Current Affairs Current Affairs - 14 March 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 14 March 2016


General Affairs 

Government To Push For Passage Of Key Bills In Parliament
  • Government To Push For Passage Of Key Bills In ParliamentNEW DELHI:  With just three working days left in the first part of Budget session, the government plans to push for the passage of some key bills, including the Whistle Blower Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016.

    The passing of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill and the Aadhar Bill were highlights for the government in the third week of Budget session which had begun on a stormy note last month.

    In the remaining days, the government would be keen to see that the real estate bill passed by the Rajya Sabha on March 16 gets the nod of Lok Sabha and Aadhar bill passed by the Lok Sabha gets passed in Rajya Sabha besides transaction of the scheduled financial business.

    In Lok Sabha, the business in remaining three days will include discussion and voting on Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) for 2015-16 and introduction, consideration and passing of related Appropriation Bill.

    The legislative items proposed to be taken up in the Lower House are the consideration and passing of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015 as passed by Rajya Sabha, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the consideration of amendments made by Rajya Sabha in the Bureau of Indian Standards Bill 2015, as passed by Lok Sabha.

    Besides the House could also take up the consideration of amendments made by Rajya Sabha in the National Waterways Bill, 2015, as passed by Lok Sabha and the introduction of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Bill, 2016.

    Besides the general discussion on Railway Budget in Rajya Sabha, the government plans to take up the Whistle Blower Protection (Amendment) Bill, the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012.

    The Lok Sabha will also take up scheduled financial business, including the Appropriation (Railways) Bill, 2016, besides a general discussion on the Budget.

28 Indian Fishermen Arrested By Sri Lankan Navy
  • 28 Indian Fishermen Arrested By Sri Lankan NavyCOLOMBO:  At least 28 Indian fishermen were arrested today by Sri Lankan Navy personnel for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line and fishing in Lankan waters.

    The fishermen belonged to Pudukottai, Pamban and Tuticorin and they were taken to Kangesanthurai port, Gopinath, the Assistant Director of Fisheries Department of Tamil Nadu, said.

    They were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy with assistance from the coastal guard officials, Sri Lankan officials said.

    Three boats of the fishermen were seized off the coast of Thavalpadu while five boats were caught near the Delft island.

    The boats have been handed over to the Mannar police and fisheries officials for further action, the Navy said.

    This is the fourth detention of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy this month on the charge of fishing in the island nation's waters.

    Eight fishermen were arrested on March 3, while 29 others on March 6 and another batch four on March 10 by the Sri Lankan Navy at different locations in mid sea.

    Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had written letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for appropriate actions for a permanent solution to the recurring arrests.

    She had also sought Centre's intervention for the release of all the arrested Indian fishermen and their fishing boats in the custody of Sri Lanka.

BJP To Protest Against Ghulam Nabi Azad's RSS-ISIS Remarks In Parliament
  • BJP To Protest Against Ghulam Nabi Azad's RSS-ISIS Remarks In ParliamentNEW DELHI:  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is set to raise in Parliament tomorrow the controversial remarks made by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad comparing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) with ISIS.

    Party sources said some members will raise the issue and seek Mr Azad's apology as they insisted that any comparison of the RSS with a terror organisation like ISIS was "unacceptable" to them.

    That Mr Azad chose an event organised by a Muslim body to attack the RSS will be handy for the saffron party, they said, adding that it reflected the "votebank politics" of Congress.

    Mr Azad had on Saturday kicked a controversy by seeking to draw a parallel between the RSS and ISIS.

    "So, we oppose organisations like ISIS, the way we oppose RSS. If those among us in Islam too do wrong things, they are no way less than RSS," he had said at an event organised by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind.

    Hitting back, an RSS spokesperson in Nagaur had said such a comparison showed "intellectual bankruptcy" of Congress and its "unwillingness to deal with fundamentalist and cruel forces like ISIS". RSS will consider legal action against Mr Azad, he had said.

    BJP too jumped to the defence of its ideological mentor, calling it a nationalist organisation and demanding an apology from Mr Azad.

    The party had said it was "unfortunate" that Mr Azad had made such comments and asked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to disassociate from his remarks and take action against him if he does not withdraw them.

ISRO Plans To Double Launches, Asks Industry For Bigger Stakes
  • ISRO Plans To Double Launches, Asks Industry For Bigger StakesHYDERABAD:  The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) intends to more than double its launches a year, and get on board industries to build entire satellites and partner in rocket integration by taking bigger stakes, its Chairman AS Kiran Kumar has said.

    India currently has 34 satellites in space but this number falls short of the country's need to generate information, both on earth observation and communication fronts, said Mr Kumar, who is also Secretary in the Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission.

    "We have already reached seven launches in a year. We intend to increase it to almost 12 launches a year...immediately (subsequently) following to reach up to 18 launches a year," he said, delivering a lecture at the Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI), Hyderabad branch.

    "We need to build capacity and this capacity-building is going to happen with attempts by bringing in industry to use the launch vehicles (rockets of ISRO). We are looking at the industry performing total launch at Sriharikota (ISRO's spaceport) using mechanisms. So, we are working on these mechanisms," he said.

    "Today we are working on mechanisms for ensuring that the industry would be able to build and launch satellites using the launch vehicles in our Sriharikota launch pad.

    "Industry participation, for example raw materials, fabrication, is happening and vehicle integration is planned for near future. We are in discussion with industries. We are trying to make industries to take bigger stakes in the space programmes," Mr Kumar said.

    ISRO is working on a mechanism with the industry on sharing responsibility, both in terms of investment and in areas of co-development and co-innovation.

    G Satheesh Reddy, Scientific Adviser to Defence Minister, said AeSI has approached its counterparts in advanced nations, inviting companies there to set up shop in India in areas of aerospace sector where the country is not strong, in partnership with 'desi' firms, as part of the 'Make in India' push.

    Mr Reddy, who is the Chairman of AeSI's Hyderabad branch, said the Society has written letter to them (counterparts in other countries) listing areas in the sector where India needs collaboration.

    He said they are expecting response in a couple of months and hope to initiate discussion with serious players from abroad in the second-half of this year, and "marry" them with interested domestic firms.

Hope To Pass Goods And Services Tax Bill This Session: Arun Jaitley
  • Hope To Pass Goods And Services Tax Bill This Session: Arun JaitleyNEW DELHI:  The government hopes to pass the landmark Constitution Amendment Bill for a national Goods and Services Tax (GST) as well as the bankruptcy and insolvency bill in the second half of the Budget session beginning April 20, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

    The GST bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha and is pending ratification by the Upper House, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority. After it is approved by the Rajya Sabha, the legislation needs to be ratified by half of the 29 states so as to roll out GST possibly by October 1.

    "The current session of Parliament has already seen one landmark legislation two days ago. And I do hope to see another two being passed in the second part of the session with regard to the bankruptcy and insolvency laws and GST," he said at the Advancing Asia Conference in Delhi.

    The Parliament had last week passed the Aadhaar Bill, providing statutory backing to the unique identification number for transferring government subsidies and benefits.

    Also, the Real Estate Bill was approved by the Rajya Sabha. Once the GST and the bankruptcy and insolvency laws are approved, "I think this gives major fillip or push to our reform process" even in an otherwise weak global scenario, Mr Jaitley said.

    Exhibiting determination to move on the reform path, India can provide a significant amount of growth to the world, he said.

    "We are trying to have special emphasis now both in terms of legislative changes and resources being put to strengthen the banking system. I do feel that next few months, in bringing about structural change, are going to be extremely important," the minister said.

    Stating that India has its own share of problems, Mr Jaitley said there was increased determination in the country to face the challenges and accelerate the pace of reforms so as to continue to grow.

    "Our growth model is based on concerns to eradicate poverty," he said.

Business Affairs 

    RBI governor Raghuram Rajan 'very happy' with composition of MPC
    • RBI governor Raghuram Rajan 'very happy' with composition of MPCRBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday said he is "very happy" with the composition of the proposed six-member monetary policy committee that will set benchmark interest rates.
      In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the RBI Act will be amended to set up the committee consisting of six members and headed by RBI governor.
      Out of the six members, three will be nominated by the government while three others will be from the Reserve Bank, including the governor.
      "We are very happy with the monetary policy committee composition. It was discussed at length with the government.
      And it has been settled for some time... it's for the government to reveal the composition and it has done so in the Budget," Rajan said.
      "I think it's a very reasonable step forward. The monetary process will benefit from this structure. So, I am absolutely on board and happy with it."
      He was speaking to reporters after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed the RBI board meeting.
      The committee will take decision based on the majority vote. Each member will have one vote, but RBI governor will get a casting vote in case of equality of votes. Currently, the RBI governor decides key interest rates.
      To a question on recapitalisation of state-owned banks, Rajan said the amount provided in the Budget is a reasonable sum.
      "Of course, the finance minister has added that what was needed was provided. Of course, in this process, we have to be careful that the capital is used properly going forward...," he said.
      "You take the combination of capital that the government has made available and what RBI has made available. This will be adequate for the actions that we want to take. But of course, it's difficult to take everything into account."
      In the Budget speech, Jaitley had said the government was open to providing more capital than what was announced. The government plans to provide Rs 25,000 next fiscal and Rs 10,000 crore each in 2017-18 and 2018-19.
      Jaitley had also proposed consolidation of public sectors banks in the Budget speech.
      On mergers of banks, Rajan said certainly there is a rationale for consolidation of some of the banks, but it is a process which is being discussed as it does not "happen overnight".
      He is hopeful of finding good candidates for the merger.
      "Certainly, there is rationale for merging some of the banks.
      We need as many banks for following a similar strategy as we have," the governor added.
      "The whole sorts of partners are going to be involved, the Bank Board Bureau or maybe, a committee. We are taking into account all these things."
      On setting up the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA), Governor Rajan said "we are still working out the composition".
      The government proposes to set up PDMA, an independent office, to manage the Centre's debt. Modelled on independent public debt offices in developed economies like the US and the UK, the separate debt management office will be tasked with selling debt on behalf of the government after taking away such powers from RBI.
      Rajan also said linking of small savings rates with market rates is an important factor for transmission of monetary policy action.
      Seeking to align interest on small savings with market rates, the government last month announced reduction in interest rate on post office savings of 1-, 2- and 3-year terms, Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) as well as 5-year recurring deposits effective April 1, 2016.

      Don't want to overstate bad loan crisis, says Arun Jaitley
      • Arun Jaitley, Union finance minister, GoIAmid outrage over Vijay Mallya's massive default on loans, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday cautioned against overstating the bad loans crisis in the banking system lest it hampers the entire lending operations and growth.
        However, Jaitley said individual misdemeanors will be "looked into differently".
        Both were speaking to the media after Reserve Bank's Board Meeting here attended by the Finance Minister as a post Budget tradition in which they discussed the need to clean up the banks balance sheets.
        "We don't want to create a situation where we overstate the crisis and in the process, the whole activity of lending for growth itself starts suffering because people become extraordinarily defensive. We don't want to reach that situation.
        "So its that limited category where there is some kind of a prima facie misconduct or misdemeanor, which has taken place by the individual. Its those areas which will be looked into differently," Jaitley said.
        Echoing similar views, Rajan said "we have to be careful as we go forward" that one hand criminal actions are penalised.
        "But at the same time we don't indulge in a broad fishing expedition which then becomes a reason for banks to get worried about making loans which then hamper the recovery as well as hamper the absolutely important investment in infrastructure that have to take place.
        "So as a country, as a system, we have to draw that balance very carefully and we are hopeful that we can manage that," he said.
        The gross Non Performing Assets (NPAs) of the public sector banks (PSBs) increased from 5.43 per cent as on March 2015 to 7.30 per cent as on December 2015. Gross NPAs of PSBs increased from Rs 2,67,065 lakh crore in March to Rs 3,61,731 lakh crore in December. 

        BSE expects IPO in 6-9 months, gets in-principle Sebi nod
        • BSE expects IPO in 6-9 months, gets in-principle Sebi nodLeading stock exchange BSE on Saturday said it plans to come out with its much-awaited initial public offering (IPO) in the next 6-9 months after receiving in-principle approval from markets regulator Sebi.
          BSE has already appointed Edelweiss Financial Services lead merchant banker and AZB & Partners and Nishith Desai Associates legal advisors to the issue.
          "The current time-frame is expected to be in the range of 6-9 months. BSE has already appointed merchant bankers for this process," the exchange spokesperson said.
          He further said the exchange plans to follow all Sebi regulations and is looking to list on another exchange as per the regulator's norms.
          Earlier, Chairman U K Sinha said Sebi has given in-principle approval to BSE for listing.
          BSE, in January, had sought approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) for launching the IPO, saying it is in compliance with all the requirements for listing.
          The exchange has been seeking nod to get listed for a long time, but necessary clearances have not been forthcoming on one issue or the other.
          While BSE has always been open to cross-listing -- that is, listing its shares on a rival exchange platform -- its competitor National Stock Exchange (NSE) has been against cross-listing on a rival.
          In a letter written to Sebi in January, BSE had said it is in full compliance with the requirements of the new SECC (Stock Exchanges and Clearing Corporations) Regulations and therefore, it can proceed with its IPO plans.
          The exchange had requested Sebi to provide approval "permitting BSE to proceed with the IPO and listing of BSE's shares on a recognised stock exchange".
          Sebi, in January, had amended the existing SECC regulations to make it easier for stock exchanges to list their shares through an IPO.
          The move follows demand from investors in stock exchanges for listing of the bourses which can provide them an opportunity to unlock the value of their investments.

          India needs to export rapidly to grow 8-10%: Arvind Subramanian
          • India needs to export rapidly to grow 8-10%: Arvind SubramanianIndia needs to export rapidly to boost its economic growth to 8-10 per cent, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian said on Saturday.
            India's merchandise exports in January shrank for the 14th straight month on continued weak demand from Europe, the south Asian nation's biggest market.
            January exports INEXP=ECI fell 13.6 per cent from a year earlier, while imports INIMP=ECI dipped 11.01 per cent, data released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed last month. 

            SEBI to restrict wilful defaulters from raising fresh funds
            • SEBI to restrict wilful defaulters from raising fresh fundsIndia will restrict so-called wilful defaulters of bank loans from raising fresh funds by issuing securities through capital markets, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) said on Saturday.
              The restriction is part of efforts to tackle bad loans hampering state-run banks. Under law, wilful defaulters are classified as firms or individuals who deliberately thwart repayment of dues to lenders.

            General Awareness

            India to supply Locomotives to Myanmar

              • RITES (Public Sector Enterprise under Ministry of Railways) signed a contract to supply 18 Meter Gauge 1350 HP Diesel Electric Locomotives to Myanmar Railways.
                India & Myanmar
                Flash points
                • India will supply 18 meter Gauge 1350 HP Diesel Electric Locomotives to Myanmar Railways according to the new MoU signed between India andMyanmar
                • This supply will help Myanmar to meet increasing demand for passenger and freight traffic.
                • The agreement was signed on March 4 at Naypyitaw, Myanmar
                • These locomotives will be manufactured by Diesel Locomotive Works, Varanasi
                • They will be designed with advanced features like microprocessor controls, fuel-efficient engine and ergonomic cab design etc
                Points to note
                • Indian Railway Minister- Suresh Prabhu
                • Myanmar minister of rail transportation- U Nyan Tun Aung
                • RITES MD & CHAIRMAN– Rajeev Mehrotra
                Key points:
                • Myanmar Capital: Naypyidaw
                • Myanmar Currency: Kyat
                • Myanmar President: Thein Sein

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