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Current Affairs - 3 August 2016

General Affairs 

Jammu, Tirupati Among 6 Places To Get IITs
  • NEW DELHI: Jammu and Tirupati are among six cities across the country that are set to get IITs, with parliament today passing a Bill in this regard.

    Under the Institutes of Technology (Amendment) Bill 2016, which was approved today by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote, IITs will also be started in Palakkad (Kerala), Goa, Dharward (Karnataka) and Bhilai (Chhattisgarh).

    Earlier, the Lok Sabha had passed on July 25 the Bill which also seeks to bring the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, within the ambit of the proposed Act.

    Replying to a debate on the Bill, Education Minister Prakash Javadekar said the IITs are the centre of excellence and they will continue to remain like that.

    "We will not allow anything that will lower their standards. Actually we all should try to improve them further and make them really world class institutes. Therefore quality is absolutely important," he said.

    Replying to Jairam Ramesh of Congress, who raised the issue of ensuring complete autonomy for the IITs, Mr Javedekar said the education ministry is not there on any board of IITs.

    "MHRD is not even represented on Board of Governors. It is completely run by the Board. We only facilitate in finance and that is where we will concentrate," he said.

    On funding for the premier institutes, he said there would not be any financial constraints for growth of IITs. The government is already working on a scheme for financing higher education infrastructure needs, particularly research infrastructure requirements, he added.

Ahead Of Rajnath Singh's Visit, BSF Says Pak 'Competent' to Handle Hafiz Saeed
  • NEW DELHI:  A day before Home Minister Rajnath Singh visits to Pakistan amidst threats of protest by Lashkar founder Hafiz Saeed, the BSF today said it was sure the Pak Rangers and other authorities there will take adequate measures to foil the plans of the terror mastermind.

    Calling Saeed's plans of undertaking massive protests and march towards the Attari-Wagah border when Singh steps on Pakistani soil a "political" move, Border Security Force chief KK Sharma said the border guarding forces on both sides have been "sensitised" and they will ensure that the SAARC Home Ministers meeting to be held tomorrow in Islamabad is not disrupted.

    "This (Saeed's protest call) is the internal matter of Pakistan and I am very sure that my counterparts Pak Rangers are more than competent to handle this issue. I am sure this (Saeed's threat) is not going to disrupt the SAARC meeting. Hafiz Saeed will not be successful," he said.

    Mr Sharma, who only last week returned from Pakistan after holding the annual bilateral Director General-level talks with the Rangers, said both the forces have also discussed measures to mount effective vigil at the Attari-Wagah border which is thronged by large crowds that witness the daily retreat ceremony in the evening.

    A blast in 2014 at Wagah on the Pakistan side had killed over 50 people after the retreat ceremony got over.

    "Yes, this was one issue that was taken up with Pak Rangers...both of us are conscious of the fact that the threat is there and consequently we both have strengthened our security measures. We have done it on our side (of the border) and they have done it on their side. I am sure they (Rangers) will handle it (Saeed's threat to march towards Wagah) well," he said on the sidelines of an event.

    The BSF Director General added at least four battalions of the force (about 4,000 personnel) have been recently deployed on the Punjab frontier and two in Jammu to further fortify security measures and the counter-infiltration grid along the Indo-Pak International Border (IB) running along the two states.

    "The LoC in Kashmir is under army and I would not like to comment on that," he said when asked about similar measures in this area.

No Plans To Change Mahatma Gandhi's Photo On Currency Notes: Government
  • NEW DELHI:  Government has no proposal to replace Mahatma Gandhi's photograph or add another leader's photo on currency notes as the matter has already been decided by a high-level committee during the UPA rule, Rajya Sabha was informed today.
    Replying to a question whether the government intends to replace or add photos of other leaders on currency notes, Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal said "a Committee was formed during UPA which has already decided that there is no need to change Mahatma Gandhi's photo on the currency notes."

    During Question Hour, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said "the government takes a decision from time to time in consultation with the RBI" on what currency to be circulated.
    "The design and security features of banknotes are decided by the Government from time to time, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The decision about the circulation of banknotes in the country is taken by the RBI," he said.
    Asked whether government proposed to introduce a currency note or coin on BR Ambedkar to mark his 125th birth anniversary, Mr Meghwal said government has already issued a non-circulation commemorative coin of Rs. 125 and a circulation coin of Rs. 10 denomination to mark 125th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar, which was released by Prime Minister on December 6, 2015.
    "I assure you that as per demand, we would increase the circulation of Rs. 10 denomination coins bearing Ambedkar's picture. We will work towards providing more such coins," he told the members.
    Mr Jaitley, in reply to a question whether the government plans to introduce plastic currency notes, said "RBI has decided to procure the plastic substrate through open tender process for printing of plastic banknotes for trial purpose and accordingly initiated the process of procurement. Pre- qualification bid has been floated for the purpose."

Uidai Extended Undue Favour Of Rs. 4.92 Crore To Wipro: National Auditor
  • NEW DELHI:  Government auditor CAG has flagged "undue favour" to Wipro Ltd by UIDAI, which manages Aadhaar, in a maintenance contract involving an avoidable expenditure of nearly R
    s. 5 crore.

    CAG also found that UIDAI incurred a loss of Rs. 1.41 crore by not following the government policy of routing its advertisements through official agency DAVP.

    "Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) in contravention of the provisions of the contract extended undue favour to the vendor (M/s Wipro Ltd) and incurred an avoidable expenditure of Rs. 4.92 crore on annual maintenance contract of the equipment for a period covered under warrant/free maintenance," CAG said in a report tabled in Parliament today.

    According to the report, UIDAI entered (May, 2011) into a contract with Wipro Ltd (vendor) for supply, installation and commissioning of servers, storage systems, security systems and accessories with incidental services in the data centres of the authority in Bengaluru and Delhi/NCR at a cost of Rs. 134.28 crore.

    CAG stated that as the vendor was responsible for erection and installation of the goods/services at the destination sites and for making them fully operational, subject to an acceptance test (AT) based on the prescribed norms.

    The final AT was conducted by STQC in January-February 2013 with satisfactory performance. Thus the date of acceptance was February 2013.

    The contract stipulated that warranty of the equipment would remain valid for 36 months in respect of servers and storage system and 12 months in respect of all other goods, after the goods had been delivered (and commissioned) to the final destination and accepted.

    As per contract terms and conditions the date of acceptance of equipment was February, 2013. However on being requested by Wipro, UIDAI decided (February, 2013) to adopt as date of acceptance for all equipment.

    CAG noted that as a result of reckoning this date, the stipulated period of warranty of 12 months for items other than servers and storage system expired on January 31, 2013, which was month before its acceptance.

    UIDAI agreed (March 2013) with vendor for annual maintenance Contract (AMC) of these equipments at a total cost of Rs. 4.92 crore for the period from February 2013 to January 2014. The agreement was signed on June 1, 2013.

    CAG observed that a deviation from the original contract in terms and entering into a fresh AMC retrospectively by UIDAI resulted in avoidable expenditure of Rs. 4.92 crore on AMC of the equipment which was to be covered under warranty/free maintenance.

    CAG also found that the UIDAI did not route its advertisements through the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity in accordance with the advertisement policy of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This led to loss of Rs. 1.41 crore as the eligible discount was not availed.

Tripura Asks Railways To Send Fuel By Train
  • AGARTALA:  In view of severe fuel crisis in Tripura due to disruption of vehicular movement on damaged NH-8, state government has demanded dispatch of fuel by rail as it has come to the broad gauge map of the country following flagging off a train between Agartala and Delhi on Sunday.

    "We have submitted a memorandum to the Railway Minister on Sunday charting out eight demands including dispatch of fuel. It seems he is taking very pro-active role to meet our demands.

    He immediately directed the rail officers to discuss the matter with IOC. Later the officials of the rail and IOC met in the state guest house," Transport Minister Manik Dey said today.

    The vehicular movement through the National Highway 8 was seriously affected for the last three months due to damage of a portion at Karimganj in Assam following incessant rain and waterlogging and the state was facing acute crisis of fuel.

    Mr Dey said the other demands include introduction of four trains within Tripura to connect Agartala with Dharmanagar, the northernmost town in the state, direct train from Agartala to Chennai and other big cities of the country.

    The railway minister on Sunday announced that a direct train between Agartala and Kolkata would be introduced this month. Mr Dey also demanded to include Tripura in the Trans-Asian rail network.

    After the Trans-Asian railway network is established Tripura can be included with the network if 257 km rail track is laid from Tripura's Jawharnagar in Dhalai district with Kalay of Myanmar through neighbouring Mizoram's Darlon, Mr Dey said.

Business Affairs 

S&P on why PM Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' may fail
  • The country's poor infrastructure is the "biggest hurdle" to government's flagship Make in India programme, S&P Global Ratings said.
    "Infrastructure is the biggest hurdle to the ambitious Make in India programme of the government," S&P Global Ratings Credit Analyst Abhishek Dangra told reporters on a conference call.
    The infrastructure deficit is costing up to 5 per cent of the GDP and an improvement will boost export competitiveness, according to some estimates.
    However, he was quick to add that the export powerhouse of China also faces problems on the infrastructure front.
    Every rupee invested in infrastructure development has a ripple effect and helps the GDP by Rs 2, he added.
    The passage of the Goods and Services Tax, billed as the country's biggest indirect taxation reform, will give a fillip to the logistics and manufacturing sectors, he said.
    Dangra said there are problems in the country's transportation sector with capacity constraints and underlined the need for better regulation.
    "India's transportation infrastructure sector could significantly benefit from a stable regulatory environment that has an independent regulator, appropriate dispute- resolution mechanisms and supportive, comprehensive policies," he said.
    Citing the case of the power sector, Dangra said better regulation has helped in a turnaround and we are looking to have a power surplus in 2016-17.
    Even if the government leads with transportation spends, execution will be a key challenge, he said.
    The government's limited finances will make it essential for the private sector to pitch in, the agency said in a note.
    "The government is scaling up spending, but its heavy debt burden could derail its ambitions to improve public infrastructure," it said.
    The global ratings agency said India Inc will see a turnaround in performance soon.
    "The performance of Indian corporates is bottoming out. It will be a slow, U-shaped recovery for them," S&P Global Ratings Credit Analyst Geeta Chugh told reporters on a call.
    Revenue growth is expected to move up in the next 2-3 years, the agency said, adding that this will be possible largely on increased government spending and the consequent increase in domestic economy.

    Top 10 corporate groups owe Rs 5.73 lakh crore to lenders
    • Top 10 corporate groups in the country owed Rs 5.73 crore tostate-owned banks and financial institutions at the end of March this year, the government said on Tuesday.
      The Reserve Bank of India collects credit information from banks under the CRILC reporting system for borrowers with the credit exposure greater than Rs 5 crore.
      "RBI had informed that gross outstanding credit for top ten corporate groups is Rs 5,73,682 crore as on March 2016," Minister of State for Finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.
      RBI is prohibited from disclosing credit information except under certain conditions, he added.
      The minister was asked whether it was a fact that top 10 corporate houses owe a huge amount of money to the public sector banks and financial institutions.
      Gangwar further said that government has taken specific measures to address various issues facing sectors such as infrastructure, steel and textiles where incidence of non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans is high.
      The government has also approved establishment of six new Debt Recovery Tribunals to speed up the recovery of bad loans to the banking sector.
      "The government has recently issued advisory to banks to take action against guarantors in event of default by borrower ...since in the event of default, the liability of the guarantor is co-extensive with the borrower," Gangwar said.
      In reply to another question, he said public sector banks wrote off (including compromise) Rs 59,547 crore during 2015- 16 while their private sector counterparts wrote off Rs 12,017 crore. Foreign banks too wrote off Rs 1,057 crore.
      "RBI has informed that write-off details for leading account holders are not available with them," the minister added.

      Nitin Gadkari asks officials to execute UP projects on 'war-footing'
      • The highway projects in Uttar Pradesh are all set to receive a boost as the state goes to polls in the next few months.
        The highways are road to progress for a state and Uttar Pradesh is no exception.
        This is why Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has asked officials to work on 'war-footing' to expedite projects besides undertaking periodic meetings with the state officials to address land acquisition issues.
        In a meeting to review the progress of highways in the state, Gadkari asked officials to ensure that Rs 4,500 crore provided by Centre for land acquisition be disbursed at the earliest to roll out stuck projects.
        The state accounts for 11,074 km of National Highways including 60 newly declared stretches but a large number of projects including that for upgradation are stuck on account of delays in land acquisition, utility shifting and forest and environment clearances, among other issues.
        "I have asked officials to expedite projects in UP on war-footing. There are many projects where land acquisition has not been done properly. Forest environment clearance, utility shifting problems are there. Project directors and regional officers have been asked to follow up each project and own responsibility," Gadkari said after the review meeting.
        The Ministry officials have been instructed to hold periodic meetings with UP officials to address the land acquisition and other issues, he said.
        "Secretary, Highways, Sanjay Mitra; NHAI Chief Raghav Chandra and Joint Secretary, Highways Leena Nandan have been asked to hold meetings with UP Chief Secretary to expedite projects. Our Rs 4,500 crore has been deposited with UP collectors office for land acquisition. These need to be expedited," the Minister said.
        Besides, detailed project reports for another 2,519 km have been submitted and "we intend to start work on these very soon," he added.
        During the review, 21 of the 52 under implementation projects were identified as "focus" projects.
        As far as land acquisition was concerned, it was felt that there is a need for expediting disbursement of compensation.
        As per officials, apart from land acquisition, another major issue pertained to forest and utility shifting which was impacting projects totalling 400 km.
        Besides, delays in shifting of utilities impacted many projects that include Delhi-Meerut Expressway package 11 and 111, six-lane Greenfield Delhi-Meerut Expressway project and Varanasi-Sultanpur section packages.
        Projects related to Ram Gaman Marg, Buddhist Circuit, Sethu Bharatam also came up during the review.

      Sensex, Nifty may hit fresh lifetime highs if GST Bill gets through Parliament
      • The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill has finally entered the last mile with it slated to be taken up in Parliament on Wednesday. Many on the Dalal Street believe the headline indices Sensex and Nifty will hit fresh highs if the GST Bill sees the light of the day, the likelihood of which has strengthened with government including the demands of the states and opposition parties in the fresh Bill.
        The market has been on a wobbly road, largely upward, as it awaited the GST since the beginning of the monsoon session. Experts believe the positive sentiment in the market has mostly been built on the hopes that GST will get a green signal.
        "If GST becomes the reality, we see Nifty to extend its move and cross the next hurdle at 8,800, and if it manages to cross the same, the possibility of the index going beyond the 9,200 cannot be written off," said Rohit Gadia, Founder & CEO, CapitalVia Global Research.
        The Nifty50 had hit its fresh lifetime high of 9,119.20 points on March 04 2015, while the same day Sensex logged its all-time high of 30,024.74 points.  
        Abnish Kumar Sudhanshu, Director & Research Head, Amrapali Aadya Trading & Investments said the passage of GST in Rajya sabha can take Nifty to the new 52-week high. However, he added that market could witness a short-term correction on account of profit-booking post the event.
        "We believe long-term bullishness in the market will remain intact and on GST transformation, market can move to a level beyond 9000," said Sudhanshu.
        GST Bill priced in?
        As market has been largely on a gaining spree for the last few weeks, chances are investors may have already priced in the GST Bill. Also, one should not rule out the famous adage 'the devils are in the details', point out experts suggesting the corporate may not find GST bill to their liking.  
        "Currently market is factoring a lot on GST bill passage in Rajya Sabha, the possibility of which has increased with regional parties coming on board. Any disappointment on this front may lead to nearly 5 per cent correction on the Nifty from current levels," said Piyush Garg of ICICI Securities.   
        What if GST doesn't get through Parliament
        While the odds are in favour of GST becoming the law, one cannot rule out the opposite eventuality. Gadia of CapitalVia expects Nifty to correct to 8400-8350 level if government fails to pass the GST.
        "If GST fails to become the law, the market will start looking at the domestic factor and will not move lower significantly. The effect of salary hike of central government employees thanks to seventh pay commission is going to be a major boost for our economy, and market will keep a watch on the same," said Gadia.
        Sudhanshu of Amrapali Aadya said if GST doesn't become the reality, then the stocks which have already run-up on the hope of passage of GST, can witness significant correction, so do benchmark indices.

        Govt to offer free '.bharat' domain name with '.in' buy
        • To create an ecosystem for various modes of communication like e-mail and website addresses in Indian scripts, the government will provide complimentary '.bharat' domain name available for one year on purchase of '.in'.
          "We have written to registrar for providing one year complimentary web address with '.bharat' (available in Devanagari and other Indian scripts) when a person registers a '.in' website," National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) CEO Rajiv Bansal told PTI.
          The web address with '.in' domain name is being sold across country at starting price of Rs 199 for first year, which can be renewed thereafter for prices starting at around Rs 550.
          The domain '.bharat' (in Devanagari script) is being sold by only a few companies registered with NIXI.
          "Most of the next billion that will be impacted by Internet or connect with it will not be English-speaking people. We have to create local language content and develop ecosystem so that non-English citizens can communicate online in their native language," Bansal said.
          The Department of Electronics and IT had convened meeting of e-mail service providers to make provision for e-mail addresses in Hindi and other Indian languages. The companies, however, said they can provide e-mail address in Indian languages only when there is demand.
          Google supports transaction from e-mail addresses in Japanese, Mandarin and some other scripts.
          DeitY officials have also discussed providing search support when a text is typed in an Indian language script, but companies do not see business case for doing so at present.
          "We have to work on creating e-mail services, online search to enable non-English speaking people conveniently use Internet. We hope that by giving '.bharat' as complimentary Web address, it may encourage entities to experiment and develop content in local languages, including e-mail addresses," Bansal said.

        General Awareness

        Raghuram Rajan released the consolidated norms of On-Tap Licensing process to enact reform in the Banking Industry

        • In order to switch over bank licensing process from once-in-a-decade affair into an ongoing process, RBI governor Raghuram Rajan has released the key features regarding the consolidated norms of the ‘on tap licensing’ or continuous licensing process.

          What is On Tap Licensing?
          • On-tap licensing means that the window for getting a bank license from RBI is open throughout the year.
          • Now, virtually anyone, who fulfills the criteria, can apply for a bank license anytime.
          • The Reserve Bank of India released guidelines for granting ‘on-tap’ bank licenses to individuals, groups, companies or entities.
          • While the guidelines give an opportunity to the large Non-Banking Financial Companies and professionals with a minimum of 10 years experience, it bars those entities for whom over 40% of business comes from non-financial activities.
          • The RBI has invited suggestions on the guidelines till 30th June.
          • This decision of RBI to grant on-tap license reflects maturity and would help in furthering financial inclusion by enhancing banking penetration in unbanked areas.
          • It is noted thatin banking sector, the aggregate foreign investment limit is 74 per cent.
          • Guidelines of this On-Tap License:-
            1. On-tap licensing has initiated the biggest overhaul in India’s banking structure, after readying the structure for differentiated banking regime with the issuance of small finance banks and payments bank licences.
            2. If one sees the monetary policy structure reforms too along with this, Rajan’s governorship has witnessed an era of big reforms in India’s banking industry.
            As a key point to notice, Individuals who are ‘residents’ and have 10 years of experience in banking and finance at a senior level and existing non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) that are ‘controlled by residents’.
            • The applicant have to pass the ‘Fit and Proper‘ criteria, which constitutes of a promoting entity/ group should have a past record of proper and efficient financial credentials, integrity and should have a minimum 10 years of successful track record.
            • It is also to be complying by the applicants that the respective entity has total assets ofRs 5,000 crore or more, the non-financial business of the group does not account for40 per cent or more in terms of total assets/in terms of gross income.
          • Earlier, RBI used to invite applications for giving bank licenses, and prospective players submitted their applications within a fixed time-frame as prescribed by RBI. This arrangement was not open all the time.

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