Current Affairs Current Affairs - 8 February 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 8 February 2016

General Affairs 

4 Smugglers Shot Dead Near Indo-Pak Border, 10 Kg Of Heroin Recovered
  • 4 Smugglers Shot Dead Near Indo-Pak Border, 10 Kg Of Heroin RecoveredFEROZEPUR:  The Border Security Force (BSF) shot dead four people, including two Pakistani intruders, and recovered 10 kilogram of heroin from their possession on the Indo-Pak border in the district during the early hours today.

    Two Indian nationals were also gunned down by the BSF, RK Thapa, Deputy Inspector General of BSF said.

    The BSF personnel belonging to 191 battalion spotted some movement near the Mehndipur border outpost in Ferozepur sector around 4:40 AM and opened fire, Mr Thapa said.

    He said 10 kilogram of heroin, two pistols and a motorcycle were recovered from the spot.

    One of the intruders is believed to have fled back to the Pakistan side, Mr Thapa said.

    The two Indian nationals are yet to be identified, he said, adding that investigation is underway.

Rs. 1 Lakh Crore Disbursed Under Mudra Yojana, Says PM Narendra Modi
  • Rs 1 Lakh Crore Disbursed Under Mudra Yojana, Says PM Narendra ModiPARADIP:  Loans worth about Rs. 1 lakh crore have been sanctioned to small entrepreneurs under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today, emphasising that the government wants youth to be job creators and not job seekers.

    Speaking at the inauguration of Indian Oil Corp's (IOC) Rs. 34,555-crore Paradip Refinery, PM Modi said apart from public and private sector, there was a need for developing "personal sector" in which youth can become self-sufficient, start businesses and generate new employment avenues.

    "We do not want youth of the country to become job seekers, we want that they become job creators so that they give employment to one, two or five people.

    "So, under Mudra Yojana we are giving fund to the youth. We have disbursed about Rs. 1 lakh crore. Within such less time, giving so much money to such people is not a small thing," PM Modi said.

    Under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, which was launched in April last year, loans between Rs.50,000 and Rs. 10 lakh are provided to small entrepreneurs.

    In India, about 65 per cent of the population is below the age of 35 years and for the progress of these youth, there was a need to boost entrepreneurship, PM Modi said.

    "We need to create employment opportunities for youth in the country. So, through Mudra Yojana, we wanted to make the youth self-sufficient," he said, adding that the government is moving ahead with the economic principle to make each individual and every family self-sufficient.

    PM Modi said whenever there is a discussion on economy, it is only public and private sector that is talked out. "I'm giving emphasis on third sector. If there is importance of public and private sector in the economy, then the third sector on which emphasis should be given is the personal sector."

    The Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Ltd (MUDRA) focuses on the 5.75 crore self-employed who use funds totalling Rs. 11 lakh crore and provide jobs to 12 crore people.

    The banking sector has been allocated an overall disbursement target of about Rs. 1.22 lakh crore during 2015-16 for Mudra loans.

Meteorite Caused 'Mishap' In Vellore College: Chief Minister Jayalalithaa
  • Meteorite Caused 'Mishap' In Vellore College: Chief Minister JayalalithaaCHENNAI:  A day after a man was killed and three others were injured in a mysterious explosion in Vellore, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today said it was a meteorite fall that caused the mishap.

    "A mishap occurred yesterday when a meteorite fell in the campus of a private engineering college in Vellore district's K Pantharappalli village," she said in a release in Chennai.

    Condoling the death of a bus driver, Kamaraj, of the college in the incident, she announced a solatium of Rs. one lakh to his family and Rs. 25,000 each to the three injured persons from the Chief Minister's Public Relief Fund.

    "I have ordered the Vellore district administration and hospital officials to provide them best treatment," she said.

    Window panes of the college buses and several glass planes of the building were damaged when the meteorite fell.

    The bus driver lost his life after the meteorite fell near him as he was walking past the building.

    The meteorite fall caused an explosion. It also created a small crater near the building complex.

Mehbooba Mufti Cannot Keep Jammu And Kashmir Guessing, Says Omar Abdullah
  • Mehbooba Mufti Cannot Keep Jammu And Kashmir Guessing, Says Omar AbdullahJAMMU:  National Conference leader and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah made it clear today that his party is not ready to support BJP in case the PDP-BJP alliance snaps in the state. Mr Abdullah also said that PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti must break her silence as she cannot keep the entire state guessing on government formation.

    "Mehbooba Mufti has been quiet for long and she can no longer remain silent. She must clarify her stand on two-three issues and clear the air as to what are those CBMs and how long she will wait for those Confidence Building Measures and why did the need of CBMs suddenly arise after the demise of Mufti Mohammed Sayeed," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in Jammu.

    The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said that although an elected government is not in place, the alliance between PDP and BJP is still intact.

    "The agreement as far as our knowledge is concerned, the alliance (between BJP and PDP) still exists. We haven't heard either from BJP or PDP that alliance has been broken, so the alliance exists and if the alliance exists, then why not government (is formed).

    "Agenda of the alliance was formed and Mufti sahab was made the chief minister. What has changed in the past ten months that today even though they have numbers in the assembly they are not ready to form the government", he said.

    Mr Abdullah said that National Conference has been telling them time and again that if they are not ready to form the government, they should be bold enough to break the alliance.

    "We will go back to the people, but I am unable to understand the way of their leadership. They ask for Confidence Building Measures, but I am not sure that within the party people know or not, but outside nobody knows what they have asked for," he said.

    He said that even BJP was not aware of what PDP was asking for. "Even as BJP has said that please clearly tell us what you are asking for, so we too would want to know what are the CBMs which Mehbooba Mufti is asking for, and did they keep a timeframe, a deadline," he said.
    Mr Abdullah said, "Even if Mehbooba has demanded some CBMs then she should tell the people that what are the CBMs and should also fix a timeframe as the state is not going to wait for them forever.

    "They should have a timeframe and say if in so many days we don't get a reply, then this alliance is finished and we will go to the people."

    Asked whether his party would support BJP if the latter approaches it for government formation, he said that his doors for BJP were closed a year ago and they remain closed even today.

    "Earlier also BJP had explored those options. I have time and again said that National Conference as of today is not willing to form any relationship with them (BJP). I am not even ready discuss this issue. We closed the doors for BJP a year ago and the doors continue be to closed even today", he said.

    On his party's alliance with BJP when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, Mr Abdullah said that BJP has changed over the years.

    "That alliance did not convert into an alliance for the state as that was restricted to the Centre only and there is a huge difference between BJP of Vajpayee and that of today," he said.

    Mr Abdullah said that his party is ready to go to the people as it always wanted BJP to be kept out of government in Jammu and Kashmir and that was the reason that his party had offered unconditional support to PDP after the Assembly polls.

    "We are ready to go to the people. We had made an offer a year ago that if Mufti sahab wanted to be the chief minister, National Conference was ready to offer unconditional support as we did not wanted to see BJP in the government in the state and we knew that with the coming of BJP, the situation in the state will not improve and will worsen and that is evident from the past ten months, be it in Jammu or in Kashmir," he said.

UK PM David Cameron Rebuked By Party Members For Ignoring Their Views On EU
  • UK PM David Cameron Rebuked By Party Members For Ignoring Their Views On EULONDON:  British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing a revolt from among his Conservatives for encouraging lawmakers to ignore their local party's views on an upcoming European Union membership referendum.

    Cameron has said he will back staying in the EU if a draft deal on Britain's future relationship published this week is agreed by other EU leaders, but many in his party, which is deeply divided over Europe, do not plan to back his position.

    Earlier this week Cameron told parliament that lawmakers should not decide which side to campaign for based on what their local party group might say, instead telling them to do what they think "is right for Britain".

    The comments have provoked an angry response from party members, who said they had undermined the goodwill Cameron had gained from promising the referendum in the first place.

    "We urge the prime minister to refrain from showing any disrespect to the loyal servants who helped him win a majority government," representatives of more than 40 local party associations wrote in a letter to the Sunday Telegraph.

    "It is deeply regrettable that the prime minister dismisses the very people who helped secure his victory, and he should remember that no prime minister has a divine right to rule."

    A survey of 144 of the Conservative's 330 lawmakers conducted by the Sunday Times newspaper found 57 percent of those who had made up their mind planned to campaign to leave the bloc.

    Cameron, who promised the membership vote in part due to pressure from eurosceptic members of his party, hopes it will help settle the long-running splits within the Conservatives over Europe.

    The internal rifts over Britain's involvement in the European Union have dogged the party for decades and contributed to the downfall of two previous Conservative prime ministers, Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

    The EU's draft text addressed all four areas where Cameron wants reform. While officials claimed victory in winning concessions to stem migration and to boost British sovereignty, eurosceptics said Britain's demands had been watered down.

Business Affairs 

Union Budget 2016-17: AMFI seeks more tax breaks for mutual fund sector
  • AMFI seeks more tax breaks for mutual fund sectorAssociation of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) in its pre-budget proposals has urged the government to consider additional tax benefits for the investors.
    The industry body has sought more tax incentives on ELSS, pension products and infrastructure debt mutual funds.
    "We have asked for an equal treatment of pension products of mutual funds and NPS. At the moment, under section 80CCD of the Income Tax Act, NPS is given a priority. We have also sought separate tax exemption for ELSS, which is currently within the 80C limit of Rs 1.5 lakh," AMFI Chief Executive CVR Rajendran said.
    "There is also need for more infrastructure financing. So we also proposed investment of capital gains in infrastructure mutual funds. The 54EC bonds (used to save capital gains) should be exclusively invested in infrastructure mutual funds," he said this on the sidelines of an Indian Chamber of Commerce summit in Kolkata.
    Rajendran further said there is a target to increase the size of the mutual fund industry to Rs 30 lakh crore within three years from the current Rs 13 lakh crore.
    "But this would require all mutual fund companies to expand their reach. Narrow margins have prevented a rapid expansion. That is what keeping us from moving into smaller markets," he noted.
    Bajaj Capital Director and Group CEO Anil Chopra said new products will help increasing AUMs of the industry. Clarity on REITs is awaited and a notification on target date debt funds is due from markets regulator Sebi.

P&G Q2 net profit rises 62% at Rs 147 crore
  • P&G Q2 net profit rises 62% at Rs 147 croreFMCG major Procter and Gamble Hygiene and Health Care Ltd (P&G) has reported a 61.81 per cent jump in the net profit to Rs 146.7 crore for the second quarter ended December 31.
    The company, which follows July to June fiscal, had posted a net profit of Rs 90.66 crore in the same quarter last fiscal, it said in a BSE filing.
    Net sales during the quarter under review stood at Rs 713.23 crore, up 10.74 per cent as against Rs 644.03 crore in the year-ago period, it added.
    Overall expenses during the quarter stood at Rs 511.84 crore, down 3.81 per cent compared with Rs 532.12 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.

    Digital revolution in India opportunity for US firms: Ravi Shankar Prasad
    • Minister for Communications and IT Ravi Shankar PrasadAsserting that India is sitting on the cusp of a digital revolution, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has exhorted senior executives of leading American IT firms to take advantage of the 'Digital India' initiative and tap the growth opportunities in the country.
      "India is sitting on the cusp of a digital revolution," Union Minister for Communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday told executives of top American IT firms in a round table in Boston.
      "Whether it is big metropolitan cities or small towns, a well-connected India has the potential to not only usher in economic and welfare opportunities for its citizens, but also the global economic order," Prasad, who is here to attend the annual India Conference at the prestigious Harvard University, said.
      "Our government is taking every policy decision in a transparent, predictable and reasonable manner. Therefore, I encourage American businesses to take advantage of the Digital India program, and the growth opportunities in India," Prasad said.
      Organized by US India Business Council, the round table was attended by senior executives of American and Indian companies that included Google, AT&T, MasterCard, Facebook, American Tower Corporation, UST Global and iTech.
      Prime Minister Narendra Modi's directive to connect Indian diaspora across the country is a tremendous opportunity for both Indian and US companies alike, said USIBC president Mukesh Aghi.
      "We encourage the development of policies that clear bureaucratic hurdles which may delay the implementation of achieving last-mile connectivity," he said.
      Noting that 85 per cent Indians still do not have access to the Internet, Aghi said therefore, to fill this gap the government could make it easier to obtain clearances to install cell phone towers.
      "IT infrastructure can be further expanded by lifting the ban on foreign satellite operators so they can provide spectrum in hard-to-reach areas," Aghi said.
      Dan Gupta of UST Global estimated that the Digital India initiative could help boost India's gross domestic product (GDP) by around $550 billion upping its GDP by $1 trillion by 2025 a historic growth that can only be fostered by encouraging cooperation between the two nations.
      "Industry commends the government's continued efforts on the passage of important economic reforms such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill that will simplify the indirect tax regime and allow an individual to start a business with ease," Khurana said.

        Iran seeks payment in euros for new oil sales and old dues from India, others
        • Iran seeks payment in euros for new oil sales and old dues from India, othersIran wants to recover tens of billions of dollars it is owed by India and other buyers of its oil in euros and is billing new crude sales in euros, too, looking to reduce its dependence on the US dollar following last month's sanctions relief.
          A source at state-owned National Iranian Oil Co (NIOC) said Iran will charge in euros for its recently signed oil contracts with firms including French oil and gas major Total, Spanish refiner Cepsa and Litasco, the trading arm of Russia's Lukoil.
          "In our invoices we mention a clause that buyers of our oil will have to pay in euros, considering the exchange rate versus the dollar around the time of delivery," the NIOC source said.
          Lukoil and Total declined to comment, while Cepsa did not respond to a request for comment.
          Iran has also told its trading partners who owe it billions of dollars that it wants to be paid in euros rather than US dollars, said the person, who has direct knowledge of the matter.
          Iran was allowed to recover some of the funds frozen under US-led sanctions in currencies other than dollars, such as the Omani rial and UAE dhiram.
          Switching oil sales to euros makes sense as Europe is now one of Iran's biggest trading partners.
          "Many European companies are rushing to Iran for business opportunities, so it makes sense to have revenue in euros," said Robin Mills, chief executive of Dubai-based Qamar Energy.
          Iran has pushed for years to have the euro replace the dollar as the currency for international oil trade. In 2007, Tehran failed to persuade OPEC members to switch away from the dollar, which its then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called a "worthless piece of paper".
          The NIOC source said Iran's central bank instituted a policy while the country was under sanctions over its disputed nuclear programme to carry out foreign trade in euros.
          "Iran shifted to the euro and cancelled trade in dollars because of political reasons," the source said.
          Boost for Euro Trade
          Iran has the world's fourth-largest proved reserves of crude oil, and expects to quickly increase production, which could lead to tens of billions of euros worth of new oil trade.
          Iran's insistence on being paid in euros rather than dollars is also a sign of an uneasy truce between Tehran and Washington even after last month's lifting of most sanctions.
          US officials estimate about $100 billion (89.2 billion euros) of Iranian assets were frozen abroad, around half of which Tehran could access as a result of sanctions relief.
          It is not clear how much of those funds are oil dues that Iran would want back in euros.
          India owes Tehran about $6 billion for oil delivered during the sanctions years.
          Last month, NIOC's director general for international affairs told Reuters that Iran "would prefer to receive (oil money owed) in some foreign currency, which for the time being is going to be euro."
          Indian government sources confirmed Iran is looking to be paid in euros.
          Tehran has asked to be paid using the exchange rates at the time the oil was delivered, along with interest for those payment delays, Indian and Iranian sources said.
          Indian officials are working on a mechanism that could involve local banks United Commercial Bank (UCO) and IDBI Bank for handling payments to Iran, one Indian government source said.
          UCO CEO RK Takkar said the bank is involved in payments to Iran, but did not say if there were any plans to change the payment mechanism. IDBI CEO Kishor Kharat could not be reached for comment.
          India could also try to resume payments through Turkey's Halkbank, a channel it stopped using in 2012, or by direct transfer to Iranian banks through the global SWIFT transaction network.
          With Iran now again linking to international lenders through SWIFT, the NIOC source said it was easy for Tehran to be paid in any currency it wants, adding: "And we want euros."

          Mahindra AMC receives Sebi nod to enter MF business
          • Mahindra AMC receives Sebi nod to enter MF businessMahindra Asset Management Company has received markets regulator Sebi's approval to set up mutual fund business, becoming the latest Indian conglomerate to enter this segment.
            Mahindra AMC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra Financial Services (MMFS), got the regulator's nod on February 4.
            In a BSE filing, MMFS said: "Mahindra Asset Management Company Private Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, on February 4 received the approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to act as the asset management company to the Mahindra Mutual Fund."
            Mahindra AMC also named Ashutosh Bishnoi as its CEO and MD.
            "Our customer base of nearly 4 million and over 1,200 branches of Mahindra Finance will play a critical role in ensuring success in the mutual fund business through best-in-class customer service," Mahindra Group Financial Services President and MMFS MD Ramesh Iyer said.
            The company said it will mainly focus on semi-urban and rural markets with its offerings.
            "We believe that investors in these markets have an even greater savings potential than urban markets, but they do not have either access or awareness of market-related financial instruments such as mutual funds. So, our task will be to create access and awareness," the company's newly-appointed CEO said.
            Bishnoi added, "With the proven success and strength of the relationships that Mahindra Finance already has, we believe that we are well-poised to take this business forward in same markets."
            At present, there are over 40 mutual fund houses operating in the country.
            While the Indian mutual fund industry has been growing steadily, a number of foreign fund houses have exited the country's mutual market in the recent past and in most cases, the businesses were acquired by Indian entities.
            In October last year, Reliance Capital Asset Management (RCAM) announced takeover of global giant Goldman Sachs' mutual fund business in India for Rs 243 crore.
            Standard Chartered sold its mutual fund business in India to IDFC in 2008 and L&T Finance bought mutual fund operations from Fidelity in 2012, while in 2014, HDFC MF acquired Morgan Stanley's fund business here.
            Besides, Birla Sunlife has acquired ING Mutual Fund, Kotak MF has bought PineBridge Mutual Fund and Pramerica has taken over Deutsche Bank's mutual fund business in India.
            MMFS is part of the Anand Mahindra-led Mahindra group. The financial services arm has more than 1,200 branches across the country with over 16,000 employees.

          General Awareness

          PMKVY completes 10 lakh enrolments under Skill India

            • The front runner programme of Ministry of Skill Development and EntrepreneurshipPradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) has completed 10 lakh enrolments.
              • As per the recent announcement, there are 10, 28,671 enrolments under 382 active job roles out of which 70% have already completed their trainings.
              The scheme has been implemented by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in all over Indian covering 596 districts and 531 constituencies. To educate and encourage the youth to avail the scheme, 410 Kaushal Vikas Shivirs were conducted across the country.
              PMKVY completes 10 lakh enrolments under Skill India
              • States with maximum enrolment under scheme – Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu,Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh
              • Sectors with maximum enrolment under scheme – Logistics (135615),Agriculture (90489), Electronics (82903), Beauty and Wellness (72316), Retail(65901) and Automotive (61846)
              About Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
              Initiated by PM Modi on 15 July 2015 (World Youth Skills Day) is the India’s largest skill certification and monetary reward scheme.
              • The scheme is dealing with 29 sectors in which around 566 job roles have been identified, that envisages to make youth more employable with hands on experience on skills.
              • It aims to offer 24 lakh Indian youth meaningful, industry relevant, skill based training.
              The trainees will be offered a financial reward and a government certification on successful completion of training and assessment, which will help them in securing a job for a better future.

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