1. Indian-American entrepreneur Frank Islam to be conferred with Uttar Pradesh Ratna Award
i. Frank Islam, an Indian-American entrepreneur and philanthropist, will be conferred with Uttar Pradesh Ratna Award on 4 January 2016 at the inaugural UP Pravasi Diwas in Agra. The Uttar Pradesh Government will be honouring Islam to recognise his achievements and outstanding contributions in a foreign country.
ii. Born in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Islam moved to the United States in the early 1970s to study at University of Colorado where he obtained his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Computer Science. In 1994, he founded an Information Technology firm the QSS Group, which he sold in 2007.
iii. After selling the QSS Group, he established the FI Investment Group. He has also authored two books, Working the Pivot Points: To Make America Work Again, and Renewing the American Dream: A Citizen’s Guide for Restoring Our Competitive Advantage.
iv. The UP Ratna Award is conferred to the NRIs, who hail from the state. It is awarded to the NRIs who have made significant contribution to the field of science, technology, culture, medicine, education, public service and commerce in foreign countries.
2. Centre sets up `SETU’ to support start-up businesses
i. A mechanism known as SETU to support all aspects of start-up businesses and other self- employment activities has been set up by the government, Lok Sabha was informed today.
ii. Union Minister for Skill Development Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurs envisaged fostering entrepreneurship and grassroots innovation by providing support in terms of fiscal incentives, creation of grass root technology innovation hubs, legal support and market linkages.
iii. Rudy said government has also launched in August 2015 India Aspiration Fund (IAF) under the Small Industries Development Bank of India with a capital of Rs. 2,000 crore to give a boost to start—up ecosystem in the country.
iv. “The objective of the IAF is to catalyse tens of thousands of crores of equity investment into start—ups and MSMEs creating employment to lakhs of persons, mostly educated youth, over the next four to five years,” he said.
v. The Minister said the Department of Electronics and Information Technology is implementing a scheme entitled ’Technology Incubation and Development of Entrepreneurs’ (TIDE) under which 147 start—ups have been supported at 25 TIDE centres established in premier institutes like IITs, NITs, IIMs etc.
3. MSDE and DHI signed MoU for skill development in manufacturing sector
i. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for skill development in the manufacturing sector was signed on 8 December 2015 between Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI). The MoU focused on capital goods and automotive sector.
ii. The purpose of the MoU is to create centres of excellence for different manufacturing skills and a multi-location national institute of manufacturing technologies for training education and research by utilizing/upgrading the existing training facilities of Central PSUs such as HMT, BHEL and Instrumentation Ltd. under the DHI.
iii. The centres of excellence will ensure that a robust national ecosystem for development of skills in the manufacturing sector is created in the country and internationally known best practices in this field are brought in with active participation of countries like Germany.
iv. Under the MoU, all Central PSUs have committed to invest at least 20 percent of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for skilling purpose. The Central PSUs have also committed to provide equipment and machinery, which has been phased out of production line, but could still be used for training purposes to training institutions.
v. The MoU will also enable significant scale up of apprentice training in the central PSUs under the Department of Heavy Industry and promote adoption of ITIs by the Central PSUs.
4. Chen Long and Carolina Marin bagged 2015 BWF Player of the Year Awards
i. China’s Chen Long and all England and World champion Carolina Marin on 7 December 2015 bagged the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Male and Female Player of the Year Awards respectively in Dubai. Marin held off competition from Zhao Yunlei, Saina Nehwal and Bao Yixin. On the other hand, Long retained the Male Player of the Year award that he won last year.
ii. China’s rising star and World Junior Champion in Mixed Doubles and Men’s Doubles Zheng Si Wei grabbed the Eddy Choong Award for Most Promising Player of the Year.
iii. BWF, for the first time, honoured para-badminton players with the year-end awards. Lee Sam Seop of Korea was named Male Para-Badminton Player of the Year. Helle Sofie Sagoy was awarded with the Female Para-Badminton Player of the Year.
iv. Spain’s Carolina Marin is currently ranked No. 1 in the world by Badminton World Federation Women's Singles 2015. She became world champion in women's singles in 2014 and 2015. In 2009, she became the first Spanish badminton player to win a silver medal at the 2009 European Junior Badminton Championships.
v. She also became the first Spanish badminton player to win gold medal at the 2009 European U17 Badminton Championships. She was the first Spanish badminton player to win a Grand Prix Gold title after winning the 2013 London Grand Prix Gold.
5. Hetero became first Indian company to receive DGCI’s approval for hepatitis C drug
i. Hyderabad-based Hetero Drugs on 8 December 2015 announced that it received the approval of Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to launch fixed-dose combination therapy Ledipasvir-Sofosbuvir. The product will be available under the brand name Ledisof in India.
ii. With this approval, Hetero became the first company in the country to get approval from DGCI to launch hepatitis C medicines. In September 2014, Hetero signed a non-exclusive licensing agreement with the USA-based Gilead Sciences in to manufacture and market chronic hepatitis C medicines.
iii. This fixed-dose combination is the generic version of Gilead’s brand Harvoni. It was approved by US FDA for the treatment of chronic hepatitis genotype 1 in both treatment –naïve and treatment-experienced patients. And, Sofosbuvir in combination with Ledipasvir has shown to have high cure rates of around 90 percentage.
iv. It is a growing public health concern, particularly in developing countries. In India alone, it is estimated that 12-18 million patients are infected with Hepatitis C which is several fold greater than those with HIV/AIDS.
6. Singapore's Changi airport to run Jaipur, Ahmedabad airports
i. Passengers using Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports can soon look forward to a retail and food and beverages experience that passengers going through Singapore’s Changi airport enjoy at present.
ii. This follows the Governments of India and Singapore signing an agreement for Singapore airport developer Changi being nominated for taking up the operations and management of the two Indian airports.
iii. The agreement was signed on November 24 during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the island city state and will see Changi manage the retail space inside the terminal building and car parking space, a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said. The operations of the airport will remain with AAI.
iv. The Government-to-Government agreement does away with the need for AAI to put out a tender for deciding on who they should tie-up with for operations and management of its airports and puts the enture process on a fast track, AAI officials said.
v. A team from Changi is expected in India by the end of the year to do due diligence on the two airports and make an offer to AAI, which owns and manages Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports. The entire process is expected to be completed by April 1 next year by when Changi should be in a position to start working at these two Indian airports, officials said.
vi. The two are airports which are seeing a jump in passenger demand and it is estimated that by 2023-24 Ahmedabad will see 7.87 million passengers passing through it up from 5.05 million while Jaipur will see 3.75 million passengers through it in 2023-24 up from the current about 2 million.
7. Karnataka govt signs EoI with Reitzel Group
i. Karnataka delegation, which is touring France to promote ‘Invest Karnataka 2016’ (global investment meet), has signed an Expression of Interest (EoI) agreement with Reitzel Group.
ii. As per the EoI, the company is expected to invest 3 million Euros (about Rs. 20 crore) and create about 50 new jobs to the already 200 existing jobs. Reitzel is a Paris-based family-owned company in the agri and food processing industry.
iii. The agreement signed in the presence of R V Deshpande, Karnataka Minister for Large and Medium Industries and Tourism at Paris is for Reitzel’s expansion of its existing Gherkin production plant at Kunigal, Tumakuru district.
iv. Gaurav Gupta, Commissioner for Industrial Development and Director, Department of Industries and Commerce signed the agreement on behalf of the state government while Pierre B Darmon, Deputy CEO, Reitzel signed the same on behalf of Reitzel.
v. Delegation on arrival in France as part of road show to attract companies for the forthcoming ‘Invest Karnataka 2016’ event scheduled from February 3 to 5, 2016 in Bengaluru interacted with the existing and potential investors, organised by MEDEF International and GIFAS with a special focus on manufacturing and aerospace sectors.
vi. Addressing member companies of MEDEF and GIFAS at two separate events in Paris, Deshpande, highlighted the several steps initiated by the state government to decongest Bengaluru and disperse industry to tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
8. New Zealand formally becomes member of AIIB
i. New Zealand has formally become a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Finance Minister Bill English said Tuesday. New Zealand's ratification would contribute to the AIIB reaching the 50-percent threshold of the needed for the AIIB to establish operations, English said in a statement.
ii. The move followed the passage of the International Financial Agreement Amendment Act in the New Zealand Parliament in November. New Zealand was the ninth country to formally become a founding member.
iii. The AIIB would have around 100 billion U.S. dollars of initial capital to promote sustainable development in the region. New Zealand's paid in capital will be around 125 million NZ dollars (83.05 million U.S. dollars), paid over five years.
iv. AIIB investments would include improving transportation links, providing sanitation and clean drinking water, and supporting cleaner and more sustainable energy.
9. Pune, Rajkot became interim IPL franchises to replace CSK, RR
i. Pune and Rajkot on 8 December 2015 became the interim franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL) till 2017. The will take place of the suspended teams of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR).
ii. CSK and RR are facing two-year suspensions which were imposed by the Supreme Court-mandated RM Lodha panel following the 2013 IPL corruption scandal. CSK and RR stand suspended till 2017.
iii. The Pune franchise was bought by Kolkata-based business tycoon Sanjiv Goenka's company New Rising, while the Rajkot bid was won by Intex Mobiles through reverse bidding.
iv. The process was necessitated by the suspension of CSK and RR for the involvement of their officials and co-owners in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal. However, both the CSK and RR will be allowed back in the league after serving out their suspension.
v. The 2016 season of IPL will be held from 9 April to 29 May 2016. The opening and the final match of the season will be played in Mumbai and the new players’ auctions would be conducted in Bengaluru on 6 February 2016.