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Date: 28-12-2016

Topic: December CA

No of Questions: 15

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CRPB DISBURSES FIRST LOAN INSTALLMENT FOR NOIDA-GREATER NOIDA METRO PROJECT

National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) has begun release of funds for the Noida-Greater Noida Metro Project by disbursing the first loan installment of 406 crore rupees. It will give a fillip to speedy execution of this important metro project.

The 20 year loan, including a moratorium of five years for repayment of loan carries an interest rate of 7 percent per year and an incentive of 0.25 per cent for timely repayment of installments. Ministry of Urban Development in a press release said, NCRPB had earlier sanctioned a loan of 1,587 crore rupees to Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) for the 29.70 km Noida-Greater Noida Metro Project.

The project is estimated to cost 5,533 crore rupees. The targeted date of completion of this section is April, 2018. Announcing the disbursement of the first installment of loan, B.K.Tripathy, Member-Secretary, NCRPB said, further release of funds to this important section depends on physical and financial progress of the section.

 RBI: FARMERS GET ADDITIONAL 60 DAYS TO REPAY CROP LOANS

In a relief to farmers hit by demonetisation, the Reserve Bank of India, RBI, has given an additional 60 days to repay their crop loans due in November-December and said that prompt repayment would be eligible for the extra 3 per cent interest subsidy.

RBI said in a notification in Mumbai yesterday that in view of the constraints faced by the farmers on account of withdrawal of legal tender status of old 500/1,000 rupees notes, Government has decided to provide an additional grace period of 60 days for timely repayment of loan dues.

It said a prompt repayment incentive of 3 per cent would also be admissible to those farmers whose crop loan dues are falling due between November 1 and December 31, 2016, if such farmers repay the same within 60 days from the above period.

SEALING OF INDO-BANGLA BORDER TO BE COMPLETED BY MID 2018: RAJNATH

Union Home minister Rajnath Singh has said that the sealing of Assam- Bangladesh border will be completed within one to one and half years. Attending a program in Guwahati today, he said that cases of violence in Assam have been decreased recently.

Mr.Singh also announced that government is ready for talks with militant groups but made it clear that government would not tolerate violence.He also said that the updation of National Register of Citizens will be completed soon in Assam.

GOVT LAUNCHES MOBILE APP ‘SMART CONSUMER’&OCMC TO PROVIDE SPEEDY REDRESSAL OF CONSUMER GRIEVANCES

The government has launched a host of online initiatives including a mobile App ‘Smart Consumer’and an ‘Online Consumer Mediation Centre (OCMC)’to provide speedy redressal of consumer grievances.

The initiatives were unveiled by Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan at a function in New Delhi on the occasion of National Consumer Day. A helpline 14404 was also launched for conusmer related grievances.

Speaking on the Mr Paswan said, this is the age of technology and educating the consumer and redressing his grievances in this digital world is a challenge.

AIR correspondent reports that the mobile app of the Consumer Helpline and the Smart Consumer App for accessing product information and online communities will benefit the consumers in the digital world.

Besides, another initiative Microsite based on the theme Digitally Safe Consumer Campaign was also launched to help consumers for being vigilant and not falling prey to cyber frauds.

Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also said that Consumer Protection Bill, is at an advanced stage and has a provision for mediation.

He said, the new bill has stringent provisions against misleading advertisements and unfair trade practices. The Minister said, celebrities should check facts about the products before doing endorsement.

TATA MOTORS SHAREHOLDERS REMOVE NUSLI WADIA FROM BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Shareholders of Tata Motors have voted to remove independent director Nusli Wadia from the board of directors at an extraordinary general meeting held during which 71.20 per cent of the shareholders voted in favour of a resolution moved by Tata Sons to remove Mr Wadia as independent director of Tata Motors.

On Wednesday, Mr Wadia was removed as independent director from the board of Tata Steel.

HELPLINE FOR QUERIES ON DIGITAL PAYMENTS SOON

Nasscom, telecom operators and NITI Aayog have come together in creating a dedicated helpline 14444 for addressing all queries on digitial payments, as government takes strides to push for more digital transactions post demonetisation.
After the fourth meeting of the Committee of Chief Ministers on digital payments, Convenor and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu said, plans are afoot to import one million PoS machines to enable cashless payments across India.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya said IT industry body Nasscom, telephone operators and the government thinktank are creating the helpline to address all queries of public regarding digital payments. The helpline number would be made operational soon.

PARRIKAR INAUGURATES DIGI-DHAN MELA IN GOA’S PANAJI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has appealed for opting cashless payment mode by using various electronic transaction methods. He said that cashless transactions will help curb tax evasion, and will also bring accountability in the economy. Several countries have already implemented cashless system, he added.
Inaugurating Digi-Dhan Mela in Panaji today, he said, India needs to move forward in cashless mode, hence understanding the actual use of cashless transaction is very important.

CABINET APPROVES INTERNATIONAL SOLAR ALLIANCE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT

Cabinet has given ex-post facto approval to Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s proposal for ratification of International Solar Alliance, ISA’s Framework Agreement by India. ISA was launched jointly by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande in November last year on the side-lines of CoP 21 meeting.
An official release said the ISA will strive to bring together more than 121 solar resource rich nations for coordinated research, low cost financing and rapid deployment. The foundation stone of the ISA Headquarters was laid at Gwal Pahari, Gurugram in Haryana. India has already committed the required support of operationalization of ISA.

INDIA SUCCESSFULLY TEST-FIRES NUCLEAR CAPABLE BALLISTIC MISSILE AGNI-5

India today successfully test-fired its home-grown long range intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-5 from the Abdul Kalam Wheeler Island off Odisha coast at 1105 hrs. The state-of-the-art surface-to-surface missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation was test fired successfully from the launch complex 4 of the Integrated Test Range.

The three-stage solid propellant Agni 5 missile is capable of striking a target more than 5,000 kilometres with nuclear warhead carrying capacity of more than one tonne. It is about 17 metre long, 2 metre wide and has launch weight of around 50 tonnes. This is the fourth developmental and second trial of the long range missile. Unlike other missiles of Agni series, the latest one ‘Agni-5’ is the most advanced having new technologies incorporated with it in terms of navigation and guidance, warhead and engine.

The missile can hit most northern parts of China and other parts of Asia, Europe and Africa. Defence sources said, after some few more trials, Agni-5 will be inducted into the Services. Once this missile is inducted in Services, India will join the super exclusive club of countries with Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles ICBMs alongside the US, Russia, China, France and the UK.

President Pranab Mukherjee has congratulated DRDO for successfully test firing Agni-5. In a tweet, Mr Mukherjee said, the missile will enhance India’s strategic and deterrence capabilities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has congratulated the DRDO scientists on the successful test-firing of nuclear-capable intercontinental missile Agni-V. In a tweet, Mr. Modi said, it will add tremendous strength to the country’s strategic defence. He credited it to the hard work of DRDO and its scientists.

FISHERMEN TO BE GIVEN TRAWLERS TO FISH BEYOND 12 NAUTICAL MILES: GADKARI

Minister for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari has said, fishermen will be given trawlers to fish beyond 12 nautical miles, which will benefit 1 crore 25 lakh crore people. He was speaking after inaugurating the office of Sagarmala development company Ltd, in New Delhi today. He maintained that the productivity of fishermen will increase by five percent, as the trawlers would help them fish beyond twelve nautical miles.

AIR correspondent reports, the national perspective plan under Sagarmala project has been prepared and many projects have been implemented. Under the project, port modernisation, connectivity, port- led Industrialization and coastal community development are the main focus areas. Sagarmala development company established under sagarmala pariyojana would raise capital Investment of about 12-15 lakh crore under the project. The company has ninety crore authorized capital and a shared capital of one thousand crore.

LITERATURE PLAYS VITAL ROLE IN NATIONAL INTEGRATION, COMMUNAL HARMONY: PRESIDENT

President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the 89th Annual Literacy Conference of the Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan in Bengaluru Yesterday. Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, High Court Chief Justice Subhrakamal Mukherjee participated in the programme.

Inaugurating the 89th Annual Literary Conference of the Nikhil Bharat Banga Sahitya Sammelan President Pranab Mukherjee said that Literature plays a vital role in national integration and communal harmony. Bengali language has an history of almost 1000 years and Bengali literature has strengthened the nation, Mukherjee said.

Study of literature will keep the mind in peaceful status. Kannada and Bengali literature have history of long connection and relations he said. In the earlier days kings were fought for land and not for language, so language unites everyone the president said.

All religious literature are like rivers, they finally merge as one in the ocean. All literature should converge in one platform to enrich the culture and language he said. Literature can give us the platform to interchange and interact with fellow men, Mukherjee said.

KUCHIPUDI PERFORMERS DANCE THEIR WAY INTO GUINNESS RECORDS

Andhra Pradesh’s classical dance ‘Kuchipudi’ found a place in the Guinness World Records when a record 6,117 dancers came together to present a show in Vijaywada last evening.

Guinness adjudicator Rishinath declared that “Jayamu Jayamu” item presented in unison by the participants created a new record and handed over a certificate to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Jayamu Jayamu item was actually choreographed by the legend Vempati China Satyam. Dancers from across the country as also from countries like US, UAE, UK, Russia, Hong Kong and Mauritius took part in it.

The grand group dance, “Maha Brunda Natyam” was organised as part of the ‘5th International Kuchipudi Dance Convention’ organised by the AP State Department of Language and Culture. Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, eminent ‘Kuchipudi’ gurus Raja-Radha Reddy, Yamini Krishna Murthy and many others attended the closing ceremony

ENVIRONMENT TAX LAW PASSED IN CHINA

China passed a law to levy environment tax on polluters, especially on heavy industries

It will improve tax payers’ environmental awareness, forcing companies to upgrade technology and shift to cleaner production

Adopted by the National People’s Congress (NPC) standing committee in Beijing

Implemented from January 1, 2018

Tax rate : 1.2 yuan ($0.17) per unit of atmospheric pollution

1.4 yuan per unit of water pollution

5 yuan per tonne of coal waste

1,000 yuan per tonne of hazardous waste

The new law will reduce interference from government

TU-154 PLANE CRASHES INTO BLACK SEA

A Russian plane Tu-154 on its way to Syria crashed into the Black Sea

92 people onboard

Appeared to be no survivors

Crashed shortly after taking off from the southern city of Adler, south of the Black Sea resort city of Sochi

Routine flight to Russia’s Hmeimim airbase outside the coastal Syrian city of Latakia

The plane belongs to the Russian Defense Ministry,carrying 64 members of the Russian army’s official choir, also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, to a military base in Syria for a New Year’s concert

$618 BN DEFENCE BILL SIGNED BY US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

US President Barack Obama has signed into law the $618 billion defence budget for 2017

He signed National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017

NDAA asks Defence Secretary and Secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognize India as America’s Defence partner

This budget enhances security cooperation with India

The bill provides aid for Pakistan, on the condition that it can prove it is taking “demonstrable steps” against the militant Haqqani network

WORLD’S TALLEST ARTIFICIAL CHRISTMAS TREE IN SRILANKA

Sri Lanka has unveiled a towering Christmas tree

It have surpassed the world record for the tallest artificial Christmas tree

The 73-meter (238-foot) tree, built in capital Colombo

The tree’s steel-and-wire frame is covered with a plastic net decorated with natural pine cones

COKE LAUNCHES NON-CARBONATED DRINK AQUARIUS

Cola major Coca-Cola India today expanded its portfolio by launching an active hydration beverage Aquarius -a lemon flavoured non-carbonated drink – and is one of the top $20-billion brand of the American beverages giant globally.

The company, which sells brands such as Maaza and Minute Maid juice drinks, Kinley packaged water, Schweppes brand of sodas, Georgia tea and coffee, Fuze tea, and colas such as ThumsUp, Coca-Cola, Sprite, Limca, Fanta, Coca-Cola Zero and Diet Coke, in the sparkling category, said the active hydration market is at a nascent stage but has the potential to grow exponentially in the coming years.

The introduction of Aquarius follows launch of Vio (dairy drinks) in 2016 on the heels of the launch of Fuze iced tea in 2015 and Coke Zero in late 2014, it said in a statement.Aquarius is a non-carbonated, low calorie beverage containing sodium, calcium and potassium, and the lemon flavoured drink will be available at Rs 30 for 400 ..

AU FINANCIERS GETS FINAL NOD TO START SMALL FINANCE BANK OPERATIONS

Non-banking finance company Au Financiers (India) today said it has received final approval of the Reserve Bank to start operations as small finance bank.

“The company has now received final licence from Reserve Bank to establish and operate Small Finance Bank in India,” the Jaipur-based NBFC said in a statement.

The company was among the 10 entities that received in-principle approval of RBI last year to set up small finance banks. The company has operations in 10 states with 300 branches and finances commercial and personal vehicle loans, as well as caters to micro, small and medium enterprises.

“It is a huge step for our company…to launch Small Finance Bank. The transition of Au Financiers from an NBFC into a Small Finance Bank is natural progression for us. It will enable us to serve entire bouquet of financial services to our under-served customer base,” Au Financiers (India) Ltd Managing Director Sanjay ..

IOC’S MATHURA REFINERY DESPATCHES BS VI FUEL FOR TESTING

IOCBSE 3.02 %’s Mathura refinery has despatched BS VI high-speed diesel (HSD) to two auto companies to test viability and compatibility as part of its efforts to provide cleaner fuel for an eco-friendly environment.

“Though the government has set a very stringent target of April 2017 for meeting BS IV and April 2020 for BS VI standard fuel quality, the Mathura refinery has completed the target ahead of the set deadline,” said S M Vaidya, GM, IOC Mathura Refinery.

BS VI standard HSD and BS VI standard motor spirit, according to Vaidya, were prepared in the refinery without addition of any machinery. By October 2017, a new unit will go on stream at the refinery, where only BS VI standard HSD and high quality motor spirit will be produced on a mass scale.

TATA MOTORS SIGNS UP AKSHAY KUMAR AS BRAND AMBASSADOR FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

Tata Motors BSE 1.79 % today roped in Bollywood star Akshay Kumar as brand ambassador for its commercial vehicle (CV) business unit.

“Indian cinema’s ‘original Khiladi’ will make his blockbuster entry in this new role at the launch of Tata Motors’ latest offering in commercial vehicles, slated in January 2017,” the company said in a statement.

On the partnership with the star, Tata Motors Executive Director, Commercial Vehicle Business Unit, Ravindra Pisharody said: “Today, we are catering to an audience that defines the driven, ambitious, forward-moving, non-stop pulse of India and Akshay understands the pulse of this audience well.”

FREE WI-FI SERVICE NOW AVAILABLE AT 100 RAILWAY STATIONS ACROSS INDIA, 400 STATIONS TO BE COVERED NEXT YEAR

With Kollam in south India becoming Wi-Fi-enabled, Indian Railways have completed the task of equipping 100 stations with free Wi-Fi service across the country by the end of 2016.

The next move is to cover 400 major stations with free Wi-Fi by next year.

“We started with Mumbai station and now connected Kollam in down south with free Wi-Fi network and with this we have completed the target of providing free Wi-Fi service at 100 busiest stations in partnership with Google by the year end,” said a senior Railway Ministry official.

In January this year, railways launched its first free Wi-Fi services at Mumbai Central station and then continued with connecting all busy stations like Bhubaneswar, Bangalore, Howrah, Kanpur, Mathura, Aligarh, Barelli and Varanasi stations with the free internet service at rail premises.

BANKERS DECIDE TO ACT ON DEFAULTING BORROWERS, VOW TO COOPERATE TO RECAST LOANS

Bankers are back to dealing with the problem that worried them the most prior to November 8 — recovery of loans — which had taken a back seat since the demonetisation announcement.

At a recent meeting led by State Bank of IndiaBSE 1.88 %, top bankers decided to send out a strong signal to defaulting companies that they would face stern action if they don’t cooperate with recovery. In case of viable companies, banks are looking at undertaking deep restructuring which would involve l .

In fiscal year 2015-16, state-run banks posted a combined loss of Rs 17,993 crore due to loan losses.According to data collected by ETIG, bad loans of all commercial banks doubled from a year earlier to Rs 7 lakh crore in the six months through September 2016.

DOMESTIC TWO-WHEELER SALES SET TO CRASH TO THEIR LOWEST IN SIX YEARS IN DECEMBER

India’s domestic two-wheeler sales are set to crash to their lowest in six years in December, causing a rude shock in a fast growing segment for which industry executives cite demonetisation as the reason.

Sales in December are estimated to drop more than 35% to below 1 million units, compared with the average monthly sales of 1.57 million registered in the domestic market during April-November.

Local sales have never missed the 1 million mark since November 2010, when they totalled 9,28,660. Two-wheeler sales in the domestic market grew 16% to 11.34 million units during April-October, before falling 6% to 1.24 million in November.

DIGITAL TRANSACTIONS JUMP 25 PER CENT PER MONTH SINCE NOVEMBER 8

Plastic transactions have jumped around 25 per cent per month since November 8 in the wake of demonetisation and the government’s aggressive push — led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — for a predominantly cashless society. While card payments grew the most in organised retail, even small roadside merchants appeared to be shifting to digital payments.

Paytm, India’s largest mobile wallet service provider, has more than 15 lakh offline merchants who accept payments through its platform. The total number of wallets for Paytm is at 17 crore. Post November 8, the number of wallets are increasing by up to 5 lakh per day. Also the number of transactions rose to 70 lakh from 25 lakh per day before demonetisation was announced.

CERESTRA ADVISORS MAY LIST REALTY PORTFOLIOS AS REIT

Cerestra Advisors, a real estate-focused private equity firm, plans to list their real estate portfolios as a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) by 2018. Cerestra operates two investment verticals in rent-yielding real estate space; Cerestra Edu-Infra Fund invests in K-12 school infrastructure and Mission Neutral Industrial Fund in specialised office spaces and infrastructure.

The fund is currently focussing on locking in quality school infrastructure along with closing its healthy asset pipeline. Cerestra is also engaged in raising a $300 million (Rs Rs 20.32 billion) offshore Edu-Infra fund with US-based Jefferies.

AIRTEL GIVES RS 816-CRORE NETWORK UPDATE ORDER TO ERICSSON

Telecom operator Bharti AirtelBSE 1.06 % has awarded an over $120-million (Rs 816 crore) network modernisation and expansion contract to Swedish gear maker Ericsson for Delhi, as the company looks to spruce up service and counter the threat from Reliance Jio Infocomm in the country’s most lucrative market.

The contract for 2G/3G/4G network follows Bharti Airtel’s recent acquisition of additional 10 MHz spectrum in the 2300 MHz band and 5 MHz spectrum in 2100 MHz band for Rs 1,430 crore and Rs 2,770 crore, respectively.

The new four-year contract, being initiated in this quarter, will bring these new airwaves into use for the telco to offer enhanced coverage and capacity, thereby improving the network performance in the national capital.

TWITTER PARTNERS WITH ICICI BANK FOR ADVANCED CUSTOMER CARE

Twitter and ICICI Bank announced a partnership on Wednesday that is aimed at integrating additional digital customer care support features to benefit customers with direct online response to their queries and feedback in real-time, Twitter said in a statement. The social networking platform said ICICI Bank is the first bank in India to implement the new features to its Twitter account @ICICIBank_Care for social customer care.

Speaking about the partnership, Sujit Ganguli, senior general manager ICICI Bank said: “ICICI Bank has always been a pioneer in using path-breaking technology to reach out to its customers. With the growing prominence of social media in our lives, we anticipated the need to be where our customers are. We are among the first few organisations in the country to have started resolving customer queries and requests on Twitter since 2009. We are also the first bank in Asia to introduce money transfer services on Twitter last year. We are delighted to partner with Twitter to bring forth some unique new-age customer-care functions. Customers can now use these functions to communicate, navigate as well as resolve their banking related queries with improved convenience and speed on the bank’s Twitter handle for queries, @ICICIBank_Care. This initiative is in line with our philosophy of ‘Khayaal Aapka’ wherein we offer services that make banking a rewarding experience for our valued customers.”

ASHOK LEYLAND LAUNCHES OYSTER STAFF BUS IN SAUDI ARABIA

Hinduja Group flagship Ashok Leyland has launched Oyster staff bus in Saudi Arabia, the third product from India’s second largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the kingdom in six months.

The automaker had launched Falcon 66 seats and 56s school bus in July, Oyster midi-41 seater school bus in November and now come up with Oyster 33 seater staff variant.

“We are launching Oyster in a phased manner. Our products are received well in the kingdom and it is satisfying to see customers coming back for repeat purchases. This stands testimony to our promise on better comfort, safety and higher profitability to customers,” said Rajive Saharia, President Global Sales and Distribution of Ashok Leyland said.

FUND TRANSFER VIA FEATURE PHONES SET TO GET EASIER

Starting next month, anyone with a mobile will be able to transfer funds by merely using the mobile number of the recipient. The National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has integrated the *99# messaging-based mobile banking service with its Unified Payments Interface (UPI), allowing transfer of money with minimum details.

Currently, feature phones are not used for everyday payments despite there being a platform that allows use of USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) messaging for the purpose. USSD is the messaging platform that prepaid customers use to check their talktime balance. The problem in using it for banking is that it requires inputs of several dozen characters such as 16 digit account number, 11 digit IFSC code, recipient’s name and seven digit Mobile Money Identification Number (MMID).

BIOLOGICS ENTER TOP SELLING DRUGS’ LIST

The global pecking order of blockbuster drugs has undergone a huge shift with seven out of 10 top selling drugs now being biologics. Even the top-selling drug, Humira for rheumatoid arthritis, is a biologic therapy, having toppled Pfizer’s anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor, the top-grossing blockbuster drug for many years.

Biologics, also called biopharmaceuticals, have revolutionised treatment in chronic and serious illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, cancers and diabetes, and nudged traditional drugs out of the top slots, with sales increasing year on year. As against this, drugs which are chemically synthesised, have witnessed plunging sales, with only Gilead’s Harvoni, being the lone drug to have bettered sales over the last two years.

BDO POACHES 40 PARTNERS, 400 EXECUTIVES FROM ITS COMPETITORS

BDO, a resurgent multinational professional services firm, has poached around 400 executives including 40 partners from its competitors to strengthen its India team in the past one month. While around 25 of these partners are already on board, the remaining are serving their notice period and are set to join BDO by March next year.

The company has roped in partners and senior executives from not only competitors such as Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly and law firm ELP, but also from bigger players Deloitte and KPMG. This may mark the beginning of aggressive talent poaching among professional services firms beyond the Big Four, say industry trackers. The Big Four -EY, PwC, KPMG and Deloitte have been on a poaching spree in the past six months.

ADDITIONAL FLIGHTS FROM DUBAI ONLY AFTER INDIA GETS MORE SLOTS

India will not allow Dubai-based airlines to add more flights to Indian cities until the Gulf emirate allots commercially and operationally feasible slots to Indian carriers at its airport. This clause will be part of a bilateral seat entitlement agreement that the two sides are set to sign soon, a senior official at the civil aviation ministry said.

“We will agree on increasing seat entitlements between the two countries as carriers from both sides have exhausted their quota,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “But, any increase in flights and new slots at Indian airports for them will depend on Dubai authorities providing the same to our carriers.”

LUPIN GETS USFDA NOD FOR HYPERTENSION TREATMENT DRUG IN US

Drug major LupinBSE -2.78 % has received tentative approval from the US health regulator to sell Olmesartan medoximil tablets, used for treating high blood pressure, in the American market.

“It has received tentative (rpt) tentative approval for Olmesartan medoximil tablets, 5 mg, 20 mg and 40 mg from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA),” Lupin Ltd said in a BSE filing today.

Olmesartan medoximil tablets, generic version of Daiichi Sankyo’s Benicar, are indicated for the treatment of hypertension, along with other anti-hypertensive agents to lower blood pressure, it added.

Quoting IMS MAT September 2016 sales data, Lupin further said that Benicar tablets had annual US sales of USD 1.06 billion.

BAN ON LIQUOR SHOPS NEAR HIGHWAYS TO HURT FOOD AND BEVERAGE BUSINESS

The recent Supreme Court order to ban liquor shops operating within 500 meters of highways has shocked the food and beverage (F&B) makers. They feel that the move will only hurt their business as a blanket ban will do little to discourage offenders.

“While we welcome the intent, a blanket ban may be inappropriate. It will affect the livelihood and business of people who have made investments across these stretches.

Also, the highways cut across cities. So it will affect business in cities. By this logic, any bar next to a roadside should be banned. We are waiting for the final order before we can act on it,” said Riyaz Amlani, president, National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI).

In its December 15 order, the Supreme Court stated there will be no liquor shops on national or state highways from April 1and existing licences of liquor shops won’t be renewed after April 1. The order, based on a public interest litigation filed by an NGO called Arrive Safe is aimed at ending drunk driving on highways, but industry experts feel the move will do little to deter offenders. “It’s done with a good intenion to try and make the highways more safer. But I don’t think it makes sense and will have the desired impact.

Somebody who wants to have drinks can buy them before starting their journey,” said Rishi Puri, VP, Lords Hotels and Resorts, and a member of Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India. “The move, if at all, will impact F&B revenue. Properties such Cyber hub in Gurgaon would suffer majorly. There are areas that are not necessarily catering to highway travellers yet fall within the vicinity. The sector, already reeling under the adverse impact of demonetisation, will take another hit,” Puri added.

FOCUS ON EMISSION CUTS TO BOOST BIO-FUEL SECTOR: PRAMOD CHAUDHARI, PRAJ INDUSTRIES

The government’s thrust on cutting emission, backed by investments committed by public sector enterprises would lead to an action packed 2017 for the sector, Pramod Chaudhari, executive chairman, Praj IndustriesBSE -3.47 %, told ET.

State run-oil marketing companies Indian Oil CorporationBSE -1.79 % and Bharat Petroleum CorporationBSE -1.42 % are in pact with the Pune-headquartered engineering company Praj Industries to set up plants to manufacture the so-called second generation (2G) ethanol from non-edible agricultural waste. The two OMCs along with Hindustan Petroleum Corporation are expected to set up multiple ethanol units based on this technology with an aggregate investment pegged at around Rs 5,000 crore, according to industry executives.

“The year 2017 will see a lot of action in the bio-fuel space. The government is taking firm action to reduce the carbon emission and the PSUs have already signed memorandum of understanding which is a game changer. Private sector will wait for the final policy on bio-fuels, until then, public sector will drive growth,” Chaudhari told ET in an interview.

He said the two units to be set up for IPC and BPCL will be commissioned by early 2019. Earlier this year, the government has said that it is working on a new policy for non-conventional resources that would increase ethanol blending in petrol to 22.5% and in diesel to 15%, and could potentially save the country Rs 7 trillion on its crude oil imports.

Chaudhari said that Indian automobiles can easily run on 10% ethanol blended petroleum but scaling up ethanol capacity in the country would be crucial to it. “This is just the beginning for second generation ethanol manufacturing in the country. Even to go up to 10% of ethanol blend would be an uphill task as it will need additional 150-160 crore litres of ethanol,” Chaudhari said. His company has commissioned first generation ethanol manufacturing units across the world and has been working on the second generation technology for the past six years.

EMAAR REVAMPS PROJECT TEAMTO FAST TRACK OVER 50 PROJECTS

Dubai-based realty major Emaar Properties is revamping its project management team following the initiation of demerging its India partnership venture and in a bid to fast track over 50 projects stuck due to uncertainty over the fate of this partnership.

The developer has started strengthening its talent pipeline, especially in Project Management space where it has hired 100 employees recently with a focus on delivering current projects spread over 40 million sq ft. Emaar Properties PJSC, which had made the then largest FDI of over Rs 7,000 crore in its real estate joint venture Emaar MGF Land in 2005-06, has parted ways with Indian partner MGF Developments.

Under the separation plan, expected to be concluded by April, Emaar India will get control of most of the 55 ongoing or partially completed projects. “We are even more committed than ever to provide effective management to all the projects ensuring their execution and completion at the earliest possible. All our resources have been channelised to put these projects on a fast track. We are confident that this pivotal step of strengthening our teams at all levels will only lead us towards a triumphant accomplishment of our business goals,” said Arman Chaudhary, Chief of Human Resources, Emaar India.

“Even after factoring healthy attrition level of 12-13%, our overall headcount would go up by 15%.” Emaar India is looking to deliver 11,500 residential units over next two years across 35 projects.

Apart from project management team, the developer will also be ramping up its labour headcount to 10,000 from current 8,000. It has roped in professionals from DLF, Hiranandani Constructions, Bharti Realty, Lotus Greens, Gulf Petrochem and IREO to fasttrack its projects.

NEW POWER TARIFF STRUCTURE IN WORKS, LARGE DOMESTIC CONSUMERS TO BE CHARGED MORE

The burden of subsidising the power bills of agricultural and low-income families is set to move from industrial consumers to large domestic and commercial consumers of electricity.

The government plans to introduce a new tariff structure to charge more from large domestic power consumers rather than industrial units that currently share the cross subsidy burden.

Most states categorise households consuming more than 800 units of power a month as large domestic consumers. The government is also working on simplifying tariff patterns by classifying consumers in two to three categories and sub-categories to bring transparency in power billing.

An expert committee has been set for this. It comprises senior officials from various states and the power ministry to work on the new tariff structure that encourages energy conservation by residential consumers and reduces the power bill of industrial consumers.

SBI, OTHER BANKS MAY CUT LENDING RATES IN NEW YEAR

State Bank of India, the country’s largest lender, and a few other banks are expected to announce a cut in lending rates effective early January, said people with knowledge of the matter.

That could give consumption a much-needed boost, having slumped in the wake of demonetisation as people are unwilling to spend on non-essential items amid a currency shortage. People considering home and car purchases can look forward to cheaper rates due to the liquidity that’s flooded the banking system with the deposit of old notes, especially since corporate loan demand remains weak. SBI couldn’t be reached for comment.

Cash withdrawal limits are, however, expected to stay in place even after the December 30 deadline by which the demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have to be deposited. At an Indian Banks’ Association meeting last week, chief executives of some large banks explored the possibility of a cut in interest rates on loans following discussions with the finance ministry, said banking sources.

Some bankers believe such a move could revive sentiment amid the dip in consumption due to the currency shortage induced by demonetisation. SBI has pegged its lending rate at 8.90% for a year, among the lowest in the industry.

The flip side to this is a possible reduction in the savings bank rate. Although there is no regulatory curb on the savings account rate, all state-run banks and large private banks have currently set it at 4%. “Post demonetisation, a number of customers have repaid their loans; many are refraining from borrowing,” said a bank chief.

WARBURG PINCUS SEEKS RBI’S NOD TO RETAIN 22% STAKE IN AU FINANCIERS

Private equity firm Warburg Pincus has sought approval from the Reserve Bank of India to retain its 22% stake in Au Financiers, a finance company that received regulatory clearance to start a small finance bank. According to existing rules, no single entity, except the promoters, can hold more than 10% of a bank.

Au Financiers, which got the licence from the RBI in last Friday, will be renamed Au Small Finance Bank and is set to start banking operations in April 2017. “The message we get from the stakeholders is that none of them want to dilute the stake in Au Financiers,” said Sanjay Agarwal, founder and managing director of Au Financiers.

Warburg Pincus declined to comment. “Warburg Pincus may seek RBI approval on grounds that they would be a noninterfering, silent investor and would renounce their voting rights to retain their stake,” said a person familiar with the matter. Agarwal declined to comment on this.

FAIRFAX, US BUYOUT FUNDS VIE FOR STAKE IN INDIGO TECH ARM

India-born Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Holdings is competing with US buyout giants such as the Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group to acquire a controlling stake in InterGlobe Technology Quotient, the travel reservation arm of Inter-Globe Enterprises that runs Indigo Airlines, in a $500 million deal.

Warburg Pincus and TPG Capital Management are the two other contenders in talks to acquire the Delhi-headquartered technology outsourcing firm, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the process told ET.

Investment bank Moelis & Co is running a formal process to sell the company, partly owned by Rahul Bhatia. Three private equity funds managed by Standard Chartered, DBS and Credit Suisse collectively own 36% stake in the company.

When contacted, Carlyle, TPG and DBS declined to comment while Fairfax, ITQ, Blackstone, Warburg Pincus, Standard Chartered, and Credit Suisse did not immediately respond to ET’s detailed mails seeking comments sent on Saturday.ET first reported in its October 4 edition that Indigo parent’s technology arm is looking to sell a controlling stake.

ROAD AHEAD FOR 2017: FOCUS ON CASH FLOWS, BANKS NEED MORE TIME TO TACKLE OTHER ISSUES

With majority of bad asset recognition having materialised, 2016 was expected to mark a peak of the banking industry’s woes. While banks were putting their act together to face hurdles pertaining to higher provisions and slow loan demand, the demonetisation focus may delay the time they need to overcome these obstacles.

The withdrawal of old Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, which is set to extract nearly 86% of the currency in circulation, has resulted in a surge in deposits and a subsequent fall in bond yields which may help banks to earn higher treasury income. However, the whole demonetisation exercise has put bank employees and practices followed by the banks to the test. As they work hard to assuage the people’s cash needs, here’s an ETIG list of demons that the banks must reassign their fighting efforts to.

As companies came to terms with a slowdown in economic activity and volatile commodity prices, a large proportion of bank loans granted in 2010-12 has turned stressful. In FY16, gross bad debt touched Rs 5.9 lakh crore.

In the six months to September, it has crossed Rs 7 lakh crore with a few leading banks carrying a watch list of about Rs 75,000 crore of loans that may turn into non-performing assets (NPAs).

Provisions for bad debt doubled in FY16 and they are going to remain elevated because of the ageing of these loans. While companies are looking to sell assets to reduce debt, the benefit of such deals comes with a lag of at least six to nine months and post demonetisation the resolution efforts are likely to take a hit.

ADOOR SLAMS NATIONAL FILM AWARDS SELECTION

Filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan has written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting urging it to ensure that the jury to select films for the national awards this year is headed by a filmmaker of eminence who is familiar with modern trends in cinema, and the jury as a whole instils a feeling of fairness in the minds of the professionals involved.

In a letter addressed to I&B Secretary Ajay Mittal, released for publication here on Monday, Mr. Gopalakrishnan urged him to treat selection of the jury chairman and members seriously and stop an ‘incompetent jury from sitting to judge our work’.

The national awards were conceived as a means to select and award films for their thematic relevance, social commitment, original approach, technical excellence and above all aesthetic brilliance.

RADIO MIRCHI HONOURS BEST OF PUNJABI MUSIC AT MMA PUNJABI

Radio Mirchi once again recognised and facilitated the talented artists of Punjabi music industry at ‘Royal Stag Mirchi Music Awards Punjabi’.

In the third edition, Radio Mirchi honoured singers from various genres of Punjabi music – both film and non-film.

Hosted by the Nimrat Khaira and Amrit Mann, the awards witnessed outstanding performances by who’s who of the Punjabi Music Industry including Diljit Dosajh, Baadshah, Guru Randhawa, Harbhajan Singh, Jazz Dhami, Fazilpuria, Shukh-e Nav Inder.

The awards night held in Chandigarh was charged up by Diljit Dosanjh’s mirchidar songs like ‘5 Taara’, ‘Ik Kudi’, and ‘Mitra De Junction De!’

Diljit won Listeners Choice Song of the Year for both Film and Non-Film categories for ‘Pagg Wala Munda’ (Ambarsariya) and ‘5 Taara’.

TOYOTA KIRLOSKAR MOTOR GETS NATIONAL EXPORTER AWARD

Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) was presented the National award for Engineering Export Excellence at the 47th Engineering Export Promotion Council of India (EEPCI) awards ceremony.

The carmaker received a gold trophy under the Merchant Exporter category. In the past, TKM has been awarded the Exporter Excellence award by EEPCI for 10 years at the southern region level and 6 years at the national level.

Its manufacturing plant in Bengaluru, where it manufactures models for the Indian market, also exports Completely Built Units (CBUs) like the Etios and the Etios Liva, and auto parts to South Africa, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Argentina and Brazil.

RAJASTHANI WRITER SATYA NARAYAN CHOSEN FOR BIHARI PURASKAR

New Delhi, Dec 27 (PTI) Eminent Rajasthani litterateur Satya Narayan has been chosen for the 26th Bihari Puraskar, 2016 for his Hindi book titled, “Yeh Ek Dunia”, the K K Birla Foundation announced today.

Instituted in 1991 by the Foundation, the award which is named after famous Hindi poet Bihari, recognises outstanding work in Hindi or Rajasthani, published during the last ten years by a Rajasthani writer.

“K K Birla Foundation announces that the twenty-sixth Bihari Puraskar for the year 2016 will be given to Dr Satya Narayan for his Hindi reportage Yeh Ek Dunia. This book was published in 2010,” the Foundation said in an official statement.

CRISTIANO RONALDO, FERNANDO SANTOS HONOURED AT GLOBE SOCCER AWARDS

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal’s Euro 2016-winning coach Fernando Santos scooped the top prizes at the seventh edition of the Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai.

Ronaldo claimed the best player award after helping his country land their first major title at this year’s European Championship and firing Real to a record 11th European Cup triumph.

“Probably (this) was my best year so far,” Ronaldo, who earlier this month won the Ballon d’Or for the fourth time in his career, said in a short video message.

“The people still doubt about me, about Real Madrid, about national team, and you have the proof. We win everything, so amazing year, I’m so happy.”

BASELINE AWARDS: BEST LATE-SEASON TURNAROUND

New York always seems to bring out the best in former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, as it’s the site of her two career Grand Slam final appearances.

She was never morein need of a bite of the Big Apple than she was in 2016. By time the US Open rolled around, her season could’ve been written off as a lost cause.

Struggling with injury and all-around form for the bulk of the year, Wozniacki entered the Open well outside of the Top 50 at No. 74. She caught fire in her second home, and defeated Top 10 players Svetlana Kuznetsova and Madison Keys on her way to the semifinals.

Then it was off to Asia, where her hot streak continued, as she won titles in Tokyo and Hong Kong.

By the time the end of the season rolled around, Wozniacki was back in the Top 20. With hardly any points to defend in the first half of the year, a Top 10 ranking could be well within reach, bringing the turnaround full circle.

MANN KI BAAT: PM MODI LAUNCHES TWO AWARD SCHEMES TO ENCOURAGE DIGITAL PAYMENTS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched two award schemes named ‘Lucky Grahak Yojana’ and ‘Digi Dhan Vapar Yojana’ to encourage digital payments during his ‘Mann ki Baat’ address.

Prime Minister Modi, who was addressing the 27th edition of his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio address, announced ‘Lucky Grahak Yojana’ for consumers and ‘Digi Dhan Vapar Yojana for small traders.

Urging the businessmen to encourage cashless transactions, the Prime Minister said, “The businessmen, who make use of digital payments, will also receive Income Tax benefits.”.

“This digital movement is a golden opportunity for the youth and start-ups. They can open new avenues through it. We should be at the forefront of using digital means to make payments and transactions,” he added.
Announcing the scheme, Prime Minister Modi said, “Starting today, 15,000 Indians will get Rs. 1,000 cash awards for doing digital payments. Award scheme will be available for transactions above Rs. 50 and below Rs. 3,000.”

He further said he is happy that awareness towards online payments and using technology for economic transactions is increasing. He said there are 30 crore RuPay cards in the country, adding 20 crore are owned by the poor who have Jan Dhan accounts. (ANI).

MARUTI SUZUKI VITARA BREZZA WINS THE NDTV SUBCOMPACT SUV OF THE YEAR AWARD 2017

Maruti Suzuki’s Vitara Brezza won the best sub-compact SUV of the year at the NDTV Car and Bike Awards 2017. The compact SUV segment has been growing rapidly in India and the Vitara Brezza has taken the fight to this segment by sliding under the 4 metre mark. Yes, it’s a sub-compact SUV and though it had the Mahindra NuvoSport for competition in this segment this year, for the jury, the choice was a unanimous one.

The Vitara Brezza also won the CNB Viewers’ Choice Car Of The Year Award and it didn’t come as a surprise. The Vitara Brezza’s popularity with the masses is not breaking news. In fact it was already in the top 10 selling passenger vehicles in India by May this year and that shows how much attention the car got within two months of its launch.

RESEARCHERS DEVELOP THREE ATOMS WIDE THINNEST WIRE USING TINY DIAMONDS

Advancements in science and technology have made us witnessed a number of inventions and this time is no different.

A group of international scientists has developed world’s slimmest wire with the coating of diamonds.

The nanometer-scale wires are formulated with three materials like diamonds, copper, and sulfur. By putting these three materials together, scientists were able to create world’s thinnest diamond coated wires manually.

The experiment carried out by a team of researchers from Stanford University and the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have successfully developed this thinnest and slimmest nanometer-scale wires which can help scientists in shrinking the electronic circuits, stuffing more computing power into tiniest devices, and enable the researchers to survey exotic material physics.

CHRONIC CAPACITY SHORTAGE SENDS ISRO SEARCHING FOR LEASE OF OVERSEAS SATELLITE

A chronic national shortage of communication satellite capacity has forced the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to search for a quick-fix lease of an overseas satellite in orbit, temporarily.
ISRO routinely leases partial capacity on foreign satellites, primarily for the bulk of private direct-to-home television operators. However, it has not leased an entire communication satellite. The space agency says it needs to hire a suitable extra spacecraft for two or three years.

It put out an RFP (request for proposal) earlier in December asking international satellite operators if they can spare an existing geostationary spacecraft; or one that will be launched in the first quarter of 2017.
Post-deal, the satellite which must also have Ku-band transponders will be moved into one of the six satellite parking slots allotted to India overhead within its longitudes.

ISRO TO LAUNCH RECORD 83 SATELLITES IN ONE GO IN JANUARY

ISRO today said it would launch a record 83 satellites in one go using its workhorse PSLV-C37 toward the end of January.

The three Indian satellites are Cartosat-2 series, weighing 730 kg as primary payload, and INS-IA and INS-1B, weighing 30 kg.

ISRO today said it would launch a record 83 satellites in one go using its workhorse PSLV-C37 toward the end of January.

“We are working for a January launch. It will be toward the end of January.

The date has to be fixed,” Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman AS Kiran Kumar told reporters here. Of the 83 satellites, 80 belong to Israel, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Switzerland and the US. They weigh about 500 kg.

The three Indian satellites are Cartosat-2 series, weighing 730 kg as primary payload, and INS-IA and INS-1B, weighing 30 kg.

GUJARAT GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES BIOTECHNOLOGY POLICY

With an aim to establish Gujarat as a preferred destination for manufacturing of biotechnology products, the state government today announced it’s ‘Biotechnology Policy-2016’.
The policy has various incentives for investors who are keen to set up their units in the state.
Under the policy, the state government would provide capital subsidy up to Rs 25 crore on the total investment for developing a Biotechnology (BT) Park, said Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel while announcing the policy.

GOOGLE TO LAUNCH ONLINE SAFETY CAMPAIGN FOR CONSUMERS

In a bid to raise awareness about online safety, Google India has partnered with the Ministry of Consumer Affairs for rolling out a nationwide ‘Digitally Safe Consumer’ campaign.

Google, along with Department of Consumer Affairs, will undertake a year—long campaign focussed on building capacities of consumer organisations, personnel of Consumer Affairs department and counsellors of National Consumer Helpline on Internet safety and related issues.

“With the rapid increase in digitisation across all spheres, the message of internet safety needs to be integrated into the everyday tasks that the consumer undertakes online,” Google India Country head (Public Policy) Chetan Krishnaswamy said in a statement.

WORLD’S MOST HEAT RESISTANT MATERIAL FOUND

Scientists have identified materials that can withstand temperatures of nearly 4,000 degrees Celsius, an advance that may pave the way for improved heat resistant shielding for the faster-than-ever hypersonic space vehicles.
Researchers from Imperial College London in the UK discovered that the melting point of hafnium carbide is the highest ever recorded for a material.
Tantalum carbide (TaC) and hafnium carbide (HfC) are refractory ceramics, meaning they are extraordinarily resistant to heat. Their ability to withstand extremely harsh environments means that refractory ceramics could be used in thermal protection systems on high-speed vehicles and as fuel cladding in the super-heated environments of nuclear reactors.

INDIAN CONSULATE ORGANISES ITEC DAY FOR ALUMNI

More than 100 Vietnamese alumni of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme from southern Việt Nam participated in the ITEC Day 2016 organised in the city on Dec 23.

The event, held by the Consulate General of India in HCM City, aims to “share the Indian development experience and expertise in its own quest for growth as a proud independent nation” with other developing countries, especially Việt Nam.

Smita Pant, Consul General of India, addressed the gathering and highlighted India’s commitment to overall development partnership with Việt Nam.

India’s commitments under the ITEC programme, which is fully funded by the Indian Government, have contributed to the capacity development in a wide range of areas, she said.

It was also attended by the president of the University of Social Science and Humanities, vice rectors of University of Training and Education, University of Trà Vinh and HCM City University of Technology and Education.
Ammonia detected in Earth’s troposphere for first time

For the first time, researchers have discovered ammonia in the Earth’s lowest atmospheric layer – with highest emissions of the gas encountered in North India and Southeast China.

Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany together with researchers from US and Mexico analysed satellite measurements by the MIPAS infrared spectrometer and found increased amounts of ammonia (NH3) between 12 and 15 km height in the area of the Asian monsoon.

This suggests that the gas is responsible for the formation of aerosols, smallest particles that might contribute to cloud formation, researchers said.

Ammonia, a chemical compound of nitrogen and hydrogen, mainly originates from agricultural processes, in particular from life-stock farming and fertilisation.

CHINA TESTS NEW JET FIGHTER FC-31 GYRFALCON PROTOTYPE: REPORT

The test comes as the nation flexes its military muscles, sending its sole aircraft carrier the Liaoning into the western Pacific in recent days to lead drills there for the first time.
The newest version of the J-31 — now renamed the FC-31 Gyrfalcon — took to the air for the first time Friday, the China Daily reported.
The so-called “fifth-generation” twin-engine jet is China’s answer to the US F-35, the world’s most technically advanced fighter.

DRDO SUCCESSFULLY TESTS SMART ANTI-AIRFIELD WEAPON, CAN TARGET ENEMY AIRFIELDS WITHIN 100 KM RANGE

The Defence and Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully tested an indigenous Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) from an Indian Air Force aircraft, an official release said on Saturday.
Designed and developed in the country, the 120-kg class smart weapon is used to destroy runways, bunkers, aircraft hangers and other reinforced structures.
Its long standoff range of 100 km will allow the IAF to hit adversary airfields with high precision from a saf ..

CHINA CLAIMS INDO-US-JAPAN ‘MALABAR NAVAL EXERCISE’ MORE BLUSTER THAN REAL DETERRENCE

Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the US Seventh Fleet, said earlier this month that India, Japan and the US are set to focus their next round of marine war games, the Malabar exercise, on anti-submarine warfare.

The exercise has “assumed significance” at a time when “China has become more assertive, and their submarines forays in the Indian Ocean region have increased,” said India Today.

It indicates a continuation of the Malabar 2016 that targeted China.
The Malabar exercise started in 1992 with the US and India in the Indian Ocean.

Since Japan joined in 2007, it has alternated between the West Pacific and the Indian Ocean. In June, the three countries held their largest ever joint exercise, which involved 11 vessels and 8,000 personnel.

INDIAN ARMY PARTNERS WITH IIT GANDHINAGAR FOR CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENTS

Indian Army has partnered with IIT Gandhinagar to set up a research and development (R&D) cell at the IIT campus.

The research cell will work with the faculty and research students to identify problems and possible solutions for the Indian Army.

The agreement will also enable the IIT and Indian Army to collaborate in areas including critical technology requirements of Indian Army, sharing of professional and technical knowledge, according to a release.

“The MoU was an unprecedented initiative which would result in meaningful realization and efficient transfer of research into customized solutions for the Indian Army.

There are several issues faced by the Indian Army that needs to be addressed. For example, we can have lighter and better bulletproof jackets, better and lighter materials to build bunkers and so on.

There is a whole lot of inventory even in the aircraft engines that can be done in India.

CHINA’S FIRST ‘COMBAT-READY’ AIRCRAFT CARRIER CONDUCTS FIGHTER DRILLS, MAY HEAD TO THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

China’s military has confirmed that its first aircraft carrier, which is now ready to “fight against enemies”, along with fighter jets recently conducted an air combat exercise in the Yellow Sea. The drills are also likely to be carried out farther afield in the country’s maritime area — the South China Sea.

The exercises were carried out by the Soviet-built Liaoning carrier group in the open sea, China’s defense ministry announced late on Friday (23 December). Taking forward its air force and maritime activities, the Liaoning will next “conduct scheduled cross-sea training and tests”, it added.

While the ministry did not explicitly mention the destination of the drill, the words “cross-sea” has left Chinese media speculating it to be the heavily contested South China Sea.

Together with Liaoning, a fleet of destroyers and multiple groups of J-15 carrier-borne fighter jets conducted the drills while receiving orders from Wu Shengli, commander of the Navy of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the Global Times reported on Saturday.

The navy added that the J-15 fighters took off from the aircraft carrier and conducted aerial refueling and air combat exercises on Thursday.

‘DAKSHIN PRAHAR’ EXERCISE HELD IN ALL STATIONS OF SOUTHERN AIR COMMAND

A six-day ‘Dakshin Prahar’ exercise was conducted at all stations under Southern Air Command from December 19 to put to test and practise all the contingency plans of the Command.

During the exercise, the ability and readiness of the Command and all Air Force Stations under it were rigorously tested through simulated contingencies both by day and night, thereby enabling the commanders to assess the situation, plan and execute air operations with the assets at their disposal, a defence press release said.

This exercise also enabled the field Commanders validate the efficacy of their operational and ground defence plans.

The six-day exercise included physical movement of combat elements in the Southern Peninsula.

The ability to rapidly induct and field a large number of combat forces as applicable to Southern Area was also tested.

ARMY’S OLDEST REGIMENT HOLDS AFFILIATION CEREMONY WITH NAVAL FRIGATE

The Indian Army’s Poona Horse and the latest Indian Navy frigate, the INS Sahyadri, held an affiliation at an event that continued a three-decade practice promoting cross-service cooperation at the Naval Dockyard in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.

Lt Gen RV Kanitkar, colonel of the Poona Horse Regiment — one of the oldest regiments of the Indian Army— and Vice-Admiral HCS Bisht, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Eastern Naval Command, spoke about the importance of achieving the aims listed in the charter of affiliation.

INS Sahyadri, one of the latest indigenous weapon platforms of the Eastern Naval Command, was constructed at Mazagaon Dock Ltd, Mumbai. This stealth ship is armed with an array of weaponry such as Surface-to-Surface missiles, Surface-to-Air missiles, medium range and short-range guns and anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

RUSSIA SUCCESSFULLY TESTS AN ANTI-SATELLITE WEAPON IN SPACE

Russia’s Strategic Missile Troops (or Strategic Rocket Forces) on Dec. 16 seem to have again successfully tested an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon that sought out a simulated target in low Earth orbit (LEO).

The hit-to-kill interceptor was taken into LEO by an A-235 Nudol ASAT missile launched from a base in central Russia. This is the fifth Nudol missile test and the third successful flight.

The previous test of this missile occurred in June when a Nudol was launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome located 500 miles north of Moscow. The first successful test of the A-235 took place in November 2015 and can be viewed in this video.

The missile test of Dec.16 was monitored by U.S. intelligence satellites. Experts said the test was another milestone in Russia’s efforts to develop ASAT weapons that can destroy U.S. navigation, communications, and intelligence satellites.

DRDO DEVELOPS COCHLEAR IMPLANT

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a cheaper “cochlear implant” to treat deafness. Clinical testing of the device on humans will start soon at country’s premier health institute, AIIMS. According to professor of ENT at AIIMS, Dr. Alok Thakar, after the successful trial of the indigenously built cochlear implant device on animals, the concerned authority has given permission for a human trial, which will start soon. The implant developed by the DRDO will bring down the cost by two third. ENT specialists said that cochlear implant is a small electronic medical device that a doctor puts in a patient’s ear via surgery to replace the function of the damaged inner ear. The device sends sound pulses directly to the auditory nerve, which carries sound signals to the brain.

DEVIATIONS UNLIMITED IN AGUSTAWESTLAND PROCUREMENT

The arrest of the former air chief S P Tyagi is unprecedented. Never in the annals of India’s armed forces had any service chief been arrested on grounds of corruption. The AgustaWestland contract, aside from the kickback issue, also exemplifies how not to process an acquisition case and sign a contract. Details available in the public domain are disturbing; they bristle with infirmities, breaches, infractions — so glaring the deviations are that anyone familiar with the Defence Procurement Procedure-2006 (DPP-2006) will blanch how it ever happened. Yet, it did.

A sequential recap would be apt. The Indian Air Force, tasked with the air transportation of VVIPs, proposed replacing its ageing helicopters with more-advanced ones on operational grounds. The initial Request for Proposal (RFP) 2002 issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the replacement of Mi-8 helicopters stipulated a mandatory altitude requirement of 6,000 metre.

MIRABAI CHANU AND GURURAJA BAG GOLD IN WEIGHTLIFTING NATIONALS

Rio Olympian S Mirabai Chanu (women’s 48kg) and Gururaja (men’s 56kg) bagged gold medals in their respective categories on the opening day of the Senior National Weightlifting Championships in Nagercoil on Monday.A total of 265 weightlifters are a part of the ongoing Championships and three weight categories concluded on Monday — two in women and one in men.Mirabai of RSPB lifted 81kg in snatch and 105kg in clean & jerk for a total of 186kg to finish on top in women’s 48kg, while 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist K Sanjita Chanu, also representing RSPB, won the silver with an overall lift of 185kg (79+106) and Jhilli Dalabehera (ORS) settled for the bronze with an effort of 152kg (64+88).In the men’s 56kg, SSCB’s Gururaja lifted a total of 246kg with 110kg in snatch and 136kg in clean & jerk. TBC Lalchhanhima (Mizoram) and Korada Ramana (RSPB) clinched the silver and bronze, respectively, with efforts of 238kg (103+135) and 237kg (105+132).In women’s 53kg category, M Santoshi (RSPB) emerged victorious by picking up an overall weightof 186kg (83+103), while Harshdeep Kaur (Punjab) lifted 177kg (77+100) for a silver and Assam’s Manalisha Sonowal ended with a bronze after lifting 176kg (77+99).

14-YEAR-OLD MEERUT BOY STORMS INTO MAN’S WORLD WITH RECORD SHOOTING SCORE

Fourteen-year-old double-trap shooter Shapath Bharadwaj created history by qualifying for the senior national team after finishing second in the selection trials, which concluded in Patiala on Saturday. He will now represent India in the World Cups at New Delhi, Mexico and Cyprus.Ankur Mittal topped the list and Sangram Singh Dahiya bagged the third position in the senior selection shooting trials. Shapath had scored 136/150 in the national shooting championships at Jaipur in November, and in the two rounds of trials at Patiala, he shot 122/150 and 136/150, respectively. The average of the three scores saw Shapath Bharadwaj finish second behind Mittal. His 136 in the nationals is a junior national record.A Class 9 student, Shapath Bharadwaj is the first junior to qualify for the senior national team. During the national championships in Jaipur from November 15-26 scored 136/150 to secure second rank in junior and third position in senior category.

KOA HONOURS 19 SPORTSPERSONS

A total of 19 individuals were honoured at the Karnataka Olympic Association (KOA) awards function here on Monday. The selected group received the awards from Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah Golfer S. Chikkarangappa, one of the awardees, stated that he was inspired. “The Chief Minister’s speech was inspirational. I want to win more international tournaments and bring more honour to India. My ultimate goal is to win a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” Chikkarangappa said.Siddaramaiah stated that if a Karnataka sportsperson wins a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics, he/she will be rewarded with Rs. 5 crore. “It is not enough to just participate in the Olympics, sportspersons must aim to win medals too. All of you present here must strive to bring honour to the country,” he said.H.M. Jyothi (athletics), Shikha Gautam (badminton), H.M. Bhandavya (basketball), Sandesh Uppar (cycling), S. Chikkarangappa (golf), S.K. Uthappa (hockey), Mallaprabha Jadhav (judo), Usha Rani (kabaddi), Mayur Bhanu (shooting), Damini Gowda (swimming), R. Anitha (taekwondo), Archana Kamath (table tennis), Dhruthi Venugopal (tennis), Vinayak Rokade (volleyball), Naveen Chandra (weightlifting), G. Mohan (press photographer).

FIFA CHIEF GIANNI INFANTINO SAYS FOOTBALL FEDERATIONS BACK EXPANDED WORLD CUP

Football federations are backing plans to expand the World Cup beyond 32 teams, FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in Dubai on Wednesday.The global football federation boss wants to increase the number of teams playing in the World Cup final tournament to 48, arguing that it can be done in the same time frame as the current tournament.Global football federations are “overwhelmingly in favour” of expanding the tournament, said Infantino, who has also suggested a 40-team World Cup.Infantino, speaking at a sports conference, said a 48-team tournament was the most financiallyappealing structure.The FIFA boss has previously suggested a 48-team tournament but with a one-off preliminary round involving 32 teams, with the 16 winners going into a 32-team group stage and joining 16 teams who would receive a bye.When he was elected in February, Infantino had promised to expand the tournament from the current 32 teams to 40.Infantino later told reporters it would be up to the FIFA council members to decide in a “democratic process” on the expansion.

BOPANNA QUESTIONS DAVIS CUP TEAM SELECTION LOGIC

Bopanna also attacked the reasoning behind pairing Paes with Myneni for the New Zealand tie saying that winning one set against Rafael Nadal and Marc Lopez in the match against Spain six months earlier could not be used as a valid reason for picking a team.He explained that it the need for recovery from an injury he had picked up during the US Open that had caused him to opt out of the match against the visiting Spanish team last September.I’d called captain Anand Amritraj and explained things to him at that time,” said Bopanna. “By not playing the Davis Cup, I got twoweeks to recover before going to China.”Bopanna questioned the sudden shrink in the team for home ties, from six players to five, saying that the captain should have six players before he finalises the playing four, as had been the practice in agreement with the AITA.“I am not saying ‘pick me’. I just want logic and a fair selection, which will put up the best team at that moment,” said Bopanna.

CAVALIERS STUN WARRIORS

Kyrie Irving’s turnaround jump shot over Klay Thompson with 3.4 seconds left lifted the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers to a 109-108 Christmas Day triumph over Golden State Warriors on Sunday.Cavaliers trailed most of the game and were down by as many as 14 earlier in the fourth quarter.LeBron James’s rim-rattling dunk with 1:43 to play put Cleveland up 105-103 — their first lead since early in the first quarter — and Irving capped the comeback with a clutch shot that recalled his championship-winning three-pointer in the final minute of game seven last June.Irving finished with 25 points, while James had 31 points and 13 rebounds. Kevin Love had 20 points and six rebounds for the Cavs.Kevin Durant was superb in his first appearance in the Warriors-Cavs rivalry.Durant scored 36 points and pulled down 15 rebounds.But after Irving’s key basket he was unable to get off a potentially game-winning shot, getting tangled with Richard Jefferson and hitting the floor. No foul was called and time ran out.

AUDHI’S CENTURY HELPS ST. BEDE’S TO A BIG WIN

Audhi Sachin’s century (133) set up a massive 189-run win for St. Bede’s (Chennai) over Govt. HSS (Villupuram) in the Junior Super Kings inter-school T20 tournament here on Sunday.Sri Jayendra, Tirunelveli 129 for seven in 20 overs (R. K. Bharath 38) bt Silver Jubilee, Nagai 108 in 19.1 overs (T. Maatesh 37, Sriram three for 15, Pradeep three for eight)Concordia, Vellore 125 in 20 overs (Prakash Nathan 33, Naveen 29) bt CS Academy, Erode 84 in 17.3 overs (Yashvanth 30).Bhavans (Dindigul) 41 in 16.4 overs lost to Mani HSS (Coimbatore) 43 for no loss in 3.5 overs.St Bede’s, Chennai 268 for three in 20 overs (Audhi Sachin 133, S. Abishek 71, Rajagopal 26 n.o.) bt Govt. HSS, Villupuram 79 in 16.4 overs (E Vignesh 35, T.D. Lokesh Raj four forseven).

HAMILTON LAMENTS BEING DENIED ‘EQUAL’ OPPORTUNITY

Former champion Lewis Hamiton has rued the lack of ‘equal opportunity’ at Mercedes during the 2016 Formula One season. “The team’s job is to provide both drivers with equal opportunity. And unfortunately, I didn’t have equal opportunity, because I had failures on our side of the garage. The other side didn’t. So that puts more stress on the importance of myself sucking every ounce of opportunity,” Hamilton was quoted by ESPN F1. “At the end, that’s all I could have done. I didn’t do anything dangerous. I didn’t put anyone in harm’s way. I’d do it again. You’re out there to fight.”

BMS WOMEN WIN

BMS College defeated Dharwad 25-21, 25-23 in the women’s final of the Vajpayee Cup volleyball tournament.In the men’s semifinals, CQAL swept past Karnataka State Police while Hoysala SC defeated ASC.CQAL bt KSP 25-21, 25-20, 25-18; Hoysala SC bt ASC 25-13, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19. Third place: ASC bt KSP 25-18, 25-18. Women: Final: BMS College bt Dharwad 25-21, 25-23. — Principal Correspondent

JHARKHAND MARCH INTO SEMIS WITH EMPHATIC FIVE-WICKET VICTORY

Jharkhand became the second team after Tamil Nadu to seal a semi-final berth in this season’s Ranji trophy after completing a comprehensive 5-wicket win over Haryana on Monday (December 26).Set a challenging target of 176, Jharkhand’s gamble of promoting Ishan Kishan to the top of the order worked like a charm. The former India Under-19 captain blasted a 61-ball 86 to set up what turned out to be a easy chase in the end.Kishan was severe on all the bowlers, with India leg-spinner Amit Mishra coming for some special treatment. He added 95 runs with his opening partner Anand Singh and then added a further 44 with Virat Singh, paving the way for Jharkhand’s facile victory and maiden semifinal appearance. They did lose wickets in a heap as they inched closer to the final post, but the victory was never in doubt. For Haryana, SM Pahal and Yuzvendra Chahal finished with two wickets apiece.Earlier, resuming at their overnight score of 146 for 2, Haryana lost their way completely and at one stage were reduced to 195 for 7. The tail wagged a bit and Mohit Sharma’s men were finally bundled out for 262. For Jharkhand, Shahbaz Nadeem added four more wickets to compete yet another 10-wicket haul, with his last victim – Chahal – also being his 50th victim in this season’s Ranji Trophy.Brief Scores: Haryana 258 (Rajat Paliwal 42, Chaitanya Bishnoi 41; Shahbaz Nadeem 7-79) & 262 (CK Bishnoi 52, Shubham Rohilla 43, Shahbaz Nadeem 4 for 78) lost to Jharkhand 345 (Virat Singh 107, Ishank Jaggi 77; Harshal Patel 4-46, Yuzvendra Chahal 3-85) and 178/5 (Ishan Kishan 86, Yuzvendra Chahal 2/43, SM Pahal 2/36) by 5 wickets.

TOM LATHAM, COLIN MUNRO KNOCK BANGLADESH OUT ON BOXING DAY

Boxing Day is an iconic occasion and New Zealand couldn’t have asked for anything better as they defeated Bangladesh in emphatic style in the first One Day International (ODI) at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Monday (December 26). Opting to bat first on an overcast morning, New Zealand rode on a superlative ton from Tom Latham and a brilliant 87 from Colin Munro to post a mammoth total of 341. The result was pretty much evident at the innings break but one expected the tourists to put up a better fight than what they did eventually, succumbing to a 77-run loss.Chasing 342, Bangladesh hinged their hopes on the opening combination of Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal, but they didn’t last together at the crease for too long. While Tamim got off the mark with a boundary in the first over, Kayes hit a six and a four to get going. The merry didn’t last long as Southee bounced Kayes (16) out as the southpaw top-edged it to the keeper in the eighth over. Replays confirmed that there was a fair edge on the ball as it went past the attempted pull shot.While Tamim sought support from the other end, he couldn’t have been let down further as Soumya Sarkar and Mahmudullah fell to poor shots in the same over to leave Bangladesh in tatters, with James Neesham picking up both those wickets. Sarkar (1) seemingly in a hurry, didn’t get his eye in against the new bowler and in his attempt to go over covers, miscued it to mid off. Mahmudullah chased down a wild, wide ball to edge it to the keeper, getting dismissed for a duck.

QUINEY PROPELS STARS TO THUNDEROUS WIN

Melboune Stars got their Big Bash League (BBL) 2016-17 campaign off to winning start with a thunderous eight-wicket win over Hobart Hurricanes at the Bellerive Oval on Monday (December 26). Chasing 189, Rob Quiney scored a 43-ball 75 to help his team cruise past the target in the 18th over.In what turned out to be a batting contest between two pairs of batsmen from both teams – Luke Wright-Quiney and George Bailey-Tim Paine – the former won the clash after scoring 88 to set a perfect launchpad for the chase.With a challenging total in front of them, both Wright and Quiney took turns to flay the bowlers, scoring at more than ten runs per over. The duo decided to tee off from the second over – bowled by Shaun Tait – after a watchful first over from Clive Rose, which yielded only six.With the game soon slipping away from the grasp of Hurricanes, Cameron Boyce bowled Wright in the ninth over to give them some respite. However, with the platform laid and with Quiney in no mood to throw away his wicket, there was little the bowlers could do on the night.Glenn Maxwell too shrugged off poor form to collaborate with Quiney to ensure there was no drop in intensity in the chase. Quiney eventually fell, trying to hit Stuart Broad out of the park but was caught at deep midwicket in the 16th over, but the wicket came a little too late as Maxwell saw off the chase with ease.

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