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GK Updates - 20th December 2014

GK Updates - 20th December 2014

1. Richard Rahul Verma sworn in as US Ambassador to India.
i. Indian-American Richard Rahul Verma has been sworn in as the US Ambassador to India by Secretary of State John Kerry.
ii. 46-year-old Verma is the first ever Indian-American to be the top US diplomat in New Delhi.
iii. He was confirmed by the US Senate by a voice vote last week. Last week he met Obama at the White House.
iv. He will replace Nancy Powell, who resigned in March after a damaging row over the treatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade over visa fraud charges.

v. Verma had advocated for strong Indo-US ties when in the administration and recently started “India 2020” project at Centre for American Progress

2. Mid-Year Economic Review projects 5.5 per cent growth
i. Despite the sprouting of green shoots, a robust recovery is still to fully take hold, says the Mid-Year Economic Analysis for the current year, tabled in Parliament by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
ii. The Review projects 2014-15 growth will be 5.5 per cent. India faces challenges that are mostly domestic, says the Review.
iii. The Review says that over-indebtedness in India’s corporate sector is amongst the highest in the world. This, it says, exerts a drag on future investment and spending. The public private partnership model has been less than successful, the Review says.

3. Instagram worth $35 bn, surpasses Twitter.
i. Photo sharing website Instagram has been valued at $35 billion by Citigroup, surpassing Twitter.
ii. This beats Twitter’s market cap of $23 billion by a wide margin, reported.
iii. In the last nine months, Instagram’s user base grew 50 per cent, while Twitter could only boost its active user base by 4.8 per cent in the last quarter.

4. Jammu and Kashmir Assembly polls: 30 pc voting till noon.
i. Braving the winter chill, nearly 30 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise till noon on Saturday in 20 constituencies in the final phase of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
ii. Bani constituency in Kathua district witnessed the highest voting percentage of 41, Jammu East segment in the heart of Jammu city registered the lowest of 19.20 per cent voting.

5. Flipkart files application to become public, raises USD 700 mn.
i. E-commerce major Flipkart on Saturday announced filing application with Singapore based companies’ regulator ACRA to become a public company after raising USD 700 million for long term strategic investments in India following which its number of investors exceeded 50.
ii. The USD 700 million fund raised by Flipkart added new investors — Baillie Gifford, Greenoaks Capital, Steadview Capital, T. Rowe Price Associates and Qatar Investment Authority — on company’s board.
iii. Its existing investors DST Global, GIC, ICONIQ Capital and Tiger Global also participated in this latest financing round.

6. SEBI bars 260 entities for suspected money laundering.
i. In its biggest ever crackdown for suspected tax evasion and laundering of black money through stock trading platforms, the Securities and Exchange Board of India barred 260 entities, including individuals and companies, from the securities markets.
ii. While 152 entities have been barred in one case relating to an entity, named First Financial Services Ltd, another 108 entities have faced the action in a case related to Radford Global Limited.
iii. In its orders, SEBI said that the modus operandi of the barred entities typically involved stock market dealings aimed at evading long-term capital gains tax and showing the source of income as legitimate from stock markets.

7. FIPB clears HDFC Bank's proposal to raise Rs 10,000 crore 
i. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has cleared HDFC Bank's proposal to raise Rs 10,000 crore, ending months of struggle by India's most valuable bank by market cap to enhance its capital base. 
ii. Shareholders in May this year allowed the lender to raise Rs 10,000 crore through routes that may include public or private placement as well as domestic or international markets. 
iii. The proposal will now go to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs that vets all foreign investment proposals in excess of Rs 1,200 crore. 

8. Batting order collapse costs India Brisbane Test
i. A listless India capitulated to a four-wicket defeat in the second cricket Test against Australia with an inept batting display by the top-order to give the hosts an invincible 2-0 lead in the four-match series in Brisbane on Saturday.
ii. Chasing a paltry victory target of 128, Australians lost as many as six wickets but were always in control as they knocked off the required runs.
iii. Steven Smith , the Aussie skipper was adjudged Man of the Match for his blisttering hundred in the first inning.

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