1 - Government makes hallmark for Gold jewellery and artefacts mandatory from 2021
Hallmarking of gold jewellery and artefacts will be made mandatory across the country from January 15, 2021, to ensure the purity of the precious metal. A notification in this regard will be issued on January 15, 2020. The BIS is already running a hallmarking scheme for gold jewellery since April 2000 and around 40% of gold jewellery is being hallmarked currently.
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has formulated standards for hallmarking gold jewellery in three grades: 14 carats, 18 carats and 22 carats.
2 - India’s forex reserves crossed $450 billion mark for first time
India’s foreign exchange reserves crossed the $450 billion mark for the first time ever on the back of strong inflows which enabled the central bank to buy dollars from the market, thus checking any sharp appreciation of the rupee. India's foreign exchange reserves stood at $451.7 billion in December beginning, an increase of $38.8 billion over end-March 2019.
Foreign exchange reserves are the foreign currencies held by a country’s central bank. Countries use their foreign exchange reserves to keep the value of their currencies at a fixed rate.
3 - ADB lowered India’s GDP growth forecast to 5.1% in FY20
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) scaled down India's GDP growth forecast from 6.5% to 5.1% for FY20 and its FY20 forecast to 6.5%, down from 7.2%. It was mainly due to credit crunch in the economy resulting from the IL&FS crisis in August 2018 and impact on consumption due to rural distress and a dismal job scenario.
ADB's supplement to the Asian Development Outlook 2019 has projected China’s GDP at 6.1% in 2019-20 against ADB's earlier forecast of 6.2%, keeping China as fastest growing large economy.
4 - Amazon launched Audible Suno app in India
Audible, Amazon’s audiobook company has launched a new app exclusively for India, called Audible Suno. The app offers free access to original audio series across many genres from India. It will not require sign-ups and will be without advertisements for now.
US-based Audible was founded in 1995 by Donald Katz and was acquired by Amazon in 2008 in cash and short-term investments. The platform offers spoken audio content, basically a plethora of audio versions of books and newspapers and radio programmes.
5 - Apple, Amazon & Google united for ‘Connected Home over IP’
“Amazon.com Inc”, “Apple Inc” and Alphabet Inc’s “Google” announced a partnership to lay the groundwork for better compatibility among their smart home products. The goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers.
The project aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others. Smart home devices will be secure, reliable, and seamless to use.
6 - Infosys launched blockchain powered distributed applications
Infosys announced the launch of three comprehensive blockchain-powered distributed applications for government services, insurance, and supply chain management domains. These comprehensive applications designed as ready-to-subscribe business networks ensure quick deployment, interoperability across disparate systems of value chain stakeholders and a wide variety of use cases involving other digital technologies like IoT, Analytics as well.
Infosys’ Blockchain Distributed Applications are equipped with predictive ROI analytics for business investments that can be tailored to meet numerous industry-specific needs.
7 - Fresh Vegetables from Varanasi to Dubai
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has sent the first trial shipment of vegetables by sea route from Varanasi to Dubai. APEDA is in the process of setting up Agri export hubs in the 5 districts of the Varanasi region, viz. Ghazipur, Jaunpur, Chandauli, Mirzapur and SantRavidas Nagar.
APEDA organized an Export Promotion Programme and Buyer Seller Meet (BSM) for fresh vegetables this year in Varanasi which was attended by 100 farmers of the region and exporters from Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh. The BSM provided a platform to link the FPOs and progressive farmers to prominent exporters.
8 - S&P reaffirms India's rating at 'BBB' with stable outlook
Rating Agency S&P has reaffirmed the Sovereign Credit Rating of India at BBB with outlook as stable. S&P said India’s economy continues to achieve impressive long term growth rates despite a recent deceleration. It believed that the economic slowdown is cyclical rather than structural.
In the report, S&P has maintained a stable outlook for India on the basis of their expectation that over the next two years the growth will remain strong. According to the report, India will maintain its sound net external position and fiscal deficit will remain elevated but broadly in line with their forecast.
9 - Wipro partnered with Nasscom to train 10,000 students on emerging technologies
Wipro Limited partnered with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) to launch the Future Skills platform for 10,000 students from over 20 engineering colleges in India. This is a part of Wipro’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme, TalentNext which aims to enhance the quality of engineering education by preparing faculty and academic leaders to train students.
This initiative will create a talent pool of students, certified by Wipro and NASSCOM. The platform enables learning the skills required in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity and Internet of Things (IoT) – to make them future-ready.
10 - Foreign Portfolio Investors open fund Net inflow crossed 1 trillion in 2019
The debt market has seen a net inflow of nearly Rs 27,000 crore by FPIs, while a further amount of Rs 9,000 crore found its way to the hybrid instruments.
Ignoring negative sentiments around falling GDP growth rate and some policy roadblocks, foreign portfolio investors seem to have flocked to the Indian capital market in a big way in 2019 with a net inflow of over Rs 1.3 lakh crore, including Rs 97,250 crore in equities, the highest in last six years.
11 - Centre released Rs 35,298 crore GST compensation
The central government released Rs 35,298 crore to states to make up for the loss of revenue due to rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The compensation amount was fixed at 14% on top of revenue in the base year of 2016-17.
When GST was rolled out on July 1, 2017, states were through legislation promised to be compensated for the loss of revenue as not just their taxes such as VAT were being subsumed in the new levy but also their right to levy taxes was being snatched.