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Current Affairs - 12 April 2016

General Affairs 

With Two Planes, India To Raise Its First Tejas Squadron In July
  • With Two Planes, India To Raise Its First Tejas Squadron In JulyNEW DELHI:   India will get its Tejas fighter squadron -- indigenously built  Combat Aircraft -- on July 1, with two planes. The squadron will be based in in Tamil Nadu's Sulur.

    Another two fighters are expected in the next financial year, 2016-17, a senior Air Force commander told. The total strength of the squadron - normally they have 14 to 16 aircraft -- and its name will be decided later.

    The first two Tejas fighters, however, won't be used for operations now. They will undergo test flights to resolve certain flaws. The clearance for operations is expected in December.

    The Tejas still has 19 unresolved issues - including nose wheel vibrations, high noise level in the cockpit -- which need to be sorted out. "The HAL (the manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and IAF are working closely to sort out these issues, we expect them to go through it quickly," the commander said.

    For now, the Air Force will start the training and induction of pilots.  Also, test pilots manning the squadron will work closely with HAL to "deal with the niggling issues," he added.

    Despite its flaws, the Air Force had agreed to induct the aircraft to keep the Tejas programme alive and bolster its flagging squadron numbers. The Air Force is down to 33 fighter squadrons against the required 42. Each squadron has 14 to 16 jets. Over the next few years, the IAF will lose another 14 squadrons comprising the aging Russian-made MiG-21 and MiG 27s.

    To make up the numbers the Air Force has ordered 80 more Tejas fighters, and their total number will be 120 -- the delivery will depend on HAL's production capacity.

    The first batch 20 fighters produced by HAL will not have the capacity to refuel on air - a critical quality during operations.

    "That, a better radar , and the ability to fire missiles beyond the visual range will be incorporated in the second batch of 20 fighters," the officer said. India is hoping to use Israeli radars.

    The Defence ministry and HAL are in the process of increasing the production capacity of Tejas fighters. The plan is to produce at least 8 aircraft annually and then increase it to 16 fighters, that is one squadron, a year.

PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh Express Grief Over Assam Deaths
  • PM Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh Express Grief Over Assam Deaths
    NEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today expressed grief on the loss of lives caused by falling of electric cable in Assam's Tinsukia district and asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh to take suitable steps.

    Mr Singh immediately talked to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who apprised him of the situation.

    "PM @narendramodi expressed grief on the loss of lives caused by falling of an electric cable in Assam's Tinsukia district," PMO tweeted.

    "PM prays that those injured recover quickly. PM spoke to Home Minister @BJPRajnathSingh ji on the situation," the PMO said in another tweet.

    It added that the Home Minister immediately got in touch with the Assam government on the issue and asked the government to take suitable steps in this regard.

    A tweet by Home Minister's Office said that Mr Singh spoke to Mr Gogoi who apprised him of the situation at Pangeree in Tinsukia. "The situation is reportedly under control," it said.

    "HM has expressed condolences to the families of those who died in Tinsukia due to falling of high voltage cable & prayed for the injured," the tweet by HMO said.

    At least 11 people were killed and 20 others were seriously injured when a high voltage wire hit by bullets fell on demonstrators as police fired in the air to disperse them at Pangeree in upper Assam today.

    Police said the incident took place when a large number of protesters armed with sticks pelted stones at Pangeree Police Station in Tinsukia district and tried to gherao it demanding that those arrested in connection with the killing of two persons in the area three days ago be handed over to them.

    They threw stones and broke glass panes of the police station.

    Police then fired in the air to control the mob and the bullets hit an overhead high tension electric wire causing it to fall on the demonstrators.

UDF Has Won First Round Of Polls, Says Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy
  • THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Congress in Kerala feels it has won the first round of the May 16 Assembly polls with CPI(M) being "forced" to accept its liquor policy as it fears a "backlash".

    With CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury stating that if LDF comes to power, there would be no reversal of decisions already taken on the liquor policy, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said it was a "setback" for the Marxist party in the state.

    Controversy over the liquor policy arose after CPI(M) politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan asserted that the Marxist led front was not in favour of total prohibition, but abstinence.

    However, following a hue and cry from various quarters, including even the Catholic Church, asking it to make its stand clear, Mr Yechury had to intervene to clarify that if voted to power, LDF would not reverse any of the decisions already taken by the Kerala government on the liquor policy.      

    Asked about CPI(M)'s clarification, Mr Chandy said: "I am happy that a situation has come that they (CPI-M)) have to support UDF's stand. If it is sincere, I welcome it. But it is a strong setback to the CPI(M) state leadership. It is a big victory for our policy", he told news agency PTI in an interview at Cliff House, his official residence in Thiruvananthapuram.

    "The CPI(M) led LDF has been forced to change its policy on liquor due to the fear of a backlash in the elections," Mr Chandy said.

    It is by joining hands with a section of the liquor lobby, CPI(M) had planned the "most cruel tactics" to attack the government, he alleged, referring to the recent sexual abuse charge by solar scam accused Saritha S Nair against him.

    "UDF's policy is practical and its aim is to reduce liquor consumption and have total prohibition in 10 years."

    The Kerala government had closed 730 bars as part of its policy and 10 per cent of the outlets of the state owned Beverages corporation were to be closed down every year.

    "I feel it is not practical to implement total prohibition at one stretch. It is not the revenue loss which is important. I am not considering revenue from sales of liquor as an income of the government.

    Kerala had earned Rs 7,000 crore as revenue from liquor sales. However, this is only in the accounts books. But the damage caused to the social sector due to liquor consumption --  suicides, health issues, accidents was over three to four times more than revenue earned.

    "The loss due to liquor consumption is beyond estimates in the social sector. This is not the only issue plaguing total prohibition. Availability of spurious liquor is an issue. We need enough time to bring back those who have become addicts to normal life. For that we need awareness campaign," he said.

Nitish Kumar Rubbishes Talks Of Sharad Yadav's 'Retirement'
  • Nitish Kumar Rubbishes Talks Of Sharad Yadav's 'Retirement'
    PATNA:  A day after replacing Sharad Yadav as JD(U) president, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today rubbished talks of Mr Yadav's "retirement" saying he will continue to guide the party.

    The new JD(U) chief was replying to a question regarding the remarks made by RJD chief Lalu Prasad earlier in the day where he described Sharad Yadav's replacement as the JD(U) national president by Nitish Kumar as Mr Yadav's "retirement".

    "It's not true. Lalu Prasad did not mean this. He and Sharad Yadav have old and good ties, why will the RJD chief make such a statement? It's misunderstood," Mr Kumar said on Mr Lalu's comments in Gopalganj.

    Mr Kumar said Mr Sharad Yadav would continue to guide the party as earlier.

    Asked to be more specific about the future role of Mr Sharad Yadav in the JD(U), Mr Kumar said, "He will continue to work for the party as I (Kumar) used to do before becoming its president.

    Mr Yadav had himself told the party that he was not interested in being re-elected as JD(U) president for the fourth time, Mr Kumar said.

    "Nobody removed him from the post party leaders came out up another name (of Kumar) only after Sharad Yadav made his opinion public," Mr Kumar said in a bid to cap the controversy surrounding the choice of a new JD(U) chief.

    "The JD(U) constitution permitted a person to be elected as its president for a maximum two times. But, the party constitution was amended to make Sharad Yadav continue on that post for a third time in a row. Since he came out with a decision against continuing on the post, the party chose a new chief," he said.

    Mr Yadav's term in the Rajya Sabha is also coming to an end soon.

    Mr Kumar said he had served as Yuva Lok Dal president and also secretary general of JD(U) in Bihar earlier.

    The JD(U) National Council at a meeting in Patna on April 23 will put a seal of approval on Mr Kumar as the party president.

Water Train Yet To Reach, Arvind Kejriwal Asks Delhi To Save For Latur
  • Water Train Yet To Reach, Arvind Kejriwal Asks Delhi To Save For LaturNEW DELHI:  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has appealed to Delhi'ites to save water for the people in Maharashtra's Latur, which is facing an unprecedented water scarcity this summer.

    The Chief Minister tweeted:

    A water train started running today for Latur, but it is yet to reach and is carrying a smaller supply than planned.

    The train was supposed go with 50 special wagons, carrying 5 lakh litres of water from Ujani Dam. It was to set off from Miraj, 300 km away from Latur - a journey of 6-odd hours.
    Workers fill water in Central Railway train tanks to transport to drought affected Latur District from Miraj station near Sangli on Sunday. (PTI)
    But after a 1.5-hour journey, the train got stuck at the Sangola station in Solapur district.  Without offering details, sources had said "permissions were awaited"; others said arrangements to distribute the water were being planned in Latur.

    "I hope that it will reach today night," said Sukhakar Telang, Municipal commissioner of Latur. It will not entirely solve the problem, but will help for the next 8 to 10 days till a pipeline that is being laid, is completed, he added.

    Another train with 50 wagons of water is expected to be ready on Friday, a railway official has said.

    Marathwada is facing one of its worst droughts in nearly a century, with 7 of its 11 major dams going dry. The people are travelling miles to fetch water.

    In Latur city, which has a population of 5 lakh, healthcare has been affected as hospitals have been forced to delay or postpone operations due to the water shortage.

Business Affairs 

Sensex jumps 348 points, Nifty above 7,650 ahead of IIP, inflation data; BHEL top gainer

  • In a volatile trading session, the S&P BSE Sensex jumped 348 points to reclaim its crucial psychological level of 25,000, while broader CNX Nifty ended above its key 7,650-mark.
    The headline indices recouped earlier losses tracking global markets, even though investors back home remained cautious ahead of the March-quarter earnings season that starts on Friday with Infosys' results.
    The 30-share index ended the day at 25,022, up 348.32 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 7,671, up 116.20 points at close.
    Market breadth turned fairly positive with 26 of the 30 Sensex components ending the day in green.
    Analysts said March-quarter results were likely to be tepid and that no significant moves could be expected from the government until the budget session resumes.
    Asian stocks edged up on Monday as Chinese inflation data fanned optimism that Beijing would continue its loose monetary policies.
    "This week is a week of consolidation as it's a truncated week and traders won't carry over positions into a long weekend," Said Arun Kejriwal, director at Kris Research.
    "Global cues and earnings will be the key triggers for markets going ahead."
    Stocks have shed 2.1 per cent so far this month after rising 11 per cent in March, following a global rally on expectations the US Federal Reserve will continue its rate-tightening spree, albeit at a slower pace.
    BHEL was the best performing stock on Sensex and settled the day 4.3 per cent higher on BSE. 
    Shares of Bharti Airtel gained 4.20 per cent after the telecom major bought Aircel's 4G spectrum in 8 circles for Rs Rs 3,500 crore.
    Among losers, Monsanto India fell 1.78 per cent after the country's farm minister said India would continue to regulate seed prices to benefit its farmers.
    Domestic stock market will remain closed on Thursday and Friday for public holidays.
    Among Asian markets, China's Shanghai Composite added 1.64 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.35 per cent. Japan's Nikkei bucked the  trend to lose 0.44 per cent.
    On Friday, US markets witnessed a pullback throughout the lackluster trading session. The markets however managed to close moderately higher. 

    2016 monsoon rains seen above average: Skymet

    • Annual monsoon rains are likely to be 105 per cent above a long-term average, the country's only private weather forecaster said on Monday, snapping two straight years of drought that cut farm output and hit farmers' income.
      The July-September monsoon delivers nearly 70 per cent of annual rains and waters half of India's farmlands that lack irrigation facilities.
      There is a 35 per cent probability of above average rainfall, Skymet said in a statement.
      Good monsoon rains play a key role in boosting demand for an array of consumer goods. Agriculture accounts for about 14 per cent of country's $2 trillion economy, Asia's third-biggest, but supports two-thirds of its 1.25 billion population.
      State-run India Meteorological Department is soon expected to issue its forecast for this year's monsoon rains.

      World Bank trims 2016, 2017 East Asia growth forecasts, cites risks to outlook

      • World Bank trims 2016, 2017 East Asia growth forecasts, cites risks to outlook
        The World Bank trimmed its 2016 and 2017 economic growth forecasts for developing East Asia and Pacific, and said the outlook was clouded by risks such as uncertainty over China's growth prospects, financial market volatility and further falls in commodity prices.
        The Washington-based lender now expects the developing East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region, which includes China, to grow 6.3 per cent in 2016 and 6.2 per cent in 2017, slowing from 6.5 per cent growth in 2015.
        Its previous forecast in October was 6.4 per cent growth in 2016 and 6.3 per cent in 2017.
        The expected slowdown in the region is mainly due to the continued moderation of growth in China, which is likely to see growth slow to 6.7 per cent in 2016 and 6.5 per cent in 2017, from 6.9 per cent in 2015, the bank said. The growth forecasts for China were unchanged from October.
        "The fundamentally positive base case for growth and poverty reduction in the region is subject to elevated risks," the World Bank said in its latest East Asia and Pacific Economic Update report on Monday.
        Possible risks include a weaker-than-expected recovery in high-income economies, a faster-than-expected slowdown in China, as well as increases in financial market volatility that could cause monetary conditions to tighten and have adverse effects on the real economy, the bank said.
        "In particular, vulnerabilities created by the interplay between high levels of indebtedness, price deflation, and slowing growth in China bear close monitoring, as do corporate and financial sector vulnerabilities across much of the region."
        A further fall in commodity prices would have a negative impact on major commodity exporters and reduce the space for public spending and investment, the bank added.
        Growth in Malaysia was likely to come in at 4.4 per cent in 2016 and 4.5 per cent in 2017, down from 5.0 per cent in 2015, as weaker demand from China and low commodity prices constrain growth and public spending, the bank said.
        Growth in Thailand was seen at 2.5 per cent in 2016 and 2.6 per cent in 2017, down from 2.8 per cent in 2015, with weaker external demand and policy uncertainty likely to weigh on private investment.
        Indonesia is likely to see growth accelerate to 5.1 per cent in 2016 and 5.3 per cent in 2017, from 4.8 per cent in 2015, despite low commodity prices and headwinds to external demand.
        "However, this outlook is contingent on the implementation of an ambitious public investment programme, and the success of recent reforms to reduce red tape and uncertainty for private investors," the bank said, regarding Indonesia.
        Growth is expected to firm in the Philippines to 6.4 per cent in 2016 from 5.8 per cent in 2015, on the back of accelerated implementation of the existing pipeline of public-private partnership projects, and spending related to the May 2016 presidential election, the bank said.

      FDI rose 27.45% during April-February: RBI

      • Foreign direct investment increased to $42 billion during April-February in 2015-16, up by 27.45 per cent from the inflows in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, RBI said.
        The inflows were $32.96 billion during April-February 2014-15.
        The data further revealed FDI in February was $3.2 billion, down from $5.14 billion in January. The foreign direct inflows were $3.48 billion in February 2015.
        The net FDI (minus FDI outflow) was $34.04 billion during April-February as against $29.66 billion in the corresponding period of the last fiscal.
        As per the Finance Ministry, 98 per cent of foreign direct investment is coming into India through the automatic route and as a "positive sign" the number of applications being routed via the FIPB approval route has started declining.
        The NDA Government has been liberalising the FDI regime and has brought a number of sectors under the automatic route.
        Insurance, railways, defence, and e-commerce are some of the key sectors wherein the FDI norms have been liberalised.

        RBS to close India business as it shrinks global assets

        • Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will close its corporate banking operations in India as part of a plan to sell or shut businesses in two-thirds of the countries it operates in, a person familiar with the situation said.
          RBS, which was briefly the world's largest bank by assets, has spent the eight years since a 45-billion pound ($64 billion) government bailout cutting costs and reorganising.
          It is closing the Indian business after failing to find a buyer, the person told Reuters on Monday.
          Earlier this year, Reuters reported Singapore's biggest lender DBS Group Holdings and South African banking group FirstRand were in separate talks to buy the unit.
          "After examining a number of potential sale options for our banking business in India, we have concluded that it is not feasible to sell the business in its entirety," the bank said in a statement.
          "We will now look at other options which may include a wind down or sale of individual parts."The decision to close the India business is part of Chief Executive Ross McEwan's strategy announced last year to operate in 13 countries, down from 38.
          McEwan has cut thousands of jobs and assets to reduce expenses, in a bid to boost earnings after eight straight years of losses.

        General Awareness

        India, Maldives sign six agreements in different sectors

          • In the delegation-level bilateral talks led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Maldivian PresidentAbdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoomboth sides signed 6 agreements in the fields of defencetourism, taxation, space research, and conservation of mosques.
            Double Taxation:India, Maldives sign six agreements in different sectors
            • The MoU seeks to avoid double taxation of income derived from international air transport.
            Exchange of Information:
            • The agreement includes exchange of information relevant to the determination, assessment and collection of such taxes, the recovery and enforcement of tax claims, or the investigation and prosecution of tax matters.
            Defence Cooperation:
            • The action plan envisages an institutional mechanism at the level of the defence secretaries to further bilateral defence cooperation.
            Space Research:
            • Another agreement related to orbit frequency coordination of the proposed South Asia Satellite at 48 degrees
            • The agreement shall be used for the purpose of performing intersystem orbit-frequency coordination for the operation of South Asia Satellite; and fulfilling ITU level regulatory requirements and obtaining international level protection/recognition for the South Asia Satellite.
            Tourism Cooperation:
            • This includes expansion of bilateral cooperation, exchange of information and data related to tourism, encouraging cooperation between tourism stakeholders including hotels and tour operators, establishing exchange programmes for cooperation in human resource development, investment in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
            • It also provides for exchanging visits of tour operators, media and opinion makers for promotion of two-way tourism and sustainable tourism.
            Conservation and Restoration:
            • The sixth agreement is on cooperation in the conservation and restoration of ancient mosques and joint research and exploratory surveys in the Maldives.

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