Daily GK Update - Current Affairs - 16th January 2016
1. Start up India: This is the beginning of big bang start up boom in India, says Softbank CEO
i. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday kick-started Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambitious Start-Up India mission at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The Start Up India mission to be unveiled on Saturday envisages technology business incubators and research parks.
ii. The Human Resource Development Ministry and the Department of Science and Technology have agreed to partner in an initiative to set up over 75 such startup support hubs in the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) and NIPERs or National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research.
iii. Organised by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), along with other key Indian startup ecosystem players, the Startup India, Standup India initiative aims to celebrate the country's entrepreneurial spirit, and create a strong ecosystem for fostering innovation and startups in India.
iv. The event was inaugurated by finance minister Arun Jaitley, and was attended by the Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman, and the Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha. Around 40 top CEOs and startup founders and investors from Silicon Valley attended the event as special guests, and take part question and answer sessions at the event.
2. Narendra Modi initiative has Kochi’s ‘Startup Village’ plotting more success
i. Four years ago, an idea took root in Kerala’s business capital of Kochi in the hope of attracting the best entrepreneurial minds among youngsters and creating successful start-ups. Startup Village (SV), as it was called, was a nascent idea then that drew not much attention.
ii. But today, on the cusp of the launch of a nationwide campaign that aims to spawn startups across the country, Startup Village in Kochi sits pretty with a list of grand accomplishments and a grander vision.
iii. In April 2012, Startup Village commenced operations as India’s first public-private technological business incubator with the aim of creating at least 48 startup companies in five years. However, within three and a half years, it achieved its targets, becoming home to over 70 startups in typical incubation mode.
iv. After its successful first phase, officials at SV are now excited about their next phase of expansion in which they aim for complete digitization of the incubation process right from filing applications to mentoring, resource allocation and final graduation. The target is to support 10,000 startup teams in the next five years.
v. The ‘Startup India’ campaign that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches on Saturday will be an added boost, top officials at SV told IndianExpress. Incubators like Startup Village have found favour among the administration at a time when startup companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola have made it big and entered the billion dollar club. With a young and aspiring demographic, many believe India can very well be the hotbed for enterprising startups that can contribute to national GDP as well as provide labour.
3. Chinese President Xi launches Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
i. China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in which India and 56 countries have joined as founding members, was formally opened here today by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
ii. “This is a historical moment,” Xi said addressing the ceremony of the bank, which along with the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB) is expected to expand infrastructure financing, rivalling the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.
iii. An Indian delegation headed by Dinesh Sharma, additional Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, attended the opening ceremony. In all 57 countries have joined as founding members, while the US and Japan have stayed out. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will address the founding conference of the AIIB council later today.
iv. The bank was formally established in Beijing on December 25, 2015. Chinese Finance Minister, Lou Jiwei, was elected as the first Chairman of the AIIB council. China’s former Finance Minister, Jin Liqun, was elected the first AIIB president.
v. With authorised capital of $100 billion and subscribed capital of $50 billion, Beijing-based AIIB will invest in sectors including energy, transportation, urban construction, and logistics as well as education and healthcare.
vi. China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders, taking a 30.34 per cent, 8.52 per cent, 6.66 per cent stake respectively in the newly formed bank. The opening of the AIIB marked a milestone in the reform of the global economic governance system, Lou said in an interview earlier.
vii. The AIIB will work together with multilateral development banks, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to facilitate Asian infrastructure construction and sustainable development, Lou said.
4. World Bank to be anchor investor in Rail Development Fund: Prabhu
i. The World Bank would be the anchor investor in the new Railway Development Fund, which would be used to fund the modernisation of Indian Railways, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has said.
ii. “We have decided to work with the World Bank on creating a Railway Development Fund. This was already initiated. But now, we have taken it forward,” Prabhu said here yesterday after his meeting with World Bank officials. Noting that the World Bank would be anchor investors in this new fund, along with other co-investors, Prabhu said, “This fund would be kick-started soon as there is unanimity in the World Bank leadership”.
iii. He also said the World Bank leadership has realised that based on the performance in the past one year, Indian Railways is in the “right direction”. However, Prabhu did not divulge the size of the fund, but indicated that it would be the largest ever provided by the World Bank to the Indian Railways. Prabhu is here to attend a World Bank meeting on transportation. During his stay in the US capital, he also met officials of the International Finance Corporation, the US Transportation Secretary Anthony Renard Foxx, and some of the think-tanks.
iv. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) would look into the possibility of revenue generation through non-railway operations, he said. “To help us in monetisation issues, bringing in the global best practices. Globally, railways get 30-40 per cent of their income from non-railway operations. In India it is not even two per cent. So this is going to be a challenging time, particularly when Indian Railways would have to bear the additional burden of the Pay Commission,” he said.
v. During his meeting with Secretary Foxx, the two leaders decided to create an umbrella agreement with the Department of Transportation about the transportation sector in general. “Today we also agreed to make a Railways-specific umbrella agreement with the Transport Department, which would help to work on many things,” Prabhu said.
5. Flipkart ties-up with Mahindra for KUV100 online bookings
i. Online marketplace Flipkart has tied up with auto major Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd to exclusively launch the latter's newest SUV- KUV100. Consumers can book the SUV on Flipkart from January 18th, 2016.
ii. Anil Goteti, Vice President - Business, Flipkart said, "Online today is a must have strategy for all players to respond to the growing demand of their customers who are spread across different cities and towns in the country. First time in the automobile category, this exclusive tie-up will allow Mahindra access Flipkart’s extensive reach and network to connect with their customers and provide them the ease to book Mahindra KUV100 online.”
iii. Flipkart launched Automobiles as a category last month with a vision to change the way vehicles are bought in India. The association with Mahindra is another step in that direction. The two entities have come together to deliver superior customer experience with assured in-a-month delivery. Flipkart currently also offers a wide range of automotive accessories as part of its endeavour to become a destination for all automotive needs.
iv. Designed in-house and engineered at Mahindra's world class research and development facility, the Mahindra Research Valley at Chennai, KUV100 is targeted at the youth and first time car buyers.
v. An indigenously developed monocoque SUV, the KUV100 will have many firsts to its credit including the first ground up petrol engine offering from Mahindra. In fact, all research & development activities for this compact SUV were aligned with global standards of quality, technology, testing norms, regulations and emissions from the very start.
6. World Bank released report titled World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends
i. The World Bank on 14 January 2016 released a report titled World Development Report 2016: Digital Dividends in Washington DC, the USA. The report explored the impact of the internet, mobile phones, and related technologies on economic development across the world including India.
ii. Further, it concluded that potential gains from digital technologies are high, but often remain unrealized and proposed policies to expand connectivity, accelerate complementary reforms in sectors beyond information and communication technology (ICT), and address global coordination problems.
iii. In relation to India, the authors of the report that included Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of World Bank appreciated the Aadhaar scheme as it saved 1 billion US dollars by bringing down corruption.
iv. The world’s offline population is mainly in India and China, but more than 120 million people are still offline in North America and the digital divide within countries can be as high as that between countries. Worldwide, nearly 21 percent of households in the bottom 40 percent of their countries’ income distribution don’t have access to a mobile phone, and 71 percent don’t have access to the internet.
v. The increased connectivity has had limited effect in reducing information inequality. For example, there are more contributions to Wikipedia from Hong Kong, China, than from all of Africa combined, despite the fact that Africa has 50 times more internet users. Digital technologies, apart from resulting in economic benefits, influenced the participation of women in the labor force, the ease of communication for people with disabilities, and the way people spend their leisure.
vi. By overcoming information barriers, augmenting factors, and transforming products, digital technologies can make development more inclusive, efficient, and innovative.
7. Delhi-based writer Ankita Anand won the Lorenzo Natali Media Prize for work on Khap panchayats
i. An independent Delhi-based writer Ankita Anand on 14 January 2016 won the European Commission's prestigious Lorenzo Natali Media Prize for 2015 in Asia and the Pacific amateur category.
ii. She earned the award for her sensitive portrayal of life for young women facing the threat of the diktat of khap panchayats in Haryana with the title Stirrings beneath the peepul published in the journal The Equator Linel.
iii. Arison Tamfu, an editor for the Cameroon Journal, won the Lorenzo Natali Grand Prize for a critical investigative report on how UN Climate change negotiations that are calling on nations to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy are going to affect the development of African communities living where the resources are found with the title Africa’s billions might be buried forever.
iv. It is organized by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development since 1992. It is awarded to journalists for outstanding reporting on development and poverty eradication. The Prize is divided into two distinct categories: amateur and professional journalism. An independent jury will identify one winner per category and per region.
v. The Regions are Africa, the Arab world and the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe. Each winner of the prize will be granted 5000 Euros. The Lorenzo Natali Grand Prize of an additional 5000 Euros will be awarded to one of the winners.
8. Dr Jancy James selected for Prof MV Pylee Award for the Distinguished Academician of India
i. Dr Jancy James, the first woman Vice Chancellor of Kerala, was on 15 January 2016 selected for the Prof MV Pylee Award for the Distinguished Academician of India. The award was instituted by Cochin University of Science and Technology in the name of MV Pylee. He is an Indian scholar, educationist and management guru and widely regarded as the father of management education in Kerala.
ii. The award is given for excellence in teaching and research and contribution to academic community. It carries an amount of 1 lakh rupees and a citation.
iii. Dr Jancy James is an established author, literary critic, researcher and translator. She is the former Vice Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University and founder Vice Chancellor of Central University of Kerala.
iv. She served as member of Kendra Sahitya Akademi and as the National President of the Comparative Literature Association of India. She is a post-doctoral Commonwealth Fellow in University of Warwick, UK and also worked as a Faculty Research Fellow in Toronto University, Canada.
v. She was a member of the Indian delegation at the Indo-US Higher Education Summit at Washington under the Obama-Singh Initiative in 2011.