Current Affairs Current Affairs - 13 January 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 13 January 2016

General Affairs 

Manohar Parrikar Allays Fears Of Firms On Strategic Partnership Move
  • Manohar Parrikar Allays Fears Of Firms On Strategic Partnership MoveNEW DELHI:  Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has sought to allay fears expressed by domestic and foreign defence firms that only big companies might get benefit from the proposed strategic partnership move of the government in critical segments like submarines, aircraft and missiles.

    Former Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief VK Aatre is scheduled to submit this week a key report to the Defence Ministry recommending guidelines for selecting domestic private firms for strategic partnership.

    The feeling among the private industry players is that only the big firms will benefit out of this. However, even the large firms are not open to the idea since they feel that they would be restricted to just specific fields and, therefore, their overall investment and plans will get affected.

    However, Mr Parrikar has said that the ministry will ensure that all projects are not cornered by strategic partners.

    Once the Aatre committee submits its report, the ministry will go in for a detailed review and see which points have to accepted, and which kept aside, he said yesterday.

    Mr Parrikar also said that the government will provide a level-playing field and that the medium and small-scale firms will not be left high and dry.

    An official of a defence firm, who did not want to be identified, said, "It creates the ground for nomination of a private sector business partner for award of defence contracts on an exclusive basis in each of the major categories in defence production."

    Aatre report will deal with strategic partnerships in sectors related to aircraft, helicopters, submarines, armoured vehicles, in Group one and ammunition in Group two.

    "The Aatre process could enable the big five of the Indian private sector defence industry to corner about 80 per cent of the business and create monopolies in all categories," industry sources said, adding that it may herald a return of "crony capitalism".

    Also, "restricting one group to one platform is unprecedented. Globally, every large defence firm has a land, air and naval segment," a defence company official said.

    Even the foreign firms are skeptical. "How can the government decide who our private sector partner will be? We will wait for a final decision before commenting," company sources said.

    The draft Defence Procurement Procedure 2015 report, submitted by the Dhirendra Singh committee, had recommended that for 'Make in India' initiative to become wider in the defence sector, the government should adopt a strategic partnership model, whereby a private firm is chosen for the development of a specific identified platform.

Oommen Chandy To Appear Before Solar Scam Probe Panel
  • Oommen Chandy To Appear Before Solar Scam Probe Panel
    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will on January 25 appear before the one-member commission of Justice (retd) G Sivarajan probing the Rs. 70 million solar scam in the state.

    Mr Chandy, a witness in the solar scam case, had already given a written statement to the commission and agreed to appear personally before it when asked to do so.

    The commission, that has its office in Kochi, will come to the state capital and record Mr Chandy's statement.

    Justice Sivarajan was appointed by the Kerala government in October 2013 to probe the solar scam after reports surfaced in June 2013 that three of the chief minister's office staff had contacts with a couple who cheated many investors by taking money for supplying solar panels to them.

    The three officials were immediately removed.

    The couple -- Saritha Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan -- was arrested. While Ms Nair is out on bail, Mr Radhakrishnan is still in custody after it came to light that he murdered his first wife.

    The government came under a massive Left opposition onslaught both inside and outside the assembly, forcing Mr Chandy to announce a judicial probe.

    Mr Chandy, however, has all along maintained that he has done nothing wrong and was prepared to face any probe.

    To make the investigation credible, he included in the terms of reference all statements made by the opposition inside and outside the assembly.

    The commission, whose term ends in April 2016, has till now taken statements from top political leaders, including former chief minister and CPI-M veteran VS Achuthanandan and state Congress president VM Sudheeran.

Pathankot: Locals Used To Enter Air Base After Payment To Security Guards
  • Pathankot: Locals Used To Enter Air Base After Payment To Security GuardsNEW DELHI:  Locals living in adjoining areas of Pathankot air base, which was stormed by six terrorists recently, used to enter the premises after paying as low as Rs. 20 to security guards to graze their cattle and even shop in the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) canteen.

    Intelligence agencies have informed the Home Ministry that it was a common practice for many people to enter the sensitive air force base with their cattle for grazing after paying the guards deployed in a few isolated gates.

    There are several hundred population of Gujjar community who herd cattle and they found the grass inside the campus suitable for grazing.

    Alarmed by the terrorist attack, the Punjab government has now initiated the process of head-count of the Gujjar population living near the air base to ensure security in the vicinity, the inputs said.

    There are several shops, including CSD canteen, inside the Pathankot air base and there have been reports that many locals go to shop there.

    While some of the locals even made identity cards while some other pay the security guards to enter the premises, the inputs suggest.

    In a pre-dawn attack, a group of heavily-armed Pakistani terrorists, believed to be belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammad, attacked the Pathankot air base on January 2 killing seven security personnel.

    Six terrorists were also killed in the incident.

    The terrorists were said to have crossed the India-Pakistan border in Punjab and reached the strategically crucial air base and carried out the attack.

Saifai Mahotsava's Dazzling End Comes Amid Clash, Arson In Uttar Pradesh
  • Saifai Mahotsava's Dazzling End Comes Amid Clash, Arson In Uttar Pradesh
    ETAWAH:  The 17-day annual Saifai Mahotsava came to an end here with dazzling performances by Bollywood personalities even as the last day of the event was marred with clashes in which two policemen were injured and several vehicles were damaged.

    The event started with a controversy over Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's absence at the inaugural session and ended last night with several Bollywood celebrities performing at the event.

    It continued till late last night with performances by Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Sonakshi Sinha, Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra, with hit songs rendered by Mika, Badshah and Javeed Ali keeping the audience spellbound.

    The event took an ugly turn with locals clashing with the police while jostling their way towards the venue to watch the star-studded show last night.

    In the clash, four police jeeps and three OB vans of television news channels were damaged.

    A sub-inspector and a constable were also injured in the brick batting by the mob. The situation was, however, brought under control by the police.

    Comedian Sunil Grover also performed at the event, which started on December 26.

    The Chief Minister was conspicuous by his absence and reports said he skipped the inaugural event as he was upset over expulsion of two of his close associates, Sunil Yadav alias Sajan and Anand Bhadauria.

    Sunil Yadav was national president of Samajwadi Party (SP) Chhatra Sabha, while Mr Bhadauria was former national president of Lohia Vahini.

    The expulsion of both leaders was later revoked and the Chief Minister attended the event, putting a lid on the controversy which kept hogging newspaper headlines for days.

    The annual family fiesta, which is being held for the last 18 years, saw performances by Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, ghazal singer Peenaz Masani and several Bollywood stars.

    The festivities were inaugurated by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, with his brother and cousin Shivpal Yadav and Ram Gopal Yadav in tow. Ram Gopal Yadav lit the lamp and performed 'puja' and took part in 'Hawan' to mark the beginning of the festivities.

Himalayas Subsided By 60 cm After Nepal Earthquake
    Himalayas Subsided By 60 cm After Nepal Earthquake
  • LONDON:  The Himalayas subsided by up to 60 cm after the April 2015 Nepal earthquake -- but the world's tallest peak, the 8,848-metre Mt Everest was too far from the subsidence area to be affected, researchers have found

    Using satellite technology, researchers found that the Himalayas subsided by up to 60 cm after the April 2015 Nepal earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people.

    Mount Everest, more than 50 km east of the earthquake zone, was too far away to be affected by the subsidence seen in this event, the researchers said.

    The researchers explained that the apparent growth of the Himalayas between earthquakes is a result of a dangerous kink in the regional fault line below Nepal.

    This kink had created a ramp 20 km below the surface, with material constantly being pushed up and raising the height of the mountains.

    'We have shown that the fault beneath Nepal has a kink in it, creating a ramp 20 km underground. Material is continually being pushed up this ramp, which explains why the mountains were seen to be growing in the decades before the earthquake," said lead study author John Elliott from Oxford University.

    "The earthquake itself then reversed this, dropping the mountains back down again when the pressure was released as the crust suddenly snapped in April 2015," Mr Elliott noted.

    "Using the latest satellite technology, we have been able to precisely measure the land height changes across the entire eastern half of Nepal. The highest peaks dropped by up to 60 cm in the first seconds of the earthquake," Mr Elliott said.

    The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

    Business Affairs 

    Ensure RBI is not seen as paper tiger: Rajan to staff
    • RBI Governor Raghuram RajanAs RBI chides banks to act tough on bad debts, Governor Raghuram Rajan has asked his colleagues to ensure that the central bank is not seen as mere "paper tiger" and even rich and powerful wrong-doers are not spared.
      He also wondered whether there was a need to be "more intolerant of sloppy practices at regulated entities, so that these do not result in massive scams years later?"
      In his New Year message to all RBI employees, the academic-turned-central banker said the country is often described as "a weak state".
      "Not only are we accused of not having the administrative capacity of ferreting out wrongdoing, we do not punish the wrong-doer - unless he is small and weak. This belief feeds on itself. No one wants to go after the rich and well-connected wrong-doer, which means they get away with even more. If we are to have strong sustainable growth, this culture of impunity should stop," Rajan wrote in a 5-page letter to the 16,800-strong RBI staff.
      However, he was quick to add that "this does not mean being against riches or business, as some would like to portray, but being against wrong doing".
      Calling for strong and concerted action from and by them, Rajan, who has been chasing banks to arrest the rising tide of defaults by large borrowers, said RBI cannot and should not be seen as a 'paper tiger'.
      "My sense is that we need a continuing conversation about tightening both detection as well as penalties for non-compliance throughout the hierarchy. We cannot be seen as a paper tiger," Rajan wrote in the 2,500-word letter.
      "As the premier and most respected regulator in the country, we should take the lead. We have motivated staff with the highest integrity at every level. Yet there is a sense that we do not enforce compliance," he said.
      Rajan also asked whether RBI was allowing regulated entities to get away year after year with poor practices even though these are noted during inspections or scrutinies?
      "Should we haul up accountants who do not flag issues they should detect?" he wondered.
      Rajan, who has set a March 2017 deadline to banks to clean up their balance sheets which are mired in a bad loan mount of close to Rs 4 lakh crore, said RBI is changing its attitude towards compliance, but this is 'work in progress'.
      The central bank has also identified as many as top 150 defaulters and asked banks to set aside more funds as provisions on one hand and on the other chase them and make them pay up.
      Calling for a more responsible behaviour from his staff, Rajan went on to point out that "if we demand more of the regulated, we should not be found wanting ourselves.
      "As with all organisations, we are reliant on a few stalwarts who carry the organisation on their broad shoulders. These are the best performers," he said.

    TCS reports net profit of Rs 6,083 cr in Dec quarter
    • TCS reports net profit of Rs 6,083 cr in Dec quarterTata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Tuesday reported an increase in the net profit by 14.2 per cent at Rs 6,083 crore on sales of Rs 27,364 crore in the October-December quarter.
      The country's largest software exporter had reported a net profit of Rs 5,328 crore in the October-December period of last fiscal. The operating profit was at Rs 7,276 crore in the reported quarter.
      The software major reported revenue in the third quarter in FY16 at Rs 27,364 crore, up 11.7 per cent, from Rs 24,501 crore in the corresponding period of 2014-15.
      TCS CEO Natarajan Chandrasekaran speaking about the TCS Q3 results said that stricter US visa norms and Chennai floods had put pressure on the company's revenues.
      "Chennai floods resulted into a weaker quarter, putting pressure on the margins. All our industry segments have exhibited growth in a traditionally weak quarter," Chandrasekaran said.
      "Retail business has been flat this quarter. Latin America as done very well and we see more growth from the market going forward. Our international business has grown smartly in constant currency terms with North America and Europe leading the way among major markets," he said.
      He added that digital business continues to be the core focus for enterprise IT in 2016 as customers respond to competition in a global economy driven by real-time insights. "With 13.7 per cent of our revenues coming from Digital business and this segment growing at a higher sequential rate, TCS is playing an impactful role in partnership with customers," he said.
      TCS said the growth was holistic with all industry segments showing sequential growth with Life Sciences and Healthcare, Manufacturing and Hi-Tech leading the way. The company declared a dividend of Rs 5.50 per share which has a face value of Re 1, and its earnings per share (EPS) stood at Rs 31.01.

    Retail inflation accelerates to 5.61% in Dec
    • Retail inflation accelerates to 5.61% in DecThe retail inflation accelerated to 5.61 per cent for the month of December on the back of rising food prices, the government data released by Ministry of Statistics showed on Tuesday.
      The consumer price index (CPI) inflation was at 5.41 per cent in November.
      The food inflation for December stood at 6.4 per cent as against 6.07 per cent in November.

    November industrial output contracts by 3.2 per cent
    • Nov industrial output contracts by 3.2%Index of industrial production (IIP) contracted by 3.2 per cent in November year on year, the government data released on Tuesday showed.
      The industrial ouput stood at 9.9 per cent in October.

    Sugar cess ceiling hiked to Rs 200/quintal after Prez nod to Bill
    • Sugar cess ceiling hiked to Rs 200/quintal after Prez nod to BillPresident Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Sugar Cess (Amendment) Bill, 2015, raising the ceiling of the impost from Rs 25 to Rs 200 per quintal, a measure that will help sugarcane growers and cash-starved mills.
      Presidential assent to the bill, which will help the government meet its expenditure on interventions to ensure payment of dues to the sugarcane farmers, was granted on January 8, official sources said on Tuesday.
      The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on December 15 but opposition members had joined ranks in the Rajya Sabha to oppose its consideration on December 23, the last day of the winter session.
      The bill, which was declared a money bill, became a law after the President's nod as it was not returned by the Upper House to the Lok Sabha within 14 days of its consideration there, as required under the rules.
      While introducing the bill, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan had said the hike in sugar cess would lead to increase in the accruals to the Sugar Development Fund, which facilitates rehabilitation and modernisation of sugar mills, thereby helping cane growers.
      The Sugar Cess (Amendment) Act, 2015, which has amended the Sugar Cess Act, 1982, provides for the imposition of a cess as an excise duty on the production of sugar.
      The rate of sugar cess is notified by the central government from time to time.

    General Awareness

    Mangaluru Airport conferred as best in the country

      • Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) has achieved the fifth rank in terms of customer satisfaction and handling among the53 two-tier airports in the country. The internal survey was done by a private agency for the Airports Authority of India. The 53 airports had handled upto 15 lakh passengers a year.
        • The rank was based on the customer satisfaction survey conducted during July to December period 2015.
        • The airport was given an overall rating of 4.75 on a five point scale.
        • Cleanliness of washrooms and toilets of the airport was given a rating of 4.79, while cleanliness of terminal building stood at 4.82.
        Mangaluru Airport conferred as best in the countryAbout Mangalore Airport
        Mangalore Airport formerly known as Bajpe Airport is an international airport serving the coastal city of Mangalore.
        • As of 2014, Mangalore Airport has one of highest year-over-year passenger growth rates in India, with a 54% growth in international passenger traffic.
        • Mangalore Airport is in a region that receives the highest rainfall in India.
        • The operation of international flights started in 2006.
        • Establishment – 25 December 1951
        • Mangalore lies between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghat mountain ranges and is the administrative headquarters of the Dakshina Kannada (formerly South Canara) district in south western Karnataka.
        • Beaches – Surathkal, Mukka, Panambur, Tannirbavi and Someshwar.
        • Rivers – Netravathi and Gurupur.

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