Current Affairs Current Affairs - 20 July 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 20 July 2016

General Affairs 

Lok Sabha Calls For 'Zero Tolerance' Against Terrorism
  • NEW DELHI:  Lok Sabha today urged the global community to act in a concerted manner and adopt "zero tolerance" against terrorism, as the House condoled death of people in terror attacks in different parts of the world.
    The House also condemned the death of at least ten CRPF commandos in an IED blast, allegedly engineered by naxalites, in the jungles of Bihar's Aurangabad district on Monday.
    The House also expressed grief over the killing of eight CRPF personnel when their bus was ambushed by terrorists in Srinagar last month as well as the death of people due to natural calamities across the country.
    "We reiterate our call to the global community to adopt a zero tolerance policy and combat and eliminate the menace of terrorism worldwide," Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said.
    Referring to various terror attacks including those that happened recently in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, France and Saudi Arabia, Ms Mahajan said these incidents are tragic reminders of the "need for a concerted action by the international community to fight the scourge of terrorism uncompromisingly".
    The House also condoled death of people in the terrorist attack at Istanbul airport in Turkey this month.
    More than 84 people were killed and many injured in a terror attack at Nice in France on July 14. "We share the pain of the people of France in this hour of tragedy and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them...," she said.
    Condemning the recent terror attack in Dhaka where one Indian national was also killed, Ms Mahajan said, "we stand together with the government and people of Bangladesh in the war against terrorism".
    She also mentioned the death of 17 people in a fire that broke out in the central ammunition depot of Army at Pulgaon, Maharashtra on May 31.
    In incidents of natural calamities, 96 persons are reported to have been killed and a large number of people affected in Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha, Mahajan said.

Pakistan Violated Ceasefire 16 Times Since March: Manohar Parrikar
  • NEW DELHI:  Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control and the International Border 16 times since March, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.

    As per the details given by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written reply, the maximum violations was along the LoC which saw 14 such incidents.

    Appropriate retaliation to the violations, as required, has been carried out by Indian Army/BSF, he said.

    In addition, all violations of ceasefire are taken up with Pakistan authorities at the appropriate level through the established mechanism of hotlines, flag meetings as well as weekly talks between the Directorate Generals of Military Operations of the two countries, he said.

    Mr Parrikar said that diplomatically, India has repeatedly emphasised, including at the highest level, the need for Pakistan to uphold the sanctity of the LoC and the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir as its obligations emanating from the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.

Glaciers Melting At 5 to 20 Metre Rate Annually: Government
  • NEW DELHI:  Majority of glaciers in India including Gangotri are melting at varying rates ranging from five to 20 metre per year, the government today told the Lok Sabha.

    "The studies carried out by ISRO, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIGH) Dehradun and other institutions have revealed that majority of the glaciers are retreating (melting) at varying rates from 5-20 metre per year," Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said in a written reply.

    He said Gangotri is one of the largest glaciers (30 km long) of Uttarkahand followed by Satopanth glacier (14 km) and both of the glaciers are "retreating" but "not at an alarming rate".

    He said the studies carried out on melting of glaciers by the in-situ measurements as well as remote sensing data indicate that the rate of retreat is "not uniform" for all glaciers.

    Giving an example, Dave said Dokriani glacier in Bhagirathi basin is retreating between 15 and 20 metre per year since 1995 whereas Chorabari glacier in the Alaknanda basin is retreating 9-11 metre per year (2003-2014).

    He said a study on length and area changes of 82 glaciers located in the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda river basins has been carried out for a period of 1968-2006 using remote sensing data and the study suggests that glacier area decreased from 599.9 sq km (1968) to 572.5 sq km (2006), implying a net loss of 4.6 per cent of the total area.

    However, glaciers in the Alaknanda basin and upper Bhagirathi basin lost 18.4 sq km (5.7 per cent) and 9.0 sq km (3.3 per cent) respectively in the similar period.

    "There is no proposal with the government to seek foreign assistance for research on climate change in the Himalayan region," he said to a question whether the government proposes to seek foreign assistance for research on climate change in the region.

Government Taking Action Against Websites Spreading Hatred: Kiren Rijiju
  • NEW DELHI:  Government has cracked down on a number of websites for spreading hatred and communal tension after the Dadri incident, resulting in a rise in the number of cyber crime cases registered, Lok Sabha was informed today.
    Terrorist organisations like Al-Qaeeda, Hizbul Mujahdeen, ISIS and Boko Haram have been making use of the social media for recruitment, and to deal with the problem, the government will treat the issue effectively, Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs, said during Question Hour.
    "We have figures for the last three years. I agree and admit to the fact that there are many campaigns (on social media) to fan communal tensions and various other issues. The figure has rose in 2015, primarily because there were incident in which we could act. There was the Dadri incident, which happened. This was used to create hatred and divide. We cracked down on many portals. That is why the figure jumped," Mr Rijiju said in response to a question.
    The Dadri incident involved the lynching of man over alleged rumours of beef-eating in Uttar Pradesh last year. The meat found at his home turned out to be mutton, as per forensic lab reports.
    "Government is sensitive about the whole social media that is being used. Cyber crime is a bigger threat and we are ready to face it," Mr Rijiju said.
    Admitting that the government is suffering from several challenges including lack of adequate trained manpower to deal with cyber security, the minister said it has taken several steps to deal with the problem.
    The government has a crisis management plan to deal with any kind of emergency, he added.
    In a statement that was laid on the table of the House, Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said 5693 cyber security-related cases were registered across the country in 2013, 9622 in 2014 and 11,592 cases in 2015.
    "Besides this, to sensitise the system we conduct cyber mock drills as well. There are various mechanisms in place. We have the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) which looks into the matter," Mr Rijiju said.
    Home Minister Rajnath Singh also said that the NDA government has taken prompt steps in dealing with the cyber security issue.
    Mr Singh said the government has received the Gulshan Rai committee report on cyber security and is taking steps the strengthen the system. The panel was constituted in December 2014.
    In response to a question on why the conviction rate was low in cyber security cases, Mr Singh said the government was working towards it and it will take some time.
    Mr Rijiju said "we have challenges and we admit that there is a shortage of trained manpower to deal with this menace. However, we have been taking several steps to counter it."
    "To strengthen the enforcement agencies, we have made provision to train 90,000 police personnel and 15,000 judicial in cyber security across the country," he said, adding that there were 36 cyber crime centres to deal with the problem.
    Besides, a six-month certificate programme for 2000 officers, one-year diploma course for 500 officials and a very highly specialised MTech programme for 100 officials have also been started, Mr Rijiju added.

Pakistani Court Orders Seizure Of Ex-President Pervez Musharraf's Assets
  • ISLAMABAD:  A special court hearing treason charges against former Pakistani president and army chief Pervez Musharraf ordered the seizure of his assets on Tuesday after he failed to appear for a hearing in the capital Islamabad, media reported.

    Musharraf in March left Pakistan for Dubai to seek medical treatment, shortly after the country's top court lifted a ban on his travel.

    He is facing trial on treason and other charges related to his seizure of power as army chief in 1999 in a coup, the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007 and the killing of a prominent cleric in a military operation in Islamabad.

    A three-member bench of the special court hearing the cases passed orders to freeze his bank accounts and confiscate his property after Musharraf failed to appear for a hearing, media reported. There had also been a similar order in 2011 relating to the Bhutto case.

    Mazhar Alam Miankhel, chief justice of the Peshawar High Court, is presiding over the special court, which sits in Islamabad. He adjourned Tuesday's proceedings until Musharraf is arrested or surrenders.

    "According to law, the accused cannot (go on trial) in absentia," Miankhel said, according to English daily Dawn newspaper.

    Dawn reported Musharraf's counsel argued the former president was in ill health and could not appear before the court in person.

    Musharraf seized power in 1999 in a bloodless coup against then prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who returned to office in a democratic election in 2013. Musharraf stood down as president in 2008 when threatened with impeachment by civilian political leaders.

    Musharraf returned to Pakistan in March 2013 after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest elections, despite the possibility of arrest and death threats from the Taliban.

    Pakistan's military has ruled the South Asian nation for about half of its 69-year history. It currently sets foreign and security policy even though Sharif's civilian administration is in power.

Business Affairs 

How close is the Parliament to passing the GST Bill
  • The parliament monsoon session saw the opposition armed with several issues, including Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kashmir unrest, Kairana communal voilence and the government's failure to seal the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) deal.
    However, hopes for the long awaited GST Bill sparked when the all-party committee of the Rajya Sabha on Monday allowed five-hours for the debate on the crucial constitutional amendment legislation for the GST. Yet the goverment reminded that this would take place only after prior consultations with other parties.
    The GST bill has so far become a tug of war between the Congress and the BJP as the Bill was first introduced when the Congress-led UPA government was ruling. So far, both parties have discussed proposals to reconcile Congress's demands for a tax cap of 18 per cent, abolition of 1 per cent surcharge and creation of a dispute redressal mechanism other than the proposed GST council.

    Breaking down the math
    The BJP and its allies who constitute the NDA have 81 representatives in the 245-member upper house while the opposition which primarily consists of the Congress and its allies under the United Progrssive alliance has 68 members. The remaining 96 belong to the non-NDA non-UPA parties.
    Not all non-NDA parties and opposition parties are against the passing of the GST Bill. Several parties like Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress, althought opposed to NDA, are board on GST. And Tamil Nadu's AIADMK party led by Cheif Minister J Jayalalitha is unsure about which side to swing.
    In total, 141 members are in favour of the GST Bill while 80 members remain opposed to it and a little over 20 members remain undecided, including AIADMK.

    Impact of GST
    If passed, the Goods and Services Tax will eventually replace most of the indiract taxes and establish a uniform tax system with two-part component. One part will be levied by the state and the other by the Centre.
    The movement of agriculture goods across states will become hassle-free. The manufacturing industry will see a boost as the introduction of the uniform GST will remove other taxes thereby reducing production cost.
    However, if the expected rate of GST is higher than current tax rates of certain goods and services then it may be a drawback.

    Sensex ends 41 points higher, Nifty above 8,500; Hindustan Unilever hit by Q1 earnings
    • The S&P BSE Sensex on Tuesday settled the day 41 points higher, while the broader Nifty50 managed to hold above its key 7,500-mark. 
      The headline indices traded flat as sentiment was subdued after falling oil prices hit Asian markets and after retail heavyweight Hindustan Unilever posted disappointing volume growth.
      The 30-share index ended the day at 27,787, up 40.96 points, while broad-based 50-share index quoted 8,528, up 19.85 points at close.
      Trading volumes were thin, with investors also waiting for other corporate earnings and the progress of the monsoon session of parliament amid hopes the government would be able to push through a revamp of the goods and services tax.
      "I think some amount of selling is being experienced because technically the market is overbought. That is why we see pressure on the selling side," said Deven Choksey, Managing Director at KR Choksey Securities.
      Hindustan Unilever fell as much as 3.40 per cent after its volumes growth in the April-June quarter disappointed some investors even as its net profit beat estimates.
      Meanwhile, adding to the woes of IT companies, MindTree fell to a more than one-and-a-half year low after profit fell and Credit Suisse cut its rating on the stock.
      Among gainers, indebted infrastructure firm Jaiprakash Power Ventures rose as much as 13.1 per cent to its highest since January 13 after saying it will sell a 500 megawatt thermal power plant in central India to JSW Energy Ltd for 27 billion rupees ($401.8 million) including debt.

      Govt infuses Rs 22,915 cr capital into 13 PSU banks
      • Government on Tuesday provided Rs 22,915 crore capital to 13PSU banks including SBI, PNB and IOB to enhance their lending operations and enable them to raise more money from the market.
        This is the first tranche of capital infusion for the fiscal and more funds would be provided in future depending upon the performance of PSU banks, a Finance Ministry statement said.
        "75 per cent of the amount... is being released now to provide liquidity support for lending operations as also to enable banks to raise funds from the market. The remaining amount, to be released later, (will be) linked to performance with particular reference to greater efficiency, growth of both credit and deposits and reduction in the cost of operations," the statement said.
        Out of the Rs 22,915 crore, State Bank of India (SBI) received Rs 7,575 crore followed by Indian Overseas Bank (Rs 3,101 crore) and Punjab National Bank (Rs 2,816 crore).
        The other lenders, which have received capital infusion are Bank of India (Rs 1,784 crore), Central Bank of India (Rs 1,729 crore), Syndicate Bank (Rs 1,034 crore), UCO Bank (Rs 1,033 crore), Canara Bank (Rs 997 crore), United Bank of India (Rs 810 crore), Union Bank of India (Rs 721 crore), Corporation Bank (Rs 677 crore), Dena Bank (Rs 594 crore) and Allahabad Bank (Rs 44 crore).
        The capital infusion exercise for the current fiscal is based on an assessment of need as assessed from the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of credit growth for the last five years, banks' own projections of credit growth and an objective assessment of the potential for growth of each PSBs, the ministry said.
        Shares of PSU banks jumped after the capital infusion plan. SBI shares rose 0.92 per cent to Rs 230.70, PNB gained 1.24 per cent to Rs 134.15.
        Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Budget 2016-17 had proposed to allocate Rs 25,000 crore towards recapitalisation of PSU banks. "If additional capital is required by these banks, we will find the resources for doing so. We stand solidly behind these Banks," he had said.
        Under Indradhanush roadmap announced by the government last year, government will infuse Rs 70,000 crore in state banks over four years while they will have to raise a further Rs 1.1 lakh crore from the markets to meet their capital requirements in line with global risk norms Basel-III.
        In line with the blueprint, PSU banks are to get Rs 25,000 crore each in 2015-16 and 2016-17 fiscal. Besides, Rs 10,000 crore each would be infused in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

      Six major govt initiatives to improve ease of doing business
      • As the Doing Business team of World Bank is here on a two-week mission to validate data for the upcoming Doing Business Report 2017, we look at some of the major initiatives taken by the government in the last couple of years to improve 'Ease of Doing Business' in India.
        Passage of Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code: The government has managed to pass the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, thus clearing the last hurdle for making the code into a law. Experts believe that the law would be in place within a year. The new Bankruptcy law is supposed to significantly reduce the average time taken for the insolvency process to complete, which currently is 4.3 years.
        Time for registering companies reduced: The government has made the process for registering a company faster by reducing the time taken from almost 10 days in December 2014 to 5 days in December 2015. This year the government plans to further reduce the time taken to 1-2 days.
        Easier processes for incorporation: To make the process of registering and incorporating companies faster, the government has done away with the requirement of reserving a name, and integrated the processes related to allotment of Director Identification Number (DIN), appointment of directors etc in a single form (INC - 29) for incorporation of a company.
        Integration of processes through eBiz portal: The eBiz platform of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) integrates several processes across (government) departments to make the process of incorporating a company simpler. One can apply for Permanent Account Number (PAN), Tax Deduction Account Number (TAN), EPFO (Employees' Provident Fund Organization) and ESIC (Employee's State Insurance Corporation) and incorporation of company through the eBiz portal.
        Doing away with requirement for minimum paid up capital: The minimum paid-up share capital requirement was Rs 1 lakh for a private company and Rs 5 lakh for a public company.  This requirement has now been done away with for incorporating private as well as public companies in India.
        Making tax laws simpler: The government has accepted most of the first set of recommendations of Easwar Committee for simplification of tax laws. The most important of those being exemption to non-residents from mandatorily having a PAN for lower tax deduction at source, hiking the turnover limit for availing presumptive taxation benefits from Rs1 crore to Rs 2 crore, and deferment of Income Computation and Disclosure Standards (ICDS).

        Gold falls on revived risk appetite after failed Turkey coup
        • Gold fell as much as one percent on Monday as Wall Street hovered near record highs and investor jitters calmed following a failed coup attempt in Turkey.
          Spot gold fell earlier to a session low of $1,323.43 an ounce and was down 0.6 percent at $1,328.96 by 3:36 p.m. EDT (1936 GMT). Bullion fell over 2 percent last week, its first weekly decline in seven weeks, as investors piled cash into riskier assets.
          "We're seeing a little bit of follow-through from the weekly reversal," said Eli Tesfaye, senior market strategist for brokerage RJO Futures in Chicago.
          "Barring outside market influence, the market could drift back to the $1,300 level."
          U.S. gold settled up 0.1 percent at $1,329.30 per ounce.
          Turkey widened a crackdown on suspected supporters of a failed military coup, taking the number of people rounded up in the armed forces and judiciary to 6,000. The government said it was in control of the country and economy.
          Gold turned higher immediately after news of Turkey's coup on Friday, as demand for assets perceived as safe, such as bullion and bonds, briefly spiked.
          "After the metal broke below support at $1,340 an ounce, a push lower is possible, as the situation in Turkey 'stabilized' and there are no new headlines on the Brexit saga," ActivTrades chief analyst Carlo Alberto De Case said.
          Gold gained $100 in the two weeks following Britain's vote to leave the European Union, as worried investors started putting their cash into safe-haven assets, before falling back.
          This vote has led analysts to raise their gold price forecasts again this year, a Reuters poll showed.
          The dollar was little changed against a basket of six currencies, while European equities briefly rose to a three-week high. [MKTS/GLOB]
          The Dow Jones Industrial and Standard & Poor's 500 rose as Bank of America's better-than-expected profit and a tech sector deal fed recent optimism about a stronger U.S. economy.
          "On one side, more monetary stimulus around the world supports risk sentiment, but on the other side it makes commodities more attractive," ABN Amro analyst Georgette Boele said.
          Adding further pressure on bullion was positive U.S. retail sales data, which rose more than expected in June.
          Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates, which lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding assets such as bullion, while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
          Among other precious metals, spot silver was down 0.8 percent at $20.03 an ounce and platinum was up 0.6 percent at $1,092.5 an ounce.
          Palladium was down 0.5 percent at $643.22 an ounce, falling from Friday's 8-1/2-month high at $652. 

        General Awareness

        INDIA – YAWS & Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus(MNTE) FREE Nation says WHO

        • As a significant marking in Public Health Protection, India has been declared as YAWS – FREE country by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is stated that India is the First ever country to become free from YAWS and declared it free from Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus(MNTE).

          What is YAWS?
          Yaws is a infection of the skin, bones and joints caused by the spirochete bacteriumTreponema pallidum pertenue. The disease starts with a round, hard swelling of the skin of about 2 to 5 centimeter in diameter. The center may break open and form an an ulcer. This initial skin wound typically heals after three to six months.
          After weeks to years, joints and bones may become painful, fatigue may develop, and new skin wounds may appear again. The skin in the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet may become thick and crack open. The bones around nose may become misshapen. After five years or more large areas of skin death with subsequent scarring may occur.
          It is commonly seen that Yaws is spread by direct contact with the fluid from a lesion of an infected person and it is most common among children, who spread it by playing together. The contact is usually of a non-sexual nature.
          Eradication of YAWS:-

          • This has been possible due to the commitment and dedication of the lakhs of health workers, various stakeholders and concerted efforts of planners and policymaker.
          • Few years back, India witnessed 1-2 lakhs neonatal tetanus cases annually, which have been now reduced to one per 1,000 live births.
          • The achievements will not only improve the health of marginalized communities, but will also enhance their socio-economic status and contribute to India’s extensive development.

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