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Current Affairs - 31 May 2016

General Affairs 

Maneka Gandhi Releases Human Trafficking Draft Bill, Says Victims Will Not Go To Jail
  • NEW DELHI:  Human Trafficking victims will not be sent to jail, according to the first draft bill of trafficking, which was released by Union Minister Maneka Gandhi on Monday.

    "At present the law says the trafficked and the trafficker are both criminals and they both go to jail. Now, we are saying the victim will not go to jail. We will find different ways to reform her life," the minister said after releasing the draft bill on Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation).

    She said decriminalisation of prostitution is a "grey area" which needs to be further discussed.

    The provision was made in view of treating "victims as victims and not offenders", irrespective of the trade they are trafficked for, including sexual exploitation, which is currently punishable under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.

    "There is a grey area and we are going to work on it. Let the draft go through everyone. Let everybody give their suggestions to this draft to see that those grey areas become less grey. For instance, suppose a girl has been in prostitution for 15 years. Is she still a victim or she is just a part of a trade. In which case does ITPA apply to her or we do. That also has to be thought about," Ms Gandhi said.

    She said the draft bill will be on the ministry's website for a month for public consultation and inviting suggestions from NGOs and stakeholders.

    "This will be on our website for a month. During that period everybody is welcome to give suggestions and ask questions," she said.

    The major provisions of the "victim oriented" bill include prohibition on disclosure of identity of the victim of trafficking and witness, penal provision for the use of narcotic drug or psychotropic substance or alcohol for the purpose of trafficking, use of chemical substance or hormones for exploitation and institution mechanism.

    It also has provision for registration of placement agencies, setting up of s Special Investigation Agency, Special Court and creation of Rehabilitation Fund for victims by the state governments.

    "If considered as trafficking, the victim will be produced in court, the district anti-trafficking committee will decided on what happens to the victim like will get sent to home to rehabilitated or will they get change of name," Ms Gandhi said.

Hacker Moves High Court Against Eknath Khadse, Congress Demands His Sacking
  • MUMBAI:  A Gujarat-based hacker who claims to have obtained call records which purportedly show calls from the gangster Dawood Ibrahim's house to the Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, on Monday asked for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe, while the opposition Congress sought the BJP leader's dismissal.

    Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam said a party delegation met Governor C Vidyasagar Rao and demanded Mr Khadse's dismissal over the recent multiple allegations.

    State BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari defended Mr Khadse over the allegation about a three-acre piece of land bought by Mr Khadse's family at Bhosari near Pune. Mr Bhandari said that Shiv Sena leader and Industries minister Subhash Desai's statement that the land belonged to Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation was "based on incomplete information" and it had not been acquired.

    In the Bombay High Court, Vadodara-based hacker Manish Bhangale's petition came up on Monday. Mr Bhangale had hacked the call records of Dawood's house which formed the basis of allegation levelled against Mr Khadse by the Aam Aadmi Party or AAP two weeks ago.

    Mr Bhangale's lawyer demanded urgent hearing, saying his client was receiving death threats. He also demanded a CBI probe against Mr Khadse. The High Court, however, said it would be heard after the summer vacation.

    "Instead of recording statements and perusing evidence, the state government and (Mumbai) police have shown haste in giving clean chit to the minister. The global data of telephone numbers gathered by me (petitioner) from the telephone bills of Dawood Ibrahim has the potential of exposing his financial empire ranging from films to cricket betting," the petition claims.

Jats Have Assured June 5 Protests Would Be Peaceful, Says Haryana Chief Minister
  • CHANDIGARH:  Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday said Jat leaders have assured him of staging dharnas peacefully in the state on June 5.

    "We have had talks with them (the Jats) and they have assured us to hold dharnas in a peaceful manner. In a democratic set-up, everyone has a right to put his views in a peaceful manner. We cannot deprive them of that," Mr Khattar said.

    Mr Khattar said that representatives of Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti have assured him that they will be staging dharnas in a peaceful manner.

    He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of Union Minister Birender Singh's filing of nomination papers for the biennial Rajya Sabha polls.

    Members of the Jat community have threatened to launch fresh protests in the state for reservation and against lodging criminal cases on their leaders from June 5.

    Asked about deployment of central forces in sensitive districts and imposition of prohibitory orders under section 144 at a few places, Mr Khattar said, "Keeping in mind what happened three months back, we are taking steps to maintain law-and-order."

    The Chief Minister added, "I am of the belief that no such situation (as witnessed during the Jat protests in February) will arise again."

    Around 30 people were killed and property worth hundreds of crores of rupees damaged in violence during the agitation in Haryana in February.

    Last week, a sedition charge was slapped on Jat Sangharsh Samiti chief Yashpal Malik and 125 others for threatening peace and communal harmony by instigating people to launch fresh protests.

    Unmoved by FIRs against many Jat leaders, Mr Malik has maintained that they would go ahead with their protest on June 5, slated to be launched after a meeting in Hisar district.

    Jat leaders from several states, including Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and UP, are expected to take part in the meeting.

    Earlier this week, the Punjab and Haryana High Court stayed the Haryana government order allowing reservation for Jats and five other communities under a newly-carved Backward Classes (C) category.

Warning System During Earthquakes Developed For Delhi Metro
  • NEW DELHI:  A Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratory has developed an warning system for Delhi Metro that alerts it after there is an earthquake so that its services can be halted.

    The system helped stop the Metro services after the tremors hit the national capital last month.

    Developed by CSIR-Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIR-CSIO), Chandigarh, the system can sense, record the event and generate SMS to the concerned action points, in real time.

    The Metro authorities had asked the CSIO to detect quakes measuring beyond 3 on the Richter Scale.

    "The information has been integrated with the system and was also passed on to designated officers. Within three seconds orders can be given to stop the Metro," said RK Sinha, Director of CSIO.

    "The system can also be used at nuclear reactor sites and the activity could be stopped in case of an earthquake," he added.

    He, however, refused to call it an earthquake early warning system as it works only after the tremor, following which it senses the waves.

    The CSIO has installed five sensors across different locations of Metro---Mundka, Botanical Garden, Huda City Centre, Metro Bhawan and Faridabad--- comprising seismic warning systems with LAN connectivity with the DMRC network for generation of alarm signal on major earthquake.

    It is in operation since August 2015, but was validated last month.

    "The sensor also has a highly sensitive pendulum. So anytime there is a vibration inside the earth, it starts oscillating. They send signals about any seismic activity and communicate it to the central control located at Operation Control Centre (DMRC-OCC) regarding potential earthquake incidence.

    "The central control takes a final decision based on the response of all the individual nodes and generates an audio visual alarm and sends the event details via email and SMS to the registered users," Mr Sinha added.

    He said, in countries like Japan the Metro services stop automatically when it receives such signals.

White House On Alert After 'Metal Object' Hurled Over Fence
  • WASHINGTON:  Authorities temporarily placed the White House on lockdown Monday after someone threw a metal object over the fence around the presidential mansion, officials said.

    Reporters working at the White House said a woman had been arrested.

    "An individual threw a metal object over the north fence line at the White House," the Secret Service said in a statement after the approximately three-hour lockdown ended.

    "Secret Service uniformed division officers immediately apprehended the individual without incident."

    Officials said they conducted "protective sweeps" of the object but determined it was not a threat.

    "The White House has returned to normal operations," the Secret Service said.

    President Barack Obama had been attending a Memorial Day service at Arlington National Cemetery when the incident occurred.

Business Affairs 

Indian economy may see 7.8% growth in FY17: Credit Suisse
  • Indian economy is expected to witness a growth of 7.8 per cent in the current fiscal on account of likely recovery in agriculture and private consumption, says a Credit Suisse report.
    According to Swiss financial major, while the first six months of 2016-17 would see growth consolidating at current levels, the improvement in economy is likely to take place in the second half of the year.
    "We expect growth to improve to 7.8 per cent year-on-year this fiscal from 7.5 per cent last year," Credit Suisse said in the report.
    "This recovery is likely to be gradual with agriculture and private consumption leading the way but corporate investment and exports remaining lacklustre," it said.
    At the same time, the report also estimates GDP growth for January-March quarter of 2015-16 to accelerate to 7.5 per cent from 7.3 per cent in the previous quarter.
    The official GDP growth figures for the fourth quarter ending March 31, 2016 would be announced tomorrow.
    Credit Suisse noted that consumption could stage a "sharper recovery in second half of the current fiscal with a fuller impact of monsoons on rural consumption which has been a drag, and implementation of pay commission".
    Further, observing weak domestic private investments on account of plunge in non-oil, non-gold imports, the report said that the imports are expected to recover marginally over the year as growth improves gradually.
    On trading in equities, the report estimated that the macro environment should be conducive for equity markets going forward.
    "Historically we found that the environment of improving growth and manageable inflation is supportive of equity markets," the report said.

    Domestic air passenger traffic grew by 21.8 per cent
    • Domestic air passenger traffic growth out performed major aviation markets for the 13th consecutive month as the number of fliers grew 21.8 per cent in April as against a global average of 4.1 per cent during the months, according to IATA.
      "India's domestic traffic soared 21.8 per cent, marking the 20th month of double-digit traffic growth and the 13th consecutive month it has led the domestic markets," global airlines body International Air Transport Association (IATA) said today.
      Growth is being propelled by the comparatively strong economic backdrop as well as by substantial increase in service frequencies, IATA said.
      "Demand for domestic travel climbed 4.1 per cent in April compared to April 2015, while capacity increased 3.8 per cent, causing load factor to rise 0.3 percentage points to 81.4 per cent," IATA said.
      All markets reported demand increase with the exception of Brazil, which showed a 12.1 per cent decline, reflecting the country's ongoing economic recession and political turmoil, it added.
      According to IATA, China recorded 9.5 per cent domestic traffic growth, a strong rebound from the 3.3 per cent increase recorded in March.
      "Fears about slowing economic growth in the country have eased somewhat and increased growth in frequencies is helping stimulate demand," it said.
      International passenger demand, however, rose 4.8 per cent in April this year compared to April 2015, the slowest pace in two years.
      Airlines in all regions recorded growth, led by the Middle East region, it said.

      India gains momentum to retain fastest growing economy tag
      • India probably gathered momentum to hold its ranking as the world's fastest growing large economy in the quarter through March, giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi more to celebrate after completing two years in office last week.
        Modi swept to power promising to revitalise Asia's third-largest economy and, despite a dearth of private investment and shrinking exports, his policies are having some success as cooling inflation and lower interest rates have boosted consumer demand.
        A Reuters survey of economists expected data out on Tuesday will show India's gross domestic product grew 7.5 per cent year-on-year between January and March, faster than the previous quarter's 7.3 per cent.
        "This 7.5 per cent growth, in a global slowdown environment, has a potential to pick up even more," Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said last week in general comments about the trends.
        India's upbeat outlook contrasts with neighbouring China, where growth slipped to 6.7 in the first quarter - the slowest posted by the world's second largest economy in seven years.
        Given the dim prospects for a boost from exports, Moody's Investors Service said a recovery in private investment would be needed if India's upturn was going to last.
        "Combined with the fact that external demand is likely to remain lacklustre, a sustained improvement in domestic private investment would be required for the growth momentum to be sustained," the rating agency's analysts wrote in a note.
        Meantime, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is widely expected to keep its policy interest rate on hold at a scheduled policy review on June 7 as it waits for banks to fully pass on the previous the benefits of earlier cuts to borrowers.
        Consumers, particularly in urban areas, have been encouraged by the lower rates.
        Sales of passenger cars and two-wheelers are growing at a double-digit pace. Sales of new residential units recovered in the last quarter, snapping a falling trend.
        Personal loans that include loans for durable goods, housing and education are growing at a rate of 19 per cent year-on-year, while credit card loans are growing at a 24 per cent clip.
        With good rains forecast this summer, the farm sector is set to get a fillip after two successive years of drought. That bodes well for depressed rural demand.
        Impending increases in wages and pensions of government employees are also expected to underpin consumer spending.
        As part of his strategy to boost business and generate jobs, Modi has accelerated public spending on road construction, laying new power lines and upgrading the rail network.
        He has also lifted caps on foreign investments in sectors such as insurance and defence manufacturing.
        Still, an upturn in private capital investment remains elusive.
        Festering bad loans have made banks wary of fresh lending, forcing cash-strapped firms to keep a lid on capital outlays and, in any case, many factories are still running well below capacity.
        External uncertainties, meanwhile, are on the rise. Chances of US interest rates going up, Britain voting to leave the European Union, and China's economy worsening all pose risks for emerging markets like India.
        The South Asian nation has benefited massively from cheap crude over the past two years as its oil import bill halved, inflation fell and public finances improved.
        But, economists reckon oil's recent rally above $50 a barrel could knock 20-30 basis points off the growth rate, while boosting the inflation rate by up to 60 basis points.

      Tata Motors Q4 net surges three-fold at Rs 5,177 crore
      • Tata Motors on Monday posted three-fold rise in its consolidated net profit at Rs 5,177.06 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31, driven by strong performance of its British arm JLR and robust volume growth of its heavy and medium commercial vehicles.
        The city-based company had posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 1,716.5 crore in the same period last fiscal, Tata Motors said in a BSE filing.
        Consolidated net sales in the fourth quarter of current fiscal were up 18.76 per cent at Rs 79,926.12 crore, as against Rs 67,297.99 crore in the year-ago period, it added.
        Commenting on the performance, the company said it had stronger operating performance in both standalone as well as Jaguar Land Rover business and lower net finance expenses.
        The gains were however partly offset by higher depreciation and amortisation expenses, adverse revaluation of EUR payables and one-time reserves and charges of Rs 1,580 crore for the industry-wide recall in the US of potentially faulty airbags supplied by Takata, it added.
        On a standalone basis, the company reported a net profit of Rs 464.99 crore for the fourth quarter. It had posted a net loss of Rs 1,164.25 crore in the year-ago quarter.
        Standalone net sales were at Rs 12,459.51 crore against Rs 10,676.19 crore in the year-ago period.
        The company posted a net profit of Rs 234.23 crore on standalone basis for the year ended March 31. It had reported net loss of Rs 4,738.95 crore in 2014-15. Net sales rose 16.87 per cent to Rs 41,948 crore in FY2016, against Rs 35,890.5 crore in FY2015.
        Jaguar Land Rover posted profit after tax of 472 million pounds for the quarter as compared with 302 million pound, up 56.29 per cent as compared to same period of previous fiscal.
        Its revenues for the fourth quarter stood at 6,594 million pounds, compared to 5,826 million pounds in the same period year-ago.
        JLR wholesales (excluding China JV) for the quarter were 149,895 units, up 19.8 per cent, it said, adding China JV wholesales for the quarter were 12,532 units.
        For the year ended March 31, Tata Motors posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 11,023.75 crore, down 21.18 per cent from Rs 13,986.29 crore in 2014-15 fiscal.
        Net sales of the company rose by 4.56 per cent to Rs 2,72,645.84 crore for the year ended March 31, as compared to Rs 2,60,734.33 crore in the 2014-15 fiscal.
        The company's board, which met today, approved a dividend of Rs 0.20 per share of Rs 2 each and a dividend of Rs 0.30 per 'A' ordinary share of Rs 2 each for the financial year ended March 31, 2016.
        Shares of Tata Motors ended the day at Rs 420.55 apiece, up 4.23 per cent from the previous close on BSE.

        Reliance Communications Q4 net profit falls 22 percent
        • Reliance Communications on Monday posted a 22 percent fall in its fourth-quarter net profit, hurt by lower revenue from voice and data services.
          The company, controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani, reported a net profit of Rs 177 crore ($26.36 million) for its financial fourth quarter to March 31, compared with Rs 228 crore a year earlier.
          Total income from operations fell 1.3 percent to Rs 5617 crore.
          The debt-laden company has undertaken a series of deals in the last six months to sell non-core assets and cut debt, including a spectrum swap deal with elder brother Mukesh Ambani's company.
          RCom also signed a non-binding pact in December to sell its mobile phone masts business to a group of companies led by buyout firm TPG Capital Management LP, but the final terms of that deal are yet to be announced.

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