Current Affairs Current Affairs - 25 February 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 25 February 2016


General Affairs 

Rail Budget To Cater To People's Needs Satisfactorily: Suresh Prabhu
  • Rail Budget To Cater To People's Needs Satisfactorily: Suresh PrabhuNEW DELHI:  Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu today said that the Rail Budget will cater to the needs of all "satisfactorily" as a lot of effort has gone into its preparation.

    "The Rail Budget we have prepared is in the interest of the nation and railways," said Mr Prabhu, who will present his second Rail Budget tomorrow in Parliament after assuming charge of the ministry.

    "We have tried to meet the needs of all satisfactorily. A lot of effort has gone into making the budget. We have taken the ground reality into consideration before finalising it," he said.

    Efforts are on to generate revenue for railways through non-tariff sources like advertising, commercialisation of surplus land, official sources said, adding that a separate directorate is being planned for this purpose.

BSP Chief Mayawati, CPM's Sitaram Yechury Take Digs At Modi Government
  • BSP Chief Mayawati, CPM's Sitaram Yechury Take Digs At Modi Government
    NEW DELHI:  BSP chief Mayawati and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury today took several digs at the Narendra Modi government over the Rohith Vemula suicide issue, saying the Centre could not respond to opposition queries because it was awaiting a "signal from Nagpur, indicating the RSS headquarters.

    During heated exchanges over the issue in the Rajya Sabha, Ms Mayawati wondered why Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi could not give a reply on behalf of the government on whether they will include a Dalit in the judicial committee probing the suicide by the Dalit student of Hyderabad University.

    Mr Yechury then stood up to say that the treasury bench cannot say anything without a signal from the Prime Minister.

    The BSP leader immediately quipped that the government was "waiting for a signal from Nagpur", where the RSS headquarters is located.

    Not to be left behind, Mr Yechury again took a potshot at the government saying "one should also remember there are lots of call drops."

    Another incident which left the House in splits was when Ms Mayawati literally snubbed JD(U) leader KC Tyagi when he was making an intervention. Mr Tyagi's remarks were expunged.

    Ms Mayawati accused him of playing into the hands of the BJP to take the focus away from a serious issue. This led to a few minutes of sloganeering by the treasury bench.

Ajit Doval Didn't Meet His Pak Counterpart After Pathankot Attack: India
  • Ajit Doval Didn't Meet His Pak Counterpart After Pathankot Attack: IndiaNEW DELHI:  Government today said there has not been any meeting between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Pakistani counterpart Lt Gen (retd) Naseer Khan Janjua in Paris after the Pathankot attack.

    "We denied it then and we deny it now," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted. He was replying to a query on a media report that Mr Doval and his Pak counterpart met in Paris in second week of January after the Pathankot attack.

    Though the spokesperson has been maintaining that the two National Security Advisors are in touch over the probe into the Pathankot terror attack, he has always denied that there was any meeting between the two.

    According to a report in a national daily, Mr Doval had a second secret meeting with Mr Janjua in Paris in the second week of January when he was there to meet French President Francois Hollande who came to India as chief guest for the Republic Day parade.

    The meeting in Paris with Mr Janjua came soon after the Pathankot airbase attack on January 2 carried out by terrorists belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad, it added.

Budget Session: Is Afzal Guru A Martyr? Anurag Thakur Asks Lok Sabha
  • Budget Session: Is Afzal Guru A Martyr? Anurag Thakur Asks Lok Sabha
    NEW DELHI:  As the ongoing Budget Session in Parliament witnessed repeated disruptions and war of words, BJP leader Anurag Thakur accused the Congress of "standing with those who call Afzal Guru a martyr", during the JNU controversy.

    "Is Afzal Guru a martyr or a terrorist," the BJP leader today raised the question in the Lok Sabha while participating in a discussion on the Jawaharlal Nehru University row.

    "You (Congress) will have to decide whether you are with those who attack our parliament or those who protect it?" Mr Thakur said.

    He began by invoking the sacrifices of Pampore martyr Captain Pawan Kumar and Siachen 'miracle' soldier Lance Naik Hanumanthappa, adding that the BJP stood with the soldiers and implemented the long-pending 'One Rank One Pension' (OROP) scheme.

    Targeting the Congress and its vice president Rahul Gandhi, Mr Thakur said: "Your leader goes and sympathises with those who were celebrating Afzal Guru as a martyr."

    "For them, it is family first, nation last. For us, it is nation first," he said.

Nawaz Sharif Says Pakistan Wants To Have Good Ties With India
  • Nawaz Sharif Says Pakistan Wants To Have Good Ties With IndiaISLAMABAD:  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said Pakistan wants to have good ties with all neighbours, including India, and asserted that mutual cooperation was vital for the socio-economic uplift of both the countries.

    Mr Sharif made the remarks during a meeting with India's newly appointed High Commissioner in Pakistan Gautam Bambawale who called on him at the PM House in Islamabad.

    An official source said that the two discussed various aspects of Pakistan-India relations and also agreed on the importance of improving the relations.

    "Pakistan was pursuing good relations with all its neighbours including India as mutual cooperation was vital for the socio-economic uplift of both the countries," Sharif was quoted as saying by the state-run APP news agency.

    Mr Sharif also extended a very warm welcome to the new High Commissioner and hoped that he will work to bring the two countries closer.

    Mr Bambawale, who arrived in Pakistan last month to assume the charge of the High Commission, thanked the Prime Minister for warm welcome and expressed the hope that his role will be beneficial in strengthening relations between the two nations.

    "High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale had a meeting with H.E. the Prime Minister of Pakistan today @ PM House," the Indian mission tweeted along with a picture of their meeting.

    An official of Indian mission refused to share what was discussed. "It just a courtesy call only," he said.

    Mr Bambawale, an IFS officer of 1984-batch, replaced TCA Raghavan. He has worked in Germany, US and China. In 2007, he became the first Consul General of India in Guangzhou, China.

Business Affairs 

    Sensex slips 321 points, Nifty ends at 7,018 ahead of F&O expiry; BHEL top loser
    • Sensex slips 321 points, Nifty ends at 7,018 ahead of F&O expiry; BHEL top loserExtending previous session's losses, the S&P BSE Sensex settled the day 321 points lower, while broader CNX Nifty slipped below its key 7,150-mark ahead of the derivatives expiry on Thursday.
      The headline indices sank tracking negative trend seen in Asian markets after Iran's oil minister Bijan Zanganeh dismissed an output freeze deal between top oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia as "a joke".
      The 30-share index ended the day at 23,088, down 321.25 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 7,018, down 90.85 points at close.
      Market breadth turned negative with 23 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in red.
      BHEL stock was the top loser on both the benchmark indices and shed 5 per cent.
      Investors were also jittery ahead of the rail budget on Thursday and the Union Budget due on February 29, amid hopes that policymakers will deliver a fiscally responsible budget that nonetheless steers spending to key areas such as infrastructure.
      "From a global stand point, emerging markets have not matched-up commensurately in terms of fundamental growth and corporate earnings", said Dhananjay Sinha, head of research at Emkay Global Financial Services.
      "As a result of that, there has been a retrenchment of flows from emerging markets in general."
      Overseas investors sold a net $41.10 million of Indian stocks on February 22, taking this year's outflow to $2.43 billion. 
      Among Asian markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 1.15 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei shed 0.85 per cent. China's Shanghai Composite bucked the trend to gain 0.88 per cent.
      A lowdown on markets today
      11:25 am
      Sensex at 23,161, down 249.02 points
      Nifty at 7,037, down 72.05 points
      09:20 am
      Sensex at 23,302, down 107.90 points
      Nifty at 7,078, down 31.30 points

      Centre targets electrifying 7,000 villages by March
      • Centre targets electrifying 7,000 villages by MarchThe central government has fixed a target of electrifying 7,000 un-electrified villages by the end of the current fiscal on March 31, Power Minister Piyush Goyal has said.
        "The village electrification target for 2015-16 was 2,800 villages, which I set to 5,800. Now my officials told me that they would be able to electrify 7,000 villages by March end. I'm sure that we would be able to achieve this target," Goyal said at The Power Focus Summit here on Tuesday evening.
        "The figure, as we speak, of villages that have already being electrified is 5,542 villages, that's one-third of the total. There are another 1,390 villages, where electrification work is done, they are under energization," the minister said.
        "Officials have themselves fixed their target to electrify 7,000 villages by March end. I'm sure that we would be able to achieve this target", he added.
        Referring to the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (UDAY), Goyal hoped that more states would join the discoms' debt restructuring scheme.
        "The agreements signed with the states specify the timelines and the reduction in losses to be achieved. The central government will monitor their work very religiously and I am sure more states including Kerala and Karnataka will join UDAY."
        Bihar became the sixth state to sign the Uday MoU here earlier this week.

        Tata Motors stock down nearly 4%; mcap slips by Rs 3,722 crore
        • Tata Motors stock down nearly 4%; mcap slips by Rs 3,722 croreShares of Tata Motors fell nearly 4 per cent, eroding Rs 3,722 crore from its market valuation today, as the strike by a section of workers at the company's plant in Ahmedabad entered the second day.
          The stock went down by 3.63 per cent to settle at Rs 306.90 on BSE. During the day, it lost 4 per cent to Rs 305.50.
          At NSE, shares of the company slipped 3.84 per cent to close at Rs 306.30.
          Led by decline in the stock, the company's market valuation fell by Rs 3,722.27 crore to Rs 88,219.73 crore.
          Strike by a section of workers at Tata Motors plant in Ahmedabad entered the second day as the company's management and protesting employees remained adamant on their stand, a Labour Department official said.
          "Both the management and the workers, who are on strike, are adamant on their stand. The workers are demanding that suspension of all the 28 colleagues be immediately revoked while the company management is saying that they will take a decision on it only after an inquiry," Assistant Labour Commissioner M S Patel told PTI today.
          Striking workers are protesting at the plant site in Sanand.
          When contacted, a company spokesperson said there has been no significant impact on production due to the strike.

          Asia's oil markets in upheaval as China, India change the game
          • Asia's oil markets in upheaval as China, India change the gameAsia's oil markets are being upended as India's and China's refiners overtake once-dominant buyers like Japan and challenge the United States as the world's biggest consumer.
            The shifts are not only establishing new trade routes but are also challenging the way oil is priced in the region as the new players push for more cash cargoes and fewer long-term deals.
            China and India's combined share of world oil consumption has tripled since 1990 to over 16 percent, nearing the U.S. share of roughly 20 percent, cementing their status as the main center of global demand growth.
            "Asian oil markets are in a tremendous period of flux," said Owain Johnson, managing director of Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME).
            By 2040, China and India could double their share again to a third, analysts say.
            One of Asia's rising traders is Indian Oil Corp, which operates 11 refineries with a combined capacity of 80.7 million tonnes a year (1.9 million barrels per day), a third of India's capacity and roughly the same size as Exxon's U.S. refining base.
            "Spot crude (trading) gives more flexibility and more variety is available. Last year we raised spot purchases and for this year we are working out a strategy," said its head of finance A. K. Sharma.
            The changes come at the expense of western majors, with Shell complaining in December that aggressive trading, conducted by Chinese companies, meant Asian crude prices didn't properly reflect the market.
            "Chinese oil companies have become the new power houses in oil trading," said Oystein Berentsen, managing director of crude at Strong Petroleum in Singapore.
            NEW PRIORITIES
            Previously, Asia's largest oil buyers from Japan - which once accounted for about 10 percent of global demand - stuck with long-term contracts.
            Now, as China and India take the lead, a growing share of trading is done on a spot basis as buyers prioritize cost and delivery flexibility over fixed shipment schedules.
            Moreover, thanks to the hefty volumes, the new buyers are able to extract favourable prices. China and India's combined daily net crude imports exceed 10 million barrels, or some 3 million bpd more than top importer the United States.
            The new buyers are also bringing new characteristics to the marketplace.
            "Indians are more flexible than many of their Asian peers, buying up distressed or stranded cargoes when there's a profitable opportunity," said Ivan Szpakowski, head of Asia commodity research at Citigroup.
            "India will become the biggest source of oil consumption growth. Its geography also changes trade flows. If you look at a map, the Middle East is much closer to India than to Japan or China and such shipments are effectively short-haul."
            In China, state-owned oil giants have been joined by nearly 20 independent refiners which have been granted import licenses and exclusively buy spot supplies.
            Their arrival is changing trade flows through their preference for cheaply-delivered Russian crudes which has helped Russia challenge the Middle East as China's biggest supplier.
            NEW OIL PRICING?
            Not all is smooth sailing. Richard Gorry, director of JBC Energy Asia, said the rise of these traders is causing "teething problems" as they make their first deals with highly regulated international companies.
            In January, a crude cargo sold to an independent Chinese refiner by western merchants Vitol and Mercuria had to be resold after the firm failed to secure financing, while this month another private Chinese company walked away from a deal to buy $680 million of Russian oil, citing "changes in the market" as a reason.
            China's national oil firms are also challenging Asia's leading price benchmark, the Dubai Market-on-Close (MoC) by Platts, used to price more than 12 million bpd of crude to Asia, by frequently sweeping up almost all available cargoes, preventing other traders from participating in the pricing process.
            To avoid further squeezes, Platts made more crude available in its MoC, and Dave Ernsberger, head of global oil content at Platts, a subsidiary of McGraw Hill Financial, said it "absolutely makes sense" for China to take "a much more pre-eminent role in price discovery."
            Still, challengers are circling.
            "The old system is no more and the creation of new systems and patterns of behaviours has begun," said Jorge Montepeque, who set up the MoC system for Platts in the 1990s and is now an independent consultant.
            Keen to play a bigger part in price creation, China plans to launch Shanghai crude futures.
            Other exchanges are also looking to capitalize on the change.
            "China is obviously keen to have an ever greater say in pricing. At the same time, Iran is returning to the market. Firms across Asia are looking at new ways of doing business and legacy arrangements are all under review," DME's Johnson said.

            SBI's Rs 11,700-crore locked as bad loans with wilful defaulters
            • SBI's Rs 11,700-crore locked as bad loans riseLoans worth Rs 11,700 crore given by State Bank of India have been locked up as non-performing assets as nearly 1,160 defaulters have willfully decided not to repay.
              The bank had identified 1,164 cases of wilful default with outstanding loan amount of Rs 11,705 crore, as on September 2015, as per data collated by the Finance Ministry.
              Besides, the bank has declared beleaguered Kingfisher Airlines and its guarantors UB Holdings and Vijay Mallya as wilful defaulters in November. Kingfisher Airlines owes Rs 1,600 crore to SBI.
              The bank has filed FIR in 13 cases against wilful defaulters amounting to Rs 13.10 crore, it said.
              Among its five associates, State Bank of Hyderabad has the highest number with 197 wilful defaulters as on September 2015, with an outstanding loan of Rs 2,088 crore.
              It is followed by State Bank of Patiala with 124 wilful defaulters owing Rs 1,328 crore. Its biggest subsidiary State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur is struggling with bad loans of Rs 829 crore given to 43 wilful defaulters.
              State Bank of Mysore and State Bank of Travancore have 66 and 65 wilful defaulters in their list, respectively. In absolute amount terms, it is Rs 974 crore and Rs 839 crore, respectively.
              SBI's gross NPAs or bad loans soared to Rs 72,791.73 crore at the end of the December quarter as against Rs 61,991.45 crore a year earlier.
              The mounting pressure due to bad loans hit profitability of the SBI as its consolidated profit plunged 67 per cent to Rs 1,259.49 crore for the quarter on account of higher provisioning for bad loans.
              Reeling under stressed assets, state-owned banks' third quarter performance can at best be described as dismal, with Bank of Baroda reporting a loss of over Rs 3,342 crore, the highest from any bank so far.
              Faced with huge NPAs, SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya had said bad loans are expected to surge in the coming quarter, which may hit its profitability.

            General Awareness

            India’s first N-submarine INS Arihant aces deep sea test

              • Having passed several deep sea diving drills as well as weapons launch tests over the past few months, and now it is ready for formal induction into the Naval Fleet.
                • India’s ambitious indigenously build first Nuclear Armed Submarine is ready for full-fledged operations.
                • The RFS –Epron a Russian ship supplemented nuclear submarine on its deep sea dives and launch tests since October last year that took place in Visakhapatnam.
                The Project timeline:
                • 1970 – The project sanctioned, and 1984 the project has got approved the design and technology finalized.INS Arihant
                • 1998- Work on the project started with the massive involvement of private sector.
                • 2009- The lead vessel of the class INS Arihant is formally launched.
                • 2013-Arihant’s on board nuclear reactor attains criticality and in 2014 it begins to extensive sea and Weapon Trails.
                • 2015 -INS Arihant successfully test fired dummy B5 missile.
                • 2016 February 23 – Boat reported to be ready for commissioning and will be featured in the future Fleet Reviews.
                You Should Know:
                • The Arihant (Killer of Enemies) class of nuclear powered ballistic missile submarines indigenously build by Navy ShipbuildingCenter – Visakhapatnam for the Indian Navy.
                • It is developed cost of USD 2.9 billion under Advanced Technology vessel (ATV).
                • The Boat will have a length of 112 m overall, can displace 6000 tonnes and driving depth of 300m submerged and powered with 83 MW pressurized Water Reactor.
                • The 5,443,108 kg heavy submarine will be armed with 12 Short Range K-15 missiles and k-4 ballistic missiles with a range of over 700 kilometers and 3500 kilometers

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