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Current Affairs - 19 September 2015

General Affairs

'My Father Was Not Dawood Ibrahim, Why the Snooping?': Netaji's Grand-Nephew
  • 'My Father Was Not Dawood Ibrahim, Why the Snooping?': Netaji's Grand-NephewKOLKATA:  As 64 files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose were made public today by the West Bengal government, his relatives demanded an investigation into alleged spying on the legendary freedom fighter and his family.

    The newly declassified files prove that the Bose family was spied on by government after Netaji purportedly died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945, his grand-nephew Chandra Bose.

    "Why did they spy on my father Amiya Nath Bose? He was not Dawood Ibrahim! Yet they deployed 14 men from the intelligence branch to spy on him. Why should the Indian government spy on the families of an Indian revolutionary? I demand that PM (Narendra) Modi institute a probe," Mr Bose said. Amiya Nath Bose was Netaji's nephew.

    Hours before the files were made public this morning, it was "leaked" to the family that a crucial file was destroyed in 1972 when Siddharth Shankar Roy was Chief Minister of Bengal. "The information is that the file relates to the disappearance angle of Netaji," said Mr Bose.

    Netaji's family and followers have never believed that he died in the crash; many of them say the surveillance by the government between 1948 and 1968 - Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister for most of those years - proves that the revolutionary was alive along after he was presumed dead.

    Asked what he thought was the reason for the alleged snooping, Chandra Bose said: "One theory is that Nehru had fear psychosis about Subhas Bose, that he felt that if Netaji returned, he would be finished. But I feel there is no substance in Nehru's fear."

    Netaji quit the Congress party before Independence over differences with Mr Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi and launched his Indian National Army to fight against British rule.

    Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it was unfortunate that so much remained a mystery about the iconic leader who fought for India's freedom.

    "We made a beginning. The people should know the truth. Let the central government also declassify files (on Netaji)," Ms Banerji said.

      Disgruntled LJP Announces 12 Candidates For Bihar Elections
      • Disgruntled LJP Announces 12 Candidates For Bihar ElectionsNEW DELHI:  Days after expressing their discontent over the seat-sharing arrangement, BJP ally Lok Janshakti Party today declared its first list of 12 candidates for Bihar polls, which includes names of Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan's brother and nephew.

        The Union Minister's brother Pashupati Kumar Paras, who is the Bihar state chief of the party, has been fielded from the reserved Alouli assembly seat.

        Prince Raj, the son of LJP chief's brother and Lok Sabha MP Ram Chandra Paswan, makes his debut from another reserved constituency Kalyanpur.

        Declaring the first list, LJP Parliamentary Board chairman Chirag Paswan said there was a consensus with BJP and other NDA allies on 29 of the 40 seats, which it was allotted while talks are still on to finalize 11 other seats which his party will contest.

        The party's candidate from Gobindganj seat is Raju Tiwari, brother of former legislator Rajan Tiwari, who faces several criminal cases.

        The seats for which candidates were declared today are spread over different phases of elections.

        On Tuesday, Chirag had voiced discontent over the seat-sharing arrangement. He had also said that he expressed his party's concerns to BJP chief Amit Shah but made it clear that LJP will continue in the NDA.

        Mr Shah had on Monday announced a seat-sharing formula for Bihar assembly elections under which BJP will contest 160 of the state's 243 seats while the LJP would get 40, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party 23 and Hindustani Awam Morcha 20.

      UNSC Reforms Must be Implemented Within Fixed Timeframe: PM Modi
      • UNSC Reforms Must be Implemented Within Fixed Timeframe: PM ModiUNITED NATIONS:  Describing the Security Council as a product of "circumstances of a bygone era", Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told UN chief Ban Ki-moon that the Council must include India to make it more representative and the reforms must be implemented within a fixed timeframe.

        "...whatever we seek to do as the United Nations, from dealing with the transformed security environment to ensuring the effective implementation of the post-2015 Development Agenda, our relevance and effectiveness will depend in large measure on the internal reform of the United Nations, especially its Security Council," PM Modi said in a letter to the UN Secretary General.

        "This is one of the most urgent and important, even if difficult tasks before us," PM Modi said in the letter dated July 4.

        The letter was made available by India's Permanent Mission to the UN during a press briefing United Nations yesterday.

        PM Modi arrives at the world body's headquarters in about a week to address the high-level Sustainable Development Summit on September 25.

        The Indian leader said that the Security Council, as constituted currently, is the product of circumstances of a "bygone era".

        "It must now reflect the realities and needs of the 21st century. A Security Council that includes the world's largest democracy, major locomotives of the global economy, and voices from all the major continents, will carry greater credibility and legitimacy and will be more representative and effective," he wrote.

        As the UN commemorates its 70th anniversary this year, PM Modi said that "we are at a moment when we must close the endless debates of the past two and a half decades, and agree in a democratic manner in the United Nations General Assembly to set into motion the long needed reforms in the United Nations Security Council to be implemented with the broadest possible support and within a fixed timeframe."

      Looking For Reform Success, PM Modi Readies Electricity Rescue Plan
      • Looking For Reform Success, PM Modi Readies Electricity Rescue PlanNEW DELHI:  The government is preparing a rescue package for power utilities that owe crores of rupees, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi must first convince states to make politically hard choices as he seeks a victory for reforms needed to galvanise the economy.

        PM Modi, who has had mixed success pushing through his reform agenda since coming to power 16 months ago, has prioritised tackling a problem that is stifling bank lending needed for a revival in Asia's third largest economy, three senior government sources with direct knowledge of the plan said.

        Problematic utility debts account for a quarter of all restructured bank loans in the country.

        In total, utilities owe Rs. 4.35 lakh crore. The government has identified about Rs. 1.5 lakh crore of debt held by financially stretched utilities as most at risk, one of the sources said, adding to the urgency to relieve a banking system weighed down by bad loans.

        Under the proposal, the Centre wants to persuade state governments to take over some of their utilities' debt.

        In return, the electricity distributors would commit to re-investing interest savings in new lines and metering, improving billing and cutting rampant power theft, the sources said, declining to be named because the plan is not public.

        To make it work, the distributors are likely to come under pressure to raise electricity tariffs for consumers. One top power ministry official said the proposal was "very close" to being finalised and that states with the biggest problems agreed to back it.

        "The states have a very clear incentive to do this. The interest cost comes down significantly," he said.
        By forcing tougher action at state level to ensure electricity is paid for and supplies are reliable, PM Modi hopes to avoid a backlash in parliament, where the opposition has already blocked other economic reforms this year.

        Fixing power would temper criticism that PM Modi's government is not doing enough to improve the lives of common Indians, having made election campaign promises to replicate his success in Gujarat and deliver 24/7 power across India.

        As chief minister, Mr Modi transformed Gujarat's power sector by lowering debt and clamping down on theft. Many consumers agreed to pay higher prices in return for round the clock power.

        Utilities in India's other states remain largely unreformed.

        Though the Centre is convinced more Indians are willing to pay for electricity if offered reliable supplies, sceptics say it will be hard to force states to make people pay, when it risks alienating important vote banks, like farmers.

        "Unless you make fundamental decisions in terms of running these (distributors) based on commercial decisions, you are just postponing the problem," said Arvind Mahajan, who heads KPMG's energy practice in India.

        A three-year restructuring launched in 2012 offered a moratorium on capital repayment in return for reform but failed to end losses because local governments resisted hiking tariffs and cutting theft.

        There may be other costs to bear, too. The government may have to relax limits on the size of states' deficits if they are to take over distributors' debts, putting pressure on the country's consolidated fiscal position as the government tries to improve finances.

        PM Modi has made devolving political power a key plank of his agenda, confident individual states will increasingly compete to reform by themselves. After failing to pass legislation to make land purchases easier, for example, the central government is encouraging states to enact their own rules.

        Six states have agreed in principle to take over some of their power distributors' debts, one of the government sources said. But some others are far from convinced.

        The chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh Alok Ranjan, said taking on utilities' 42,000 crore rupees of debt would reduce the state's interest burden by five percentage points but more than double its borrowings.

        "We will have to deliberate a lot before taking a final call," said Mr Ranjan.

      Indo-US Investment Treaty to Attract Capital: Indian-Origin American Diplomat

      • Indo-US Investment Treaty to Attract Capital: Indian-Origin American DiplomatWASHINGTON:  Noting that a high-standard bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with US would lock-in long-term economic reforms in India, a top Indian-origin American diplomat has said it will also provide much needed confidence to investors to do business in the country.

        If India could complete a BIT with the United States it would become India's highest-standard investment agreement, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal told a Washington think-tank yesterday.

        "It would demonstrate to international investors - especially those from the United States - that India is open for business. And, it will attract much-needed capital for a variety of sectors, including infrastructure, energy, health, education, and many more," Ms Biswal said.

        The diplomat was speaking at Peterson Institute for International Economics on the occasion of release of a report 'India's Rise: A Strategy for Trade-Led Growth' authored by C Fred Bergsten.

        "Because a high-standard BIT with the United States would lock-in reforms for the long-term, it would give investors the confidence they need to make the long-term investments that India needs," she said.

        What's more, by signing a BIT with the US, India would show that it is willing and able to join other high-standard investment agreements, making it even more competitive and integrated into the global economy, she noted.

        India, she said, has already completed bilateral deals, like the investment chapter of their economic partnership agreement with Japan, that provide strong investor protections.

        "If India were to commit to those same standards with the United States, our two countries could greatly accelerate the negotiation of a BIT. It would require a lot of hard work, but it would unlock huge dividends," Ms Biswal said.

        "The bottom line is that we want more Indian firms to invest in the United States, and US companies want to build on their almost USD28 billion dollars of investments in India. We want to see the expansion of sectors like the digital economy, renewable energy, and especially manufacturing, which could help integrate India more deeply into global supply chains and markets," she said.

      Business Affairs 

      Sensex closes 254 pts up on US interest rate status quo
      • Sensex closes 254 pts up on US interest rate status quoRelieved by the status quo in US interest rates, Indian share markets closed higher on Friday, overshooting most Asian peers, as investors saw momentary respite from a potential shift of global funds away from emerging economies.
        The sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) opened on Friday at 26,130.36 points against Wednesday's close at 25,963.97 points - Thursday being a festive holiday. The 30-share benchmark barometer Sensex closed at 26,218.91 points, with a gain of 254.94 points or 0.98 per cent.
        At the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the trend was similar. The broader 50-scrip Nifty, which had closed at 7,899.15 points on Wednesday closed at 7,981.90 points, with a gain of 82.75 points or 1.05 per cent.
        Till late Thursday, there was some fear of a rate hike in the US, which could have potentially seen a flight of capital from emerging markets like India to the US. In fact, during August and September, foreign funds have been net sellers of Indian equities worth Rs.20,225 crore.
        Even as the global financial markets speculated over when the US central bank will end its zero-interest rate policy, the Fed Chair Janet Yellen instead opted for a status quo. While she said the US recovery was solid, concern was expressed over the global economic situation.
        The reaction was mixed in the Asian markets. Japan's Nikkei and Tokyo's broader Topix were down nearly 2 per cent.
        China's Shanghai Composite Index was fluctuating back and forth around the positive-negative territory initially. Later, it rallied by 0.23 per cent. While Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.30 per cent, Korea's Kospi was quoting higher by 0.98 per cent.
        In the US earlier, trading was marked by sharp volatility as blue-chip stocks fell, bond prices rose and the dollar posted its steepest single-day loss in a month against a basket of currencies, as the investor mood turned sullen after the Fed's rate status quo and concerns over global economy.
        All major indices took a beating - 0.39 per cent for Dow Jones industrial Average, 0.26 per cent for S&P 500 and 0.1 per cent for the Nasdaq Composite. The dollar index, measuring the greenback against six currencies, fell 1.1 per cent.

      Uncertainty over US growth probably forced Fed to hold rates: Raghuram Rajan
      • RBI Governor Raghuram RajanReserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan on Friday said that worries over global economy coupled with probably uncertainty about the US growth forced US Federal Reserve to hold the key interest rates.
        "Limping global growth coupled with uncertainty about US growth probably compelled US Fed to stay on hold," Rajan said after the Fed Chair Janet Yellen announced no increase in the rates. On the US central bank's decision to delay the much awaited rate hike, Rajan said, "We have noted the Fed decision of yesterday. I presume it reflects their desire to wait for more information before they take a final view. Clearly, thus far the markets seem to have reacted somewhat benignly certainly toward us. What we will have to do is continue what we have been doing which was anyways the intention regardless of the Fed decision."
        Rajan said, "The key for sustainable growth is low inflation not just today but also in future."
        On situation in India, he said the Consumer Price Index (CPI) based retail inflation at 3.6 per cent currently was "largely due to base effect" excluding which it would be around 5.5 per cent.
        "The differential between WPI (Wholesale Price Index) and CPI is a source of problems. We have to be careful while pursuing growth and have to make it sustainable. The key is to keep inflation low not just today, but also in the future," Rajan said.
        Speaking on payments banks and small finance banks he said that going forward all banking licensing will be on-tap.

        Expressing disappointment over use of Aadhaar being curbed, he said that it can help regulators contain over-borrowing.

        Rajan welcomeed the government move to bring in bankruptcy code to tackle rising NPAs adding that the banks have to clean their books.

          Spectrum trading norms by month-end, says telecom secretary
          • Spectrum trading norms by month-end, says telecom secretaryThe government will notify spectrum sharing guidelines in a few days while trading rules will be out by the month-end, a department of telecom official said on Friday.
            Spectrum sharing and trading guidelines will allow mobile operators to better utilise the available airwaves and will help in checking the call drop issue. "The norms are also likely to push consolidation in the telecom sector. The sharing guidelines have been prepared and sent to the minister for final approval and will be issued in a few days, probably by Monday, while the trading guidelines will come by month-end," Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg said on the sidelines of an CII event in New Delhi.
            He added the issue was hanging for a long time and now has been finally approved.
            "The government had decided two years back that spectrum sharing and trading will be allowed but even then guidelines were not issued for almost 2 years... now Cabinet has taken a decision for the both," Garg said.
            The government on August 12 approved sharing guidelines that provide operators an alternative to share their unused spectrum with other players. Once these guidelines are notified, telecom operators will be able to share their spectrum holding that will help them in decongesting their networks and provide quality phone call services.
            Spectrum trading is an alternative for operators to acquire more spectrum. In this case, a telecom operator can sell its right to use spectrum to another mobile service provider, which is not allowed under spectrum sharing rules. 

          Raghuram Rajan says not clear if India needs a 'bad bank'
          • RBI governor Raghuram RajanReserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan said on Friday it is not clear India needs a so-called "bad bank" to deal with non-performing loans, adding it would be preferrable to push banks to clean up balance sheets themselves.
            Rajan, addressing an audience of bankers and industrialists, said he would favour adding capital to the country's cash-starved asset reconstruction companies, which aim to buy distressed assets from banks. Turning to inflation, the RBI Governor said inflation figures which showed consumer inflation easing to a record low of 3.66 per cent in August were due to a favourable base effect. Without that, the consumer price index would likely have been in the mid-5 per cent range, he said.

            Import duty on edible oil raised by 5%
            • Govt hikes import duty on edible oil by 5%The government on Friday raised import duty on edible oil by 5 per cent in a bid to safeguard the domestic industry.
              Customs or import duty on edible oil in all categories has been increased by 5 per cent, Central Board of Excise and Customs said in a notification. Duty on crude edible oil has been increased from 7.5 per cent to 12.5 per cent and on refined edible oil from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
              The revision in duty follows review of the situation by Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia on Wednesday.
              According to industry estimates, edible oil imports are likely to increase to 14 million tonne in the 2014-15 oil year (November to October) from 11.6 million tonnes in the previous year.
              Imports of vegetable oils, which include both edible and non-edible oils, rose by 23 per cent to 11.72 million tonnes during November-August period as against 9.52 million tonnes in the same period last year.
              Solvent Extractors' Association Executive Director BV Mehta said earlier this week that looking at the current conditions, the industry had demanded to raise the import duty on crude edible oil from 7.5 per cent to 25 per cent and refined edible oil from 15 per cent to 45 per cent, thus maintaining the duty difference of 20 per cent.

                General Awareness

                Important Food Festivals Around The World

                  • Dear Readers & Aspirants, we have collected some Important Food Festivals Around The World. We have seen in IBPS RRB Exam one question is asking from Food Festivals Around The World. We hope, it will help you in upcoming IBPS & RRB PO/Clerk Exam.
                    Food Festival
                    Alba White Truffle Festival – Alba, Italy
                    Abergavenny Food Festival
                     – Wales, UK
                    Baltic Herring Festival – Helsinki, Finland
                    Chinchilla Melon Festival(Watermelon) – Australia
                    Chocolate Festival – London, UK
                    International Mango Festival – New Delhi, India
                    Ivrea Orange Festival – Ivrea, Italy
                    Maine Lobster Festival – Rockland USA
                    Maslenitsa Festival (Pancake Festival) – Moscow, Russia
                    Melbourne Food & Wine Festival – Melbourne, Australia
                    Mistura Food Festival – Lima, Peru
                    Monkey Buffet Festival – Lopburi Province, Thailand
                    Oktoberfest – Munich, Germany
                    Onion Eating Festival – Spain
                    Orange Festival – Poland
                    Pancake Festival – Moscow, Russia
                    Potato Festival – Sweden
                    San Francisco Street Food Festival – San Francisco, USA
                    Tomato Festival – Spain
                    Vegetarian Festival – Thailand

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