Current Affairs October 2015 - Vikalp Education

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Current Affairs - 31 October 2015

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General Affairs

Chinese Vice President to Visit India Next Week
  • Chinese Vice President to Visit India Next WeekBEIJING:  Chinese Vice President Liu Yuanchao will visit India next week during which he will hold talks with the top Indian leadership to inject new momentum in bilateral ties that have seen "sound and stable" development, it was announced today.

    Li's five-day visit from November 3 is aimed at strengthening the strategic partnership of cooperation between the two countries, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here.

    During the visit, Li will hold talks with his Indian counterpart Hamid Ansari and other Indian leaders, Lu said.

    His visit will be followed by China's highest ranking military official Gen Fan Changlong's trip to New Delhi.

    Fan's visit is expected to take place in the middle of next month. He will be visiting both India and Pakistan.

    Li's visit is yet another opportunity for interaction between the two sides to further implement the consensus reached between Chinese and Indian leaders and carry forward the Sino-India friendship, deepen bilateral cooperation and inject new momentum in bilateral ties, Lu said.

    "With concerted efforts strategic partnership of cooperation between China and India for peace and prosperity has seen sound and stable development. The two sides have deeper exchanges of cooperation and maintained sound coordination on regional and international affairs," he said.

    The leaders of both sides have agreed to deepen cooperation and have even closer partnership for development, he added.

    "The Chinese side always views bilateral ties from strategic and long term perspective," Lu said.

    China viewed India's development as an opportunity and would like to work with India to implement bilateral consensus and move the strategic partnership for cooperation to a new high, he said.

        'Not a Punching Bag For Pseudo-Seculars,' RSS Says on Protests by Intellectuals
        • 'Not a Punching Bag For Pseudo-Seculars,' RSS Says on Protests by IntellectualsNEW DELHI:  Those returning awards are "desperate and frustrated", the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS has said, lashing out at the increasing number of public intellectuals including writers, scientists and filmmakers protesting against what they call "growing intolerance" in the country.

          "They are desperate and frustrated and hence are returning their awards. The RSS is not a punching bag for the so-called pseudo secular intolerant people," said Dattatreya Hosabale, joint secretary of the RSS, which is the ruling BJP's ideological mentor.

          An increasing number of intellectuals have returned awards and resigned from positions in recent weeks in protest of a series of incidents which they say demonstrates rising levels of intolerance. They have mainly blamed the BJP-led government at the Centre.

          At least 40 writers have returned one of the country's top literary honour, the Sahitya Akademi Award, and several have resigned from their positions over the murders of three prominent rationalist authors this year.

          The Sahitya Akademi was forced to speak out last week and said it was "deeply pained and strongly condemns" the killings.

          This week on Tuesday, 10 filmmakers returned National Awards and raised their voice against the government's appointment of small-time actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the country's premier film school FTII and also referred to the incidents mentioned by the writers.

          On the same day, a body that represents over 2,000 of noted Indian scientists, the Inter-Academy Panel on Ethics in Science (IAPES), wrote to the government calling for "exemplary punishment to trespassers of reason".

          Yesterday, more than 50 renowned historians, including Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, KN Pannikar and Mridula Mukherjee, came out strongly against Prime Minister Modi for not making any reassuring statement following concerns over "highly vitiated atmosphere" prevailing in the country.

          The government has dismissed the protest with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley slamming the writers for a "manufactured paper rebellion".

        Special Train Service for Vaishno Devi From November 3
        • Special Train Service for Vaishno Devi From November 3NEW DELHI:  To meet the rush of passengers, Northern Railway has pressed special train service for Vaishno Devi Katra station from November 3.

          The New Delhi-Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra-New Delhi bi-weekly AC Express will depart from New Delhi station at 7.50 AM on every Monday and Thursday from November 3 to November 17 to reach Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra station at 8.20 PM the same day, said a senior Northern Railway official.

          In the return journey, the train will depart from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Katra station at 5.40 AM every Tuesday and Friday from November 2 to November 16 to reach New Delhi station at 5 PM the same day.

          Comprising Executive Class and AC Chair Car coaches, the the special train will stop at Panipat, Ambala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Pathankot, Jammu Tawi and Udhampur stations enroute in both direction.

        UN Warns of Dire Food Situation in Yemen's Taiz
        • UN Warns of Dire Food Situation in Yemen's TaizGENEVA, SWITZERLAND:  The UN World Food Programme today appealed for safe access to the Yemeni city of Taiz, saying that fighting between warring factions had blocked food supplies and left thousands of people in extreme hunger.

          The last UN food aid to reach Taiz, Yemen's third city, was more than five weeks ago when food was distributed to nearly 240,000 people, it said.

          "We plead for safe and immediate access to the city of Taiz to prevent a humanitarian tragedy as supplies dwindle, threatening the lives of thousands including women, children and the elderly," WFP regional director Muhannad Hadi said in a statement.

          "These people have already suffered extreme hunger, and if this situation continues the damage from hunger will be irreversible."

          On Wednesday, warplanes from the Saudi-led coalition that backs Yemen's government bombed the Iran-allied Houthi movement across Yemen and dropped weapons to Islamist militias in Taiz, situated in the southwest.

          Ten of Yemen's 22 governorates were assessed as being in an emergency food situation in June, one step below famine on a five-point scale. The assessment has not been updated since then, partly because experts have not managed to get sufficient access to survey the situation.

          About a third of the country's population, or 7.6 million people urgently require food aid, the WFP said.

        Climate Curbs Will Slow Temperature Rise; More Needed for 2C Goal: UN

        • Climate Curbs Will Slow Temperature Rise; More Needed for 2C Goal: UNOSLO, NORWAY:  Plans by about 150 countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions will slow climate change this century and keep alive a goal of limiting a rise in temperatures to two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), the United Nations said today.

          The national strategies would restrict a rise in world emissions to the equivalent of 56.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year by 2030 four billion less than expected without the extra action  from 49.0 billion in 2010, it said.

          If fully implemented, plans by nations led by China and the United States "begin to make a significant dent in the growth of greenhouse gas emissions", Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, said in a statement.

          The plans, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), will be the building blocks for a UN deal expected at a summit in Paris from November 30 to December 11 to fight global warming in the years from 2020.

          The report, reviewing INDCs submitted by an informal deadline of October 1, said the "global response to climate change keeps door open to 2 degree C temperature limit".

          Figueres said the INDCs "have the capability of limiting the forecast temperature rise to around 2.7 degrees Celsius (4.9 Fahrenheit) by 2100, by no means enough but a lot lower than the estimated 4, 5 (7F, 9F) or more degrees of warming projected by many prior to the INDCs."

          Almost 200 governments agreed in 2010 to limit warming to 2C above pre-industrial times, meaning Paris will have to agree ways to ratchet up action in coming years. Temperatures have already gained by about 0.9 degrees C (1.6F).

          Today's report is the most authoritative attempt to sum up the impact of INDCs in slowing man-made global warming, blamed for threatening to bring more heatwaves, downpours, species extinctions, floods and rising sea levels.

          Among other findings, it said the INDCs could "bring global average emissions per capita down by as much as 8 percent in 2025 and 9 percent by 2030" from 1990 levels because a rising world population would outstrip growth of emissions.

          A group of European researchers, Climate Action Tracker, has said the INDCs imply a temperature rise of 2.7 degrees by 2100. Less optimistic about action after 2030, a US group of experts, Climate Interactive, projects 3.5C (6.3F).

          Figueres' Secretariat did not formally project a likely temperature rise by 2100, because most INDCs only stretch to 2030.

        Business Affairs 

          Sensex ends 181 points down; Nifty slips below 8,100; Vedanta top loser
          • Sensex ends 181 points down; Nifty slips below 8,100; Vedanta top loserExtending losses for the fifth consecutive session, the domestic markets posted their worst weekly performance in two months, on the first day of November series futures and options (F&O) contracts, as disappointing results from ITC and Larsen & Toubro raised concerns about the health of the corporate sector.
            The S&P BSE Sensex tanked 814 points down this week and ended the day 181 points lower to 26,656.83, while broader CNX Nifty slipped below its crucial level of 8,100 to end at 8,065.80, down 45.95 points.
            Vedanta was the worst perfomer on both the indices and ended 6.41 per cent down on BSE.
            Market breadth remained negative with 18 of the 30 Sensex stocks ending the day in red.
            The falls on Friday marked the longest losing streak for indexes since early June, after the central bank had kept interest rates on hold.
            Sentiment this week has taken a hit due to caution about earnings and the US Federal Reserve's statement putting into play a rate hike this year.
            "Quarterly earnings have not been up to street's expectations, that has been discounted but minor impacts will be felt," Alex Mathews head of research at Geojit BNP Paribas said.
            Experts believe markets are likely to trade in a range until the outcome of Bihar elections comes in, which is due on November 8.
            Domestic markets also took cues from muted trend seen in Asian markets as the Bank of Japan refrained from adding more stimulus in the economy and left the monetary policy unchanged at liquidity base of 80 trillion Yen annually.
            Shares in industrial heavyweight Larsen & Toubro fell over 4 per cent after its second-quarter net profit missed street estimates.
            But not all companies fell after earnings. ICICI Bank ended 2.04 per cent up after it reported a 12 per cent increase in quarterly profit due to faster retail loans growth.
            Kotak Mahindra Bank, India's fourth-biggest private sector lender by assets, reported a better-than-expected 28 per cent increase in quarterly profit and a stable bad loan ratio. The scrip ended 3.77 per cent up.
            Airlines stocks Jet Airways and SpiceJet gained up to 11 per cent after civil aviation secretary announced a slew of proposed reforms that included raising foreign direct investments in airlines to 50 per cent.
            Dr Reddy's Laboratories gained 1.32 per cent at close after the drugmaker posted record quarterly earnings on Thursday, outpacing analysts expectations as sales across North America, Europe and India rose.
            Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Composite ended 0.14 per cent lower, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.79 per cent at close, while Japan's Nikkei rebounded after BoJ decision and settled the day 0.78 per cent up.
            Overnight, US stocks retreated after posting gains in the prior session on a mix of profit taking and less than impressive economic data. The traders were still evaluating Fed statement and strengthening language about timing of the rate hike. The third quarter GDP data showed that the economy expanded at a 1.5 per cent, below the expected 1.6 per cent.
            (With inputs from agencies)
             Lowdown on markets today
            02:20 pm
            Sensex at 26,678.67, down 159.47 points
            Nifty at 8,079.70, down 32.05 points
            12:16 pm
            Sensex at 26,927.87, up 89.73 points
            Nifty at 8,141.60, up 29.85 points
            11:00 am
            Sensex at 26891.56, up 53 points
            Nifty at 8132.80, up 21 points
            9:30 am
            Sensex at 26,839.29, up 1.15 points
            Nifty at 8,112.85, up 1.10 points

            Airline stocks gain up to 5% on proposed civil aviation policy
            • Airline stocks gain up to 5% on proposed civil aviation policyShares of SpiceJet and Jet Airways surged up to 5 per cent in trade on Friday after aviation ministry proposed slew of reforms in its draft aviation policy.
              The stock of SpiceJet ended 8.47 per cent up after rising as much as 5.56 per cent to Rs 45.50, while Jet Airways settled the day 9.34 per cent up after rallying 11.66 per cent to Rs 446, on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
              Aviation draft proposed tax incentives for airlines, maintenance and repair works of aircrafts besides mooting 2 per cent levy on all air tickets to fund regional connectivity scheme.  
              It also pitched for raising foreign direct investments to above 50 per cent from current 49 per cent in domestic carriers in case the open skies policy is implemented.
              Under open skies policy, overseas airlines can operate unlimited number of flights into and out of India.
              Draft also proposed to offer zero service tax on output services of maintenance, repair and overhaul operations
              Another proposal is to cap fare at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flight under regional connectivity scheme.
              However, government may impose an additional levy of 2 per cent on all domestic and international tickets to pay for the regional connectivity boost, as mentioned in the draft.
              The draft policy would be put up for comments from stakeholders for three weeks.

              ICICI Bank Q2 net up 12%, in line with estimates
              • ICICI Bank reports 12% rise in Q2 net profitICICI Bank Ltd, country's top private sector lender by assets, reported a 12 per cent increase in quarterly profit due to faster retail loans growth.
                Net profit rose to Rs 3030 crore ($465 million)for its fiscal second quarter to September 30 from Rs 2,709 crore reported a year earlier, ICICI, which is also listed in New York, said in a statement.
                Analysts on average had expected the lender to report a net profit of Rs 3,024 crore, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.
                Gross bad loans as a percentage of total loans were 3.77 per cent in the September quarter, compared with 3.68 per cent in the previous three months.

              Govt announces additional incentive to boost sagging exports
              • Govt announces additional incentive to boost exportsThe commerce ministry has expanded the scope of its Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) to promote export of key products such as textiles, pharmaceuticals and electronic goods. The move is seen as an attempt to arrest the continuing decline in overall export growth.
                Under this scheme, a percentage of the freight on board (FOB) value of selected export items will be considered as MEIS duty credit scrip, which can be transferred or used for payment of a number of duties including the basic customs duty.
                The current revision introduces 110 new tariff lines and increases rates or country coverage or both for 2228 existing tariff lines. The items which will enjoy global support include textiles, pharmaceuticals, project goods, auto components, telecom, computer, electrical and electronic products and railway and transport equipment.
                A higher level of support will be given to exports by small and medium scale enterprises exporting industrial machinery, IC Engines, machine tools, parts and machinery for dairy, agriculture, food processing, textiles, paper, etc.
                Hand tools used in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, safety razors, etc., and all type of locks, reinforced safes, flexible tubing , pilfer proof caps for packaging, bicycle parts etc will also enjoy the concession under the MSME category.  
                MEIS, introduced through the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-20 on April 1,2015, with product and market focussed incentives for 4914 tariff lines, is a major export promotion scheme implemented by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry .
                Exports during September, 2015 were valued at $21.85 billion which was 24.33 per cent lower than $28.87 billion during September, 2014. Cumulative value of exports for the period April-September 2015-16 was $132.94 billion as against $161.4 billion registering a negative growth of 17.63 per cent over the same period last year.
                However, the country's trade deficit for April-September, 2015-16 was estimated at $67,994.79 million, which was lower than the deficit of $72,692.08 million during April-September, 2014-15.

              Nod for three new ports by December: Nitin Gadkari
              • Nod for three new ports by December: Nitin GadkariThe Union Government will give clearance to develop three new ports at Dahanu near Palghar district in Maharashtra, Kolachal in South Tamilnadu and Sagar Island in West Bengal within two months, said Nitin Jairam Gadkari , Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways.
                The Rs 6000 crore satellite port planned at Dahanu is expected to decongest the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Navi Mumbai. JNPT will be the main developer for this project. The estimated Rs 21,000 crore Colachal port in Tamilnadu will be located about 50 kilometres away from the proposed Vizhinjam International Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport in Kerala, which was recently awarded to the Adani Group which plans to set up that port within 1000 days.    
                "There is huge potential for cargo movement in that region and there is no harm in having two deep water ports at close proximity", said Gadkari.
                Speaking at a select press meet in Mumbai on Thursday, Gadkari said the Government's 'Saagarmala' project will make India one among the top maritime players in the world. The project, cleared by the cabinet in March, plans new ports and port modernization, connectivity improvement, industrial development near ports and coastal community development.
                India has 12 major ports and 200 plus non-major ports, which carry 90 per cent of India's trade volume. Cargo traffic is expected to grow from 972 million metric tonnes (MMT) in 2014 to 2,500 MMT by 2025. Coastal shipping is expected to increase from 60 MMT to 180-200 MMT by 2017.   The Government has set a capacity augmentation target of 162.20 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) at an investment of Rs 14,226 crore.
                Gadkari said harnessing inland waterways will be another major thrust for cargo and passenger movement, which will significantly reduce freight charges.
                "In China, 47 of goods movement is through water, in the west, it is in the region of 43-44 per cent and in India, it is just 3.5 percent", he said.
                A bill is pending in Parliament to declare 101 rivers as National Waterways, which will pave way for the development of these waterways for passenger and cargo transportation.  

              General Awareness

              16 FDI Proposals worth Rs 4,722 Cr upheld by Govt

                • On the recommendation of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB)headed by Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das, Government has cleared 16 foreign investment proposals amounting to Rs4,722 crore.
                  • Govt rejected 8 proposals including Cipla Health and Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited.
                  16 FDI Proposals worth Rs 4,722 Cr upheld by Govt Proposals cleared by Cabinet
                  • The Board cleared proposal of HDFC Capital Advisors Limited which alone entails investments of Rs 2,400 crore for issue of units to Green Light.
                  • Ageon Religare Life Insurance‘s proposal worth Rs 559.96 crore was cleared by raising the foreign shareholding from 26% to 49%.
                  • Sun Pharma Research Advanced Company‘s proposal worth Rs 250 crore.
                  • Synergia Life Sciences got approval of Rs 40 crore.
                  • Aditya Birla Nuvo‘s also approved by Rs 377 crore plans.
                  FDI limits in various Sectors of India
                  Sectors with 100% FDI limits
                  Courier servicesDrugs and pharmaceuticals
                  ElectricityFilms and studios
                  Hotel and tourismHousing and real estate
                  Mining (mining of gold and silver)Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC)
                  RailwaysRoad, Highways, Ports and Harbours
                  TourismSpecial Economic Zone (SEZ)
                  Sectors with 74% FDI limits
                  Coal and ligniteCredit information companies
                  Direct to home (DTH)Mining (Diamonds & precious stones)
                  SatellitesPrivate sector banking
                  Sectors with 49% FDI limits
                  Sectors with 26% FDI limits
                  Print media (Newspaper – 26% )
                  (Scientific & periodicals – 100% )
                  FM Radio
                  Sectors with 20% FDI limits
                  Public Sector Banks

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