Current Affairs Current Affairs - 18 July 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 18 July 2015

Face-off: PM Modi talks of 'political damaads', Rahul takes dig at '56-inch chest'
  • PM Modi takes indirect dig at Robert Vadra with son-in-law remarkNEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi were engaged in yet another face-off on Friday.

    During a speech at the centenary celebrations of former J&K minister Girdhari Lal Dogra in Jammu, Prime Minster Narendra Modi said "we all know how politcal damaads can be' in what is seen as a reference to Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra.

    PM Modi heaped praise on Girdhari Lal Dogra and said that he was a good judge of people.

    "The example of his good judgment can be seen in the son-in-law he chose," PM Modi said amid applause and laughter referring to finance minister Arun Jaitley.

    The Prime Minster then went on to take a dig as to how political damaads can become a trouble.

    Moments later, in Jaipur adressing party workers, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi once again targeted PM Modi reminding him of his pre-poll promise of 'Na khaoonga, na khane doonga'.

    Rahul also took a dig at his 56-inch chest remark as he slammed the BJP-led Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh government.

    "Modiji ka 56-inch ka chhati 5.6 inch ka ho jayega," Rahul said.

    Rahul Gandhi, who is on a tour of Rajasthan, said that the remote control of Vasundhara Raje government was in London.

    He once again questioned PM's silence on Lalit Modi controversy and the Vyapam scam.

    Rahul's attack evoked a quick response from the BJP.

    BJP leader Sambit Patra said, "People who have a vision of 5.6 mm are obviously not able to look beyond that."

SBI plans to offer 3% profit to staff
  • SBINEW DELHI: State Bank of India (SBI) on Friday said it plans to offer up to 3 per cent of annual profit to employees as part atalent retention and motivation initiative. 

    The bank has sought permission from the finance ministry in this regard, SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said. 

    The matter is now before the finance minister who will take decision in this regard. 

    "It is necessary especially for people in senior management and mid-level management, the amount that they get in the private sector is much higher than they get in the public sector," she said. 

    As a result what happens is that people who come up to the higher levels because of their merit and hard work, are easily picked up by private sector, she said. 

    "They have a tendency of leaving and going and this will become more so with newer banks coming in and more players entering the field of banking. Therefore, for meeting competitive pressures, we need to ensure that we are able to remunerate our people better," she said. 

    For the fiscal ended March 2015, SBI's net profit increased 20 per cent to Rs 13,101.57 crore as compared to Rs 10,891.17 crore for the year ended March 2014. 

    Total income on standalone basis increased to Rs 1,74,972.96 crore from Rs 1,54,903.72 crore for the year ended March 2014. 

    SBI Group's consolidated net profit rose 20 per cent to Rs 16,994.30 crore during 2014-15 fiscal as compared to Rs 14,173.77 crore in the previous fiscal. 

    Besides, the bank is also considering a share-purchase scheme for all employees, irrespective of their posts. The largest public sector lender expects to raise between Rs 800-1,200 crore through this scheme. 

    The bank has about 2.3 lakh employees. 

BJP suspends Vyapam-accused Gulab Singh Kirar
  • BHOPAL: BJP suspended on the run Gulab Singh Kirar, allegedly involved in Vyapam scam and wanted by special task force (STF) from the party. It all happened after CBI registered a FIR against Kirar and his son, Shakti Pratap Singh for their alleged involvement in pre-medical test scam. 

    Kirar, who is presently chairman of Sate Backward Classes Commission and enjoys a minister of state rank, allegedly paid kickbacks to Vyapam officials to get his son admitted to medical college.  Shakti studied for a BDS degree from a medical college outside the state. He pursued an MBBS degree from a private medical college by influencing the admission. Because of his father's influence over Vyapam officials, he managed to top the pre-PG exam in 2011.

    Gulab Singh Kirar, who hails from Bhind, was once an active member of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Chambal area. He contested for mayoral post in Bhind. Later, he joined BJP and was made chairman of Backward Classes Commission. Soon after, he became powerful because of his political connections to BJP brass. Congress alleged that Kirar was close to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan as he belonged to same community. 

    During raids in Gwalior when STF arrested Navin Sharma, a middleman in Vypam scam, Kirar went underground with his wife and son. Navin was key person, who helped Kirar get medical seat. During investigations, Kirar's name initially disappeared from the accused list. But complaints made by whistle-blower Ashish Chaturvedi has STF hot on his pursuit. He still has a reward of Rs 3,000 on his head, sources in STF confirmed.

PM Modi takes the wheel as India's road building stimulus bogged down
  • PM Modi takes the wheel as India's road building stimulus bogged downNEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's top civil servant hauled road builder KMC Constructions into his office last week, along with a state bank and officials, and set an October deadline to finish the Pink City Expressway linking Delhi and Jaipur.
    It looks a tough ask. The 225 km (140 mile) highway is still missing seven bridges, several stretches need to be widened to the projected six lanes, and miles of land have not yet been acquired. The road should have opened three years ago. 

    The journey from the capital to the rose-hued sandstone tourist town can take six bumpy hours and is a symbol of the challenges Modi faces to kick-start Asia's third-largest economy. 

    Frustrated by hold-ups in way-behind-schedule projects the government thought it had fixed, Modi's office is now itself leaning on contractors and banks whose estimated $49 billion in bad loans - much of it to infrastructure projects - are blamed for suppressing the investment cycle.

    Modi placed a $12.6 billion bet in this year's budget on road building, with $16 billion more to be spent on railways, looking to create jobs and boost economic capacity. To help pay for the modernization of decrepit roads and rail, Modi is reining in spending on health and welfare programmes for the poor - so the stakes are high. 

    But a handful of troubled mega-projects like the Pink City Expressway are proving to be stubborn roadblocks. 

    "The investment cycle has not picked up since the government came in," said Mahesh Vyas, managing director at research group Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). "Making a premium in the budget is one thing. You have to go and spend it." 

    The transport ministry has already burned through $2 billion since April as it races to invest the $6.8 billion of government spending it has been allocated this year. Yet this has not fed through to a marked increase in new road building, with much of the money earmarked for cash-crunched developers. 

    At last week's meeting, Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra demanded results for five road projects that cars were supposed to be driving down years ago, two people with knowledge of the meetings told Reuters. 

    The Prime Minister's Office did not respond to a request for comment. 


    A drive last week along the newly-laid Delhi-Jaipur road that runs through some of India's most important industrial zones quickly ground to a halt as cars were forced down rutted service lanes that bypassed half-built bridges. 

    Work on the highway restarted late last year after a government threat to cancel the contract prompted the lenders, led by state-run IDBI Bank, and the developer to agree a loan restructuring, but there is still a shortage of land to finish the job. 

    "If land is given, we will finish the project. Today, six-laning is completed on the land we have," said Shashank Shekhar, a senior executive at KMC. 

    There are some signs of progress. Two hours before the meeting at the Prime Minister's office, the state government approved building on a roughly 16 hectare (39.5 acre) chunk of land - five years after KMC first requested permission. 

    But close to 20 large projects remain mired in huge debts, land shortages and red tape, and the government needs private funding to bolster its public investment in infrastructure if it is to meet ambitious road building targets this year. 

    In the past year the government has terminated the contracts for at least five roads and withdrawn rights for the developers to continue construction on a further 30, according to data from the highways agency seen by Reuters. 

    "We have cancelled many projects. Every second day we cancel a project," said V. Chhibber, the top official in the transport ministry. "Somebody will have to carry the can, but the government's not going to carry the can." 

    Chhibber said he was confident the ministry, already the biggest spending department since April, could spend the money allocated to it and construct at least 6,000 km of roads by the year-end. 

    He said the number of stalled projects had come down from 100 when Modi's government came to power in May last year, but he acknowledged more needed to be done to speed up building, with land acquisition a "major hurdle". 

    In India's south, for example, a 43 km road connecting manufacturing hub Chennai to a nearby state is still missing 40 percent of the required land - almost four years after it was due for completion, a person with knowledge of the project said. 

    Later this month, Modi will again try to get a controversial bill through parliament to ease land acquisition rules. 

    Between April and June, 496 kms of new roads were completed by the national highways agency, up from 359 kms last year, but the third lowest rate since 2008, official data shows. 

    The government, which builds some roads without the help of the highways agency, has awarded 1,600 kms of roads out of a planned 10,000 kms this year. 

    "If every project requires to go through the PMO (Prime Minister's Office), then there's something wrong with the way we have set up our system," said Vyas at the CMIE. 

No booze, no meat: Oracle techies baulk at Gujarat
  • No booze, no meat: Oracle techies baulk at GujaratA dry Gujarat housing Oracle's 10th product development centre in Ahmedabad has its beer-guzzling techies based in Bengaluru in jitters, fearing that they may be shifted to a state where getting non-vegetarian food too is a problem.
    A vast section of Oracle's employees which has been working in Bengaluru and has settled down to the many luxuries of life in this city (despite tight night closure deadlines) is secretly praying that they are not sent there.

    Ramesh Rao (name changed), 33, has been working at Oracle for the past five years. Although he is happy that his company is increasing investments in India, he is one among the many worried about being shifted there. Rao says, "When a company you are working with expands its reach, the employees are happy. But will we have to shift there?"

    The company's first product development centre was opened in Bengaluru in 1994 and the company is completing 20 years of service here. "India's major workforce is involved in product development. The new centre too would be on the same lines. However, I would not want to shift from Benglauru now. Gujarat is a dry state, so alcohol is out of the question; and I believe in the 'work-hard party-harder' philosophy. After working the whole week, I love to have my chilled beer in leisure. This luxury would be taken away from me if I am sent there," says Rao who also put his finger on a much more salubrious climate in Bengaluru that is discouraging them from leaving Bengaluru.

    "I fear being forced to change my lifestyle!" Another Oracle employee Mikhilesh S, (also name changed), has a strong feeling that mobilisation from Bengaluru might take place. He says, "The new centre will see a lot of new employees as Oracle is known for recruiting high numbers each year. But a new centre cannot run with just the fresh recruits. It would require a considerable number of experienced people as well. This is why we believe that at least the mid-level and higher-level employees might be asked to shift from Bengaluru. And they are secretly not ready for that currently, although when it does come to the crunch, we will have no choice."

    Mikhilesh has visited Gujarat on a holiday. He says he had a tough time there, not only because of the lack of alcohol, but the difficulties in accessing non-vegetarian food in a state where vegetarianism is the widespread norm. "Gujarat has a major population of vegetarians due to which most restaurants are exclusively vegetarian. I am not saying non-vegetarian food is not available, but I will have to hunt for it as that's the food of my choice. I also found the Gujarati vegetarian food to be sweet and being a South Indian I love spicy food. Okay, forget the beer, if the food does not suit my tastes, how can one enjoy living?"

    Several mid-and high-level Oracle employees that Bangalore Mirror spoke to (none wanted to be named) have expressed the very same views.

    They fear that Bengaluru being the oldest product development centre in India, employees here would be the prime target to be ordered to move to Ahmedabad.

    The company currently has about 30,000 employees in India.

    Thomas Kurian, president (product development team), Oracle, said, "In the process of opening a new centre, we will be recruiting either the same as last year (2,300) or may be more this year. There is a possibility of mobilisation of a few employees from Bengaluru as well. While we have not decided the exact number, the option will be open."

    That has made Oracle employees in Bengaluru resign themselves to the fate. They don't know who would be shifted there. One attempted a more assuring statement, "Since Oracle has largely been employee-friendly, the concern may not be very high right now."

    Oracle has 19 data centres all over the world but none in India.

    "Currently we have no data centres in India but talks are on. We are looking for a location. There is no specific timeline on the decision but with the amount of data being generated, it will be done soon," says Kurian.

    You can bet Bengaluru-based Oracle techies - known for enjoying their beers like all other techies here - are keeping their fingers crossed that it is not in Gujarat or any other dry state.

Google self-driving car meets accident, 4 injured
  • Google self-driving car meets accident, 4 injuredLOS ANGELES: Google Inc revealed that one of its self-driving car prototypes was involved in an injury accident for the first time.

    In the collision, a Lexus SUV that the tech giant outfitted with sensors and cameras was rear-ended in Google's home city of Mountain View, where more than 20 prototypes have been self-maneuvering through traffic.

    The three Google employees on board complained of minor whiplash, were checked out at a hospital and cleared to go back to work following the July 1 collision, Google said. The driver of the other car also complained of neck and back pain.

    In California, a person must be behind the wheel of a self-driving car being tested on public roads to take control in an emergency. Google typically sends another employee in the front passenger seat to record details of the ride on a laptop. In this case, there was also a back seat passenger.

    Google has invested heavily as a pioneer of self-driving cars, technology it believes will be safer and more efficient than human drivers.

    This was the 14th accident in six years and about 1.9 million miles of testing, according to the company. Google has said that its cars have not caused any of the collisions -- though in 2011 an employee who took a car to run an errand rear-ended another vehicle while the Google car was out of self-driving mode.

    In 11 of the 14, Google said its car was rear-ended.

    In a blog, the head of Google's self-driving car program, Chris Urmson, wrote that his SUVs "are being hit surprisingly often'' by distracted drivers, perhaps people looking at their phones.

    "The clear theme is human error and inattention,'' Urmson wrote. "We'll take all this as a signal that we're starting to compare favorably with human drivers.''

    In a telephone interview, Urmson said his team was exploring whether its cars could do something to alert distracted drivers before a collision. Honking would be one possibility, but Urmson said he worried that could start to annoy residents of Mountain View.

    According to an accident report that Google filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles about the July 1 crash: Google's SUV was going about 15mph in self-driving mode behind two other cars as the group approached an intersection with a green light.

    The first car slowed to a stop so as not to block the intersection -- traffic on the far side was not moving. The Google car and the other car in front of it also stopped.

    Within about a second, a fourth vehicle rear-ended the Google car at about 17 mph. On-board sensors showed the other car did not brake.

    The driver of that car reported "minor neck and back pain.'' The SUV's rear bumper was slightly damaged, while the vehicle that struck it lost its front bumper.

    Mountain View police responded, but did not file an accident report.

Mohammad Hafeez handed one-year ban for illegal action
  • NEW DELHI: Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has been banned from bowling in international cricket for 12 months following an independent assessment of his action, which took place at the Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai on July 6. 

    According to an ICC release, the 34-year-old was assessed after the legality of his bowling action came under question by the match officials during Pakistan's first Test victory over Sri Lanka in Galle (17-21 June). 

    Following the match, Hafeez was reported by the match officials pursuant to the ICC Regulations for the Review of Bowlers Reported with Suspected Illegal Bowling Actions (the "Regulations") and subsequently underwent the independent assessment in Chennai in accordance with the regulations. The assessment revealed that Hafeez's elbow extension exceeded 15 degrees while bowling and, thus, he employed an illegal bowling action. 

    Hafeez was originally suspended from bowling in November 2014. Following remedial work on his bowling action, he was reassessed and permitted to resume bowling in April 2015. 

    As this report has constituted the player's second report within a two-year period, the first of which led to a suspension, he is now automatically suspended from bowling in international cricket for a 12-month period. 

    Hafeez is entitled to appeal any procedural aspect of an independent assessment that has led to this automatic suspension. However, only after the expiry of this one-year period will he be entitled to approach the ICC for a re-assessment of his bowling action.

Vyapam scam: CBI registers murder case to probe Namrata Damor's death
  • NNEW DELHI: The CBI on Friday registered a murder case to probe death of MBBS student Namrata Damor, whose name figured in the Vyapam scam. 

    Namrata Damor was found dead on railways tracks in Ujjain district in 2012. 

    Police investigation into Damor's death has failed to ascertain whether she was pushed off train or committed suicide by jumping off a running train. 

    A team of three doctors who conducted autopsy on her said she was smothered to death and reported semen on her clothes. 

    All the cases related to Vyapam Scam has been transferred to CBI.

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj Foreign Trips 2014 -15 List
  • Dear Readers & Aspirants, We collected some important Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj Foreign Trips. We Hope it will definitely help you for your SBI PO,IBPS,RBI assistant and many more upcoming Exams. All the Best My Dear Aspirants & Readers.
    1.BANGLADESH –Abul Hassan Mahmood – LAND BOUNDRY ISSUE
    2.BHUTAN–maiden foreign tour to the himalayan kingdom of Bhutan with which India shares a special relation from decades.
    3.NEPAL— co-chaired the Indo-Nepal Joint Commission meeting and also prepared the ground for Modi’s scheduled visit
    *Participated in the SAARC Foreign Minister’s meeting in Kathmandu
    4.MYNAMAR— 2014 ASEAN Regional Forum and EAS Foreign Ministers meeting.
    5.SINGPORE–Singapore’s investment in India and their potential role in Modi’s pet’’’smart city’’’ project
    6.VIETNAM–cooperation in offshore rigs on South China sea provided by Vietnamese authority to ONGC Videsh.
    7.BHARAIN— promotion of  Overseas investments into India & Facilitation of business partnerships
    8.AFGANISTAN— Strengthen the Indo-Afghan strategic security cooperation followingNATO withdrawal from the country by end of 2014
    9.TAJITKISTAN–Attend the 13th Annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization(SCO)
    10.USA — Attend foreign ministers level meet of several special grouping such as IBSA, G4, BRICS, SAARC among others. She will then accompany Modi in his trip to Washington, D.C
    11.UK –She has inaugurated the Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in London.
    12.MAURITUS–celebrate Apravasi Divas, marking 180 years since the first Indian indentured labourers arrived in Mauritius
    13.MALDIVES — commitment towards prosperity, stability and security of Maldives.
    14.UAE–bilateral relations and took stock of progress and development in joint cooperation in many areas and looked into the ways of enhancing them for common interests.
    15.SOUTH KOREA–Trade and investments to top the agenda including joint shipbuilding ventures will be endorsed heavily under Make in India programme.
    16.CHINA–Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral foreign ministers meeting in Beijing.
    17.OMEN–Maiden visit to the Sultanate of Oman, the country with which India shares warm bilateral relations in the gulf.
    18.SRILANKA –Discussion on bilateral issues with her counterpart Mangala Samaraweera.
    19.TURKMENSITANTAPI gas pipeline issue
    20.INDONESIA — Indonesia to join the celebration of 60 years of Bandung Congference
    21.SOUTHAFRICA — Third India Africa Forum Summit.
    22.BANGKOK — from 27-29 June 2015 to co-chair the 7th Meeting of India-Thailand Joint Commission (JCM) and to attend the 16thWorld Sanskrit Conference in Bangkok.

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