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Current Affairs - 12 August 2016

General Affairs 

Opposition Slams Education Policy, Centre Says Ready To Accept Suggestions
  • Rubbishing the draft National Education Policy, opposition today alleged that the education system was being communalised and commercialised by the government which expressed readiness to accept suggestions by various parties before moving ahead with it.

    Congress leader and former education minister Kapil Sibal, while speaking on the issue in the Rajya Sabha, said the government was trying to impose its "ideology" as he asked it to "dump this draft in the dustbin" and "start afresh" by taking "us into confidence".

    Responding to this, education minister Prakash Javadekar said the government was ready to hold a workshop for members of parliament to take their suggestions on the draft policy before proceeding on it.

    "This is only a draft...I have no hesitation in having a workshop... I can take the suggestions," he said.

    Mr Sibal contended that there is no direction in the draft, arguing that the document does not talk anything substantive about three important aspects--quality, access and equity.

    "Education is ideology neutral. No education system can survive in the world if you infuse ideology in the textbooks. And the problem is, while we have a draft education policy, what you do on the ground is just the opposite," he said.

    "You are trying to bring about a change in the education system outside your education policy by bringing ideology in every institution in India," he added.

    Targeting the government over attacks on minorities and SC/STs, Mr Sibal recited a couplet: "Shaktiman (horse) ki laat todi, Vemula hi himmat, jo chatron pe vaar kare kaise hogi woh sangat (you broke the leg of Shaktiman horse in Uttarakhand, demoralised Rohith Vemula, how would be the party which attacks students?).

    "This is what you are doing to my country. You are attacking the minorities, attacking tribals, you are attacking the SCs, STs and you are saying that you will change the textbooks of history," Mr Sibal said, addressing the ruling side.

    Alleging saffronisation of higher education, he said: "You say in draft that universities should be politics-free. But what are you doing to universities? Your ABVP is entering into every university campus, occupying Vice Chancellor offices and creating an environment of violence, running a parallel administration that's what you are doing on the ground."

    The governement has saffornised every post from governors, vice chancellors, head of institutions or IIT directors, he said.

    On making the education policy better, he advised the government to formulate it keeping in mind the children of the country.

    "Make yourself see from the eyes of a child, then you will understand what he or she wants. And that's how you can have an education policy which serves 20 crore children of our country," Mr Sibal said.

    Come up with something which serves long-term interest of the country, he added.

    "Let some real educationists and bright educationists head the committee. Let them have full consultations with the states. Let's get together as education is more important than anything else," Mr Sibal said. 

Over 57,400 Schemes To Provide Drinking Water In Rural Areas
  • Over 57,400 schemes are going on in different states to provide drinking water to the rural population and over Rs. 4,300 crore utilised for the purpose in 2015-16, the government said today.

    Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Narendra Singh Tomar informed Lok Sabha that Rs.4,373 crore was allocated to states under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme in 2015-16, of which Rs. 4,369.55 crore has been utilised.

    Citing data, he said there are 57,489 ongoing schemes in different states to provide drinking water to the rural population as on August 8.

    In Jammu & Kashmir, there are 1,838 ongoing rural drinking water supply schemes, he said during Question Hour.

    Noting that drinking water and sanitation is a state subject, Mr Tomar said the Centre's role is to provide technical and financial support to the states as well as monitor such programmes.

    With regard to Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G), Mr Tomar said the programme aims at achieving Swachh Bharat by October 2, 2019 and focusses on behaviour change and community engagement.

    In 2015-16, Rs. 6,525 crore was allocated for SBM-G and out of it, Rs. 6,524.52 crore has been utilised, he said.

    "Since launching of SBM-G on October 2, 2014, 212.98 lakh toilets have already been constructed till August 8. In addition to this, a total of 17 districts, 232 blocks, 32,395 gram panchayats and 72,727 villages have been declared Open Defecation Free," the Minister said.

Government To Construct 1,000-Km Expressway At Rs. 16,680 Crore
  • Government will construct 1,000 km of expressways under its flagship road building programme National Highways Development Project at a cost of Rs. 16,680 crore, parliament was informed today.

    "Government of India has approved a plan for constructing 1,000 km of expressways under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase VI at a cost of Rs. 16,680 crore on design, build, finance, operate and transfer (DBFOT) basis," Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

    The main criteria for selection of expressway corridors will be the traffic volume and it was approved that the highest density corridor i.e. Vadodara-Mumbai Corridor (400 km) to be given top priority and considered for feasibility study, the minister said.

    It was also decided that remaining 600 km will be selected out of the routes identified on the basis of traffic volume.

    "The high density corridors under NHDP Phase VI are - Vadodara-Mumbai corridor (400 km) in Gujarat and Maharashtra, Delhi-Meerut (66 km) on NH 58 in Delhi and UP, Bangalore-Chennai (334 km) on NH 4 in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu...

    "...Delhi-Jaipur (261 km) on NH 8 in Delhi and Rajasthan, Delhi-Chandigarh (249 km) on NH 1 and NH 22 (now changed to Delhi, Punjab and J&K, Kolkata-Dhanbad (277 km) on NH 2 in West Bengal and Jharkhand and Delhi-Agra (200 km) on NH 2 in Delhi and UP," Mr Gadkari said.


    Out of 66 km length of Delhi-Meerut Expressway, 30.63 km has already been awarded in 2 packages and contract agreement is executed, he said.

    In addition, the government has approved to take up one more expressway - Eastern Peripheral Expressway - for a length of 135 km in 6 packages, the minister added.

No Data Shows Crimes Against Dalits Rise When BJP In Power: Rajnath Singh

  • In his reply to the day-long debate in parliament on the issue of atrocities on Dalits, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said there is no data to suggest that crimes against Dalits go up when the BJP is in power. The matter, he added, should not be politicised and the society must take it as a challenge to bring an end to such incidents.

    Citing data, he said, "There is no data that suggests that atrocities rise automatically when the BJP-led NDA govt have come to power."

    "Blame game is not a solution. We can't make progress until the poor and downtrodden are empowered... There should be no politics over this issue. We should take it as a challenge to end this injustice," Mr Singh told Lok Sabha.

    To register their protest, the Congress walked out during the minister's speech.

    The nearly five-hour debate was held after the government agreed to the opposition demand -- following outrage over the increasing reports of atrocities on Dalits, including the one in Gujarat's Una, by cow vigilantes.

    The government's green signal came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal to stop the violence against Dalits. In a series of statements over the weekend, PM Modi had called for protection of Dalits and strong action against what he called "fake cow protectors".


    "The Prime Minister should speak in the House. His statement outside was politically inspired and mischievous," insisted Mayawati, whose Bahujan Samaj Party is a Dalit powerhouse.

    Alleging that the PM's comments were an attempt at damage control after the massive Dalit protests in Gujarat, she said, "Dalits don't need the PM's sympathy. Instead, he should ensure that Dalits can exercise their constitutional rights".

    CPM member PK Biju from Kerala, who had initiated the debate, said, "I request the Prime Minister not to confine (himself) to only giving statements but also show action".

    Referring to the demand for the PM to speak on the issue in Parliament, the home minister said, "Please refer to the notes dating back in time and find out... has the prime minister spoken on every single issue?"

Donald Trump Calls Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton 'Co-Founders' Of ISIS
  • Republican Donald Trump called US President Barack Obama and Democrat Hillary Clinton the "co-founders" of Islamic State, ratcheting up his assertion that they are responsible for the rise of the militant group and sparking renewed criticism of his leadership ability.

    Clinton's campaign called the statements a "false claim."

    "This is another example of Donald Trump trash-talking the United States," senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

    "What's remarkable about Trump's comments is that once again, he's echoing the talking points of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and our adversaries to attack American leaders and American interests, while failing to offer any serious plans to confront terrorism or make this country more secure," Sullivan said.

    The White House declined to comment on Trump's claim.

    Trump, coming off a troubled week in which fellow Republicans pressed him to stop quibbling with members of his own party and refocus his campaign attacks on Clinton and Obama, took his criticism to a new level by saying a sitting U.S. president created a militant group determined to kill Americans and other Westerners.

    Trump has sought to bolster a perception of fear, delivering a campaign message that the United States is less safe, that Democrats are to blame and that he is the only one capable of restoring security.


    Appearing in Miami Beach, Florida, on Thursday morning, Trump repeated his attack for the third time, saying the US government "has unleashed ISIS."

    "In fact, I think we'll give Hillary Clinton ... most valuable player," Trump said, attacking the Democratic candidate for her time as secretary of state from 2009-2013. "ISIS will hand her the most valuable player award. Her only competition is President Barack Obama."

    Trump first made the assertion in a speech on Wednesday night in Florida, saying, "I call them co-founders" of ISIS.

    In an interview on Thursday morning, Trump defended the remarks.

    "Is there something wrong with saying that?" Trump told CNBC. "Why - are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS? All I do is tell the truth, I'm a truth teller."

Business Affairs 

BSE plans to start international exchange early next year

  • Leading bourse BSE on Thursday said it plans to start operations of the newly registered international exchange early next year.
    It has received approval from the government to set up BSE International Exchange and BSE International Clearing Corporation at Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT).
    "We are going to start operations of this exchange from early next year," BSE Chief Business Officer V Balasubramaniam told PTI.
    According to him, permissions would be soon sought for launching products at the new exchange.
    "We are planning to offer all kind of products including in commodities, equities and currencies (segments)...," he said while speaking on the sidelines of the International Gold Convention.
    In January 2015, BSE had signed an MoU with GIFT SEZ Ltd to set up the two entities at the GIFT city -- India's first International Financial Services Centre (IFSC).
    Earlier in the day, BSE said its international stock exchange would provide a platform to trade on equity derivatives, commodity derivatives, currency derivatives, interest rate derivatives for Indian and foreign investors.
    The exchange would also provide platform for global securities listed on the international exchanges such as NYSE, LSE and Nasdaq.

    Patanjali Ayurved successfully bids for food park in Nagpur

    • Patanjali Ayurved Ltd , founded by yoga guru Baba Ramdev, has successfully bid for setting up a modern food park at Mihan in Nagpur.
      Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) earlier floated two global tenders (in May and July 2016), but failed to get any bidder.
      In the third call, MADC has received Patanjali Ayurved as the technically qualified bidder, the state-run agency said in a release here on Thursday.
      MADC has decided to develop agro, food, herbal and forest -based industrial park on a sprawling 230 acres of land in Mihan.
      The project is part of the company's efforts to develop the Vidarbha region.
      According to conditions set by the company, the bidders should have a minimum turnover of Rs 300 crore per annum from agro, food, herbal and forest-based processing business in the last three years. Also, their net worth should be Rs 75 crore in the last financial year, the release said.
      Patanjali, a FMCG firm headquartered in Haridwar, was found to be the successful bidder, it said.
      MADC wants a commitment from the park developer to procure raw materials to the tune of at least Rs 100 crore per annum from farmers and members of tribal community living in areas surrounding Mihan.
      Another condition was that the bidder should make a commitment to train a minimum 1,000 farmers per year across Maharashtra to improve productivity, quality and market intelligence to get them ready for agro-business development.

      Bank of Baroda Q1 net profit falls 60% as bad loans rise

      • Hit hard by nearly three-fold jump in bad loans, state-run Bank of Baroda on Thursday posted a 60 per cent plunge in its first quarter net profit at Rs 424 crore, even as it returned to profitability after two straight quarters of huge losses.
        Total income declined to Rs 11,877.91 crore in the quarter ended June 30, from Rs 12,243.720 crore a year ago.
        The massive decline in profit on year-on-year basis was due to higher provisions for bad loans and contingencies.
        There was a massive spike in bad loans, as the gross NPA ratio rose to 11.15 per cent from 4.13 per cent a year ago and from 9.99 per cent in the March quarter. Net NPAs more than doubled to 5.73 per cent from 2.07 per cent.
        The bank had reported net profit of Rs 1,052 crore in the year-ago quarter. In the March quarter, it had reported net loss of Rs 3,230 crore as asset quality worsened following the RBI mandated review of large accounts.
        "The bank has become profitable due to very sound liability management," the lender's Managing Director and Chief Executive P S Jayakumar said.
        Chief Financial Officer V S Narang said the conscious run-down of higher-cost deposits to improve the deposit mix has led to significant strengthening of operating profit in the quarter at Rs 2,669 crore, highest in the last five quarters.
        Domestic net interest margin improved to 2.80 per cent sequentially from 2.70 per cent and international NIM improved from 0.92 per cent to 0.98 per cent.
        Jayakumar said the bank is looking at NIM of 3 per cent by the end of this year.
        Gross non-performing assets stood at Rs 42,991 crore compared to Rs 40,521 crore in the March quarter.
        The gross NPA ratio stood at 11.15 per cent or Rs 42,991.68 crore compared to 4.13 per cent or Rs 17,273.95 crore a year ago.
        "We had said gross NPAs will be in the range of Rs 45,000-50,000 crore. We don't see that guidance getting worse.
        So we will be somewhere between Rs 45,000-50,000 crore but closer to Rs 45,000 crore," Jayakumar said.
        Net NPAs more than doubled to 5.73 per cent from 2.07 per cent or Rs 20,783.77 crore from Rs 8,470.02 crore respectively.
        Fresh slippages stood at Rs 5,527 crore. Reductions during the quarter was at Rs 3,625 crore as against Rs 895 crore a year-ago. Upgraded loans were worth Rs 1,401 crore while the write-offs stood at Rs 1,142 crore.
        Thus, provisions for bad loans and contingencies rose to Rs 2,004.07 crore for the reporting quarter against Rs 599.74 crore a year. Provisions against NPAs and write-offs alone stood at Rs 1,986 crore.
        The provision coverage ratio was 60.17 per cent and tax provisions Rs 242 crore.
        The bank restructured two accounts worth Rs 788 crore under the strategic debt restructuring in the quarter.
        Despite a massive spike in bad loans, the bank did not sell any such account to asset reconstruction companies in the quarter.
        Its total business stood at Rs 9,24,940 crore, down from Rs 10,01,475 crore a year ago and Rs 9,57,808 crore in March 2016 on account of planned and structured rundown of low yielding assets and high cost liabilities.
        Total deposits was at Rs 5,62,174 crore and advances were at Rs 3,62,766 crore. The bank is looking at a deposit growth of 12-13 per cent and loan growth of 8-10 per cent this financial year.
        Bank of Baroda shares plunged 9 per cent to Rs 145.95 on the BSE against a 0.31 per cent gain on the benchmark Sensex.

      Rajya Sabha okays bill for raising maternity leave period to 26 weeks

      • A bill providing for enhancement of maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks was today passed by the Rajya Sabha, in a step aimed at benefitting about 1.8 million women in the organised sector and increasing the strength of the working women force.
        Once the new law is enacted, India will jump to third position in terms of the number of weeks for maternity leave after Norway (44) and Canada (50), said Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya while replying to a debate on the legislation.
        The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed by voice vote by the House, even as some members sought norms for paternity leave also so that parents can share the responsibility of raising children.
        The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, protects the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her full paid absence from work, to take care for her child.
        The new law will be applicable to all establishments employing 10 or more people.
        The Bill provides for increasing maternity benefit from 12 to 26 weeks for two surviving children and is aimed at benefitting about 1.8 million women in the organised sector.
        Cabinet had yesterday given ex-post facto approval to the amendments made to the Maternity Benefits Act, that aims to raise maternity leave for women from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
        "The very purpose of this Bill is to increase the working women force because in the work force, participation of women is decreasing day by day," Dattatreya said.
        Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said her ministry had recommended raising maternity leave from 12 weeks to 8 months but it was considered too long for the employer.
        The legislation will go a long way in ensuring that the future generations are healthier, she said as she noted that after giving birth, a woman's body needs to heal over a period of time. "It is a very stressful time for the mother, who should be with the child".
        Highlighting that there are more nuclear families now, Gandhi said the bill has its roots in malnutrition, as breastfeeding the child is recommended which is not possible unless the mother is in physical proximity of the child.
        She said the government is thinking of introducing direct benefit transfer for women and it is "under consideration".

        'Buffalo meat exports to reach Rs 40,000 crore in 5 years'

        • The country's buffalo meat exports will reach close to Rs 40,000 crore over the next five years at an annual growth rate of 8 per cent, rating agency Icra said on Thursday.
          "In the long-term, we expect buffalo meat exports to continue to report healthy growth, driven by improving infrastructure, a sizeable buffalo population, a relatively lower price of Indian buffalo meat, and steady demand in the international market," Icra Senior VP - Corporate Sector ratings Sabyasachi Majumdar said.
          "We estimate that the buffalo meat exports will grow to around Rs 40,000 crore by FY21, at an annual growth of 8 per cent," Majumdar added.
          While India has been exporting buffalo meat for almost two decades, it gained momentum only in the last decade.
          "This can be attributed to factors like increasing demand from developing countries, including China, Vietnam and Thailand among others, slaughtering method meeting religious requirements of certain ethnicities, price competitiveness, high buffalo population, and low domestic consumption," Majumdar said.
          Within India, Uttar Pradesh accounts for the highest share (28 per cent) of the total buffalo population and has also emerged as the leading buffalo meat-producing state, housing around 60 per cent of the total standalone slaughter houses, standalone meat processing units and fully-integrated meat processing units, the report revealed.
          Indian buffalo meat exports have grown to Rs 26,682 crore in FY16 from Rs 3,533 crore in FY08, accounting for 20 per cent of the world's total buffalo meat exports (in volume terms).
          The country has also become the largest volume exporter of buffalo meat, overtaking Brazil and Australia.

        General Awareness

        Union Cabinet approved the introduction of pension and post-retirement medical schemes

          • The Union Cabinet led by Shri. Narendra Modi approved theintroduction of pension and post-retirement medical schemes for the 22,000 existing employees of Food Corporation of India (FCI) as per the guidelines of Department of Public Enterprise.
            What is FCI ?
            Food Corporation of India was set up on 14 January 1965 having its first District Office at Thanjavur – rice bowl of Tamil Nadu – and headquarters at Delhi under the Food Corporations Act 1964 to implement the following objectives of the National Food Policy
            1. Effective price support operations for safeguarding the interests of the farmers
            2. Distribution of food grains throughout the country for Public Distribution System
            3. Maintaining satisfactory level of operational and buffer stocks of food grains to ensure National Food Security
            4. Regulate market price to provide food grains to consumers at a reliable price.
            It is one of the largest corporations in India and probably the largest supply chain management in Asia.
            It operates through 5 Zonal offices and 24 Regional offices. Each year, the Food Corporation of India purchases roughly 15 to 20 per cent of India’s wheat output and 12 to 15 per cent of its rice output. The purchases are made from the farmers at the rates declared by the Govt. of India.
            Pension Scheme:-
            As per the press statement of the government of India, all employees including Category I, II, III and IV of the Corporation on the payroll as on 1.12.2008 or appointed thereafter are covered under the new pension scheme for employees of FCI.
            • It adds that another 4,000 retired employees will also get benefit of the pension scheme.
            • In order to qualify for this pension scheme one should have a Minimum service period of 15 years before superannuation except in case of death.
            • The Employer’s Contribution is 10% of Basic pay and DA per month in respect of all existing employees as on 01.12.2008 or appointed thereafter.
            • The Employees’ Mandatory Contribution is about 2% of basic pay + DA per month. Employees’ Voluntary Contribution and up to 25% of basic pay + DA per month.
            • The scheme also offers Benefits of Pension (Annuity) on superannuation and Death Cover.
            Post Medical Scheme:-
            It applies to all employees Category I, II, III & IV employees of the Corporation including retired employees who are members of the current employee funded Medical Health Scheme for Retirees.
            • A Minimum service period of 15 years before superannuation except in case of death qualifies one to this scheme.
            • The Employer contribution is 3.83% of Basic + DA w.e.f. 01.04.2016.
            • The Employee Contribution is Last drawn Basic pay and DA at the time of retirement / death during service, subject to minimum of Rs.10, 000.
            • The Scheme would cover the medical expenses of retired member, his/her spouse and dependent disabled child at any hospital in India subject to the overall annual ceiling.

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