Instacart co-founder Apoorva Mehta exits with $1.1 billion after IPO

Once a supply-chain engineer at Amazon in Seattle, Apoorva Mehta left his job and relocated to San Francisco with an ambition to start his own business. He toyed with the idea of a social network for lawyers to an advertising startup for gaming industries, until he finally stumbled upon the idea of a grocery-delivery company that has since grown to be the largest of its kind in the US. On September 19, 2023, Instacart (incorporated as Maplebear Inc.) started offering its shares on NASDAQ to the public, generating a whopping $1.1 billion (over Rs. 9100 crore) of fortune for its co-founder.

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>Apoorva Mehta was born in India, grew up in Libya and moved to a small town outside Toronto, Canada. Before his stint at Amazon, he worked at Blackberry and Qualcomm.

>An empty refrigerator was the lightbulb moment for Mehta’s new venture. Once it so happened that he was left with hot sauce in his refrigerator. Back in 2012, one could shop for everything except online groceries.

>Today, Instacart delivers groceries to more than 14000 cities across the United States and millions of households across North America depend on Instacart for their weekly shopping.

>Although he stepped down as CEO in 2021, Mehta remains the single largest shareholder of Instacart. As of September 2023, he is the CEO of Cloud Health Systems, a health-tech startup that aims to address chronic illness.

World’s largest and smelliest flower may be extinct soon

According to new research, most species of the famously large Rafflesia flower, which has long captured the imagination with its enormous speckled red petals, are now at risk of extinction.

Thriving in rainforests, it is in danger of extinction due to habitat loss as well as poaching — its buds are harvested and sold for medicinal properties.

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> This largest known individual flower of the Earth is found only in Malaysia, Sumatra, Java & Kalimantan of Indonesia, southern Thailand, and southern Philippines.

> It has a smell like rotten meat making it known locally as “corpse flower”

> Rafflesia is actually a parasite, and lives on tropical vines across parts of Southeast Asia, producing blooms that are among the largest in the world.

> The plant cannot grow in captivity, and, as most occurrences of Rafflesia contain only male or female flowers, pollinations is rare. A fly must land first on a male flower, avoid being eaten, and then transport the pollen to a female flower.

> The flower was first discovered by French naturalist and adventure, Louis Dechamps in then Java (present day Indonesia) between 1791-1794. It was named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, an adventurer and founder of British colony of Singapore.

Rare metal Vanadium found in Gujarat

Vanadium, a chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23 is a hard, silvery-grey, malleable transition metal was recently found in sediment samples collected from the Gulf of Khambhat, near Alang in Gujarat.

Found rarely in nature, but once isolated artificially, the formation of an oxide layer somewhat stabilizes the free metal against further oxidation. It is alloyed with steel and iron for high-speed tool steel, high-strength low-alloy steel, and wear-resistant cast iron.

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> Vanadium was discovered in 1801 by the Spanish mineralogist Andrés Manuel del Río, who named it erythronium but eventually came to believe it was merely impure chromium.

> The element was rediscovered in 1830 by the Swedish chemist Nils Gabriel Sefström, who named it after Vanadis, the Scandinavian goddess of beauty and youth, a name suggested by the beautiful colours of vanadium’s compounds in solution.

> Considering the country’s long efforts to boost EV production, this revelation comes as a boon for the industry as vanadium is used as a crucial raw material in making batteries.

> Vanadium holds significant importance as a crucial raw material in strategic domains like defence and aerospace.

> Small amounts of vanadium have been previously discovered in regions such as Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, and Maharashtra.

Hoysala Temples of Karnataka enter UNESCO Heritage list

UNESCO inscribed Karnataka’s Sacred Ensembles of Hoysalas in Belur, Halebid and Somnathapura in the World Heritage list. The ancient site was part of UNESCO’s Tentative list since 2014.

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> These temples were developed under the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 11th and 14th centuries, mostly concentrated in southern Karnataka.

> Hoysala temples are sometimes called hybrid or vesara as their unique style seems neither completely Dravida nor Nagara, but somewhere in between – a completely novel ‘Hoysala Temple’ form.

> The Hoysala temples, instead of consisting of a simple inner chamber with its pillared hall, contain multiple shrines grouped around a central pillared hall and laid out in the shape of an intricately-designed star (stellate-plan).

> Since they are made out of soapstone which is a relatively soft stone, the artists were able to carve their sculptures intricately. This can be seen particularly in the jewellery of the gods that adorn their temple walls.

Amrita Sher-Gil’s ‘The Story Teller’ becomes the most expensive Indian artwork to be auctioned

An auction on September 16, 2023 held at The Oberoi, New Delhi, created a new record for Indian contemporary art. An Amrita Sher-Gil painting titled The Story Teller, signed and dated 1937, fetched a staggering 61.8 crore, becoming the most expensive painting by an Indian artist, to be sold in an auction, ever. It surpassed Sayed Haider Raza’s Gestation, which was sold for 51.75 crore, merely ten days earlier.

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Amrita Sher-Gil is perhaps the most renowned female artist from India. Here are three stories from her short-lived life:

>Early Life and Background: Amrita Sher-Gil was born on January 30, 1913, in Budapest, Hungary. She was the elder of two daughters of a Hungarian mother, Marie Antoniette Gottesmann, and a Sikh father, Umrao Singh Sher-Gil.

>Artistic Training: Sher-Gil’s family moved to India when she was a child, and she began her formal art education in Shimla and later in Lahore. At 16, she entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she was influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne, Amedeo Modigliani, and Paul Gauguin.

>Tragic Death: Amrita Sher-Gil’s life was tragically cut short when she passed away at the young age of 28 in 1941. Her legacy continues to thrive, and her works are highly sought after by collectors and art enthusiasts around the world. In 1976, the Indian government declared her works to be national treasures, recognizing their cultural significance.


Rabindranath Tagore’s Santiniketan becomes UNESCO World Heritage Site

After years of being on the tentative list, UNESCO finally approved Santiniketan in the list of its World Heritage Sites.

It was in 2010 that the Government of India had first tried to get the World Heritage tag for Santiniketan. It mounted its campaign again in 2021, exactly a hundred years after a ‘world university’ was established by Rabindranath Tagore.

The large tract of uninhabited land was bought by his father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore when it was known as Bhubandanga, named after a local dacoit Bhuban. Its name was changed to Santiniketan, literally meaning the ‘abode of peace’.

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Visva-Bharati becomes the first living university (which is functioning), to get the heritage tag from UNESCO.

It is the only central university in Bengal. PM Narendra Modi is the current Chancellor of this Institute of National Importance.

In 1940, when Mahatma Gandhi came to Shantiniketan to visit Rabindranath Tagore, the latter, then critically ill, urged him to take charge of Visva-Bharati after he was gone. Tagore passed away in 1941. Until Gandhiji was assassinated in 1948, he acted as a guardian of the institution.

Jawaharlal Nehru was urged by Gandhi to look after Visva-Bharati. It was under him in 1951, Visva-Bharati became a Centrally funded university. Nehru once said how attending the convocation ceremony of the institution was like an annual pilgrimage to him.

Shantiniketan has an illustrious list of people as its alumni/alumnae. Some of the most prominent names include Indira Gandhi, Amartya Sen, Satyajit Ray, Maharani Gayatri Devi.

Ariana Huffington, the co-founder of the famous media outlet The Huffington Post, was a student of comparative religion at Visva-Bharati.

Rare spotless giraffe spotted in Namibia

Where have all the spots gone? Some scientists say that this is a genetic anomaly while some others believe that technically these are not spotless animals, instead it’s “one-spot-all-over the giraffe.”

The unprecedented sighting occurred at Mount Etjo Safari Lodge, a private game reserve in central Namibia. Tour guide Eckart Demasius saw and photographed the solid-brown calf during a game drive on the roughly 90,000-acre reserve.

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Earlier this summer another spotless giraffe was born at the Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee. It has been named Kipekee, which means “unique” in Swahili.

Before these recent births, a giraffe with all-brown coloring was last seen at a Tokyo zoo in 1972.

Some aspects of giraffe spots are passed down from mother to calf, according to a 2018 study in the journal PeerJ, and larger, rounder spots appear to be linked to higher survival rates for younger giraffes, but the reasons for that remain unclear.

Fish with hands washes ashore

A rare “handfish”, believed to be extinct was found by a runner in Primrose Sands, a beach in Tasmania, Australia. The 9cm fish was initially thought to be a toadfish which is known to inhabit the coastal and estuarine waters of the area.

Scientists believed the species had been extinct for nearly 20 years but this discovery is all they need to renew research in the area.

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The spotted handfish, known scientifically as Brachionichthys hirsutus, is one of seven handfish species endemic to Tasmania and the Bass Strait. While once abundant on Tasmania’s east coast, the population has decreased sharply over the past three decades.

The rare fish is known to use its ‘hands’ to walk on the sea floor and cares for its eggs with the ‘fingered flippers’

Mumbai to bid adieu its famed double decker buses

The iconic red double-decker buses, that had become an inseparable part of Mumbai’s cityscape since 1937, will be removed from the streets by October 2023. Mumbai has been the only city in India with so many double decker buses active in public service. The last service of these non-AC double-decker buses left Marol Depot on the morning of September 15.

KnowALLedge Plus:

The first double-decker bus in India open to public was launched in Kolkata in 1926 by Walford & Company, imitating London’s Routemasters.

In the western part of India, apart from Mumbai, the cities of Ahmedabad and Vadodara too ran red double decker buses till about three decades ago.

On August 18, 2022, India’s first electric double-decker bus was launched in Mumbai by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST).

La Liga to sponsor Welsh team that boasts the longest name in world football

On September 13, 2023, LALIGA announced that they would join forces as the official front-of-shirt partner of fifth-tier Welsh side Clwb Pêl Droed Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Football Club starting from the current 2023/24 season. Their full name is displayed on the club badge, although they more commonly go by the shortened version, Llanfairpwll.

LALIGA is among the most followed leagues in the world, while CPD Llanfairpwll FC will be celebrating their 125th anniversary in 2024.

KnowALLedge Plus:

This name was deliberately created in the 19th century as a publicity stunt to attract tourists to the village.

Here’s a breakdown of the name:

“Llanfair” – This is a common element in Welsh place names and usually refers to a church or parish.

“pwll” – Means “pool” in Welsh.

“gwyn” – Means “white” or “fair.”

“chyll” – The exact meaning is unclear, but it may refer to a hazel grove.

“goger” – This element possibly refers to a “spur” or “promontory.”

“ychwyrn” – This part is believed to mean “rapid” or “swift.”

“drobwll” – Likely means “whirlpool.”

“llantysilio” – Refers to the church of St. Tysilio.

“gogogoch” – This is a poetic addition that means “red cave.”

So, while the name may seem long and complex, it’s essentially a descriptive and somewhat whimsical way of referring to the village and its surroundings.