Thursday, 19 May 2016 04:26


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19 - MAY - 2016



National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) signed a partnership agreement with Facebook to build a product design initiative in India.

The agreement focus on assisting the innovation ecosystem by helping product based companies to build solutions in key sectors where technology can play a transformational role.

Special features of Product Design Initiative

• This initiative is aimed towards encouraging Indian entrepreneurs to become problem solvers and develop solutions based on innovation and design thinking.

• It is a Nasscom’s country-wide initiative with an aim to offer focused programmes to build awareness in product design and mentorship.

• Nasscom Product Council through its flagship programme aim at supporting over 500 product start-ups on product design.

• It focuses on training over 5000 product designers over a period of two years.

This is the second time that NASSCOM and Facebook have partnered to promote entrepreneurship and startup initiatives in India. Earlier in 2015, NASSCOM partnered with Facebook for its initiative calledLeaders Building for the Next Billion.


Indian Parashar Kulkarni won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize for 2016, for the Asia region. He was awarded for his politically grounded unpublished short fiction 'Cow and Company'.

He will receive a cash prize of 2500 pounds (3835 US dollars).

The story 'Cow and Company' narrates the story of four men in search of a cow. The story manages to keep the reader engaged through twists and turns show the connections between culture and commercial interests.

Parashar Kulkarni is an assistant professor in Social Sciences at Yale NUS College Singapore.

Other Regional Winners

He is one of the five winners of 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Winners from other four regions are:

• Faraaz Mahomed - ‘The Pigeon’ with its playful tone and unreliable narrator

• Stefanie Seddon - Eel, a simply told and moving story of childhood

• Lance Dowrich - comedic ‘Ethelbert and the Free Cheese’

• Tina Makereti - ‘Black Milk’, which impressed with a lyricism that takes the reader into another world while keeping them always on earth

Now the regional winners will compete with each other for being selected as the overall winner of the 2016 Commonwealth Short Story Prize. This will be announced at the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica on 5 June 2016.

The overall winner will receive 5000 pounds (7670 US dollars).

Indians shortlisted for the prize

Other Indian authors, who were shortlisted for the award in the regional shortlist include

• Kritika Pandey for Dirty White Strings

• Sumit Ray for Girdhars Mansion

• Vinayak Varma for Instant Karma

Besides, Arunava Sinha (a noted Indian translator) was also shortlisted for translation of Bangladeshi writer Sumon Rahman's short story 'Niroporadh Ghum' (Innocent Sleep).

About Commonwealth short story prize

• Commonwealth Writers is the cultural initiative of the Commonwealth Foundation.

• It was set up in 2012 to inspire and connect writers and storytellers across the world.

• In its fifth year, the prize is for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2000-5000 words) in English.

• Short stories that are translated into English from other languages are eligible too.

• It is judged by an international panel of writers, representing each of the five regions of the Commonwealth, namely, Asia, Africa, Cananda and Europe, Caribbean and the Pacific.

• Chair of the judging panel is South African novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo.

• Commonwealth Writers has partnered with Granta magazine to give regional winners of Commonwealth Short Story Prize the opportunity to be published by Granta online.

• The commonwealth writers also invite writers from Mozambique who write in Portuguese as well as writers who write in Swahili and Bengali, and who do not have an English translation of their story.

• If the winning short story is a translation into English, the translator will receive equal prize money. Entry is free.


Defending Champion Pakistan won the Asian Kabaddi Championship 2016 (Circle Style) that held at Wah Cantonment in Pakistan. It defeated India by 19 points.

Pakistan achieved 50 points against 31 by India in the final of the tournament. It is second successive win for Pakistan in the Asian Kabaddi title as they won it in 2012.

Asia Kabaddi Championship Cup 2016

• This is the third edition of the Asian Kabaddi Championship (Circle Style) held in Pakistan. The second edition was also held in the same country.

• The championship was organised by the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) in collaboration with POF Sports Control Board under the banner of the Asian Kabaddi Federation.

• Seven teams including India, Iran, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan had participated in the International event and this edition of championship took place in a league format.


ICICI Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the New Development Bank (NDB) to establish a strategic partnership in the areas of bond issuances, co-financing, treasury management and human resources.

NDB is a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS states which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The MoU was signed by first President of NDB KV Kamath and ICICI Bank head Chanda Kochhar in Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Salient Features of the MoU

• ICICI Bank became the first financial institution in India to sign the pact with NDB.

• It will enable NDB to leverage the deep market access and insight of ICICI Bank in India’s financial markets.

• It will help NDB to explore at tapping the rupee-denominated bonds in all the markets.

• It will to build a long-term, stable and mutually beneficial relationship in the areas of bond issuances, co-financing, treasury management and human resources.

• It will make both the lenders collaborate to fund development projects in India.

• With this MoU, both the banks treat each other as preferred partners and will harness their respective resource advantages and professional expertise.

• This partnership will bring opportunities to both the parties to work together in the areas of resource raising, development finance and treasury risk management.


SpaceX successfully launched the Japanese communications satellite, JCSAT-14 on Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The satellite was place into its intended preliminary geostationary transfer orbit by SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket which was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

The odds of a successful soft-landing were slim due to the mission requirements for the particular launch.

About JCSAT-14 Satellite

• JCSAT-14 is designed to last 15 years needed to be placed into geosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 22000 miles.

• This is much higher than SpaceX’s last launch when they successfully recovered their rocket on a drone ship after sending space station supplies to low earth orbit (LEO) at around 250 miles.

• JCSAT-14 is a satellite from the SKY Perfect JSAT Group, the largest satellite operator in Asia.

• The satellite once in orbit will be used to provide television and communication services.

• This launch was the fourth successful flight for SpaceX so far in 2016.

• SpaceX has completed two successful rocket recoveries on a drone ship and one rocket recovery on a landing pad on stable ground.


United Nations (UN) announced the establishment of the UN Zika Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) to finance critical unfunded priorities in the response to the Zika outbreak.

The establishment of the fund was announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Objective of the Fund

• The Fund aims to provide a rapid, flexible and accountable platform to support a coordinated response from the UN system and partners.

• It will directly support the Zika Strategic Response Framework, developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in consultation with UN agencies, partners and international epidemiological experts.

Under the programme, the donors will contribute to a central point and an Advisory Committee will direct funds to the highest-priority activities in the affected countries.

Zika Virus

• Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus, transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti.

• In case of humans, the virus cases mild illness known as Zika fever (Zika or Zika disease).

• It has been occurring since the 1950s within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia.

• In 2014, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific Ocean to French Polynesia, then to Easter Island and in 2015 to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, where the Zika outbreak has reached pandemic levels.

• Since January 2015, 61 countries and territories have reported local transmission of Zika.

• The recent rise in the spread of the virus in some countries has been accompanied by an unprecedented rise in the number of children being born with unusually small heads – identified as microcephaly.

• Several countries have also reported an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome – a neurological disorder that can lead to paralysis and death.

• On 1 February 2016, WHO announced that the cluster of cases of microcephaly and other neurological disorders.

• There is now scientific consensus that the Zika virus is linked to severe fetal malformations and serious disorders of the central nervous system and is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

• The Zika Strategic Response Framework aims to investigate and respond to the cluster of microcephaly and other neurological complications linked to Zika virus, increase preventive measures, communicate risks, and provide care and support to those affected.


Number one seed Novac Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to conquer the Mutua Madrid Open title in Madrid, Spain.

It was Djokovic’s fifth win in the last 6 ATP 1000 competitions. With the win, he also reached a record 29 Masters 1000 titles.

Mutua Madrid Open title was Djokovic’s second title on the Caja Mágica clay. He claimed the game in two hours and six minutes.

About Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is a Serbian professional tennis player.

He is currently ranked world No. 1 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).

He is coached by former Slovak tennis player Marián Vajda and former German tennis player and six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker.

He has won 11 Grand Slam singles titles.

By winning three Grand Slam titles in 2011, he became the sixth male player to win three majors in a calendar year. He repeated this achievement in 2015.

He is the first Serbian player to be ranked No. 1 by the ATP and he is the first male player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam singles title.

He has won numerous awards, including the 2012, 2015 and 2016Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year2011 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, five-time ITF World Champion, and four-time ATP year-end number 1.

He is a recipient of the Order of St. Sava, the Order of Karađorđe's Star and the Order of the Republika Srpska.

About Mutua Madrid Open

The Madrid Open, currently sponsored by Mutua Madrileña, is a male and female professional tennis tournament.

It is currently held in Madrid, Spain, during the first week of May.

The event is classified as an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event on the Association of Tennis Professionals tour and a Premier Mandatory event on the Women's Tennis Association tour.

Andy Murray was the winner of 2015 Mutua Madrid Open.


  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the arrival of the southwest monsoon in Kerala will be delayed by at least a week beyond the normal of June 1.
  • However, IMD also said while this could lead to reduced rainfall in June, it would not affect the overall quantum of rains across the country.
  • This widely diverges from a forecast earlier this week by Noida-based forecaster Skymet, that the monsoon would set in over Kerala between May 28 and 31.
  • June accounts for only 18 to 20 per cent of the monsoon rains but it marks the beginning of the kharif sowing season.
  • July and August account for about two-thirds of monsoons and are critical for a good harvest. Last year, the monsoon arrived at the Kerala coast on June 5, later than the agency’s predicted date of May 30.
  • This was the only time, the IMD claims, its monsoon onset model failed to get the date within the model’s error margin since it began issuing such forecasts in 2005.
  • The monsoon is expected to set in at the Nicobar islands around May 17, and set in substantially over the Andamans by May 20. It’s the timing of its subsequent journey into Kerala that’s in doubt.
  • “The cooling of the Pacific waters has been better than expected and we expect the La Nina to set in slightly earlier around the second half of monsoon,” IMD said.
  • The delay in onset over Kerala is because of the El Nino, which, though waning, is still strong, and the waters of the Indian Ocean being warmer than usual for this time of the year.
  • Generally rain-bearing winds begin to be drawn across the equator by this time of the year.


  • With less than a week to go for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Teheran, officials are working hard to seal an agreement to repay $6.5 billion owed to Iran over the years when it was under sanctions.
  • The effort has run into a brick wall over the reluctance of European banks to process the payments, officials in the Oil and External Affairs ministries have told The Hindu .
  • The repayment agreement is among a slew of announcements India and Iran hope to make during Mr Modi’s first visit to Teheran on May 22-23.
  • Other announcements include the signing of a trilateral trade agreement, which includes Afghanistan, that has already been finalised, an MoU for the development of Chabahar port, progress on Indian exploration of the ‘Farzad-B’ gas oilfields.
  • While the other agreements are on track, officials say it is the hunt for the repayment channel to Iran that is keeping them on tenterhooks.]
  • This is despite several banks including the Danske bank of Denmark, Europaeisch-Iranische Handelsbank (EIH) of Germany, Central Bank of Italy and Halkbank of Turkey having been identified to carry out the transactions, and the RBI has identified corresponding banks in India.
  • New Delhi has repeatedly said it is keen to pay back Iran the $6.5 billion, most of it for oil transactions.


  • In its effort to have a full fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence system, India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile, capable of destroying any incoming hostile ballistic missile.
  • The interceptor was engaged against a target which was a naval version of Prithvi missile launched from a ship anchored inside Bay of Bengal, taking up the trajectory of a hostile ballistic missile.
  • The target missile was launched at about 11.15 hours and the interceptor, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile positioned at Abdul Kalam island (Wheeler Island) getting signals from tracking radars.
  • “The ‘kill’ effect of the interceptor was ascertained by analysing data from multiple tracking sources.
  • The interceptor is a 7.5-metre-long single stage solid rocket propelled guided missile equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator.
  • The interceptor missile had its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars.


  • The government has admitted that the amended Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, will not only help foreign-origin companies fund NGOs here but has also cleared the way for them to give “donations to political parties”.
  • Union Minister of State for Home told that the amendment, cleared by the Lok Sabha in the Budget session, would ensure that “donations made by foreign shareholding companies to entities including parties will be allowed.
  • The statement assumes significance as such funding from foreign donors will bypass government scrutiny. The Representation of the People Act bars parties from receiving foreign funds.
  • Both the BJP and the Congress have supported the amendment. They have been accused by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) of illegally receiving foreign funds for political activities from the U.K.-based Vedanta Group from 2004 to 2012.
  • Mr. Rijiju said different definitions of foreign-origin company existed as per the Companies Act, 2013, the FCRA, 2010 and the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy of the government and they have clarified the foreign source now.
  • As per the existing provisions any Indian company will fall in the category of foreign source if at any time more than 50 percent of its shareholding is acquired by foreign entity.
  • Contributions made by the Indian companies with foreign holding up to the prescribed limit as per extant FDI policy will not be treated as foreign contribution.


  • President Barack Obama came into office seven years ago pledging to end the wars of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
  • On May 6, with eight months left before he vacates the White House, Mr. Obama passed a sombre, little-noticed milestone: He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American President.
  • If the United States remains in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria until the end of Mr. Obama’s term, he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only President in U.S. history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.
  • Mr. Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and spent his years in the White House trying to fulfil the promises he made as an anti-war candidate, would have a longer tour of duty as a wartime President than Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard M. Nixon or his hero Abraham Lincoln.
  • Mr. Obama is leaving far fewer soldiers in harm’s way — at least 4,087 in Iraq and 9,800 in Afghanistan — than the 200,000 troops he inherited from Mr. Bush in the two countries.
  • But Mr. Obama has also approved strikes against terrorist groups in Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, for a total of seven countries where his administration has taken military action.
  • Mr. Obama’s closest advisers say he has relied so heavily on limited covert operations and drone strikes because he is mindful of the dangers of escalation.
  • Publicly, Mr. Obama acknowledged early on the contradiction between his campaign message and the realities of governing.
  • The President has tried to reconcile these truths by approaching his wars in narrow terms, as a chronic but manageable security challenge rather than as an all-consuming national campaign.
  • More so than Mr. Bush or President Bill Clinton, Mr. Obama has fought a multi-front war against militants. Officials at the Pentagon referred to the situation as “the new normal.”


  • China’s new ‘Guam killer’ missile, capable of hitting targets some 5,500 km away, is raising new fears of a growing Chinese threat to key American military facilities and stability in the Pacific Rim, the Congress has been warned.
  • A congressional panel has issued a report warning of the dangers of the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile, during a week in which U.S.-China tensions flared anew with a U.S. Navy destroyer sailing close to a Chinese-claimed island in the disputed South China Sea.
  • The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission said this week that China’s DF-26 missile — dubbed by analysts the “Guam killer” and unveiled at a high-profile military parade in Beijing last September — allows China to bring unprecedented firepower to bear on the U.S. territory of Guam.
  • The territory, 4,023 km from Beijing, sits well within the missile’s range, says the report.


  • A suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group and a second blast killed 47 people in the Yemeni port of Mukalla where a year of al-Qaeda rule ended last month.
  • It was the second attack in days claimed by IS in the city of 200,000 people that was recaptured by government forces from the rival jihadists of al-Qaeda with U.S. backing.
  • The suicide bomber killed at least 41 police recruits on the southwestern outskirts of the city, the capital of Hadramawt province, medics said after earlier giving a toll of 31 dead.
  • A IS statement posted online claimed the suicide attack, a second rare operation by the jihadist group in an area which is known to be a stronghold of its al-Qaeda rivals.
  • The attacks included a suicide bombing that targeted the residence of the commander of Hadramawt’s second military region, General Faraj Salmeen, but he escaped the attack unharmed.


  • With a revised Mauritius pact in place to check round-tripping, Finance Minister said investors must pay taxes on money earned in India and ruled out any depletion of FDI due to imposition of capital gains tax on investments through the island nation.
  • He asserted that India no longer needs any “tax-incentivised route” to attract foreign investments as India economy is now “strong enough” and said there was no “serious apprehension” of investors shifting base to other tax havens
  • By checking round-tripping of funds, the amendment would help boost domestic consumption.
  • After toiling for almost a decade to redraw the tax treaty with Mauritius, India will begin imposing capital gains tax on investments in shares through Mauritius from April next onwards.
  • This has been made possible with amendment to the 34-year-old tax treaty between the two countries.
  • As markets reacted cautiously to India expanding its crackdown on tax treaties to make it harder for investors to use tax havens as a shelter to avoid levies.
  • Stating that the Mauritius tax treaty created a “tax-incentivised route” at a time when India was looking at foreign investments to boost economy, he said the economy has become strong enough and “now those who earn must pay taxes“.
  • The original treaty, signed almost a decade before India opened up its economy in 1991, has helped channelize more than a third of the $278 billion (nearly Rs 19 lakh crore) foreign direct investment India received in the past 15 years.
  • The imposition of taxes has been “done in a phased manner to avoid shock and I don’t expect any depletion to FDI because of this. Also eventually, markets have to operate on inherent strength of economy.
  • Stating that the treaty provides for ‘grandfathering’ till March 2017, Jaitley said: “From then till up to two years, 50 per cent of the rate and then from April 2019, 100 per cent of the tax rate.
  • But this concessional rate of 50 per cent would apply to a Mauritius resident company that can prove that it has a total expenditure of at least Rs 27 lakh in the African island nation and is not a ‘shell’ company with just a post office address.


  • The Supreme Court would decide on the validity of the government’s retrospective levy of additional royalties on miners to fund local development under the Pradhan Mantri Khanij Kshetra Kalyan Yojana.
  • The Mines Ministry, in charge of implementing the Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation Act of 2015, had notified the District Mineral Fund rules in September 2015.
  • It made the additional levy of 10 per cent of royalties for mines auctioned under the new law and 30 per cent of royalties for mines allocated in the past applicable from January 12, 2015, when the Act came into force.
  • The mining industry had challenged the move in a few high courts and had managed to secure a stay against the retrospective applicability of the rules — for the period between January 2015 and September 2015.
  • For now, till the apex court takes up the case, industry has been told to pay their DMF liabilities on a prospective basis.
  • The PM has said retrospective taxation like the one introduced by the UPA to tax Vodafone, is a thing of the past. But these rules were made applicable retrospectively.


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Last Updated on Friday, 20 May 2016 06:38