In Brief

Cuba has become the first country in the world to eradicate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to newborn, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Tata Trusts and Google India have launched a special programme called “Internet Saathi” to empower women and their communities in rural India by enabling them to use the internet and benefit from it in their daily lives.

India’s longest road tunnel is being constructed to connect Chenani in Udhampur with Nashri in Ramban district, in J&K. The 9.2 km tunnel, which is the part of the ambitious 286 km-long four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, will reduce the distance between two capital cities—Jammu and Srinagar—by around 30 km.

India halved its incidence of extreme poverty, from 49.4% in 1994 to 24.7% in 2011 ahead of the deadline of 2015 set by the United Nations, according to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report 2015. The report set the limit for extreme poverty as those living on $1.25 or less a day.

Indian government has permitted seven companies—National Highways Authority of India, Indian Railways Finance Corporation, Housing and Urban Development Corporation, Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, Power Finance Corporation, Rural Electrification Corporation and NTPC—to issue tax-free bonds worth ₹400 billion rupees in the 2015-16. The ceiling coupon rate for AAA-rated issuer of tax-free bonds has been fixed at 55 basis points below the government bond yield for retail investors and 80 basis points for other investors.

Scientists in India have developed their own variations of the e-Nose which will detect radioactive and other harmful toxic gases that are emitted by paper mills and other industrial units. This is an innovative research given that toxic gases can have an adverse impact on humans. It is being developed by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) along with the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology of the Government of India.

The Union government has capped the subsidy it will pay on kerosene at ₹12 per litre while deciding to foot the entire bill on domestic cooking gas. The Finance Ministry will pay ₹12 per litre in cash to State-owned fuel retailers and any unbridged gap between the retail selling price and the cost of production will be borne by upstream companies like ONGC. The Budget for 2015-16 has provided for ₹22,000 crore towards LPG subsidy and another ₹8,000 crore on kerosene.

Beijing has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to be awarded both summer and winter Games. The Chinese capital beat Almaty, Kazakhstan in a secret ballot.

Nabakalebara Yatra is the biggest religious congregation in Odisha and celebrations this year, on 18 July 2015, were extra special as this was the century’s first Nabakalebara Ratha Yatra. The term Nabakalebara is an ancient ritual associated with most of the Jagannath Temples when the Idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are replaced by a new set of Idols.

India’s first air freight station in the private sector has come up at Irungattukottai near Chennai. Set up by the city-based Indev Logistics at a cost of ₹50 crore, the AFS will reduce congestion at the gateway airports and the carrier operators can choose the AFS as a final destination for cargo delivery. The first AFS in the country was set up in 2007 inside Central Warehousing Corporation in Chennai.

Nuclear Fuel Complex of India is located in Hyderabad and another one is coming up in Kota, Rajasthan.

Reserve Bank of India has granted banking licence to IDFC Ltd, making it the second lender to enter the banking sector after more than a decade. Indian microfinance company Bandhan Financial Services and Mumbai-based IDFC were the only two companies to be granted preliminary bank permits in 2014. Yes Bank was the last bank to be set up in India, in 2004.

Titan arum is a giant flower, said to be one of the world’s oldest and largest species. In July 2015 it bloomed at a Tokyo park for the first time in five years. The 2-metre-high Titan arum rarely flowers and is notoriously difficult to propagate and blooms for one or two days only. More commonly known as the corpse flower, the plant’s overpowering smell has been likened to that of rotting meat and helps to attract pollinators such as beetles and flies. Native to the rainforests of western Sumatra in Indonesia, the flower grows on steep hillsides between 120 to 365 metres above sea level, but its existence is now under massive threat from widespread deforestation.The International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified the species as “vulnerable” or just below endangered.

Andhra Pradesh government has decided that the town of Rajahmundry in East Godavari district will get back its ancient name of Rajamahendravaram.The ancient name is derived from a Chalukya dynasty ruler of the 11th century who ruled over the city.

Gujarat has become the first State of India to have a provision for compulsory voting. With the government notifying the Gujarat Local Authorities Act (Amendment) 2009, voting is mandatory in the local body elections. A voter in the State would nvite punitive action in case he or she fails to vote in the local body elections without any acceptable reason.

P-notes, or participatory notes, are a way for foreigners to invest in the Indian markets without registering themselves with Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). P-Notes are for individuals who do not want to disclose their identity for various reasons. Therefore, they put their money in foreign bank branches located outside India who issues them participatory notes. The bank can them invest or bet in the Indian stock markets on behalf of those clients without disclosing their identities to SEBI. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court, in its report, said that SEBI must curb black money by identifying the people behind P-notes.

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) is being set up with the aim to catalyse infrastructure development in the country. It would have an initial authorised capital of ₹20,000 crore and would provide equity support to non-bank finance companies and financial institutions engaged in infrastructure financing across sectors. It would also extend equity and debt support to commercially viable infrastructure and other projects. The Union government will hold 49% equity in the Fund. The balance would be offered to strategic anchor partners such as multilateral institutions.

July 29 is observed as International Tiger Day.

Mobile marketplace and digital payment services firm Paytm has won the title sponsorship rights for all international and domestic cricket matches played in India. Paytm will pay ₹203 crore to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for acquiring title sponsorship for all the 84 matches—Tests, one-day internationals and T20s—that India will play till 2019. In addition, the domestic Ranji competition will be known as the ‘Paytm Ranji Trophy’.

Union government has notifyed composite cap in the FDI policy, allowing up to 49 per cent foreign portfolio investment (FPI) through the automatic route in most sectors, including brownfield pharmaceuticals, single-brand retail, insurance, pension and facsimile editions of foreign newspapers.

By 2018-19, the Union government will infuse ₹70,000 crore into public sector banks, 42 per cent of these banks’ overall estimated requirement of ₹1,80,000 crore. While ₹25,000 crore each will be infused in 2015-16 and 2016-17, ₹10,000 crore each will be provided in 2017-18 and 2018-19.Through capital infusion, the government hopes to address the fact that these banks’ funds are stuck with large projects that are stranded due to various reasons. Among these, the government says, are delays in land acquisition and clearances.

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