Current Affairs 1st April 2016 - Banking, SSC, UPSC Affairs

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Indian-American Nandita Bakhshi was appointed as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of the West, a unit of French banking giant BNP Paribas. Her appointment was announced by the bank on 16 March 2016.She will take over the roles of President and CEO-designate effective from 1 April 2016 and will assume the role on 1 June 2016.Bakhshi succeeded Michael Shepherd who will take on the role of Chairman of BNP Paribas USA, the new holding company for all BNP Paribas subsidiaries in the US. Shepherd will continue to serve as Chairman of BancWest Corporation and of Bank of the West.Nandita Bakshi earned a bachelor's degree in History at the University of Calcutta and masters in International Relations and Affairs at Jadavpur University.A New England News 'Woman of the Year' award recipient, Bakhshi also serves on the board of the Consumer Bankers Association. She previously held several leadership roles at different top Banks in US likeExecutive Vice President and Head of Consumer Banking at TD Bank in the USExecutive Vice President and Head of North American Direct Channels Executive Vice President of Consumer Deposits and Payments at Washington Mutual in Seattle, now JP Morgan ChaseShe also held leadership positions at FleetBoston, now Bank of America, as well as at First Data Corp., where she was the managing director of their mobile payments division.Bank of the West is a regional financial services company chartered in California and headquartered in San Francisco with 75.7 billion dollar in assets as of 31 December 2015. Founded in 1874, Bank of the West provides a wide range of personal, commercial, wealth management and international banking services through more than 600 offices in 22 states and digital channels. Bank of the West is a subsidiary of BNP Paribas, which has a presence in 75 countries with 185000 employees

Haldhar Nag, the 66-year-old poet in Kosli language, was in news in the last week of March 2016. He came in news after President Pranab Mukherjee on 28 March 2016 conferred Padma Shri 2016 on him at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.He was bestowed with third highest civilian honour for his contribution in Literature & Education section.In Odisha, he is known as Lok Kabi Ratna and has penned down 20 epics and several poems. He remembers all his creations and can recite them at any point of time.He wrote his first poem 'Dhodo Bargachh' (The Old Banyan Tree) in 1990, which was published in a local magazine. He wrote it while selling stationeries and eatables for school students from a small shop owned by him.He sent four poems to the magazine and all of them got published. Born in a poor family of Ghens in Bargarh district of Odisha in 1950, Nag could attend school only up to Class-III. Five scholars have based their PhD research on his works.He draws his themes from the rustic surroundings and mostly writes on nature, society, religion and mythology. He also takes up the cause of the oppressed and social reforms through his writings.Besides, Sambalpur University is coming up with a compilation of his writings, titled Haldhar Granthabali-2. This compilation will be a part of the university's syllabus.Kosli Language : Kosli also known as Sambalpuri, is the western-variation of Odia language. It came into existence for the first time in the year 1891 via a weekly magazine "Sambalpur Hiteisani" published from Debagarh. It was titled Sambalpur Anchalar Praachin Kabitaa, written by Madhusudan.In the Census of India - 2001, the Kosli language is shown as a mother tongue grouped under Oriya.Kosli Language Movement : For promotion of the Kosli language, few people from different sections of society in districts of Western Odisha (Kosal) have been campaigning for the last five decades. This campaign is termed as the Kosli language movement and aims at recognition for the Kosli language and its inclusion in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India.The movement was started by people like Prayag Dutta Joshi, Nilamadhab Panigrahi and others.

The Ministry of AYUSH has selected six states, including Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat for a pilot project to offer treatment for non-communicable diseases under the Indian medicine systems.Under the project facilities would be set up in every district of select states to take up screening for identifying people suffering from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer etc and provide treatment under AYUSH (Aurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy).Inaugurating 'Kasyapa Ayurvedic and Therapeutic Yoga Research Centre' here, Naik said the proposed facility would have all Indian traditional medicinal systems for providing an integrated treatment in which Yoga will be common along with any one of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha or Homeopathy suitable for curing the disease. Besides, these facilities would also take up treatment of select chronic diseases. For diseases not covered by them, the patients would be referred to Primary Health Centres (PHCs). Naik said his ministry has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi Rs 2,500 crore in addition to the budgetary allocation this year to improve AYUSH facilities in a big way to cope with the increased demand for traditional Indian medicine systems and also expand facilities in rural areas. There was good demand from people abroad for traditional medicine system, he said pointing that about 30-35 per cent of the spas offering these facilities were occupied by foreigners. "We have MoUs with 20 countries for promoting AYUSH while 25 Chairs are functioning worldwide taking various activities related to ancient Hindu traditional medicinal systems," he said. Fifteen researchers from the US had also come to the country for research on treatment for cancer through Ayurveda, he said explaining the growing demand for AYUSH across the globe. To cope with demand for AYUSH, the government decided to provide financial support to those including individuals, institutions and NGOs, taking up herbs and medicinal plants cultivation.

India’s largest e-commerce company Flipkart has acquired PhonePe, a Bengaluru-based mobile payments company, which was co-founded by ex-Flipkart employees Sameer Nigam and Rahul Chari. The financial details of the acquisition were not divulged.PhonePe is building India’s a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) based product, which is, planned to go live in April. The interface will allow users to transact using their unique identification and mobile phone number or virtual payments address without sharing any other bank details.“Payments has been one of the biggest hurdles for mass adoption of online shopping in India. UPI has the potential of transforming the entire payments ecosystem in the country. The acquisition of PhonePe is in-line with Flipkart’s focus on driving innovation on the payments front. I am delighted that two Flipkart veterans – Sameer and Rahul are at the helm of this initiative,” Binny Bansal, CEO, Flipkart, said.The PhonePe team will transition to Flipkart but will function as an independent business unit, the company said in a statement.

New Zealand cricket all-rounder Grant Elliot has announced his retirement from ODIs on April 1,2016.The highlight of Elliott's international career came in his final year of ODI cricket, after he received a surprise recall for the 2015 World Cup; Elliott had not played an ODI since November 2013. In the innings of his life - an unbeaten 84 off 73 balls - against his country of birth, South Africa, at Eden Park, Elliott propelled New Zealand into their first World Cup final. With five runs needed of two balls, Elliott put Dale Steyn over long-on even as cricket's popularity hit unprecedented highs in New Zealand. "I've said it time and time again, this is the greatest time of our lives as players," McCullum said after that dramatic win.Eliott had also played a heroic role in New Zealand's run to the final in the Champions Trophy in 2009, a year after his international debut. Nursing a broken thumb, Elliott made a match-winning 75 not out on a cracked Wanderers surface against Pakistan.He finishes his ODI career with 1976 runs in 83 matches, including two centuries and 11 half-centuries, at an average of 34.06. He had said in September 2015 that he would reassess his international career following the 2016 World T20.

Mumbai is set to open the country's first international arbitration centre in August, posing a direct challenge to Singapore which is the favoured location currently for Indian businesses and wealthy families to settle disputes out of court. The arbitration centre would also be a step towards India's aim to establish Mumbai as an international finance centre, along with the GIFT city of Gujarat. According to the people involved in the Mumbai project, every finance centre -be it in Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong or London -has the support of an international arbitration centre. It is estimated that an Indian company or promoter is involved in more than a fifth of arbitration cases filed every year in Singapore. Most of the arbitration cases from India are over dispute between private equity firms and investee companies, and in some instances, the dispute is between family members, industry trackers .People in the know said it has rented around 9,000 sq ft in south Mumbai's Express Towers to operate the arbitration centre. MCIA chief executive Madhukeshwar Desai, confirming the plan to commence operations by August, sa id the centre would compete internationally . "We have incorporated a competitive fee structure in our rules and by administering the rules and assisting the tribunal, we will efficiently resolve disputes within stricter deadlines," said Desai, who is also the national VP of the BJP youth wing and great grandson of former PM Morarji Desai. It is expected the central government would make an announcement on the arbitration centre in April.Earlier this year, it amended the law so that an international arbitration centre can operate from India.MCIA is targeting annual revenue of around Rs 200 crore, mainly by attracting Indians who otherwise go to Singapore. 

Union Government on 31 March 2016 released the Indian Intellectual Property (IP) Panorama in New Delhi. It is a single window interface for information on Intellectual Property and guidance on leveraging it for competitive advantage.The Indian IP Panorama can be accessed on http://ict-ipr.in/index.php/ip-panoramaIt seeks to increase awareness and build sensitivity towards Intellectual Property, among stakeholders in the SME sector, academia and researchers.The following five modules of the Indian IP Panorama were released:Importance of IP for SMEs, Trademark,Industrial design, Invention and Patent and Patent Information.The Indian IP Panorama was developed under the aegis of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under Union Government by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), in close coordination with the Indian IP office.It is a customized version of IP Panorama Multimedia toolkit which was developed by World Intellectual Property Organization, Korean Intellectual Property Office and Korea Invention Promotion Association.The toolkit was adapted to cater to SMEs and start-ups, especially in the ICTE sector of India, based on an agreement signed between WIPO and DeitY.The Indian IP Panorama is thus a customized version of WIPO’s original product and is in accordance with Indian IP laws, standards, challenges and needs of the Indian ICTE sector.India is a member of WIPO and party to several treaties administered by WIPO.Recognizing that the strategic use of intellectual property could contribute significantly to the national development objectives of India, DIPP entered into an MoU with WIPO on 13 November 2009.The Indian IP office has been recognised as an International Searching Authority and International Preliminary Examining Authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty as in force from 15 October 2013.It may be recalled that a leading Indian consumer electronics company, Micromax Informatics Limited was recognized with the 1.25 millionth international trademark under WIPO’s Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks.India acceded to Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks at WIPO on 8 July 2013.The Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks (Madrid system) offers trademark owners a cost effective, user friendly and streamlined means of protecting and managing their trademark portfolio internationally.

Union Finance Ministry on 30 March 2016 extended the safeguard duty on steel imports until March 2018. The duty was imposed to protect domestic manufacturers from cheap Chinese imports.The central board of excise and customs in its notification said that the duty will apply to hot-rolled flat products of non-alloy and other alloy steel in coils of 600 mm width. The safeguard duty will not be imposed on goods that are imported at minimum import price.The safeguard duty will be 20 percent minus any existing dumping duty till September 2016, following which it will be reduced to 18 percent till March 2017, then brought down to 15 percent till September 2017 and eventually to 10 percent by March 2018.Earlier in September 2015, the Government imposed a provisional safeguard import duty on some steel products. In February 2016, it also set a minimum floor price for steel imports for six months to make sure that domestic producers are not hurt by cheaper imports from China.In financial year 2014-15, steel imports grew 71 percent of with China accounting for almost 36 percent of the total imports. In the April-November 2015 period, imports rose 34 percent.

Gujarat Assembly on 31 March 2016 passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Gujarat Amendment) Bill 2016.The bill was passed in the absence of the opposition Congress legislators, who were suspended by the Speaker for two days.One of the key provisions of the Bill is doing away with Social Impact Assessment for projects related to defence and social sectors, such as building air base, defence manufacturing units, schools, roads, canals, affordable houses, and more.The Social Impact Assessment will not be carried out for land acquisition for industrial corridor.The provision of consent of affected parties was disposed off. As per the original central Act, 80 percent of land owners must give their nod for the acquisition of land.As per the new bill, these provisions will not be followed if the land is acquired for public purpose. However, it will remain in place for acquisition related to industrial development.The new bill also has a provision for insertion of Section 23A after Section 23, which essentially gives the district collector the power to decide on the matter of land acquisition and compensation amount without enquiry, with mutual consent of the parties.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on 31 March 2016 launched the Phase I of Green Delhi initiative by planting trees at the Triangular Park at the ITO Chowk.The launch of the initiative is in tune with the Detailed Action Plan (DAP) that was submitted by the Delhi Government to the Supreme Court in December 2015.The DAP deals with the steps being taken to improve air quality and reduce air pollution in the National Capital.Vaccum cleaning of all Public Works Department (PWD) roads will be started at regular intervals starting from 1 April 2016.To avoid dust rising from unpaved footpaths and central verges, the central verges of the 1260 kilometres of road maintained by the PWD will be bedded with grass and greenery. This initiative will include kutcha portion under flyovers.Pollution absorbing shrubs such as Thevetianerefolia (Pila Kaner), Nerium oleander (Lal Kaner), Calliandrabrevipes (Powder puff) and Bougainvilleas and trees such a Ficusinfectoria (Pilkhan), Cassia Siamea will be planted.For the Phase I, from April to May 2016, 2 crore rupees were allocated by the Government.The Phase II will cover the remaining parts that are not covered by the Phase I and will be executed between July 2016 and September 2016.

India and Sri Lanka on 31 March 2016 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide 150 fishing boats and fishing equipment to 300 Tamil fishermen from Mullaithivu in North Sri Lanka.The boats and equipment will be provided as a part of India’s development assistance programme in Sri Lanka.The MoU was inked in Colombo at the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development.Now, the Indian High Commission to Sri Lanka will float a tender to procure the items through a competitive bidding process. The project will cost 100 million Sri Lankan Rupees.Earlier, India had provided 175 boats and fishing equipment to Tamil fishermen of Mannar region.

The Legislative Assembly of Haryana on 31 March 2016 passed the Haryana Municipal (Amendment) Bill, 2016.The bill seeks to amend the amend Section 13 A of the Haryana Municipal Act, 1973 and Section 8 of the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act, 1994.Haryana Municipal (Amendment) Bill, 2016 : Any male person desiring to contest for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in Haryana must possess matriculation as the minimum education qualification.A woman and a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate will be required to be at least 8th standard pass.Minimum educational qualification for SC women candidates will be 5th standard pass.Candidates contesting the elections to ULBs should file a self declaration that they have the provision of a functional toilet at the residence.The minimum educational qualification and requirement of toilet for contesting Urban Local Bodies are aimed at improving performance of members.The bill is built on the foundation laid by the Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Act, 2015 that prescribed similar qualifications for contesting candidates in Panchayati Raj elections.

Congress senior MLA J Geeta Reddy was on 31 March 2016 appointed as the Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Telangana.She will be the first woman legislator to be appointed for the post in India.Previously, Congress MLA Patolla Kista Reddy was the first chairman of PAC of newly formed Telangana State. After his death, the post was occupied by Ramreddy Venkat Reddy who was also a senior leader from Congress. But the position fell vacant again after Venkat Reddy passed away on 4 March 2016 due to illness.The Committee on Public Accounts is constituted by Legislative Assembly each year for examination of accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by  Legislative Assembly for expenditure of State Government.It scrutinises the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General , and comprises of 30 members drawn from both the Assembly and Legislative Council.As a convention, the panel is always headed by senior legislator from the opposition party.

The fourth edition of Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) began in Washington, United States to discuss a gamut of issues pertaining to nuclear security. In this edition of summit, heads of about 53 countries and representatives of five international organisations including the UNO, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), European Union (EU), Interpol  are taking part. India is being represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the two-day summit. The fourth summit is the last summit under the current format and also under the presidency of Barack Obama.The summit will highlight achievements and commitments of several countries towards safeguarding nuclear devices and technologies and reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism. This edition of summit is expected to take stock of the measures being taken by all countries to safeguard nuclear materials and facilities and also prevent non-state actors gaining access to them. It is also a crucial element of the US strategy to keep terrorists from acquiring fissile material to make nuclear weapons. The prime focus of the summit will be on North Korea and the terrorist organisation ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).The idea of Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) was mooted by the US President Barack Obama in 2009 and the first summit was held in 2010 in Washington. It is a signature event of global diplomacy in Obama’s presidency that aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism around the globe. India has been contributing its bit to strengthen nuclear security by taking an active part in the summit ever since its inception in 2010. The second, third summits were held in Seoul (South Korea) and The Hague (Netherlands) in 2010, 2012 and 2014 respectively.Motivated countries to tighten national laws, rules pertaining to nuclear safety, launch Nuclear Safety Fund (NSF) and set up Nuclear Safety training and Support Centres to impart training in safe use of nuclear devices. Helped countries to enhance physical protection at 650 international radiological facilities and 32 nuclear plants besides putting in place radioactive detection equipment at 328 border crossings, airports and seaports across the globe.

Indian Direct Selling Association (IDSA) announced its new Executive Committee at the General Body Meeting held in New Delhi. Jitendra Jagota, Director Legal and Government Affairs, Avon Beauty Products India Pvt. Ltd has been has become the Chairman of the Association.He succeeds Rajat Banerji, National Head Corporate Affairs, Amway India Enterprises, who congratulated and welcomed the in-coming Chairman.The new executive committee comprises of Vice Chairman, Vivek Katoch, Director Corporate Affairs, Oriflame, Treasurer, Rajat Banerji, National Head Corporate Affairs, Amway India Enterprises and Secretary Rini Sanyal, Head, Worldwide Regulatory, Govt. and Industry Affairs, India, Herbalife, along with Jitendra as the new Chairman.The new executive committee also welcomed Amit Chadha, who has been recently appointed as the Secretary General of the Association; a Non-elected member of the IDSA board.The elected members of the Indian Direct Selling Association will each serve one-year term for financial year 2016-17.

The Government of Japan has committed a loan of JPY 242.2 billion (around Rs.14,251 crore) for various projects across India, including Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and the North East. The Official Development Assistance is to be deployed for a transmission system strengthening project in Madhya Pradesh, an integrated sanitation improvement project in Odisha, a dedicated freight corridor project, a road network connectivity improvement project in the North East, and a micro drip irrigation project in Jharkhand, according to a government release on Thursday.“The Government of Japan has committed a total of JPY 390 billion in the current financial year which is the highest amount committed in a year.” India and Japan have had mutually beneficial economic development cooperation since 1958. In the last few years, economic cooperation between India and Japan has strengthened and grown into a strategic partnership.

The government has approved Vijaya Bank capital infusion of Rs 220 crore in lieu of preferential allotment of shares .Government has decided to infuse capital funds to the tune of Rs 220 crore in Vijaya Bank by way of preferential allotment of equity in favour of Government of India as part of capital infusion for financial year 2015-16 .This is part of government's plan to infuse Rs 5,050 crore in public sector banks. In the first tranche, as many as 13 public sectors banks were given fund support of Rs 19,950 crore. Of this, SBI got the highest amount of Rs 5,393 crore. Besides, the government infused Rs 2,229 crore in IDBI Bank , Rs 2,009 crore in Indian Overseas Bank and Rs 1,732 crore in Punjab National Bank. Last year, the government had announced a revamp plan 'Indradhanush' to infuse Rs 70,000 crore in state-owned banks over four years, while they will have to raise a further Rs 1.1 lakh crore from markets to meet their capital requirements in line with global risk norms Basel-III. In line with the blueprint, PSU banks will get Rs 25,000 crore this fiscal and also in the next fiscal. Besides, Rs 10,000 crore each would be infused in 2017-18 and 2018-19. 

Powered by his magnificent knocks in the World Twenty20 so far, Indian batsman Virat Kohli became the top-ranked batsman in the ICC rankings on Tuesday, while India remained static at the No.1 spot in the team list.Kohli, whose average is 92 after scoring 184 runs in four matches at a strike-rate of over 132, had entered the tournament 24 points behind Aaron Finch, but has now opened up a 68-point advantage over the Australian, the ICC said in a statement.In the bowlers’ table, West Indies’ Samuel Badree has displaced Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to return to the number-one position. Badree has taken six wickets in four matches to date, while Ashwin has dropped to third after managing just four wickets in as many matches.Four of the top five sides will feature in the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20, which will be played in Delhi and Mumbai on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.Number-one ranked India will go head to head with third-ranked West Indies in Mumbai on Thursday, while in the first semi-final in Delhi on Wednesday, second-ranked New Zealand will square-off against fifth-ranked England.India have retained their pre-tournament ranking as well as points, while the West Indies have gained two points to move to 120. This means both the former champions, who each won three of their four second round matches, are now separated by seven points.In contrast, New Zealand, who have been the only unbeaten side in the competition so far, have earned six points to rise to 122 and have consequently moved up two places to second.Their semi-final opponent and 2010 champion, England, have also collected three points and are now seven points behind on 115 after winning three of their four matches.

Vietnam's National Assembly (NA) on Thursday elected Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan as the country's first female house speaker.Ngan has been elected and sworn in as the NA Chairperson with 472 "yes" votes out of 481 valid ballots at the ongoing 11th session of the 13th NA, Xinhua news agency reported.Meanwhile, she was also elected as the Chairperson of the National Election Council with 467 "yes" votes out of 477 valid ballots.Prior to the election, Ngan served as Vice Chairperson of the NA from July 2011.

Zaha Hadid, the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gold medal, died on 31 March 2016 due to heart attack in Miami. The Iraqi-born British architect died at the age of 65.In 2004, Hadid became the first woman and first Muslim recipient to win the Pritzker Prize, known as the Nobel for architecture.Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid Born in Baghdad in 31 October 1950, she first studied mathematics at the American University in Lebanon, before pursuing architecture at the Architectural Association in London in 1972.Hadid, who was known for her neofuturistic design, was recently awarded the 2016 Royal Gold Medal in architecture by RIBA.Hadid designed the London Aquatics Centre, which was used during the 2012 London Olympics.She also designed the Al Wakrah Stadium, which is under construction for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.She received the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011.She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2012 for services to architecture.

Kachhabali village in Bhim tehsil of Rajsamand District became the first in Rajasthan to vote to close down its only liquor shop.The polling was conducted by the excise department of the state on 29 March 2016 and around 94% of the voters said that they want a complete ban on the sale of alcohol in the village.The vote was carried out under the Rajasthan Excise Rules, according to which any panchayat can decide to close a liquor shop in the village if 50% of its residents vote for it.The poll was the result of a campaign that started on Republic Day in 2016, led by Geeta, the sarpanch, under whose guidance a voting session had also been organised on 29 February 2016.Invoking of the Rajasthan Excise Act, 1975 : This is the first time the provision of the Rajasthan Excise Act, 1975, that provides for the closure of a country liquor shop, was invoked.Under this provision, 51% of all registered voters, not just those present and voting, should opt to close down the shop.Before the poll is held, at least 20% of the voters of the gram panchayat or municipal ward must seek a referendum on the issue, in a letter to the district collector.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) under Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry on 31 March 2016 launched the Startup India portal http://startupindia.gov.in  and mobile app in New Delhi.The portal and mobile app provide timely information on various notifications and circulars issued by various Government ministries and departments, towards creation of a conducive ecosystem for Startups.They also provide information regarding incubators and funding agencies recognized for the purpose of recommending Startups.A comprehensive list of FAQs is also available to help Startups, Incubators and Funding Agencies use the portal and mobile app more effectively.The Startup India Hub was established within Invest India will be a single point of contact for the entire Startup ecosystem which would enable exchange of knowledge.The Hub will work in a hub and spoke model with Governments, VCs, Angel Funds, Incubators, Mentors, etc.It will assist Startups through their lifecycle, on all aspects, such as providing mentorship, incubator facilities, IPR support, funding etc.The Hub will be operational from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM on working days and can be reached via the toll free number: 1800115565 or the email ID: [email protected] for Startup Recognition: Entities that fulfil the criteria as per the definition of Startup and are incorporated or registered in India, can obtain recognition as a Startupto avail various benefits listed in the Startup India Action Plan.The process of recognition is simple and user friendly and involves a single page application form that a user can fill either through a web interface or through mobile app.Formats of the recommendation or support letters that need to be attached as part of the application form have been published on the portal and mobile app.Real Time Startup Recognition:A real time recognition certificate is provided to Startups on completion of the application process. A digital version of the final certificate of recognition is available for download, through the portal and mobile app.The Startup India initiative was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 16 January 2016 at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. He also released Startup India Action Plan.The Action Plan highlights initiatives envisaged by the Government to develop a conducive Startup ecosystem in the country.As an integral component of the Action Plan, a Startup India portal and mobile app were envisaged to be implemented. The portal and app have accordingly released.

The Tata Steel Board on 30 March 2016 announced plans to explore options to restructure its UK business - Tata Steel UK.The announcement came at the end of performance review meeting of the European business of the Company (Tata Steel Europe), more specifically, of Tata Steel UK.As per the announcement, the Tata Steel Board advised the Board of Tata Steel Europe to explore all options for portfolio restructuring including the potential divestment of Tata Steel UK, in whole or in parts.The Tata Steel Group has extended substantial financial support to the UK business and suffered asset losses to the tune of 2 billion pounds in the last 5 years.Some of the reasons behind the poor performance of Tata Steel UK are -The global steel demand, especially in developed markets like Europe has remained muted following the financial crisis of 2008.Trading conditions in the UK and Europe have rapidly deteriorated due to structural factors including global oversupply of steel and a significant increase in third country exports into Europe.In the last few years, European mills are struggling to contend with a flood of cheap steel exports from China. At present, China accounts for about half of the global output, thus, eroding profits worldwide.High manufacturing costs, continued weakness in domestic market demand in steel and a volatile currency are also some of the other important factors affecting the industry.Tata Steel’s decision is expected to trigger a crisis in the United Kingdom. Tata Steel Europe is the continent’s second largest steel producer and its UK arm is the largest steel manufacturer in the country.At present, it employs about 15000 workers in the UK alone that includes 4000 employees working at the country’s biggest steel plant at Port Talbot in Wales.Tata Steel’s move could have an impact on the country’s closely foughtreferendum, on 23 June 2016, which will decide the UK’s continuance of the membership in the European Union (EU).Tata Steel Group was established in 1907 as Asia's first integrated private sector steel company.At present, it is now the world's second-most geographically-diversified steel producer.Its headquarters is located in Mumbai. It has operations in 26 countries and a commercial presence in over 50 countries.In 2007, it bought UK-based Corus Group Plc. for 12.9 billion US dollars in the biggest acquisition by an Indian company. It has a turnover of 22.32 billion US dollars in FY 2015 and employs over 80000 across five continents.

Htin Kyaw was sworn-in President of Myanmar on 30 March 2016 at a joint session of parliament in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.With this, Aung San Suu Kyi's close aide Kyaw also became the first elected civilian leader to be the President of the country after 53 years of military rule. Army took power in a 1962 coup.Htin Kyaw, 69, from the National League for Democracy (NLD) took over from Thein Sein, who introduced wide-ranging reforms during his five years in power.Although, NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the Presidency, she said that she will rule by proxy. The handover completes the transition that began after the NLD won a landslide win in elections in November 2015.Kyaw was elected as the president of the country by the Myanmar's Parliament on 15 March 2016. Others to sworn-in included Vice-presidents Henry Van Thio and Myint Swe, who lost to Kyaw in the presidential vote on 15 March 2016. They were also sworn in, as were new cabinet ministers. Suu Kyi will be in charge of foreign affairs, the president's office, education, and energy and electric power.Besides, the military also appointed its own nominees for three key ministries namely defence, home affairs and border affairs.

Biocon Ltd on 28 March 2016 announced that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) of Japan approved its biosimilar Insulin Glargine.The approval for Insulin Glargine was obtained post successful completion of initial development by Biocon and local Phase III Clinical Studies in over 250 Type 1 Diabetes patients by its partner FUJIFILM Pharma Co. Ltd (FFP) in Japan.The product will be available in Japan in 2017 in the form of disposable pen with 3 ml of 100IU Insulin Glargine. At present, it is available in India with the brand name Basalog One.With this launch, the company is also aiming to capture a significant share of the Japanese Glargine market of 144 million US dollars.It is the second largest market outside of North America and Europe and is largely dominated by disposable pens.Biocon Ltd is India's largest and fully-integrated, innovation-led biopharmaceutical company.The Bengaluru-based company serves its customers in over 100 countries. Its products are focused on chronic diseases like autoimmune, diabetes and cancer.It has successfully developed and taken a range of novel biologics, biosimilars, differentiated small molecules and affordable recombinant human insulin and analogs from 'Lab to Market'.It has a rich pipeline of biosimilars and novel biologics at various stages of development including high potential oral insulin.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on 29 March 2016 notified Guidelines for 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Business to Business (B2B) e-commerce.The guidelines were issued under the Consolidated FDI Policy Circular 2015 that was notified by the DIPP of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.E-commerce means buying and selling of goods and services including digital products over digital and electronic network.100 percent FDI under automatic route is permitted in marketplace model of e-commerce.FDI is not permitted in inventory based model of e-commerce.Marketplace e-commerce entity will be permitted to enter into transactions with sellers registered on its platform on B2B basis.E-commerce marketplaces may provide support services to sellers in respect of warehousing, logistics, order fulfillment, call centre, payment collection and other services.E-commerce entity providing marketplace will not exercise ownership over the inventory. Such an ownership over the inventory will render the business into inventory based model.An e-commerce entity will not permit more than 25 percent of the sales affected through its marketplace from one vendor to their group companies.Marketplace based model of e-commerce means providing of an information technology platform by an e-commerce entity on a digital and electronic network to act a facilitator between buyer and seller.Inventory based model of e-commerce means e-commerce activity where inventory of goods and services is owned by e-commerce entity and is sold to the consumers directly. Indian Scenario: In India, 100 percent FDI under automatic route is permitted in marketplace model, while no FDI is permitted in inventory based model of e-commerce.In marketplace model, any warrantee or guarantee of goods and services sold will be responsible of the seller.E-commerce entities providing marketplace will not directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods or services and shall remain level playing field.As per the Consolidated FDI Policy Circular 2015, FDI up to 100 percent under automatic route is permitted in B2B e-commerce, while no FDI is permitted in Business to Consumer (B2C) e-commerce.Though this consolidated policy was issued in May 2015 and led to large scale foreign investments in this sector there had been considerable vacuum with respect to operational guidelines of e-commerce platforms. This present guidelines fill that critical gap.

The Chief Minister of Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar on 29 March 2016 launched Project Salamati in Chandigarh. The project seeks to maintain a healthy balance between the births of children by using injectable contraceptive.With this launch, Haryana became the first State in the country to launch injectable contraceptive as part of a government initiative.It is a public sector family planning programme implemented by the Haryana Health Department with the assistance of Pathfinder International and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.Under this initiative, injectable contraceptive will be provided free of cost at all Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres, Sub Divisional and District Hospitals. It seeks to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes among women of reproductive age with a special focus on young women between 15 and 24 years of age.Its objective is to increase demand for and access to quality service provision of family planning mix methods.It will be implemented on a pilot basis in 9 health blocks of four districts of the State. The 9 blocks are - 4 health blocks in district Palwal, 3 in Mewat, Kurali block in Faridabad and Khor block in district Rewari.These districts have been chosen as a pilot project, as Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) are high in these districts compared to other districts.After the success of this project in these health blocks, it would be implemented throughout the State.

The 13th India-European Union summit, attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was "rich in results, constructive and positive", a senior EU official said on 31 March,2016.The EU was represented at the summit by Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, while Modi represented India.The official noted that besides a joint statement, the summit between India and the 28-member European bloc released an EU-India Agenda for Action 2020.The summit also released four other joint declarations, including a common agenda on migration and mobility, on India-EU water partnership, on clean energy and climate partnership and on the fight against terrorism.The best description here is the 'new momentum' used in the statement on the EU-India strategic partnership. There is a clear political will from the leaders of both sides to make every effort to develop that potential fullyThe official noted that counter-terrorism was one of the subjects most discussed during the proceedings of the India-EU summit held after a gap of four years."The summit discussions were all constructive, but we did not necessarily have the same opinion on everything. But this was a meeting between friends and like-minded partners.But there was clear will by both sides that we will re-launch these negotiations and that the period of silence and stalemate is over.The official added that there will be an EU-India ministerial-level engagement probably in September in an effort to re-launch the free trade agreement negotiations which are on hold since 2013.

Zika now has a face to go with the name.New microscopy images of the virus reveal a bumpy, golf ball‒shaped structure, similar to that of the dengue and West Nile viruses, researchers report March 31 in Science. It’s the first time scientists have gotten a good look at Zika, the infamous virus that has invaded the Americas and stoked fears that it is causing birth defects and a rare autoimmune disease(SN: 4/2/16, p. 26).Cracking Zika’s structure is like getting the blueprints of an enemy’s base: Now scientists have a better idea of where to attack. “This certainly gives us great hope that we will be able to find a vaccine or antiviral compounds,” says study coauthor Michael Rossmann of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., who’s known for mapping the first structure of a common cold virus in 1985.Researchers have been racing to solve Zika’s structure, says UCLA microbiologist Hong Zhou. Rossmann and colleagues imaged a strain of Zika collected from a patient during a 2013‒2014 outbreak in French Polynesia (the strain is nearly identical to the one now spreading through Latin America).  The team used a technique called cryoelectron microscopy to create a three-dimensional picture of Zika. It’s a pretty sharp image, says study coauthor Devika Sirohi, also of Purdue. She and colleagues can clearly see the virus’ shape and can even make out sugars protruding from its surface.One of the receptors targeted by Zika could be AXL, a protein crowded on the surface of neural stem cells, researchers propose March 30 in a separate study published online in Cell Stem Cell. Zika virus is thought to preferentially infect these early-development brain cells, and it could potentially use AXL as an easy entry point, study coauthor Arnold Kriegstein of the University of California, San Francisco and colleagues suggest.

Faustin Archange Touadera was sworn-in as President of Central African Republic on 30 March 2016 at the main stadium in the capital Bangui.With this, 58-year-old Tauadera became the first elected President of the country in three years, since Muslim rebel alliance Seleka overthrew the government in 2013.Touadera, a former math Professor and Prime Minister won the February 14 runoff with nearly 63 percent of the vote. His presidency puts an end to a two-year transitional government that came into force in early 2014.Touadera was sworn-in as President at the time when the former coloniser France said that its troops have planned to leave the country by the end of the year. It has decided to end its military intervention in the nation as it has achieved its objective of restoring security to the country after three years of communal violence.France launched Operation Sangaris in December 2013, at the height of the violence that swept the country.

Telangana Government has launched M-Wallet, new mobile app to facilitate citizens to get digital copies of documents like driving licence and registration certificate. It was launched by Telangana IT minister KT Rama Rao and Transport Minister P Mahender Reddy in Hyderabad. It is first of its kind application to be launched in any state of India.M-wallet mobile application has been developed by Telangana Road Transport Authority for the Transport Department of the Telangana Government. It helps user to download digital copies of documents like driving licence and registration certificate. These digital documents could be produced by the users before the police and RTA authorities when demanded. The application lets user to auto-fetch documents and also share documents. It also allows user to have all the documents on one single screen. The documents downloaded once using application will be saved for future use in it. Using this application user can add multiple vehicles owned by him.

India has become the world’s fourth largest spender on defence, following a 13.1% increase in its 2016-17 defence budget, according to US research firm IHS Inc.India’s rise in the rankings from sixth position last year is a result of an increase in expenditure to $50.7 billion, combined with cuts to military spending by Russia and Saudi Arabia, where low oil prices have put considerable strain on their finances.“Growth in the Indian budget is expected to outpace that of all other major defence spenders over the next five years. This position is only likely to strengthen further,” said Craig Caffrey, principal analyst at IHS.According to IHS analysis, short-term pressures, caused by increases to military pay and the introduction of one rank, one pension (OROP) are the main reasons for the higher rate of growth in budget allocation to defence. As a result, spending on the acquisition of military equipment remained largely static in real terms and remains lower than its 2013-14 peak, despite an increase in the overall budget.“There are definitely strains with regards to the 2016-17 defence budget, not least that last year’s medium-term guidance suggested India would see a growth of 17-18% this year. The pressure on the capital budget will be the main concern from the perspective of both domestic and foreign defence suppliers,” said Caffrey.Nonetheless, longer-term budgetary prospects have improved and are expected to strengthen further over the next five years, IHS said.The Indian defence budget is expected to reach $64.8 billion by 2020 with procurement expenditure expected to grow faster than overall spending, according to IHS. India’s aerospace and defence market is among the most attractive globally and the government is keen to leverage this advantage to promote investments in the sector.According to a report released by PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd and industry lobby group Assocham on 29 March in Goa, India ranks among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of its military expenditure and import of defence equipment and it allocates about 1.8% of its GDP to defence spending, of which 36% is assigned to capital acquisitions. However, only about 35% of defence equipment is manufactured in India, mainly by public sector units.Moreover, even when defence products are made locally, there is a large import component of raw material at both the system and sub-system levels.Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Make in India campaign in 2014 with the objective of boosting manufacturing and generating employment by focusing on 25 sectors, including defence.The objectives for the defence sector were promoting self-reliance, indigenization, achieving economies of scale, developing capabilities for export, transfer of technology and domestic research and development.The new procurement policy being promulgated by DPP-2016 will ensure faster pace in procurement, especially through newly introduced categories under indigenously designed, developed and manufactured (IDDM) provisions.India will finalize defence orders worth Rs.2.8 trillion by 2016 even as the defence ministry is pushing for at least 40% indigenous content in the defence products, the minister said. However, IHS said the pressure on the defence budget will be inevitable, citing OROP.The increase in capital expenditure will be driven by extensive modernization requirements across the armed forces, IHS said. It has observed that the majority of the armoured vehicle inventory of the Indian Army has passed their service life while the air Force possesses 34 active combat aircraft squadrons against a sanctioned requirement for 42.As a result of these pressures, procurement spending is expected to rise from $10.4 billion this year to around $15 billion by 2020.

Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence has inked a pact with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defence System to set up a JV in India for specialised areas including air- to-air missiles that will oversee projects worth USD 10 billion (over Rs 65,000 crore) in ten years. In one of the biggest joint ventures between an Indian company with any original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Reliance Defence Ltd, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure Ltd and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd have decided to set up a joint venture company in India in the highly specialised areas of air-to-air missiles, air defence systems and large aerostats.The venture will have 51 per cent holding from Reliance Defence and 49 per cent by Rafael as per the current guidelines of the government .It will provide big thrust to the field of indigenous production and development of high precision and state of the art weapon systems in India.The partnership with technology power house and one of the world leaders in defence technologies, Rafael Advanced Defence Systems of Israel will mark the entry of Reliance Defence in the complex field of air-to-air missiles and air defence systems manufacturing in India .Rafael is a market leader in air-to-air missile segment and has world renowned product like Python and Derby.Similarly, for the Air Defence Systems, Rafael portfolio includes SPYDER short range and medium range and Barak missiles family of Surface to Air Missiles in the short and medium range. Rafael has already provided large aerostat systems to the Indian Air Force for meeting its surveillance, reconnaissance, communication and intelligence needs.Reliance Infra said, "Based on the current requirements, the joint venture company will address multiple programmes valued at more than Rs 65,000 crore over next ten years," the company said.Reliance Defence has industrial licences for the full spectrum of military platforms and is the fastest emerging private sector enterprise in the development, manufacture and supply of defence aerospace, land and naval platforms and equipment. 

A group of scientists discovered sand-eating tadpole in the southern Western Ghats. The tadpole lives in total darkness, until it fully develops into a young frog.The discovery of the tadpole was documented on 30 March 2016 in the journal PLOS One.The tadpole belongs to the Indian Dancing Frog family, Micrixalidae.The discovery is the result of collaborative efforts of scientists from the University of Delhi, the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka and Gettysburg College, California.This discovery builds the knowledge base for further comparative analyses and conservation of Micrixalus, an ancient and endemic lineage of Indian frogs.Sand-eating tadpoles are actively burrowing tadpoles that lead an entirely fossorial life from eggs to late metamorphic stages.They have an eel-like appearance.They possess an extensively muscularized body and tail, reduced tail fins, skin-covered eyes, delayed development of eye pigmentation in early pre-metamorphic stages.They lack teeth; however, they have serrated well-formed jaw sheaths.The tadpole gut contains mostly fine sediments and sand.

Thailand is in the grip of its worst drought for more than 20 years, with water levels in the country's biggest dams lower than 10 percent.The current drought has hit the north hardest, with 22 of Thailand's 76 provinces affected.Agriculture has been severely affected, and there are genuine fears that taps could run dry within a matter of weeks. Several major reservoirs in the country are below 50 percent of their water capacity.The situation is so bad at the Ubolrat dam they are about to dip into what is locally known as "dead storage" - this refers to the last 1 percent in the bottom of the reservoir.Drastic action is now being taken and it is causing controversy.Thailand recently started pumping water from the Mekong River into its own waterways.Unsurprisingly, this has sparked concern from downstream countries such as Vietnam, which is suffering its worst drought in almost a century.Thailand has also turned to its Royal Rainmakers for help - they are the Thai Department of Royal Rainmaking and are responsible for seeding the clouds over the kingdom. As of now, there have not been enough clouds to make this an effective process.Concessions will have to be made for this New Year's festival in April. It is called "Songkran" and it is celebrated with water - in fact, lots of water.The original idea was to sprinkle water on family members for good fortune while paying respect to images of Buddha. Now water pistols and buckets are used to drench each other.With no rain in the short-term forecast, the deputy of Bangkok has announced that the city is considering reducing the festival to three days instead of four.Meanwhile, as El Nino continues to weaken, it is hoped that the monsoon rains will be prompt and plentiful. They are due to arrive in June

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