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♦ HUL gets a health shot with Horlicks, Boost
- The board of Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL), India’s biggest consumer goods company, has approved the merger of GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare India (GSK CH India) with the company, in a deal worth ₹31,700 crore. The deal will see the former securing Health Foods Drink (HFD) brands like Horlicks and Boost in its bouquet of products.
- The all-equity merger transaction would see shareholders of GSK CH India getting 4.39 shares of HUL for every one share of GSK CH India. This would, in turn, lead to GSK Plc. holding 5.7% in the merged entity ie., HUL, which will also see the stake of its parent entity Unilever falling from 67.2% to 61.9%.
♦ Qatar to quit OPEC
- Qatar will leave the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) next month in order to focus on gas production, the Gulf state’s new Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi announced on Monday.
- It has been a member of OPEC since 1961, and the decision to pull out after all these decades comes at a turbulent time in Gulf politics, with Doha under a boycott by former neighbouring allies, including Saudi Arabia, for 18 months. “Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership from OPEC effective January 2019 and this decision was communicated to OPEC this morning,” he said at a press meet.
♦ ICICI Securities, BSE launch ‘instant payout’ facility
- ICICI Securities, along with the BSE, has launched a facility wherein clients of the domestic brokerage entity would be able to receive the pay-out within 30 minutes of selling the shares. This is much quicker than the current system in which it takes at least two days after the transaction for investors to get the money in their bank account. Rs. 50,000 cap
- The facility, called eATM, was launched on Monday and is available to all clients of ICICI Securities. The new service would have a cap of Rs. 50,000 per client a day, and would be applicable on about 600 stocks listed on the BSE. “Retail investors can get near real-time access to money in their bank account when they sell shares on the BSE, instead of the usual waiting period of T+2 days under the current settlement system,” ICICI Securities said in a statement.
♦ Yes Bank appoints Vijayan to board
- Yes Bank has appointed former Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) chairman T.S Vijayan as an independent director on the board of the private sector bank with immediate effect. Mr. Vijayan, who was also the chairman of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), has been given a five-year term.
- Mr. Vijayan was the only external member in the search and selection committee which was formed by the bank to select the successor of its MD & CEO, Rana Kapoor, whose present term ends on January 31.
- Mr. Vijayan’s appointment to comes after a spate of resignations from the board which raised concerns over corporate governance practices among investors. Three board membershad resigned in November. With the current appointment, the board now has eight members.
♦ Former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir announces retirement from cricket
- Former India opening batsman Gautam Gambhir on Tuesday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, saying his time to continue with the game was over.
- The 37-year-old Delhi batsman announced his decision in a video post on his Twitter handle.
- Gambhir played in 58 Tests between 2004 and 2016, scoring 4154 runs at an average of 41.95, with the help of nine hundreds and 22 fifties.
- He also played in 147 ODIs between 2003 and 2013, besides featuring in 37 T20 Internationals.
♦ IRDA to stop fixing 3rd party insurance premium from 2021
- The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) has indicated that it would disband the practice of annual fixing of premium for third party (TP) insurance for motor vehicles from 2020-21. This would pave the way for insurance companies to quote their own premiums, which may bring it down because of stiff competition.
- Currently, the insurance regulator announces the fixed premium for TP insurance cover, which is mandatory for every vehicle that plies on the road. The transport have been demanding that the regulator fix the cap for premium and allow insurance companies to offer discount so that policy-buyers have greater choice.
- Since there is no fixed premium for “own damage”, insurance companies offer huge discount. Insurance companies collected about Rs 50,000 crore premium for motor vehicle insurance in 2016-17, according to Insurance Information Bureau of India (IIB).
♦ SoftBank comes calling again to infuse $1 billion in Ola
- Japanese investment major SoftBank has offered to invest as much as $1 billion in a new financing round for Ola, as the ride-hailing company plans to aggressively grow its food delivery business, said several people familiar with the development.
Further the taxi aggregator may invest in areas such as e-pharmacy and is said to be close to finalising an investment in this fast-growing sector.
- It’s not clear if Ola’s cofounder Bhavish Aggarwal will accept more capital from SoftBank and allow the investor to ratchet up its shareholding from about 26% at present. However, he may consider a smaller amount from the Japanese investor, these people indicated.
♦ In a bid to boost image, Egypt hosts 1st international arms expo
- Egypt opened its first international weapons fair on Monday, an event that organizers hope will project a message to the world that the country is secure and stable.
- The three-day Egypt Defence Expo features the world’s top arms companies and hundreds of military and civilian participants from dozens of countries.
♦ NIT-Uttarakhand row: Students to complete study from NIT-Jaipur, says HRD
- Following student protests at National Institutes of Technology (NIT-Uttarakhand), the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry on Tuesday decided to move nearly six hundred students of the institute to NIT-Jaipur. The current academic batch of first, second and third year will move to NIT-Jaipur for three years. The ministry has, however, clarified that students will get the degree from NIT-Uttarakhand.
- After an accident of a B.Tech student, Neelam Meena on October 4, a mass agitation started at the institute on the demand of ‘safer’ and ‘well equipped’ campus. The students had threatened that they would continue to boycott the lectures till the “unsafe”, “ill-equipped” campus is shifted from its present location along NH-58 in Srinagar Garhwal town.
- An institute of national importance, the NITUK was among the 10 new NITs sanctioned in 2009 under the Eleventh Five Year Plan. It started taking in students in 2010. But eight years later, with 980 students, it continues to operate from a 3.4-acre temporary plot.
♦ AS Rajeev appointed as MD and CEO of Bank of Maharashtra
- State-owned Bank of Maharashtra Sunday announced that AS Rajeev has joined the lender as its Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer.
- “AS Rajeev has joined Bank of Maharashtra as Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer on 2nd December 2018. Prior to this, he was Executive Director of Indian Bank from 22 January 2016,” the lender said in a release.
- Rajeev is having about three decades of professional experience in three Banks – Syndicate Bank, Vijaya Bank and Indian Bank.
♠Vocabulary (The Hindu)♣
- STOOP (VERB): kowtow
Synonyms: bow, kneel
Antonyms: disrespect, disregard
Example: I stoop before the omnipotent God.
- STICKLER (NOUN): perfectionist
Synonyms: disciplinarian, pedant
Antonyms: beginner, trainee
Example: Depika is a stickler.
- STUN (VERB): astonish
Synonyms: astound, surprise
Antonyms: calm, compose
Example: Michelle was stunned over his performance.
- COLD (ADJECTIVE): brutal
Synonyms: callous, barbarous
Antonyms: compassionate, gentle
Example: Ashmit gave Stella a cold look.
- ADAMANT (ADJECTIVE): unyielding
Synonyms: insistent, intransigent
Antonyms: flexible, irresolute
Example: Alisah is an adamant kid.
- CONTEMPT (NOUN): disregard
Synonyms: disdain, scorn
Antonyms: regard, respect
Example : Recent agitation of people against the recent movie was contempt of court.
- CONSTERNATION (NOUN): disappointment
Synonyms: apprehension, dismay
Antonyms: tranquil, peace
Example: The Ministry has given assurance of economic growth but consternation is growing among people.
- CALUMNY (NOUN): defamation
Synonyms: slander, lie
Antonyms: commendation, praise
Example: It was a big plan of calumny against his revered personality.
Uneasy fields: on Kisan Mukti Morcha
Last week, tens of thousands of farmers reached Delhi for a two-day Kisan Mukti Morcha and held the country’s attention. They sought a special 21-day Parliament session to discuss the crisis in India’s agrarian economy. Their key demands included an unqualified loan waiver to mitigate indebtedness levels in farm households and better remuneration for their produce instead of promises on paper of high minimum support prices. These broad demands sum up the precarious livelihood of a majority of farmers who work on small, fragmented land holdings. This is certainly not the first distress call from the farm sector to Parliament and policymakers; several such stirs have taken place across States over the past year alone. In March, when around 30,000 farmers and tribals from Maharashtra walked for days to Mumbai, they drew appreciation for their restrained conduct compared to the usually unruly protesters. And, they secured assurances from Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of tangible action on their demands over the next six months. Finding little movement on those promises, many of those who had marched to Mumbai joined the rally in Delhi, which was by far the biggest such gathering. Galvanised by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, it reportedly had participation from 200-plus organisations, with farmers from 24 States.
With rural distress palpable, elections for five State Assemblies under way, and the Lok Sabha election just about six months later, farmers’ issues are bound to further dominate politics. Official data released last Friday show that the agriculture sector clocked a growth of just 3.8% (on a gross value added basis) in the second quarter of this fiscal, compared to the 5.3% recorded in the preceding quarter. To put that in perspective, farm sector output was growing strongly in the first three quarters of 2016-17, before imploding in the aftermath of the demonetisation exercise. The latest number suggests that the semblance of recovery seen in the previous two quarters has dimmed too. The government has done an about-turn on its responses to a parliamentary panel that farmers were hit hard by the note ban, and sought to reassure farmers by reiterating its own initiatives for the sector. The Opposition, in turn, is using the farmers’ platform to take jibes at the BJP-led government at the Centre and in many States. Unfortunately, neither has focussed on the big picture strategy needed to reboot India’s hugely state-controlled farm sector. The Centre exhibits an aversion to inconvenient facts. And the Opposition’s attempts to tap into their angst with breezy promises of loan waivers (with both the Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi promising them in State election pitches) that over-simplify the crisis. Farmers are not just vote banks, but also critical economic actors who aspire to live without handouts. Till that is clearly recognised, paying lip service to the humble farmer will continue to distort the discourse.
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