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News in Brief

 

The Golden girl of India: Hima Das
18 year old, Hima Das created history by winning India’s first gold medal at a global track event. Das clocked the finish line in 51.46 seconds at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere, Finland. Her father is a farmer and she hails from Dhing, a small village situated around 30 km from Nagaon in Assam. Andrea Miklos of Romania came second with a timing of 52.07 seconds to claim silver, while USA’s Taylor Manson took home bronze after clocking 52.28 seconds.

 

France is the winner of the FIFA World Cup 2018
France won the FIFA World Cup after beating Croatia’s bold challenge in a thrilling final in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. This is the second time that France lifts the World Cup. It was one of the most exciting World Cup finals played in the recent times. Croatia and France delivered an exciting game that brought the joint highest goal tally in a final since 1958.  Even though Croatian team goes back home as the beaten finalists, but they have surely won hearts and their approach to this match earned them a prolonged standing ovation.

Rupee plunges to record low
The Rupee has just hit a new all-time low, as it collapsed to a record low of 69.10 against the US dollar, as rising crude oil prices deepened concerns about the country’s current account deficit and inflation dynamics. The rupee had touched its previous record low of 68.86 per dollar on in November 2016. Global oil prices have climbed after the US asked its allies to end all imports of Iranian oil by November. Concerns over supply disruptions in Libya and Canada also pushed prices higher. Brent crude was trading at nearly $78 a barrel in Asian trade today. Given that India is the world’s third largest oil importer, any hike in global oil prices will inflate the import bill and disrupt the fiscal position.

The Thai Cave rescue operation
On June 23rd, 2018, the Moo Pa (Wild Boars) academy team had no idea what was in store for them. The team whose ages ranged from 11 to 16, became trapped with their 25-year-old coach, Ekaphol Chantawong, inside the six-mile Tham Luang cave in the Doi Nang Non mountain range. It was only after nine days that the rescue divers located the team  of 12 boys and their coach alive and safe about 400 metres further along from the elevated area known as Pattaya Beach, sheltering on a ledge surrounded by water. The main entrance was separated from their refuge almost by two miles through a narrow and flooded passageway. Thankfully, it was a break in monsoon rains and authorities took advantage of that and began to immediately pump out water. The round-the-clock pumping paid off making it easier for the rescue team to approach the cave. The boys had no previous diving experience and yet the only way for them to be rescued was to use scuba equipment, so each boy was accompanied by two divers with the rescuers facing an 11-hour round trip.

Green signal from RBI to Federal Bank to open overseas offices
The Kochi-headquartered, private sector lender Federal Bank has received the regulatory nod to open offices in Bahrain, Kuwait and Singapore, but is awaiting local clearances before it starts operations. The South based bank leads the diaspora remittance and it already has representative offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and its desire to expand comes even as a majority of its larger peers are downsizing their overseas presence after the Nirav Modi scam and poor asset quality back home due to toxic loans. However, a timeline has not been set as to by when the bank expects the approvals from local regulators.

ATM Frauds
In recent months there has been a spike in fraud cases related to ATMs. The government indicated that nearly a quarter of the ATMs run by public sector banks are vulnerable to frauds as 74% of the cash dispensers are running on outdated software.  The statement on state-run banks came in response to a question in Parliament on ATMs running on software that was outdated and lack basic security features. The increase in fraud cases has prompted Reserve Bank of India to issue a fresh advisory, asking banks to upgrade software in a time-bound manner and closely monitor compliance.

India among 10 Asian economies that might outperform US by 2030
A report by DBS says that Indian economy is expected to see robust growth and amount to over USD 28 trillion in real GDP terms on aggregate, more than the US by 2030. India is one of the Asian economies expected to outperform the United States in real GDP terms, along with China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. However, the report also mentions that these countries do face certain challenges too in terms of climate change, rising inequality, worsening environment for trade, and technological disruption that can drag growth numbers.

RSTAR to the rescue!
The Rising Sprawl-Tuned Autonomous Robot (RSTAR) is a robot that can dig you out of the rubble.  Scientists have developed this robot that can change its shape to crawl through tight spaces and climb over rough terrain. It can aid the rescue teams to locate and take out people trapped under debris.  It utilises adjustable sprawling wheel legs attached to a body that can move independently and reposition itself to run on flat surfaces, climb over large obstacles and crawl through a tunnel or even narrow gaps . Its speed and relatively low energy consumption make the robot ideal for a broad range of applications that may require longer work time.

Balloons to bring internet in rural Kenya
Loon, Google’s sister-company has partnered with Telkom Kenya to announce its first commercial deal to deliver connectivity to the remote regions of rural Kenya through a network of giant balloons. Originally known as Project Loon, the technology behind the internet balloons was developed under parent company Alphabet’s experimental division, X. Loon’s balloons float high in the stratosphere, around 20km above sea level; a height the company says is out of range of air traffic, storms and wildlife. The balloon that is the size of a tennis court is made from polyethylene, filled with helium and powered by a solar panel. The balloons are designed to stay aloft for months at a time, and move by surfing wind channels, predicting speeds and directions so that they can navigate in the direction they need to travel. Each balloon carries an antenna, which relays internet signals transmitted from the ground, extending coverage over an area of 5,000sq km.

Bank of Baroda’s war on bad loan recovery
A dedicated team of lawyers has been set up by the Bank of Baroda to speed up recovery of bad loans that get entangled in litigation. The state-owned bank has 380 high-value bad loan accounts with a total outstanding of about Rs 15,000 crore. In these, the bank is either the sole lender or the consortium leader. Such recovery efforts are expected to bring back the bank’s profits, erased by higher provisions against bad loans. In the January-March quarter of 2018, the bank incurred a net loss of Rs 3,102 crore. In the same period last year, it had made a net profit of Rs 154 crore. The bank has also started special grooming of officers on various modes of recovery before they are posted to the stressed assets branches.

India scrapped 12% tax on sanitary products
India has scrapped its 12% tax on all sanitary products following months of campaigning by activists. The announcement has been welcomed by the campaigners. This comes a year after the government introduced the tax, known as GST, on all goods, which included the 12% duty on menstrual hygiene products, as it was branded as luxury item.

Patanjali broadens its product horizon further
After successful launch of range of products, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali is now planning to enter the Khadi and frozen vegetables market with an investment of Rs 10,000 crore. The company wants to open nearly 10,000 retail outlets across the country by 2019.

Futuristic aircraft by Aston Martin
Recently, Aston Martin unveiled ‘sports car for the skies’, the three-seater hybrid-electric vehicle at the Farnborough Airshow.  This futuristic personal aircraft aims to revolutionize travel. The Volante Vision Concept design has vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities and will be able to hit speeds of around 200 miles per hour (322 kph). The Volante Vision Concept will take full advantage of the latest advances in aerospace, electrification and autonomous technologies, coupled with Aston Martin’s signature design. However, the vehicle is clearly a luxury product, thus pricing would commensurate accordingly.

Herbal brands preferred over Colgate toothpaste?
Patanjali is giving tough competition to toothpaste-giant Colgate as the country’s largest toothpaste maker Colgate-Palmolive saw its market share fall below 50% for the first time in decades in May even as Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali and other herbal brands continued to bite into the big multinational’s shares.

2019 will see a rise in hotel tariffs and airfares
Rising oil prices are expected to push up the cost of air travel in 2019, with fares likely to rise by 2.6 percent and hotel rates might go up by 3.7 percent. Also, the downside risks from a trade war might impact certain countries including India, New Zealand, Norway, Germany and Chile, as airfares are expected to rise by more than 7 percent, said the annual business travel forecast from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). To maintain margins, airline fares have seen a steady increase.

Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest man
Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. He crossed another milestone as his wealth topped $150 billion, the highest ever by anyone in modern history leaving Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates at the second position, according to Bloomberg Billionaire index.

Venezuela inflation will hit 1,000,000 per cent in 2018, according to IMF
The South American nation’s economy has been steadily collapsing since there has been a crash of oil prices in 2014 that has left it unable to maintain a socialist system of subsidies and price controls. IMF projects that Venezuela’s inflation rate is likely to top 1,000,000 percent this year. The nation has become one of the worst hyperinflationary crises in modern history.

Atos buys Syntel for $3.4 billion
French IT services group Atos, in its $3.4 billion acquisition of US information technology group Syntel will help in expanding their North America footprint. Both Atos and Syntel have a significant presence in India. Syntel, which has 23,000 engineers in 30 countries, has over 18,000 staff based in India. Atos has about 16,000 people. All of Syntel’s management team is expected to join Atos.