Current Affairs Current Affairs - 7 September 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 7 September 2015

General Affairs

ISRO Positions Military Communications Satellite GSAT-6 in Final Orbit
  • ISRO Positions Military Communications Satellite GSAT-6 in Final OrbitBENGALURU:  GSAT-6, the country's latest communication satellite has been successfully positioned in its orbital slot, Indian Space Research Organization said today.

    "GSAT-6 has been successfully positioned in its orbital slot of 83 Deg E and collocated with INSAT 4A, GSAT 12, GSAT 10 and IRNSS1C today morning, after carrying out four drift arresting maneuvers," ISRO said.

    ISRO had successfully launched GSAT-6, having an indigenous cryogenic engine, on-board GSLV-D6 rocket from the spaceport at Sriharikota on August 27.

    After the launch ISRO had performed successive orbit raising operation of the satellite and had also deployed the unfurlable antenna (UFA) successfully.

    GSAT-6 is the 25th geostationary communication satellite of India built by ISRO and 12th in the GSAT series. It provides communication through five spot beams in S-band and a national beam in C-band for strategic users.

    One of the advanced features of the satellite is its S-Band Unfurlable Antenna of 6m diameter. This is the largest satellite antenna realized by ISRO.

    This antenna is utilized for five spot beams over the Indian mainland. The beams exploit the frequency reuse scheme to increase frequency spectrum utilization efficiency, ISRO had said.

    The mission life of the satellite is nine years, it had said.

      PM Modi to Address Meet on Space Technology and Governance
      • PM Modi to Address Meet on Space Technology and GovernanceNEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a national meet of top officials of different ministries and state governments tomorrow on use of space applications in daily governance.

        The one-day meeting organised by Department of Space (DOS) will see Central and State ministers, officials from PMO and Cabinet Secretariat, secretaries and senior officials of all the Ministries/Departments, chief secretaries and senior officials of all States/Union Territories, in attendance.

        The meet is aimed at wider deliberations on use of space technology and applications in governance and development, an official release said.

        The focus would also be on collaborative research, utilisation of space technology tools to enable functional effectiveness and enhancements required in Space and Ground Segment.

        More than 1,500 delegates are expected to attend the National Meet, which will be inaugurated by Arvind Panagariya, the Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog with Jitendra Singh, Minister Of State (PMO) and Cabinet Secretary.

        Nine 'theme sessions' viz. Agriculture, Energy and Environment, Infrastructure Planning, Water Resources, Technology Diffusion, Developmental Planning, Communication and Navigation, Weather and Disaster Management and Health and Education are planned for the event, it said.

        The Prime Minister had during his address at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR), Sriharikota on June 30, 2014, urged the DOS to pro-actively engage with all stakeholders to maximise the use of space science in governance and development.

        Subsequently, Cabinet Secretary has asked all Secretaries of Central Ministries/ Departments to assess the current utilisation of space technology-based tools in their Ministry/ Department and explore new potential application areas.

        Further, in order to hold proactive interactions with the Central Ministries, 18 expert teams were constituted within ISRO. These teams conducted one-to-one interactions with the Ministries/ Departments and joint action plan on 'Effective Use of Space Technology' was prepared with 60 Central Ministries/Departments.

        About 170 projects across various Ministries/Departments have emerged in the areas of Natural Resources Management, Energy and Infrastructure, Disaster and Early Warning, Communication and Navigation, e-Governance and Geo-spatial Governance, Societal Services, and Support to Flagship programmes.

        Secretaries of Central Ministries/Departments will present joint action plans on effective utilisation of space technology to enhance functional effectiveness, facilitate planning and decision making.

        Chief Secretary of a select state will make theme-specific presentation in each theme session in the meet followed by an open discussion, it added.

      Manohar Parrikar Inaugurates Indian Air Force-Hindustan Aeronautics Limited E-Portal
      • Manohar Parrikar Inaugurates Indian Air Force-Hindustan Aeronautics Limited E-PortalBENGALURU:  Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today launched the IAF-HAL e-Portal, stated to be the first inter organisation information sharing system (IOIS) under Digital India initiative between a Defence service organisation and a Defence PSU.

        Welcoming the initiative, Mr Parrikar said he hoped that the e-portal will synergise the competencies of Indian Air Force and HAL.

        He stressed the need to take utmost care while managing the portal, which provides authentic information to the stakeholders involved, besides saving considerable time and eliminating the need for frequent joint meetings at various levels, a HAL release said.

        HAL Chairman and Managing Director T Suvarna Raju said the customer centric portal at the company corporate office in Bengaluru would go a long way in leveraging the benefits of information sharing in real time.

        It would also enable the visibility of HAL rotable repair milestones and provide information on status of supply against Aircraft on Ground (AoG), tasks involved, he added.

        Air Marshal SBP Sinha, Deputy Chief of Air Staff, said the ePortal will facilitate secure information sharing between IAF and HAL for better coordination, improved transparency and faster decision making.

        The e-portal will optimise long-term material planning and reduce the repair and overhaul cycle time and reduce time for finalisation of tasking and fixed price quotation (FPQ) processes. The ePortal will ensure reduction in turnaround time and better serviceability of all IAF platforms supported by HAL, the release said.

      Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to Visit India on First Foreign Tour
      • Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe to Visit India on First Foreign TourCOLOMBO:  Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's first overseas visit since assuming office will be to India next week during which he will hold extensive talks with the Indian leadership including on the sensitive fishermen issue and a comprehensive economic pact.

        During the three-day visit from September 14 to 16, he will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and calling on President Pranab Mukherjee.

        The visit assumes significance as President Maithripala Sirisena also chose India to be his first overseas destination after being elected to office in January.

        Mr Wickremesinghe was elected Prime Minister after his party United National Party won the parliamentary elections last month, finishing just short of a majority.

        This is the fourth time he has become the Premier. The 66-year-old was picked by President Sirisena, who handed a shock defeat to Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa in polls, to lead a minority government in January till the parliamentary elections last month.

        This will be Mr Wikremesinghe's maiden foreign trip since January, when he had assumed premiership for the third time.

        Mr Wikremesinghe will hold talks with Mrs Swaraj in the company of Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera.

        Sri Lankan officials said among the subjects that are expected to figure in the bilateral talks are the fishermen issue and the comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

        Mr Wikremesinghe has vowed to strengthen ties with India but has taken a tough stand on the fishermen issue as in March he stoked a controversy suggesting that Indian fishermen may be shot if they intruded into Lankan waters.

        The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is expected to be part of the agenda of the talks. Prime Minister Modi, during his visit to Sri Lanka in March, had said both countries should move boldly to conclude the pact and attract investments.

        The proposed Sri Lanka resolution at the UN Human Rights Council later this month is also expected to figure in the talks.

        The US is set to move a pro-Sri Lanka resolution backing the island nation's internal domestic mechanism to tackle human rights allegations.

        Mr Wickremesinghe's New Delhi visit comes at a time as pro-Tamil groups have expressed reservations about the US stance on a domestic inquiry.

        The Tamil groups are unhappy about a local mechanism and have called for an international inquiry.

        Mr Wickremesinghe has said earlier that lawmakers needed to bring a political conclusion to the ethnic issue.

        "We will implement the 13th amendment within a unitary state," Mr Wickremesinghe had said. The 13th amendment envisages the devolution of powers to the provinces.

      Rising Sea Levels May Threaten NASA Launch Sites

      • Rising Sea Levels May Threaten NASA Launch SitesWASHINGTON:  Rising sea levels caused by melting ice caps could threaten NASA launch sites along US coastlines, the US space agency has warned.

        In the coming years, launch facilities at Florida's Kennedy Space Centre and other places may need to be retrofitted or even moved inland, NASA said.

        "Every NASA centre has its own set of vulnerabilities, and some are more at risk than others. But sea level rise is a very real challenge for all of the centres along the coast," said NASA climatologist Cynthia Rosenzweig.

        NASA says more than half of its infrastructure stands within 16 feet of sea level.

        That includes more than USD 32 billion in laboratories, launch pads, airfields, testing facilities, data centres and other stuff - plus 60,000 employees - from Florida to California, 'CNN' reported.

        At Kennedy Space Centre, the starting point for almost every NASA human space flight, the launch pads and buildings sit just a few hundred feet from the Atlantic Ocean.

        The same is true at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, an active rocket launch site for NASA's science and exploration missions.

        Langley Research Centre is on the Back River in Hampton, Virginia, near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay while Ames Research Centre borders the south end of the San Francisco Bay. Johnson Space Centre in suburban Houston sits on Clear Lake, an inlet of Galveston Bay.

        All of them stand between 5 and 40 feet above mean sea level - higher than NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, which sits below sea level behind earthen levees.

        After Hurricane Katrina, Michoud employees had to pump more than a billion gallons of water out of the facility, NASA said.

        According to NASA, it will need to design smarter buildings and rebuild others. In some cases, crucial laboratories, storage or assembly rooms will need to be moved to higher floors.

      Business Affairs 

      EPFO to raise maximum insurance cover to Rs 5.5 lakh
      • EPFO to raise maximum insurance cover to Rs 5.5 lakhRetirement fund body EPFO is likely to increase the maximum amount assured under its Employees' Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme (EDLI) to Rs 5.5 lakh from the existing Rs 3.6 lakh.
        The proposal to raise the insurance benefit for over six crore subscribers of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) will be put up for approval of Pension and EDLI Implementation Committee on September 9, as per the agenda of the meeting.
        After getting the committee's nod, it will then be placed before the EPFO's apex decision making body the Central Board of Trustees' (CBT) headed by the Labour Minister.
        Once the trustees give their nod, the EDLI scheme will be amended by a notification of the ministry.
        At present, in case of demise of a subscriber after one year continuous service in the same organisation, the nominee gets 20 times of average wage drawn during the past 12 months with 20 per cent bonus on it.
        With the wage ceiling of Rs 15,000 per month, the maximum amount assured works out to be Rs 3.6 lakh.
        It is now proposed that the maximum benefit should be raised to 30 times of the average pay drawn during preceding 12 months in addition to 50 per cent of the average balance of the EPF account subject to a ceiling of Rs 1 lakh.
        Once approved by the CBT, the maximum sum assured will increase to Rs 5.5 lakh.
        The proposal also seeks to do away with the condition of two sets of calculations for computing sum assured for subscribers with less than 12 months of service and after completing 12 months.
        In the existing scheme, the subscribers with less than 12 months of service are entitled to a maximum sum of Rs 1.2 lakh. These category of subscribers are entitled to a sum assured which is equivalent to their average balance in the PF account if it is less than Rs 50,000.
        In case the PF balance is more than Rs 50,000, they are entitled for the same amount and in addition 40 per cent of the amount above Rs 50,000 subject to a maximum ceiling of Rs 1 lakh. They are also entitled to 20 per cent bonus over due amount.
        According to the annual report, the EPFO had a corpus of Rs 15,722.99 crore till March 31. It received an incremental deposit of Rs 936.12 crore towards the insurance fund in last fiscal.
        Under the EDLI scheme, 0.5 per cent of the basic wages of workers are contributed as insurance premium every month.

        Air India's wage bill is expected to go up by Rs 100 crore
        • Air India's wage bill is expected to go up by Rs 100 croreWith Air India (AI) hiring additional 800 cabin crew and around 250 pilots, including commanders, its already bloated wage bill is expected to go up by Rs 100 crore this fiscal after seeing a decline in the last few years.
          Besides, promotions across segments and hike in Dearness Allowance (DA) are likely to be other contributing factors in the increased staff cost, which is pegged at Rs 3,200 crore for the period ending March 31 next year, airline sources said.
          "We expect the wage bill to rise by Rs 100 crore to Rs 3,200 crore this fiscal due to the hiring of cabin crew, pilots and employees of other categories besides other factors," a senior Air India official said.
          Air India had managed to slash annual wage bill to Rs 3,100 crore in the previous fiscal as against Rs 3,600 crore in FY 2011-12 by abolishing productivity-linked incentives as per the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) guidelines.
          Air India currently has a workforce of 27,500 people with 20,500 of them regular employees and rest on contract.
          Facing acute shortage of cabin staff, Air India has to hire 800 additional cabin crew this year of whom around 450 have already been inducted.
          In addition, the government-owned carrier has also inducted some 80 pilots so far this year and has advertised to hire 180 more in the coming months.
          "We had managed to bring down the wage bill to Rs 3,100 crore in the last fiscal from Rs 3,600 crore in FY 2011-12.
          But fresh hiring and increase in DA would inflate the bill this fiscal," the official said.
          Air India, which has managed to stay afloat on a Rs 30,000 crore bailout package from the government which is to be availed over a 10-year period starting 2012, reported a net loss of Rs 5,547.47 crore in 2014-15.

            BSE to launch roll-over facility in SLB from tomorrow
            • BSE to launch roll-over facility in SLB from tomorrowIn a bid to increase participation in the stock lending and borrowing (SLB) market, leading stock exchange Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) will introduce the roll-over facility under this scheme from tomorrow (September 7).
              SLB mechanism allows short sellers to borrow securities for making delivery. The rollover facility in the SLB session will be available for a three-month period (original contract plus two roll-over contracts).
              Under the roll-over facility, lenders of securities would be allowed to extend an existing position. It means that lenders who are due to receive securities can now extend the period of lending.
              Similarly, a borrower who has to return borrowed securities can extend the period of borrowing.
              "... the roll-over facility in SLB segment will be launched with effect from September 7, 2015," BSE said in a circular.
              Besides, a mock trading session was conducted on Saturday to check the system performance.
              Earlier in May, National Stock Exchange (NSE) had launched a roll-over facility in its SLB scheme.
              Currently, the country's SLB market is very shallow.
              In November 2012, capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had allowed roll-over facility in SLB scheme.

            Stock markets may see a bounce back, IIP data key, say experts
            • Stock markets may see a bounce back, IIP data key, say expertsAfter witnessing huge losses recently, stock markets may see a bounce back going ahead and would take cues from IIP data slated to release later in the week, movement of rupee, overseas investors' investment trend and global news, say experts.
              "Considering last week's close, this week would continue to keep participants on their toes. On domestic front, they will be eyeing IIP (Index of Industrial Production) data scheduled on September 11. Though there's no major planned event or data except IIP, investors are hoping for some positive surprise from the government and RBI, to help in stabilising the equity market."Needless to say, global trend will also influence the move as participants are eyeing updates mainly from China and the US," said Jayant Manglik, President, Retail Distribution, Religare Securities.
              From the global front, investors are eyeing monetary policy action by the Federal Reserve.
              "For the short term global market movement will be dictated by the Fed meet. We expect volatility to stay until Fed gives an indication regarding a rate hike," a report by Bonanza Portfolio said.
              The prospect of a higher US rate, which leads to risk aversion in riskier assets, has so far roiled the scene in emerging markets, which have run up massive losses of late.
              "Bearish sentiments are running too high and therefore a bounce back is expected this week. All attention will start shifting from China to the US to take the cues on interest rates," said Jimeet Modi, CEO, SAMCO Securities.
              "The big plunge in Indian equities recently, triggered by global sell-off, offers a significant buying opportunity for investors," said Vijay Singhania, Founder Director, Trade Smart Online.
              On a weekly basis, the Sensex lost 1,190.48 points or 4.51 per cent and Nifty fell 346.90 points or 4.33 per cent. This is the fourth straight weekly plunge for both the indices.

              Barclays sees 7.8 per cent economic growth in Q2 on govt spending
              • Barclays sees 7.8 per cent economic growth in Q2 on govt spendingGlobal financial services major Barclays has maintained its India growth forecast of 7.8 per cent for 2015-16, saying strong rise in central government spending is expected to boost expansion in the coming months.
                "The GDP growth is likely to strengthen, largely driven by an uptick in public spending. Moreover, consumption trends are also expected to remain "generally supportive", Barclays said in a research note.
                "Despite a softer-than-expected growth in the latest GDP print, we maintain our FY15-16 GDP growth forecast of 7.8 per cent," it said.
                "The strong rise in central government spending should help GDP growth to accelerate in second quarter of fiscal year 2015-16", it added.
                India's GDP growth rate slipped to 7 per cent in the April-June quarter of 2015-16, from 7.5 per cent in the preceding quarter.
                "Barclays further said that India's fiscal situation is showing signs of improved health. The country's fiscal policy is turning distinctly more growth supportive and is leading a revival in capex cycle", it said.
                "The Indian economy is likely to benefit from tailwinds from both monetary and fiscal policy in the coming months," the report added.
                On Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) policy stance, Barclays said that a nascent recovery in economic activity and sharper-than- expected disinflation is opening up space for greater policy accommodation.
                "We believe the RBI will cut the repo rate 25 bps in the second half of 2015, unless there are major negative surprises in the incoming macroeconomic data or significant stress develops in financial markets," it said.
                "A sharp and prolonged period of disinflation and a moderation in inflation expectations could open room for a further 25-50 bps of repo rate cuts in first half of 2016, in our view," Barclays said, adding that "we expect the RBI to cut rates at its next meeting on September 29, and see the risks of another inter-meeting cut".
                RBI, which has lowered the benchmark rate by a combined 75 basis points so far this year in three instalments, is scheduled to hold its next bi-monthly monetary policy meet on September 29.

                  General Awareness

                  RuPAY CARD

                    •  RuPay is a combination of two words – Rupee and Payment. RuPay Card is an Indian version
                      of credit/debit card. It is very similar to international cards such as Visa/Master.

                      ❖ RuPay is the Indian domestic card payment network set up by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) at the behest of banks in India with the approval of Reserve Bank of India.

                      ❖ It is created to fulfill the Reserve Bank of India's desire to have a domestic, open loop, and multilateral system of payments in India.

                      ❖ RuPay facilitates electronic payment at all Indian banks and financial institutions, and competes
                      with Master Card and Visa in India.

                      ❖ NPCI maintains ties with Discover Financial to enable the card scheme to gain international acceptance.

                      ❖ National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) has a plan to provide a full range of card payment services including the RuPay ATM, RuPay Micro ATM, Debit, Prepaid and Credit
                      Cards which will be accepted in India and abroad, across various channels like POS, Internet, IVR and mobile etc.

                      ❖ The initial focus of NPCI would be to approach those banks who have not been issuing any payment card at all more specifically – Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and urban co-operative banks.

                      ❖ RuPay cards are accepted at all automated teller machines (ATMs) across India under National
                      Financial Switch, and under the NPCI's agreement with DFS. RuPay cards are accepted on the international Discover network.

                      ❖ According to the data published by National Payments Corporation of India, there are around
                      145270 ATMs and more than 875000 Point of Sale (PoS) terminals in India under the RuPay platform.

                      ❖ In addition to the ATMs and PoS terminals, RuPay cards are accepted online on 10,000 e-commerce websites with the same PIN which they use for ATM transactions.

                      ❖ RuPay cards are accepted at all PoS terminals in India. To enable this, RuPay has certified 29
                      major banks in India to accept the RuPay card at their respective PoS terminals located at different merchant locations.

                      ❖ NPCI has rolled out its chip card for high security transactions using EMV (Europay, Master-
                      Card and Visa) chip technology, which is a global standard for debit and credit cards. RuPay chip cards have an embedded microprocessor circuit containing information about the card holder and because transactions are PIN-based rather than signature- based.

                      ❖ RuPay also provides a unified "Kisan Card", issued by banks across the country under Kisan Credit Card, enabling farmers to transact business on ATMs and PoS terminals.

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