Current Affairs Current Affairs - 16 January 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 16 January 2016

General Affairs 

Foreign Ministry Asks Delhi Police To Strengthen Security Around PIA Office
  • Foreign Ministry Asks Delhi Police To Strengthen Security Around PIA OfficeNEW DELHI:  External Affairs Ministry has asked Delhi Police to strengthen the security around the office of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in New Delhi, a day after a right-wing group vandalised it prompting Pakistan to raise the issue with India.

    "MEA has directed the police to beef up security near and around the PIA office," the ministry spokesperson said today.

    Four members of Hindu Sena, a fringe group, vandalised the PIA office at Barakhamba Road. Police arrested one member of the group.

    In a statement in Islamabad, the Pakistan Foreign Office had said,

    "The PIA office in New Delhi was ransacked by a group of extremists. They caused damage to the property and also harassed and threatened the PIA staff."

    "The Pakistan High Commission immediately took up the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs, asking them to provide adequate security to the PIA offices in New Delhi and Mumbai, as well as to take action against the miscreants," the statement said, adding that Indian government assured that all necessary steps will be taken for security of these offices.

    The PIA office in New Delhi was vandalised in August 2013 too allegedly by a right-wing group in the wake of the death of an Indian soldier in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan forces along the Line of Control (LoC).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi To Launch 'Start-Up Movement' Tomorrow
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi To Launch 'Start-Up Movement' TomorrowNEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the 'Start-Up movement' tomorrow by unveiling the action plan aimed at boosting entrepreneurship at the grassroots level.

    "The launch event is aimed at celebrating the entrepreneurship spirit of country's youth and will be attended by CEOs and founders of top start-ups from across the country and abroad," said a PMO statement in New Delhi today.

    The Prime Minister will release the Start-Up Action Plan, visit a virtual exhibition and interact with start-up entrepreneurs to mark the occasion, the statement said.

    The programme is aimed at promoting bank financing for start-up ventures and offer incentives to boost entrepreneurship and job-creation.

    A question-and-answer session titled 'Face-to-face with policy-makers' is also being organized wherein Secretaries of key Ministries and Departments will respond to queries on how an enabling ecosystem for start-ups would be created, it said.

    "The objective is to reinforce commitment of the government towards creating an ecosystem that is conducive for growth of start-ups, the statement added.

    The event will also feature interactive talks with global leaders and venture capitalists such as Masayoshi Son, Founder and CEO of SoftBank and Adam Nuemann, Founder of WeWork.

    With an objective of inspiring the youth, the event will be telecast live in IITs, IIMs, NITs, IIITs and central universities and to youth groups in over 350 districts of India, the PMO said.

    PM Modi, who had made the announcement about the campaign in his last Independence Day address, recently said the programme will be designed to suit Indian conditions and focus would be on ensuring benefits for the youth from the lowest strata of the society.

PM Modi Is Silent On Problems Faced By Poor: Rahul Gandhi
  • PM Modi Is Silent On Problems Faced By Poor: Rahul GandhiPATNA:  The history of Bihar as told by a state government website has hastily been edited after it was highlighted that it made an unflattering assessment of Indira Gandhi's rule at the Centre in the 1970s.

    The Congress is a partner in the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar and the party's state unit is livid. In Delhi, Congress spokesperson Tom, Vaddakan said, "We have heard about it and our Bihar unit has protested. Delhi is taking note.  There is a need for clarification on this issue by Nitish ji."

    The website's section called History of Bihar, had mentioned former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Congress in the context of socialist leader Jay Prakash Narayan or JP, whom both Nitish Kumar and his other partner in Bihar, Lalu Yadav of the RJD venerate.  

    Till yesterday the website said  JP "steadfastly and staunchly opposed the autocratic rule of Indira Gandhi," and documented the Bihar leader's 1975 arrest and incarceration at Delhi's Tihar Jail, "where notorious criminals are jailed."

    JP, the website had said, "who had fought for India's freedom alongside Indira Gandhi's father, Jawahar Lal Nehru, received a treatment that was worse than what the British had meted out to Gandhiji in Champaran in 1917, for his speaking out against oppression." It said the JP movement brought an end to Emergency and led to Indira Gandhi's "massive defeat" in the next elections.

    The newly edited portion has no mention of Indira Gandhi or Emergency. "JP's substantial contribution to modern Indian history continued up until his death in 1979. It was he who led a movement that led to massive win of a non-Congress government -The Janata Party - at Delhi, for the first time," it now states.

    The BJP is sniggering about the gaffe, likely left over from the days the Congress was an opposition party in Bihar. "The Congress has to face the truth," said the BJP's Muqtar Abbas Naqvi.

    In state elections held in November last, Nitish Kumar led the JDU-RJD-Congress coalition to a massive win the BJP, his ally for 17 years before they parted ways.

My Government Liberal, Accessible To Everyone: Akhilesh Yadav
  • My Government Liberal, Accessible To Everyone: Akhilesh YadavLUCKNOW:  Asserting that his government is "liberal" and "accessible" to everyone, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today said this approach has created a positive atmosphere of development in the state.

    "My government is liberal and easily accessible due to which a positive atmosphere of development has been created in the state. One cannot see India progressing if UP's contribution to the economy is ignored," Mr Yadav said while addressing a conference organised by ASSOCHAM in Lucknow.

    Mr Yadav said that the the perception that nothing happens in a right manner in Uttar Pradesh is incorrect, adding that "the state has been able to attract industrialists and investors in large numbers due to good infrastructure."

    "Our policies are lucrative and we have been able to provide an overall positive environment and thus today we can think of attaining double digit growth," he added.

    Lauding the efforts of his government in fast-tracking metro rail construction in the state capital, he said, "Today whosoever visits Lucknow, he/she cannot escape from witnessing the growth in the state."

    "There are so many states that only talk about starting metro rail but have not succeeded, however a big state like UP is undertaking metro rail work in Noida, Ghaziabad, Lucknow. We will soon start construction in Kanpur and if all goes well we will start metro work in Prime Minister's constituency of Varanasi," he added.

    He also said that the state government would work towards developing Noida as an international financial hub and is even willing to take the support of the Centre.

Sri Lanka Government Releases 55 Indian Fishermen For Pongal
    Sri Lanka Government Releases 55 Indian Fishermen For Pongal
  • COLOMBO:  The Sri Lankan government today said it has released 55 Indian fishermen from its custody in view of Tamil harvest festival Pongal.

    Officials from the ministry of fisheries and aquatic resources told Xinhua that the fishermen were detained by Sri Lankan authorities after being caught illegally poaching in local waters.

    There are still 104 fishermen in Sri Lankan custody. They are to be released in the next few days.

    The Sri Lanka Navy often arrests Indian fishermen, mostly from the Indian southern state of Tamil Nadu, for violating the International Maritime Boundary Line and enter the island nation's waters for poaching.

    Sri Lanka's Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Mahinda Amaraweera recently said he requested the navy and coast guard to initiate strict actions after the Tamil festival, locally known as Thai Pongal, to arrest Indian fishermen who violate the International Maritime Boundary Line and enter local waters for fishing.

    The minister said the fishermen in the north of the country could not gather a proper fish harvest since their Indian counterparts were continuously engaging in illegal fishing methods to fish in Sri Lankan waters.

    Business Affairs 

    Sensex ends 318 points down, Nifty below 7,450 on global cues; SBI top loser
    • Sensex trades flat, Nifty holds 7,500 after oil prices rebound; Infosys top gainerThe S&P BSE Sensex fell 318 points to end below its crucial psychological level of 24,500 on Friday, while broader CNX Nifty fell below its key support level of 7,450.
      The headline indices edged lower, weighed down by falls in Asian markets and expectations of weak corporate earnings back home, but gains in index heavyweights such as Reliance and Infosys helped put a floor beneath markets.
      The 30-share index ended the day at 24,455.04, down 317.93 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 7,437.80, down 99.00 points at close.
      Market breadth turned negative with 26 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in red.
      The losses led markets to a second consecutive weekly loss, as worries about the stability of China's markets and the slump in oil prices have weighed on investor confidence.
      Losses have snowballed further down to mid-cap and small-cap stocks, that had run-up significantly in the past few months, and are now correcting sharply.
      "Till results season ends there could be weakness continuously. The large-cap stocks could correct purely on a sentiment basis," said G Chokkalingam, founder of Equinomics, a Mumbai-based research and fund advisory firm.
      SBI stock was the worst performer on Sensex and lost 6 per cent.
      Drugmaker Wockhardt fell 15 per cent on reports that the US Food and Drug Administration had issued a notice highlighting concerns over its Shendra drug manufacturing plant in western India.
      However, supporting the market was NSE index heavyweight Reliance Industries that rose 1.13 per cent.
      Reliance has gained about 5 per cent since the start of the year on expectations that the bulk of its capex spending is behind the company and the upcoming launch of its 4G network Jio will bring in significant cash flows.
      IT major Infosys added to 5 per cent gains from Thursday and was up 1.75 per cent on expectations that its better-than-expected earnings would help re-rate the stock.
      Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Composite ended the day 3.55 per cent down, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 1.50 per cent. Japan's Nikkei settled the day 0.54 per cent lower.
      Overnight, US markets closed higher after a rally in battered energy shares led benchmark indices to rebound with S&P 500 logging the best day since December.

    RBI likely to cut rates by 25 bps in April: Deutsche Bank
    • RBI may cut rates by 25 bps in Apr: Deutsche BankThe Reserve Bank of India is expected to cut rates by 25 basis points in its policy review meet in April this year, a Deutsche Bank report said on Friday.
      According to the global financial services major, December CPI at 5.6 per cent was in line with expectation and would help RBI to meet its near term target comfortably.
      "We expect a 25 bps rate cut in April but in case the global economy tips into a recession, thereby delaying India's growth recovery, and if inflation remains along the glide path as projected by the central bank, then room could open up for further rate cuts in the second half of 2016," Deutsche Bank said in a research note.
      The report noted that RBI is likely to meet its near term target of achieving 5.8 per cent CPI inflation by early 2016, largely due to the ongoing correction in commodity prices.
      But achieving the medium-term target of pushing inflation below 5 per cent by early 2017 is going to be an "uphill task" given the various risks from fiscal, food supply, and services sector inflation, which probably will lead RBI to maintain a cautious stance, it said.
      "Consequently, we expect only one 25 bps rate cut in 2016 (early April), in our base case scenario," the report said.
      The Reserve Bank may also face pressure to reduce the key lending rate further as industrial production contracted 3.2 per cent in November, its sharpest decline in four years.
      Besides IIP, the central bank also looks into retail inflation data while firming up its monetary policy stance.
      Retail inflation has been rising for five straight months and came in at 5.61 per cent in December.
      The RBI's next bi-monthly policy review is on February 2.

    India's retail market has potential to touch $1,200 billion by 2020: Report
    • India's retail market may touch $1,200 bn by 2020India's retail market has the potential to grow from $630 billion in 2015 to $1,100-1,200 billion in 2020 on the back of rising income levels and increased urbanisation, according to a Report.
      The overall retail market has potential to grow from $630 billion in 2015 to $1,100-1,200 billion in 2020. "Retail sector will reap the benefits of a large, young population adding to the workforce, 70 per cent increase in income levels, nuclearization of families and increasing urbanization," the CII-BCG report said. The report forecast the organised retail and ecommerce to grow rapidly to $140-160 billion and $45-50 billion respectively by 2020.
      "Whilst the opportunity is massive, Indian retailers would need to transform themselves to win," Abheek Singhi, Senior Partner and Director, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), India, said. The report also highlights the challenges faced by Indian organised retailers in terms of value conscious and digitally connected consumers, lower bargaining power against suppliers, strong competition from traditional retailers and ecommerce as well as regulatory barriers.
      The report estimates that by 2020, 350-400 million retail consumers would be digitally influenced i.e. their decision making process would be influenced by digital. These consumers would have retail spend of $240-250 billion. In this context, retail companies would need to examine how they can use digital to disrupt the way they do business. "Companies would need to build capabilities in omni-channel retailing, big data & analytics, agile IT and supply chain," it pointed out.
      These factors result in lower profitability and return on capital for India retailers in comparison with other sectors and global retailers.

    Petrol price cut by 32 paise, diesel by 85 paise per litre
    • Petrol price cut by 32 paise, diesel by 85 paise per litrePetrol price was on Friday cut by 32 paise a litre and diesel's by 85 paise a litre, the fourth reduction in rates in six weeks on the back of softening global oil prices.
      Petrol in Delhi will cost Rs 59.03 per litre with effect from midnight tonight as against Rs 59.35 per litre currently.

      A litre of diesel will cost Rs 44.18 as opposed to Rs 45.03 presently, said Indian Oil Corp (IOC), the nation's biggest fuel retailer. This the fourth reduction in rates since December 1.
      Rates were on that day cut by 58 paise a litre in case of petrol and by 25 paise in diesel.
      This was followed by a 50 paise a litre reduction in price of petrol from December 16 and 46 paise in case of diesel. Petrol price, on January 1, was cut by 63 paise per litre and diesel's by Rs 1.06 a litre.
      The reduction would have been more but for government raising excise duty on the two auto fuel to take away some of the gains from the crude oil prices slumping to 12-year low of under $30 per barrel.
      The government had on December 17 raised excise duty on petrol by 30 paise and that on diesel by Rs 1.17 per litre. This was followed by a 37 paise increase in the levy on petrol from January 3 and Rs 2 per litre on diesel.
      The two duty hikes took away from customers benefit of 67 paise lower petrol price and Rs 3.17 a litre lower diesel rate but gave the government Rs 6,800 crore in additional revenue during the remainder of current fiscal.
      The current level of international product prices of petrol and diesel and Rupee-US Dollar exchange rate warrant a decrease in prices, the impact of which is being passed on to the consumers with this price revision, IOC said in a statement.
      State-owned fuel retailers IOC, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) revise rates of petrol and diesel on 1st and 16th of every month based on average oil price and foreign exchange rate in the preceding fortnight.
      The movement of prices in the international oil market and Rupee-USD exchange rate shall continue to be monitored closely and developing trends of the market will be reflected in future price changes, the statement added. 

    Sebi raises banks' exposure limit to currency derivatives
    • Sebi raises banks' exposure limit to currency derivativesCapital markets regulator Sebi allowed bank stock brokers to have a greater exposure in the currency derivatives market, as compared to the limits permitted for the non-bank stock brokers.
      The gross open position limit for all brokers currently stands at up to 15 per cent of the total open interest or USD 100 million, whichever is higher.
      "However, for bank stock brokers, as authorised by RBI, the gross open position across all contracts shall not exceed 15 per cent of the total open interest or USD 1 billion, whichever is higher," Sebi said in a circular.
      The move is aimed at maintaining orderly conditions in the domestic foreign exchange market and the decision is based based on the recommendation from RBI, Sebi said.
      Reserve Bank would keep Sebi and the stock exchanges informed about the bank stock brokers that are authorised to have enhanced position limits.
      In April last year, Sebi had raised the transaction limit in exchange traded currency derivatives to USD 15 million, from USD 10 million previously, for both foreign and domestic investors without having any underlying exposure.
      Requirement of an underlying exposure had been placed to check speculation in the currency market.

    General Awareness

    UDAY—Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna

      • The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given its approval to a new scheme moved by the Ministry of Power – Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojna or UDAY—for the financial turnaround and revival of power distribution companies (DISCOMs), as also to ensure a sustainable permanent solution to the problem. The weakest link in the power value chain is distribution, wherein DISCOMs have, as on 31 March 2015, accumulated losses of approximately Rs.3.8 lakh crore and outstanding debt of approximately Rs.4.3 lakh crore. Financially stressed DISCOMs are finding it difficult to supply adequate power at affordable rates, which is hampering quality of life and overall economic growth and development.
        UDAY looks to assure the rise of vibrant and efficient DISCOMs through a permanent resolution of past as well as potential future issues of the sector. It will empower DISCOMs with the opportunity to break even in the next 2-3 years through four initiatives (i) Improving operational efficiencies of DISCOMs; (ii) Reduction of cost of power; (iii) Reduction in interest cost of DISCOMs; (iv) Enforcing financial discipline on DISCOMs through alignment with State finances. UDAY is a good example of the utilization of the best principles of cooperative and competitive federalism. Adopting UDAY is optional for States, but provides the fastest, most efficient and financially most feasible way for providing 24X7 Power for All. It will be operationalised through a tripartite agreement amongst the Ministry of Power, State Government and the DISCOM.

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