MoU with Dubai exports to boost trade.

  • The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai Exports to boost trade and explore business opportunities.
  • CII is a non-government organization of Indian businesses. which works to create an environment conducive to the growth of industry in the country.
  • Dubai Exports works with other Dubai Government Departments to simplify the export process by developing long-term growth strategies to expand businesses and maximize opportunities.
  • Signatory parties pledge to maintain regular and frequent contact with each other for mutual exchange of economic, trade and non-confidential information.
  • CII and Dubai exports will also organize exchange of visits for business cooperation and provide necessary support in terms of mounting business delegations, organizing conferences and other activities to each other.


4) CGPDTM issues revised patent guidelines for Computer Related Inventions.

  • The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (CGPDT) has issued an order excluding software patents in its revised guidelines for Computer Related Inventions (CRIs).
  • The new order clearly mentions that, mere computer programmes those not in conjunction with a novel hardware will not be granted patent in India.
  • Implication of these guidelines: Software developers and start-ups will continue to have the freedom to innovate without worrying infringement notices in Computer Related Inventions area.
  • The Office of Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks (CGPDTM) under the aegis of Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry is nodal agency that supervises the working of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) laws in India.

 

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5) Government To Sell Its 5% Stake In NTPC.

  • In the sixth public sector unit (PSU) share sale this fiscal, the government will sell 5% stake in India`s largest power producer NTPC at a floor price of Rs. 122 a piece to raise Rs. 5,030 crore.
  • The share sale, which comes days ahead of the Budget 2016, will be the first under Sebi`s revised offer for sale (OFS) rules that allow the bidding for shares spread over two days.
  • The government has fixed a floor price for the sale of over 41.22 crore shares in NTPC at Rs. 122 a piece, a 3.82% discount to its closing price on the BSE.
  • The shares of NTPC closed at Rs. 126.85 on the BSE.
  • While the issue would open for institutional bidders, the retail investors, for whom 20% shares have been reserved, will get to bid. At a floor price of Rs. 122, the NTPC share sale would fetch about Rs. 5,030 crore to the exchequer.
  • NTPC is the first company to hit the markets under the revised offer for sale (OFS) guidelines of the market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
  • In a BSE filing, NTPC said that government will sell over 41.22 crore shares in the company at a floor price of Rs. 122 a piece.
  • A 5% additional discount would be offered to retail investors, which are those who bid for shares worth not more than Rs. 2 lakh.
  • SBICAP Securities, ICICI Securities, Edelweiss Securities and Deutsche Equities are acting as merchant bankers for the share sale.
  • The Cabinet had approved the 5% stake sale in NTPC. The government holds 74.96% in the firm. It had last sold stake in NTPC.

6) United States won WTO dispute against India`s solar rules.

  • The United States won a ruling against India at the World Trade Organization after challenging the rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India`s national solar power program.
  • In a statement, the US Trade Representative`s office called the ruling a significant victory that would hasten the spread of solar energy across the world and support clean-energy jobs in the United States.
  • The United States complained to the WTO in 2013 about the Indian solar program, which sought to ease chronic energy shortages in Asia`s third-largest economy without creating pollution.
  • But a requirement that certain cells and modules be made in India fell afoul of WTO rules on discriminating against imports. The United States said its solar exports to India had fallen by 90 per cent from 2011, when India imposed the rules.
  • The WTO ruling, which can be appealed within 60 days, was repeatedly delayed as the two sides tried to negotiate a settlement. An Indian official had said a compromise might let India subsidize state projects such as defense or railway projects.


7) Union Cabinet approves $150 million Credit for Chabahar Port Development.

  • For greater trade and investment flow with Iran and neighbouring countries, government today cleared proposals for development of strategic Chabahar port in the Persian Gulf nation including through a $150 million credit from Exim Bank.
  • ``The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to the proposal of the Ministry of Shipping for provision and operationalisation of credit of $150 million from EXIM Bank for development of Chabahar Port in Iran``, a Shipping Ministry statement said after the meeting.
  • The Cabinet has also authorised the Shipping Ministry to form a company in Iran for implementing the Chabahar Port Development Project and related activities.
  • The strategic port, which is located off Iran`s south eastern coast will provide India a sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan.
  • In May last year, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari had visited Tehran where India and Iran signed a pact to develop the Chabahar port.
  • "India is negotiating this project to facilitate the growing trade and investment with Iran and other countries in the region, notably Afghanistan and also to provide opportunities to Indian companies to penetrate and enhance their footprint in the region".
  • Chabahar Port lies outside the Persian Gulf in Iran and will help in expanding maritime commerce in the region.
  • As per the MoU signed between the two nations in May last year, India is to equip and operat two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of $85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of $22.95 million on a ten year lease.
  • "Ownership of equipment will be transferred to Iranian side on completion of 10-year period or for an extended period, based on mutual agreement``, it said adding, the Iranian side had requested for provision of a credit of $150 million in accordance with the MoU.
  • As per the per the pact, operation of two berths will commence within a period of maximum 18 months after the signing of the contract.

8) Union Cabinet approved Promotion of Payments through Cards and Digital means.

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for introduction of steps for promotion of payments through cards and digital means.
  • The move aims at reducing cash transactions. Several short term (to be implemented within one year) and medium term measures (to be implemented within two years) have been approved for implementation by the Government Ministries/ Departments/ Organisations.
  • Promotion of payments through cards and digital means will be instrumental in reducing tax avoidance, migration of Government payments and collections to cashless mode, discourage transactions in cash by providing access to financial payment services to the citizens to conduct transactions through card/ digital means and shifting payment ecosystem from cash dominated to non-cash/ less cash payments.
  • The essential features of the proposals for promotion of payments through cards and digital means include steps for withdrawal of surcharge/ service charge/ convenience fee on card/ digital payments currently imposed by various Government Departments/ organisations and introduction of appropriate acceptance infrastructure in Government Departments/ organisations; rationalization of Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) on card transactions and a differentiated MDR framework for some key transaction segments.
  • Mandating payments beyond a prescribed threshold only in card/ digital mode; introduction of formulae linked acceptance infrastructure by the stakeholders of certain card products.
  • The infrastructure of card/ digital payments is growing, but remains modest in comparison to cash payments. For card/ digital payments to increase, they should be easy to use, readily available and accepted, should not impose any undue financial burden on the merchant and user, and should offer an appropriate level of security.
  • While the payment system initiatives taken in the form of Electronic Clearing Service Scheme, National Electronic Funds Transfer, Real Time Gross Settlement Scheme etc. have been impressive, the benefits of modern card/ digital payment systems are yet to reach all sections of the society and be accepted across the length and breadth of the country.
  • Current experience and evidence indicates that the penetration and success of modern card/ digital payment products and services is concentrated to a large extent in the tier-l and tier-ll locations of the country and mostly to those citizens who have access to the formal banking channels.

9) Highlights of Railway Budget 2016-17.

  • Railway Minister announces a capital plan of Rs. 1,21,000 crore for 2016-17; claims action initiated on 139 budget announcements made last year.
  • The Union Railway Budget 2016-17 focused on capacity creation in the rail sector, with an increased outlay of about Rs. 1.21 lakh crore, and on completion of the ongoing projects rather than announcing new ones. Extending 2015`s measure, passenger fares remain the same.
  • Mr. Prabhu`s announcements included India`s first rail auto hub, boost to e-catering, connectivity to North-East and Wi-Fi in railway stations.

Theme of the Budget:

  1. `Chalo, Milkar Kuch Naya Karen` for overcoming challenges – Reorganize, Rejuvenate, Restructure Indian Railways Three pillars strategy: Nav Arjan – New revenues, Nav Manak – New norms, Nav Sanrachna – New Structures.

Railway Fares:

  1. No new hike in passenger fares and Freight fares. Promised to bring down freight rates and double non-tariff revenue for the ailing national transport.

New Initiatives:

For the unreserved passenger:

(i) Antyodaya Express superfast unreserved service.
(ii) Deen Dayalu unreserved coaches with potable water facility and higher number of mobile charging points.


For the reserved passenger:

(i) Humsafar: Fully air-conditioned service with an optional service for meals.

(ii) Tejas: It will operate at speeds of 130 kmph and above and shall showcase the future of train travel in India. It will offer onboard services such as local cuisine, entertainment, WiFi, etc.

(iii) UDAY (Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri) Express: Overnight double-decker express on the busiest routes. Potential to increase carrying capacity by almost 40%.

(iv) SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) Coaches: These coaches are designed to ensure higher carrying capacity and provision of new amenities including automatic doors, bio-vacuum toilets, bar-code readers, water-level indicators, accessible dustbins, ergonomic seating, vending machines, improved aesthetics, LED lit boards for advertising, entertainment screens, PA system.

Cleanliness:

  • SMS service ‘Clean my Coach’, ranking of A1 and A railway stations based on periodic third party audit and passenger feedback, Awareness campaigns. Waste segregation and recycling centres, additional 30,000 bio-toilets etc.

Catering and stalls at stations:

  • IRCTC will manage catering services in a phased manner; Railway is extending e-catering to all rail stations. IRCTC will make available local cuisine of choice, hygienic food. Travelling mothers, Children’s menu, baby foods, baby boards will be made available.

Women Quota:

  • 33 per cent sub-quota for women will be provided under all reserved categories. Railways will also increase the quota of lower berths for women and senior citizens.

Rail Mitra Sewa:

  • Strengthening the existing services for enabling passengers to book battery operated cars, porter services, etc. Expanding Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railway to help the disabled and old passengers.

Ticketing:

  • Capacity of e-ticketing system has been enhanced from 2000 tickets per min to 7,200 per min Railway introduces 1,780 ticket-vending machines. e-ticket facility for foreign debit, credit card holders

Mobile Applications:

  • Integrating all facilities into two mobile apps that will deal with ticketing issues and for receipt and it will also redressal of complaints and suggestions.

Ticketing:

  • Capacity of e-ticketing system has been enhanced from 2000 tickets per min to 7,200 per min Railway introduces 1,780 ticket-vending machines. e-ticket facility for foreign debit, credit card holders

Catering and stalls at stations:

  • IRCTC will manage catering services in a phased manner; explore possibility of making catering services optional, build local ownership and empowerment. Railway is extending e-catering to all rail stations. IRCTC will make available local cuisine of choice, hygienic food. Travelling mothers, Children’s menu, baby foods, baby boards will be made available.

High Speed Rail:

  • From Mumbai to Ahmedabad will be undertaken with the assistance of the Government of Japan. Prime benefit would be providing technology advancements and new manufacturing capability.

Entertainment:

  • Invite FM Radio stations for providing train borne entertainment. Extension of ‘Rail Bandhu’ in all regional languages to all reserved classes of travelers.

Building terminal capacity:

  • Developing Rail side logistics parks and warehousing in PPP mode, TRANSLOC (Transport Logistics Company of India) will develop 10 goods sheds in 2016-17. India’s first rail auto hub will be inaugurated in Chennai. Rail University will come at Vadodara, Gujarat. Development of cold storage facilities on vacant land near freight terminals in which local farmers and fisherman will be given preferential usage of the facility.

Travel Insurance to passengers:

  • Optional travel insurance will be offered for rail journeys at the time of booking.

Rail Development Authority:

  • It will be established as statutory body to enable fair pricing of railway services and promote competition, protect customer interests and determine efficiency standards.

Tourism:

(i) Indian Railways will partner with State Governments for operating tourist circuit trains, promotion of tourism through UNESCO world heritage Railways and Railway museums.
(ii) To spread awareness about our National Animal, the Tiger, complete packages including train journey, safaris and accommodation to cover the wildlife circuit comprising Kanha, Pench and Bandhavgarh will be offered.

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10) Mallya-USL deal under SEBI lens.

  • Vijay Mallya’s $75 million deal to exit United Spirits has come under the lens of market regulator SEBI.
  • According to SEBI sources, the contours of the deal are being examined for violations of corporate governance norms and the conditions under which the USL board decided to strike the deal.
  • If required the regulator could also go into the various agreements done by Vijay Mallya (prior to Diageo’s acquisition of shares from United Breweries) in which USL was a party and which were struck down by shareholders in November 2014, sources said.
  • Ironically, the company’s filing to the stock exchange stated that the deal was to ‘end the uncertainty relating to the company’s governance.
  • Proxy advisories hold the view that there is more to the deal than what meets the eye. In a scathing report, JN Gupta, Managing Director, Stakeholders Empowerment Services (SES), questioned the basis of the $75 million payout to Mallya.
  • Investors, it seems, have little chance for recourse. Shriram Subramanian, MD, InGovern, told BusinessLine that there is no single large institutional investor in USL which can take up the fight for minority investors.


11) UltraTech calls off Rs. 5,400 crore deal to buy Jaiprakash units.

  • UltraTech Cement, an Aditya Birla Group company, has decided to call off the deal with Jaiprakash Associates to buy two of its cement units in Madhya Pradesh.
  • The move to acquire the assets on a ‘going concern’ basis was not approved by the Bombay High Court citing the Mines and Minerals Development Regulation Act, which does not allow transfer of mining rights along with a sold asset.
  • Earlier this month, global cement giant Lafarge called off a Rs. 5,000 crore deal to sell 5.1 million tonnes cement capacity at Jojobera and Sonadih in eastern India to Birla Corporation for the same reason.
  • In a statement, UltraTech said the court could not sanction the scheme (for acquisition) in the absence of any timeline for amendment or clarification to the MMDRA. Under this circumstance, it was decided to apply for the withdrawal of the scheme filed before the High Court, which gave permission (for withdrawal) .
  • In December 2014, UltraTech signed a deal with Jaiprakash Associates to acquire 2.1 million tonnes per annum cement unit and 2.6 mtpa cement grinding unit at Bela along with 3.1 mtpa clinker and 2.3 mtpa cement grinding unit at Sidhi both in Madhya Pradesh all for an enterprise value of Rs. 5,400 crore. The deal also included captive power plants for 180 MW.

12) Blackstone-backed BPO Intelenet eyes buys in US, UK for $134 million.

  • Blackstone-backed business process outsourcer Intelenet Global Services is in talks to acquire two companies, one in the US and the other in the UK, for $122-134 million.
  • The acquisitions would help the BPO firm expand its presence across these geographies.
  • In the US, Intelenet is in discussions to buy a firm with a presence in the BFSI (Banking, Financial Service and Insurance) and healthcare space for $45-50 million. The deal, according to sources close to the development, is expected to be closed.
  • The sources declined to be identified as the talks are in private domain. When contacted, an Intelenet spokesman declined to comment.
  • In the UK, Intelenet is looking to take over a retail firm for £55-60 million ($77-84 million).
  • This deal is expected to be closed by this year-end, the sources added.
  • ``While the US buy would help expand the company’s footprint, the one in the UK could be a retail tuck-in acquisition``, one of the sources said.
  • The company has independent operations in UK, which were earlier conducted through its former owner Serco Plc.
  • Intelenet started out as 50:50 joint venture between HDFC and TCS in 2000, handling call centre operations for a range of sectors from financial services to travel. Then, in 2004, HDFC acquired TCS’ stake for an undisclosed amount and sold it to banking major Barclays.
  • In 2007, the management of Intelenet led a buyout, backed by PE firm Blackstone Group. In 2011, it was bought out by UK-based Serco Plc for Rs. 2,800 crore, making it the largest deal in the Indian BPO space. Last year, Blackstone paid Rs. 2,558 crore to buyout Intelenet, expecting an increase in outsourcing business.
  • Intelenet has followed a strategy of both organic and inorganic growth, and in 2005 acquired Sparsh BPO Services for an undisclosed sum. This paved the way for its entry into the domestic BPO sector.


13) Zee to acquire 80% stake in 2 India Today firms.

  • Zee Media Corporation will acquire up to 80 per cent stake in India Today group`s loss-making e-commerce and TV shopping entities Today Merchandise and Today Retail Network Pvt Ltd for Rs. 165.78 crore in staggered payments over the next four years.
  • "The board of directors of the company has approved in-principle, acquisition of 80 per cent equity stake by the company in both Today Merchandise Pvt Ltd (TMPL) and Today Retail Network Pvt Ltd (TRNL)``, Zee Media Corporation said in a BSE filing.
  • "The target companies, which are currently in losses, have been developing infrastructure for launching a `TV Shopping` channel and also operating an e-commerce website to complement the TV shopping business``.
  • The investment will be made in tranches. Zee Media will acquire 49 per cent stake by investing Rs. 39.78 crore by subscribing equity shares of both companies and have managerial and operational control over the target companies.
  • The company shall increase its stake by investing up to Rs. 126 crore over 4 years subscribing to any security convertible into equity shares of both companies, as par value, that upon conversion, the shareholding of the company shall be 80 per cent of fully-diluted capital of TMPL and TRNL.

14) Union Budget of 2016-17.

  • Affirming that the economy is right on track, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget for 2016-17. Citing that the CPI inflation has come down to 5.4% from 9 plus, he said it is huge relief for the public.
  • Total expenditure for 2016-17 has been projected at Rs. 19.78 lakh crore.
  • Higher allocation for agriculture, infrastructure and social sectors.
  • Fiscal deficit pegged at 3.5%, Revenue deficit was at 2.5% during 2015-16.

TAXATION:

  1. 1 per cent service charge on purchase of luxury cars over Rs. 10 lakh and in-cash purchase of goods and services over Rs. 2 lakh.
  2. Companies with revenue less than 5 crore rupees will be taxed at 29% plus surcharge.
  3. 0.5 per cent Krishi Kalyan Cess to be levied on all services.
  4. Infrastructure cess to be levied. 1% excise imposed on articles of jewellery, excluding silver. 1% Pollution cess of on small petrol, CNG and LPG cars. 2.5% on diesel cars of certain specifications and on higher-end models 4% cess.
  5. Corporate Tax for new manufacturing units fixed at 25%

AGRICULTURE

  • Total allocation of Rs. 35984 crore for agriculture and farmer welfare.
  • Unified Agricultural marketing ePlatform to be launched that will provide a common online platform for wholesale markets.
  • ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana’ to be implemented & 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under irrigation.
  • 5 lakh hectares of land will be brought under irrigation. 5 lakh acres will be brought under organic farming over a three year period. Allocation of 60,000 crore rupees for recharging of ground water to focus on drought hit areas cluster development for water conservation. 20,000 crore rupees Dedicated Irrigation Fund in NABARD.
  • Allocation under Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana Rs. 5,500 crore.
  • Rs. 850 crore shall be allotted for four dairying projects - ‘Pashudhan Sanjivani’, ‘Nakul SwasthyaPatra’, ‘E-Pashudhan Haat’ & ‘National Genomic Centre for Indigenous Breeds’.
  • Soil Health Card scheme would cover all 14 crore farm holdings 2017.
  • ‘Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ & `Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region` are to be used to promote organic farming.

15) RURAL & SOCIAL SECTOR WERE ALLOCATED Rs. 87,765 Crore & Rs. 1,51,581 Crore

  • 100% village electrification by 1st May, 2018.
  • MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) has been allotted Rs. 38,500 crore.
  • Under the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Mission - Every block under drought and rural distress will be taken up.
  • Under the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission - 300 Rurban Clusters will be developed.
  • A new Digital Literacy Mission Scheme to be implemented for rural India to cover around 6 crore household within the next 3 years.
  • Rs. 2,000 crore has been allocated as initial cost for providing LPG connections to BPL families.
  • Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, a new scheme has been proposed with an allocation of Rs. 655 crore.

INVESTMENTS & INFRASTRUCTURE

  1. 65 eligible habitats will be connected via 2.23 lakh kms of road. Current construction pace is 100 kms/day. Allocation of Rs. 27,000 crore on roadways and Rs. 55,000 crore for roads and highways. Total allocation of Rs. 97,000 crore for road construction under PMGSY.
  2. Shops to be given option to remain open 24*7 across markets. On east and west coasts, new Greenfield ports will be developed.
  3. Underserved airports will be revived. For regional connectivity centre to partner with States to revive small airports.
  4. 100 per cent FDI in food processing and marketing of food products produced and marketed in India. Department of Disinvestment to be renamed as Department of Investment and Public Asset Management.
  5. Government to amend Motor Vehicle Act in passenger vehicle segment to allow innovation. 100 per cent tax exemption for startups for 3 years.

EDUCATION:

  1. For promoting entrepreneurship among SC/ST, Rs. 500 crore will be allocated to Scheme 10 public and 10 private educational institutions will be made world-class.
  2. Digital repository mandatory for all school leaving certificates and diplomas. For higher education financing, allocation of Rs. 1,000 crore.
  3. Allocation of 1,700 crore rupees for 1500 multi-skill development centres.
  4. 62 navodaya vidyalayas to be established to provide quality education. Digital literacy scheme will be launched to cover 6 crore additional rural households.
  5. Entrepreneurship training will be provided at schools, colleges and massive online courses. Provide skill training to 1 crore youth under the PM Kaushal Vikas Yojna in the next 3 years. 1500 Multi-skill training institutes will be set up.

BANKING:

  • Allocation of Rs. 25,000 crore towards recapitalization of public sector banks.
  • Banking Board Bureau will be operationalised. Govt to increase ATMs, micro-ATMs in post offices in rural areas in next three years General Insurance companies will be listed in the stock exchange Under MUDRA, target of disbursement increased to 1,80,000 crore.

HEALTH

  1. New health protection scheme will be launched for health cover upto 1 lakh per family. Additional healthcare cover of Rs. 30,000 will be provided to senior citizens under it. National Dialysis Service Programme will be launched at all district hospitals with funds through PPP mode.
  2. PM Jan Aushadhi Yojana will be strengthened and 300 generic drug store to be opened.

ENERGY:

  1. Allocation of 3000 crore for nuclear power generation Government to chalk out comprehensive plan for exploiting nuclear energy.
  2. Government to provide incentive for deepwater gas exploration and market freedom for it. Pre-determined ceiling price will be on landed price of alternate fuels.


16) 100 Crore each allocated for celebrating Birth Centenary of Pt Deena Dayal Upadhyay and 350th Birth Anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

  • "The Budget has allocated initial sums of Rs. 100 crore each for celebrating the birth centenary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay and the 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh``, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while presenting General Budget 2016-17 in Lok Sabha.
  • Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, a leader of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, was born in 1916.
  • Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikhism, was born in 1666.

Economy Current Affairs February 3rd Week 2016

1) Facebook withdraws Free Basics from India.

  • Facebook has withdrawn the controversial Free Basics services from India following the telecom regulator disallowing differential pricing.
  • In May last year, it had launched the service offering free access to 32 apps and websites on Reliance Communications’ network.
  • RCom users could have accessed these apps and websites without paying for data usage.

Background:

  1. Facebook had announced this as part of the Internet.org initiative aimed at connecting the next billion users to the World Wide Web. This had come under severe criticism by supporters of Net neutrality.
  2. According to them, offering free access to select apps and websites violates principles of net neutrality because Facebook was acting as gatekeeper to give preferential treatment to a few websites and apps.
  3. Globally, there are about 19 countries where Facebook has launched free basic services. But, India is perhaps the most critical market where it has now lost the battle.


2) CCI nod for Nippon Life stake hike in Reliance Life.

  • The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has given its approval for Japanese insurance major Nippon Life Insurance to hike its stake in Reliance Life Insurance to 49 per cent.
  • This transaction involved an investment of Rs. 2,265 crore ($348 million) for an additional 23 per cent stake.
  • This transaction pegs the valuation of Reliance Life at about Rs. 10,000 crore ($1.5 billion). Nippon Life’s investment represents implied embedded value multiple of over three times, the highest in the industry till date.
  • Also, Nippon Life’s investment represents the largest foreign direct investment in the Indian insurance sector till date.
  • With this transaction, Nippon Life will have invested a total of Rs. 8,630 crore ($1.3 billion) for acquiring 49 per cent stake each in Reliance Capital Asset Management and Reliance Life Insurance.


3) Ashok Leyland to set up assembling units in Africa.

  • Ashok Leyland is setting up truck and bus assembling units in Africa, one of them in Kenya. This is a part of its plan to strengthen its export markets.
  • The truck and bus manufacturer is also looking at South-East Asia and South America for exports.
  • The objective is to triple exports over the next 3-5 years from the present 10 per cent.
  • Over the last couple of years it has managed to bring down debt from about Rs. 6,400 crore in August 2013 to about Rs. 3,500 crore.
  • Total industry volume in the current year has grown by 30 per cent to 2.07 lakh units for medium and heavy commercial vehicles.


4) Companies to get Business Identification Number.

  • To improve ease of doing business, the government will soon introduce Business Identification Number (BIN) for companies, doing away with multiple registration numbers a single entity needs to obtain for various regulatory purposes.
  • The BIN would act as an identification number for different regulatory purposes and do away with the need for procuring separate registration numbers such as Company Identification Number and Labour Identification Number.
  • Normally, a company is required to obtain 18 different registration numbers. As per the proposal, the permanent account number (PAN) may become the BIN for companies.
  • The firms will have to apply for the BIN on the e-Biz portal. The portal provides one-stop clearance platform for investment proposals.
  • Several initiatives have been taken up by the government for improving ease of doing business in India through simplification and rationalization of the existing rules and introduction of information technology to make governance more efficient and effective.

5) Swedish defence firm ties up with Indian company.

  • Kalyani Group has tied up with Swedish defence major Saab to form a joint venture firm for the multi-billion dollar contract for short range surface to air missile and man-portable very short-range air defense (VSHORAD) programmes.
  • The joint venture, which will be set up by Saab and Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd (KSSL), the defence arm of Kalyani Group, will handle the main part of production and delivery of these air defence systems to the Indian customer if they win the ongoing tender process.
  • The production in India will comprise of subsystems and systems for SRSAM and VSHORAD with the aim to transfer production as well as development knowledge to India.
  • To secure production quality, orders of missile parts have already been issued to KSSL and production-readiness reviews are ongoing.


6) Oracle will open its first campus in India.
Oracle has announced plans to expand campuses outside the US and will open one in Bengaluru as part of the ‘Make in India’ campaign.
The company will also launch 9 incubation centres throughout India, and train more than half a million students each year to develop computer science skills.
The Oracle India campus will be spread over a huge 2.8 million square feet, and will be largest outside its headquarters in Redwood Shores, California.
The buildings will include collaboration centers, workstations, and large spaces in addition to entertainment lounges, gyms, a basketball court, open green spaces, and cafes.
The nine Incubation Centers will contribute to country’s “Start-up India” initiative.
The centres will be located in Bengaluru, Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Noida, Pune, Trivandrum and Oracle Academy Expansion.

7) YouTube acquires BandPage for $8 million.

  • Google owned YouTube acquired BandPage for a reported $8 million, which is far less than the $27.6 million raised by the startup since launching in 2009.
  • BandPage is already heavily integrates into both YouTube and Google, delivering photos and band info for more than 500,000 artists, along with direct to fan offerings from hundreds of musicians.

About BandPage:

  1. Founded in 2009, BandPage began as an app that let musicians create a special Music tab on their Facebook Page.
  2. But after Facebook shut down these Page apps in 2012, it lost 90% of its traffic in three months. It went from 32 million monthly users and being the second most popular Facebook developer behind Zynga, to just a few million.
  3. BandPage created a platform that artists could update with their tour dates and t-shirts, and have them appear in tons of places through integrations with Spotify, SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter, Shazam, Rhapsody, StubHub, and more, as well as Google and YouTube.

8) National Capital goods policy unveiled.

  • The Government has unveiled the National Capital Goods Policy. The policy envisages increasing exports from the current 27% to 40% of production while increasing share of domestic production in India’s demand from 60% to 80%, thus making India a net exporter of capital goods.
  • The policy also aims to facilitate improvement in technology depth across sub-sectors, increase skill availability, ensure mandatory standards and promote growth and capacity building of MSMEs.

About National Capital Goods Policy:

  1. “National Capital Goods Policy” is a unique Government led- industry driven manoeuvre for scripting a new growth narrative in the history of industrial development.
  2. The Department of Heavy Industry had set up a Joint Taskforce with Confederation of Indian industry (CII) as an attempt to ensure that the formulation of the Capital Goods Policy is done in the most democratic manner and the recommendations would carve out a roadmap for Capital Goods sector to become a part of global value chains apart from mere supply chains.

The Key Recommendations of the policy:

  • Strengthening the existing scheme of the DHI on enhancement of competitiveness of Capital Goods Sector by increasing budgetary allocation for increasing scope to further boost global competitiveness in various sub sectors of CG.
  • Enhancing the export of Indian made capital goods through a ‘Heavy Industry Export & Market Development Assistance Scheme (HIEMDA)’.


9) Apple to set up first Technology Center in India.

  • Apple to up its first technology development center outside the US, in Hyderabad, India.
  • It is set to open by June, becoming fully operational by the end of the year. The facility is projected to create 4,500 jobs, and is expected to develop solutions for Apple’s in-house mapping service.
  • Apple’s decision to set up a development center in Hyderabad is not surprising, considering that most major American companies including the likes of Microsoft, Google, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Facebook, and IBM have facilities in the city.
  • Microsoft has its largest campus outside Redmond in Hyderabad, and Google also has a sizeable presence in the city, with the search giant considering a new 2 million square feet office.
  • Apple’s sales in India crossed the $1 billion sales mark last March, and the company has been working with the Indian government to fast-track the construction of new Apple Stores in the country.


10) Ratan Tata invests in bengaluru based SnapBizz.

  • SnapBizz Cloudtech Pvt. Ltd, which devises technology for grocery stores have raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons Ltd.
  • SnapBizz had earlier raised $7.2 million in an investment round led by venture capital firms Jungle Ventures, Taurus Value Creation, Konly Venture and Blume Ventures in January.

About SnapBizz:

  1. SnapBizz provides grocery stores, an Android-based, cloud-connected business platform in the form of a tablet, barcode scanner, printer and a consumer-facing LED display, and the technology enables merchants to manage their billing, inventory and customer engagement.
  2. SnapBizz is one of a small but growing number of start-ups like IPay Tech India Pvt. and StoreKing that aim to help small businesses like grocery stores to bridge the digital gap by targeting specific uses like payments or enabling e-commerce.

 

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11) CII seeks cut in corporate tax rate in Budget.

  • India Inc has pitched for lowering of corporate tax rate and a roadmap to phase out incentives in the forthcoming Budget.
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had, in Budget 2015-16, announced a plan to bring down corporate tax rate to 25 per cent over the next four years and the Finance Ministry had also come out with a discussion paper on winding up all exemptions.
  • It is suggested that minimum alternate tax should be abolished in view of removal of all incentives or, alternatively, the rate be brought down to 10 per cent.
  • It has also asked the government to maintain the existing rates of service tax at 14 per cent and central excise duty at 12.5 per cent. Further, it has sought credit of the Swachh Bharat Cess, and its utilization against payment of excise duty and service tax.
  • Seeking early implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, the industry body has also asked the government to announce a revised roadmap for its roll out. In this regard, it has called for reducing the central sales tax from two per cent to one per cent in view of the delay in implementing the GST.

12) Mobile handset maker Lava to invest Rs. 2,615 crore.

  • Domestic mobile handset manufacturer, Lava plans to double its production capacity in India at an investment of Rs. 2,615 crore.
  • Lava started manufacturing in India about nine months ago the company has not only seen lower production costs but also substantial improvement in quality and efficiency.
  • It already has a manufacturing facility in Noida and will open another in the same place in three months. The company has acquired 50 acres of land in UP and 20 acres in Tirupathi.

About Lava:

  1. Lava International Ltd. is an Indian mobile handset company with headquarters located in Noida, Delhi.
  2. Lava International was established in the year 2003 as Pacetel Communications. In 2009, the company was renamed Lava International.
  3. The company launched the world’s first Intel chip-based smartphone. It was founded by Hari Om Rai, Sunil Bhalla, Shailendra Nath Rai and Vishal Sehgal.


13) Vedanta ties up with Odisha government for aluminium park.

  • Anil Agarwal group company Vedanta has signed an agreement with the Odisha government to set up an aluminium park adjacent to its aluminium smelter at Jhasarguda.
  • The proposed park, to come up on 240 acres, has the potential to attract investment of Rs. 1,000 crore and generate direct and indirect employment to about 17,000 people.
  • The company would be able to sell aluminium in molten form to manufactures within the park, rather than supplying it in ingots or sheets, thus saving huge costs for both Vedanta and the manufacturers.
  • Units within the park can start production at short notice and Vedanta, with adequate smelting capacity and 3,600 MW of power generation, can assure uninterrupted supply at very competitive prices.
  • The Odisha government will provide the necessary infrastructure for setting up the industries with financial incentives. Both Vedanta and the Odisha government will hold global road shows to attract investment.

14) India asks Vodafone to pay taxes or face seizure.

  • India may seize Vodafone Group Plc’s assets in the country if the company doesn’t pay a disputed Rs. 14,200 crore tax bill that’s still undergoing international arbitration proceedings.
  • Vodafone has disputed the tax bill levied by Indian authorities over its 2007 purchase of the India business of Hutchison. The telecom giant bought a majority stake in the mobile company from Li Ka Shing Holdings through a subsidiary based in the Netherlands.
  • The $11.2 billion transaction was routed through Cayman Islands, and Vodafone said it did not owe the Indian government any taxes for the deal since it was conducted offshore.
  • After the country’s Supreme Court ruled in Vodafone’s favor in early 2012, the government amended the country’s taxation laws to apply retroactively to transactions like the Vodafone-Hutchison deal.

About Vodafone:

  1. Vodafone Group plc is a British multinational telecommunications company headquartered in London and with its registered office in Newbury, Berkshire.
  2. Vodafone owns and operates networks in 26 countries and has partner networks in over 50 additional countries.
  3. Vodafone has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


15) CBDT resolves Rs. 5,000 crore worth cases through Mutual Agreement Procedure.

  • With the aim to provide a non-adversarial and stable tax regime to foreign investors, the Central Board of Direct Taxes has resolved 180 cases involving Rs. 5,000 crore of funds through the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP).
  • The countries with which cases have been resolved are the US, Japan, United Kingdom and China. The resolved cases pertain to various sectors including software services, IT enabled services, manufacturing and consultancy services.
  • This is one of the actions taken by CBDT to ensure a fair and judicious dispute resolution regime to encourage foreign investment.
  • Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Income Tax department’s use of technology and e-mails will help taxpayers and cut down their physical interface with the officials.
  • As many as 3.6 crore returns have been processed at the Central Processing Centre, Bengaluru and 1.4 crore assessees who had filed their returns online have been notified of their refunds.

16) Punj Lloyd bags Rs. 2,070 crore order in Oman.

  • Engineering, procurement and construction major Punj Lloyd said that it has won orders in the oil & gas sector worth Rs. 2,070 crore from Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (ORPIC) and Oman Gas Company (OGC).
  • The scope of work the contracts includes is the construction of a 300-km natural gas liquid (NGL) pipeline and a 301-km gas pipeline.
  • The first pipeline is part of ORPIC’s $6.4 billion Liwa Plastic Industries Complex (LPIC) and will travel from the New Fahud NGL Plant to the steam cracker unit at Sohar in Oman.


17) BHEL commissions 101 MW power plant in Tripura.

  • State-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has commissioned a 101 MW (Mega Watt) gas-based Combined Cycle Power Plant (CCPP) at Monarchak (near Agartala) in Tripura.
  • The plant was commissioned on basis of Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) based on the order placed by North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Limited (NEEPCO).

About 101 MW power plant:

  1. In this project, BHEL’s scope of work included supply of Gas Turbine, Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) and Steam Turbine.
  2. It also supplied Generators and state-of-the-art Controls & Instrumentation (C&I) including plant civil work.
  3. State-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will be supplying the gas for the project. With this, BHEL’s share in supplied sets in the installed power generating capacity of Tripura has gone up to 88 per cent.

18) HCL Tech seals Rs. 895 crore deal with Volvo.

  • HCL Technologies has closed an outsourcing deal with Swedish auto major Volvo Group for infrastructure and application operations.
  • The deal, pegged at around $138 million (around Rs. 895 crore), is for making Volvo ready for the rapid advancements in business-enabling technology such as cloud, automation, business intelligence and big data.
  • HCL has also acquired Volvo’s external IT business, adding 40 new customers from the Nordics and France to its portfolio.
  • Around 2,500 people working for the Volvo Group will be transferred to HCL across 11 countries and Volvo IT customers would now have the advantage of access to a broad range of differentiated global capabilities, tools and processes that integrate with technology environments at a global level.
  • It would also create an automotive centre of excellence in Gothenburg based on the domain expertise of the Volvo team, to serve HCL’s global automotive and manufacturing customers.


19) BAE Systems, Mahindra partner in Howitzer deal.

  • BAE Systems has announced selection of Mahindra as its India partner for the nearly $700 million deal for the supply of 145 M777 Howitzers.
  • The gun deal would be through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) but the “spares, maintenance and ammunition will be operated through Indian systems”. M777 Howitzers are ultralight weight artillery guns having a strike range of 25 kms.
  • India and the United States are in discussion for supply of 145 M777A2 LW155 Howitzers for the Indian Army. Last year, BAE developed and submitted a US government-supported proposal offering a higher degree of indigenization on the M777 weapon system.

About BAE Systems:

  1. BAE Systems was formed on 30 November 1999 by the £7.7 billion merger of British Aerospace (BAe) and Marconi Electronic Systems (MES).
  2. BAE Systems plc is a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company headquartered in London in the United Kingdom and with operations worldwide.
  3. Its largest operations are in the United Kingdom and United States, where its BAE Systems Inc. subsidiary is one of the six largest suppliers to the US Department of Defense.


20) Tata invests in eco-friendly Bollant Industries.

  • Hyderabad based packaging material maker Bollant Industries has raised an undisclosed funding from Ratan Tata. This is the third non tech investment by Ratan Tata.
  • He had earlier invested in Grameen Capital India, a social impact-focused investment advisory firm and also in healthcare service provider Swasth India.

About Bollant Industries:

  1. Launched in 2012 by Srikanth Bolla, Bollant Industries manufactures eco-friendly paper and biodegradable products and provides mainstream employment to several hundred differently-abled people.
  2. The company currently employs 400 workers across five operating plants in Telangana and Karnataka. A new mega-plant is in the works at Sri City Special Economic Zone in Andhra Pradesh.

21) NRDC inks MoA with IACS on Technology Transfer.

  • National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) for commercialization of technologies and intellectual properties (IP) developed at IACS.
  • Under this MoA, NRDC will provide its services in IP Evaluation and Valuation in terms of their commercial potential to IACS.

About National Research Development Corporation (NRDC):

  1. It is an Enterprise of Department of Scientific & Industrial Research under the aegis of Union Ministry of Science & Technology.
  2. So far, it has licensed technologies of more than 4800 companies/ entrepreneurs in the country in almost all sector of industry.

About Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science:

  1. IACS based in Kolkata (West Bengal) is an autonomous and oldest research institute in India.
  2. It is devoted to the pursuit of fundamental research in the frontier areas of Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Polymer, Energy and Materials.

 

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22) BHEL commissioned 270 MW unit of GVK power plant in Punjab.

  • State-run equipment maker Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) commissioned a 270 MW generation unit at the Goindwal Sahib Thermal Power Project of private producer GVK Power & Infra in Punjab.
  • All the operational sets of 210-270 MW class in the state of Punjab have been supplied, erected and commissioned by BHEL.
  • Six units of 210 MW at Ropar, 2 units of 210 MW and 2 units of 250 MW at Bhatinda, besides 270 MW Unit at Goindwal Sahib.


23) Cipla acquires two US generic drug companies.

  • Indian pharmaceutical giant Cipla Ltd. has acquired two US generic drug companies, InvaGen Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Exelan Pharmaceuticals Inc.
  • In this regard, Cipla has closed the transaction of the deal through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Cipla (EU) Ltd.
  • These deals will allow Cipla to further strengthen its presence in the US pharmaceutical market is world’s largest pharmaceutical market.
  • It will also help the company to increase its revenue and introduce new products for oncology and diabetes in US.
  • These acquisitions will also provide Cipla a launch pad to launch its pipeline of products in respiratory and injectables in US.

24) Alstom, Cipla among 10 FDI proposals worth Rs. 607 crore cleared.

  • The Centre has cleared 10 foreign direct investment proposals worth Rs. 607 crore. It has also referred the Rs. 5,856.51 crore proposal of ATC Asia Pacific for acquisition of 51 per cent stake in Viom Networks to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs.
  • The decisions were taken at the meeting of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.
  • ``Eight proposals have been deferred. Five proposals have been rejected``, said an official.
  • The proposals approved include the Rs. 400 crore proposal of Alstom to arrange equity for its locomotive factory at Madhepura. It also approved the Rs. 145.22 crore FDI proposal of Cipla Ltd.
  • Other proposals cleared include those of pharma companies Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, Emcure Pharmaceuticals and Celestis Pharmaceuticals.
  • Among eight proposals deferred include those of ICICI Lombard General Insurance, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, Taurus Ventures and Almondz Insurance Brokers.
  • Five FDI proposals rejected include those of Ashdene Investments, Veritas Ltd, KDK Softwares, Kemefs Specialities and Afro Asia Equipments.

25) CCEA clears laying of 6 rail lines worth Rs. 10,700 crore.

  • Ahead of the Railway Budget, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved construction of six railway lines and a bridge to cater to both increased passenger and freight needs, for an estimated cost of Rs. 10,700 crore.
  • It will be financed through extra-budgetary resources, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said after the meeting. The projects will be constructed using the Rs. 1.5 lakh crore invested by Life Insurance Corporation in the Railways.
  • The projects include doubling of three railway lines - the 190-km Hubbali-Chickajur line for Rs. 1,294.13 crore; the 160-km Ramna-Singrauli line for Rs. 2,675.64 crore; and the 261-km Katni-Singarauli section for Rs. 2,084.90 crore.
  • Two projects for the construction of a third line - in the 132-km Wardha (Sewagram)-Ballarshah section, costing Rs. 1,443.32 crore, and the 165-km Anuppur-Katni section in Madhya Pradesh, for Rs. 1,595.76 crore - were also approved.
  • All the six projects are expected to be completed over the next five years.

26) Big Bazaar Direct to tie up with Oxigen to expand reach.

  • Big Bazaar Direct, the assisted e-commerce business of the Future Group, is expanding its distribution reach by tying up with payment solutions company, Oxigen. With 2 lakh retailers across categories such as money transfer and DTH recharges, Oxigen is expected to enhance the distribution of Big Bazaar Direct at a time when Internet penetration in the country is still low.
  • ``Currently Big Bazaar Direct has 1,000 franchises but with this partnership with Oxigen, we expect to take it up to 10,000 franchises. Each franchise makes about Rs. 20 lakh a year``, said Kishore Biyani, Group CEO, Future Group.
  • Big Bazaar Direct connects with consumers through its franchises to sell products from the retail format of Big Bazaar with the help of a tablet or a Web ite without keeping any real stock and encourages entrepreneurship with its business model.
  • Rajan Malhotra, President- Retail Strategy, Future Group, said, ``Oxigen will serve as a distribution arm for all our brands and enhance our omni channel reach to our next level of customers``.

Economy Current Affairs February 2nd Week 2016

1) FDI in India doubles to $4.5 billion in December 2015.

  • Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country more than doubled to about $4.5 billion (Rs. 30,514.5 crore) in December 2015. In the same time previous year it was $2.16 billion.
  • The major sectors that attracted foreign inflows include computer software and hardware, trading, services, automobile and telecommunications. India receives maximum FDI from Singapore, Mauritius, the Netherlands and Japan.
  • The government has relaxed FDI norms in as many as 15 sectors, including Defence, single brand retail, construction development, civil aviation and LLPs, to boost FDI in the country.
  • Foreign investments are considered crucial for India, which needs around $1 trillion in the next five years to overhaul its infrastructure sector such as ports, airports and highways to boost growth.


2) Cisco acquires Japser Technologies for $1.4 billion.

  • Cisco Systems intends to acquire Silicon Valley-based Internet of Things (IOT) start-up Jasper Technologies Inc. for US $1.4 billion in cash.
  • Jasper allows companies to manage connected objects through cellular networks with a cloud-based software program, and was valued at US $1.4 billion in its most recent round of venture funding.
  • In addition to connecting devices to the Internet, Jasper makes a software platform that helps monitor these devices once they are online.
  • Cisco views Jasper as a unique Internet of Things (IOT) service platform that is disrupting a massive market with strong strategic alignment with Cisco.

About Cisco Systems:

  1. Cisco Systems, Inc. is an American multinational technology company headquartered in San Jose, California, that designs, manufactures and sells networking equipment.
  2. Cisco Systems was founded in December 1984 by Leonard Bosack, who was in charge of the Stanford University computer science department’s computers.


3) Mahindra Asset Management Company (AMC) received SEBI nod for Mutual Fund business.

  • Mahindra AMC wholly-owned subsidiary of Mahindra & Mahindra Financial Services (MMFS), got the regulator’s nod from markets regulator SEBI’s approval for setting up of their mutual fund business.
  • HDFC MF, ICICI Prudential and Reliance MF are among the top mutual fund companies in India.
  • MMFS is a part of the Anand Mahindra-led Mahindra group. The financial services arm has more than 1,000 branches across the country with over 16,000 employees.

About Mutual Funds:

  1. Mutual funds belong to a group of financial intermediaries known as investment companies, which are in the business of collecting funds from investors and pooling them for the purpose of building a portfolio of securities according to stated objectives.
  2. Mutual funds are generally organized as corporations or trusts, and, as such, they have a board of directors or trustees elected by the shareholders. Almost all aspects of their operations are externally managed.
  3. Mutual funds provide investors with a way to diversify their investment under professional management, which most investors may not be able to obtain on their own.

4) SEBI forms task force to review risk management norms for commixes.

  • Sebi has set up a task force to review the risk management norms for national-level commodity bourses following the suspension of futures trading for castor seed on NCDEX.
  • After recent developments witnessed in castor seed futures contracts, Sebi has established a task force to relook at the existing norms related to risk management, delivery mechanism, and other related issues.
  • The task force has been asked to submit the report in three weeks. Based on the report, the risk management norms for national-level commodity derivatives exchanges will be further tightened.
  • Last year Sebi laid down a comprehensive risk management framework for commodity derivatives exchange. It includes norms for margins, deposits, types of collateral, collateral haircut, concentration limits, and risk reduction mode.
  • The recent development in castor seed contracts and reports of high volatility in other commodities such as turmeric and coriander have forced Sebi to set up a task force to see if risk management norms can be further tightened.


5) BSE Institute launches new accelerator for start-ups.

  • BSE Institute Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of BSE Ltd, has launched a new accelerator for start-ups.
  • This accelerator is set up by BSE Institute in collaboration with Ryerson Futures Inc (Toronto), the technical arm of Ryerson University from Ontario, Canada.
  • The accelerator will focus on scalable, technology start-ups (both enterprise and consumer).Besides, it will help recreate in India the successful model of the Digital Media Zone (DMZ) - Ryerson`s flagship programme in Toronto which has been operational since 2010 and incubated over 150 start-ups.
  • This has been set up as a technology based incubator under the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science & Technology, Government of India.


6) Tax reforms proposed in gems & jewellery sector.

  • Government of India is considering a package of tax incentives for the labour-intensive leather and gems and jewellery sectors in the forthcoming Budget to provide a boost to manufacturing as well as exports.
  • Leather and leather goods sector is a focus area under the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the central government and the aim is to increase its exports to USD 15 billion by 2020 from the current USD 6 billion.
  • The Commerce and Industry Ministry in its suggestions for the Budget 2016-17, has recommended several initiatives including elimination of customs duty on imported leather machinery from about 26.5 per cent currently.
  • It has also sought excise duty reduction for all leather and non-leather goods of up to Rs. 2,000 and increase in the abatement rate to 35 per cent from 25 per cent.
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7) Religare Finvest, Just Buy Live join hands to provide credit to local retailers.

  • Religare Finvest, a non-banking finance company, and ‘Just Buy Live’, the world’s first e-distributor jointly launched a new credit product called ‘Udhaar by Just Pay’.
  • The product aims to offer retailers structured credit lines for their stock-in-trade requirements.
  • An independent credit line will help local retailers decide on the product mix, completely democratizing their buying ability.
  • With this facility, a small retailer can buy what he wants to sell and not what a distributor wants him to sell.
  • Just Buy Live and Religare Invest have now already pre-approved credit lines for over 20,000 Just Buy retailers and aim to provide five lakh retailers with structured lines by the end of 2016.
  • Religare Finvest will bear the credit risk and offer the credit through Just Buy and also carry out the know-your customer (KYC) process.


8) CIL to buy stake in IOC’s explosives unit.

  • State-run Coal India Ltd inked a memorandum of understanding to acquire a 50 per cent stake in IndianOil’s (IOC) bulk explosives business.
  • Explosives are used in open cast mines, which contribute nearly 93 per cent of CIL’s annual production of over 500 million tonnes.
  • The focus on quick production growth is set to increase the share of production from open-cast mines in the next few years.
  • IOC recorded 15 per cent growth in explosives production, at one lakh tonnes, in 2014-15. This is less than 20 per cent of CIL’s annual bulk explosives requirement of 5.5 lakh tonnes.
  • IOC acquired the explosives business through the merger of erstwhile IBP with itself in the middle of the last decade.

About Coal India Ltd:

  1. Coal India Limited (CIL) is an Indian state-controlled coal mining company headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
  2. It is the largest coal producer company in the world and contributes around 82% of the coal production in India.
  3. It was founded in 1975 and Sutirtha Bhattacharya is the Chairman & MD of Coal India.


9) CBDT lays down norms for e-assessments.

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has laid down operational guidelines for e-assessments of select non-corporate taxpayers to be undertaken as a pilot in five metros.
  • It has now specified the format and standards for ensuring secured transmission of electronic communication between the taxpayer and the Income-Tax Department.
  • The move comes three months after the CBDT announced its intent use ‘electronic mail’-based communication for assessment.
  • The aim is to move most of the communication to the electronic format. Once done, it would save time and effort both for the tax payers and the tax department.

About Non-corporate charges:

  1. Non-corporate charges are those dealing with assessments of individuals, Hindu Undivided Families and partnerships.
  2. Initially, 100 cases would be identified for e-hearing in each of these five regions and a major part of the assessment would be done electronically, the CBDT had then decided. Only cases taken up for scrutiny were to be covered under the pilot.

10) Minimum import price levied on 173 steel products.

  • The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has agreed to levy a Minimum Import Price on 173 varieties of flat steel products.
  • The MIP ranges from $341 per tonne for semi finished iron and non alloy steel to $752 per tonne. The prices will be valid for six months. A majority of the prices have been set for non-alloy steel.
  • India’s imports of non-alloy steel rose 29.6 per cent between April-December 2015 to 6.34 million tonne. It’s total consumption of non-alloy steel stands at 53.166 million tonne.


11) Indian Basmati gets geo-tag of authenticity.

  • The aromatic Indian Basmati rice infused with the sweet fragrance of international recognition of its uniqueness after the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) directed the Geographical Indications Registry to give it the GI tag.
  • The stamp of authenticity, which is acknowledged in international markets, applies to Basmati cultivated in the Indo-Gangetic plains in the foothills of the Himalayas; more specifically, it will cover the unique variety cultivated in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, western Uttar Pradesh and two districts in J&K, Jammu and Kathua.
  • The IPAB ordered the Registry to assign the GI tag within four weeks in line with an application made by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in November 2008.

About Geographical Indications (GI tag):

  1. A Geographical Indication is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin.
  2. India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods Act, 1999 has come into force with effect from 15 September 2003.
  3. The GI tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorised users are allowed to use the popular product name.

12) Digital content provider YuppTV partners B4U.

  • YuppTV, provider of digital Indian content, has expanded the entertainment choices available for its users by announcing a partnership with B4U.
  • Under the partnership, YuppTV users anywhere across the world, with the exception of the US, will be able to view B4U Music and B4U Movies.
  • The move to partner with B4U is meant to augment YuppTV’ s current Hindi entertainment library. Both channels will be available in Hindi and can be viewed on computers, smart TVs, smart Blu-ray players, streaming media players, tablets, smartphones along with other video content through YuppTV’ s platform.

About B4U:

  1. B4U is one of the Bollywood television networks and operates on more than 8 different satellites in over 100 countries.

About YuppTV:

  1. YuppTV is an over-the-top (OTT) content provider for South Asian Content, as live TV, Catch-up TV, and Unlimited Movies.
  2. YuppTV allows Broadcasters & Content Providers to reach their target audience, and consumers to view their content globally over 6 screens of Connected TVs, STBs, PC, Smart Phones, Tablets and Game consoles.
  3. Founded in 2006, headquartered at Atlanta, Georgia.
  4. Uday Nandan Reddy is the CEO of YuppTV.

13) Tech Mahindra enters mobile gaming platform with mSportz.

  • Tech Mahindra Ltd has entered into the mobile gaming entertainment space with the launch of a mobile gaming live streaming platform, mSportz.tv, under its Growth Factory initiative.
  • mSportz is an integrated platform that allows users to view and broadcast mobile gaming content in real-time and showcase their skills with the mobile gaming community.
  • mSportz App has a vision to entertain and connect the world’s mobile gaming community. Currently, the beta version of the App is available on Android and iOS.
  • Tech Mahindra is eying mobile gaming entertainment as a huge opportunity area. Mobile gaming industry is a $29 billion market with over 1.5 billion people playing games daily. According to Digi Capital, the mobile gaming industry will surpass console gaming by 2018.
  • Under the mSportz umbrella, Tech Mahindra is keen to build an ecosystem around casual and competitive mobile gaming with leagues, tournaments, and professional teams.


14) India’s proposed trade pact with Russia-led EAEU bloc on fast track.

  • India has exchanged the first draft of the joint study group (JSG) report on the feasibility of free trade agreement (FTA) with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) that could give India greater access to the vast market in Russia and its neighborhood.
  • India’s enthusiasm comes from the fact that the EAEU, which came into force on January 2, 2015, integrating Russia’s market with that of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, offers a large, mostly unexplored, market with a joint population size of 180 million and a GDP of an estimated $4 trillion.
  • Pharmaceuticals, textiles, agriculture items and energy are some of the areas where India stands to gain by getting into a trade pact with the EAEU. If the political strain between Russia and the EU and the resulting sanctions against EU food products continue, India could gain even more.


15) Apollo Health short-lists 3 private equity firms to raise Rs. 500 crore.

  • Apollo Health and Lifestyle Ltd, a subsidiary of Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd, has short-listed three private equity firms and expects to close a deal to raise Rs. 500 crore by March to fuel its expansion plans.
  • Apollo Health operates a network of primary care and specialty care hospitals across the formats of Apollo Clinics, Apollo Sugar, Apollo Diagnostics, Apollo White and Apollo Dialysis. Also in its portfolio are Apollo Cradle and Apollo Spectra Hospitals.
  • While Apollo Diagnostics has 15 labs and 80-plus patient care centres in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Vijayawada and Warangal, it plans to launch 200 labs and 1,000 patient care centres over five years in tier 2 cities like Madurai, Tiruchi, Hubli, Visakhapatnam, Kurnool, Rajahmundry and Nashik.

 

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16) TRAI stands up for net neutrality, rules against differential pricing.

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has barred telecom service providers (TSPs) from offering or charging discriminatory tariffs for data services on the basis of content accessed by a consumer.
  • In this regard, TRAI has issued Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016.
  • The move is being seen as a boost to net neutrality and ends the long-running debate on it in India. Henceforth no TSPs can discriminate consumers on differential pricing of data Services basis of website, platform, application and source.

Key points of the Regulations:

  1. These Regulations aims at ensuring that consumers get non-discriminatory and an unhindered access to the internet.
  2. Prohibits TSPs from entering into any arrangement, contract or agreement with any person that may cause discriminatory tariffs based on content-led data services.
  3. Reduction of tariffs for or providing or accessing emergency services at times of public emergency has been permitted.
  4. TRAI will keep a close watch on the implementation of the regulation by the telecom service providers and may review it after 2 years or even before that if necessary.


17) Iran wants India to pay oil dues in Euros.

  • Iran has asked Indian refiners such as Essar Oil and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) to clear its past oil dues amounting to over $6 billion in Euros within six months.
  • With US lifting sanctions, Iran has told Indian authorities that the three-year old mechanism, paying 45 per cent of oil import bill in rupees and keeping the remaining 55 per cent pending for payment channels to clear, has come to an end.
  • The payments would be done in installments to prevent a run on the rupee with MRPL likely to be asked to clear its outstanding of close to $3 billion first.
  • Iran will be opening or re-activating euro accounts with Indian banks and would like to have the money transferred from refiners into these accounts.
  • The Persian Gulf nation is talking to State Bank of India (SBI) for the purpose and has also opened an account with IDBI.

Background:

  1. Since February 2013, Essar Oil and MRPL have been paying 45 per cent of their import bill in rupees to UCO Bank account of Iranian oil company. The remaining has been accumulating, pending finalization of a payment mechanism.
  2. With the lifting of sanctions, the payment channels will reopen and Iran is seeking the pending $6 billion in euros.


18) Wipro signs agreement to buy Healthplan Services for $460 millions.

  • Wipro has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100 per cent stake in Healthplan Services from Water Street Healthcare Partners for USD 460 million.
  • This marks the fourth acquisition by Wipro in the last one year. It is the IT major’s largest acquisition in last five years.
  • HealthPlan Services strengthens Wipro’s position in the health insurance exchange market while offering synergies with Wipro’s presence in the Managed Medicare and Commercial Group Insurance markets.

About Healthplan Services:

  1. HealthPlan Services employs over 2,000 and offers market-leading technology platforms and fully-integrated business process as a service (BPaaS) solution to health insurance companies.
  2. Since partnering with Water Street in 2008, HealthPlan has grown to become the leading independent technology and BPaaS provider in the US health insurance market.
  3. HealthPlan Services provides US payers with a diversified portfolio of health insurance products delivered through its proprietary technology platform.

19) Ratan Tata invests in B2B marketplace Moglix.

  • E-commerce Company Moglix has announced an undisclosed financial investment in the company by industrialist Ratan Tata.
  • Moglix specializes in B2B procurement of industrial products like MROs, Fasteners and industrial electricals with manufacturers across India, China and other Asian countries as partners.
  • Tata has already made investments in many e-commerce and new-age technology enabled companies.

About Moglix:

  1. Founded in August 2015 by former Google employee Rahul Garg, Moglix is focused on technologically disrupting the B2B Industrial products space for suppliers and buyers across the globe.
  2. It facilitates online convenience and enabling supply chain efficiencies in business purchasing.


20) IIT-M partners Nokia for Rural net connectivity.

  • Nokia Networks has partnered with Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M) to create technology solutions that will enhance broadband connectivity in rural India.
  • Under the three-year partnership, Nokia will fund and provide technological expertise for research at IIT-M’s Centre of Excellence for Wireless Technology (CEWiT).
  • As part of this research, CEWiT at IIT-M will undertake some measures including verifying the feasibility of using unlicensed spectrum radio access technologies for cost-efficient, last-mile broadband connectivity.
  • It also provides last-mile connectivity from gram panchayats to their respective villages and creating effective low cost rural access solutions based on Wi-Fi technology.


21) IRCTC ties up with tea cafe chain `Chaayos`.

  • Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) entering into a tie up with leading tea cafe chain Chaayos.
  • The partnership with Chaayos will ensure that passengers get their tea and snacks delivered to their train seats directly.
  • Initially, the collaboration is for all trains at New Delhi station, and will soon be extended to other stations across Delhi and Mumbai.
  • Chaayos, which has 20 cafes in Delhi NCR and Mumbai, will offer many of its customized tea options such as Kulhad Chai, Adrak Tulsi Chai and Honey Ginger Lemon.
  • Passengers will have to order their tea two hours ahead of the train’s arrival time, which can be made on www.ecatering.irctc.co.in or calling a toll-free number (1800-1034-139). IRCTC has also launched a mobile app through which orders can be placed.

22) Rating agencies BARC, TAM form joint venture.

  • Rival rating agencies Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India and Television Audience Measurement (TAM) India have formed a joint venture to set up a meter management company.
  • The new entity will be called Meterology Data Pvt Ltd and will commence its operations in the next couple of weeks.
  • In Meterology Data Pvt Ltd (MDL), the new entity, BARC India will have full management control with a 51 per cent stake, while TAM India, which includes Nielsen and Kantar, will have a 49 per cent stake.
  • As a part of the new system, all TAM India meters will be re-deployed in panel homes selected by BARC India’s sample design. This JV will help BARC India in increasing its sample size.

23) India likely to grow at 7.9% in 2016-17: CRISIL.

  • According to Crisil Research, Indian economy is expected to grow at 7.9 per cent in the fiscal starting April, lower than earlier forecast of 8.1 per cent.
  • CRISIL noted that the economy’s modest recovery has been shaped by good luck on crude oil and commodities, and a supportive policy environment.
  • The economy has weathered two successive monsoon failures plus damage from unseasonal rains in early 2015 with no deleterious repercussion on inflation and growth.
  • According to the report, growth in the next fiscal will also find mild support from improved transmission of the RBI’s policy rate cuts and the implementation of the salary and pension revisions recommended by the One Rank One Pension Scheme and the Seventh Pay Commission.
  • As per the Central Statistics Office, Indian economy will grow at a 5-year high of 7.6 per cent in the fiscal ending March, overtaking a slowing China, on the back of improvement in manufacturing and farm sectors.


24) India’s gold demand up by 2.5% in 2015: World Gold Council.

  • According to the World Gold Council’s (WGC) Gold Demand Trends report, India remained cautious on gold buying in 2015 as demand remained nearly flat at 848.9 tonnes compared to the previous year 828.5 tonnes.
  • In 2015, gold demand was valued at Rs. 2,02,910 crore as against Rs. 2,05,750 crore in 2014.
  • Total gold jewellery demand in the country for 2015 was up 5.26% to 654.3 tonnes compared with 621.6 tonnes in 2014. In value terms, jewellery demand in 2015 was Rs. 1,56,395.35 crore, a marginal rise of 1.31% from 2014 at Rs. 1,54,368.37 crore.
  • Total gold recycled in India in Q4 2015 was 20 tonnes compared to 22.5 tonnes in Q4 2014.

Economy Current Affairs February 1st week 2016

1) TCS, Infosys, Wipro join Obama`s `computer science for all` plan.

  • Three major Indian IT companies - Infosys, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro have joined US President Barack Obama`s ambitious `computer science for all` initiative as part of a public-private collaboration, pledging thousands of dollars in grants.
  • Obama announced his `Computer Sciences for All` plan in his weekly address as he emphasized on the need for teaching the subject as a "basic skill" to all children across schools in the country in a changing economy.
  • While Infosys has pledged a $1 million in donation, Tata Consultancy Services is providing support in the form of grants to teachers in 27 US cities.
  • Wipro announced a $2.8 million grant for multi-year project in partnership with the Michigan University to involve over a hundred school teachers, with the aim of nurturing excellence in science and mathematics.
 
2) Jet Airways launches booking feature ``Fare Lock``.
  • Jet Airways, has introduced a new booking feature called ‘Fare lock’, which allows the passengers the flexibility to retain a selected fare for a limited period of time before confirming the purchase at a later date.
  • Once a passenger selects the FareLock option, he will need to pay a nominal fee for availing the same. The fee is Rs. 350 for domestic flights and Rs. 700 for an international ticket to “lock the fare”.
  • The passenger can return to the website anytime within the next 72 hours and confirm the purchase at the pre-selected fares by using the Manage Booking option.
  • Jet Airways has become the first airline to launch this innovative feature and it is available across its network. 
  • FareLock can be accessed on the Jet Airway’s online platforms, its website jetairways.com, the mobile site and the mobile app. 
 
3) TRAI suggests the public-private partnership model for BharatNet.
  • In a bid to speed up the implementation of the national optical fibre project, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended public-private partnership (PPP) model. The project is being executed by BSNL, RailTel and Power Grid.
  • This is contrary to the proposals made by an expert committee last year, which had suggested a model wherein the Central public sector units in some States and the private sector be roped in under engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts.
  • At present, a special purpose vehicle Bharat Broadband Network Ltd (BBNL) under Telecom Ministry is handling roll out of optical fibre network.
  • TRAI also said the task of rolling out broadband network should be given to a concessionaire selected through reverse bidding process to arrive at fund to be provided by the government. 
 
4) Financial tech firm Global Analytics looking to kick-start lending operations in India.
  • Global Analytics, a US-based financial technology company delivering online financial products in the UK, wants to be an alternative money lender in India by providing short-term credit to customers.
  • In India, it will lend largely to those who don’t get loans from banks. They can use the money for medical emergencies, paying rental deposits, and so on.
  • The company started a beta site Moneyhaat.com to test how people search for credit online. It is exploring tie-ups with NBFCs and banks.
  • Founded by professionals from the credit-risk scoring, fraud detection and predictive analytics domains, the company gradually moved to lending.
  • In the UK, it offers short-term credit to customers who do not have access to mainstream credit. The amount could be $200 to $2,000 for six months. At any point in time it serves 100,000 to 150,000 active customers in the UK.
 
5) ITC to set up property in Sri Lanka to mark overseas hotel debut.
  • ITC Ltd plans its first overseas hotel at Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2018. The Sri Lankan property will be a super-premium one and branded as “ITC”.
  • Apart from Sri Lanka the company also exploring other overseas destinations such as Dubai, Far East nations and Europe.
  • ITC Hotels, whose commitment to responsible luxury has given it the unique distinction of being the greenest luxury hospitality chain in the world, has four brands. “ITC Hotels” for the super premium luxury ones, “WelcomHotels” for business and leisure travellers, “Fortune Hotels” in the mid-market to upscale properties and WelcomHeritage through which it runs a chain of palaces, forts, ‘havelis’ and resorts. 
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6) Alphabet officially dethrones Apple as the world’s most valuable company.

  • Alphabet, the company that owns Google, has overtaken rival Apple to become the highest valued company in the world. Alphabet now comes before Apple atop the list of the world’s most valuable companies.
  • Operating income from its core businesses rose 23% in 2015. Investors liked what they saw and shares spiked 8% in after-hours trading. 
  • Alphabet generated $21.3 billion in revenue, beating Wall Street estimates of $20.8 billion. Earnings were $8.67 per share, beating estimates of $8.09 per share. The company attributed its strong revenue growth to search ads, YouTube and programmatic advertising.
  • By changing its name and structure last year, Alphabet Chief Executive Officer Larry Page has put the focus on the company’s main web business while giving more insight into investments in new areas such as artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, health technology and fast Internet access. 
  • Google and Apple have worked to improve mobile computing, and their competition has seen Apple’s iOS smartphone operating system fight out against Google’s own Android for dominance since the latter emerged on the market in 2008 and became the system of choice for Samsung. 
 
7) Govt sets up two new tax committees to bring coherence in policies.
  • The government has set up two new committees - Tax Policy Research Unit and Tax Policy Council in order to bring coherence and streamline the direct and indirect tax policy and administration.
  • These committees have been constituted based on the recommendation of the Tax Administration Reform Commission (TARC) on taxation reform.
About Tax Policy Research Unit: 
  1. The TPRU will be headed by Revenue Secretary. It will carry out studies on various topics of fiscal and tax policies.
  2. TPRU will be a multi-disciplinary body to examine and analyse any fiscal or tax policy referred by the CBDT and CBEC and also prepare and disseminate policy papers and background papers on various taxation issues.
  3. TPRU will include officials from the CBDT and the CBEC as well as economists, statisticians, operational researchers and legal experts.
About Tax Policy Council (TPC):
  1. The TPC will help the government in identifying key policy decisions for taxation. It shall aim to have a consistent and coherent approach to the issue of tax policy.
  2. It will look at all the research findings coming from TPRU and suggest broad policy measures for taxation.
  3. The council will be headed by Union Finance Minister. It shall have 9 members – Minister of State for Finance, Commerce Minister, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman, Chief Economic Advisor and Finance Secretary.
 
8) CBDT signs two bilateral advance pricing agreements with UK.
  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has entered into two bilateral Advance Pricing Agreements (APAs) with United Kingdom. 
  • The two bilateral APAs were signed with two Indian group entities of a UK based Multi-National Company (MNC). 
  • The APAs have been entered into soon after the Competent Authorities of India and United Kingdom finalised the terms of the bilateral arrangement under the Mutual Agreement Procedure (MAP) process contained in the India-UK DTAA.
  • With the signing of the bilateral APAs, the two Indian companies have been provided with tax certainty for 12 years each (5 years under MAP and 7 years under APA).
  • With this signing, CBDT has so far signed 41 APAs out of which 38 are unilateral and 3 are bilateral. 
 
9) Reliance Entertainment, Neeraj Pandey join hands to form film production venture.
  • Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Entertainment announced a joint venture with film-maker producer duo Neeraj Pandey and Shital Bhatia’s Friday Filmworks for production of movies.
  • Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Rustom’ will be the first movie under the banner, Plan C Studios. Plan C Studios will be an equal partnership joint venture between these two.
  • Reliance Entertainment has produced, distributed and released more than 170 films in multiple Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali. Internationally, it has partnered with iconic film producer and director Steven Spielberg.
 
10) Craftsvilla acquires sendd for $4.5 Million.
  •  Mumbai-based ethnic e-tailer, Craftsvilla, has acquired Mumbai-based on-demand shipping service provider startup Sendd for about $4.5 Million.
About Sendd:
  1. Sendd was founded by Nav Agrawal (IIT Bombay dropout), Sumeet Wadhwa (IIT Bombay Alumni) and Sargun Singh (IIT Bombay Alumni) in April 2015. 
  2. Sendd is an on-demand shipping services startup, allowing users to send parcels. The company had launched its B2C product in April and had later pivoted to B2B in August 2015.
  3. Sendd had its services in Mumbai and was enabling over 1,500 orders a day with average ticket size being INR 160, before getting acquired.
About Craftsvilla:
  • Craftsvilla was founded by Manoj and Monica Gupta in 2011. It counts Sequoia India, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, Global Founders Capital and Apoletto among its investors.
 

 

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11) BSE, IFC jointly develop corporate governance scorecard.

  • The scorecard seeks to help companies assay their corporate governance performances against national or international-benchmarked practices.
  • It can be used to make board processes more efficient, improve strategy, aid decision-making, and manage risks. Companies can better understand the way in which governance affects their operations.
  • The scorecard can be used by a wide range of stakeholders, including regulators, promoters, and investors.
  • IFC is implementing a South Asia Regional Corporate Governance Project with donor support from Japan’s Ministry of Finance.
  • This five-year project provides advisory services to individual firms and partners with local institutions, such as the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, to strengthen sector-level work on corporate governance. 
 
12) Dhirubhai Ambani Centre for Innovation and Research in Bangalore.
  1. Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani announced the establishment of the first-ever of its kind in the private sector in India “Dhirubhai Ambani Centre for Innovation and Research in Aerospace” at Whitefield in Bengaluru.
  2. The centre would also generate more than 1,500 highly skilled jobs and support government’s plan for indigenous design, development and manufacture of defence equipment.
 
13) Birla Corporation Acquires cement arm of Reliance Infra.
  • Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra) has sold its cement business arm to Birla Corporation for Rs. 4,800 crore.
  • RInfra has announced the signing of share purchase agreement with Birla Corporation Limited, the flagship Company of the M P Birla Group, in relation to 100 percent sale of its subsidiary RCCPL.
  • RCCPL has an integrated cement capacity of 5.08 million tonne per annum (MTPA) at Maihar, Madhya Pradesh and Kundanganj, Uttar Pradesh and a grinding unit of 0.5 Mtpa at Butibori, Maharashtra. 
  • Under this transaction Birla Corporation Ltd will acquire the 100 per cent shareholding of RInfra in RCCPL. The transaction is subject to approval of the Competition Commission of India and other applicable regulatory approvals.
About RInfra:
  1. RInfra is one of the largest infrastructure companies, developing projects through various special purpose vehicles (SPVs) in several high growth sectors such as power, roads, metro rail, cement and defence.
About Birla Corporation:
  1. Birla Corporation has presence across cement and jute and cement constitutes over 90 per cent of the company’s revenues. With a total operational cement capacity of 10 MTPA, it has units in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.