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Current Affairs - 15 April 2016

General Affairs 

PM Narendra Modi's New Slogan To Farmers: Per Drop, More Crop
  • PM Narendra Modi's New Slogan To Farmers: Per Drop, More CropNEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged the farming community to evolve a new policy for water conservation and improve their knowledge about soil behaviour for getting better yields.

    "I am on a new mission of per drop - more crop," PM Modi said launching an electronic trading platform, the national agriculture market -- eNAM.

    "With each drop of water saved, we can usher in a new era of progress and prosperity," PM Modi said.

    He stressed the need for farmers to improve their knowhow about soil behaviour.

    Modi also said that while emphasis should be given to technological upgradation in the fields, the old practice of "flood irrigation has become a thing of past".

    "Farmers should not merely think that abundant water only can bring in better results. For instance, even for sugarcane sprinkling water helps to get better yields," he said.

    The e-NAM trading mechanism proposes to integrate 585 regulated wholesale markets or agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) under one electronic platform within a couple of years.

    The eNAM will allow farmers to sell their produce to highest bidders.

    It will initially aim at integrating 21 mandis in eight states -- Uttar Pradesh (6), Gujarat (3), Telangana (5), Rajasthan (1), Madhya Pradesh (1), Haryana (2), Jharkhand (1) and Himachal Pradesh (2).

    Launched with a budget allocation of Rs 200 crore, as many as 25 key commodities, including wheat, paddy, maize, onion, jowar, bajra, groundnut, potato, soyabean and mustard seed, have been selected for e-trading, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh had said on Wednesday.

    Fruits and vegetables normally known for price fluctuations, however, have not yet included in the platform, officials said.

Nepal Invites Nitish Kumar For Buddha's 2,560th Birth Anniversary
  • Nepal Invites Nitish Kumar For Buddha's 2,560th Birth Anniversary
    PATNA:  Nepal has invited Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to attend the 2,560th birth anniversary celebrations of Lord Buddha in Kathmandu, officials said today.

    "Nitish Kumar has been invited by Nepal next month to attend a function in connection with the birth anniversary of the Buddha," said an official from the chief minister's office in Patna.

    The Nepal government is organising an international Buddha seminar on May 19-20, and has also invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jingping and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

    Mr Kumar had visited Kathmandu last month to attend the inaugural function of the national convention of the Nepali Congress.

Arts Body IGNCA Board Reconstitution Step Towards Creating Hindu Rashtra: CPM
  • Arts Body IGNCA Board Reconstitution Step Towards Creating Hindu Rashtra: CPM
    KOLKATA:  CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury today said the reconstitution of the management of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts was "a sign of intolerance" and a step towards creation of a 'Hindu rashtra'.

    Mr Yechury said reconstitution of various bodies represented an attempt at fulfilling the ambition of creating a 'Hindu rashtra' by 'subverting' the secular democratic structure.

    "It is nothing but a sign of intolerance. The Modi government and the RSS from the very beginning are trying to subvert the democratic and secular set-up and establish a Hindu rashtra. They want to replace the history with Hindu mythology and theology. This reconstitution is nothing but a step towards creating Hindu rashtra," Mr Yechury said.

    After Nehru Memorial Society, the Modi government today reconstituted the management of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) bringing in veteran Hindi scribe Ram Bahadur Rai as its head in place of Chinmaya Gharekhan, a former diplomat.

    Mr Yechury also criticised the Narendra Modi dispensation over its nod to the Logistics Support Agreement with the US and said the government was playing a "surrogate" to US imperialism.

    "The Modi government is trying to play a surrogate to the US imperialism and that is why they are getting into defence deals with the US by compromising the sovereignty of our country," Mr Yechury said.

Mayawati Sees Congress Conspiracy Behind Plea In Disproportionate Assets Case
  • Mayawati Sees Congress Conspiracy Behind Plea In Disproportionate Assets Case
    LUCKNOW:  Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati today accused Congress of a "conspiracy", a day after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a petition seeking registration of a fresh FIR against her in a disproportionate assets case.

    "As part of a conspiracy, Congress party through its Dalit worker Kamlesh Verma, who had contested Lok Sabha election unsuccessfully in the past from Madhya Pradesh, has got a new petition filed for a fresh hearing in the case," she said at a function to mark the 125th anniversary of BR Ambedkar.

    "In 2003, under a political conspiracy, I was wrongly framed in the disproportionate assets case by CBI under the garb of Taj Corridor case," she said, adding that she was forced to move the Supreme Court as the matter was kept pending after the UPA government came to power in 2004.

    Ms Mayawati, the then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, and a minister in her government, Nasimuddin Siddiqui, were charged with corruption in 2002-2003 in the Taj Corridor project which was intended to upgrade tourist facilities near the Taj Mahal.

    The BSP chief said that even as she got justice in the Supreme Court, Congress used its worker to get the PIL filed for a fresh hearing in a case which she had already won.

    Ms Mayawati also said that Congress, BJP and other parties were trying to check BSP by getting her entangled in court cases.

    Her remarks came a day after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a fresh plea seeking registration of a fresh FIR against BSP chief for allegedly amassing disproportionate assets.

    Attacking the Congress for being "anti-Ambedkar", she objected to Rahul Gandhi reportedly comparing him (Ambedkar) with Rohith Vemula at Ambedkar Jayanti related programme in Nagpur.

    "This goes to prove that he does not have the right information about Ambedkar and his personality...otherwise, he would have compared him with Nelson Mandela or Kanshi Ram," she said.

    Referring to Mr Vemula's suicide, she said that as he was an Ambedkarite, he should have looked at the struggles of the great leader who faced them strongly and did not think of committing suicide despite all odds.

    "I want to tell all to take inspiration from Ambedkar and face challenges like him," she said.

    Ms Mayawati also accused Congress of using Jagjivan Ram, Dalit stalwart of his time, against Mr Ambedkar.

Strong Earthquake Hits South Japan; People May Be Trapped
  • Strong Earthquake Hits South Japan; People May Be TrappedTOKYO, JAPAN:  A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 knocked over houses in southern Japan this evening, and police said people may be trapped underneath.

    There were no immediate reports of casualties from the 9:26 pm earthquake, and no risk of a tsunami.

    "There was a ka-boom and the whole house shook violently sideways," Takahiko Morita, a resident of Mashiki, the town at the epicenter, said in a telephone interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK. "Furniture and bookshelves fell down, books were all over the floor."

    Morita said some houses and walls collapsed in his neighbourhood, and water supply was cut off.

    Police in Kumamoto prefecture said they have received reports of a number of collapsed houses and people possibly trapped inside.

    Mashiki is east of Kumamoto city, about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

    Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that damage was being assessed, but there were no abnormalities at nearby nuclear facilities.

    The epicenter was 120 kilometers (74 mile) northeast of the Sendai nuclear plant, the only one operating in the country.

    NHK showed Mashiki town hall in the dark, apparently having lost power. Footage also showed rubble on the road, shards of glasses and broken windows, and fire breaking out in some places, with firefighters battling an orange blaze.

    Keisukei Urata, an official at nearby Uki city, said he was driving home when the quake struck at 9:26 pm.

    He also said he saw some walls around houses collapsing.

    Parts of the ceiling at Uki City Hall also collapsed, windows were broken and cabinets fell to the ground, he said.

    Kasumi Nakamura, an official in the village of Nishihara near the epicenter, said that the rattling started modestly and grew violent, lasting about 30 seconds.

    "Papers, files, flower vases and everything fell on the floor," he told NHK. He said there were aftershocks.

    One aftershock measuring 5.7 struck about 40 minutes later, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency.

    The US Geological Survey put the earthquake's preliminary magnitude at 6.2 and said it was 23 kilometers (14 miles) deep. It said there's a low likelihood of casualties but some damage is possible.

    Footage on NHK showed a signboard hanging from the ceiling at its local bureau violently shaking. File cabinets rattled, books, files and papers rained down to the floor, and one employee appeared to have fallen off a chair, while others slid underneath their desks to protect their heads

Business Affairs 

7.5% growth not enough for India's requirement: Arun Jaitley

  • 7.5% growth not enough for India's requirement: Arun Jaitley
    India's current growth rate of 7.5 per cent is not enough as per its own requirement standard and the country has the "potential" to do "better", Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said.
    Expressing concern over the decline in India's exports, Jaitley said the country's growth parameters were on track and the government is moving ahead on its reform agenda with inclusiveness and successfully meeting all its fiscal parameters.
    "On 7.5 per cent by global standards or by world standards in the current situation are we doing well? The answer is Yes.
    But by our own requirement standards are we doing well enough? I think, we can do better," Jaitley said yesterday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a global American think-tank.
    "The fact that in this otherwise a globally adverse environment by putting some domestic policies in place, by using investments and surpluses cleverly we have managed to sustain some growth. One of the biggest areas of worry has been the declining exports," he said.
    Noting that both in value terms and volume terms, the global situation has impacted export, Jaitley, who is on a week-long visit to the US, said that things could improve if some of the variables change.
    "On 7.5 per cent by global standards or by world standards in the current situation are we doing well? The answer is Yes.
    But by our own requirement standards are we doing well enough? I think, we can do better," Jaitley said.
    "Does 7.5 per cent satisfy either the Indian government, me or the Prime Minister or India's political opinion, the answer is no. I think, by our own yardstick, we realise that we have potential in a helpful environment to do better," he said, adding that in an adverse global situation, probably one does settle for that rate.
    "But if hopefully with any of these variable factors growth returning to the rest of the world at some stage, better Indian monsoon, and continued favourable environment of oil prices and the impetus of policy direction in India, if the reforms go on...if we are able to cross those hurdles, our ability to do much better would be there," Jaitley said.
    Earlier welcoming Jaitley, Carnegie's president William Burns, who is the former Deputy Secretary of State, said that India had a very important role to play globally, particularly in Asia.
    India has surprised China by emerging as the fastest growing emerging economies of the world.
    "Two years after the BJP came into power there is change in India's economic situation. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and Jaitley India today is the world's fastest growing major economy," Burns said, adding that inflation was moderated and government was committed to reforms.
    Jaitley said that about two years ago, when the current government had taken over the situation looked quite challenging, but since then the global situation has never been helpful.
    In the 21 months the key emphasis of the Modi government has been decisiveness, consistency in terms of policy direction and transparency in functioning, he said.
    "In terms of economic direction, this government is yet to commit a major mistake," he said.
    Jaitley arrived in the US capital yesterday to attend the annual spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, in addition to meeting his Chinese and American counterparts.
    During his week-long stay, Jaitley would also travel to New York to meet with private sector leaders with an objective to attract foreign direct investments to India.

    Competition Appellate Tribunal halts Lafarge India sale

    • The Competition Appellate Tribunal (CAT) has halted the sale of Lafarge India after an appeal by a rival, delaying the merger of Lafarge and Holcim's Indian operations.
      The tribual stayed a February order by antitrust watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) allowing the sale of Lafarge India until the next hearing on May 9, according to an order posted on the tribunal's website.
      The CCI's order was challenged by Dalmia Cement (Bharat), which the tribunal said had been "aggrieved" by the order, without elaborating. A spokeswoman for Dalmia Bharat declined to comment.
      In February, LafargeHolcim said it was considering a divestment of its interest in Lafarge India, which has an annual capacity of 11 million tonnes, to comply with antitrust rules for the merger of the group's legacy companies.
      The group had earlier tried to sell 5.1 million tonnes of Lafarge India's capacity to cementmaker Birla Corp, but the deal was called off due to regulatory hurdles.

      Infosys to declare Q4 results tomorrow; 5 things to watch out for

      • Infosys Q4 results: 5 things to watch out for
        Will Infosys, that tops the list on earnings calander, also stand atop among IT peers? If brokerages are to be believed, country's second-largest software services firm by revenue will lead the IT pack with nearly 3 per cent revenue growth in constant currency (CC) terms and will beat even most
        optimistic estimates on the revenue guidance.
        The IT major is all set to earn back its bellwether title and may post the strongest Q4 in the last six years even though the March quarter is generally considered weak for the IT companies. 
        Below are five key parameters that market will watch out for from the Infosys results:
        1) Revenue growth  
        Brokerage Prabhudas Liladhar expects Infosys to report revenue growth of 2.3 per cent (in CC terms), its best ever Q4 in several years. The brokerage estimates year-on-year (y-o-y) CC revenue growth to come in at 15.4 per cent against 7.8 per cent in the March quarter of last fiscal year indicating sharp improvement in growth trajectory.
        In INR terms, brokerage Motilal Oswal estimated the revenue growth to come in at 4.2 per cent q-o-q on the back of nearly 2.3 per cent sequential depreciation in rupee versus dollar.  
        2) Margins
        Inspite of apprehension on Infosys' margin due to caution raised earlier by management, broking firm Edelweiss Securities believes the IT giant will continue to post margin expansion in the March quarter.
        "Contrary to Street and Infosys' earlier caution on margin due to investment in new areas, we believe it will continue to post margin expansion (120bps in Q4) and even FY17 margins will improve significantly as the company has witnessed sharp decline of 480bps in attrition levels in past 4 quarters, benefits of which in form of lower replacement cost will accrue now," said the brokerage.
        However, Prabhudas Liladhar said margins are expected to decline by nearly 30bps q-o-q due to investments in business.
        ICICI Securities expects Infosys to retain its EBIT margin target range of 24-26 per cent for FY17. The brokerage is modeling EBIT margin of 24.7 per cent for FY17.  
        3) Guidance
        Edelweiss Securities, in a research note, said Infosys' revenue guidance will beat even most optimistic estimates and be higher than Cognizant's as well for FY17 at 12-14 per cent in CC terms.
        Infosys had raised its FY16 guidance in the previous quarter to 12.8-13.2 per cent year-on-year in CC terms, from 10-12 per cent earlier. ICICI Securities believes this implies Q4 guidance of 1-2.4 per cent q-o-q CC.
        We expect Infosys to guide revenue growth for FY17 within a range of 11-13 per cent in CC terms versus the 10-12 per cent projected by NASSCOM for the industry and the US dollar range of 9.9-14.4 per cent projected by Cognizant for itself.
        4) Net profit
        Motilal Oswal estimates PAT to come in at Rs 3,480 crore, up 0.6 per cent q-o-q due to the impact of forex losses on other income. The IT giant reported a bigger-than-expected 6.6 per cent increase in quarterly net profit in December as it won more clients and as a weaker rupee helped. Its consolidated net profit rose to Rs 3,465 crore ($516.5 million) in its third quarter to December 31.
        5) Total contract value (TCV)
        ICICI Securities said TCV of deal intake will be closely watched and is expected to be near $1 billion. This is because at the end of December quarter, Infosys had indicated participation within a deal pipeline of $3 billion with deal wins of $150 million TCV already having materialized by the time the company reported its December quarter numbers.

      India starts probe into 'subsidised' steel imports from China

      • India has started an investigation into alleged export subsidisation by China on certain varieties of steel products, a move aimed at guarding the domestic industry.
        Jindal Stainless and Jindal Stainless (Hisar) have filed an application before the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) on behalf of the domestic industry alleging "subsidisation" of certain "hot rolled and cold rolled flat products of stainless steel" from China.
        They have requested for initiation of an anti-subsidy investigation for levy of countervailing duties on the imports of these goods, DGAD said in a notification.
        The prima facie evidence provided by the applicant shows that the producers and exporters of these goods in China have benefited from a number of subsidies granted by the government of China and/or other public bodies, it said.
        It added the alleged subsidies consist of direct transfer of funds, government revenue that is otherwise due is foregone or not collected.
        "The authority (DGAD) hereby initiates an investigation into the alleged subsidisation and consequent material injury and/or threat of material injury to the domestic determine the existence, degree and effect," it said.
        After the probe, it would recommend the amount of countervailing duty, "which, if levied, would be adequate to remove the injury to the domestic industry".
        The period of investigation is January to December 2015 (12 months). However, it will also look at the data of three fiscal years - 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15.
        The DGAD also "finds that there is sufficient prima facie evidence of existence of significant countervailable subsidies on production and export of the goods in China and such subsidised imports are causing material injury to the domestic industry through their volume and price effects".
        Recently, the DGAD has started an investigation into alleged dumping of a certain variety of steel products by six countries, including China, Japan and Korea, following a complaint by major producers.
        The move assumes significance as the sector is facing challenges due to cheap steel imports. The government has already taken steps such as imposing minimum import price and safeguard duty to guard domestic producers.

        PM Narendra Modi pitches for Rs 1 lakh crore investment for port development

        • PM Narendra Modi pitches for Rs 1 lakh crore investment for port development
          Pitching for making the country's 7,500-km long coastline an "engine of growth", Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said India wants to mobilise Rs 1 lakh crore investment to enable port development and invited global community to invest.
          Inaugurating the first Maritime India Summit (MIS) here, Modi said it is the "right time" to come and better through the "sea route".
          "Our vision is to increase port capacity from 1,400 million tonnes to 3,000 million tonnes by 2025. We want to mobilise an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore in the port sector to enable this growth," the Prime Minister said after opening the MIS 2016.
          India, according to Modi, plans to add five new ports to meet increasing demand of Exim trade, which is expected to rise in line with the fast-growing Indian economy. New ports are also being developed by several coastal states of India.
          Making out a strong case, the Prime Minister said Indian shipping sector is ready for "a long haul" and called upon investors not to miss out on "the pleasant journey and great destination".
          Modi added: "It is even better time to come through the sea route... Once you are here, I assure you that I will personally hold your hands to see that your berthing is safe, secure and satisfactory."
          Paying tribute to Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Amdedkar on his 125th birth anniversary, Modi said the architect of India's Constitution is also the architect of the country's water and river navigation policy.
          Elaborating on the government's plans for the sector, Modi referred to the shipping ministry showcasing some 250 projects with investment opportunity in the maritime sector.
          These projects include various infrastructure development opportunities in 12 major ports, projects in eight maritime states and other agencies, of which over 100 projects have been identified under the ambitious Sagarmala programme.
          "With more than 14,000 kilometers of navigable inland waterways in the country, there is tremendous potential for development in this sector. My government is committed to integration in infrastructure. We are also committed to creating an enabling environment for investors and facilitating investments with an open mind," he added.
          On the need for collaboration, the Prime Minister said it not just creates and facilitates economic activity, but connects countries and civilisations. He termed it as "the cleanest and cheapest carrier" of global trade.
          "However, in this sector, no country can achieve the desired results in isolation. Nations have to collaborate to realise this potential and overcome challenges in this sector.
          The objective of this summit is to provide a platform and a forum for such cooperation," he stressed.
          "India has had a glorious maritime history. We are on the path of shaping an even better maritime future." 

        General Awareness

        125th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar

          • The 125th birth anniversary Dr. Ambedkar was commemorated on 13 th April 2016 at the UN headquarters in New York. This is the first time, United Nations observed the birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar.
            • A Panel Discussion was held on the theme ‘Combating inequalities for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals with the objective of raising awareness on the importance of addressing all forms of inequality.
            • The event was organized by the Permanent Mission of India to the UN in association with the Kalpana Saroj Foundation and Foundation for Human Horizon.
            Birth Anniversary or Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
            UN also announced that 14th APRIL  as WORLD KNOWLEDGE DAY as it is the Birth Anniversary or Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
            Documentary: A Man of the Century
            • On Behalf of his 125 th Birth Anniversary a documentary Film made by Pune film-maker screened at UN meet, The documentary titled Babasaheb AmbedkarA Man of the Century was screened at the UN Conference in New York.
            • Marathi filmmaker SandeepManohar Navre has made the documentary is 28-minute long, just a 10-minute footage was screened at the event in New York.
            Gram Uday to Bharat UdayAbhiyan:
            Government to launch Gram Uday to Bharat UdayAbhiyan from 14th to 24th April, 2016
            • Starting with Dr.Ambedkar’s 125th Birth Anniversary on 14th April 2016 and culminating in Panchayati Raj Day on 24th April 2016.
            Village Self Governance Campaign:
            • In the period between 14th April and 24th April 2016, the Government, in collaboration with States and Panchayats, will organize a Gram Uday Se Bharat UdayAbhiyan.
            • The campaign aims to generate nation-wide efforts to increase social harmony across villages, strengthen Panchayati Raj, promote rural development, and foster farmers’ progress. Hon’ble Prime Minister will inaugurate the Campaign of 14th April 2016 at MHOW in Madhya Pradesh.
            125-foot tall Ambedkar statue to come up in Hyderabad
            Hyderabad will feature a 125-foot tallStatue of B R Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution, just beside the city’s famous landmarks such as Hussian Sagar Lake and the state secretariat, in a year from now.
            • The chief minister declared that the statue of Ambedkar, who is worshiped by scheduled castes among other sections of the society for his role in introducing the reservation system for the socially oppressed sections in education and employment, will be the tallest in the country.
            • Those who pass by Hussain Sagar would also notice a giant Budha statue standing in the middle of the lake.
            National Agriculture Market portal:
            PM Narendra Modi to launch National Agriculture Market portalthat will have 21 mandis from 8 States to connect e-mandis in several states at a function in the national capital on the 125th birth anniversary of Ambedkar.
            • The Scheme launched on a pilot basis of states includeGujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh andUttar Pradesh.
            • The government is aiming to integrate 200 mandis by September this year and entire 585 mandis by March 2018.
            • About 200 crore rupees has been sanctioned for this purpose.The Agriculture Ministry further said the government has received proposals from 12 states for integration of 365 wholesale mandis.
            Short Notes on Ambedkar:
            Ambedkar was born on April 14, 1891 in a poor Mahar family in Madhya Pradesh. He died in 1956 and was posthumously conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, in 1990.
            • Ambedkar, popularly known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination against Untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour.

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