Forbes released 2016 30 Under 30 List; 45 Indian-origin people figured

  • Forbes on 4 January 2016 released the 2016 30 Under 30 List featuring 600 men and women who achieved remarkable professional success before attaining 30 years of age. They were chosen from an initial screening list of more than 15000 representing a gamut of 20 segments that include art & style, finance, sports, education, etc.
  • The list includes John Boyega (Hollywood & Entertainment category), Shawn Mendes (Music), Emerson Spartz (Media) among others.
  • Further, 45 Indians and Indian-origin people figured in the annual compilation for their entrepreneurial spirit and breakout talents.
Indian-origin people figured in the list are,
  1. Ritesh Agarwal, OYO Rooms CEO
  2. Karishma Shah, Alphabet’s Google X
  3. Divya Nettimi, Viking Global Investors
  4. Nisha Chittal, MSNBC
  5. Ashish Patel, NowThis Media
  6. Saagar Govil, CEO of Cemtrex

Cabinet okays India-Singapore MoU on civil aviation

  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its ex-post facto approval for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that was signed with Singapore in the field of civil aviation.
  • This MoU was signed in November 2015 between the Airports Authority of India (on behalf of the Government of India) and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (on behalf of the Government of Singapore) during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Singapore.
  • The objective of this MoU is to establish mutual cooperation in the field of civil aviation, which will cover, to begin with, the airports of Jaipur and Ahmedabad. This cooperation will be extended to other airports with mutual consent.
  • The Union Cabinet also gave its nod for post-facto approval to the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between the Corporate Affairs Ministry, Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) with foreign countries/organisations.
  • The Union Cabinet has been apprised of the protocol signed earlier between India and Czech Republic in the field of heavy industry, especially in industrial cooperation and facilities construction.
  • The protocol includes the intent for modernisation of the existing facilities in India by the Czech companies, including modernisation of three plants of Heavy Engineering Corporation, a Central Public Sector Enterprises under the Department of Heavy Industries at Ranchi, set up with Czech support

Union Cabinet approved Stand Up India Scheme

  • The Union Cabinet on 6 January 2016 approved the Stand Up India Scheme to promote entrepreneurship among Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes and Women entrepreneurs.
  • The Scheme is intended to facilitate at least two projects per bank branch, on an average one for each category of entrepreneur. It is expected to benefit at least 2.5 lakh borrowers. The expected date of reaching the target of at least 2.5 lakh approvals is 36 months from the launch of the Scheme.
  • It provides for refinance window through Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) with an initial amount of 10000 crore rupees. It will create credit guarantee mechanism through the National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company (NCGTC). It will provide support for borrowers both at the pre loan stage and during operations.
  • It will provide support for borrowers both at the pre loan stage and during operations. Its focus is on hand-holding support for both SC/ST and Women borrowers.
  • The aim is to leverage institutional credit structure to reach out under-served sectors of the population by facilitating bank loans repayable up to 7 years and between 10 lakh rupees- 100 lakh rupees for greenfield enterprises in nonfarm sector set up by such SC, ST and Women borrowers.
  • The National Credit Guarantee Trustee Company Ltd (NCGTC) will be the operating agency for the loan. Margin money of the composite loan would be up to 25 percent. The Start up India Stand up India initiative was announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech on 15 August 2015.

Andhra Bank launched Immediate Payment Service

  • i. Andhra Bank on 6 January 2016 launched Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) across all its branches in association with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). The service makes payments possible within fraction of seconds with all the standards and integrity maintained for security.
  • ii. The IMPS was enabled across all branches to provide inter-bank electronic fund transfer service capable of processing person to account remittances.
  • iii. Unlike National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT), IMPS will be available round-the-clock under which a real-time instant fund transfer system for inter-bank remittances is possible. The maximum cap of transaction will be 2 lakh rupees and charged at the rate of five rupees per transaction.
  • iv. National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) is an umbrella organization for all retail payments system in India. It was set up with the guidance and support of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA).
  • v. Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) is one of the electronic funds transfer systems of India. It was started in November 2010. The service enables an instant, 24X7, interbank electronic fund transfer through mobile, internet and ATM.

World's largest blue star sapphire discovered in Sri Lanka

  • i. The world's largest blue star sapphire that weighs 1404.49 carats was discovered in a mine in Sri Lanka. The sapphire was found in August 2015 near Ratnapura city in the South of Sri Lanka.
  • ii. The stone is worth at an estimated cost of 100 million US dollars but could be valued up to 165 million US dollars.
  • iii. The sapphire has been named as The Star of Adam by its current owner. The name came from a Muslim belief that Adam arrived in Sri Lanka after being sent away from the Garden of Eden. As per the myth, Adam lived on the slopes of a mountain now known as Adam’s Peak, about 15 miles from Ratnapura.
  • iv. The Star of Adam Sapphire has also been certified by the Gemology Institute of Columbo, Sri Lanka.
  • v. A star sapphire is a type of sapphire that has a star in the middle due to a light reflection phenomenon known as asterism. The value of a star sapphire depends on the weight of the stone and also on the body color, visibility, and intensity of the asterism.

CCI cleared Reliance Capital-Goldman Sachs deal

  • i. The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on 5 January 2016 gave its approval to Reliance Capital Asset Management's proposed acquisition of Goldman Sachs' mutual fund business in India for 243 crore rupees. CCI approved the acquisition as the deal may not have an adverse impact on competition in the country.
  • ii. After CCI’s nod, Reliance Capital Asset Management (RCAM) will seek the final nod of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to complete the takeover.
  • iii. RCAM had announced the acquisition in October 2015. Under the deal, the company will acquire all 12 onshore mutual fund schemes of Goldman Sachs Asset Management India with total asset under management of 7132 crore rupees.
  • iv. The deal will also make Reliance MF the exclusive fund manager for the government's ambitious Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE) Exchange.
  • v. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. is an American multinational investment banking firm. It engages in global investment banking, securities, investment management and other financial services primarily with institutional clients.
  • vi. The firm provides mergers and acquisitions advice, underwriting services, asset management, and prime brokerage to its clients. The firm also engages in market making and private equity deals, and is a primary dealer in the United States Treasury security market.

Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman topped 2015 US Bestseller List

  • i. The book Go Set a Watchman written by Harper Lee was in news in the first week of January 2016 as it topped the 2015 US bestseller list. Around 1.6 million copies of the book were sold in the USA since it was published in July 2015. The figures were based on US print unit sales reported to Nielsen.
  • ii. Go Set a Watchman was published more than half a century after Harper’s Pulitzer-winning first book, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published.
  • iii. The spike in the sales of Go Set a Watchman can be attributed to the fact that 89-year-old Harper Lee is now confined to a nursing home and may not publish a word in future.
  • iv. The second and third bestseller in the list was Jeff Kinney’s Diary of Wimpy Kid series (1.48 million copies) and British author EL James’ Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian (1.4 million) respectively.

Australia pulled out of U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh due to safety concerns

  • i. Australia on 5 January 2016 withdrew from the Under-19 World Cup Tournament in Bangladesh. It pulled-out citing security reasons. The decision was announced by Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland who said the decision was taken after monitoring the security situation in Bangladesh. 
  • ii. The tournament is scheduled to happen from 22 January to 14 February 2016. ICC announced that Australia will be replaced by Ireland team – the runners-up in the qualifying tournament in Kuala Lumpur in October 2015.
  • iii. The first matches of the event will start on 27 January 2016 in which England will play against Fiji and Bangladesh will play against South Africa. It will be the eleventh edition of the Under-19 Cricket World Cup, and the second to be held in Bangladesh, after the 2004 event.
  • iv. Earlier in October 2015, Cricket Australia had cancelled senior men's Test tour of Bangladesh for similar reasons. It seems that the decision was made after a series of militant violent attacks in the country since September 2015, including the shooting of three foreigners, two of whom died.

Union Government launched Ganga Gram Yojana in Uttar Pradesh

  • i. The Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti on 5 January 2016 launched Ganga Gram Yojana at Village Puth in Hapur district of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Under the scheme, 1600 villages of UP situated along the banks of river Ganga will be developed.
  • ii. In the first phase of the progamme, 200 villages have been selected initially. In these villages, open drains falling into river Ganga will be diverted and alternative arrangements for sewage treatment will be made. The villages will have toilets in every house hold.
  • iii. It is proposed to incur the expenditure of 1 crore rupees on every village. These villages will be developed under the Sichewal model. Sichewal is situated in Punjab, where cooperation of the villagers has been solicited for the water management and waste disposal.
  • iv. The Ministry also deployed first company of Ganga Task force Battalion at Garhmukteshwar as a major initiative towards fast track implementation of Namami Gange Programme. Moreover, three such companies will be soon deployed at Kanpur, Varanasi and Allahabad.

India keen to promote operational oceanography: Minister

  • i. Government is keen to promote operational oceanography since it plays an important role in translating the benefits of science for the common public, Y S Chowdary, Minister of State for Science, Technology & Earth Sciences said here today.
  • ii. A few examples being potential fishing zones advisories to fishermen, ocean state forecasts for mariners, tsunami and storm surge early warnings among others, the minister was quoted as saying by an official release. 
  • iii. Chowdary performed 'bhoomipujan' or ground breaking ceremony for setting up the international training centre for operational oceanography (ITCO-Ocean) which is coming up on the campus of Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services ( INCOIS) here. 

Wayne Rooney named 2015 England Player of the Year

  • i. Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has been voted 2015 England Player of the Year for the fourth time after breaking his country's scoring record, the Football Association announced on Tuesday, January 5.
  • ii. The 30-year-old took his England tally to 51 goals, breaking Bobby Charlton's longstanding record of 49, and top-scored with 7 goals as Roy Hodgson's side qualified for Euro 2016 with a perfect record of 10 wins.
  • iii. Rooney, England's captain, received 37 percent of the votes in a poll of England Supporters Club members. He previously won the award in 2008, 2009 and 2014. "To win this award is always a huge honour and to win it for a fourth time is something I'm very proud of," Rooney said on his personal website.
  • iv. "The fact it's voted for by the fans is what makes it very special for me. It's been a great year for the team and for me personally. "I would like to thank all the fans for their continued support and hopefully 2016 will be an even better year!"
  • v. Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland, who has produced some impressive performances this season, was elected the Under-21s Player of the Year. Rooney and Butland, 22, will be presented with their awards prior to England's friendly against Germany in Berlin on March 26.

Apurvi Chandela sets a world record to win gold at Swedish Grand Prix

  • i. Indian shooter Apurvi Chandela broke the world record on way to winning gold in the women's 10 metre air rifle event at the Swedish Cup Grand Prix. Chandela shot 211.2 in the event held on Tuesday to surpass the feat of Chinese Olympic gold medallist Yi Siling, who held the record with 211.
  • ii. The result marked a positive start for Chandela, who has already won an Olympic quota place for the Rio Olympics. The silver and bronze went to Swedish shooters Astrid Steffensen (207.6) and Stine Nielsen (185.0).
  • iii. An elated Chandela said: "This gold at Sweden has further strengthened my resolve to bag a medal at the Rio Olympics this year. The support, encouragement and wishes received from my well wishers from Rajasthan has stood me in good stead in various international tournaments."
  • iv. Chandela had won the gold at the National Championships in the Capital last month. She had won an Olympic quota place for India after winning a bronze at the ISSF World Cup in Changwon, South Korea, in April.
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