In Brief

World Press Freedom Day is observed on 3 May.

World Asthma Day is organized by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) in collaboration with health care groups and asthma educators to raise awareness about asthma and improve asthma care throughout the world. World Asthma Day 2015 was observed on 5 May 5 and the theme continued to be “You Can Control Your Asthma”.

India’s per capita retirement and pension assets as a percentage of GDP are among the lowest in the world, according to a survey report by Reliance Capital Asset Management. India has 15.1% of retirement assets as a percentage of GDP, when compared to 21% in Germany, 41% in Brazil, 78.9% in the USA and 146% in Australia.

India’s largest blast furnace for steel production is located in Burnpur, West Bengal.

Indian Air Force will have their first ever road runway as Agra-Lucknow expressway in Uttar Pradesh is being considered to be turned into an airstrip. Such road runways are important in case the regular airbases are rendered dysfunctional during hostilities. Indian Air Force will bear the cost of the project.

International Nurses Day (IND) is celebrated around the world on 12 May, to mark the contributions nurses make to society. The 2015 theme was: “Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective”.

The term “Masala Bond” is used to refer to rupee-denominated borrowings by Indian entities in overseas markets. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, in November 2014, issued a ₹1,000 crore bond to fund infrastructure projects in India. These bonds were listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). IFC then named them Masala bonds to give a local flavour by calling to mind Indian culture and cuisine. These bonds are issued to foreign investors and settled in US dollars. Hence, the currency risk lies with the investor and not the issuer, unlike external commercial borrowings (ECBs), where Indian companies raise money in foreign currency loans.

After Bharat Mala and Sagar Mala—aimed at improving road connectivity in border areas and coastal regions, respectively—the government has now cleared plans to connect 100 of the 676 district headquarters in India with world-class highways. The “Rashtriya Rajmarg Zila Sanjoyokta Pariyojna” entails development of 6,600 km of highways at an estimated cost of about ₹60,000 crore.

International Day of UN Peacekeepers was observed on 14 May.

The Union government has cleared the lone bid of Airbus-TATA consortium for replacing Indian Air Force’s fleet of ageing Avro transport aircraft for ₹11,930 crore, besides approving Russia’s offer to build Kamov Ka-226T helicopters under ‘Make in India’ initiative.

As per the data released by the Agriculture Ministry, India’s total estimated output during the 2014-15 crop year declined by around 5.25 per cent. India’s total foodgrain production during 2014-15 crop year (July-June period) was 251.12 million tonnes (MT), lower by 13.92 MT than the previous year’s record foodgrain production of 265.04 MT.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India grew by about 40 per cent year-on-year to ₹1.76 lakh crore in 2014-15. In 2013-14, the country had attracted ₹1.26 lakh crore FDI.

On 18 May 2015, India assumed the presidency of the the World Health Assembly (WHA), the high decision making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), after a gap of 19 years.

Infosys has become the first Indian company to join the RE100 renewable energy campaign, a global initiative where companies pledge to use only renewable power. The induction was announced by The Climate Group, which is coordinating the initiative. Infosys meets 29 percent of its electricity needs through green power in the fiscal year 2015. The initiative was launched in New York in September 2014 and has already seen global giants, such as IKEA, Swiss Re, Formula E, H&M, Mars, Nestlé, Philips, make a commitment to use only clean energy.

On 21 May 2015, IAF’s Mirage-2000 successfully landed on Yamuna Expressway near Mathura as part of trials to use national highways for emergency landing. A stretch of the Agra-Lucknow expressway in Uttar Pradesh is set to become a road runway for combat jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF), a first for military aviation in India. China, Pakistan, Sweden, Germany and Singapore are among the countries that have road runways.

Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd decided to buy a 33 per cent voting stake in the agricultural machinery-making unit of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd for $25 million. Mitsubishi Agricultural makes farm equipment such as tractors, power tillers, rice planters and combine harvesters for sale globally. It brought in about $408 million in revenue for the fiscal year 2015.

The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The 2015 theme is Biodiversity for Sustainable Development and is said to reflect the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda for the period of 2015-2030.

Neeraj Ghaywan’s directorial debut “Masaan”, which premiered at 2015 Cannes Film Festival, has won two international awards—FIPRESCI, International Jury of Film Critics prize and Promising Future prize in the Un Certain Regard section.

India accounts for the highest estimated number of undernourished people in any single country, with an estimated 194.6 million, or about one in every four such people in the world. Globally, the number of undernourished people has fallen by 216 million between 1990-92 and 2015, from just over a billion to 795 million. However, India’s contribution to this fall has been small, with its numbers down by just 15.5 million. In the process, India has overtaken China, which has cut its numbers from 289 million in 1990-92 to 133.8 million in the latest estimates. China’s reduction also ensured that the south-east Asian region contributed most to the decline.

For the 2014-15 fiscal year-ending in March, India’s growth came in at 7.3 percent compared with an earlier official estimate of 7.4 percent. Growth was 6.9 percent in 2013-14.

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