Current Affairs Current Affairs - 11 February 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 11 February 2016

General Affairs 

Woman, Ex-Sailor Offer Organs To Soldier Who Survived Siachen Avalanche
  • Woman, Ex-Sailor Offer Organs To Soldier Who Survived Siachen AvalancheLAKHIMPUR KHERI/ MUMBAI:  As the nation prays for Lance Naik Hanamanthappa Koppad, the Siachen miracle survivor, a homemaker and an ex-sailor have offered to donate their organs to save the braveheart.

    Lance Naik Koppad battles for his life at Delhi's Army hospital after being rescued alive almost a week after a kilometre-wide wall of ice buried an Army post in Siachen.

    Moved by his condition, Nidhi Pandey, a homemaker from Lakhimpur Kheri's Padaria Tula village today offered to donate a kidney to the Lance Naik.

    "It was being broadcast in the news channels that his condition is extremely critical as his liver and kidneys are not functioning properly," she said, adding that she felt that something more should be done for the soldier apart from prayers.

    She said that is the reason why she decided to donate her kidney, if required.

    "With my husband's consent, I expressed my wish to a news channel through its helpline number that flashed on the screen," Pandey said.

    She said she has taken the decision as it could benefit the soldier serving the nation.

    SS Raju, an Indian Navy's ex-sailor, has also expressed his willingness to donate any organ of his body to save the life of "fellow-brother".

    "I request doctors at the Army Hospital (R&R) to contact me immediately and I can go to New Delhi... I am ready to donate any organ, including liver, kidney... We must save our fellow brother who is critical," Mr Raju said.

Only Congress Can Defeat Congress: Rahul Gandhi's Kerala Assessment
  • Only Congress Can Defeat Congress: Rahul Gandhi's Kerala AssessmentTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Only the Congress can defeat the Congress, Rahul Gandhi told party workers in Kerala, where assembly elections will be held soon.

    The Congress vice president also suggested to the state party unit, riven by internal feuding, that they could postpone the fighting to after the elections.

    "Only the Congress can defeat the Congress in Kerala. The CPI-M can never do that... You have to stand together. If you are able to do that, the UDF (United Democratic Front) government will return to power," he warned, speaking at the Congress headquarters in state capital Thiruvananthapuram.

    "The Congress is like a family and can fight (within), but it should not be done (now) as elections are around the corner," Mr Gandhi said and promised, "After the elections I will come back and hear all what you have to say."

    The Congress has for the last five years led the United Democratic Front in Kerala with a very slender lead in the state assembly over the CPM-led Left Democratic Front.

    It is fighting hard to retain Kerala to salvage a dismal track record in recent state elections that was only marginally helped by the party getting to share the Bihar win as junior partner to Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav.    

    Apart from the internal wrangling, the Congress also goes to the polls fighting allegations of corruption against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and others. The party leadership's support for the beleaguered Mr Chandy was evident however, when Rahul Gandhi said, "Oommen Chandy has delivered on all his promises."

    In the 2014 national election, the Congress and its allies had won 12 seats in Kerala and the Left 8. But the CPM swept local body elections held last year.

    In worries for the Congress, the BJP made inroads in select districts like Thiruvananthapuram, where it pushed Rahul Gandhi's party to third position.

Green Tribunal Seeks Views On Banning Government's Diesel Vehicles
  • Green Tribunal Seeks Views On Banning Government's Diesel VehiclesNEW DELHI:  National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked government agencies why they have not submitted their views on phasing out over a decade old diesel vehicles in their departments, despite its specific directions two months ago.

    The green panel had on December 11 last year directed the central and state governments to take a decision on not buying any diesel vehicle for their departments and asked them to prepare an action plan for disposing of diesel vehicles which were more than 10 years old.

    However, no suggestion, response or comment has yet been submitted by any public authority on the issue.

    "We had asked for an action plan for phasing out of diesel vehicles particularly the trucks. You have not given comments as to why we should not ban old government department diesel vehicles," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar observed.

    The observation came during a hearing on South Delhi Municipal Corporation's (SDMC) plea seeking directions to the Delhi government to register new diesel vehicles, conforming to BS-IV norms which it plans to buy for garbage disposal.

    The plea moved by SDMC contends that the green panel last year had banned registration of new diesel vehicles as well as re-registration after 10 years.

    Later, the court also banned registration of diesel- run SUVs and cars having engine capacity beyond 2000 cc in Delhi and National Capital Region till March 31.

    Due to this, the transport department was not registering the newly procured vehicles which conform to BS-IV norms and not re-registering the old vehicles, it said.

    "The apex court made no observation of heavy duty diesel vehicles being used by public authorities for management of garbage disposal under the MSW rules... Non-registration of vehicles by the transport department is leading to non-implementation of the projects of garbage disposal. As a result the existing concessionaire is asked to continue with prevalent system which is not environment friendly," it said.

    Elaborating on the requirement, SDMC said it required --48 three-wheeler e-rickshaw, 308 CNG based auto tippers, 43 compactors on diesel based heavy commercial vehicles (HCV) for MSW, 18 auto tipper for silt removal, eight Tata 1109 closed body dumpers for street waste on diesel based HCV.

Army Officer's Luggage Reaches Delhi Station, But He's Missing
  • Army Officer's Luggage Reaches Delhi Station, But He's MissingKOLKATA:  An officer of the Indian Army, who was posted in Jammu and Kashmir, has disappeared while on a train journey.

    Captain Shikhar Deep, 25, was traveling from Bihar to Delhi on February 6-7.  A cousin who went to receive him at the Delhi station on Sunday found the young officer's luggage, phone and wallet, which is, according to his father, missing Rs. 20,000 in cash.

    Captain Deep's family lives in Kathihar in Bihar.  His father Colonel Lieutenant Anant Kumar is posted in Ranchi where his battalion - 623 EME - is now stationed.

    According to the police, Captain Deep's luggage was found in the coach he was travelling in, but the officer was nowhere to be found and his mobile was also switched off. He had last spoken to his family on the morning of February 6.

    The ticket examiner and the man who provided bed-sheet in the coach, said he was last seen at Kanpur during the journey.

    The army suspects that the Captain must have fallen prey to groups who travel on trains and drug and rob people. The army has asked the media to help in the search for the officer.  The description sent by the army is "Height 5'6", wearing black/brown blazer, off-white T-Shirt, blue jeans, green jungle shoes."

David Headley's Testimony A 'Pack Of Lies', Says Rehman Malik
  • David Headley's Testimony A 'Pack Of Lies', Says Rehman MalikISLAMABAD:  Accusing India of trying to defame Pakistan by concocting confessions out of David Headley, former interior minister Rehman Malik has termed Pakistani-American terrorist's testimony in the 2008 Mumbai attack case as "a pack of lies".

    On the second day of his video-linked testimony from an undisclosed location in the US, the Pakistani-American claimed on Tuesday Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants planned to attack on a meeting of Indian defence scientists at the Taj Mahal hotel about a year before they struck on 26/11.

    The Express Tribune reported that Mr Malik, who was interior minister when Mumbai attack occurred, accused India of trying to defame Pakistan by concocting confessions out of Headley.

    "His confessions are all a pack of lies and fabricated statements," Mr Malik, who heads the Senate's Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control, said.

    Brushing aside all "allegations levelled by India against Pakistan for ulterior motives", the former PPP lawmaker claimed Headley was "planted" by Indian intelligence agency for "executing the Mumbai attacks and then getting concocted statements from him".

    "We have the details about who paid tickets, who funded him and how he recruited non-state actors from Pakistan [for the attack]," Mr Malik claimed.

    Headley, 55, was jailed for 35 years in 2013 by a Chicago court for his role in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Business Affairs 

Sensex hits 21-month lows, Nifty ends at 7,215 ahead of Fed testimony; Tata Motors top loser
  • Sensex hits fresh 52-week low, Nifty below 7,250 ahead of Fed testimony; Tata Motors top loserExtending losses for the third day, the S&P BSE Sensex settled the day 262 points lower to slip below its key 24,000 mark in trade on Wednesday, while broader CNX Nifty ended just a tad above its key 7,200-mark.
    The benchmark indices fell to their lowest levels since May 2014, with State Bank of India leading the losses ahead of its financial results that are expected to disappoint just as other major state-run banks did this quarter.
    The 30-share index ended the day at 23,758, down 262.08 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 7,215, down 82.50 points.
    Market breadth remained fairly negative with 22 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in red.
    Tata Motors was the worst-performing stock on Sensex and lost over 6 per cent on BSE.
    Banking stocks were badly hit with BSE Bankex index shedding over 2 per cent. PNB, Bank of Baroda, SBI and ICICI Bank were the top losers.
    Four state-run banks reported a spike in bad loans and provisions for sour debt on Tuesday after a clean-up exercise ordered by their regulator, sending three of them to net losses for the fiscal third quarter.
    Traders say global slowdown and China worries have been a drag, but disappointing earnings especially from state-run banks have made things gloomy for domestic markets.
    "Earnings season hasn't been robust so far. Global uncertainties, China slowdown are making things worse for us," said Jagannadham Thunuguntla, Head of Fundamental Research at Karvy Group.
    Investors remained on the edge as they awaited fresh cues from US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who is likely to address the Congress later in the day. 
    She is expected to defend the Fed's first rate hike in a decade and likely insist that further rises remain on track. If she departs from such a stance, it could provide risk assets with a breather.
    Among Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei finished 2.31 per cent lower after a steep 5.4 per cent fall in the previous session, while Australian shares fell over 1 per cent. Chinese markets will remain closed throughout this week.
    A lowdown on markets today
    11:30 am
    Sensex at 23,785, down 235.56 points
    Nifty at 7,223, down 74.95 points
    9:25 am
    Sensex at 23,902, down 118.87 points
    Nifty at 7,262, down 35.80 points

Goldman Sachs says metals set to underperform oil, cuts price forecasts
  • Goldman Sachs on Monday said metals, particularly copper and aluminum, are set to underperform oil in the near future on subdued global demand growth and a sluggish Chinese economy.
    "Around mid-2016 and through 2017, we expect that the oil market will adjust, while metals markets are set to weaken further, particularly copper and aluminum, resulting in substantial downside to metals prices relative to oil over the period," the bank said.
    The investment bank cut its average copper price forecast by 8 per cent to $4,339 per tonne in 2016 and 11 per cent to $4,000 per tonne in 2017, citing current Chinese and global demand weakness and further cost deflation.
    Goldman said it continues to see a bearish aluminum market on resilient supply, with prices expected to average $1,414 per tonne in 2016 and $1,350 per tonne in 2017, down from its previous outlook of $1,525 and $1,625 per tonne respectively.
    The bank said it expects zinc to "significantly outperform" other metals and raised its outlook for 2016 to $1,713 per tonne from $1,700 per tonne on prospects for a supply deficit due to mine depletions and curtailments.
    The top investment bank remains bearish on gold on the possibility of further US rate hikes this year, and expects palladium to outperform platinum over the next 12 months.

    'Rise of Global Southern Belt may help Indian entrepreneurs'
    • 'Rise of Global Southern Belt may help Indian entrepreneurs'China's initiative to revitalise the Silk Road would open many opportunities and the rise of the Global Southern Belt would provide a ray of hope to Indian entrepreneurs, according to long-time China observers John Naisbitt and his wife Doris.
      "In regards to the Global Southern Belt, we believe that especially China's initiative to revitalise the Silk Road would open many opportunities. India has very good and historical connection to African countries. It shouldn't miss the opportunity to be connected via the new Silk Road with the prime position it has.
      "In the India-Africa Forum Summit your Prime Minister pointed out India's interest in Africa. And many entrepreneurs are already engaged in various Indian African businesses," they said.
      The couple have recently published a book titled "Global Game Change: How the Global Southern Belt will Reshape Our World," which argues that the global authority of the West is no longer unchallenged; the Western worldview is no longer accepted as universal.
      And it is increasingly being questioned by emerging economies around the globe that are developing their own standards which form a belt around the southern part of the globe: "The Global Southern Belt."
      The book, published by Sage India, is seen as an indispensable roadmap of the transforming global landscape.
      In an email interview, the Naisbitts said India is playing a major role in the global community and has the advantage that it's very much liked in the global community.
      "The world wants India to be successful, to beat China, to say it clearly. We also have to differentiate between India's political and economic agenda. Ideally India could become a bridge between the Middle East, Pakistan and Iran and China.
      It could hold high the banner of democracy among a continent where many citizens are still fighting for basic human rights," they told PTI.
      However, they feel that India has to address several issues like corruption, illiteracy and caste system.
      "While we understand that any discrimination on the basis of caste is illegal, it is still a great hurdle in India's social mobility. Someone in India jokingly said, yes, corruption is fought, but it just means that instead of Rs 700,000 you now pay Rs 70,000."
      On violence against lower castes and women, they said, "The problem is the general mindset that still prevails upon uneducated people. You cannot just order such mindset to be changed. The only way to change it is education.
      "And education, better the lack of education, is a core problem of India. Growing up in the caste mindset will act the way they learned it and witnessed it. It does not help when your Prime Minister takes five days to condemn such violence.
      It needs clear words and the implementation of the rule of law."
      "The challenge is that on the ground, in everyday life change to the better needs to come much faster. Healthcare, education, social security, the fields of necessary reforms are almost endless," they said.
      According to the Naisbitts, manufacturing is a good option for India to create jobs and attract FDI.
      "Wages in China are increasingly unattractive for manufacturing. But as production will move more and more towards digitalisation, where fewer and fewer people produce more goods, it will only for a limited time. In addition other Asian countries, Vietnam and Cambodia for example are very competitive and have positioned themselves well.
      "India has made a big jump in the Global Competitive Index, moving up 16 positions to the 55th rank. But its improvement in infrastructure, which plays a big role in investing in the country, still only shows slight movement," they said.
      They also feel that China's constantly rising wages are a plus for India to host labour-intensive manufacturing. The Naisbitts are the authors of the international bestsellers "Megatrends."

        RSS spikes plan of Harsimrat Kaur Badal to open up FDI in food multi-brand retail
        • RSS spikes govt's FDI plan for food multi-brand retailEven as the Minister of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI), Harsimrat Kaur Badal kept the pedal on to lobby for opening foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail for food items grown and processed within India, it seems the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has already spooked her plans. The minister has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who asked Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to speak to Sangh leaders and ask them to do some "loud thinking". Sources told BT that RSS refused to consider this issue, asking the government to stick to the manifesto.
          On Tuesday, at the inauguration of ASSOCHAM's eighth Global Food Processing Summit, Badal reiterated her commitment. Top officials told BT that initially the government was keen to bring in this reform and draft rules. If things went well, this might have got a mention in the Budget. "But sensing displeasure in RSS, they have developed cold feet".
          RSS, along with Badal's alliance partner BJP, had opposed opening up of FDI in multi-brand retail, and food forms the biggest portion of the cake. "It's a bad idea and against BJP's manifesto; we have already told the government," National Co-convener of Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), Ashwani Mahajan, replied to a tweet of this correspondent.
          In 2012, the erstwhile UPA government cleared 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail. Then, BJP along with its NDA partners and Left parties vehemently opposed the plan.
          Interestingly, the minister Badal wanted to project food retail as distinct from multi-brand retail. Conventional multi-brand retail represented by Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco, Cosco, Metro etc. includes clothes, electronics and other household items, but globally these players have made innovations to circumvent the regulatory challenges, or developed new business models. This was seen in the same light. As per market research agency CRISIL, food and groceries make up 69 per cent of the Rs 25 lakh crore retail market.
          "I have requested the Prime Minister that we must allow FDI in multi-brand retail of food, which is grown and processed in India because it will give the push and the thrust to create that infrastructure that will help the industry prosper," said Badal.
          This can impact BJP's core voter group of traders. Nearly 22 crore people are employed by small-time domestic retailers. The minister cited the example of Punjab, where her family is leading the ruling alliance. In the state, FDI in multi-brand retail has come in food sector. "It has benefitted everybody, there is no trader in the middle who has lost out, there is no farmer who has lost, no industry has lost out, so it has been a win-win situation and it has been a tried and tested formula," she said. But for BJP, whose voter base is shrinking among farmers. it is a tough call to take on another core vote bank.
          RSS leaders have conveyed to Jaitley that FDI in multi-brand retail will centralise the whole process, which in turn would reduce job opportunities. And, ideologically, the Sangh is pushing for a decentralised approach.
          These leaders told BT, the catch here is: globally the margins in food-only multi-brand retail stores are low, despite having high revenues. "These companies want a foothold to eventually open up the conventional multi-brand retail," Mahajan told BT. Other RSS leaders also back his claims and say that to allow FDI in food retail would also mean opening up contract farming and giving the ownership of the warehouses and other logistic and delivery supplies to one player to ensure bigger margins. "Our farmer is not ready for all this," another RSS leader said.
          In her arguments, the minister said globally established brands and multi-national companies will promote technology transfer, something which has been missing in India due to lack of infrastructure. RSS leaders counter her by adding that it is the job of the government of the day to make enabling infrastructure and regulatory environment to develop domestic players rather than look for FDI.
          However, the minister argues, opening up of this segment will be in the interest of both consumers and farmers: "It will bring down food inflation, create more jobs and lead to rapid infrastructure development."
          Interestingly, three years ago, while giving her party's stand on the floor of the house to oppose the UPA move, she had said exactly the opposite. The only difference in the proposal is: now she wants opening up of doors for Indian food processors.
          It appears difficult for both ends to meet, but for sure the power tussle will continue.

          Ficci-PwC survey says industry finds Make in India productive
          • A FICCI-PwC survey has given the thumbs-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government's Make in India initiative.
            About 85 per cent of the key corporate executives who responded to the survey, released in Delhi on February 9, supported the view that the initiative is not just a marketing campaign to attract investments, but an effort to encourage production in India, either by Indian companies or by MNCs.
            The survey "FICCI - PwC Strategy& Survey: India Manufacturing Barometer - Winds of Change" found 58 per cent of the CXO respondents to be 'somewhat optimistic' about the short-term prospects of the Indian economy.
            The survey's perception on the prospects of India's manufacturing sector was not too bad as 36 per cent of respondents hoped the industry margins would increase in the next one year. The worrisome factor was that the percentage of respondents that hoped for better days during a similar survey was 47 per cent in 2014, and 54 per cent in 2013.
            Commenting on the survey, Harshavardhan Neotia, President, FICCI, said that the key initiatives taken by the government in the past few months to attract investments are yielding results. "We are hopeful of a more stable and stronger growth of manufacturing in coming months. However, to revive domestic investment, the government needs to announce more reforms and measures in the forthcoming Budget to make the overall investment scenario more optimistic," he said.
            The survey covered 98 companies in eight sectors including automobiles, cables, capital goods, cement, chemicals and downstream metals.
            The observations, coming at a time when industrial production growth figures are not at all encouraging, should prove to be a morale booster for the government. The Prime Minister is to inaugurate the government's flagship investment promotion initiative, 'Make In India Week' in Mumbai on February 13. The week's agenda is a combination of high-profile visits, seminars, exhibitions, awards and business meetings. It will host government delegations from 49 nations and business delegations from 68 countries.

          General Awareness

          Maharashtra stood at top “Internet Readiness Index”

            • In accordance with the report on “Index of Internet Readiness of Indian States”, Maharashtra is leading the list of overall Internet readiness index.
              • Maharashtra is followed by KarnatakaGujarat,Telengana and Tamil Nadu.
              • The report has been released by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Indicus Analytics.
              Maharashtra stood at top “Internet Readiness Index”The Internet readiness index has been prepared on the premise of e-infrastructure indexe-participation indexIT services and e-governance index.
              Key Highlights of Report
              Among smaller states, Delhi has been emerged as the topper in terms of Internet readiness index and in the tele-density department at 221 connections per 100 persons.
              • Delhi has been followed by Puducherry and Goa while Maharashtra topped the large state group.
              • Among the Union TerritoriesChandigarh stood ahead in terms of Internet readiness index.
              The report aimed at to provide to exhibit the digital ecosphere that presently exists in the states as it is essential to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the states during rapid advancement in e-services.
              About Internet and Mobile Association of India:
              Established in 2004 is a not-for-profit industry body registered under the Societies Act, 1986. It is responsible to expand and enhance the online and mobile value added services sectors.
              • IAMAI is the only specialized industry body in India representing the interests of online and mobile value added services industry.
              • Headquarters – Mumbai
              • President – Dr. Subho Ray

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