1. Pranab Mukherjee greets Greece on Independence Day
i. President Pranab Mukherjee has extended his greetings and felicitations to the government and people of Greece on the eve of their Independence Day.
ii. In a message to President Prokopis Pavlopoulos he said, “On behalf of the government, the people of India and on my own behalf, it is with great pleasure that I extend warm greetings and felicitations to Your Excellency and to the people of the Hellenic Republic (Greece) on the occasion of your Independence Day.
iii. India and the Hellenic Republic enjoy excellent relations based on our common commitment to shared values and our cultural ties that go back into antiquity,” Mukherjee said.
iv. Both India and Greece seek to consolidate and strengthen their cooperation and take it to a higher level.
v. He added “I would also like to take this opportunity to convey my best wishes for Your Excellency’s well-being and for the continued progress and prosperity of the friendly people of the Hellenic Republic”.
i. Arvind Kejriwal has been named among the world’s 50 greatest leaders by Fortune magazine with the Delhi Chief Minister being the sole Indian leader on the list topped by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
ii. Fortune’s third annual ‘World’s 50 Greatest Leaders’ list features men and women from across the globe from the fields of business, government, philanthropy and the arts who are “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same.”
iii. 47-year-old Aam Aadmi Party chief is ranked 42nd on the list and is the sole leader from India.However, South Carolina’s Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley is also on the list at 17th while another Indian- American Resham Saujani is at the 20th spot.
iv. Fortune credits Kejriwal for his efforts to curb pollution in New Delhi through the scheme of allowing vehicles of odd and even numbers on alternate days on the city’s roads.
v. The list includes German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2), Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at (3), US astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko (22), IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (36), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-chair and CEO Melinda Gates and Susan Desmond-Hellmann (41), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (48) and Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay (50).
3. Asia most exposed to disasters, Africa most vulnerable: Study
i. Countries and mega-cities across Asia are highly exposed to natural hazards ranging from cyclones to earthquakes, but people in sub-Saharan Africa are more vulnerable, according to a report.
ii. Nearly 1.4 billion people in South Asia — India, Bangladesh, Pakistan — face at least one major threat from nature, especially flooding, severe storms boosted by rising seas, and quakes.
iii.In the case of Bangladesh, 100% of its population is exposed, compared to 82% for India and 70% in Pakistan.
iv. China, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines are also among the nations with the largest numbers of people in harm’s way.
v. The United States, Mexico and Brazil round out the top ten.
4. Jaitley visiting Australia soon to woo investments
i. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will fly to Australia on March 28 on a four-day visit to attract foreign investments in the infrastructure sector.
ii. The objectives of the finance minister’s visit to Australia is to attract foreign investment in India, especially in the infrastructure sector among others.
iii. He will arrive in Sydney on March 29 and will address an interactive session of S.P. Jain School of Global Management followed by a meeting with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and unveiling of the state-run Union Bank of India’s Sydney branch.
iv. On March 30, the finance minister will deliver the keynote address at ‘Make in India’ conference in Sydney, meet prominent chief executives of Australia, hold a bilateral meeting with Australian lawmaker and treasurer Scot Morrison and interact with the Indian community.
v. Jaitley will also have one-to-one meeting with chief executives of various Australian firms and visit the University of Melbourne to meet its vice chancellor Daniel Andrews.
5. Himachal, Mumbai to have electric buses
i. Department of heavy industry has granted in-principle approval to Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to introduce zero-emission retrofitted electric buses.
ii. It is a flagship scheme under FAME India (faster adoption and manufacturing of hybrid & electric vehicles in India).
iii. HRTC and MMRDA will roll out 25 electric buses each. Under FAME India, the department will fund up to 75 per cent cost of the buses.
iv. Himachal Pradesh would be the first state in India to introduce zero-emission electric buses.
v. The chief minister also announced exemption from token tax, registration charges and value-added tax on all electric vehicles for five years to promote eco-friendly transport services in the state.
6. Tech Mahindra expands presence in France
i. The information technology services entity of Tech Mahindra has announced the launch of a development centre in Toulouse, France, to work on projects for existing partners and customers in the aerospace industry.
ii. There are significant investments planned in terms of people, infrastructure, recruitment and training, as a part of Tech Mahindra’s commitment to strengthening its presence in France.
iii. The company delighted to announce the inauguration of the new, expanded Delivery Centre in Toulouse, which marks a significant milestone for our organization.
iv. The investment not only demonstrates our continued commitment to the region but also ensures that we are well positioned to fully support our partner’s core activities with world class Engineering and IT services.”
v. Tech Mahindra’s local operation will have strategic importance by providing on-the-ground services to support this growing collaboration, increasing the size of the local team, and expanding recruitment in Toulouse and Midi Pyrenees’ region.
7. Microsoft shuts Artificial Intelligence Robot – Tay
i. Microsoft, which launched artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot on Twitter for a playful chat with people, only to silence it within 24 hours as users started sharing racist and offensive comments with the bot.
ii. Launched on Twitter as an experiment in “conversational understanding” and to engage people through “casual and playful conversation”, Tay was soon bombarded with racial comments and the innocent bot repeated those comments back with her commentary to users.
iii. Tay — an AI project built by the Microsoft Technology and Research and Bing teams — was coded with information which can tell users jokes or offer up a comment on a picture you send her.
iv. The bot is also designed to personalise her interactions with users. Microsoft has since deleted some of the most damaging tweets from nearly the 96,000 that Tay tweeted.
v. However, a website called Socialhax.com made screenshots of several of Tay’s comments before they were removed. Tay was seen referring to feminism as a “cult” and a “cancer”, as well as noting “gender equality feminism” and “i love feminism now.”
8. ITC acquires Technico Agri Sciences for Rs 121 crore
i. FMCG ITC Ltd said that it has completed the full acquisition of Technico Agri Sciences Ltd (TASL).
ii. The company owned by its direct subsidiary, Technico Pty Limited (TPL), Australia for a cash value of Rs 121 crore.
iii. As per a BSE filing by ITC The acquisition it is expected to “improve business and operational synergies”.
iv. The acquired company which is into production and sales of a registered category and field generated seed potatoes has been revenue positive for the past three fiscal years.
v. In 2012-13, TASL’s turnover stood at Rs 64.89 crore which climbed to Rs 73.94 crore in 2013-14 and further rocketed to Rs 105.54 crore in 2014-15. The value of the acquisition is the same as TASL’s net worth.
9. RuPay to launch credit cards in Sept
i. RuPay the domestic card payment service provider will be venturing into the credit card space this September after increasing its market share to 38 per cent in the debit card segment.
ii. The NPCI plans to issue 100,000 such cards in the first year of its launch.
iii. It will initially focus on two variants of a credit card — Regular and Platinum — and gradually extend its portfolio to offer co-branded cards.
iv. RuPay is a brand owned and developed by NPCI (from 2012) to compete against global payment schemes of the likes of Visa and MasterCard. NPCI was promoted by 10 Indian banks.
v. From 2017, the target is to issue 500,000 to a million such credit cards every year. The market size of credit cards is presently 22.75 million users and the average value of spending a year is about Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
10. Lakshmi Vilas Bank Ties Up With NBHC For Collateral Management & Warehousing
i. Private sector Bank Lakshmi Vilas has tied up with National Bulk Handling Corporation (NBHC) for collateral management and warehousing services.
ii. The primary objective of these services will allow industry traders and farmers in financing their capital requirements at all stages of supply chain, ranging from pre-harvesting to the marketing and export stages.
iii. This would allow the bank to provide financial flexibility to farmers, minimizing the seasonal price fluctuations and distress sales during crop harvest season.
iv. NBHC services to the needs of the members of the commodities future exchange for strong commodities and delivery through designated warehouses.
11. Hero Cycles Acquires 60% In Sri Lanka’s BSH Ventures
i. Hero Cycles, the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer by volume has acquired 60 % stake in one of Sri Lanka’s leading bicycle manufactures BSH Ventures.
ii. It is third major acquisition within six months.
iii. The acquisition comes to strength its global presence and to spruce up its manufacturing proficiency to feed a rapidly rising global demand.
iv. This comes within months of the company’s significant acquisitions in UK-based Avocet Sports and Firefox Bikes. But Hero Cycles has not disclosed its investments in the deals involved.
v. presently Hero Cycles has been aggressively driving growth by clocking a robust 11% growth in the Indian market. It will further invest in ramping up the plant capacity in Sri Lanka to half a million units per year with clear plans laid out to fuel the domestic as well as ever-growing global demand.
12. Paytm hires Alibaba’s former executive as President
i. Paytm, India’s mobile payment and commerce platform has appointed ex-head of Alibaba Group Holding’s wholesale business, Bhushan Patil as the company’s new President.
ii. Bhushan Patil joins Paytm as President after serving 5.5 years at the Chinese company, where he was handling operations of Alibaba.com.
iii. He will now focus on building Paytm’s cross border commerce.
iv. At the largest B2B marketplace, Bhushan was instrumental at leading new initiatives for Global Markets business development across SME linked associations, Banks and Government trade organizations, local trade services and e-companies.
v. Paytm’s Indian business is growing increasingly as it is aiming to sell USD two billion worth of products in 2016 with a growth of five lakh from 1.7 lakh currently.