Endeavor Careers Current Affairs July 2021, Week 04

Welcome to the Endeavor Editors’ Current Affairs Choicest Blog series. Get a  weekly roundup – on news from business, economy, markets, policy, and more. A quick capsule format news summary and update to keep you abreast with all the latest current affairs.

 Current Affairs July 2021 – Week 4

1) International News and Global Economy


China threatens Japan with nuclear war over intervention in Taiwan

The Chinese Communist Party aired a video in which it warned Japan of a nuclear response and “full-scale war” if the island nation interferes in China’s handling of Taiwan. The video, which appeared on a channel approved by the CCP, singles out Japan as the one exception to China’s policy to not use nuclear weapons against non-xnuclear powers. According to Fox News, the threats follow comments made two weeks ago by Japanese officials about Taiwan’s sovereignty, with Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso saying that Japan must “defend Taiwan,” The Japan Times reported.

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China floods | Thousands evacuated from Henan province; death toll goes up to 33

The death toll in central China’s unprecedented flash floods triggered after the heaviest rainfall in 1,000 years has reached 33 with eight people missing, officials said. The torrential rain has affected about three million people in Henan province and a total of 376,000 local residents have been relocated to safe places, the provincial emergency management department said. Rainwater has damaged more than 215,200 hectares of crops, causing a direct economic loss of about 1.22 billion yuan (about USD 188.6 million)

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Explained: China’s heaviest rainfall in 1,000 years, resulting in devastating floods

The South China Morning Post has reported that the incoming Typhoon In-Fa is responsible for the heavy rainfall. The typhoon, along with the air currents, has carried atmospheric water, concentrating at the Zhengzhou city, which is surrounded by the Taihang and Funiu mountains. However, China’s flooding isn’t unprecedented. The country sees severe water-logging every year, causing loss of life and property. However, over the years, the impact has worsened with climate change and rapid urbanisation. As more of the land gets covered with impermeable concrete, the risk of water-logging at the surface increases. Last year, floods in the country left more than 200 people dead or missing and caused $25 billion in direct damage.

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China floods: Scope of damage still unclear with many missing in Henan

A massive clean-up operation is underway in China’s central Henan province following devastating floods. Days of heavy rain have left parts of the region completely submerged. At least 56 people have been killed, hundreds of thousands displaced and many are still unaccounted for. The situation in the more rural areas outside the provincial capital – Zhenzhou – is even worse than in the city.

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U.S. sanctions Cuban officials over crackdown on protests as Biden warns: ‘This is just the beginning’

The United States imposed sanctions on Cuba’s defence minister and the communist nation’s special forces brigade for the suppression of peaceful protests that broke out on the island last week. The sanctions mark the first steps by the Biden administration to apply pressure on the Cuban government as Washington faces calls to show greater support for the protesters. President Joe Biden warned the Cuban government that there will be more to come. The sanctions prohibit payments from entities in the United States to Lopez Miera and the special forces, as well as payments from the Cuban entities to the U.S.

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Cubans protest against communist regime: What are their demands?

Anti-government protests in Cuba amid food shortages and COVID surge. Protests have broken out in Cuba, with thousands of people taking to the streets against the communist regime. Demonstrators expressed frustration at food shortages, rising prices and the lack of COVID-19 vaccines. The government has tried to blame the US for the unrest, and is rallying its own supporters.

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US airstrike in Somalia is 2nd this week against al-Shabab

For the second time this week, US forces conducted an airstrike against the al-Shabab extremist group in Somalia. The earlier strike, was the first in Somalia since President Joe Biden took office in January. In a brief statement, the Pentagon said the attack was conducted in support of Somali partner forces, and thus was allowed under the existing congressional authorization for the use of military force. In a brief statement, the Pentagon said the attack was conducted in support of Somali partner forces, and thus was allowed under the existing congressional authorization for the use of military force. The United States had removed most of its troops from Somalia in the final days of President Donald Trump’s term, moving them to nearby countries where they remotely advise and assist Somali forces against al-Shabab, an affiliate of the al-Qaida extremist network.

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From Tiger to Temasek, investors scarred by China EdTech assault

Global investors from Tiger Global Management to Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd. are reeling as China prepares to impose its harshest curbs yet on its $100 billion private tutoring and online education sector. China is considering asking companies that offer tutoring on the school curriculum to go non-profit, people familiar told Bloomberg News, potentially wiping out a big chunk of the billions that private equity and venture capital funds have staked on a once red-hot sector. In rules currently under debate, the platforms may lose their ability to raise capital or go public—depriving their backers of the exits they need to cash out.

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Beijing targets tutoring firms, not allowing foreign investment

CNBC’s Eunice Yoon reports on China aiming to cut after-school tutoring costs and how tutoring firms must register on NGOs.

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2) India  

Covid update

India’s COVID deaths up to ten times higher than official tally

Startling new evidence has emerged about the ravages of the pandemic in India. It was already a dire situation – the government reporting more than 415,000 have died. But most infectious disease experts agree the real toll is almost certainly much higher. Today, the Washington-based Centre for Global Development released the most comprehensive study on the impact of the coronavirus in India. And, as feared, it says India’s death toll could be a staggering ten times higher than the official tally. That would mean 4.7 million additional deaths from the start of the pandemic until June this year. Just a few months ago India saw a devastating rise in infections, driven largely by the more infectious Delta variant.

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Brazil suspends clinical trials of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin

Brazil has suspended the clinical trials of Bharat Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin after the Hyderabad based company terminated agreement with its partner. Bharat Biotech terminated the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Precisa Medicamentos and Envixia Pharmaceuticals LL.C, Bharat Biotech’s partners in Brazil for introducing Covaxin in Brazil. The termination of the MoU came after the deal with the Brazilian government for the supply of 20 million doses of the vaccine landed into a controversy. Last month, the Brazilian government which earlier agreed to purchase 20 million doses of Covaxin suspended the contract following allegations of irregularities in the deal.

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Explained: What’s behind the stubborn upward Covid-19 trend in Kerala?

Kerala has been contributing the largest number of Covid cases since June 15. For the last two days, the state has accounted for more than a third of all cases reported from the country. The state’s contribution to the national numbers has risen steadily since the overall numbers began to decline two months ago. At its peak, Kerala was contributing less than 10 per cent of all the cases in the country. This trend is very similar to what was seen in January. At that time, Kerala had been contributing almost 60 per cent of all cases on some days. At least part of the explanation for the high numbers in Kerala can be found in the relatively better reporting that happens in the state. But that does not very well explain the continuing high positivity rate in the state.

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Next Covid vaccine in pill form? Israeli company to start clinical trial – Here’s the Indian connect

The next generation of Covid19 vaccines may come in pill form as an Israeli company named Oramed Pharmaceuticals is all set to start clinical trials of an oral version in Tel Aviv, according to The Times of Israel, but there is an Indian connection too. The Israeli pharmaceuticals company has developed a single-dose-based oral version of a prospective vaccine that is being developed by India-based Premas Biotech. It had previously announced that the vaccine created antibodies in pigs during trials. According to the Times of Israel, the oral vaccine will help countries with limited infrastructure to speed up vaccination.

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Other updates

Heavy rain in India triggers floods, landslides; at least 125 dead

Rescue teams in India struggled through thick sludge and debris to reach dozens of submerged homes as the death toll from landslides and accidents caused by torrential monsoon rain rose to 125. Maharashtra state is being hit by the heaviest rain in July in four decades, experts say. Downpours lasting several days have severely affected the lives of hundreds of thousands, while major rivers are in danger of bursting their banks. Parts of India’s west coast have received up to 594 mm (23 inches) of rain, forcing authorities to move people out of vulnerable areas as they released water from dams about to overflow.  Indian environmentalists have warned that climate change and indiscriminate construction in fragile coastal regions could lead to more disasters.

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Antony Blinken’s first India visit: Afghanistan, Quad, COVID-19 and climate change to be major topics of discussion

Expanding the US-India cooperation on security, defence and counterterrorism and matters like the situation in Afghanistan, Quad, COVID-19 and climate change will be on top of the agenda of Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his maiden trip to India next week, according to a senior American official. In the Secretary’s meetings with Prime Minister Modi and External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, the senior State Department official said they expect the discussions to focus on ways to further deepen the bilateral partnership, which is very broad in scope, as well as increased convergence on regional and global issues.

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US Secretary of state Blinken to visit India next week | India-US relations

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Explained: A look at India’s investments in Afghanistan

As the Taliban push ahead with military offensives across Afghanistan, preparing to take over after the exit of US and NATO forces, India faces a situation in which it may have no role to play in that country, and in the worst-case scenario, not even a diplomatic presence. That would be a reversal of nearly 20 years of rebuilding a relationship that goes back centuries. Afghanistan is vital to India’s strategic interests in the region. India built vital roads, dams, electricity transmission lines and substations, schools and hospitals, etc. India’s development assistance is now estimated to be worth well over $3 billion. Speaking at the Afghanistan Conference in Geneva in November 2020, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said “no part of Afghanistan today is untouched by the 400-plus projects that India has undertaken in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces”. The fate of these projects is now up in the air.

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3) Economy

Clear signs of economic recovery, confident in high exports, FDI: Piyush Goyal

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said that there were clear signs of India’s economic recovery, with India achieving $ 400 billion in commodity exports this year, in addition to attracting high foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2010. He said he was on track to do so. At the CII-Horasis India Meeting, he also said India is currently in talks on trade agreements with 16 countries, including the United Kingdom, EU, Australia, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. In some countries, India is working on early harvest agreements, which will allow countries to quickly identify areas of mutual interest and more quickly negotiate for a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (FTA).

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4) Markets, Banking and Finance

Zomato delivers a full spread on listing day

Food delivery platform Zomato beat several records and exceeded expectations as it debuted on Dalal Street with a 51% jump over the issue price. The strong listing is expected to perk up interest in upcoming initial public offerings of new-age businesses as more such companies are likely to expedite share sales to capitalise on the voracious investor appetite for such issuances. Among IPOs of more than 9,000 crore, Zomato’s debut pop is only second to Reliance Power, which listed in February 2008 at 103% over its IPO price. On a closing price basis, its performance is the best by an IPO that has raised Rs 9,000 crore and above from the primary market.

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ICICI Bank Q1 results: Net profit rises 78% to Rs 4,616 cr as provisions fall

Private lender ICICI Bank reported a 78 per cent year-on-year (YoY) rise in standalone net profit at Rs 4,616 crore for June quarter compared with Rs 2,599 crore in the same quarter last year. Net interest income (NII) for the quarter rose 18 per cent year-on-year to Rs 10,936 crore from Rs 9,280 crore YoY. Provisions (excluding provision for tax) fell to Rs 2,852 crore in June quarter from Rs 7,594 crore in the year-ago quarter. ICICI Bank said it has changed its policy on non-performing loans during the June quarter to make it more conservative. The bank said it held Covid-19 related provisions worth Rs 6,425 crore as of June 30. Based on its current assessment of the portfolio, ICICI Bank wrote back Covid-19 provisions amounting to Rs 1,050 crore made in earlier periods, the lender said.

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Indian Markets are entering new era with recent IPOs: SEBI Chief

Indian markets are entering a new era with several new-age tech companies preferring to list domestically, said Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chairman Ajay Tyagi. Following a robust response to Zomato’s public offering, which was subscribed by over 40 times, many start-ups such as Paytm, MobiKwik, PolicyBazar, CarTrade and Nykaa are planning to list on the Indian stock markets. As per a statement, SEBI is now exploring the future opportunities of exchange traded funds (ETFs) after their growth in recent years. “Globally, ETFs have emerged as a popular product, and provide liquid exposure to investors on even relatively illiquid underlying assets. SEBI is examining how to increase ETF liquidity on exchange platforms and feasibility of introducing new ETF products such as corporate bond ETFs to increase liquidity in the corporate bond market,” he added.

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5) Business

Audi, Mercedes-Benz upbeat about electrification journey of passenger vehicles in India

Luxury carmakers Audi and Mercedes-Benz are upbeat about the electrification journey of passenger vehicles in India with more states coming up with EV policies that encourage electric four-wheelers, according to company officials. Although the FAME II scheme by the Centre has not offered direct benefits for personal passenger vehicles, incentives like 5 per cent GST on electric cars will also help, they feel. While Audi kicked off its electrification journey in India with the launch of three all-electric SUVs under the e-tron brand last week, Mercedes-Benz has been selling its all-electric SUV EQC since October last year.

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Biocon eyes market share expansion in developed, emerging markets: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Biocon expects both recovery and growth in the ongoing fiscal year as the biotech firm looks to expand market share for its biosimilars in the United States and other developed countries, founder and chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw told ET. India’s largest biotech company is expecting several drug approvals this year, besides rising demand for its research services, she said. Biocon expects more opportunities due to the granting of the interchangeability label for insulin glargine (Semglee) in the US, and the country’s FDA coming down on American biopharmaceuticals firm Amgen for claiming that it Onpro on-body injector was a superior product to peg filgrastim, a medicine which stimulates healthy White Blood Cells in the bone marrow.

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AGR case: Supreme Court dismisses telecom firms’ plea seeking recomputation of dues

The Supreme Court (SC) of India, on July 23, rejected Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Tata Teleservices’ application seeking re-computation of the adjusted gross revenue (AGR) – related dues. The matter was being heard by a bench comprising Justices LN Rao and Hrishikesh Roy on July 23. In 2020, the apex court gave 10 years’ time to telecom service providers struggling to pay Rs 93,520 crore of AGR-related dues to clear their outstanding amount to the government. The three telecom companies — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, and Tata Teleservices — appealed to the Supreme Court to allow them to make staggered AGR payments. According to the DoT, Bharti Airtel owes over Rs 43,000 crore as AGR dues, while Vodafone Idea has a balance payment of more than Rs 50,000 crore.

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Explained | What is AGR and why are telcos in trouble?

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6) Technology

RBI working towards ‘phased introduction’ of digital rupee

The Reserve Bank of India is working toward a “phased implementation strategy” of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), RBI deputy governor T Rabi Sankar said. A pilot to test a general-purpose digital currency is a possibility in the near future, he said. The central bank is framing several considerations on the scope and legal framework of the proposed CBDC that will likely coexist with cash and digital forms of payments, Sankar said in a virtual keynote address at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. A CBDC is a form of virtual currency or cryptocurrency that is issued by a central bank as an alternative to its currency. These are largely stable coins backed by sovereign reserves and, unlike private crypto assets like Bitcoin or Ethereum, the value of these digital coins is not subject to volatile market fluctuations.

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Crypto crackdown: Malaysian police steamroll Bitcoin machines

Malaysian police hit on a novel way to dispose of more than 1,000 bitcoin-mining machines seized in raids — they crushed the devices using a steamroller. Authorities on Borneo Island discovered the machines, worth an estimated 5.3 million ringgit ($1.25 million), in crackdowns between February and April. Eight people were arrested for allegedly stealing the equivalent of $2 million worth of electricity to power the energy-hungry computers, according to police. Bitcoin mining is common in the Southeast Asian nation, and there are regular reports of police arresting crypto-miners and seizing their rigs. While energy-hungry, the process can be lucrative with each bitcoin currently worth more than $32,000.

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Goldman Sachs settling crypto ETPs in Europe: CoinDesk

Goldman Sachs Group Inc’s prime brokerage division is clearing and settling cryptocurrency exchange-traded products (ETPs) for some of its European hedge fund clients, CoinDesk reported. The services are currently being offered to a limited number of clients and the bank is considering rolling them out for a broader customer base, the report said. Goldman Sachs is one of several mainstream financial firms that has dived into the crypto space, despite wild price swings and widening regulatory crackdown on the digital assets.

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Explained: The making of Pegasus, from start-up to a global spy-tech leader

Israel’s NSO Group, which is at the heart of the alleged state surveillance of thousands of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, politicians, and dissidents in countries including India, has built such a tool — Pegasus, the world’s most invasive spyware. It can find a route into a target’s device that is unknown to the developer of the device and its software, and without requiring the target to take any action such as clicking a link. 

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What is Pegasus Spyware and how does it use Zero-Click Vulnerability?

A global investigative project has revealed that Pegasus spyware targeted over 300 mobile phone numbers in India including that of two serving Ministers in the Narendra Modi government, three Opposition leaders. Here’s all you need to know about the Pegasus spyware.

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 7) Politics

Explained: The election in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir

Elections were scheduled in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) yesterday. The PoK Assembly has 53 seats, including four that were added in 2019. Over 700 candidates are in the fray, and there are about 20 lakh voters. The territory of PoK comprises 10 districts under three divisions — Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, and Poonch. The capital is Muzaffarabad. While PoK is ostensibly an autonomous, self-governing territory, the Pakistan Army is the final arbiter on all matters Kashmir — and the security establishment exercises tight control over what goes on in PoK.

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Pegasus issue: Rajya Sabha MP moves Supreme Court seeking court-monitored probe

Rajya Sabha member John Brittas has moved the Supreme Court seeking a court-monitored probe into reports of alleged snooping of activists, politicians, journalists and constitutional functionaries using Israeli spyware Pegasus. A massive political row has erupted after media reports claimed that Pegasus spyware was used to conduct surveillance on about 300 Indians, including ministers, political leaders, government officials and journalists. The government had said that illegal surveillance was not possible with checks and balances in the country’s laws and alleged that attempts were being made to malign the Indian democracy.

For detailsvisit.

Pramod Sawant to be BJP’s CM face for 2022 Goa polls: JP Nadda

Ahead of 2022 Assembly Elections in Goa, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National President Jagat Prakash Nadda said that the party is going forward with Dr Pramod Sawant as its chief ministerial face and added there is no need to think about any other name. He also lauded Dr Sawant’s work and leadership and said that an all-round development has taken place in the coastal state.

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Nadda rules out leadership crisis in Karnataka, says Yediyurappa has done good work

Amid speculation about a change of guard in Karnataka, BJP president J P Nadda ruled out any leadership crisis in the southern state and said Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has done good work. Nadda’s remarks assume significance as they came hours after the Karnataka CM said he will take an appropriate decision, once he receives directions from the BJP high command this evening, regarding his continuation in the post.

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Understanding Karnataka politics as BJP moves to oust Yediyurappa, risks Lingayat wrath

As Karnataka chief minister Yediyurappa’s exit looks imminent, Shekhar Gupta explains how the complex caste politics in the state have made him essential for BJP to gain its foothold in the South.

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The unlikely Presidential twist that makes winning a big landslide again in UP critical for the BJP

Five states will go to polls ahead of India’s presidential election, each of them carries weight in determining its outcome. Shekhar Gupta uses data on the unique electoral college for presidential polls to explain why BJP is concerned despite a sweeping majority in Parliament.

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8) Sports

Tokyo Olympics: Indian women athletes to watch out for in the first-ever “gender-balanced” game

India has sent a bigger contingent — 127 sportspeople — to compete in 18 sports at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which is touted to be the first-ever “gender-balanced” game. While major countries like the US, China, Canada, and Australia, among others, have more women athletes participating than men, India has a mix of 56 women and 71 men representing the country. As women’s participation increases, here are six players to watch out for. Mary Kom, Boxing, PV Sindhu, Badminton, Vinesh Phogat, Wrestling, Bhavna Devi, Fencing, Deepika Kumari, Archery, Dutee Chand, Women’s 100m and 200m track event. 

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Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu wins silver medal in women’s 49kg category

Mirabai Chanu on Saturday won a silver medal in the women’s 49 kg weightlifting competition to open India’s counter at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The Manipur athlete lifted a total weight of 202 kg to win the medal. The gold in the event was won by China’s Hou Zhihui, who picked a combined weight total of 210 kg. Chanu has been a world champion in the past, when she won the gold medal in the 48 kg category in Anaheim. She is the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist in the 48kg category.

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Who is Priya Malik, India’s ‘Gold Medallist’ at Tokyo Olympics?

Young Indian wrestler Priya Maik is scripting her own history as she won the 73kg title with a 5-0 win over Belarus’ Kseniya Patapovich and clinched the gold medal in the Cadet World Championships. With Indian sports fans in a frenzy after Mirabai Chanu won the silver medal in the 49kg weightlifting event, the expectations for the rest of the games from Indian athletes have upscaled significantly. The expectations took a turn for the worse when Priya Malik’s win at the Caded World Championships were passed off as a gold medal win at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as well. The misinformation campaign managed to trend on Twitter and flood Indian WhatsApp groups, which already are safe havens of political misinformation.

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 9) Opinion

A look at BYJU’S $2B shopping bill and what’s next for the EdTech unicorn

Bengaluru-based EdTech unicorn BYJUS announced that it had acquired US-based start-up Epic, a digital reading platform for children aged 12 and under, for $500 million. Between 2020 and 2021, BYJUS has already acquired three companies and is in the process of buying two more. This bill for this shopping list amounts to a cumulative sum of $2 billion. The EdTech giant has raised $1.5 billion in funding in the same time frame. The start-up is currently the most valued start-up in India at $16.5 billion.

For details visit.

Byju’s Raveendran Speaks on Success Mantra for EdTech | CNBC-TV18 | Google ‘Education Next Summit’

Watch the special address by Byju Raveendran, Founder & CEO, BYJU’s, where in he talks about his journey and his idea of success in the field of EdTech

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Is it time for the next big-ticket investment in the P2P lending sector?

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) lending, a sunrise sector in the Indian fintech landscape, has existed in the country for the past seven to eight years. These platforms offer unsecured loans and higher interest rates to borrowers compared to banks and NBFCs. However, it was the RBI’s master directions in 2017, which brought the P2P lending segment under the regulatory purview. It brought in several changes and gave P2P lending platforms the licence to operate as P2P NBFCs (non-banking financial companies). The 2017 regulation brought in two major changes — One, it separated the wheat from the chaff, leaving a handful of strong players to operate in the system. Second, it set the tone for P2P lending players to strengthen their business models and scale up, grabbing the eyes of institutional investors.

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Is P2P lending a Good Investment option? | The Money Show

How safe in investing in P2P lending and how does it work?  Watch Karunya Rao in conversation with Vinay Matthews, Founder & COO, Faircent.com

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How REITS, InvITs can reinvigorate India’s vision to become an international financial stronghold

In a fast-growing economy like India where cities are expanding at a rapid pace, real estate and infrastructure becomes a key factor of growth. Due to the rapid growth in urbanization, there is a dire need for huge capital and REITs and InvITs are a unique vehicle for issuers to access capital. For investors, with prevailing low real interest rates in developed economies, it is natural for higher return-seeking investors to look towards avenues such as REITs and InvITs. REITs has been a success story globally and is the primary capital raising avenue for real estate assets and so its potential in India is obvious. REITs builds up a case for higher liquidity, higher interest rate and portfolio diversification as opposed to direct investing, in turn reducing risk for a foreign investor. 

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With that, we come to an end for our Weekly Current Affairs July 2021 -week 4. Hope you have liked it. Write your feedback in the comments below and let us know if there is anything else you would like us to cover.

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