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Snapdeal opens data sciences centre in California

Snapdeal has established a data sciences centre in San Carlos, California to get top global talent and build high-value solutions.
•    The centre will focus on big-data and advanced analytics to add clarity to Snapdeal's consumer-centric initiatives, help shape business strategy and optimise the operational efficiencies using data.
•    The centre houses experienced data scientists from leading global brands like Groupon , Google , Yahoo and Amazon and is headed by Nitin Sharma, Senior Vice President, Data Sciences.
•    Snapdeal is an online marketplace, based in New Delhi, India. 
•    The company was started by Kunal Bahl, a Wharton graduate as part of the dual degree M&T Engineering and Business program at Penn, and Rohit Bansal, an alumnus of IIT Delhi in February 2010. 
•    Snapdeal currently has 275,000 sellers, over 30 million products and a reach of 6,000 towns and cities across the country Investors in the company include SoftBank Corp, Ru-Net Holdings, Tybourne Capital, PremjiInvest, Alibaba, Temasek Holdings, Bessemer Venture Partners, IndoUS Ventures, Kalaari Capital, Saama Capital, Foxconn Technology Group, Blackrock, eBay, Nexus Ventures, Intel Capital, Ontario Teachers' 

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Railways and PEC University of Technology have signed MoU for setting up of Kalpana Chawla Chair on Geospatial Technology

Union Ministry of Railways and PEC University of Technology have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up of Kalpana Chawla Chair on Geospatial Technology for Indian Railways at the University.
Union Ministry of Railways and PEC University of Technology have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for setting up of Kalpana Chawla Chair on Geospatial Technology for Indian Railways at the University. 
•    The MoU was signed in the backdrop of Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s Budget announcement in this regard.
•    The academic chair is being instituted in memory of Indo–American Astronaut and Alumnus of PEC Late Kalpana Chawla. She was the first woman of Indian origin in space.
•    The objective of the chair is to encourage research activities of Indian Railways in Geo-spatial Technology. 
•    It will also help to strengthen Railway projects where use of remote sensing data, Geographical information System (GIS) and global positioning system (GPS) is predominant.

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The Union Government has given its final approval to setting up of National Investment & Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) in Kalinganagar,Odisha.

The Union Government on 26 May 2016 approved establishment of a National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) in Odisha.
•    For execution of the project, the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry has approved the 4241 crore rupees. 
•    Of this fund, estimated 3816 crore rupees will be invested for the first phase of the project which will be completed by 2020.
•    In order to boost manufacturing sector, the Union Government in 2014 announced setting up of sixteen national investment and manufacturing zones (NIMZs) under National Manufacturing Policy (NMP).
•    Till 2013-14, 16 NIMZs have been set up. 
•    Ahmedabad-Dholera Investment Region, Gujarat
•    Shendra-Bidkin Industrial Part city near Aurangabad, Maharashtra
•    Manesar-Bawal Investment Region, Haryana
•    Khushkhera-Bhiwadi-Neemrana Investment Region, Rajasthan
•    Pithampur-Dhar-Mhow Investment Regioin, Madhya Pradesh
•    Dadri-Noida-Ghaziabad investment Region, Uttar Pradesh
•    Dighi Port Industrial Area, Maharashtra
•    Jodhpur-Pali-Marwar Region in Rajasthan
•    Nagpur in Maharashtra
•    Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh
•    Medak in Andhra Pradesh (now Telengana)
•    Prakasam in Andhra Pradesh
•    Tumkur in Karnataka
•    Kolar in Karnataka
•    Bidar in Karnataka
•    Gulbarga in Karnataka

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56 Indian firms in Forbes's “world's 2,000 list”

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries leads the pack of 56 Indian firms in Forbes's annual list of the world's 2,000 largest and most powerful public companies,
•    US is leading the list with 586 companies.
•    The 2016 Forbes 'Global 2000', a snapshot of the world's largest companies, shows the dominance of US and China in the current global business landscape.
•    Reliance improved its ranking this year to 121 from 142 last year, with a market value of USD 50.6 billion and assets worth USD 91.5 billion.

•    Reliance is followed by State Bank of India which is ranked 149 and has a 23.3 billion dollar market value.
•    The other Indian companies on the list are Oil and Natural Gas ranked (220), 
•    ICICI Bank (266), 
•    HDFC Bank (275), 
•    Indian Oil (371), 
•    Tata Consultancy Services (385), 
•    NTPC (400), 
•    Bharti Airtel (453), 
•    Axis Bank (484), 
•    Infosys (590), 
•    Bharat Petroleum (650), 
•    Wipro (755, 
•    Tata Steel (1178) 
•    Adani Enterprises (1993)
•    Coal India (465), 
•    Larsen and Toubro (505), 
•    ITC (781), 
•    Kotak Mahindra Bank (899),
•    Mahindra and Mahindra (901) and 
•    HCL Technologies (943).

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The World Bank has launched Pandemic Emergency Finance Facility

The World Bank Group has launched Pandemic Emergency Finance Facility a new financing mechanism to quickly mobilize funds to tackle global disease outbreaks and create a new insurance market for pandemic risk.

•    PEF is expected to bring the much needed coordination and speed for future global disease outbreak response efforts.
•    Pandemics pose some of the biggest threats in the world to people’s lives and to economies, and for the first time we will have a system that can move funding and teams of experts to the sites of outbreaks before they spin out of control
•    Jim Yong Kim is the President of the World Bank Group.
•    This facility addresses a long, collective failure in dealing with pandemics. 
•    The PEF facility launch announcement came few days ahead of the May 26-27 Summit of Group of Seven Leaders in Ise-Shima, Japan. 
•    G7 leaders had urged the World Bank Group to develop the initiative during their May 2015 summit in Schloss-Elmau, Germany.
•    Japan became the first donor to the PEF initiative and committed $ 50 million.
•    Innovative financing for crisis responses by PEF, together with financing for preparedness and prevention in peacetime, including through IDA, are important to mitigate human and social losses and to help quickly recover in the event of a crisis. 

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Samsung to launch 1st nationwide loT Network

Samsung Electronics will partner with SK Telecom to build a LoRaWAN network for the Internet of Things that will cover all of South Korea. 
•    The two companies claim that this is the world’s first nationwide IoT network.
•    LoRaWAN stands for “long-range wide-area network,” and is specifically designed for Internet-connected, battery-operated objects. 
•    South Korea may be getting the first countrywide IoT network, but LoRaWAN has already been used to build a citywide IoT data network in Amsterdam that launched last August.
•    Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom’s IoT network will be available throughout South Korea by the middle of this year. 
•    The South Korean government has said that it plans to invest 100 billion won by 2024 in smart cars and IoT as part of a drive to promote the country’s startup industry and decrease its dependence on semiconductor manufacturing.
•    South Korea’s Internet speeds are already among the fastest in the world.

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World Bank loans 100 million dollar for Karnataka water projects

Karnataka Government on 24 May 2016 signed 100 million US dollar loan and project agreement with World Bank.
It was to support ‘Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization project’.
•    The project will be implemented over a period of six years, initially in the twin cities of Hubballi-Dharwad, with provision for other eligible cities to join the project at a later date.
•    The Hubballi Dharwad Municipal Corporation has hired a professional water supply operating company for improving the water supply system, as also to manage the refurbished system through a 12-year contract in accordance with strict performance criteria.
•    The municipality will retain ownership of the water supply assets and control of the service delivery set up.
•    The project will help the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation set up a city-level water utility that will take over water supply operations from the professional operating company at the end of its contract period.
•    The project will benefit about one million residents of the Hubballi-Dharwad, including estimated 160000 slum dwellers.
Hubballi-Dharwad, the second largest urban center in Karnataka, will become one of the first Indian cities to provide citywide, continuous, piped water supply to its residents.

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Iran and India sign deal on Charbahar Port

India, Iran and Afghanistan  on 23 May 2016 signed the agreement on Trilateral Transit and Transport Corridor.
•    The agreement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Tehran.
•    The purpose of the agreement is to facilitate seamless transport of goods between India and Afghanistan via the Chabahar port that is strategically located in the South East of Iran.
•    This agreement is expected to bring down cargo tariffs and boost regional economic development.
•    Besides, India and Iran also signed an agreement for the development of the Chabahar port. This agreement is complementary to the agreement on Trilateral Transit and Transport Corridor.
•    Under the agreement, India will develop the Chabahar port in Iran at an estimated cost of 150 million US dollars.
•    Two countries share some common strategic interests.
•    India and Iran differ significantly on key foreign policy issues.
•    India supports the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan unlike Iran.
•    Iran is the second largest supplier of crude oil to India, supplying more than 425,000 barrels of oil per day
•    India is one of the largest foreign investors in Iran's oil and gas industry.

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India, Oman signed 4 Agreements on defence cooperation

India and Oman on 22 May 2016 signed 4 Memorandums of Understanding in Muscat. They were signed during the visit of Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to Oman.
•    MOU on Defence Cooperation between the Ministry of Defence of Sultanate of Oman and Ministry of Defence of India
•    MOU between the Royal Oman Police (Coast Guard) and the Indian Coast Guard in the field of Marine Crime Prevention at Sea
•    MOU between the Government of the Sultanate of Oman and India on Maritime Issues
•    Protocol between the Government of the Sultanate of Oman represented by Royal Air Force of Oman and the Government of India represented by the Indian Air Force on Flight Safety information Exchange
•    Defence cooperation with Oman is of importance for India due to Oman’s strategic location at the mouth of the Persian Gulf.•    Bilateral relation between Indian and Oman were formally established with signing of a 1953 Indo-Oman Treaty of friendship, Navigation and Commerce, a first between India and an Arab country.
•    A military protocol was signed in 1972, and the two air forces together conducted Exercise Eastern Bridge in 2009 in Oman and in 2011 in India.
•    Since 1993, navies of both the countries have been conducting joint exercises - Naseem Al Bahr.
•    The most recent exercise was conducted in the Arabian Sea off Goa coast in January 2016. It was the 10th edition Naseem Al Bahr.
•    The Indian Navy has berthing rights in Oman and has been utilizing Oman's ports as bases for conducting anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

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Demand of Consolidation in Indian Banking sector

India’s largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) formally started merger of 5 associative banks and Bharatiya Mahila Bank with itself. The merged entity will have India’s one-fourth of the deposit and loan market.Post-consolidation, SBI’s market share will increase from 17 per cent to 22.5-23 per cent, while the total business of the merged entity will be over 35 lakh crore rupees.Against this backdrop, it is pertinent to analyse pros and cons of consolidation in the Indian banking sector.
•    Consolidation will help in leveraging the synergies among the banks that have diverse portfolios, focus areas and coverage areas.
•    As the government is the only common owner of all the PSBs, the process of consolidation is much easier and effortless.
•    Indian companies are going global. Now we are home to many multinational companies that have presence in various sectors of the economy. Again this context, big-ticket Indian banks are the most proper platforms to deliver financial services to them.
•    At present, there is not a single Indian bank in the top 50 global banks list. The consolidation is expected to fill this gap, and, consequently, help build the ‘Brand India’ among international investors.
•    International experience is also favourable towards consolidation. Banks in Japan gained a lot as a result of large scale merger and acquisition process between 1990 and 2004.
•    Experts argue that consolidation should take place in a positive environment. The present process of consolidation is not driven by the inherent strength of the banking system. It is resorted to escape from the problem of NPAs.
•    There are apprehensions among the labour unions that the consolidation will lead to job losses.

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