Current Affairs Current Affairs - 4 January 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 4 January 2016

General Affairs 

PM Modi Calls For Integrating Yoga, Indian Medicine In Health Care
  • India Must End Dependence On Weaponry Imports, Says PM Narendra ModiBENGALURU:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today pitched for integrating Yoga and traditional Indian medicine more closely into the health care system and make wellness a part of life for all in India and rest of the world.

    Inaugurating an "International Conference on Frontiers in Yoga Research and its Applications" at Jigani, about 30 km from Bengaluru, he asked health professionals, policy makers, government organisations and industry to bridge the distance between the various forms of medicine systems.

    "I hope that you will integrate yoga and traditional Indian medicine more closely into our health care system...," Prime Minister Modi told the gathering at the Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, a deemed university.

    "My vision for health care is an integrated system that understands and builds on the best and most effective of different traditions," the Prime Minister said.

    Modern systems of medicine have transformed health care, screening, detection and diagnosis of diseases and use of technology has reduced barriers to accessing health care, and improved our understanding of disease patterns, Prime Minister Modi said.

    Breakthroughs in medicines and vaccines have also helped conquer and contain many diseases.

    "But, as our understanding of its limitation and its side effects have grown, as we have experienced the growing costs of modern medicine systems, we have begun to look beyond to traditional systems, not just in India, but in other countries as well," Prime Minister Modi said.

    "Their popularity is growing. Yoga is now a global heritage. And, the world is embracing traditional Indian medicine with great enthusiasm," he said.

    Prime Minister Modi said across cultures and geography, people are increasingly taking to yoga to redefine their lives - to find oneness between their inner self and outer world; between their existence and their environment.

No Soccer Diplomacy With Afghan Delegation, Says Oommen Chandy
  • No Soccer Diplomacy With Afghan Delegation, Says Oommen Chandy
    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  There will no "soccer diplomacy" with the 200-strong Afghan delegation watching the final of the 10th South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup final between India and Afghanistan in Thiruvananthapuram today evening, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.

    "I was not supposed to witness the final match, as I was to travel from Kottayam tonight to north Kerala. It was yesterday (Saturday) evening that the news of the visit of the Afghan delegation became clear," Mr Chandy told IANS.

    The Afghan delegation includes eight ministers.

    While he will be in the stadium, Mr Chandy said: "There isn't going to be any sort of talks at all with the delegation. We might just shake hands and say hello."

    Mr Chandy said he will travel by train to north Kerala after the match.

    The Afghan delegation arrived on a special aircraft and Mr Chandy said they will return soon after the match.

    On account of their visit, security has been tightened at the stadium.

Indigenous Defence Production Must For India's Self-Reliance: PM Modi
  • Indigenous Defence Production Must For India's Self-Reliance: PM ModiTUMAKURU (KARNATAKA):  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India should focus on indigenous defence production to become self-reliant in the area of security.

    "If India has to be self-reliant in the area of security according to our armed forces needs, we have to make our own weapons," he said.

    Laying the foundation stone for a Rs. 5,000 crore greenfield helicopter project of HAL at Biderhalla Kaval in the district, Prime Minister Modi said the government was encouraging defence manufacturing driven by the country's scientists and engineers.

    In his address to a large gathering at the event, Prime Minister Modi said Indian Armed Forces were ready to make any sacrifice for the country and they were second to none.

    "But the time has come now to ensure that the weapons and equipment they carried and used were also the best in the world," he said.

    Imported weapons were expensive and India spends huge sums of money for the purpose, the Prime Minister said.

Day After Pathankot Attack, Sushma Swaraj Holds Strategy Meet On Pakistan
  • Day After Pathankot Attack, Sushma Swaraj Holds Strategy Meet On PakistanNEW DELHI:  Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj met a group of diplomats today for what the ministry described as "diplomatic consultations on Pakistan strategy".

    The meeting was attended by, among others, S K Lambah, G Parthasarathy, Shyam Saran, Shivshankar Menon, Satyabrata Paul, Sharad Sabharwal and TCA Raghavan.

    Sources said though scheduled earlier, the meeting acquired a new dimension after Saturday's terror attack at Pathankot, where, 40 hours on, security forces are still engaging the terrorists.

    Government sources say the future of the dialogue will be decided in the next few days after a clear assessment of the Pathankot fallout and the extent to which the Pakistani establishment was involved.

    With the attack coming days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's unscheduled visit to Lahore, a debate is raging over the initiative to renew dialogue with Pakistan.

    While PM Modi's visit was the first by an Indian Prime Minister to Pakistan in more than a decade, every such visit, or even an initiative to renew ties, has been followed by a terror attack.

    The opposition Congress has already said India should reassess its position on the neighboring country. Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah called the attack "the first major challenge to PM Modi's bold Pakistan gambit."

    Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said though India is keen on good ties with Pakistan, it will give a "fitting reply to terror attacks". His party, the BJP, said dialogues cannot be revoked due to "one attack" and accused Congress of "politicising" the Pathankote strike.

    "You cannot change your neighbour, you can change friends and therefore we must continue with the talks but talks have to be mainly on the issue of terrorism and that's what exactly India is doing," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar has said.

    Pakistan has condemned the attack. A statement from its foreign office said, "Building on the goodwill created during the recent high level contacts between the two countries, Pakistan remains committed to partner with India as well as other countries in the region to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism afflicting our region."

Ex-Servicemen Meet Arun Jaitley, Seek Changes In OROP Notification
    Ex-Servicemen Meet Arun Jaitley, Seek Changes In OROP Notification
  • NEW DELHI:  A delegation of ex-servicemen today met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and submitted a memorandum seeking "corrections" in the One Rank One Pension (OROP) notification, as their protest on the issue entered the 203rd day.

    "A five-member delegation met the Finance Minister and told him that the actual OROP has not been granted. The notification issued has serious flaws and we requested him for corrections in it and granting of actual OROP as per the approved definitions," retired General Satbir Singh said.

    "The minister has assured us that he will speak to the Defence Minister about our demands," he added.

    A group of 100 ex-servicemen including those from Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and National Capital Region also protested outside Mr Jaitley's residence and then moved to Jantar Mantar.

    "For last 6 months, our ex-servicemen are protesting at Jantar Mantar demanding OROP which has been passed by both Houses of Parliament. But the government has been neglecting our demands again and again. It is our request to give us our real OROP," Arif Ali Khan, one of the protesters, said.

    "We had given a notice to the government 21 days ago that we have been protesting peacefully so far. But we have been forced now to go beyond Jantar Mantar. We will now resort to blocking traffic, train and roads if they remain deaf to our demands. We will also disrupt Parliament if need be", he said.

    Another veteran Lieutenant Kameshwar Pandey said, "we feel cheated as this is not the real OROP what government has promised. A proper parliamentary procedure must be followed to make any amendments. We just want the government to refrain from such manipulations".

    Business Affairs 

    SBI rules out lending rate cuts, share sale this fiscal
    • SBI rules out lending rate cuts, share sale this fiscal
      After reducing its base rate by 40 basis points last year, State Bank of India on Friday ruled out any tinkering with its lending rates in the remaining months of the current fiscal year.
      The nation's largest lender also ruled out going ahead with its share sale plan this fiscal.
      Last October, SBI had reduced its base rate by 40 basis points, from 9.70 per cent per to 9.30 per cent.
      "I don't really think (base rate will be cut) so, but maybe once we cross the year end then we will see," SBI Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya told reporters after opening the second InTouch branch at Colaba in South Mumbai.
      The rate reduction by SBI was following a 50 bps repo rate cut by the RBI on September 29.
      Earlier this week, private sector HDFC Bank reduced its base rate by 0.05 per cent to 9.30 per cent, matching with that of SBI, 5 bps lower than its private sector rival ICICI Bank, which is maintaining its minimum lending rate at 9.35 per cent.
      Talking about the new base rate calculation based on the marginal cost of funds, Bhattacharya said the formula will not make a huge amount of difference on base rate but will help in transmission. "Some more amount of transmission will definitely happen but I don't think it is going to be humongous," she said.
      However, many analysts have pegged an 80-160 bps reduction in base rate by banks from April when the new method will be in force.
      On the Rs 12,000-crore follow-on public offer that the bank is planning to raise, she said SBI is unlikely to raise the money in this fiscal. The bank had been planning this OFS sale even in last fiscal as market was not conducive.
      "I don't think we have any clear plans now. I don't think it will happen this fiscal year but then let's see," she said.
      After a meeting of its Committee of Directors on December 21, 2015, the bank had said in a regulatory filing that it had got permission to raise up to Rs 12,000 crore by selling Basel-III compliant tier-II bonds on a private placement basis.
      Following this, SBI had on December 24 raised Rs 4,000 crore through tier-II bonds on private placement basis under the Basel-III norms.
      On the RBI deadline of March 2017 to clean up the balancesheets, Bhattacharya said the banks are in dialogue with the RBI.

    Global mobile Internet userbase to touch 2 billion in 2016, says IDC
    • Global mobile Internet users to reach 2 bn in 2016: IDCMore than two billion people globally will use mobile devices to connect to the Internet in 2016, with countries like India, China and Indonesia leading the way, research firm IDC said.
      Overall, an estimated 3.2 billion people (or 44 per cent of the world's population) will have access to the Internet in 2016, IDC said in a statement.
      "Growth in Internet access is taking place around the world, but some countries are seeing particularly rapid growth. China, India, and Indonesia lead the way and will account for almost half of the gains in access globally over the course of the next five years," IDC added.
      The combination of lower-cost devices and inexpensive wireless networks are making accessibility easier in countries with populations that could not previously afford them, it said.
      According to Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), India was expected to reach 402 million by December 2015, registering a growth of 49 per cent over 2014. About 306 million of these are expected to access Internet from their mobile devices.
      IDC said the global mobile Internet userbase is forecast to grow at two per cent annually through 2020 unless significant new methods of Internet access are introduced.
      Efforts by Google, SpaceX, and Facebook among others to make the Internet available to the remaining 4 billion people via high altitude planes, balloons, and satellites are underway.
      However, it remains unclear how successful these endeavors will be and when they will be operational at scale, IDC said.
      "Over the next five years, global growth in the number of people accessing the Internet exclusively through mobile devices will grow by more than 25 per cent per year while the amount of time we spend on them continues to grow. This change in the way we access the Internet is fueling explosive growth in mobile commerce and mobile advertising," Scott Strawn, Program Director of Strategic Advisory Service said.
      The study found that more than a billion people use the Internet to bank online, to stream music, and to find a job.
      More than two billion use email and read news online and more people than ever before are making purchases online, it added.

    Drug patent war, FM auction, coal ordinance kept Delhi High Court busy in 2015
    • 2015: Drug patent war, coal ordinance kept Delhi HC busyThe patent war involving domestic and multi-national pharma majors, tussle between the Centre and a private radio channel over FM auctions kept the Delhi High Court busy in 2015 during which it also rapped the Centre for its coal auction ordinance by saying that the legislation "lacked clarity".
      The hastily-formulated coal ordinance by the Centre to auction over 200 mines that were deallocated by the Supreme Court in 2014 was criticised on several occasions by the high court which once observed that though the "ordinance was completely in sync with your (govt) economic policy, but your executive decisions are not".
      Initially former Congress MP Naveen Jindal's company JSPL had moved the high court challenging Coal Ministry's ordinance on "change of end-use", but later several other iron, steel and power companies, including Bhushan Steel, Jayaswal Neco, Monnet Ispat and GVK power, also joined the issue.
      Apart from the coal-based industries, another corporate sector which consumed high court time was the pharma sectors with major drug companies battling over who can be permitted to make medicines for diseases like diabetes and cancer which afflict a large percentage of Indians.
      However, these pharma matters hardly proved fruitful for Indian generic drug makers like Cipla and Glenmark, who were stopped by the high court from making cheaper variants of respiratory, diabetes or cancer drugs and antibiotics in which patent was held by some other pharma major like US-based Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) or Swiss firms Novartis and Roche.
      In contrast, drug majors like Reckitt Benckiser and J K Ansell were more successful in their fight against Centre's decision to cap condom prices as the high court held that the government's decision putting a ceiling on the cost of the contraceptive was "illegal and unsustainable".
      Besides them, Digital Radio Broadcasting Ltd, which runs Red FM, also took much time of the high court which even on its off-days, Saturday and Sunday, heard the company's plea challenging the Centre's decision denying it security clearance to participate in FM auctions due to the radio channel's association with Kalanithi Maran-promoted Sun TV.
      The government had denied security clearance to Digital Radio as Kalanithi Maran and former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran were being prosecuted in cases of alleged money laundering.
      The high court, however, termed as "incongruent" the denial of security clearance to Red FM, when Sun TV group had been allowed by Madras High Court to take part in auctions.
      This was not the only jolt for the government, which was also pulled up by the high court for not placing before it the contracts the Centre had with social media sites like Facebook and Google, to use them, despite several orders. Thereafter, the Centre submitted the agreements it has with them.
      Towards the fag end of the year, several telecom majors like Vodafone and Reliance and two associations representing them knocked at the doors of High Court against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) consumer friendly legislation mandating the cellular companies to pay for call drops from January 1, 2016.
      As the telecom companies pressed for stay of the provision and with searching questions coming from the high court, TRAI relented and said it would not take any coercive steps against the cellular operators for non-compliance of the regulation.
      Even the airline sector was dragged to the high court by a lawyer over Ministry of Civil Aviation's policy permitting airlines to overbook flights.
      The policy allowed airlines to deny boarding to certain passengers if overbooking of seats has been made in comparison to the number of available seats in the flight.
      The high court agreed to examine the issue and sought the stands of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Director General of Civil Aviation and Air India.
      In his plea, the lawyer, contended that the policy allows overbooking of scheduled flights to reduce the possibility of flights departing with unoccupied or empty seats but makes an "unreasonable classification" between confirmed ticket holders on who are permitted to board the flight and who are not.

    Competition Commission received record 127 merger and acquisition cases in 2015
    • CCI received record 127 M&A cases in 2015Fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India(CCI) received 127 merger and acquisition cases in 2015, the highest registered in a calender year.
      The Competition Commission, in October, had received 21 filings seeking approval for mergers, the highest number for any month in the past four years.
      Last month, CCI had announced that it has given decisions on 29 combination cases during December, highest ever during any given month.
      CCI has the mandate to keep a tab on unfair business practices across sectors, while mergers and acquisitions beyond a certain threshold also require its approval.
      So far, the commission has dealt with more than 300 cases related to mergers and acquisitions.
      In a tweet on Friday, CCI said it has "received 127 combination cases in 2015 - highest number of cases received so far in a calendar year".
      In July, CCI had revised its combination regulations as part of efforts to make the process simpler and more transparent.
      According to the regulator, the amendments provide greater clarity and certainty with respect to Merger and Acquisition (M&A) filings and will help in avoiding undue delays in the approval process.
      Among the combination decisions given this year are approval of IndusInd Bank's acquisition of gem and jewellery portfolio of Royal Bank of Scotland, acquisition of 26.33 per cent share capital of Tata Projects by Tata Capital and Omega, and acquisition of iGate by Capgemini.
      Also, merger of retail store and retail infrastructure businesses of Future Retail and Bharti Retail got CCI's approval alongwith acquisition of additional 23 per cent equity of Aviva Life Insurance Company by Aviva International Holdings.
      Among others, Pfizer-Vidhi Research deal and acquisition of Piramal Enterprises' lab diagnostics and point-of-care business by DiaSys India also got the regulators' nod.
      The regulator also gave its green signal to acquisition of wealth management business of RBS by Sanctum Wealth and the acquisition of animal health business of Novartis by Eli Lilly.
      CCI also introduced electronic filing facility last month, making it simpler for entities to submit information related to mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
      In August, CCI Chairman Ashok Chawla had said that there was at least 15-20 per cent increase in filings. M&A filings for this year are likely to be 20 per cent more than the previous year, he had said.
      CCI Member Augustine Peter had also said in November that there has been an increasing trend in combination filings in the recent past, which indicates that investors are increasingly turning positive about the Indian economy.

    Govt to roll out LPG-like DBT scheme for kerosene from Apr 1
    • Govt to roll out LPG-like DBT scheme for keroseneAfter the success of paying subsidy to LPG users in their bank accounts, the government will from April 1 roll out a similar programme for kerosene where the users will buy the cooking fuel at market rate but will get financial support directly in their bank accounts.
      The cash subsidy to be paid to users will be equivalent to the difference between current PDS price of about Rs 12 and market rate of Rs 43 per litre.
      The move will help curtail subsidy outgo for kerosene, which in 2014-15 was about Rs 24,799 crore.
      "Several state governments have come forward to implement direct benefit transfer (DBT) in kerosene in selected districts," an official statement said.
      The scheme will be rolled out from April 1 in Raipur, Durg and Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, Panipat and Panchkula in Haryana, Shimla, Solan and Una in Himachal Pradesh, Chhatra, Giridih, East Singbhum, Hazaribagh, Jamtara and Khunti in Jharkhand.
      Besides, the scheme will be implemented in Hoshangabad, Harda, Khandwa and Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh, Amaravati and Latur in Maharashtra, Taran Taran, Pathankot and Mohali in Punjab and Pali, Jhunjhunu and Kota in Rajasthan.
      "Where such transfer is introduced, the consumer will pay the un-subsidised price of kerosene at the time of purchase. Subsequently, the amount of subsidy will be directly transferred to the bank account of the beneficiary. To avoid any inconvenience to the beneficiary through payment of un-subsidised price, subsidy shall be credited to eligible beneficiaries in advance during the initial purchase," it said.

    General Awareness

    “eASIA” award 2015 for trade facilitation conferred upon DAVA project

      • The DAVA (Drug Authentication and Verification Application) project has won the 2015 eASIA Award underTrade Facilitation category by Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (AFACT).
        About DAVA
        Launched on June 29, 2015, DAVA project, created an integrated platform for implementation of the track and trace system both for exports and domestic markets of drugs andpharmaceuticals.
        • It aims to cover all the drugs manufactured in India.
        • The project will provide simpler means to the consumer and regulatory agencies for establishing drug authentication and protect the India’s brand image in international trade.
        Indian Pharmaceutical industry has about 250 large units and more than 8,000 small and medium scale units. In 2014-15, India’s pharmaceutical exports grew by 2.63% to USD 15.34 billion.
        “eASIA” award 2015 for trade facilitation conferred upon DAVA projectAbout e-ASIA Awards
        The e-ASIA Awards are administrated by the Asia Pacific Council for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (AFACT). The event aims at promoting the achievement of AFACT member.
        • Countries in the development of trade facilitation, electronic business policies and activities, and initiatives for bridging digital divide in the Asia Pacific Region.
        • The purpose of the eASIA Awards is to recognize the significance and great effort made within AFACT community and to encourage exchange of best practices.
        There are four categories of awards namely Trade FacilitationElectronic Business in the Public SectorElectronic Business in the Private Sector and Bridging Digital Divide.

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