CA February 2, 3, 4 & 5
HEALTH MINISTRY LAUNCHES MEASLES RUBELLA VACCINATION CAMPAIGN
Health Ministry today launched Measles Rubella vaccination campaign in the country at a function in Bengaluru.The campaign against these two diseases will start from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep, covering nearly 3.6 crore children.
Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Faggan Singh Kulaste launched this initiative at a function in Bengaluru, Speaking on the occasion, Mr Kulaste stated that the centre is committed to eradicating Measles and Rubella from the country.
ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS: GOA REGISTERS RECORD 83% VOTER TURNOUT; 78.6% POLLING IN PUNJAB
Punjab and Goa went to polls yesterday while Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Manipur to go to polls later. Goa registered a record voter turnout of 83 percent in yesterday’s polling for the 40-member Legislative Assembly. The state had recorded 81.8 percent polling in last assembly elections. Polling passed off peacefully in the state. The final figures may change as reports are yet to come from some polling booths.
In Punjab 78.62 per cent polling was recorded, as people cast their votes to elect the 117 member Assembly yesterday. Polling percentage was revised as polling continued at many booths hours after the designated time of 5 pm, as thousands of voters were still in queue. In last election poll percentage was around the same. By and large polling remained peaceful barring a minor clash in Tarn Taran district in which one person was injured.
MUGHAL GARDENS OPEN FOR PUBLIC TILL 12 MARCH
The iconic Mughal Gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is open for the general public from today. President Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the gardens, as part of the annual Udyanotsav yesterday. The highlights of this year’s Udyanotsav includes two new varieties of roses named after the President and his late wife Suvra Mukherjee.
NAGALAND: PROTEST CONTINUES OVER 33 % RESERVATION FOR WOMEN IN URBAN LOCAL BODIES
Situation continues to be tense in Nagaland as mobs, protesting 33 per cent reservation for women in urban local bodies, blocked the highway between Dimapur and Kohima yesterday. Parts in both cities remained under curfew. There was no movement of vehicles across the inter-state gates in Dimapur. Mobile services, including SMS and Internet, also remained suspended across the state.Chief Minister TR Zeliang met Governor PB Acharya last evening and discussed the situation. Nagaland Tribes Action Committee (TAC), spearheading the protests, also met the Governor and submitted a memorandum. Local body polls were held in Dimapur and Kohima on Wednesday. A day before the polls, two youths were killed in protests. On Thursday, violent mobs went on a rampage in Kohima, vandalising and setting on fire government offices and vehicles. Five columns of army were deployed.
FORMER CBI CHIEF JOGINDER SINGH PASSES AWAY
Former CBI chief Joginder Singh, who oversaw investigation of several high-profile cases including Bofors scam and Bihar’s fodder scam, died today aged 77 years.Family sources said he breathed his last today after prolonged illness.The 1961 batch IPS officer of Karnataka cadre was chosen to head the premier investigative agency when H D Deve Gowda was the Prime Minister.
3.3 BILLION USD TO CHILDREN : UNICEF
UNICEF launched 3.3 billion US Dollar to help 48 million children caught up in crisis (conflict, disasters and climate change)worldwide
Donors contribute to the appeals on a voluntary basis
The United States is the top donor to UNICEF contributing 40 percent to the international organizations
Followed by Germany, Britain and the European Commission
The appeal for 2017 is 18 percent more than the previous year
WORLD’S LARGEST BATTERY STORAGE PLANT
Tesla Motor Inc. and Southern California Edison have jointly launched World’s largest energy storage facilities in Ontario, California
It is the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world across 1.5 acres
- Reduce dependence on fossil fuels for generating energy
- To deliver clean energy
SANCTIONS TO BUILD 3000 NEW SETTLEMENTS: ISRAEL
Israel Government decided to build 3000 units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem
The decision was made “in response to the Palestinian bid at the UN General Assembly”
INDIA TO BE THE GUEST COUNTRY AT SPIEF
India is invited as the Guest country for the 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Scheduled to be held from June 1 to 3, 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF)
SPIEF is an international economics and business event held annually with the participation of the President of the Russian Federation
India & Russia are working on the “bilateral aspect” during Modi’s visit to Russia
CHINA TESTSMISSILE WITH 10 NUCLEAR WARHEADS
China has reportedly tested a new version of a missile that can carry up to 10 nuclear warheads, signalling a major shift in its nuclear capability as Beijing gears up for a possible military showdown with the US under Donald Trump Presidency
The flight test of the DF-5C missile was carried out last month using 10 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, the Washington Free Beacon
The Dongfeng-5C missile, carrying 10 dummy warheads, was launched from the Taiyuan Space Launch Centre in Shanxi province, and flew to a desert in western China
INDIA, NORWAY SET UP BODY TO ACCELERATE RESEARCH FOR EPIDEMICS
India and Norway have founded a Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to accelerate life-saving research and development for epidemics
EPI has been founded by governments of India (Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Health) and Norway, the Welcome Trust, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum in collaboration with industry, other governments, foundations regulatory bodies, civil society and the WHO
The CEPI will prioritise list of diseases against which vaccines are most feasible to overcome barriers for development of vaccines
INDIA-PAKISTAN INDUS WATER TREATY APPEARS ‘WEAK’ : UN REPORT
The 40-year-old Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan has been an outstanding example of conflict resolution but scarcity of water in the basin states since the early 1990s has brought the agreement under strain and its “survival appears weak”
INDIA TO BE GUEST COUNTRY AT ST. PETERSBURG INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC FORUM
India is invited as the Guest country for the upcoming 2017 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum which was scheduled to be held from June 1 to 3, 2017
The SPIEF is an international economics and business event held annually with the participation of the President of the Russian Federation
ISRAEL SANCTIONS TO BUILD 3000 NEW SETTLEMENTS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sanctioned proposal for building of 3,000 new settlements in the territory of the West Bank in addition to the recently approved 2,500 units
Earlier in January 2017, Israeli authorities had approved the construction of 2,500 housing units in the occupied West Bank despite December 2016 UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution calling on Israel to immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem
UN considers these settlements as illegal, and according to International Court of Justice, the West Bank territory is occupied territory.
WORLD’S LARGEST BATTERY STORAGE PLANT UNVEILED IN CALIFORNIA
Tesla Motor Inc. and Southern California Edison have jointly launched World’s largest energy storage facilities on January 30, 2017 at the utility’s Mira Loma substation in Ontario, California.
The facility was unveiled as part of the massive deployment of grid-connected batteries agreement made between the two companies
The facility would reduce dependence on fossil fuels for generating energy and take advantage of wind and sun to deliver clean energy to power homes, businesses among other things
The batteries charge up when there is more renewable energy than demand, ultimately allowing customers to use clean energy during peak hours.
The new facility would reduce the reliance on gas speaker plants, prevent electricity shortages, provide energy security and reduce greenhouse gases.
INDIA TO CONSTRUCT MULTI-ETHNIC TRI-LINGUAL SCHOOL IN SRI LANKA
India and Sri Lanka has signed an MoU on February 2, 2017 for the construction of a multi-ethnic tri-lingual school in a north central district of the island nation.
The school would provide an opportunity to Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim students to learn in a multi-cultural environment and thus promote reconciliation and unity in Sri Lanka.
The MoU was signed between India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Secretary to the Ministry of Education Sunil Hettiarachchi.
The Indian Government would provide a grant of SLR 300 million for the island school to be constructed in Polonnaruwa district.
Under the project class rooms, laboratories and library would be constructed as well as furniture and other equipment would be procured.
GOVT LOOKS TO RAISE RS 11,000 CR FROM LISTING OF INSURERS
The Government plans to divest Rs 11,000 crore worth of stake in PSU general insurance companies to meet the steep disinvestment target of Rs 72,500 crore next fiscal.
Of the total target, Rs 46,500 crore will be mobilised through minority stake sale and Rs 15,000 crore from strategic disinvestment.
The goal of Rs 72,500 crore is higher than Rs 45,500 crore the government has estimated to raise in the current fiscal.
“Besides strategic and minority stake sale, Rs 11,000 crore has been budgeted from listing of general insurance companies. The department will make best endeavour to meet the overall Budget target,” Disinvestment Secretary Neeraj Gupta told PTI.
Recently, the Cabinet approved reduction of stake in five state—owned general insurance companies to 75 per cent by listing them on the bourses.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave nod to listing five government-owned general insurance companies — New India Assurance Company, United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance Company, National Insurance Company and General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC).
The government shareholding in these companies will be reduced from 100 per cent to 75 per cent in one or more tranches over a period of time.
As for strategic disinvestment, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has already identified companies and initiated process in some cases.
25 BPS REPO RATE CUT MORE LIKELY IN APRIL THAN FEB: CITIGROUP
The government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation in the Budget will help the Reserve Bank adopt an accommodative monetary stance, but a rate cut is more likely in April than in the policy review meet next week, says a report.
According to global financial services major Citigroup, the RBI’s timing remains uncertain, but the possibility of a 25 bps rate cut is high in the near-term.
“Lower-than-feared fiscal deficit target and smaller market borrowing are positive for rates,” Citigroup said in a research note, adding “the room for rate easing is limited — 25 bps cut more likely in April than in the February policy”.
On December 7, the central bank kept interest rate unchanged despite calls for reducing it and also lowered the economic growth projection by half a percentage point to 7.1 per cent in the first policy review post demonetisation.
The central bank will hold its next monetary policy meet on February 8.
The Budget pegged the fiscal deficit at 3.2 per cent of GDP in 2017-18, as against 3.5 per cent in 2016-17.
Going forward, the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) committee has suggested making the debt-to-GDP ratio the most important metric and wants it to be brought down to 60 per cent of GDP by 2023.
GDP GROWTH LIKELY AT 7.1% IN 2017-18: HSBC
India is expected to clock GDP growth of 7.1 per cent in 2017—18 as the country gets sufficiently remonetised and the schemes in the Budget play a supportive role, says an HSBC report.
The uptick in the growth numbers would be largely driven by the remonetisation process, which is expected by April-end, as this in turn would boost the consumption levels in the country.
“We expect GDP to grow at 7.1 per cent year-on-year in 2017-18, up from 6.3 per cent in 2016-17, as the country gets sufficiently remonetised (by April-end), and consumption moves back to pre-demonetisation levels,” HSBC India Chief Economist Pranjul Bhandari said.
Growth numbers will be largely consumption driven as investment is expected to be a drag.
“We believe that investment, which tends to be sensitive to policy uncertainty, will continue to remain weak, keeping growth at an arm’s length from the cherished 7.5-8 per cent levels,” Bhandari said.
On the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy stance, the report said the room for a rate cut is “dwindling”.
“With oil on the climb, pressure from higher government wages and Fed rates expected to rise, the space for rate cuts is quickly dwindling. We expect one final 25 bps rate cut in the cycle,” Bhandari said.
ICVL TO RESTART OPERATIONS IN A FEW MONTHS: SAIL CHAIRMAN
India’s largest steel maker SAIL today said operations in International Coal Ventures Ltd (ICVL) — the JV formed by five PSUs — will resume operations in a few months as prices of coking coal have firmed up.
SAIL Chairman P K Singh told PTI that ICVL had suspended its work in Mozambique mine in December 2015 on the viability ground following a crash in coking coal prices.
ICVL is a joint venture formed by five PSUs — SAIL, RINL, NMDC, NTPC and Coal India (CIL).
“The prices of metallurgical coal came down to less than 80 dollar. The cost of production was more than that. That is why we stopped (the operations). In the next few months, (we would see the operations starting),” he said. “Now, we are going to start the ICVL operations because the prices of coking coal have increased.”
BUDGET 2017: RAILWAYS GETS RS 1.31 LAKH CRORE FOR DEVELOPMENT
The Union Budget pegged the Indian Railways’ capital expenditure for 2017-18 at Rs 1.31 lakh crore, the highest ever in the history of the national transporter. It will receive Rs 55,000 crore from the finance ministry as gross budgetary support.
The railways will raise the rest from other sources. “We have the highest outlay for the next financial year. The funds would be utilised for acquiring new coaches, building new tracks and electrification,” said Mohd Jamshed, member-traffic at the railway Board.
The railways will get Rs 18,000 crore from Life Insurance Corporation as loans, while Indian Railway Finance Corporation, the railway ministry’s dedicated financing arm, will issue bonds to raise nearly Rs 22,000 crore. The rest will be mobilised through internal resources and public private partnerships.
RAILWAYS TO ELIMINATE ALL UNMANNED LEVEL CROSSINGS BY 2020
Railways will eliminate all unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines by 2020 and expert international assistance will be harnessed to improve safety preparedness and maintenance practices as per the Budget 2017-18.
Unmanned level crossings are a major reason for train accidents.
Railways will implement end-to-end integrated transport solutions for selected commodities through partnership with logistics, who will provide both front and back-end connectivity. Rolling stock and practices are to be customized for perishable goods especially agricultural goods, as per the budget proposals.
GODREJ PROPERTIES ELEVATES PIROJSHA GODREJ AS CHAIRMAN, ADI GODREJ TO BE CHAIRMAN EMERITUS
Godrej Properties, the real estate development arm of Godrej Group, has made changes to its leadership team with Chairman Adi Godrej assuming the Chairman Emeritus position.
Pirojsha Godrej, who is currently the Managing Director and CEO of the company, will be the Executive Chairman.
Mohit Malhotra, currently an Executive Director at Godrej Properties, will be the new Managing Director and CEO, the company said in a statement. All the aforementioned changes will be effective from April 1st, 2017.
Pirojsha Godrej, who joined Godrej Properties in 2004, has been the Managing Director and CEO of the realty developer since 2012.
ECONOMISTS EXPECT RBI TO GO FOR 25 BPS CUT NEXT WEEK
Bank credit increased by nearly Rs 1.7 lakh crore during the current financial year up to January 20, 2017, as compared to a more than Rs 11-lakhcrore increase in deposits. This huge gap in growth of banks’ resources, even as demand remains tepid, points to further reduction in interest rates.
The gap of nearly Rs 10 lakh crore between the growth of de posits and loans will no doubt shrink in the remaining nine weeks of the year as withdrawals gather pace. But banks say that they will still run an assetliability mismatch until early next year, which will prompt interest rate reductions despite higher oil prices putting pressure on inflation.
Most economists expect the RBI to cut rates by 25 basis points (100bps = 1percentage point) when the mone tary policy committee meets next week on Tuesday .
VIJAY MALLYA USED IDBI LOAN FOR KFA TO FLY PRIVATE JET: CHARGESHEET
India’s federal investigator has charged embattled billionaire Vijay Mallya with using IDBI Bank loans to fly his private jet and pay off other lenders, highlighting the misuse of borrowed money by the liquor baron’s mothballed Kingfisher AirlinesBSE 3.03 % that was once billed among the finest to fly South Asian skies.
“Vijay Mallya and other accused KFABSE 3.03 % (Kingfisher Airlines) officials diverted significant portion of the loan for purposes other than those for which the loans were sanctioned,” the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has said in its chargesheet on the Rs 950-crore loans the carrier had raised between 2009 and 2010 from IDBI Bank. Nine, including five IDBI Bank executives, are in judicial custody until February 7.
Mallya, who remains chairman of India’s biggest beer maker United Breweries and was once compared with Richard Branson for his demonstrated love for glamour and glitz, expanded into the airline business more than a decade ago when a rapidly expanding economy made India the nerve-center of global aviation.
HDFC BANK INCREASES CASH TRANSACTION FEES ON SAVINGS A/CS
In a bid to discourage cash transactions, country’s second largest private sector lender HDFC BankBSE 0.99 % has decided to steeply increase the fees for savings account holders on a slew of activities involving cash.
The move assumes significance as the government post demonetisation has been encouraging people to shift to a cash-less or less-cash regime and use digital mode for transactions.
HDFC Bank has decided to steeply raise the charges on certain transactions, capping cash component in others and also introducing charges on certain transactions from March 1, a bank official told PTI today.
LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS PROVIDER AGILITY OPENS CENTRE IN HYDERABAD
Agility, a global logistics provider, has opened on Friday its first temperature-controlled life sciences storage and handling facility in collaboration with in partnership with va-Q-tec in Hyderabad.
The 6,000 square feet facility at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport will cater to pharma manufacturers in the city along with Goa, Pune, Visakhapatnam and Bengaluru. The centre will provide conditioning, preparation and storage of pharmaceutical goods and operate as a control tower for Agility Life Sciences’ customers in India.
Detlev Janik, chief executive of Agility South Asia, said, “This new centre will help the fast-growing Indian life sciences companies to meet the rising global demand for their products. Life sciences is one of the cornerstones of the Indian economy with exports expected to grow an astonishing 60% in 2017.”
ACCORHOTELS ELEVATES JEAN-MICHEL CASS AS COO INDIA, SOUTH ASIA
Global hospitality major AccorHotels today elevated Jean-Michel Cass as its Chief Operating Officer – India and South Asia.
As Senior Vice-President for AccorHotels, India, Cass has played a pivotal role in the group’s success in India, the company said in a statement. Under his leadership, AccorHotels now has a 46 hotels presence in the country, it added.
“South Asia, and particularly India, is a significant market for AccorHotels globally and we are committed to it for the long haul,” AccorHotels Asia Pacific Chairman and CEO Michael Issenberg said.
Cass has played an integral role in the company’s success in India since taking over responsibility in 2008, he added.
MERGER OF WEAK PSU BANKS CAN BE A POSSIBILITY: UBI CEO
Merger of weak public sector banks cannot be ruled out in a run up to meet Basel III norms, a top bank official said today.
“I think they (government) will be looking to two quarters, December 16 (Q3) and March 17 (Q4) and then a decision may be taken on merger of banks specially which are not doing well,” United Bank of IndiaBSE 5.04 % (UBI) Managing Director and CEO P K Bajaj said at a post-budget panel discussion organised by the Calcutta Chamber of Commerce.
However, he clarified that this has not yet been announced as of now and government was concentrating on merging associate banks of SBI with the parent.
ANAND KUMAR GUPTA TAKES OVER AS DIRECTOR COMMERCIAL AT NTPC
Anand Kumar Gupta has taken over the charge as director commercial at NTPCBSE -0.32 % on Friday, the company said in a statement.
As director commercial, he will be responsible for the activities relating to commercial, international and domestic business development and consultancy business of NTPC.
Gupta (56 years) is graduate in electrical engineering from Moti Lal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad. He has a career spanning over 36 years of contribution in the company in various positions including those of executive director – incharge of commercial and executive director (Engineering).
He also headed business development department of NTPC and plant operations & maintenance at power stations.
BANKS SHOW HEALTHY RISE IN DEPOSIT GROWTH BUT STAGNATED CREDIT GROWTH
DEMONETISATION HAS HELPED TO BOOST DEPOSIT GROWTH EVEN AT A TIME WHEN BANKS have reduced the interest rates on term deposits.
Deposits rose 13.9% or Rs 12.7 lakh crore to Rs 105 lakh crore against a 10% rise reported last year, according data released by the Reserve Bank of India.
This growth was spurred by conversion of cash and currency into deposits as the government banned 500 and 1000 currency notes.
People were forced to deposit their old high value currency notes with banks over the months of November and December of last year and at the same time the central bank was releasing cash at a slow pace.
MTNL BORROWING MONEY TO MEET DAY TO DAY REQUIREMENT: MANOJ SINHA
Loss-making telecom PSU MTNLBSE 19.95 % has been hit hard by debt and it is borrowing money to meet its day-to-day requirements, Union Minister Manoj Sinha said today.
“Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) is borrowing money to meet its day-to-day requirement,” Sinha said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
Total debt on MTNL reached Rs 19,418.23 crore at the end of December 31, 2016, from Rs 11,542.3 crore in 2012-13, according to the data shared by the minister. The debt is over six times MTNL’s annual revenue registered in 2015-16.
“Due to debt burden and fund crunch, MTNL has gone slow in upgradation of equipment during last 4-5 years. One of the reasons for service quality is due to non-investment in access network of fixed lines,” Sinha said.
BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT IS BECOMING A CHALLENGE FOR THE STEEL SECTOR: SAIL
Country’s largest steel maker SAILBSE -0.91 % today said with the business environment becoming extremely challenging for the steel sector, it has identified five core areas, including optimisation of new assets utilisation, to turn impending challenges into opportunities.
The announcement comes at a time when there is a slump in the demand for steel. “At this crucial juncture for steel industry across the world, SAIL management realises that business environment has become extremely challenging. Thus the company, in a recent meeting of top management, devised appropriate responses for the impending challenges to turn them into opportunities,” Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) said.
Five core areas were identified including, ensuring quality and cost effective input, achieving production excellence, optimising new assets utilisation and leveraging human capital.
OPERATOR-ASSISTED DRIVE TESTS TO CHECK CALL DROPS SOON: TRAI
Telecom regulator Trai has said that ‘operator-assisted’ drive tests, which measure call drops and service quality, would start across various locations soon.
These tests would be conducted around each of Trai’s five regional offices including Jaipur, Hyderabad and Bangalore, by March.
“The operator-assisted drive tests where operators do their own drive tests and Trai participates and monitors… They are going to start very soon at various places,” Trai Chairman RS Sharma told PTI.
ZOOM AIR LOOKS AT STARTING OPERATION FROM ARUNCHAL’S PASIGHAT
Zoom Air, India’s 10th national scheduled airline which received an air operator’s permit (AOP) on February 3, is in talks with the Arunachal Pradesh government to connect newly built Pasighat airport with its operational network, an official said on Sunday.
“We are looking to connect Pasighat airport in Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, we are in talks with the state government. We need to take some clearances from the state and Arunachal government also requires to get some clearances from Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA),” the airline’s Executive Director and CEO Koustav Mohan Dhar told IANS.
“It would take some time to get all the clearances. To be realistic, the operation in Pasighat is expected not before end of March,” he added.
RASNA EYES KIDS SNACK SEGMENT, TO EXPAND PRODUCT PORTFOLIO
Fruit juice concentrate maker Rasna is looking to capitalise on the “huge opportunity” in the evening snack space for kids and also planning to expand its overall product portfolio.
“There is a huge opportunity for Indian food product companies in the kids-back-from-school segment. We are trying to work on new products in the evening space. In our ads and our products, we are trying to take the evening snack proposition,” Rasna Chairman and MD Piruz Khambatta told PTI here.
With many players fighting to grab a pie in the savoury snack space, the company is focusing on the niche in the sweet snack category.
UJJIVAN SMALL FINANCE BANK TO COMMENCE BANKING ON FEBRUARY 6
The UK’s CDC Group-backed Ujjivan Small Finance Bank is going to open its first set of branches for public transaction on Monday and start rolling out branch network across India from next fiscal.
Ujjivan Managing Director Samit Ghosh said that the bank will test all the technical and connectivity issues over the next one month as a preparation before going full throttle.
Reserve Bank of India had issued a press statement on February 1 saying the bank commenced operation on that day. Ghosh has clarified to ET that the bank is operationally ready since February 1 but customer transaction will commence only on February 6.
WITH RS 7,000 CRORE, UTTAR PRADESH GETS HIGHEST BUDGET GRANT FOR RAIL PROJECTS
The first Budget speech after the merger of the rail budget may not have contained any announcements relating to UP, but the poll-bound state is major gainer with the highest allocation of Rs 7,110 crore for railway projects such as laying of new tracks, doubling, electrification and other works related to enhancing passenger amenities.
The politically crucial state is on the priority list of the BJP government as even in 2016-17, UP bagged a significant number of projects, worth around Rs 4,950 crore. The average allocation for the state, which gave 72 MPs to NDA out of total 80 parliamentary seats during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, went up to Rs 3,405 crore between 2014-15 to 2016-17.
The average plan allocation during UPA-II regime (2009-10 to 2013-14) was Rs 1,109.3 crore. “It is a 541% increase in average plan allocation for the state between UPA-II and the current BJP regime,” said a senior railway official, adding that the allocation is also the highest in the last 10 years. He said, “The hike in plan outlay is 207% when compared between 2009-13 and 2014-16.”
ECONOMISTS EXPECT RBI TO GO FOR 25 BPS CUT NEXT WEEK
Bank credit increased by nearly Rs 1.7 lakh crore during the current financial year up to January 20, 2017, as compared to a more than Rs 11-lakhcrore increase in deposits. This huge gap in growth of banks’ resources, even as demand remains tepid, points to further reduction in interest rates.
The gap of nearly Rs 10 lakh crore between the growth of de posits and loans will no doubt shrink in the remaining nine weeks of the year as withdrawals gather pace. But banks say that they will still run an assetliability mismatch until early next year, which will prompt interest rate reductions despite higher oil prices putting pressure on inflation. Most economists expect the RBI to cut rates by 25 basis points (100bps = 1percentage point) when the mone tary policy committee meets next week on Tuesday .
Data released by the RBI on Friday shows that outstanding loans with banks as on January 20 at Rs 74,177 crore are lower than their loan book position as of end-September. On September 30, outstanding bank loans touched an all-time high of nearly Rs 75 lakh crore. However, in subsequent weeks, borrowers have been repaying loans. Deposits, which touched a peak of around Rs 1.06 lakh crore, continued to shrink and total deposits with banks dropped to Rs 105 lakh crore as on January 20 as the pace of remonetisation picked up.
AIR SAFETY VIOLATIONS SKYROCKETED LAST YEAR: DGCA
Safety violations in the Indian skies rose substantially last year over 2015, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) data has revealed.
The data from India’s civil aviation regulator showed that it had taken 275 enforcement actions in 2015, which jumped to 422 in 2016. What’s more, the rise in violations are also being reported at a time when India has become the highest growing market in the world by registering an over 20 per cent passenger as well as capacity growth over the past couple of years.
Data also shows that enforcement actions during 2014 was about 391, when the size of the market was smaller compared to today. DGCA officials credit the increase in enforcement actions to heightened surveillance by the aviation regulator. “The increase is on account of heightened surveillance and risk-based audit being conducted by the DGCA,” said a senior official at the DGCA, who did not want to be identified.
UNION BUDGET 2017-18: DEFENCE VETERANS PRAISE CENTRALISED TRAVEL SYSTEM
Veterans have welcomed the Centralised Defence Travel System, proposed in the Union Budget 2017-18. They, however, added that the other proposal on a web-based Pension Disbursement System for Defence Pensioners needs to be simplified and must have grievance redressal mechanism. Finance Minister Arun Jaitleymade two Defence-related announcements in his Budget speech. First, he said, “A Centralised Defence Travel System has now been developed through which travel tickets can be booked online by our soldiers and officers. They do not have to face the hassle of standing in queues with railway warrants.”
Brig Ravi Palsokar (Retd), who is based in Pune, said, “This is certainly welcome. Soldiers and officers have to travel from their units in remote areas, such as those in Jammu and Kashmir or the Northeast. Any move that can reduce their problems is welcome.”
Another veteran, Colonel SD Umalkar said, “The Defence forces are extensively using Internet and the web-based system for ticket booking against warrants. This will certainly make the process faster, easier and transparent. Not only do warrants require a lot of paperwork, they can also be easily misused. Web-based system will certainly help overcome these lacunae.”
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia (L), Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das leaving the North Block for presenting the Union Budget 2017-18 in Parliament, in New Delhi on Wednesday.
IAF UPGRADE TAKES OFF
The IAF got the lion’s share of the Defence budget which got a hike of six per cent for the next fiscal with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocating Rs 2,74,114.72 crore for 2017-18 as against Rs 2.58 crore last fiscal.The Air Force got Rs 33,555.62 crores under the capital head for acquiring Rafale jets besides other ongoing deals like payment for C-17 transport planes. The 36 Rafale jet deal inked last year is worth over 7.87 billion Euros and India has already paid the first tranche of Rs 10,000 crore.
An amount of Rs 86,488.01 crore has been earmarked as capital outlay to sustain the ongoing modernisation and acquisition plans of the armed forces. The revenue budget was also increased to Rs 1,72,773.89 crores to meet the operational costs including fuel consumption, training and other necessary expenditure including salaries. The figure stood at Rs 1,49,051.34 crores last fiscal. Rs 6,886 crore from last fiscal’s capital outlay of Rs 78,586.68 crores remained unspent.
The Finance Minister hiked the capital outlay by more than ten per cent for 2017-18 to enable the armed forces to upgrade and procure various weapon platforms including submarines, artillery guns, tanks and fighter jets besides other critical projects like ongoing raising of the Mountain Strike Corps to face any challenge from China in the likelihood of war in the mountains in the east and west.
WHEN AN INDIAN KILO-CLASS SUBMARINE ‘ANNIHILATED’ A STATE-OF-THE-ART AMERICAN NUCLEAR SUB
If the hostile entry of United States Navy 7th fleet in the crucial stage of the 1971 war for the liberation of Bangladesh sent a shiver down the spine of Indian military commanders, events of last month gave them some relief. Not surprisingly there is a spring in the stride of those from India’s beleaguered submarine arm at the Vishakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command (ENC). “It is among the coolest things to happen in recent times,” said a young officer.
An operation under the high-profile naval exercise MALABAR, between the navies of India, USA and Japan, featured a simulated battle to hunt and destroy each other’s submarines. Locked in this match were two prowlers, the INS Sindhudhvaj (S56), a Soviet-designed EKM class of conventional submarine and the USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN705), a nuclear-powered attack submarine which functions like a fighter plane – scramble and destroy enemy submarines and ships. The crew of both the vessels was asked to hunt the other down in a general area of the Bay of Bengal, based on ‘available int’. They subsequently dived.
AMID GROWING TIES, ISRAEL-INDIA MARK 25 YEARS OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS
This week, India and Israel celebrate 25 years of bilateral diplomatic ties. On January 29, 1992, foreign ministers from Israel and India signed an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Jerusalem in June or July to highlight the significance of this growing bilateral relationship, India’s envoy to Israel Ambassador Pavan Kapoor confirmed.“The time is ripe for our two countries to explore the full potential of commonality and the complementary nature of our respective economies and work in tandem for the mutual benefit of our peoples,” Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv said in a statement marking this occasion.
Israel’s embassy in New Delhi also issued a statement marking 25 years of diplomatic relations.Twenty-five years ago today, on 29 January 1992, the foreign ministers of Israel and India signed the agreement to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The formal establishment of relations was predicated on the already strong links between the peoples of our two ancient cultures, going back centuries to the Jewish merchants who plied the trade routes to Mumbai, Kochi and the other port cities of India. Today, close to one hundred thousand Israelis boast Indian descent and are just one of the many valuable links between the two countries.
On the occasion of the celebration of 25 years, Ambassador Daniel Carmon said, “As we celebrate this historic day, we have chosen ‘A Growing Partnership’ as the motto for the entire year of 2017 to signify that our relations, and the celebration of these, are not bound to one specific point in time. Our unique relations continue to grow as we speak, and our potential is endless”.
PRIME MINISTER MODI TO VISIT ISRAEL THIS SUMMER, INDIAN AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL SAYS ‘INDIA BLOCKING PAK DIPLOMAT’S APPOINTMENT AS SAARC SECY GEN’ SAYS PAKISTAN
“The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), beleaguered by internal rifts, is headed for more difficult days ahead as India is attempting to block on ‘procedural grounds’ the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as the next secretary general of the regional body,” Dawn News reported
Islamabad, Feb 1 India is attempting to block on “procedural grounds” the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as SAARC’s next secretary general, according to a media report here which has been strongly dismissed by New Delhi.
“The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), beleaguered by internal rifts, is headed for more difficult days ahead as India is attempting to block on ‘procedural grounds’ the appointment of a Pakistani diplomat as the next secretary general of the regional body,” Dawn News reported.
The SAARC secretariat can, therefore, potentially remain a headless body for a long time if the stalemate prolongs and the “dispute” is not resolved soon, the report said.Reacting to the report, official sources in New Delhi said India was not trying to block the appointment, it has only pointed out that “procedural” norms need to be adhered to which was also accepted by other SAARC members.
The Pakistani turn, which is held by rotation, starts from March 1, 2017, and continues till February 28, 2020. Amjad Hussain Sial is a career diplomat who has been nominated by Pakistan as the 13th secretary general of SAARC, the daily said.
GOOD NEWS FOR INDIA: ISRAEL EASES UAV EXPORT RESTRICTIONS
Israel’s defense ministry has eased the previously severe restrictions it had imposed on local companies seeking to export unmanned air systems. The change in policy was prompted by growing competition in the market for such equipment.
An Israeli defense industry source says that a change in attitude over recent months has been very clear. “We [now] receive export licences to countries that were banned before, and for systems that we could never dream of exporting,” the source says. It has also become easier for companies to deliver on technology transfer requirements, the source says.
The defense ministry says the new guidelines are accompanied by strict “end user” agreements reached with customers, with penalties to be imposed if terms are breached. Its decision to ease controls on sales is intended to give Israel’s defense industry better opportunities to compete in the international market.
INDIA’S DEFENCE DUDGET 7 TIMES MORE THAN PAKISTAN – PAK MEDIA
India has hiked its military budget by 10pc to 2.74 trillion Indian rupees (INR) excluding pensions compared to previous fiscal year s (2016-17) budget of INR 2.49tr.
Modi’s regime has allocated 12.78pc of total govt. spending for defence outlays in current financial year. The move is aimed at the installation of latest military hardware along Pakistani border thus posing a direct threat to Pakistan’s sovereignty.
India is deploying thousands of tanks on Line of Control (Loc) in light of its military doctrine titled as “Cold Start” despite fact that strategist planners in Islamabad have developed state of the art ‘tactical strategic weapons’ to dismantle New Delhi’s war designs.
Defence analysts narrate that gap between arch rivals on military spending has widened to 1:7; that is India spends seven times more than Pakistan on its military.
SURYA KIRAN TO BE BACK WITH NEW ‘PILATUS PC-7’ AT AERO INDIA AFTER 6 YEARS
After six years, the IAF’s Surya Kiran aerobatics team is set to return to the Aero India show in Bengaluru with a new aircraft.
The six-aircraft team will perform at the biennial air show to be held at the Yelahanka air force station between February 14 and 18.
The internationally acclaimed team was dismantled in 2011 when the Indian Air Force decided to use the Kiran Mk-II aircraft, flown by the Surya Kiran group, for training.
The decision was taken due to an acute shortage of training aircraft as the Air Force had grounded its entire fleet of 1988 vintage HPT-32 trainers after 23 pilots were killed and 108 engine cuts were reported in the recent years.
The pilot training programme was modified as only Kiran Mk-II and Hawk advanced jet trainer aircraft were available.
After the introduction of Pilatus PC-7 as the basic trainer, the Indian Air Force revived the Surya Kiran team with six Hawk aircraft.
The team has been practising since 2015 and has performed before limited audiences since October 8, celebrated as Indian Air Force Day. Aero India 2017 would be their first major public outing.
INDIAN INDUSTRY BEING ROPED IN ISRO SPACE PROGRAMME
In order to step up the space launch capacity within the country, ISRO is in the process of exploring the possibility of involving Indian industry in a greater role towards the production of integrated systems including assembly and testing by a vendor as per space agency’s design, the government said Thursday.
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Atomic Energy and Space Jitendra Singh in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha said that considering the enhanced national requirements for launching satellites for earth observation, communication and navigation, the present capacity of launches is a constraint.
“ISRO has been pursuing a conscious approach of building up and nurturing the industrial capabilities in the country to maximally support the Indian Space Programme.
Through the appropriate transfer of technology and hand-holding, ISRO is making focused efforts to enhance participation of Indian industries”.
The areas include manufacturing of space related hardware, such as rocket engine and stages, propellant tanks, spacecraft structures, solar panels, thermal control systems and electronic packages required for satellites and launch vehicles.
CRITICAL MISSILE SYSTEMS DEVELOPED BY DRDO
Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile (LR-SAM) and Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MR-SAM) are jointly developed by Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India and M/s Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI), Israel.
LR-SAM is the Ship Launch Version and Project MR-SAM is the Land Launch Version of BARAK-8 Missile system.
MR-SAM detects incoming enemy aircraft while they are well over 100 km away and destroys them at range up to 70 km.
LR-SAM has got long range engagement capability to penetrate in deep water/land to intercept all types of aerial targets (like Subsonic & Supersonic Missiles, Fighter Aircraft, Maritime Patrolling Aircraft (MPA), Helicopter and Sea Skimming Missiles).
INDIGENOUS TECHNOLOGIES DEVELOPED BY DRDO
Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been developing technologies, products and systems that are required for the Armed Forces. After the systems are trial evaluated and accepted by the Users, the technologies are transferred to production agencies for manufacture and supply to Users. Indigenous technologies developed by DRDO are available for transfer to Indian Industry. The process for transfer of indigenous technologies has been promulgated and a document tilted “DRDO Guidelines for Transfer of Technology” has already been issued.
RUSSIA AND INDIA’S SUPERSONIC BRAHMOS CRUISE MISSILE: HEADING TO SUBMARINES AND STEALTH FIGHTERS?
Russia and India are developing a new version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile that could be launched from submarines and the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter.
The new variant—which is considerably smaller than the original BrahMos—would be light enough to be carried even on relatively diminutive Mikoyan MiG-35 Fulcrum-F.
“We are working on the missile’s light version. It should fit the size of a torpedo tube and be almost 1.5 times smaller by its weight. It will be possible to mount our airborne missile on a wide range [of aircraft],” Alexander Leonov, CEO and general designer of NPO Mashinostroyenia told the Moscow-based TASS news agency. “Of course, we’ll be developing it, first of all, for the fifth-generation plane but, possibly, it will be mounted on the MiG-35 fighter, although we have not carried out such developments.”
UNDERWATER HARBOUR DEFENCE, SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM LAUNCHED
An Integrated Underwater Harbour Defence and Surveillance System was inaugurated by Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command here today.
The system will enhance the security of valuable assets against asymmetric threats, a Defence spokesperson said.
Vice Admiral Luthra said the inauguration of IUHDSS is a significant step in strengthening Harbour Defence and Security at Mumbai
THE US-INDIA-JAPAN TRILATERAL: ECONOMIC FOUNDATION FOR A GRAND STRATEGY
The United States, India and Japan set up their first official trilateral meeting and decided to meet annually. Together, they represent 25 percent of the world’s population and 35 percent of global GDP. Common goals of economic development, managing China’s territorial aggression in South and East Asia, and preservation of the liberal democratic order bind them together. Undoubtedly, they make a compelling strategic logic to come forward and work together to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
But so far, this trilateral has failed to graduate from constructive symbolism to actual substance. The absence of a robust economic foundation is stunting its strategic potential. A deeper economic engagement will enmesh each other’s priorities, giving shape and form to their strategic goals in the Indo-Pacific region.
GUIDED PINAKA MBRL HITS 75 KM MARK
Trails of guided Pinaka Rocket were successfully conducted at Integrated Test Range (ITR) Balasore in two phases on 12th and 24th Jan 2017 with range of 65 km and 75 km, respectively. The guided version of Pinaka Rocket incorporates Inertial Navigation Systems (INS)/ Global Positioning System (GPS) for the mid-course guidance with accuracy of 60m to 80m at all ranges. In the recent trials conducted, the desired accuracy has been achieved.
Pinaka has been designed and developed for induction into Army after successful User Trials. Two Regiments of Pinaka Unguided Version have already been inducted in Army. Current trials have been conducted for demonstrating the feasibility of the development of Guided Version of Pinaka Rocket using the same Launcher and Ammunition Configuration.
This information was given by Minister of State for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre in a written reply to Shri R. Parthipan in Lok Sabha.
AIR FORCE DECLINES TO SHARE DETAILS ON RAFALE DEAL
An Inter-Governmental Agreement was signed between the governments of India and France on September 23, 2016 for supply of the Rafale aircraft, initial consignment of weapons, long-term maintenance support through performance-based logistics, simulators with annual maintenance and associated equipment.
Replying to an RTI query, the Air Force said the details are held by it in fiduciary capacity.
The information sought is confidential in nature and public revelation of the same may lead to its subsequent availability to our adversaries, it said.
“Further, the information sought is also held in fiduciary capacity and no larger public interest is served by disclosure of such information. Hence, the same is denied,” the Air Force said in reply to the application filed by PTI.
The Defense Ministry was asked to provide copies of the agreement and price of the Rafale deal. The query was then forwarded to the Air Force for providing the reply.
VIZAG WILL EMERGE AS NAVY HEADQUARTERS: AP CM
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said Visakhapatnam will soon emerge as the headquarters for Indian Navy.
He was the Chief Guest at the Navy Show organized in River Krishna at Punnami Ghat here on Saturday. After witnessing the show, he appreciated the Navy officials for making the demonstration more interesting.
He said he never witnessed such an impressive show earlier. The show would inculcate a sense of patriotism among the viewers.
Naidu said the demonstration had shed light on the role played by Navy personnel during a crisis. It showcased the valor of the Defence personnel during a crisis, he opined.
He lauded the Navy officers for choosing Krishna river for the show as the ambiance was unique. The credit of linking Rivers Godavari and Krishna solely goes to the TDP government, he said.
U.S. IS GETTING THE MOST EXPENSIVE PLANES IN HISTORY AT REDUCED COSTS
Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon on Friday said the next batch of F-35 stealth fighters, the most expensive planes in history, will be produced at a reduced cost.
They announced $728 million in savings after President Donald Trump publicly upbraided Lockheed over “out of control” costs, although most of the savings were already planned ahead of his involvement, during a months-long contract negotiation.
The next production run of 90 F-35s will see the Air Force version of the plane, the F-35A, produced at a unit cost of $94.6 million, marking a 7.3 percent reduction from an earlier batch and pushing the price per plane below $100 million for the first time.
“President Trump’s personal involvement in the F-35 program accelerated the negotiations and sharpened our focus on driving down the price,” Lockheed said in a statement.
“The agreement was reached in a matter of weeks and represents significant savings over previous contracts.”
With a current development and acquisition price tag already at $379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft — most destined for the Air Force — the F-35 is the most expensive plane in history, and costs are set to go higher still.
AI PROGRAMME BEATS HUMANS IN POKER GAME
In a significant milestone for artificial intelligence, a computer system has successfully beaten four human players in a poker marathon match lasting 20 days, winning more than $1.5 millions worth of chips.
Libratus, an AI programme developed at Carnegie Mellon University in the US, was trained to play a variant of the game known as no-limit heads-up Texas hold ’em.
“Heads-up no limit Texas hold ’em is in a way the last frontier of all the games,” said Tuomas Sandholm, professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
“Othello, Chess, Go, Jeopardy have all been conquered, but this remained elusive: this is a landmark in AI game-play,” said Sandholm.
The algorithm used in the system could be transferred to a range of other uses, including negotiations, finance, medical treatment and cybersecurity, he added.
“Now we have proven the ability of AI to do strategy and reasoning, there are many potential applications in future,” Sandholm was quoted as saying by ‘BBC News’.
One of the professional poker players, Jimmy Chou, admitted that the AI was proving a tough opponent.
TUBERCULOSIS-RESISTANT COWS ENGINEERED BY CHINESE SCIENTISTS
For the first time, researchers have genetically modified cows to be resistant to the bacterium that causes bovine tuberculosis. This disease is well-controlled in most developed countries, but it can often be fatal for cattle in developing countries and spread to people and other animals.
Researchers from China’s Northwest A&F University used a technique called CRISPR to insert a gene associated with tuberculosis resistance into 20 cows, 11 of which lived past the age of 3 months. These animals were more resistant to tuberculosis than animals who weren’t modified. They also didn’t show any unintended consequences of genetic modification. A study describing these findings was publishedin the journal Genome Biology on January 31.
CRISPR is an intensively researched tool developed in the last couple years, which relative to previous techniques, can quickly and cheaply insert genes into specific locations in an organism’s genome. It has been used to tweak many organisms, including modifying human embryos in the lab and correcting the gene responsiblefor Duchenne muscular dystrophy in mice.
For the first time, scientists have created disease-resistant transgenic cows.
KEEP RAPE VIDEOS OFF THE INTERNET, SC TELLS SEARCH ENGINES, SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked global search engines Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and social media platforms Facebook and Whatsapp to stop rape videos from being uploaded. A Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur asked the companies to use “firewalls” such as the one China used to keep such content off the Internet.
“If China can evolve such a technology why can’t you?” the Bench asked, after the companies said they would remove such content within 48 to 72 hours of receiving complaints about them.The companies also argued against an “auto-block” mechanism — a suggestion made by the NGO — would affect materials for used for research.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the court that the central government had earmarked Rs 195.83 crore for a ‘Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children’ to deal with crimes against women and children.
In February 2015, the court took suo motu cognisance of a letter sent by Prajwala, an NGO, highlighting instances of videos of gang rape being uploaded on Yahoo and Whatsapp messenger services. The NGO also sent two videos of gang rape.
GOVT NOTIFIES MEDICAL DEVICES RULES, 2017
Union health ministry on Thursday notified Medical Devices Rules, 2017 that separates regulatory norms for manufacturing medical devices from drugs.
The notification has come a day after finance minister Arun Jaitley mentioned during the Union Budget about forming new rules for regulating medical devices in the country to ease norms for manufacturing medical devices in the country and to promote domestic industry.
The medical devices could range from simple devices such as thermometers and disposable gloves to x-ray, CT, MRI machines and implantable devices such as stents and artificial joints.
INDIA TO CONSTRUCT MULTI-ETHNIC TRI-LINGUAL SCHOOL IN LANKA
India and Sri Lanka today signed an agreement to construct a multi-ethnic tri-lingual school in a north central district of the island nation that would provide opportunities to Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim students to learn in a multi-cultural environment.
The MoU was signed by India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Secretary to the Ministry of Education Sunil Hettiarachchi.
The secondary school located in President Maithripala Sirisena’s home district Polonnaruwa will be constructed using a grant of SLR 300 million from the Indian Government.
KINGFA SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY INDIA LTD CALLS FOR BOARD MEETING ON FEB 13, 2017
A Meeting of the Board of Directors of Kingfa Science & Technology (India) Ltd has been scheduled to be held on February 13, 2017, to consider and approve, the Unaudited Financial Results of the Company for the quarter and nine months ended December 31, 2016.
In view of the above, the Trading Window for dealing in the securities of the Company shall remain closed for the Directors, Designated Employees and others from February 04, 2017 and shall remain closed upto February 15, 2017 (both days inclusive).
MICROSOFT TO DISABLE OLDER VERSIONS OF SKYPE FOR MAC, WINDOWS
From March 1, people will no longer be able to log in to version 7.16 of Skype for Windows desktop and older versions, and version 7.18 of Skype for Mac.
According to a report in Venture Beat, both the versions came out in December 2015.
“If you’re one of those users, all you’ll need to do is download the new update,” the Skype team said in a blog post on Friday.
To improve Skype, Microsoft has rolled out various changes like migrating the app to its Azure public cloud infrastructure, and adding chatbots.
“We’ve poured our energy and passion into creating something truly special, and this is just the beginning,” Skype added.
KARNATAKA PUSHES BIOTECH EVENT BACK TO NOVEMBER
Bangalore Bio, the flagship biotechnology event promoted by the Karnataka government and Vision Group will be renamed as the Bioeconomy Summit to focus on achieving a bioeconomy of $100 billion in the country.The information technology, biotechnology and science and technology department of Karnataka would organize the event in the month of February every year. However, the event has been put on hold this year to make it “bigger and better”.
“It’s important for us to focus on investment. We are going call it Bioeconomy Summit this year. We are renaming it because Bangalore Bio and Bio Asia events are all in a standard format. We would like to be slightly different and for that, we need more preparations,” said the chairperson of Karnataka’s Vision Group and CMD of Biocon, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, who has been the face of Bangalore Bio over many years.
‘GEEK WEEK’ TO CELEBRATE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AT DUDLEY’S LIBRARIES THROUGHOUT HALF TERM
IT’S chic to be geek in Dudley this half term as the borough’s libraries hold a programme of events celebrating science, technology, comics and digital media.
Throughout the school holiday, budding coders can learn all about robotics, Minecraft, mad science, animal handling, animation, manga, computer games, and raspberry pi.
The week kicks off on Saturday, February 11, with robot wars at Halesowen Library from 11.30am until 1pm and 1.30pm until 3pm, while on Saturday, February 18, there’s an RSPB drop-in craft at Stourbridge Library between 10am and 4pm.
THIS ROBOT MIMICS KEY FLIGHT MECHANISM OF BATS
A new self-contained robot that mimics the key flight mechanisms of bats has been developed by scientists.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Caltech have developed Bat Bot (B2) with soft, articulated wings that can mimic the biological bats.
“Our work demonstrates one of the most advanced designs to date of a self-contained flapping-winged aerial robot with bat morphology that is able to perform autonomous flight,” said Alireza Ramezani from the University of Illinois.
The robot weighs 93 grams, with dynamic wing articulations and wing conformations similar to those of biological bats.
THESE GEL-BASED ROBOTS CAN CATCH LIVE FISH
Engineers have fabricated transparent gel-based robots that move when water is pumped in and out of them and can perform tasks like grabbing and releasing a live fish.
According to the results — published in the journal Nature Communications — these robots can also perform fast and forceful tasks like kicking a ball underwater.
The robots are made entirely of hydrogel — a tough, rubbery, nearly transparent material that’s composed mostly of water.
“Hydrogels are soft, wet, biocompatible and can form more friendly interfaces with human organs,” said Xuanhe Zhao, associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Each robot is an assemblage of hollow, precisely designed hydrogel structures, connected to rubbery tubes.
THE CAVE SQUEAKER RETURNS: RARE FROG SEEN AFTER DECADES
Researchers in Zimbabwe say they have found a rare frog that hasn’t been seen in decades.
The Artholeptis troglodytes, also known as the “cave squeaker” because of its preferred habitat, was discovered in 1962 but there were no reported sightings of the elusive amphibian after that. An international “red list” of threatened species tagged them as critically endangered and possibly extinct.
Robert Hopkins, a researcher at the natural history museum in Bulawayo city, said his team had found four specimens of the frog in its known habitat of Chimanimani, a mountainous area in the east.
The team found the first male specimen on Dec. 3 after following an animal call that they had not heard before, Hopkins said. They then discovered another two males and a female. Hopkins said he been looking for the cave squeaker for eight years.
DR. SATURDAY’S OBSERVATIONS AND AWARDS FROM 2017’S NATIONAL SIGNING DAY
Hopefully you kept up with the day’s major news here at Dr. Saturday. If you didn’t we’re not hurt, it’s OK. But outside of the big stories we covered throughout the day, there was a lot of other noteworthy happenings, comments and fun throughout the day. Consider this your one-stop post for everything else that occurred Wednesday.
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze’s team hasn’t been officially penalized by the NCAA. Yet. But he feels his team has already been penalized in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Freeze’s program is currently being investigated by the NCAA and Ole Miss’ recruiting ranking appears to have suffered as a result. The Rebels’ rank just 41st in Rivals’ team rankings and signed just three four-star recruits.
He started his press conference by saying he felt “great” about his recruiting class multiple times. But he also had this to say about recruiting with possible NCAA sanctions looming.“We’ve suffered penalties,” Freeze said via RebelGrove.com. “This recruiting class, it was a penalty to be under the cloud we’re under.”
Ole Miss ranked No. 8 in 2016 (with 12 four-star and above recruits) and No. 22 in 2015 (6), so it’s quite a precipitous drop in the rankings. Freeze also said his team had been negatively recruited against heavily by other teams. And while we understand his frustration with that tactic, it’s also what happens with potential sanctions on the horizon.Freeze said he could tell recruits information that was “already public” about the NCAA investigation and that he had “no idea” what the end of the NCAA investigation would bring.
“Unfortunately there’s, whether the information is right or wrong I don’t really know, there’s a lot of people that chose to certainly talk about us a lot throughout the process,” Freeze said.
TATA ELXSI WINS THE COVETED INTERNATIONAL IF DESIGN AWARD 2017
Design company Tata Elxsi said that it has won this year’s iF Design Awards, a world-renowned prize for design excellence.
The company won this award for its exceptional work delivered for Kochi Metro Rail Limited, in the Service Design discipline.
Tata Elxsi designed the comprehensive passenger experience design for Kochi Metro to help them develop India’s first seamless integrated transport system.
Dating back to 1953, the iF Design Awards is an international design competition organized by Germany’s oldest independent design organization, Hannover-based iF International Forum Design GmbH. This year, a total of 5,500 entries were submitted from 59 countries.
An expert 58 member jury, made up of independent experts in industry, design and architecture from all over the world adjudged the winners.
GEORGE CLOONEY TO BE HONOURED WITH CÉSAR AWARD FROM FRENCH FILM ACADEMY
France’s film academy said Thursday it will confer a top honorary award on US actor George Clooney when it hands out its coveted Cesar awards, the nation’s equivalent of the Oscars, on February 24.
The Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema said that Clooney was their chosen recipient of this year’s Honorary Cesar Award as they wanted to fete his “dazzling talent as an actor, director, scriptwriter and producer — and above all, his artistic and spiritual generosity.”
FMSCI ANNOUNCES 2016 MOTORSPORT AWARDS
The Federation of Motorsport Clubs of India (FMSCI) announced its annual motorsport awards for Indian motorsport achievers at a gala event in Hyderabad on Friday.
Five time national rally champion Gaurav Gill clinched the ‘motorsports person of the year award’, given away by FIA president Jean Todt.
Gill, the reigning Asia Pacific Champion had a spectacular 2016, winning all five rounds of the APRC to set a new record.
“It’s an honour to receive the trophy from Mr Todt, one of the legends in the world of racing,” Gill, who has already won the trophy twice earlier, said in his acceptance speech. “I will have to win it again and again so that it stays in my cabinet,” he quipped, referring to the fact that it’s a rolling trophy.
HIND RATNA, NRI OF THE YEAR AWARDS FOR DODDI VENKATAGIRI
“I might have received many awards and rewards. Getting an award in India, my motherland, has made me happy and proud,” this is how Doddi Venkatagiri, a renowned scientist settled in California, U.S., reacted after being conferred with the Hind Ratna and NRI of the Year awards.
The awards were presented by NRI Welfare Society of India at its 36th International Congress of NRI in New Delhi recently, in recognition of his outstanding services, achievements and contributions in the field of social service and science. Meira Kumar, former Lok Sabha Speaker, and Bhishma Narain Singh, president of the society, presented the awards.
JAIPUR SUJAN PALACE GETS PERFECT 10 IN GUEST REVIEW AWARDS
Sujan Rajmahal Palace of Jaipur has become the only Indian property to score perfect 10 in the latest edition of Booking.com 2016 Guest Review Awards.
Other properties to earn review score of 9.5 and above out of 10 in India are Shimla View Home, Shimla; Periyar Inn, Thekkadi; Casa Da Praia, Candolim; Alleppey Beach Garden, Alleppey; Pinnacle Holiday Home, Arpora, a release said.
Based on over 110 million reviews, this year 355,535 properties in 205 countries and territories are being recognised.
In India, 1,858 properties from all types received the award with an overall average score of 8.4 in guest reviews for Booking.com, which is leader in booking hotel and other accommodations online.
DGA AWARDS WINNERS
Damien Chazelle won the Directors Guild of America’s top feature film award for the musical “La La Land” on Saturday, beating out Garth Davis (“Lion”), Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), Kenneth Lonergan (“Manchester by the Sea”), and Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”)
2017 ‘NFL HONORS’ LIST OF AWARD WINNERS
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan won several awards, including his first MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards. Khalil Mack won Defensive Player of the Year by one vote over Von Miller. Additionally, another memorable Hall of Fame class was announced, including LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner and Terrell Davis.
Here is the full list of winners from the evening:
» FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons; Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
» AP Offensive Rookie of the Year: Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
» AP Offensive Player of the Year presented by Microsoft: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
» Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Year: Dallas Cowboys
» Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award: Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts
» Salute To Service Award Presented by USAA: Dan Quinn, Falcons
» Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Year: Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
» AP Assistant Coach of the Year: Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta Falcons
» AP Coach of the Year: Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
» AP Defensive Rookie of the Year: Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers
» Courtyard’s “Greatness on the Road” Award: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
» AP Defensive Player of the Year presented by Old Spice: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders
» Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017: LaDainian Tomlinson, Morten Andersen, Jason Taylor, Kenny Easley, Jerry Jones, Terrell Davis, Kurt Warner
» AP Comeback Player of the Year presented by McDonald’s: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
» Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presented by Nationwide: Eli Manning, New York Giants; Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals
» Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year: Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans’ one-handed catch against the Falcons
» AP Most Valuable Player: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
GOYA AWARDS: ‘FURY OF A PATIENT MAN’ TAKES TOP PRIZE AS ‘A MONSTER CALLS’ NEARLY SWEEPS WITH 9 PRIZES
Raul Arevalo’s directorial debut Fury of a Patient Man took the top award at the Spanish Film Academy’s Goya Awards ceremony Saturday, even as Juan Antonio Bayona’s A Monster Calls nearly swept the night with nine awards, including the director category.
Bayona’s tale of a boy who faces his mother’s illness with the help of a monster scored on nine of its 12 nominations.
A teary-eyed Bayona, seated next to his twin brother Carlos, celebrated each award for Monster as if it were his first successful film, instead of the third in a highly-acclaimed trilogy centering on the mother-child relationship. Bayona dedicated his award to all who suffer from cancer and to his father, who taught him the transformative power of culture.
Even so, the other big winner of the night, was fresh talent Arevalo, whose decisive triumph was announced by a glamorous Penelope Cruz, and who also took home the best new director award, along with the original screenplay prize.
‘ZOOTOPIA’ WINS TOP PRIZE AT ANNIE AWARDS (WINNERS LIST)
Disney’s “Zootopia” is on a roll, following up its Golden Globes victory by topping the 44th Annual Annie Awards with six wins, including best animated feature.
As a studio, Disney racked up 10 awards total on the animation industry’s big night, presented by ASIFA-Hollywood on Saturday at UCLA’s Royce Hall.
“Zootopia” directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore as well as writers Jared Bush and Phil Johnston took trophies, as did Cory Loftis for character design, Dean Wellins for storyboarding, and Jason Bateman, the voice of fox Nick Wilde, who shared the voice acting in a feature win with “Moana” star Auli’i Cravalho.