Current Affairs June 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Current Affairs - 30 June 2016

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General Affairs 

Manohar Parrikar Says Encounters Have Increased In Jammu And Kashmir
  • NEW DELHI:  Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today sought to downplay the recent spurt in violence in Jammu and Kashmir, saying "encounters" have increased in that state and not the attacks by terrorists.

    "There is an increase in encounters," he said when asked about the spurt in the number of terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Eight CRPF personnel were killed and 21 injured when terrorists ambushed a CRPF convoy in Pampore in Kashmir on June 25. Two terrorists were also killed by security forces.

    Mr Parrikar had termed the killing of CRPF personnel at Pampore as an act of "frustration" on the part of Pakistani terrorists, several of whom were killed by Indian forces in the past one year.

    Yesterday, an unidentified terrorist was killed in a gunfight with security forces in Lolab area of north Kashmir's Kupwara district.

    Downplaying the recent spurt in violence in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said "encounters" have increased and not attacks by the terrorists.

India's Entry Into Elite Missile Technology Group A 'Big Victory': BJP
  • NEW DELHI:  Under opposition flak over the government's high-pitched but unsuccessful Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) bid, BJP today cited the country's entry into Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to hit back, saying it is a "big diplomatic victory" and the NDA dispensation succeeded where the UPA "failed".

    The MTCR membership will provide a boost to India's space and missile technology, besides the government's Make in India initiative, the party said.

    "Efforts to get MTCR membership had been on since 2004. This government's success now is a strong answer to our critics. It is a big diplomatic victory and successful outcome of our efforts in the last two years," BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma told reporters.

    Noting that neither China, which played a key role in stalling India's NSG bid, nor Pakistan was a MTCR member, he said India is the first country from the region to enter the grouping.

    "The world now can no longer ignore India. It has emerged as a strong force," he said, adding opposition parties should appreciate the government's efforts instead of running it down.

    Asked about the failure to find a place in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Mr Sharma played it down saying the government was hopeful of getting its membership in future and its hard work should be lauded.

Cabinet Reshuffle Likely Before July 6, Piyush Goyal Could Gain: Sources
  • NEW DELHI:  Before the Parliament meets on July 18 for the monsoon session, new ministers are likely to be added to the cabinet and some may be given an upgrade, government sources said today.

    Ministers of State Piyush Goyal and Dharmendra Pradhan may be promoted to cabinet rank. Mr Goyal's shift to a more high profile ministry has been speculated upon for months.

    A few vacancies are likely to be filled. Sarabananda Sonowal moved to Chief Minister of Assam; Raosaheb Patil Danve resigned after he was appointed president of the BJP in Maharashtra.  Junior ministers are to be added for states headed soon for elections like Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

    Sources say some ministers may swap departments.

    Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, whose performance is believed to be seen in the government as below par, may gain a powerful minister of state who will "assist" him.

    The cabinet cannot exceed 82 ministers; currently, it has 70 members including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A dozen cabinet ministers are from Uttar Pradesh, which votes next year. The result from India's most populous state will be used to measure the likely result of the next general election in 2019.  

    Discussions on the cabinet are expected this evening in a meeting between the PM, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and BJP President Amit Shah, said government sources who asked not to be named.

    Changes to the cabinet are likely to be announced before July 6, when the Prime Minister leaves for Africa.

NASA Tests Booster For Most Powerful Rocket For Space Mission
  • WASHINGTON:  A booster for NASA's Space Launch System (SLS), the most powerful rocket in the world, has been successfully tested, an advance that may pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the journey to Mars.

    The booster was fired up for its second qualification ground test at test facilities in Utah in the US, NASA said.

    This was the last full-scale test for the booster before SLS's first uncrewed test flight with NASA's Orion spacecraft in late 2018, a key milestone on the agency's journey to Mars.

    "This final qualification test of the booster system shows real progress in the development of the Space Launch System," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA.

    "Experiencing the sound and feel of approximately 3.6 million pounds of thrust, helps us appreciate the progress we're making to advance human exploration and open new frontiers for science and technology missions in deep space," he said.

    The booster was tested at a cold motor conditioning target of 4.4 degrees Celsius - the colder end of its accepted propellant temperature range.

    When ignited, temperatures inside the booster reached over 3,300 degrees Celsius, NASA said.

    The two-minute, full-duration ground qualification test provided NASA with critical data on 82 qualification objectives that will support certification of the booster for flight.

    Engineers now will evaluate these data, captured by more than 530 instrumentation channels on the booster.

    When completed, two five-segment boosters and four RS-25 main engines will power SLS on deep space missions. The solid rocket boosters, built by NASA contractor Orbital ATK, operate in parallel with SLS's main engines for the first two minutes of flight.

    They will provide more than 75 per cent of the thrust needed for the rocket and Orion spacecraft to escape Earth's gravitational pull.

    "SLS hardware is currently in production for every part of the rocket. We're on track to launch SLS on its first flight test with Orion and pave the way for a human presence in deep space," said John Honeycutt, SLS Programme manager at NASA.

    The first full-scale booster qualification ground test was successfully completed in March last year and demonstrated acceptable performance of the booster design at 32 degrees Celsius - the highest end of the booster's accepted propellant temperature range.

    Testing at the thermal extremes experienced by the booster on the launch pad is important to understand the effect of temperature on how the propellant burns.

    The initial SLS configuration will have a minimum 77-tonne lift capability.

    The next planned upgrade of SLS will use a powerful exploration upper stage for more ambitious missions, with a 115-tonne lift capacity.

China's Xi Jinping Urges Caution Over US Missile Deployment In South Korea
  • BEIJING:  Chinese President Xi Jinping today urged South Korea to pay attention to China's concerns about the deployment of the US THAAD missile defence system to the country and "cautiously" address the plan.

    The United States and South Korea have begun talks on possible deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system after North Korea tested its fourth nuclear bomb on Jan. 6 and conducted missile tests.

    China and Russia have urged the United States to back off, saying THAAD's deployment could also affect their security.

    South Korea should "attach importance to China's legitimate concern on security and cautiously and appropriately address the United States' plan" to deploy THAAD in South Korea, Xi told visiting South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

    North Korea's drive to develop a nuclear weapons capability has angered China, Pyongyang's sole major diplomatic and economic supporter. But Beijing fears THAAD and its radar have a range that would extend into China.

Business Affairs 

How 24x7 retailing operations will benefit consumers, shop owners and GDP
  • It's a move which will change the landscape of retailing operations in India and bring the nation more closer to globalisation. Allowing shops, malls, cinema halls and restaurants to start 24x7 operations will have a tremendous effect on the services sector which contributes more than half to the GDP of the Indian economy.
    The services sector in India comprises trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage and communication, financing, insurance, real estate, business services, community, social and personal services, and services associated with construction.
    The revenue from the services sector will see a significant rise after shops, malls, cinema halls and restaurants will start operating round-the-clock throughout the year.
    The Cabinet has cleared the Model Shops and Establishment Bill.
    The law covers establishments employing 10 or more workers except manufacturing units and will provide freedom to operate 365 days with flexibility on timing to open and close.
    This when implemented will add 'thousands' of additional skilled jobs, besides providing flexibility and convenience to customers.
    The willingness of the states to adopt the law will have an impact on the success of the retail sector. The retailers who would like to take advantage of the move will have to do a cost-benefit analysis of opening stores for extended hours or throughout the night. 

    Sensex gains 216 points, Nifty above 8,200 on 7th pay panel bonanza for govt employees
    • The S&P BSE Sensex on Wednesday gained 216 points, while the broader Nifty50 jumped above its key 8,200-mark ahead of derivatives expiry scheduled for Thursday. 
      The headline indices rallied with auto and retail sector shares gaining after the government approved a long-awaited pay hike for its employees, while sentiment was also boosted by a global relief rally as the immediate impact of Brexit began to fade.
      The 30-share index ended the day at 26,740, up 215.84 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 8,204, up 76.15 points at close.
      MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1 per cent to recoup around one-third of Friday's stinging loss after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
      Aiding sentiment globally was data showing the US economy grew at a 1.1 per cent annualised rate in the first quarter, rather than the 0.8 per cent pace reported last month.
      The calmer mood was also reflected in the India Volatility index, which fell about 9 per cent on Wednesday after rising 3.37 per cent last Friday.
      "The falling volatility clearly indicates that there is some comfort in the market, and that the market has gone out from the event risk," said Chandan Taparia, a derivatives and technical analyst with Anand Rathi Securities.
      "Even after having such a negative global event, the market managed to hold and digest the negative sentiment, which clearly indicates that the Indian market has the potential to move on the higher side."
      Shares of consumer goods and auto makers rose after the Cabinet approved a rise in salaries and pensions for government employees, according to an official, though details of the hike were not immediately available.
      Hero MotoCorp was among the top gainers on the Nifty Auto index, rising as much as 4.29 per cent to its highest in nearly three weeks.
      Retail stocks Shoppers Stop Ltd and Future Enterprises gained as much as 8.11 per cent and 11.98 per cent, respectively.
      Metal stocks also rose, after a government source said the Cabinet cleared a new mineral exploration policy that would allow private companies to carry out standalone exploration for the first time.
      Vedanta jumped 4.10 per cent, Tata Steel gained 1.77 per cent and Hindalco Industries rose 2.75 per cent.
      However, some recent outperformers fell, with ITC and Hindustan Unilever down more than 1 per cent each.

      Pay commission likely to have ripple effect on economy
      • Whenever the government decides to raise the salaries of its employees, there tends to be a ripple effect in the economy.  It may not be different this time either. The Cabinet is expected to revise the salaries of 4.7 million Central government employees and the pensions of another 5.2 million retired employees, in the coming days.
        The total additional outgo, if the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission are accepted completely, will be Rs 1.02 lakh crore.
        As always, some portion of the additional money could be spent on consumer durable goods that are essential to households. One can expect an increase in consumption and demand for such goods. It could lead to more production, perhaps more capital investments, and better profits. But more importantly, the salary revision of government employees comes as an announcement, raising the expectations and hence prices of almost everything and every service. Right from vegetables to provisions, the prices of everything can go up. In other words, inflation can wipe out the advantage of the additional salary within no time for the employee.
        The government cannot do much about this. The best it can do is perhaps implement the pay revision without much delay.
        The committee of secretaries have finalised their views on the pay panel's recommendations.  The Cabinet will look at it during the week itself. Since the government has already provisioned the additional amount under various heads in the current year's budget - including Rs 28,000 crore in the railway budget - it will not end up spending more than what it had planned to.
        The overall trigger it can provide to the economic growth can be a positive.

      Amul to invest Rs 3,000 crore over four years on expansion
      • Dairy major GCMMF, which markets milk and dairy products under Amul brand , will invest Rs 3,000 crore over the next four years on its expansion plans.
        Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) is planning to set up of new plants and add capacity to existing facilities.
        The cooperative is also planning to enter states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Kerala and North-East to expand business, its managing director R S Sodhi said.
        "In dairy sector, if you have to grow then you have to increase milk handling capacity. We are increasing our milk processing capacity to 320 lakh litre per day from the current 280 lakh litre per day. We target to increase this capacity to 360 lakh litres per day by 2020," Sodhi told reporters.
        The cooperative is setting up new plants in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Bengal as well as raising the capacity in existing plants, he added.
        Asked about the investment, Sodhi said: "We are investing Rs 600-800 crore every year. We will invest about Rs 3,000 crore by 2020 on expansion."
        GCMMF achieved a turnover of Rs 23,005 crore in 2015-16 and aiming to reach Rs 50,000 crore by 2020.
        Elaborating on expansion, Sodhi said the new plants in Kanpur and Lucknow are expected to be operational in next two months. A cheese plant in Gujarat will start operation soon.
        The cooperative is also setting up new plants in Mumbai and Kolkata.
        "We are entering Assam market through third party manufacturing. We have plans to enter Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Kerala markets soon," Sodhi said.
        On new products, he said the cooperative will soon launch sweet 'Rasmalai' with a shelf life of one year.
        GCMMF has about 60 processing plants, of which 40 are in Gujarat.
        The cooperative's milk procurement for 2015-16 increased to 186 lakh litres per day as against 148.50 lakh litres in the previous fiscal.

        Govt approves Rs 5,965 cr road projects in three states
        • The government on Wednesday approved three highway projects each in Maharashtra, Odisha and Punjab to be implemented at a cost of Rs 5,965 crore.
          The CCEA in its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the projects for widening of Aurangabad-Telwadi section of NH 211 in Maharashtra, Angul-Sambalpur section of NH-42 (New NH-55) in Odisha and Phagwara-Rupnagar section of NH-344A in Punjab.
          "The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA)...has approved the development of four laning of Aurangabad-Telwadi Section of NH-211 in Maharashtra. The cost is estimated to be Rs 2028.91 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation," Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.
          The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 87 kms. The work will be done under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-IV on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (BOT/DBFOT) basis in BOT toll mode.
          Besides uplifting socio economic development, the project would generate employment potential of 3,54,090 (approx) mandays.
          The project in Odisha will be taken up at a cost of Rs 2491.53 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 151 kms.
          This work will be done under NHDP Phase-IV on Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) basis.
          It would increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities. Employment potential of 6,16,600 (approx.) mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of this stretch, the statement said.
          In Punjab, the four-laning of the section will be done at an estimated cost of Rs 1,444.42 crore. The total length of the road to be developed is approximately 80.820 kms.
          "This work will be done under the National Highways (Others) on Hybrid Annuity Mode," the statement said.
          The government said employment potential of about 3,30,000 mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of Phagwara-Rupnagar section in Punjab.
          The section has recently been declared as NH-344A.
          Presently, the proposed project highway is 2-lane with paved shoulder (68.820 km) and four lane (15.8km).
          This road will join Phagwara to Rupnagar via Nawashahir and will be the shortest route to Amritsar from Chandigarh and vice-versa.
          All the three projects will help expedite the improvement of infrastructure in the respective states besides reducing time and traffic.

        General Awareness

        17th International Indian Film Academy Awards was held in Spain

          • 17th Edition of International Indian Film Academy Awards is being celebrated in Spain.

            Venue: Madrid, Spain
            Hosted by: Shahid Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar 
            Winners List
            Best Picture Award

             Bajrangi Bhaijaan

            Best Female Playback Singer Award

            Monali Thakur for Moh Moh Ke Dhaage, Dum Laga Ke Haisha
            Best Direction AwardSanjay Leela Bhansali for Bajirao Mastani

            Best Performance in a Leading role (Male) AwardRanveer Singh for Bajirao Mastani

            Best Performance in a Supporting role (Male) AwardAnil Kapoor for Dil Dhadhakne Do

            Best Story AwardJuhi Chaturvedi for Piku
            Best Performance in a Leading Role (Female) AwardDeepika Padukone for Piku

            Best CinematographySudeep Chatterjee for Bajirao Mastani

            Best Debutant AwardSooraj Pancholi and Athiya Shetty for Hero
            Best Performance in a Supporting role (Female) AwardPriyanka Chopra for Bajirao Mastani

            Best Lyric Writer

            Varun Grover for Moh Moh Ke Dhaage, Dum Laga Ke Haisha
            Special award for Woman of the YearPriyanka Chopra

            Best Editing

            A Sreekar Prasad for Talvar

            Best ScreenplayKabir Khan, Parveez Shaikh, V. Vijayendra Prasad for Bajrangi Bhaijaan

            Best Performance in Negative role AwardDarshan Kumaar for NH 10
            Best Male Playback Singer Award

             Papon for Moh Moh Ke Dhaage, Dum Laga Ke Haisha
            Best Performance in a Comic Role AwardDeepak Dobriyal for Tanu Weds Manu Returns

            About International Indian Film Academy Awards
            Purpose: To honour both artistic and technical excellence of professionals in Bollywood, the Hindi language film industry
            Established: 2000

        Wednesday, June 29, 2016

        Current Affairs - 29 June 2016

        by , in

        General Affairs 

        PM Modi Lacking Comprehensive Policy Towards Pakistan: Opposition
        • NEW DELHI:  Opposition parties today accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of not having a comprehensive policy towards Pakistan, saying diplomacy requires seriousness, gravitas and not "threatrics".

          The government's foreign policy lacks coherence, clarity and consistency, they said.

          The remarks by Congress and CPI(M) came a day after PM Modi said that India's efforts for engagement with Pakistan is on with peace as the supreme objective but the forces have "full freedom to answer back" in whatever manner they have to.

          "Nobody is against engaging with Pakistan but what we have questioned him (Modi) is about not taking the opposition into confidence," Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said.

          He said diplomacy does not require theatrics and needs seriousness, gravitas.

          CPM leader Brinda Karat targeted the Centre, saying it does not have a comprehensive policy towards Pakistan.

          She said it is really a "show-based" policy rather than a serious diplomatic initiative to deal with a neighbour which undoubtedly has been encouraging terrorists groups against India.

          "One day you say you are going to bomb Pakistan. The other day your Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) said you are not going to count the bullets that are going to be used against Pakistan," Ms Karat said, adding that the Prime Minister had gone to Pakistan to meet Nawaz Sharif on his birthday.

          Congress leader PL Punia accused the government of having a "dual strategy" on the issue of RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan saying on the one hand it appreciated his work, but agreed with what Subramanian Swamy said and bid goodbye to him.

          "Today our economy is passing through such a time that requires stability. There was a need for (his) continuity," he said.

        From A Cell In Kota Jail, This Young Man Made It To IIT
        • KOTA: For the last two years, Piyush Goyal had been studying hard like any other engineering college aspirant. The difference is, he was doing it at the Open Jail in Kota, where his father is a convict.

          The conditions were bad - a room barely 8X8 feet, where the lights went out at 11 in the night. There wasn't much money to spend on books either. A convict in a murder case, his father Phool Chand Goyal's resources were slim -- which is also why Piyush could not afford to stay in a hostel in the city and study.

          But 18-year-old, who ranked 453 in the engineering entrance exams, laughed off the hardships.

          "The jail is not so bad," he said. "People think the atmosphere is very bad here, but that is not so... Today I have fulfilled my father's dream. He showed great courage by keeping me here and funding my studies."

          Phool Chand is close to finishing his 14-year jail sentence and has been allowed to live in an open jail, a correctional facility where he can go out of the campus for work, but has to be back in his cell by evening. The boy has been living with him for the last two years.

          So far he funded Piyush's studies from the Rs. 12,000 salary he got from working at a shop in the city. Though he could not afford a hostel, he managed to send his son to "Vibrant" -- a coaching institute in Kota.

          "It was difficult to study here," said Phool Chand. "But I have to say the jail administration co-operated. The guards who are here on duty, especially the younger ones, would encourage my son."

          Buoyed by Piyush's success, the administration said it hoped to increase facilities for inmates, especially those in open jails. "We are happy that he has made a success, despite such adverse circumstances," said Jail Superintendent Shankar Singh.

        BJP, National Conference Members Clash In Jammu And Kashmir Assembly
        • SRINAGAR:  Members of National Conference and ruling BJP clashed in Jammu andKashmir Assembly today over the security situation in the wake of attack on CRPF convoy, with the opposition party demanding to know what steps were being taken to deal with the growing violence.

          NC members later staged a walkout as their demand went unheeded.

          As soon as the House assembled for the day, NC legislators wanted to speak on the security situation, which according to them was "deteriorating".

          The opposition members referred to the recent incidents of violence in the state including the deadly Pampore attack on last Saturday that left eight CRPF personnel dead.

          "We are in the session (of the Assembly) and the government must come out with a statement," NC member Devender Rana said.

          He also took on BJP, which shares power with PDP in the state, for demanding "attack" on terrorist training camps across the border in Pakistan.

          Accusing BJP of creating "war hysteria", he said the ruling party was indulging in "jingoism" and "playing to the gallery instead of spelling out measures to combat violence.

          Asserting that war is not a solution, Mr Rana said the state, especially the areas adjoining the Line of Control and International Border, braved the brunt of shelling from across the border two years ago.

          "Bullets are fired here, not in Nagpur," Mr Rana said in an apparent reference to the RSS headquarters.
          Mr Rana's comments infuriated BJP legislators who shouted him down and created din.

          Speaker Kavinder Gupta intervened, saying the central government was capable of defeating the Pakistani designs in Jammu and Kashmir.
          "For a moment, BJP is forgetting that it is in government, both in the state and at the Centre," Mr Rana said.

          The NC legislator also took a jibe at PDP and wanted to know its response over the alliance partners "war yells and talk of air strikes" in the neighbouring country.

          "What is the response of the party that believed in 'Goli Se Nahi Boli Se (not bullet but by dialogue issues can be resolved)," he said and asked whether the PDP had "surrendered its basic principles for lust of power".

        Kerala Backs Out Of Goods And Services Tax Bill Commitment, Says Amit Mitra
        • KOLKATA:  Kerala has backed out of its commitment to support the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, Chairman of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers Amit Mitra said today.

          "Finance Minister of Kerala Thomas Issac had supported the bill in the recent meeting held in the city, but now they said they were trying to arrive at a consensus," Mr Mitra, who is also the West Bengal's finance minister told the State Assembly.

          Speaking to reporters outside the House, he said that looking for consensus meant things were in 'doldrums'.

          He alleged that there was a state of complete contradiction and confusion in the Left Front on the issue.

          In the June 14 meeting of the empowered committee of the state finance ministers, all states except Tamil Nadu had agreed to support the GST Bill.

          The BJP government was confident of clearing the bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament and the draft GST Bill had also been circulated for public comments.

        SmartCity Kochi To Be Fully Operational By 2021, Says Pinarayi Vijayan
        • THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:  Under-construction IT Special Economic Zone SmartCity Kochi will be fully operational by 2021, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today said.

          The apprehensions with regard to SmartCity Kochi's first phase will be resolved as early as possible, he said during the Question Hour in the Assembly.

          "The government will ensure that land allotted for IT is not used for other purposes. This will not be allowed and strong action would be taken against those who flout the norms," he said.

          The project is being developed by Smart City (Kochi) Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, a joint venture formed to develop the project. Kerala government and TECOM Investments, a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, are the main investors in the company.

          The project envisions minimum 8.8 million sq ft of built-up space, out of which at least 6.21 million sq ft will be specifically marked for IT, ITeS or allied services.

        Business Affairs 

        Black money window: I-T dept creates special tab on website
        • The Income Tax department has created a special zone on its official website to showcase country-wide activities being done by it to popularise the one-time black money compliance window that will complete its first month in operation soon.
          A 'dashboard' has been hosted on the official web portal of the department - and it chronicles all activities initiated by the department, the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Finance Ministry to make the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS) successful.
          The four-month IDS got operational on June 1 and will be in force till September 30. The declarant will have to pay a total of 45 per cent in tax and penalty by November this year and the government has ensured that such entities will have immunity from prosecution.
          Under the new tab on the website, the department has also put messages and speeches made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and other senior officials in connection with the IDS, even as it goes on to chronicle news stories and tally of sessions being held by taxmen across the country to popularise the scheme.
          IDS was announced by the government with an aim to flush out black money from the domestic economy.
          The IDS will apply to undisclosed income whether in the form of investment in assets or otherwise, pertaining to financial year 2015-16 or earlier.
          Declarations under IDS can either be made online on the official e-filing website of the tax department or before various regional Principal Commissioners of I-T department.

          Raghuram Rajan went with majority view on policy rate on Jun 7
          • Reserve Bank head Raghuram Rajan went with the recommendations of majority of the external members of the monetary policy panel and did not slash the key interest rate early this month.
            As per the summary of electronic consultation with the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) released by RBI on Tuesday, three of the five external members recommended no change in policy rates.
            Before contemplating any easing of policy rate, these members wanted to see substantially lower inflation relative to the 2016-17 target of 5 per cent on a durable basis and assess the effect of the monsoon in the next couple of months.
            They also wanted further clarity on the US Fed's take on the rates.
            Meanwhile, in a sweeping change, the government on Monday enforced a law for setting up a broad-based, six-member committee that is likely to decide on interest rate at the next monetary policy in August, with RBI Governor having a casting vote in case of a tie.
            The review will be the last monetary policy of Rajan, who completes his three-year term on September 4.
            The summary further said that the other two members recommended a policy repo rate reduction of 25 basis points.
            According to them, the shortfall of demand in the economy calls for some stimulus and the effect of the predicted good monsoon would keep food prices under check. They also opined that there is a window of opportunity before a possible the Fed rate hike in mid-June.
            One of these two members was of the view that, given the fragmentation and incompleteness of India's financial markets, the repo rate has proved to be a much less effective instrument of monetary policy than in well developed markets like in the US, the summary said.
            Consultation with external members of the TAC was held electronically during May 24-30, in the run up to the Second Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Review of the fiscal 2016-17.
            On June 7, Rajan kept the key policy rate unchanged citing higher upside risks to 'inflation trajectory' but said the central bank will remain accommodative provided data are supportive.
            All the five external members-Shankar Acharya, Arvind Virmani, Errol D'Souza, Ashima Goyal, and Chetan Ghate-sent their feedback through e-mail.
            Members noted that global economy recovery is struggling to gain momentum.
            On domestic economic growth, the sustained weakness of industrial production continues to be a source of concern, and a drag on overall activity. Low capacity utilization numbers suggest that some sectors of the economy are operating below potential.
            Most of the members expressed concern on inflation outlook since food inflation rose by 100 basis points, headline inflation moved up by 60 basis points, and even excluding food, fuel, petrol and diesel, inflation edged up marginally and remained sticky in April.

            India's growth may dip by 60 bps on Brexit: Morgan Stanley
            • Brexit is likely to have an adverse impact on India's growth with domestic GDP expected to decline by up to 60 basis points in a high-stress scenario within the next two years, Morgan Stanley said in a report.
              According to the global financial services major, with the UK's referendum to leave the European Union, the impact on Indian economy would be through trade and financial channels.
              However, it noted that owing to lower direct exposure in terms of exports to the UK, the Brexit impact would be "less" as compared to other more open economies in the region.
              "In a medium-stress scenario, we expect downside of 10-20 bps to GDP growth in the next two years, while in a high-stress scenario, we expect downside of 30-60 bps to GDP growth," Morgan Stanley said.
              In terms of policy response to the situation, Morgan Stanley said it expects the monetary policy to be more focused on mitigating liquidity tightness through open market operations (purchase of government securities) in the eventuality of capital outflows.
              "Given that overall fiscal policy stance remains slightly expansionary, we do not expect any major change in fiscal policy by the government," it added.
              On the upside, the report noted that several indicators have pointed towards broadening of the country's economic recovery on account of pickup in discretionary consumption following the improvement in public capital expenditure and foreign direct investment flows, which remain strong.
              "The pick-up in consumption is of particular significance given that discretionary consumption has been on a weak trend since mid-2012," the report said.
              "Retail loan growth, petrol consumption, air passengers flown and consumer durables production have shown an improving trend over the last four months, indicating a pick-up in discretionary consumption," it added.
              Moreover, there has been a pick up in two-wheeler sales as well as improvement in steel and cement demand reflecting a rise in infrastructure related activity, among others.
              On private capex, the report said there would be an initial period wherein capacity utilisation levels would rise as consumption demand picks up as well as an improvement in corporate profitability.
              "This will create the base for private corporate capex to kick in, which we think will take 12-18 months to recover on a full-fledged," it added.

            7th Pay Commission: Cabinet may clear higher increase today
            • The Cabinet tomorrow is likely to approve higher increase in basic pay than the nearly 15 per cent recommended by the 7th Pay Commission for over 1 crore government employees and pensioners.
              The pay panel had in November last year recommended 14.27 per cent hike in basic pay at junior levels, the lowest in 70 years. The previous 6th Pay Commission had recommended a 20 per cent hike which the government doubled while implementing it in 2008.
              After considering the increase proposed in allowances, the hike in remunerations comes to 23.55 per cent.
              "Considering the tight fiscal position this year, the government may improve upon the Pay Commission recommendation for basic pay to 18 per cent or at best 20 per cent," a senior official said.
              The 7th Pay Commission report will be effective from January 1, he said, adding that the Cabinet will decide if the arrears for the six months have to be paid in one go or in installments.
              A secretaries' panel, headed Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha, has already vetted the 7th Pay Commission recommendation and its report is being translated into a note for Cabinet.
              "It in most likelihood will come up before the Cabinet tomorrow," the official said.
              The government had in January set up the high-powered panel to process the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission which will have bearing on the remuneration of nearly 50 lakh central government employees and 58 lakh pensioners.
              The Commission had recommended 23.55 per cent overall hike in salaries, allowances and pension involving an additional burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore or nearly 0.7 per cent of the GDP.
              The entry level pay has been recommended to be raised to Rs 18,000 per month from current Rs 7,000 while the maximum pay, drawn by the Cabinet Secretary, has been fixed at Rs 2.5 lakh per month from current Rs 90,000.
              The secretaries' panel may have recommended raising minimum entry level pay at Rs 23,500 a month and maximum salary of Rs 3.25 lakh.
              While the Budget for 2016-17 fiscal did not provide an explicit provision for implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, the government had said the once-in-a-decade pay hike for government employees has been built in as interim allocation for different ministries.
              Around Rs 70,000 crore has been provisioned for it, the official said.

              Govt appoints NS Vishwanathan as new RBI deputy governor
              • A government-appointed panel has selected NS Vishwanathan as a Reserve Bank of India deputy governor, replacing incumbent HR Khan, NDTV Profit TV and ANI television news agency reported on Tuesday without citing sources.
                Vishwanathan is currently an executive director at the RBI, overseeing the banking regulation and non-banking department. He would succeed Khan, who will retire on July 3, ANI tweeted.
                The key departments under Khan are financial markets, external investments and operations, payment and settlements, information technology, foreign exchange and internal debt management.
                The RBI currently has four deputy governors.

              General Awareness

              Sweden inaugurates world’s first electric road

                • Sweden inaugurated a test stretch of an electric road in Sandviken to conduct tests with electric power for hybrid heavy transports on public roads. With this, Sweden becomes first country in the world to have electric road. The tests will be conducted on parts of road E16. Key Facts The tests will continue up through 2018 and will provide knowledge of how electric roads work in practice. The road E16 tests will involve a current collector on the roof of the hybrid heavy truck’s cab that will feed the current down to a hybrid electric motor in the truck. It will also check feasibility of whether the technology can be used in the future. These experimental tests are based on the Sweden’s goal of energy efficiency and a fossil fuel-free vehicle fleet by 2030. The project is being partially funded by Sweden’s three government agencies viz. Swedish Transport Administration, Swedish Energy Agency, and the country’s innovation agency Vinnova. The rest funding is provided by the private participants. Future Potentials: Bring one step closer to fossil fuel-free transport systems. It has the potential to achieve zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Provides a simple way for developing environmentally smart transport systems in the existing road networks.

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              Current Affairs - 16 December 2018

              General Affairs   Cyclone Phethai Gathers Over Bay Of Bengal, May Hit Andhra On Monday ...

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