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.

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.

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.

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.

G20 Summit highlights: leaders unite for a better world

The G20 summit achieved consensus among world leaders on various issues. Here are the key moments from the summit.

Welcomes Africa on board!

The 55-member African Union (AU) was formally made permanent member of the G20, on par with the European Union, in order to make the grouping more representative. Until now only South Africa was a member of the G20.

On Ukraine War

G20 nations agreed that states cannot grab territory by force and highlighted the suffering of the people of Ukraine. The declaration was seen as an apparent softening from the position that the G20 took last year when it condemned Russia for the war and demanded that it withdraw from Ukraine.

Economic Transport Corridor: India to Middle East

Leaders of the United States, India and Saudi Arabia among others announced plans to set up an economic corridor between the Middle East and South Asia and eventually to Europe. The project involves laying down railway lines in the Middle East and then connecting them to India by port.

Global Biofuel Alliance

Brazil, India, and the United States, as leading biofuel producers and consumers, will work together during the next few months towards the development of a Global Biofuels Alliance along with other interested countries.

Progress on Climate Change

The G20 leaders agreed to pursue tripling renewable energy capacity globally by 2030 and accepted the need to phase-down unabated coal power, but stopped short of setting major climate goals.

India makes a big impact

India’s hosting the G20 Summit showcased the country as an influential diplomatic and economic power, and drive investment and trade flows into the world’s most populous country.

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> The biggest achievement for India in the G20 Summit was that the New Delhi Leaders’ Summit Declaration was adopted with a “100 per cent consensus on all developmental and geo-political issues ” on the opening day.

> The Preamble of the 38-paragraph Delhi Declaration starts with the lines: We are One Earth, One Family, and we share One Future.

India’s 1st UPI ATM unveiled at Global Fintech Fest 2023

Since UPI first ushered in seven years back, it has revolutionised finance in India. In September 2023, the system saw a new feather on its cap as Hitachi Payment Services launched India’s first UPI-ATM, in association with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and a software company called NCR Corporation. This UPI-ATM will allow customers to withdraw cash without using an ATM or debit card. Instead, the UPI pin will act as the facilitator. To withdraw money, a QR code will be displayed on the ATM screen, the customer will scan the QR code using any UPI app and authorise the transaction by entering their PIN on their mobile app. The ATM will dispense cash after the credentials are validated.

KnowALLedge Plus:

> UPI stands for Unified Payments Interface. It was introduced in India in 2016. It is an online platform operated by NPCI that enables instant transfer of money between bank accounts.

> In the last seven years, it has grown to be the fastest-growing payment method in the country, with more than 100 million active users across different platforms.

> In May 2023, UPI hit a record of 9 billion transactions worth ₹14 trillion (US$180 billion)

> Many countries have been direct beneficiaries of the UPI technology as shared by India. The list including France, Australia, Singapore, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, to name a few.

Air India unveils new brand identity, symbolising ‘Window of Possibilities’

Air India undergoes a makeover. The new aircraft livery and design features a palette of deep red, aubergine, and gold highlights as well as a chakra-inspired pattern.

In its release, India’s oldest airline said that its new symbol, ‘The Vista’ takes its inspiration from the peak of the gold window frame and stands for limitless possibilities, progress, and the airline’s bold, confident outlook for the future.

Air India was fully acquired by Tata Sons in January 2022. The task of its rebranding went to McCann Workgroup India and the brand design was carried out by Futurebrands.

KnowALLedge Plus:

>Even after the rebranding, Air India will continue using its iconic ‘Maharaja’.

>The much-celebrated mascot originated in 1946, when Bobby Kooka, Air India’s Commercial Director, and Umesh Rao, an artist with advertising agency J. Walter Thompson, together created the moustachioed icon.

>Kooka famously said, “We call him a Maharajah for want of a better description. But his blood isn’t blue. He might look like royalty, but he isn’t royal.”