1. ADB pledges $120 million loan to finance India, Bangladesh electricity link under SASEC Programme
i. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has pledged to provide 120 million dollar loan in order to finance cross-border electricity link between Bangladesh and India under SASEC Programme. In this regard, loan agreement was signed by ADB Country Director Kazuhiko Higuchi and Mohammad Mejbahuddin, Senior Secretary of Bangladesh Finance Ministry.
ii. The loan fund would be used for Second Bangladesh-India Grid Inter connectivity project under the ambitious South Asia Sub-regional Economic Co-operation (SASEC) Programme. The projects under SASEC Programme aim to promote regional prosperity through improved cross-border links in trade, power, road and rail links between India and Bangladesh.
iii. The second project under will double the existing capacity from 500 MW to 1000 MW of the inter-connectivity link connecting power grid at Bheramara in western Bangladesh and the grid of eastern India at Bahrampur (Odisha). It should be noted that the networks under the first project were connected in 2013 and was financed by ADB under the SASEC Programme.
iv. Set up in 2001 to bring together Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka in a project-based partnership. This sub-regional partnership aims to Strengthening regional economic cooperation and boosting trade among member countries.
2. Russia inks deal to build Egypt’s first nuclear plant at Dabaa
i. Russia has signed two agreements with Egypt to finance and build its first nuclear power plant at Dabaa on the Mediterranean coast in the northwest of the country. As per one of the agreement, Russia will extend a loan to Egypt to cover the cost of construction of the nuclear plant which is expected to be completed by 2022.
ii. Russia will grant a 35-year loan to the Egypt which is the Arab world’s most populous country. However in the agreement the loan has been not disclosed as the details of the credit agreement are still under discussion.
iii. Dabaa Nuclear plant will be third-generation plant with four reactors with total capacity of 1,200 MW. On completion the plant will make Egypt a regional leader in terms of civil nuclear technology.
iv. Since 1980s, Egypt has been pursuing its plan to have a peaceful nuclear programme for the production of electricity at Dabaa. But the North African country had frozen its nuclear programme plans after disputes with local residents due to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
3. Walmart offers entrepreneur development programme for women
i. Walmart India today announced an entrepreneur development programme for women, a move to encourage women owned businesses (WOBs) in the supply chain. This will include softer payment terms for them in their first year of empanelment with Walmart India.
ii. Speaking at the launch of Andhra Pradesh Rural Inclusive Growth Project on Thursday, Krish Iyer, President & CEO, Walmart India, said, “Andhra Pradesh will be one of the first states in India where we will start an entrepreneurial programme for women in collaboration with Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty. Under this programme, we will guide and advise aspiring women entrepreneurs in starting modern Kirana stores in their communities.”
iii. As an ongoing commitment to empowering women around the world and helping WOBs succeed and grow, Walmart has committed to source $20 billion from women for its US business and double sourcing from women in international markets, the statement said.
iv. Wal-Mart India Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walmart Stores Inc., owns and operates 21 Best Price Modern Wholesale stores in 9 states across India. The company plans to open 50 more stores by 2020.
v. Walmart has also trained 17,891 women with life skills in India through its Women in Factories (WiF) training programme. Launched in 2011, WiF is working toward empowering 60,000 women working in 150 factories that supply products to retailers in Bangladesh, Central America, China, and India.
4. AAI signed MoU with IL&FS to bolster overseas expansion
i. Airports Authority of India (AAI) on 20 November 2015 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with IL&FS Global Financial Services to spread its wings overseas. IL&FS Global Financial Services is a subsidiary of infrastructure giant IL&FS.
ii. Through this tie-up, AAI aims to go global from local, considering its expertise and capabilities in airport development and operation and management. The authority will get an opportunity to identify airport development opportunities in Middle East, Africa regions as well as in CIS countries.
iii. Over a period of time, AAI has developed more than 60 airports in metro and non-metro cities in India.
iv. Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) is one of India's leading infrastructure development and finance companies.
5. Rajasthan Government signed 295 MoUs attracting 3.3 lakh crore rupees investment
i. Rajasthan Government on 20 November 2015 signed 295 MoUs attracting about 3.3 lakh crore rupees investment during the Resurgent Partnership Summit 2015. With this, a task force will be formed to get the projects implemented in a time-bound manner.
ii. It aims to provide around 239694 lakh jobs in the state. The Energy sector got MoUs worth 190000 crore rupees followed by Petroleum with 77657 crore rupees worth MoUs. Infrastructure got MoUs worth 17038 crore rupees while Manufacturing sector of the state fetched MoUs worth 11760 crore rupees.
iii. Roads and Highways fetched 10000 crore rupees MoUs. Tourism was allotted with 5783 crore rupees MoUs, Medical and Health with 4752 crore rupees MoUs, Agriculture with 2402 crore rupees and Education got 1807 crore rupees MoUs. Besides, award of sanctions in roads and highways got MoUs worth 25446 crore rupees.
iv. Adani Group Chief Gautam Adani announced to investing 10000 crore rupees in the state over the next four years. Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla committed to invest 7000 crore rupees in the cement sector.
v. Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group announced plans of 6000 crore rupees investment in the solar sector. Hero Motocorp Chairman Pawan Munjal announced to set up state of the art R&D centre in Jaipur besides pledging further investment in solar energy.
6. Harshavardhan Neotia elected as President of FICCI
i. Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman of Ambuja Neotia group, was on 20 November 2015 elected as the President of industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) for the year 2016.
ii. Neotia will succeed the current FICCI President Jyotsna Suri, Chairperson and Managing Director of Bharat Hotels Ltd, during the chamber's AGM in December 2015.
iii. Currently, Neotia is the Senior Vice President (VP) of FICCI. He is also a member of the Rajasthan Chief Minister's Advisory Council and West Bengal Chief Minister's Core Committee on Industry.
iv. Harshavardhan Neotia is the Chairman of Ambuja Neotia Group that covers the entire spectrum of the Real Estate industry including housing, hospitality, health care and education. In 1999, Neotia was conferred with Padma Shri for his outstanding initiative in social housing.
7. Rajasthan, South Australia signed Sister-State Agreement
i. Rajasthan and South Australia on 20 November 2015 signed the historic Sister-State Agreement to boost export and investment opportunities between the two states.
ii. The agreement was signed by South Australia Trade and Investment Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan.
iii. The sister-state relationship between South Australia and Rajasthan is based on a two-way exchange of research, policy and technical capabilities. The agreement provides partnership opportunities across key sectors where South Australian business will offer services and product support.
iv. The expertise of South Australia in sustainable water management will also play a critical role to further improve water access and security for businesses and communities in Rajasthan.
v. In November 2015, the South Australian Government released research showing that 65000 South Australian jobs are linked to international exports. It showed export jobs are not just limited to traditional export sectors like agriculture but also to services, health care, communications, transport.
8. UN Security Council approved French-sponsored resolution urging action against ISIS
i. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on 20 November 2015 unanimously adopted a French-sponsored resolution 2249 (2015) calling all nations to take all necessary measures to prevent and suppress the terrorist acts of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups.
ii. It mentions that ISIS group constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security and expresses its determination to combat it by all means. It unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist attacks carried out by the Islamic State in Sousse, Tunisia and Ankara, Turkey in 2015.
iii. It urges UN member states to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters in Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress the financing on terrorism. It is the 14th terrorism-related resolution adopted by the UNSC since 1999.
iv. However, the resolution does not constitute an authorisation for military action because it is not drafted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter which is the only way the United Nations can give a green light to the use of force.
v. The resolution was adopted by UNSC a week after ISIS extremists had launched a coordinated barbaric gun and bomb assault in Paris (France) on 13 November 2015 that killed 130 people.