Current Affairs Current Affairs - 27 January 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 27 January 2016

General Affairs 

PM Narendra Modi Bids Farewell To Francois Hollande, Says France Is Special
  • PM Narendra Modi Bids Farewell To Francois Hollande, Says France Is SpecialNEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today bid a warm farewell to French President Francois Hollande who left India after his three-day visit, expressing confidence that their discussions would further deepen the bilateral ties.

    "Thank you President @fhollande for visiting India & gracing our Republic Day celebrations," said Prime Minister Modi in a tweet as the French President left the country.

    "India's friendship with France is special... Am sure the discussions during President @fhollande's visit will further deepen our relations," he tweeted.

    During his visit, French President Hollande visited Chandigarh and held talks with Prime Minister Modi.

    The two sides signed 30 pacts, including a Memorandum of Understanding for the purchase of 36 French Rafale aircraft even though persisting differences over the pricing of the fighter jet came in the way of final multi-billion dollar deal being concluded.

    The talks between the two leaders focused on ways to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism, security, civil nuclear energy and sustainable development.

Chandigarh, The French Connection, Showcased At Rajpath
  • Chandigarh, The French Connection, Showcased At Rajpath
    NEW DELHI:  The French connection was at display during the Republic Day parade this year in the form of a tableau of Chandigarh, the 'dream city' of India, planned by famous architect Le Corbusier.

    The tableau depicted the smart and green city with men and women working out in a park setting and the iconic buildings along with a portrait of Mr Corbusier.

    Singling out the tableau, French ambassador in India Franacois Richier tweeted, "Chandigarh on Republic Day Parade:"The City Beautiful" visited by President Hollande on the 1st day of his visit."

    The French President had commenced his three-day India visit from Chandigarh on January 24, where he along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended a business summit and visited various landmarks in the city.

    The tableau themed as 'Open to Give, Open to Receive' underlined the uniqueness of planned city of Chandigarh located at the foothills of Shivalik.

    The city is known as one of the best experiments in urban planning and modern architecture.

    The Capitol Complex in Chandigarh visually and symbolically is the focal point of the city architecture and is considered to be the most representative of Le Corbusier's work.

    The structure of the high court is based on a simple system of columns, beams and slabs. The Chandigarh Legislative Assembly having three elements on the roof -- the hyperboloid, the pyramid and the lift tower was part of the tableau.

    The French architect was big on symbols and it is said that the roofs sculptural elements are a reflection of the sun and moon.

    Mr Corbusier defined the 'Open Hand' as 'a hand to give and hand to receive' and projected it as city's official emblem which was also expressed in the theme of the tableau.

India Gifts Ambulances And Buses To Nepal On Republic Day
  • India Gifts Ambulances And Buses To Nepal On Republic DayKATHMANDU:  India today gifted 40 ambulances and eight buses to different organisations in Nepal on the occasion of its 67th Republic Day.

    India's Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae handed over keys of 33 ambulances and six buses to different charitable organisations and schools during a function held inside the Indian Embassy premises.

    The remaining seven ambulances and two buses were gifted by the Consulate General of India in Birgunj to different organisations.

    The function was attended by over 2,500 people including diplomats, journalists, social activists, business community leaders and government staff.

    The ambassador also gifted books to 52 libraries, schools and training institutes of Nepal.

    The widows and dependents of Ex-servicemen and disabled Ex-servicemen were handed over cash incentives and blankets by the Ambassador.

    Ambassador Rae after hoisting the Indian national flag read out President Pranab Mukherjee's address, which stressed that India today is a rising power fast emerging as a global leader in science, technology, innovation and start ups and whose economic success is the envy of the world.

    On the occasion, students of Kendriya Vidyalaya and Modern Indian School presented different songs. Nepal Army band also presented melodious music enthralling the audience.

India Strongly Committed To United Nations: Syed Akbaruddin
  • India Strongly Committed To United Nations: Syed AkbaruddinUNITED NATIONS:  Pledging India's commitment to the United Nations, new permanent representative Syed Akbaruddin assured Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of his support in helping the world body achieve its goals.

    While presenting his credentials to Ban as India's new permanent representative to the United Nations, Mr Akbaruddin also promised him of his full support in the body's quest for peaceful political solutions for all the problems.

    Receiving the credentials, Ban welcomed his appointment as the top Indian diplomat to the United Nations and appreciated the significant role India plays at the powerful world body as a long-trusted partner of multilateral system.

    The former high-profile spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs reiterated India's commitment to the United Nations and assured the secretary general of his support in helping the United Nations achieve its ideals and priorities Ban had set out for 2016, including that of Agenda 2030 and the quest for peaceful political solutions for all problems, an official statement said.

    Mr Akbaruddin is India's 21st Permanent Representative at the United Nations and succeeds Asoke Mukerji who demitted office on December 31.

    Mr Akbaruddin had previously served at the Indian Mission to the United Nations as First Secretary during 1995-98 and focused on the UN Security Council Reform and Peace-Keeping.

    Prior to this appointment, he was the chief coordinator of the India-Africa Forum Summit - a milestone event with participation of all 54 African states held in October, 2015 in New Delhi.

    Immediately before that, he was the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs from 2012 to 2015. He is known for his effective use of social media for diplomacy outreach.

    Mr Akbaruddin has represented India's interests in various capacities, promoting friendly ties across the globe. He has also served as an international civil-servant at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna from 2006-2011.

    In that capacity, he worked as Head of External Relations and Policy Coordination Unit and also as the Special Assistant to the Director-General of the IAEA.

    In his first few speeches soon after this arrival early this month, Mr Akbaruddin urged the United Nations to show a common resolve to rise above semantic definitional differences and work on the long overdue Comprehensive Convention on International terrorism.

One In Nine Children Globally Live In Conflict Zones: UNICEF
  • One In Nine Children Globally Live In Conflict Zones: UNICEFGENEVA, SWITZERLAND:  Some 250 million children -- one in nine children worldwide -- live in countries affected by violent conflicts, UNICEF lamented today, saying it needed nearly $3.0 billion this year to help the most vulnerable of them.

    "The number of children trapped in humanitarian crisis around the world is both staggering and sobering," the UN children's agency said.

    UNICEF said it would need a full $2.8 billion (2.6 billion euros) in 2016 to help millions of children in humanitarian emergencies around the world.

    The agency said its annual appeal had doubled in just three years as conflicts as well as extreme weather force growing numbers of children from their homes and expose millions more to severe food shortages, violence, disease, abuse and threats to their education.

    "Around one in nine of the world's children is now living in conflict zones," the UN agency said in a statement.

    This is a devastating number. Last year, children living in such areas "were twice as likely to die of mostly preventable causes before they reached the age of five than those in other countries," it said.

    UNICEF said the money it was asking for in 2016 would allow it to reach 76 million people -- 43 million of them children -- across 63 countries.

    By far the biggest chunk of that amount -- nearly $1.2 billion -- is needed for aid in war-ravaged Syria and to help the millions of Syrian refugees in neigbouring countries, it said.

    More than 260,000 people have been killed in nearly five years of brutal conflict in Syria, while more than four million people have fled as refugees and some 13.5 million people remaining in the country are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

    UNICEF meanwhile said a full quarter of the aid it wanted to deliver globally was linked to educating children in emergency situations, stressing that it wanted to nearly double the number of children it helps to access education in crisis zones from 4.9 million in 2015 to 8.2 million this year.

    "Education is a life-saving intervention in emergencies," UNICEF representative Sikander Khan told reporters in Geneva.

    It's been shown, he said, that "if a child doesn't go to school for five years, you have lost a generation."

    This does not bode well for Syria, where one in four schools have been destroyed and more than two million children are out of school.

    Education does not just entail learning, but also helps provide children with a "sense of normalcy and hope for the future in the midst of violence, instability and disaster," UNICEF stressed in its appeal.

Business Affairs 

Gold price rises to near three-month high as stocks, oil tumble
  • Gold rallied to its highest since November on Tuesday, with investors shifting to safe-haven assets as worries over a slowing global economy hit stocks and crude oil again.
    The Federal Reserve is expected to take notice of the macroeconomic headwinds from China to Europe when policymakers meet later in the day, boosting hopes that it may go easy in hiking US interest rates further.
    That bodes well for gold, which has risen nearly 5 percent so far this year, after losing more than 10 percent in 2015.
    Spot gold was up 0.5 percent at $1,112.86 an ounce by 0635 GMT, after earlier peaking at $1,113.54, its highest since Nov. 4.
    "Gold might go for a run," said Brian Lan, managing director at gold dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore, adding the metal could test $1,138, reached on Nov. 3. "If that is breached, it could go to $1,160."
    "We've heard some demand increasing in China because the stock market and currencies - people don't have confidence in these anymore - so the only one that they are looking at at the moment is gold," said Lan.
    Asian stocks skidded, with Chinese shares down 5 percent, after oil prices fell back below $30 a barrel.
    U.S. gold for February delivery rose 0.7 percent to $1,113.10 an ounce.
    The Federal Open Market Committee starts a two-day policy meeting later on Tuesday, and is widely expected to leave its federal funds rate unchanged at 0.25-0.50 percent.
    The probability of another rate increase at the next Fed meeting in March has eased, with some analysts seeing it postponed to later in the year.
    That puts downward pressure on the dollar and benefits gold.
    At this week's meeting, it is likely that "the Fed will reiterate its dovish stance and this should push gold prices up", INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir wrote to clients.
    Meir said the poor shape of the U.S. equity market shows "a major capitulation will be needed in order to clear out much of the selling", suggesting investors should keep a bullish gold bias in the near term.
    Spot platinum was down 0.6 percent at $853.24 an ounce, but well off last week's seven-year trough of $806.31.
    Platinum is forecast to average less than $1,000 an ounce in 2016 for the first time in more than a decade as global growth concerns and demand fallout from the Volkswagen scandal grip the market, a Reuters poll showed.
    Spot palladium slipped 0.6 percent to $486.90 an ounce and silver gained 0.3 percent to $14.27.

India, France sign Rafale fighter plane accord but haggle over price
  • India, France sign Rafale fighter plane accordIndia signed an inter-governmental pact on Monday to buy 36 French-built Rafale fighter planes, but the leaders of both countries said there was still work to do to finalise financial terms after months of talks.
    The deal, worth an estimated $9 billion, was to have been the centrepiece of a visit to India by French President Francois Hollande, invited as guest of honour for Tuesday's Republic Day parade.
    But Hollande and his host, Narendra Modi, both said further talks were needed to finalise the terms of the deal, which the Indian prime minister had announced when he visited France last spring.
    Hollande described the deal on Rafale as "a decisive step", adding: "There remain financial issues which will be sorted out in a couple of days."
    However, Dassault Aviation, the aircraft-maker, said in a statement it expected a complete agreement on the planes in four weeks' time.
    Both leaders played up their interest in cooperating in the fight against international militant groups, with Hollande saying France and its allies would strike "again and again" against Islamic State.
    "ISIS is provoking us in the worst possible way," Hollande said, using an acronym for Islamic State, which controls parts of Syria and Iraq, and was behind several attacks on Paris in November that killed 130 people.
    Hollande and Modi stepped into the Rafale deal last year, ordering government-to-government talks after commercial negotiations with Dassault had collapsed.
    The leaders agreed to scale back the original plan for 126 Rafale planes to just 36 in flyaway condition, to meet the Indian Air Force's urgent needs, as it faces an assertive China and long-time foe Pakistan.
    The fighter deal is part of a $150-billion military overhaul India has launched, drawing global arms makers into one of the world's biggest markets.
    "France is a special friend. Eighteen years ago, France was the first country we signed a strategic partnership with. We are now here to take it higher," Modi told a joint news conference after his talks with Hollande.
    In other business, France's Alstom signed a pact with Indian Railways to make 800 locomotives in India, a boost for Modi's drive to build a domestic industrial base and provide jobs to a growing workforce.
    Hollande said an agreement for France's Areva to build six nuclear reactors in India should be concluded within a year. The two sides have been wrangling over the price of power from these units for more than a year.
    Hollande and Modi have agreed to hasten the nuclear talks and aim for construction to begin in early 2017, they said in a joint statement.
    "From nuclear cooperation to railway locomotives, we are sowing the seeds of an ever-tightening web of cooperation between our two countries, " Modi said.
    French companies will invest $10 billion in India over the next five years, chiefly in the industrial sector, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said earlier in New Delhi.

India bucks global steel output trend in 2015; production rises 2.6%
  • India bucks global steel output trend in 2015India is the only country among major steel producing nations, such as China, Japan, South Korea and the US, which witnessed growth in production in 2015.
    According to the latest data by the World Steel Association (WSA), production in the world's third largest steel producer rose by 2.6 per cent to 89.6 million tonnes (MT) in 2015 against 87.3 MT in 2014.
    World steel production, however, dropped by 2.8 per cent to 1,622.8 million tonnes in 2015.
    As per Steel Ministry, India is the only country among major steel producing countries which recorded a positive trend in steel production and consumption last year.
    "India became the third largest producer of steel in the world in January 2015, leaving behind the US as the fourth largest producer," the ministry said in a note.
    According to WSA data, crude steel output in China -- the world's largest steel maker -- fell by 2.3 per cent to 803.8 MT in 2015 compared to the year-ago period.
    Japan produced 105.2 MT in 2015, down 5 per cent compared to 2014, while output in South Korea decreased by 2.6 per cent to 69.7 MT during the same period.
    In 2015, the US produced 78.9 MT of crude steel, a decline of 10.5 per cent compared to 2014, whereas Russia showed a decrease of 4.3 per cent in 2015 with an output producing 101.5 MT of crude steel.
    Globally the situation was much worse as the world steel output fell by 2.8 per cent to 1,622.8 MT in 2015 witnessing its first fall since 2009.
    As per WSA, the last decline in global steel output was witnessed in 2009, when production fell by 8 per cent to 1,238.8 MT from 1,343.4 MT in 2008.
    Since then it has continuously risen till 2014. Global steel production stood at 1,433.4 MT in 2010, 1,538 MT in 2011, 1,560.1 MT in 2012, 1,650.4 MT in 2013 and 1,670.2 MT in 2014, the data showed.
    "World crude steel production reached 1,622.8 MT for the year 2015, down by 2.8 per cent compared to 2014. Crude steel production decreased in all regions except Oceania in 2015," WSA said.

Apple set for slowest ever iPhone sales growth
  • Apple set for slowest ever iPhone sales growthApple Inc is expected to report iPhone sales increased slightly more than 1 percent in the holiday quarter when it announces earnings on Tuesday, its slowest growth ever and far from the double-digit growth investors have come to expect.
    The iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, which boasted record weekend sales when they launched in September, are now facing weak demand, according to analysts, because they have fewer distinguishing features than their popular predecessors.
    The new iPhones also face tough comparisons with the strong sales of their older siblings.
    Apple tapped into a crucial market when it unveiled its bigger-screen 6 and 6 Plus phones in 2014, grabbing the attention of Asian customers, who had previously lapped up phablets from players such as Samsung Electronics.
    "Apple has become a victim of their own success as the blockbuster iPhone 6 product cycle was hard to replicate as many customers are either buying an older, cheaper iPhone 6 or waiting for the iPhone 7," FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives said.
    China, the company's fastest-growing market, may also have weighed on first-quarter results, as a slowdown in the country's economy forced consumers to tighten their purse strings.
    Analysts estimate Apple sold 75.5 million iPhones in the October-December quarter, a 1.3 percent increase from a year earlier, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.
    This compares with a nearly 46 percent year-over-year jump in iPhone sales in the first quarter of 2015. The slowest growth in quarterly iPhone sales so far has been 6.8 percent, in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, according to data from Statista.
    To make matters worse, Apple is expected to forecast a drop in iPhone sales for the March quarter - the first time that sales will fall since the iPhone was launched in 2007.
    This was foreshadowed by disappointing March-quarter forecasts from the company's Asian suppliers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Largan Precision Co Ltd.
    Apple is expected to sell 54.6 million iPhones in the March 2016 quarter, according to FactSet. The company sold 61.2 million iPhones between January and March, 2015 - a 40 percent year-over-year increase.
    Analysts said the company will have to wait until the launch of the iPhone 7, expected later this year, to return to growth, as buyers upgrade to the latest version.
    Analysts, technology blogs and company watchers say the iPhone 7 could include waterproofing, wireless headphones and use its new force touch technology to kill off the home button.
    Apple shares closed down 1.98 percent at $99.41 on Monday. They have fallen nearly 10 percent since the start of October, steeper than a 2.2 percent decline in the S&P 500 index.
    Out of the 50 brokerages that cover Apple, 43 have a "buy" or higher rating on the stock. Their median 12-month price target is $141.50.

India less vulnerable to external shocks: Standard & Poor's
  • India less vulnerable to external shocksIndian economy is less vulnerable to external shocks as it is mainly driven by household consumption and government spending, and not dependent on hot money which can move out quickly, Standard & Poor's Rating Services said.
    The US-based rating agency expects the current account deficit (CAD), which is the difference between inflow and outflow of foreign exchange, to remain at a modest level of 1.4 per cent at the end of current fiscal and would continue at similar level till 2018.
    "We see India as having limited vulnerability to external economic or financial shocks. This is because growth in the economy is mainly driven by domestic factors, such as household consumption and government spending.
    "At the same time this is a country that has low reliance on external savings to fund its growth. In other words, the banks are mainly deposit funded and don't rely on wholesale funding to grow their loan books," S&P Rating Services India Sovereign Analyst Kyran Curry told PTI.
    He said India's capital markets are diversified and deep enough for companies to raise funding.
    "Another favourable aspect of India external settings is that it is generally not subject to hot money inflows that can turn into outflows with shifts in investor sentiment. As such we see the external risks for India to be relatively contained," Curry said.
    He said while export growth may be disappointing, the current account deficit likely to be a modest 1.4 per cent in 2015, with similar levels through 2018.
    "Our forecasts are partly informed by our view of increased monetary credibility, which dampens the demand for monetary gold imports. In addition, we expect India to fund this deficit mostly with non-debt, creating inflows," Curry added.
    The CAD in the first half of current fiscal stood at 1.4 per cent of GDP, lower than 1.8 per cent in the same period last fiscal. For full 2014-15 fiscal, the CAD stood at 1.3 per cent of GDP.

General Awareness

Jeevan Raksha Padak Awards – 2015

    • The President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee has consented to confer the Jeevan Raksha Padak Series of Awards – 2015 on 50 persons. The Award categories are – Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak to 3 personsUttam Jeevan Raksha Padak to andJeevan Raksha Padak to 38 persons; 09 awards are posthumous.
      • Out 50 awards, 9 awards will presented as posthumous
      • Jeevan Raksha Padak series of awards are given to recognize a person for meritorious act of human nature in saving the life of a person.
      Jeevan Raksha Padak Awards – 2015The decoration of the award consists of medalcertificate signed by the Home Minister and demand draft for lump sum monetary grant is presented to the awardee in due course by the respective State Government to which the awardee belongs.
      Here is the list of Awardees
      Sarvottam Jeevan Raksha Padak
      Winner                                  Place from winner belong
      Ullas Unnikrishnan (Posthumous)Kerela
      Munna alias Ramdars Sisodiya(Posthumous)Madhya Pradesh
      Ankit Kumar   Mishra (Posthumous)Uttar Pradesh
      Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak
      Shivakumar R.Karnataka
      Shaitan Singh (Posthumous)Rajasthan
      Jitendra Kumar SoniRajasthan
      Shourya Veer Singh (Posthumous)Madhya Pradesh
      Riya Chaudhary (Posthumous)Uttar Pradesh
      Monika alias Manisha (Posthumous)Uttarakhand
      Gaurav Kumar Bharti (Posthumous)Uttar Pradesh
      Ravindra Pal Singh (Posthumous)Uttar Pradesh
      The Jeevan Raksha Padak confers upon 38 brave hearts for conspicuous courage under circumstances of very great danger to the life of the rescue.

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