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Current Affairs - 31 January 2016

General Affairs 

Want To Establish Khadi Gramudyog Network In Villages, Says PM Modi
  • Want To Establish Khadi Gramudyog Network In Villages, Says PM ModiNEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the government wants to create a network of Khadi Gramudyog across villages in the country to provide more job opportunities through the sector.

    In a letter addressed to people associated with Khadi Gramudyog on the 68th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, PM Modi said: "We want to create a network of Khadi Gramudyog across villages in India, so that people can get employment and families in villages can be empowered."

    PM Modi expressed happiness saying the government's efforts to promote khadi were bearing fruit as various state-owned institutions were using products made from the fabric.

    "I am happy that the government's efforts are bearing fruit and various state-owned institutions are coming forward and using khadi products made by you. These include railways, police department, Indian Navy and Department of Posts, among other institutions.

    "I have been informed that an additional 18 lakh man days will be required to meet the needs of these institutions leading to higher wages of the workers," PM Modi said.

    Pointing out that khadi, which played an important role in the freedom struggle, has become a fashion statement, he said arrangements were being made to ensure that workers in the sector can easily avail benefits of government schemes like Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana.

    PM Modi also lauded the efforts being made to produce khadi using Solar Charkha and Solar Loom, noting that these will double income of the weavers and increase production.

Delhi Sees Hottest January 30 In Last 5 Years
  • Delhi Sees Hottest January 30 In Last 5 YearsNEW DELHI:  The national capital today experienced the hottest January 30 in the last five years with the maximum temperature settling at 27.2 degrees Celsius, five notches above the season's average, the Met office said.

    The weather office referred to the Western Disturbance persisting in the northern parts of India as a reason behind the sudden increase in mercury.

    "As the Western Disturbance approach still persists in northern India at a few kilometres above sea level, it caused sudden winter rain in Himachal Pradesh leading to the rise in temperature," said an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

    The weather office has forecast that mercury would come down after the Western Disturbance passes the northern areas.

    "There would be a clear sky on Sunday in Delhi while shallow to moderate fog may occur in the morning," the IMD official said.

    Sunday's maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to hover around 25 and 11 degrees Celsius, respectively.

    Saturday's minimum temperature settled at 13.2 degrees Celsius, four notches above the season's average, while the maximum humidity was recorded 98 per cent.

    Friday's maximum temperature was recorded 25.4 degrees Celsius, three notches above the average for this time of the season.

3 Terrorists Killed In Encounter In Jammu And Kashmir's Kupwara
  • 3 Terrorists Killed In Encounter In Jammu And Kashmir's KupwaraSRINAGAR:  Three unidentified terrorists were killed in an encounter with security forces in Kupwara district of north Kashmir, a police official said today.

    The gunbattle broke out at Dardpora in Lolab area of Kupwara last night after security forces launched a search operation there, the official said.

    He said while one terrorist was killed in the initial exchange of firing last night, two others were killed this evening.

    The identity and group affiliation of the killed terrorists have not been ascertained yet, the official said, adding three weapons have been recovered from the scene of the encounter.

Bribery Case: Kerala Excise Minister K Babu Withdraws Resignation
  • Bribery Case: Kerala Excise Minister K Babu Withdraws ResignationKOCHI:  Hours after Kerala's ruling Congress-led UDF decided not to accept his resignation in connection with the bar bribery case, Congress leader K Babu today decided to withdraw his resignation as minister from the Oommen Chandy Cabinet.

    Mr Babu, who had tendered his resignation a week ago in the wake of the vigilance court ordering registration of an FIR against him in the bar bribery case, said personally he was not interested in returning to the government but, as an obedient party worker, he was compelled to withdraw his resignation.

    "Though I am not interested in returning to the ministership, I, as an obedient party worker, accept the decision taken by the party leadership and UDF. In such a situation, I am compelled to withdraw my resignation," Mr Babu told reporters at his residence in Thrippunithura near Kochi.

    The chief minister had not forwarded the resignation letter to the Governor.

    Mr Babu, who represents Thrippunithura Assembly Constituency, said it was his personal decision to quit the government following the vigilance court order.

    "That vigilance court order has been stayed by the High Court. After submitting my resignation, I had avoided my official vehicle and an application was given to allot a room in MLA hostel."

    "But UDF leadership decided not to accept my resignation. I spoke to Chief Minister. I am grateful to the leadership of Congress and UDF for reposing their faith in me," Mr Babu, who holds portfolios including Excise, Port and Fisheries, said.

    The UDF meeting attended by senior leaders, including Mr Chandy and other coalition party leaders at Thiruvanathapuram, decided that there was no need for Mr Babu to resign as the High Court had stayed the vigilance court proceedings against him for two months.

    After the vigilance court had ordered registering of FIR against him, Mr Babu had resigned on January 23.

US Warship Sails Near Island Claimed By China In South China Sea
  • US Warship Sails Near Island Claimed By China In South China SeaWASHINGTON:  A US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China and two other nations in the South China Sea on Saturday, in an operation the Pentagon said aimed to challenge efforts to restrict freedom of navigation.

    China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.

    Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said no ships from China's military were in the vicinity of the USS Curtis Wilbur when it passed near Triton Island in the Paracel Islands.

    "This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants - China, Taiwan and Vietnam - to restrict navigation rights and freedoms," Davis said, reflecting the U.S. position that the crucial sea lane should be treated as international waters.

    The Navy conducted a similar exercise in October in which the guided-missile destroyer Lassen sailed close to one of China's manmade islands, drawing a rebuke from Beijing.

    Davis said the latest operation sought to challenge policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas. He said the United States took no position on competing sovereignty claims to naturally-formed land features in the South China Sea.

    "No claimants were notified prior to the transit, which is consistent with our normal process and international law," Davis said.

    The operation followed calls in Congress for the Obama administration to follow up on the October operation.

    This month, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee criticized Obama for delaying further freedom of navigation patrols.

    He said that allowed China to continue to pursue its territorial ambitions in the region, including by landing a plane on a manmade island in the Spratly Islands archipelago.

Business Affairs 

'Make in India' is a marathon, not a sprint: Suresh Prabhu
  • Railways Minister Suresh PrabhuThe Railways Ministry is investing billions of dollars to modernise the sector and give a push to the 'Make in India' initiative, which is a "marathon" and not a "sprint", Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Saturday.
    Prabhu said the government is making right investments to make the manufacturing initiative a success story.
    'Make in India' "is a mission and not a slogan. We are working on it. I always say that if you are doing a marathon run, do not run as a sprinter," he said at the ET Global Business Summit.
    There are lot of comparative advantages in India for the manufacturing sector and the world situation today favours India, he said.
    Talking about modernisation of the railways, he said the ministry has already issued tenders for $7 billion for diesel and electric locomotives.
    Besides, the ministry is planning to invest $20 billion to $25 billion for locomotive and coach building factories in West Bengal.
    He also said that about 85 per cent of the over $16 billion high speed rail network will be made in India and "the ecosystem which will be developed because of (these investments) will be unimaginable". 

FM Arun Jaitley's top 6 quotes today on India's growth
  • Finance Minister Arun JaitleyAddressing the 57th National Cost Convention and the Economic Times Global Business Summit in the capital on Saturday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke extensively on Indian economy, the fall of the rupee and a number of other issues. Here are top 5 quotes from the Finance Minister on various aspects of the economy before he presents the Union Budget for 2016-17 on February 29.
    1. On GDP: "The Indian normal has to be in the 8 or 9 per cent category. It is only at that pace that you can get rid of poverty. Indian economy has to be put on sounder platform, our fundamentals have to be strong enough," Jaitley said.
    2. On subsidy: "Government not against the concept of subsidy per se. We are for rationalisation, not abolition. I am not arguing that all subsidies are good. My point is there can't be an ideological position on such matters. We have to be pragmatic. We have to eliminate bad subsidies, whether or not they are called subsidies," Jaitley said.
    3. Taxation: "India would not pursue foreign companies with new retroactive tax claims. There must not be unfair taxation, unfair assessment brings bad name, not revenue. Only two or three legacy tax issues left, trying to sort out those expeditiously," he said.
    4. Rupee: "Do not agree rupee is in a free-fall mode, rupee has weakened least compared to most other currencies," Jaitley said.
    5. On GST: "It (GST) is the important reform of UPA. If I had to credit the authorship of it, I have to give credit to them (UPA). Now, If the author turns against his own script, what do I make... I have reached out (and) I have spoken to them. I have explained to them and I hope they will see reason... (and) see the rationale behind passing GST. I don't see a reason why they (Congress) should have a rethink on the Bill. If there is a discussion on a particular idea in the Bill, I am willing to discuss with them...certainly, we can't bound future generations to a flawed legislation. The UPA allies like the RJD, the NCP and the JD-U are openly supporting it," Jaitley said.
    6. On low cost of Chinese goods: "If Make in India has to succeed, we actually have to become a low-cost manufacturing hub. And I think there are several global factors which collectively are suiting us. The world has never seen this kind of low price regime. And India as a net buyer benefits from this low price regime... it is extremely important at this junction we fully make use of this global situation. In a world of competition, you actually have to beat your closest competitor. To cut costs, both at micro and larger levels, there are a lot of improvement and changes required in any system," Jaitley said.

5 reasons why you must have a travel insurance cover
  • 5 reasons why you must have a travel insurance coverAway from the hustle and bustle of life, an overseas vacation comes as a welcome break. But, if you do not plan your trip meticulously, it could turn out to be a harrowing experience.
    Besides planning for the itinerary, including travel tickets, accommodation and the required paperwork, insurance is key to ensuring a fun-filled sojourn. According to experts Indian tourists usually do not opt for insurance while traveling overseas, especially for locations where travel insurance is not mandatory, but natural calamities, outbreak of political violence, theft or health emergencies could throw a spanner in the works of all your travel plans, if you do not have travel insurance.
    According to a survey by private general insurance major ICICI Lombard, only 40 per cent of travelers opted for a cover, despite the fact that 90 per cent of those polled were aware of travel insurance. According to Sanjeev Mantri, Executive Director, ICICI Lombard General Insurance, there are a host of travel insurance plans available in India, including covers for medical emergencies, personal liability, loss of passport, loss of baggage, delay or cancellation of a trip, emergency cash advance, political risks and catastrophe evacuation.
    Here are five reasons why you must have a travel insurance cover in place before you head overseas.

    1. LOSS OF PASSPORT AND/OR BAGGAGE:There can be nothing more harrowing than losing one's passport in a foreign country. In case you do not speak the local language, communicating can be a challenge. But a travel insurance can be handy under such circumstances. A call to the emergency number would not only help you get a duplicate passport, but all the related expenses incurred is also taken care of by the insurer. Frequent travelers would know that misplacing or losing one's baggage in transit while taking multiple flights is very common. In some cases, it could take many day to track the baggage and get it back. In such a situation, if you have valid travel insurance, the insurance company would compensate you. If you happen to lose your baggage, the insurer would also pay you a pre-approved sum as stated in the policy immediately to cover for your losses. Here, Mukesh Kumar, Executive Director, HDFC ERGO General Insurance notes that in case of loss of handbag, any form electronic items present in it will not be covered. Watch Out: The deductibles, exclusions and the cap on expenses when it comes to reimbursements.
    2. MEDICAL COVERAGE: You may be in the best of shape, but you never know when you experience a health emergency, including injuries, for which immediate medical attention may be required. You must also know that most medical insurance policies availed in India are useless beyond the borders of the country. Therefore, medical cover is an essential part of your plans, and that's provided as part of the travel cover. Travel insurance plans cover emergency medical and medical assistance as well as related transportation costs. Healthcare expenses in the reasons why you must have a West can be a serious setback if you are not supported by insurance. "In case of any medical emergency on your trip, your insurance plan would cover diagnostic tests, ambulance charges, in- and outpatient treatment, evacuation charges and travel costs to hospital. Most importantly, the plan could give you the facility of cashless hospitalization," says Mantri. Emergency dental treatment is provided as a part of such plans. Watch Out: Read the fine print because pre-existing illnesses are not covered in most travel insurance plans. However, if pre-existing ailments need to be taken care of, then such plans too are available in the market. However, suicide, insanity and injuries arising as a result of adventure sports, are not covered by most plans.
    3. CANCELLATION OR DELAY: Last-minute illness, personal emergency or a death in the family could result in cancelling your overseas trip. This is bound to cause some monetary loss as many bookings are non-refundable. A travel plan that has cancellation coverage will come to your aid at such times through reimbursements of such costs. Rajagopal G., Senior Vice President & Head of Operations & Claims, notes, "Disease, injury or illness must be disabling enough to reasonably cause a trip to be cancelled and supported by medical records. Reimbursement will be for the forfeited, non-refundable prepaid payments made by the insured prior to the illness that caused the cancellation." Cancellation compensation is also applicable when a trip is cancelled due to a terror attack, strikes and weather related events. Other than this, expenses incurred as a result of delays, interruptions or a missed fl ight is reimbursed. The option of emergency cash advances is yet another feature which comes handy when stranded. Watch Out: For most insurers, there is a specified list of events under which cancellation claims are entertained. So be careful of the exclusions before you opt for one.
    4. EMERGENCY EVACUATION: You never know when a natural or man-made calamity is about to strike. Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic ash clouds, political uprisings and terrorist attacks are all instances where emergency evacuation is a must. If you have an insurance cover, the onus is on the company to evacuate the insured person back to his or her homeland and provide medical help when necessary. Watch Out: Check the assistance provided and the scope of coverage. You may come across a list of places (generally conflict areas) where this facility is not available.
    5. ROUND-THE-CLOCK SUPPORT: This may look like a frivolous point. But when stranded in an unknown location in a foreign land, access to 24x7 emergency helpline comes in handy to get guidance and directions in adverse circumstances. Therefore, it is always advisable to carry a copy of the insurance document while travelling. Rajagopal says, "Helpline team advices on nearest hospital or can help arrange for evacuation."

    First 12 words in interview can win or lose you a job
    • First 12 words in interview can win or lose you a jobForget worrying about the job interview - what you say as you greet your interviewer could be far more important. Researchers found the first 12 words a prospective employee utters could make or break whether they are offered a job.
      It is because the first impression created by small talk on the way to the interview room shapes whether employers view candidates in a positive or negative light.
      Resurgo Trust, a charity which helps disadvantaged young people into work, found recruiters and employers judged people on the quality of their small talk. It said people without privileged backgrounds could struggle to make effective small talk, which put them at a disadvantage.
      Iona Ledwidge, of the charity, said: "Unlocking the secret world of the workplace is not about being posh. It is asking simple questions such as 'How are you?' or 'How was your weekend?'" "It is things like how you greet the receptionist, what you say in the first few minutes or when walking down the corridor.
      It is smoothing over the gaps; a lot is social graces which (some) young people haven't been exposed to. Small talk is part of building confidence and communication skills in the workplace."
      Scott Hutchinson from recruitment consultancy Interim Partners said not everyone knew how to make small talk effectively but that it could give candidates an edge. He added: "People are more governed by feelings rather than reason and small talk shows you can converse."
      "That is why middle and upper class kids get more work; because they are confident. That confidence is bred into them from an early age so they can converse with people, they are almost taught it."

      Road Bill to cross hurdles; get nod in Budget session: Nitin Gadkari
      • Road Bill to cross hurdles; get nod in Budget sessionNot being able to get the Road Safety Bill passed in Parliament so far is the only "black spot" in his ministry, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today, expressing hope that it will cross all hurdles and get cleared in the upcoming Budget session.
        "It pains me that the proposed Road Safety Bill has been the 'only black spot' in the ministry as we have not been able to get it passed despite the same promising widespread reforms. It is on concurrent list and we seek support from states for it," the Road Transport and Highways Minister said at the ET Global Business Summit here.
        "There is are lot of political problems with the subject.
        This is one subject where we could not get success but I am confident that in the next session the bill will be passed. I have talked to many Chief Ministers. We have assured them that we are not taking any powers from states," Gadkari said.
        The new Road Transport and Safety Bill seeks to come down heavily on traffic offenders and proposes steep penalties of up to Rs 3 lakh along with a minimum 7-year imprisonment for death of a child in certain circumstances, besides huge fines for driving violations.
        The minister said the government has already taken a decision to form a Road Safety Authority and the matter is pending before the Cabinet.
        Gadkari said once the law is enacted, it would overhaul the sector bringing in transparency and curbing malpractices.
        Unfortunately, India accounts for about 5 lakh road accidents per annum in which 1.5 lakh people die, he said, adding that the Bill aims to bring down fatalities as well as accidents.
        He said his ministry is committed to contributing at least 2 per cent to the GDP from the sector besides aiming to reduce accidents by more than 50 per cent in the next two years.
        "The Bill has been designed after studying relevant laws of US, UK, Singapore and Japan and would bring transparency in the sector. Presently 30 per cent of the licences in the country are bogus," he added.
        Earlier, allaying States' fear that new Bill will take away their rights, Gadkari has said, "I assure the states that they will not be disturbed. We will not take a single paisa from your revenue and in fact, we want to give support to the states. There are some misconceptions about the proposed Act."
        On road building targets, the minister said it will be raised to 30 km a day, from 18 km at present.
        Also he said that most of the 384 stuck projects have been rolled out and problems in 7 projects of total 21 problematic ones left have been resolved.
        He said contracts worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore have been awarded while work on all major projects including Eastern Peripheral have been started.
        Road and shipping sectors will create 50 lakh jobs, he said.

      General Awareness

      31 countries signed MCAA to boost transparency in international tax matters

        • An agreement between 31 countries has signed namedMultilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA)to increase the transparency in functioning of multinational enterprises (MNEs) by giving permission to automatic exchange of Country-by-Country reports by tax administrators.
          31 countries signed MCAA
          Key Highlights about agreement
          • The agreement plays an important landmark for implementation of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD/G20 BEPS Project and an extraordinary increase in cross-border cooperation on tax matters.
          • It will help in implementation new reliable and fast transfer pricing reporting standards developed under Action 13 of the BEPS Action Plan.
          • This agreement will enhance the transparency of multinational enterprises with easy exchange of information between the tax administrators and its operations and give a clear idea on the key indicators of the multinational businesses.
          • While keeping the confidentiality of the structure and the operation of the MNEs the agreement will ensure that the tax administrations will understand their way easily.
          • According to the OECD/G20 BEPS project 15 key actions are set out to reform the international tax framework.
          • OECD/G20 BEPS (Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) project is more significant for the developing countries because they are deeply dependent on corporate income tax especially from MNEs.
          • It also helps to cover the information about the entities or MNEs which are engaged with business in particular authority and activities and such information will be collected from the native country of the MNE group.
          • Sectary General of OECD– Angel Gurria

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