The First Forum is an initiative which focuses on covering the latest happenings going around in the world in a brief format. This is in lieu with the importance of catching up with these events in this fast changing world.
In this Eleventh Edition of The First Forum we would be covering the following:
1. Business
2. Economics
3. Finance
4. Science and Technology

Business

(By Ankita Punjani, Divyansh Gupta, Mehak Gupta)

Reliance acquires 37.7% stake in Alok Industries
Reliance Industries on Saturday said it has acquired 37.7 per cent stake in textile manufacturer Alok Industries Ltd for Rs 250 crore. Reliance had jointly with JM Financial Asset Reconstruction Co Ltd bid for acquiring Alok Industries that was auctioned under the insolvency and bankruptcy law by lenders to recover their unpaid loans. Read MoreThe Ahmedabad bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had last year approved the joint bid. In accordance with the approved resolution plan, Alok Industries has allotted 250 crore 9 per cent Optionally Convertible Preference Shares (OCPS) of Re 1 each for cash at par, for a total consideration of Rs 250 crore to RIL.

India chicken sales slashed almost 50% by false virus Rumour
A false rumour that the coronavirus can be spread by chickens has slashed Indian poultry sales by almost 50%, top supplier Godrej Agrovet Ltd said on Thursday. The managing director BS Yadav said that Misleading posts on social media especially WhatsApp are to be blamed which created a false impression that humans can contract coronavirus through chickens. Read MoreSales have fallen to around 40 million birds a week from 75 million while the prices have also slumped by 60%. Some farmers have already started to cut production, as they can’t afford animal feed and other costs of keeping a large inventory of bird.

Vistara takes delivery of India’s first Dreamliner plan
Vistara took the delivery of its first wide-body Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner plane on Friday, making it the first Indian airline to fly this aircraft. The new aircraft is the first of the six that Vistara has purchased from Boeing. Read MoreThe aircraft features lie-flat business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration that gives direct aisle access to each business class passenger and a separate premium economy cabin. The aircraft will fly customers within India for a brief period before flying to long hault international routes. Presently Air India is the only airline to have long haul flights in countries like USA and Europe. Vistara will be the first airline in India to offer Wi-Fi service.

Vodafone Idea asks for a steep hike in mobile data tariffs
Struggling telecom operator Vodafone Idea Ltd has urged the government to set a minimum price of ₹35 for 1 gigabyte (GB) of mobile data, besides ₹ ₹50 a month as connectivity charges, to support a recovery of the telecom sector. Read MoreIntroducing a floor price will double revenues of the sector from the current ₹1.75 trillion, the company said. The price of 1 GB of mobile data, which stood at ₹226 in 2015 crashed to ₹11 in 2018, according to a Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) report in August 2019. Vodafone Idea’s suggestion, if accepted, will inflate mobile bills and would mean an end to free services in the sector.

NABARD sanctions Rs 400 crores for Infrastructure projects in J&K
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 400.64 crore to the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the current financial year. Against the normative allocation of Rs 500 crore for the current fiscal, Rs 400.64 crore was sanctioned for various projects of Public Works Department (PWD), Public Health Engineering (PHE) and animal husbandry, thus registering a cumulative achievement of 95.95 percent. Read MoreFinancial Commissioner (Finance) Arun Kumar Mehta chaired the meeting to review the performance achieved under NABARD funded projects. The meeting discussed the sanctioned projects which include 85 rural roads and bridges, 38 water supply schemes, and two animal husbandry projects worth Rs 99.08 crore have already been sent for sanctioning to NABARD. These include five of horticulture (fruit and vegetable market), six for extending the agriculture extension facilities, and eight for minor irrigation and flood control works

Volkswagen Reaches $912 Million Pact in German Car-Owners’ Mass Lawsuit
Volkswagen AG reached an agreement with German consumer group VZBV to settle claims from hundreds of thousands of diesel-car owners on its home turf who argued that their vehicles lost value in the wake of the emission-cheating scandal. Volkswagen agreed to pay 830 million euros ($912 million) as part of the settlement. Read MoreThe talks had temporarily collapsed. The world’s largest automaker entered negotiations after the judges in the German court case last year urged both sides to consider talks. VW is facing a wave of litigation in Germany and elsewhere from drivers who want their money back for what they say is a loss of value in their diesel cars because of the software manipulation exposed by U.S. regulators in September 2015

French energy giant TOTAL acquires 37.4% stake in Adani Gas for Rs 5,152 crore
French oil and gas giant TOTAL has acquired a 37.4 per cent stake in Gautam Adani’s Adani Gas for Rs 5,152 crore to create one of India’s largest downstream energy partnerships. TOTAL, the world’s second-largest LNG company, has purchased 37.4 per cent, or 41.13 crore, shares in Adani Gas through a tender offer to public shareholders of the company under the SEBI Regulations, 2011. Read MoreAs per the exchange data, Total Holdings SAS bought shares from five promoter entities of Adani Gas for Rs 5,152 crore through open market transactions. Adani Tradeline, Afro Asia Trade and Investments, S B Adani Family Trust, Universal Trade and Investments and Worldwide Emerging Market Holding, sold a total of 40.76 crore shares for around Rs 125 per share.

Economics

(By Gunika Vij, Manraj Uppal, Somya Yadav)

India’s economic recovery threatened by Coronavirus outbreak
India’s economy has recently shown signs of recovery after plunging to a disastrous rate of 4.5 percent in December. Analysts at Bloomberg indicate that India’s growth rate is set to rise to 4.7 percent in this quarter. Read MoreThis is largely because of increased government spending and improvement in the service sector. However, the Coronavirus outbreak has threatened to undo all the progress. Prices of Chinese exports are expected to skyrocket because the supply chains of all the sectors in China have been adversely affected. On top of that one-fifth of all of India’s non-oil and non-gold goods are imported from China. Moreover, growing communal strife in the country is adding to the instability.

 Elon musk predicts the fate of Chinese and us economies
SpaceX and Tesla owner Elon Musk recently stated that the Chinese economy will eventually end up becoming twice or even three times larger than that of US. In a fireside chat, he stated that economics is the basis of war. Read MoreHe said that if one country’s resources are half than its counterparty’s resources, then increased innovation is the only way to win the war. China overtaking the American economy would likely cause increased tension between the two countries, which are already at odds on issues such as trade and 5G technology. Elon Musk also predicted that China is likely to overtake USA in the space race if there is lack of innovation in the future.

Creation of world-class infra at ports important for India to become USD 5 trillion economy
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said on Saturday, Creation of world-class infrastructure at ports is important for India to become a USD 5 trillion economy, addressing the problem of climate change, he called upon all the chairpersons and administrators of ports to build more energy-efficient and environment-friendly facilities. Read MoreThe Vice President stressed upon the need to harness India’s vast coast for the sustainable growth and development of the country as these are unavoidable for exports and imports. He also highlighted that best practices need to be adopted by these ports to effectively utilise their financial resources and derive maximum benefits. This means reducing logistics cost, dredging expenditure and also improving turnaround time.

Core sector output up 2.2% in January on higher coal, refinery, electricity production
Due to expansion in the production of coal, refinery products and electricity, eight core industries recorded a 2.2% growth in January compared with the same month last year. The infrastructure sectors had expanded by 1.5% in January 2019 whereas production of coal, refinery products and electricity grew by 8%, 1.9% and 2.8% respectively. Read MoreThe crude oil, natural gas and fertilisers sectors recorded a negative growth. During the April-January period, core industries growth slowed down to 0.6% against 4.4% in the last year. “Two back to back higher numbers, after four months of abysmal performance, gives us the confidence that economic scenario is turning on the road of recovery,” said Devarsh Vakil- Head, Advisory (Private Client Group), HDFC Securities. According to CARE Ratings, coal production was at a 10-month high

Finance

(By Aditya Jain)

One could witness a different Banking Sector in Years to Come
The RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said that though Fintech firms and Big Data driving growth are penetrating the Finance Sector banks would still play the primary role. He also said that the new technology firms are growing in the market could act as service providers to their own customers are act as agents to banks. Read MoreHe recognised four key categories for servicing finance in India in the future. Three of these include banks and the fourth one is of the emerging digital players. He said even in this era of growth of Fintech firms, banks would be at the forefront as the regulators prefer them due to their financial stability.

Coronavirus Rattles Billions of Dollars
The past 5 days turned out to be one of the most hellish weeks for global investors. The week ending 28 February saw 500 richest people on the planet lose $444 billion in combined wealth. This has allegedly happened due to the widespread reports of deaths due to Coronavirus.Read More The virus outbreak has caused 2,979 deaths globally with more than 80,000 confirmed cases in 64 countries. As per the analysts, the situation for the markets is likely to worsen as Coronavirus would soon start reflecting in Economic Data and performance.

SBI Card and Payment Services IPO opens today
The Company will hit the primary market with a Rs. 10,350 crores IPO starting from today till March 5. SBI IPO is poised to become the fourth largest IPO in India after Coal India, GIC Re and ONGC. Read MoreAnalysts are upbeat on the SBI Cards IPO, recommending it to subscribe but there are key risks as well. This includes competition from leading credit card players, change in interest rates, fees due to regulatory action and high borrowing cost due to it being an NBFC.

Euro, Yen gain amid speculation that the Fed might cut interest rates
The Yen and the Euro are on the front foot against the dollar as markets predict an interest rate cut by the Fed on March 17-18 (the next scheduled meeting) or even before that. This comes as the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Friday that the Fed would “act as appropriate” to support the economy in the face of risks poised by Coronavirus. Read MoreInvestors took his statement as a hint and are thus predicting an interest rate cut equal or close to 0.25 percentage points.

Science and Technology

(By Shruti Jha, Nikunj Gulati, Kanika)

Big Discovery! The first animal to survive without oxygen found
Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered a jellyfish-like parasite called Henneguya Salminicola and is the first known multicellular animal that can survive without oxygen according to a study published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read MoreThis discovery is done accidentally while sequencing the “Henneguya” genome. Mitochondria aka the powerhouse of the cell, capture oxygen to make energy through aerobic respiration but researchers were surprised to find that H.Salminicola lacks mitochondrial genes. However, it is still unknown how exactly the parasite produces energy. “It’s not yet clear to us how the parasite generates energy, ” university professor and lead author Dorothee Huchon said in a press release. ” It may be drawing it from the surrounding fish cells or it may have a different type of respiration such as oxygen-free breathing, which typically characterizes anaerobic non-animal organisms”.

National Science Day 2020: This year’s theme is ‘Women in Science’
National Science Day is celebrated on February 28 each year dedicating Indian physicist CV Raman’s discovery in 1928 of the Raman effect, the scattering of photons or light particles by matter. This year’s theme for National Science Day is ‘Women in Science’. Read MoreWith the commencement of the day function at Vigyan Bhawan on Feb 28, 2020, the women scientists from India stressed upon the need for equality, better and gender-fair policies to be accumulated in the field of research. This concern has arisen in the context of Noble medal awardee in the disciplines of science, for which out of 607 only 20 awards have been given to women. The President Ram Nath Kovind will be conferring awards to women scientists for their research achievements and for application of technology for the societal benefits. PM Narendra Modi also saluted the talent and tenacity of Indian Scientists on the National Science Day.

ISRO to launch Geo imaging satellite on 5 March
ISRO has announced its plans to launch a new geo imaging satellite called GISAT-1 into space on March 5 at 5.43 pm. The space agency will launch the new satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota using the GSLV F10 (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle). Read MoreGISAT 1 has a diameter of four meters and its payload fairing bears the shape of an Ogive. With the launch of GISAT-1, ISRO will use its GSLV for the fourteenth time. Once deployed, GISAT-1 can capture selected field images every five minutes and the entire Indian landmass every thirty minutes at a spatial resolution of 50m. It has a planned lifespan of seven years. The satellite is equipped with multi spectral,multi resolution imaging instruments.The space agency recently launched its communication satellite GSAT-30 successfully.

Astronauts discover car-size moon orbiting earth, Elon Musk denies involvement
A celestial body has been orbiting our planet Earth for the past three years – commonly called mini-moon. Boffins discovered that this car-sized second natural satellite has been temporarily circling mother Earth. Although, Elon Musk was quick to say that the car-sized object was not his Tesla Roadster. Read MoreThe mini-moon is called 2020 CD3 and was discovered using a 1.52-metre telescope at Mount Lemmon Observatory near Tucson, Arizona. The findings of the observation suggest that mini-moon 2020 CD3 entered Earth’s orbit around three years ago as confirmed by  Minor Planet Center (MPC) being the single worldwide location for receipt and distribution of positional measurements of minor planets, comets and outer irregular natural satellites of the major planets.

Large exoplanet could have the right conditions for life
Astronomers have found an exoplanet more than twice the size of Earth to be potentially habitable, opening the search for life to planets significantly larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. A team from the University of Cambridge used the mass, radius, and atmospheric data of the exoplanet K2-18b and determined that it’s possible for the planet to host liquid water at habitable conditions beneath its hydrogen-rich atmosphere. Read MoreThe exoplanet K2-18b, 124 light-years away, is 2.6 times the radius and 8.6 times the mass of Earth, and orbits its star within the habitable zone, where temperatures could allow liquid water to exist. The researchers confirmed the atmosphere to be hydrogen-rich with a significant amount of water vapour. They also found that levels of other chemicals such as methane and ammonia were lower than expected for such an atmosphere. Whether these levels can be attributed to biological processes remains to be seen.

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