Current Affairs Current Affairs - 15 March 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 15 March 2016


General Affairs 

JD(U) To Contest Assam Assembly Poll, Nitish Kumar To Campaign
  • JD(U) To Contest Assam Assembly Poll, Nitish Kumar To CampaignGUWAHATI:  Janata Dal (United) has decided to contest the upcoming Assam Assembly elections and its leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar would campaign for the party in the state, said a JD(U) press release in Guwahati.

    For finalising the list of the party candidates, JD(U) national general secretary Arun Kumar Srivastav is scheduled to arrive in Guwahati today, the release said.

    Mr Srivastav would hold discussions with sections of people before finalising the list, it said.

    JD(U) lawmaker KC Tiyagi is also scheduled to campaign, the release added.

    Assam will go to polls in two phases on April 4 and 11.

Rs 1, 465 Crore Paid To Ex-Servicemen As First Instalment Under OROP
  • Rs 1, 465 Crore Paid To Ex-Servicemen As First Instalment Under OROP
    NEW DELHI:  Top public sector lender, the State Bank of India, today released arrears worth Rs 1,465 crore to 7.75 lakh defence pensioners under One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme, as per the government rules.

    The government had in November last year formally notified the OROP scheme for the more than 24 lakh ex-servicemen and six lakh war widows in the country.

    "As per government guidelines, first instalment (1/4th of the total arrear amount up to February, 2016) to service pensioners and full amount of arrears to 'family pensioners' and 'gallantry award' pensioners will be paid on 14th March, 2016," SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya said in a statement.

    "All pensioners will get revised basic (pension) from March, 2016 onwards," she added.

    The bank has the largest share of defence pensioners and serves about 50 per cent of total defence pensioners across the country, he said.

    "The first tranche of arrear payment by SBI will be around Rs 1,465 crore," Mr Bhattacharya said.

    SBI noted that while the bank has taken utmost care in the computation and release of arrears to maximum number of eligible defence pensioners, there could be cases where it has not been able to release OROP arrears due to information gaps in the data available with the bank.

    "All such persons may approach their pension-disbursing branch and provide the missing information for an early release of the arrears," it added.

    SBI has introduced facilities in all branches and Centralised Pension Processing Centres (CPPCs) to provide arrear details to the pensioners.

    Despite a demand by protesting ex-servicemen to implement OROP with effect from April 1, 2014, the government has said that arrears would be paid with effect from July 1, 2014, and has pegged the arrears till December, 2015 at Rs 10,900 crore.

    As per government directions, payment of arrears would be made by the pension-disbursing authorities in 4 installments except for family pensioners and pensioners in receipt of gallantry awards, who will be paid arrears in one installment.

    The OROP scheme is expected to cost the government Rs 7,500 crore per year.

Sartaj Aziz, Sushma Swaraj May Meet In Nepal This Week
  • Sartaj Aziz, Sushma Swaraj May Meet In Nepal This WeekislaMABAD Pakistan Prime Minister's Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj are likely to meet on the sidelines of a SAARC ministerial-level meeting in Nepal this week.

    Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that Mr Aziz "will meet Foreign Ministers of SAARC countries on the sidelines of the SAARC Council of Ministers' meeting on March 17, 2016 in Nepal to extend Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's formal invitation to their respective Heads of State/Heads of Government for the 19th SAARC Summit, being hosted by Pakistan in Islamabad this year."

    Quoting diplomatic sources, The Express Tribune also reported that India and Pakistan were exploring the possibility of a meeting between Ms Swaraj and Mr Aziz and also between the foreign secretaries of the two countries in the Nepalese tourist city of Pokhara.

    Mr Aziz and Ms Swaraj will be in Pokhara for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Council of Foreign Ministers' meeting on March 16 and 17.

    A senior Pakistani official, while speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Islamabad was ready to resume the dialogue at any time, and was also open to a meeting between Mr Aziz and Ms Swaraj in Nepal.

    "There is no proposal as of now for the meeting in Nepal but Pakistan will respond positively if India approaches us for this purpose," the Pakistani official said.

    External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup last week said that no schedule of bilateral meetings in Nepal have been drawn up with Pakistan or any other country.

    The meetings, if held, will provide an opportunity to the two sides to discuss the much-delayed talks between the foreign secretaries, who were to meet in Islamabad in January.

    The key foreign secretary-level talks are meant to draw up a roadmap for a series of meetings between the two countries on a range of issues, including Kashmir, peace and security, Siachen, Sir Creek, water, and trade and commerce.

    The efforts to resume the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue hit a deadlock after the terror attack on Pathankot airbase that India has said was carried out by militants from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad terrorist group.

    Sources said Mr Aziz and Ms Swaraj, if they meet, will discuss the possibility of an interaction between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi later this month in Washington. 
    The two prime ministers are scheduled to travel to the United States to attend a nuclear security summit to be hosted by US President Barack Obama.

Rahul Gandhi Raises Issue Of Farmers Hit By Rains; Government Assures Help
  • Rahul Gandhi Raises Issue Of Farmers Hit By Rains; Government Assures Help
    NEW DELHI:  Hours after Rahul Gandhi asked the government to take urgent steps to help farmers hit by rains and hailstorm, the government today assured necessary action after getting reports from the affected states.

    Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told the Lok Sabha that reports from states about damage to crops by heavy rains and hailstorm this weekend are expected in three to four days.

    The government would take necessary action after getting reports from the states, he said, adding that he has already spoken to the Agriculture Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
         
    He also said that necessary help would be extended after assessing the extent of damages in different areas. Mr Singh said around 264 villages have been affected by hailstorms and heavy rains in Madhya Pradesh.
         
    Rains and hailstorm lashed several parts of North India including Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana over the weekend and early this morning. According to reports, rains have flattened wheat, mustard and coriander crops in the states.

    "Our team is ready and we will take (necessary) action" after getting the reports, Mr Singh told the Lower House hours after the Congress Vice President raised the issue.

    The Minister also said the government has decided to extend funds from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the Union Territories. Delhi would also be eligible to get funds under it, he added.
         
    As soon as the House met for the day, Mr Gandhi raised the issue and said "crops have been damaged... the government should take immediate action." He urged the Centre to send a team to assess the damage and demanded a statement by the Minister in the House.
         
    The Congress leader said the Centre should hasten the provision of relief to the affected farmers and, unlike the last time, the assistance should not reach late.
         
    As the House took up Zero Hour, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected notices of adjournment given by Gandhi and some other members on the issue.
         
    When Mr Gandhi raised the issue in the morning, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said he has spoken with the Agriculture Minister on the "serious" issue, who is in touch with state governments.

Sri Sri Event: Landless Farmers Rue Crop Loss on Banks Of Yamuna
  • Sri Sri Event: Landless Farmers Rue Crop Loss on Banks Of YamunaNEW DELHI:  A day after the controversial World Culture Festival on the Yamuna floodplain came to an end, farmers living on its banks said the event destroyed their living and claimed it will take at least two years to make the flattened riverbed suitable for cultivation.

    As the authorities began removing garbage from over 100 acres of land where the stage and stands were erected besides other temporary structures, the landless farmers said the compensation given to them was "too little" and that the event, organised by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living (AOL) Foundation extensively damaged Yamuna's eco-system.

    They said bulldozing of the land for the event has caused extensive damage to the riverbed as it disrupted water flow significantly.

    50-year-old Farmer Chote Lal Chowdhary claimed his 12 bigha land on which he grew vegetables and flowering plants, was destroyed completely but despite that he was given a "very small compensation".

    "They destroyed the vegetables which were ready to be harvested for building access roads to the event venue. Per bigha produce would have fetched me at least Rs 50,000. But I have been paid just Rs 10,000. Nobody discussed or spoke to us. They threatened us with police action when we tried to protest," said Mr Chowdhury.

    He said he had been growing vegetables there for many years on contract basis.

    Kamla Devi, who also claimed her five bigha land was damaged, said, "I stood in front of the JCB machine, I told them to stop but my land was bulldozed. This is not justice. On one side you talk about spreading happiness and peace, forget about peace or happiness in our lives, you are snatching away our livelihood."

    However, Art of Living Foundation rubbished the allegations, saying those whose land was taken for the festival, were given adequate compensation and that their plots were used with their consent.

    "We have paid Rs 20,000 compensation per acre just for this event. We had also given them shops. We had also taken signatures from those whose farmlands were used for the purpose and also compensated them. In fact many people were agitated why their land was not taken for purpose," said Sanjay Kumar, spokesperson AOL.

Business Affairs 

    Sensex cuts gains to end 86 points up, Nifty above 7,500 ahead of CPI data; ICICI Bank top gainer

    • Sensex up 200 points, Nifti above 7,550-mark ahead of inflation data, Tata Motors top loser
      The S&P BSE Sensex pared some gains from day's high but settled the day in green, while broader CNX Nifty held above its key 7,500-mark.
      The headline indices cut gains after data showed wholesale price inflation had fallen a bigger-than-expected 0.91 per cent in February, easing for a 16th consecutive month. 
      Caution prevailed ahead of consumer inflation data, due later in the day. Analysts polled by Reuters expect a 5.6 per cent rise in consumer prices in February from 5.69 percent in January, which could leave the door open for a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
      The 30-share index ended the day at 24,804, up 86.29 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 7,538, down 28.55 points at close.
      Market breadth remained positive with 20 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in green.
      ICICI Bank was the best performing stock on both the benchmark indices and added over 3 per cent. 
      "We have been gaining on rate cut hopes since the budget day," said Daljeet Singh Kohli, head of research at India Nivesh Securities.
      "Markets have already priced in a 25 basis points rate cut," he added, noting such a scenario would likely lead to a retreat in shares.
      Markets have risen in eight out of ten sessions in March, boosted by foreign flows. Overseas investors have bought a net $1.41 billion worth of shares so far in March, paring this year's outflows to $1.48 billion.
      Among the gainers, Tata Motors rose 2.99 per cent, its second session of gains, after the auto maker on Friday said global wholesales in February, including that of Jaguar Land Rover, grew 17 per cent.
      Iron ore miner NMDC gained 1.99 per cent after raising iron ore lump prices.
      Drugmakers, however, dropped after the government banned the manufacture and sale of more than 300 combination drugs. Pfizer lost 8.55 per cent.
      Coal India fell 7.08 per cent to a near 2-month low as the stock turned ex-dividend on Monday.
      Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Composite settled the day 1.75 per cent higher, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 1.17 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei rallied 1.74 per cent.
      A lowdown on markets today
      10:20 am
      Sensex at 24,883, up 165.64 points
      Nifty at 7,557, up 47.30 points
      09:20 am
      Sensex at 24,915, up 197.49 points
      Nifty at 7,568, down 58.00 points

      Retail inflation down to 5.18% in February

      • After rising for five months in a row, retail inflation in February fell to 3-month low of 5.18 per cent as food prices including vegetables, pulses and fruits became less costly.
        Retail inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), was at 5.69 per cent in January this year. In February last year, it stood at 5.37 per cent.
        The rate of price rise last month was the slowest since November, when the inflation print was 5.41 per cent.
        It also provided a break from a continued increase in inflation for 5 months; the rate of price rise had been on an upward trajectory since September 2015 when it had moved up by over a percentage point to 4.41 per cent.
        Food inflation for last month softened to 5.30 per cent as prices of vegetables, pulses, fruits and milk turned cheaper, government data showed on Monday. In January, it was 6.85 per cent.
        Inflation in pulses was lower at 38.30 per cent during the month, while the rate of price rise in vegetables was at 0.70 per cent. In January, it was 43.32 per cent and 6.39 per cent respectively.
        Fruit prices turned into a deflation zone at (-)0.72 per cent in February.
        Retail price rise of 'cereals and products' remained almost flat at 2.18 per cent and that for 'meat and fish' category, moved down with an inflation print of 7.27 per cent.
        However, prices of eggs shot up significantly during the month with inflation standing at 6.19 per cent.
        The inflation rates, based on CPI for rural areas, stood at 5.97 per cent in February, while that for urban areas it was at 4.30 per cent.
        The prices are collected by the government from selected towns by the Field Operations Division of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) and from selected villages by the Department of Posts.
        The monthly data is released by the Central Statistics Office, under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The CPI data for March will be released on April 12.

        Coal India to get anti-theft technology in place by end April
        • Coal India's measures to prevent theft by electronically "fencing" mining areas and fitting trucks with a GPS-based tracking system will be finished by the end of April, a government official said.
          As much as a fifth of the state-run company's annual output is stolen, costing it up to $1 billion each year and feeding a huge black market in the fuel.
          Coal India's modernisation plan, first reported by Reuters in January, includes tracking trucks and using Google maps to "fence" mines, which will alert managers if a truck diverts from its route.
          Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said on Monday that reducing the amount of coal stolen and improving the quality of coal sold were his top priorities.
          Coal India, the world's largest miner, wants to nearly double output to 1 billion tonne by 2020 and as already spent more than half of its targeted budget of Rs 3 billion ($45 million) on an overhaul, a top company source said.
          Last year, Coal India unit Mahanadi Coalfields blacklisted third-party contractors of 36 trucks, each carrying up to 17 tonnes of coal, after managers received telephone alerts of route violations that could have led to theft.
          Mahanadi has also installed CCTV cameras at shipment sites, hooked up trucks with satellites and fitted them with radio frequency identification tags to automatically transfer data to a control room at the company's headquarters.

          Govt delays plans to open up coal sector to private firms

          • The government will delay opening commercial coal mining to private companies due to lower-than-expected demand for the fuel, a government official said, which could make it difficult for the country to meet ambitious output targets.
            The world's third-largest coal importer wants private companies to contribute about a third of an annual production target of 1.5 billion tonne by 2020, but the hold up in opening the sector to non-government companies for the first time in over 40 years may mean India will fall well short of that mark.
            State-run Coal India has ramped up production at a record pace, but debt-heavy power companies are not buying fast enough. This has forced the government into power reforms that can only start to yield results in the next few months.
            "We're reasonably confident that (the reforms) will help raise demand," Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said. "We are ready, but there would be a little delay in opening up for private companies."
            Swarup, who was earlier aiming to unveil a commercialisation plan around April to double India's coal output by 2020, said the government has already identified mines to auction and that it would proceed quickly once market sentiment improves.
            As of now, only Coal India and a small government-owned company are allowed to mine and sell coal in India.
            When demand does improve, the plan to open up will likely attract coal block bids from Indian conglomerates such as the Adani Group, but New Delhi may find it hard to lure multinational miners such as Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Anglo American and Peabody Energy.
            Coal prices have bounced from multi-year lows hit in mid-January but investors are still worried about global oversupply.
            Foreign companies have also previously faced obstacles to investing in India, such as problems in getting land and environmental approvals, dampening their appetite for taking on large-scale projects in the country.

            Coal India shares slump 7% as stock trades ex-dividend
            • Coal India shares slump 8% as stock trades ex-dividendShares of Coal India fell over 8 per cent to near 2-month low as the stock turned ex-dividend on Monday.
              The stock hit an intraday low of Rs 292.35, down 8.36 per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and ended 6.96 per cent down.
              A stock trades ex-dividend on or after the ex-dividend date (ex-date). At this point, the person who owns the security on the ex-dividend date will be awarded the payment, regardless of who currently holds the stock.
              Board of directors of Coal India had approved payment of interim dividend for the financial year 2015-16 at Rs 27.40 per share.rms or individuals who deliberately thwart repayment of dues to lenders.

            General Awareness

            Services wins 70th Santosh Trophy football title 2016

              • In the 70th Santosh TrophyFootball Championship TournamentServices beat Maharashtra 2-1 to clinch title for fifth time. Riding on Arjun Tudu’s double strike helped the side to lift the trophy.
                Services wins 70th Santosh Trophy football title 2016
                • Services on Sunday retained the Santosh Trophy National Football Championships title after beating hostsMaharashtra 2-1 in the title clash inthe Final at the SEC Railway Stadium Nagpur .
                • Tudu, a national camper for the SAFF Cup last year, scored twice in the space of 11 minutes to help Services clinch their fifth title has been adjudged as Man of the Match.
                • Services the Winners of the Trophy along with a Cheque of Rs. 5 lakh and the runners-up received a prize of Rs. 3 lakhs from Mr.Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.
                Santosh Trophy Football Championship:
                • The trophy instituted in 1941 is an annualIndian football tournament which is contested by states and government institutions.
                • The trophy as named after the late Maharaja Sir Manmatha Nath Roy Chowdhary of Santosh presently in West Bengal.
                • Santhosh Trophy was the leading football competition in the country before theNational Football League started in the year 1996.
                • Bengal being the most successful side in the tournament with 31 titles.

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