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Current Affairs - 25 March 2016

General Affairs 

Omar Abdullah Accuses Mehbooba Mufti Of Wavering On Government Formation
  • Omar Abdullah Accuses Mehbooba Mufti Of Wavering On Government FormationJAMMU:  Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah today accused PDP president Mehbooba Mufti of showing indecisive and wavering leadership on government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.

    "If the last two months are a precursor and an indication of the next more than four years to come - God save our state for such indecisive, wavering leadership," he wrote on his Facebook page.

    Mr Abdullah said for over two months, the state has witnessed a roller-coaster performance of political posturing from PDP underlined by a display of indecisive leadership.

    "After the demise of late Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) Sahib, Mehbooba Mufti declared her unwillingness to take over the reins of power unless BJP and the central government announced certain confidence building measures (CBMs)," he said.

    Ms Mufti had termed her father's decision to align with BJP as an "unpopular" one, he said and noted that her intentions were viewed as docile and noble - at least as far as BJP is concerned.

    "She wanted to be seen as a rebel who was immune to the temptation of power that her father had succumbed to. What started as her claim for higher moral ground has ended in the same old territory of serious contradictions - by now an all too familiar hallmark of her politics and that of her party's," he said.

    PDP is now clearly about to form the government with BJP and Mehbooba Mufti would become the Chief Minister, shattering the expectations raised by them for the last two months, he said.

    Mr Abdullah questioned as to how such a leadership will confront divisive forces that threaten the state's integrity, its amity and its peace.

    "How will such indecisiveness affect the state politically and economically is something that remains to be seen. Sadly, the script seems to have been written and the preview is alarming," he said.

    Mr Abdullah said that the tables have turned now.

    "The last month was apparently spent in mollifying the BJP's central leadership and reiterating an unconditional, unquestionable loyalty to them.

    "Now it is the PDP serenading the BJP. Soon after meeting the Prime Minister, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav went on record to say that there was no talk of government formation in the meeting between Mehbooba Mufti and the Prime Minister and also reiterated that PDP had not made any demands," he said.

    "In an even more cutting-to-size manoeuvre, Ram Madhav told the media that the Prime Minister had received Mehbooba Mufti with great courtesy and had asked her to take up the alliance negotiations with the BJP leadership instead of him," he said.

    "He went on to state that these negotiations are best held at the party level and not at the Prime Minister's level and the BJP will hold negotiations on this issue after PDP's legislature party meeting in Srinagar today," he said.

    Mr Abdullah also said that Ms Mufti had rushed to Delhi to save her party from disintegration.

    "It's evident that Mehbooba Mufti, terrified by the imminent fragmentation of her party, rushed to New Delhi in a matter of days to try and apologise for her posturing and her little rebellion," he said.

Holi Symbolises Spirit Of Tolerance And Harmony, Says President
  • Holi Symbolises Spirit Of Tolerance And Harmony, Says President
    NEW DELHI:  President Pranab Mukherjee today greeted the nation on Holi and hoped the festival of colours will "strengthen the fraternal bonds among our citizens".

    "Warm greetings and good wishes to all my fellow countrymen on the joyous occasion of Holi... May the festival of Holi strengthen the fraternal bonds amongst our citizens," Mr Mukherjee tweeted.

    "May this unique festival of colours be a joyous expression of the spirit of pluralism," Mr Mukhrejee added.

    He said Holi promotes the spirit of tolerance

Ram Madhav To Meet Jammu And Kashmir BJP Leaders Over Government Formation
  • Ram Madhav To Meet Jammu And Kashmir BJP Leaders Over Government FormationJAMMU:  Senior BJP leader Ram Madhav, who is also its Jammu and Kashmir affairs in charge, will hold talks with party legislators in Jammu on Friday over possible government formation with the PDP in the state.

    BJP sources said that Union Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh will also attend the meeting that will come a day after PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti's similar talks with her party legislators.

    The sources said that Mr Singh and Mr Madhav, BJP's national general secretary, will arrive in Jammu on Friday. After the talks with lawmakers, state BJP president Sat Pal Sharma is scheduled to meet Governor NN Vohra.

    "The BJP high command has deputed Jitendra Singh and Ram Madhav to meet the BJP legislators and senior leaders to discuss government formation in the state after Mehbooba expressed satisfaction on her meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi," a senior BJP leader said.

    "The political situation in the state would be discussed at the meeting," the leader said.

    Governor Vohra has called the PDP president and the BJP president for separate meetings with him on Friday to discuss government formation in the state, Raj Bhawan sources said.

    Jammu and Kashmir has been without an elected government since January 8, a day after Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed passed away in a Delhi hospital.

    Mr Vohra has been running the state administration with the help of advisors for the last over two months.

Belgium Hunts 'Third Man' After ISIS Bombings
  • Belgium Hunts 'Third Man' After ISIS Bombings
    BRUSSELS:  Belgian police were today hunting for a "third man" filmed with two ISIS suicide bombers at Brussels Airport as evidence piled up that the same jihadist network was involved in the deadly Paris attacks last November.

    With pressure mounting on Europe to improve cooperation against terrorism, EU interior and justice ministers were to hold emergency talks on a joint response to Tuesday's bombings in Brussels, which killed at least 31 people and injured 270.

    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls led calls for a "strong European response", but officials say many states, including France, withhold their most cherished data despite a mantra of willingness to share intelligence.

    The chief surviving suspect linking the Paris and Brussels attacks, Frenchman Salah Abdeslam, 26, arrested in the Belgian capital last week, appeared briefly in court on Thursday with two other suspects and was remanded in custody until April 7.

    His lawyer, Sven Mary, who requested the adjournment, said Abdeslam was no longer opposed to being extradited to France.

    "Salah Abdeslam has asked me to inform you that he wishes to leave for France as quickly as possible," Mary told reporters at the courthouse, saying his client "wants to explain himself".

    Turkey's president criticised Belgium for failing to track Brahim El Bakraoui, a convicted armed robber whom it expelled last year and who blew himself up at the airport on Tuesday an hour before his brother Khalid, a fellow convict, killed about 20 people at Maelbeek metro station in the city centre.

    Security sources told Belgian media the other suicide bomber at the airport was Najim Laachraoui, a veteran Belgian Islamist fighter in Syria suspected of making explosive belts for November's Paris attacks, who also detonated a suitcase bomb at the airport.

    The third suspect captured on airport security cameras pushing a baggage trolley into the departures hall alongside Laachraoui and Brahim El Bakraoui is now the target of a police manhunt. He has not been named.

    The bespectacled man wearing a cream jacket and a black hat ran out of the terminal, federal prosecutors said, and a third suitcase bomb, the biggest of the three, exploded later as bomb disposal experts were clearing the area.

    Public broadcaster RTBF said investigators now believed a second bomber was involved in the metro attack close to European Commission headquarters. The man was spotted on security cameras carrying a heavy bag, but his identity was unknown and it was not clear if he had died or escaped.

    A computer-generated image showed a young man with hollow cheeks, a tiny goatee beard and thick black eyebrows.


    US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the bloodshed in the capital of the European Union, not far from NATO headquarters, showed Washington's European allies should do more to fight ISIS alongside American efforts in the Middle East.

    "The Brussels event is going to further signify to Europeans that, as we have been accelerating our campaign to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere, they need to accelerate their efforts and join us," Carter told CNN, using another acronym for ISIS.

    Democratic US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticised the lack of cooperation among European countries, saying the EU lacked a system for exchanging air passenger data or a joint intelligence centre to share information.

    Opinion polls suggest support in Britain for leaving the European Union in a referendum set for June 23 is gaining ground since the Brussels attacks, which fanned security fears that some politicians have linked to immigration.

    US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who has suggested torture could be used on militant suspects, said he expected Britain would vote to leave the EU because of concerns about high levels of migration.

    Casualties came from about 40 nations, drawing an international outpouring of support for Brussels during three days of mourning. Washington said Secretary of State John Kerry would visit Belgium on Friday.

    The Belgian government deflected criticism from Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan, saying the elder Bakraoui brother, 29, had not been deported to Belgium but to the Netherlands.

    Officials have said that, as in the case of one of the Paris suicide bombers, they cannot detain militant suspects expelled from Turkey without evidence that they have committed a crime.

    Brahim El Bakraoui was detained near the Syrian border and expelled last July. "Belgium ignored our warning that this person is a foreign fighter," Erdogan said.

    Flemish public broadcaster VRT said the bomber had been released from a Belgian prison in 2014 after serving four years of a 10-year sentence for armed robbery. He skipped two probation meetings last June and was ordered to return to prison in August. But police could not find him.

    The case highlighted Belgium's problem with some 300 locals who have fought in Syria, the biggest contingent from Europe in relation to its national population of 11 million.

    At the time of the Paris attacks, in which 130 people were killed by Brussels-based militants, its security service had fewer than 600 staff. The government has since raised spending on police and intelligence.

    Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, leading efforts to counter international criticism of Belgian policies toward containing violent extremists among its Muslim community, which makes up about 5 percent of the population, said security had to be balanced with civil rights.

    As Brussels struggled to return to normal, its airport remained shut until at least Saturday, with the departure hall sealed off by investigators.

    Travellers on the busy Easter weekend were diverted to Antwerp, Liege and the northern French city of Lille.

    Brussels Airlines advised passengers to arrive up to three hours before their flight because of security measures. There were long lines outside the terminal in Liege as people waited in the rain to put their baggage through new outdoor scanners, VRT reported.

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker jumped to Belgium's defence, dismissing charges it was a "failed state".

    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," Juncker told Flemish daily De Standaard. "There was terrorism in Britain and in Germany in the 1970s and 1980. There was terrorism in Spain, in Italy and much more recently in France. People should stop lecturing Belgium."

China Is Our 'All Weather Friend', Says Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli
  • China Is Our 'All Weather Friend', Says Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma OliBEIJING:  Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has called China an "all weather friend" that has helped it at times of distress, weeks after China sent fuel supplies to the landlocked Himalayan nation to ease a crippling shortage of goods due to a blockade on Indo-Nepal border.

    "China has respected our sovereignty and supported our development endeavours. Our two nations have been all-weather friends, friends at times of distress as well as at the time of comfort," according to excerpts from Mr Oli's speech at Renmin University here published in state-run Global Times daily today.

    This is the first time Mr Oli has used the phrase "all weather friends" to describe relations between Nepal and China. The phrase has often been used to characterise close Sino-Pakistan ties by both Chinese and Pakistani leaders.

    "The time has come to set higher and superior ambitions. Higher than Qomolangma (Mount Everest), and better than the Great Wall. The time has come now to travel together into the united sphere of prosperity," Mr Oli, currently on a week-long visit to China, was quoted as saying in an article titled 'Friendship guides Sino-Nepalese relations forward'.

    He said that Beijing's Silk Road initiative will ease obstacles faced by the landlocked Himalayan country.

    "The 'Belt and Road' (official name for Silk Road) initiative is a principal step to unleash our potentials to travel together into the cooperative sphere of prosperity and to catalyse the convergence of our shared interest," he said.

    "As a friendly neighbour, Nepal has always been well aware of the sensitivities of China. Nepal adheres strongly to the 'One China Policy', and has not allowed its land to be used, under any pretext, against China. And it will continue to keep this commitment firm and intact," he said in an apparent reference to continue to crackdown on dissident Tibetans travelling through Nepal to meet the Dalai Lama who currently resides in Dharamsala.

    During his current visit, Mr Oli signed the landmark Transit treaty with China through Tibet which Nepalese officials say opens a new avenue for Nepal which is currently dependent on India to route its imports and exports.

    The two countries signed 10 agreements and laid out plans to extend railway line in Tibet to Nepal, which is also looking to access Chinese ports in order to avoid a repetition of severe shortage of essential goods due to blockade of key border trade points with India by Madhesis over the new Constitution.

    While Mr Oli avoided any reference to India, a sharply critical article in the same daily accused India of using "forceful measures" to pressurise Mr Oli during his visit to India.

    "Though Oli visited India first after becoming Prime Minister, it was marked by 'distrust and nervousness'. On the contrary 'his tour in China has been a relaxed one'," the article said.

    "India deems Oli's first overseas visit to India a perfect victory. But many international relations observers have not shown much approval," it said.

    "India didn't use a charm offensive or soft power to win Oli's first state visit, but forceful measures. This is a dated approach, like forcing a weak state to open its gate through heavy gunfire. Such logic is a ticking time bomb in the bilateral relationship between the two countries, which causes damage to their ties every once in a while," it said.

    "Sandwiched between the elephant and the dragon, Nepal is both unfortunate and lucky. Over the issue of security and internal affairs, it often senses pressure from India. But when it comes to economic growth, both of its giant neighbours have brought it many opportunities," it said.

Business Affairs 

    Government to build 2.95 crore houses for rural poor

    • Government to build 2.95 crore houses for rural poorThe government on Wednesday announced that it will help build 2.95 crore houses in India's rural areas and for this a financial assistance of up to Rs.1.30 lakh will be provided to each homeless family.
      Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad called it "a very important decision" taken by the cabinet at its meeting here on Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the chair.
      He said a total of 2.95 crore houses are needed to be constructed as per the last Census and the target will be achieved by 2022 -- the 75th year of India's Independence.
      Every poor family living in plains will get Rs.1.20 lakh and those living in "hilly and difficult" areas will receive an assistance of Rs.1.30 lakh under the "Housing for All" scheme, the minister said.
      "This programme will run for 6-7 years," Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters, adding the proposal is to run the scheme in two phases.
      The government proposed "to construct one crore houses in the first three years", he said. For this, he said, the government would need to spend nearly Rs.82,000 crore.
      "Out of which, Rs.65,000 crore will be provided by budgetary provisions" and the rest will come from India's apex development bank NABARD, Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
      The minister stressed that "transparency in the selection of beneficiaries" will be maintained in the implementation of the schemes.
      Masons to be employed for building the houses should be trained properly so that the construction is done as the per the regional requirements, he said.

        Will file reply to IT dept show cause notice: Vodafone to HC

        • Will file reply to IT dept show cause notice: Vodafone to HCVodafone today told Delhi High Court that it will file a reply by Friday to the income tax department's show cause notice asking the company why its 2011-12 financial records should not be subjected to a special audit.
          Vodafone's submission came two days after the court, in a subtle warning, told the company that it would be taking a risk if it did not file a reply to the IT department's show cause notice of March 11.
          In view of the submission by Vodafone today, a bench of justices S Muralidhar and Vibhu Bakhru disposed of the company's plea challenging the show cause notice.
          While disposing of the petition, the bench said that questions of law raised in the plea are left open.
          Vodafone also submitted that if aggrieved by the order passed by the IT department, it will approach the court.
          The government had earlier told the court that by not responding to the show cause notice, the company was trying to delay the assessment process beyond the March 31 deadline.
          In its notice, the department had asked the company to show cause why its 2011-12 financial records should not be subjected to special audit to arrive at the total income for assessment year 2012-13.
          In its plea challenging this notice, Vodafone has also challenged the amendment to section 142(2A) of IT Act that says the assessing officer can seek a special audit in certain circumstances.
          In its show cause notice, the IT department had said, "during course of assessment proceeding, the information and details asked vide various questionnaire have not been submitted till date and you yourself submitting the reasons that due to extreme voluminous of records the specific information cannot be furnished or requesting to grant some more time to furnish details which itself is concrete evidence that records of assessee are voluminous and accordingly need thorough investigation by special audit." 

          Honda to increase car prices by up to Rs 6,000 from April

          • Honda to increase car prices by up to Rs 6,000 from AprilHonda Car India is planning to increase prices of its vehicles by up to Rs 6,000 from April to offset the impact of adverse exchange rate that has resulted in higher input costs.
            Earlier this month the company had increased the prices of its vehicles by up to Rs 79,000 in the wake of the infrastructure cess that was proposed in Union Budget 2016-17.
            The company sells six models in India -- from hatchback Brio with a starting price of Rs 4.31 lakh to SUV CRV priced up to Rs 26 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).
            "We are planning to hike prices of our entire product range from the first week of April 2016 to partially offset impact of adverse exchange rate resulting in increase input cost," a Honda Car India spokesperson told PTI.
            The company is, however, yet to finalise details of price hike in individual models.
            In the post-Budget price hike, the company had increased price of its entry-level car Brio in the range of Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000, premium hatchback Jazz between Rs 5,000 and Rs 19,500 and mid-sized sedan City from Rs 24,600 to Rs 38,100.
            It also increased prices of multi-utility vehicle Mobilio in the range of Rs 21,800 to Rs 37,700 and that of its premium SUV CR-V between Rs 66,500 and Rs 79,000, depending upon different variants.

          India hopes to sign Farzad B gas field deal with Iran next month

          • India hopes to sign Farzad B gas field deal with Iran next monthOil minister Dharmendra Pradhan will push for state-run firms to win development rights for the vast Farzad B gas field in Iran during a visit to that country next month.
            India, the world's third-biggest oil importer and fourth-biggest consumer, wants to increase dealings with Gulf countries that supply the bulk of its oil needs.
            Pradhan said he is "hopeful" a deal on Farzad B could be concluded during his visit to Tehran on April 9-10.
            "In Iran our primary interest is in E&P (exploration and production). We have old engagements with Iran and we continued to buy oil from Iran in difficult times," Pradhan told reporters.
            A consortium headed by ONGC Videsh, the overseas exploration unit of Oil and Natural Gas Corp, discovered the Farzad B gas field in the Farsi offshore block in 2008, but was unable to get permission to develop it due to Western sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.
            ONGC Videsh last year submitted a $3 billion field development plan to Iranian authorities to develop Farzad B, which is estimated to hold initial in-place reserves of 12.5 trillion cubic feet, with a lifetime of 30 years.
            India was one of a few countries that never halted oil imports from Iran during sanctions that were partly lifted in January. India is Iran's second-biggest oil client after China.
            Pradhan said he will also discuss India's interest in developing Chabahar port in Tehran and building industrial complexes there.
            Modi wants local companies to increase foreign energy deals, taking advantage of low global oil prices and a slowdown in overseas acquisitions by China.

            L&T Construction wins Rs 3,205 crore worth orders

            • L&T Construction wins Rs 3,205 crore worth ordersThe construction arm of heavy engineering major Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has won orders worth Rs.3,205 crore across its various businesses, the company said on Wednesday.
              The buildings and factories business has bagged Rs.2,018 crore of orders while its power transmission and distribution division got Rs.710 crore of new orders both in the domestic and international markets, the company said in a BSE filing.
              In the construction segment, the company got orders for a major turnkey high-rise residential project from a leading developer in Mumbai involving civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and finishing works for six towers each with 55 to 60 floors. It also got orders from various existing customers for the development of commercial and residential spaces.
              For the power transmission part, it received a major turnkey order from Power Grid Southern Interconnector Transmission System, a subsidiary of Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (PGCIL) for the construction of a 400 kV double circuit transmission line linking Cuddapah to Madhugiri.
              It also won a project of PGCIL to construct a765kV double circuit transmission line at Cuddapah.
              On the international front, L&T (Oman) LLC has received a turnkey order from Oman Electricity Transmission Company to construct 400 kV reactor transformers and associated works at Sur and Izki substations, the company said.
              Company's metallurgical and material handling business has won orders worth Rs.177 crore. With this order, it makes its first foray into the ash handling plant (AHP) business with direct customers.
              According to a statement, the company is to execute an AHP covering high concentration slurry disposal systems on an engineering, procurement and construction basis from NTPC Limited for the Tanda thermal power project in Uttar Pradesh. It has also secured an add on package for the CHP Anpara Power Project
              An additional order worth Rs. 300 crore has been received from an ongoing job of the heavy civil infrastructure business, the company said.

            General Awareness

            PM Modi, Sania Mirza among contenders for TIME’s Most Influential people

              • The popular magazine across the globe, TIME has released its contenders for the top most influential people in the world. India must feel proud having PM Modi, tennis player Sania and Bollywood actress Priyanka in the list.
                Flash points
                • TIME will announce the 100 most Influential people in the world
                • The editors of the Magazine will remain the final deciders however it has asked people to vote for their favourite leader among the 127 contenders
                • The people are from Arts and sports, Business CEO’s, popular political leaders, Science technocrats.
                • From India, PM Modi, Tennis player Sania Mirza, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra have occupied the listTIME’s Most Influential people
                • Indian born CEO’s of top firms Google and Microsoft-Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella also occupy the honorary positions
                • Indian origin actor Aziz Ansari is also in the list
                Personalities in the list
                • SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, singer Rihanna, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan
                • Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel,  Russian PresidentVladimir Putin
                • Pope Francis, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly
                About the Indians in the list
                • Modi remains to be influential in the world owing to thegrowing economy of the country under his leadership
                • Sania remaining in the topmost position in the Tennis world ranking in Female Double category and proves to be a inspiration for female athletes
                • Priyanka chopra have earned popularity through her Hollywood series Quantico and her upcoming movie Baywatch

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