Current Affairs Current Affairs - 10 September 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 10 September 2016

General Affairs 

Terror, Nuke Club Should Not Be Issues Between India, China: S Jaishankar
  • NEW DELHI:  India today said sanctioning of well-known terrorist leaders and organisations besides developmental issues like access to cooperation and investments in the field of civil nuclear energy should not emerge as points of difference with a "partner" like China.

    Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said that China is expected to be appreciative of India's interests, especially when they are not in conflict with those of Beijing, and noted that it is imperative for the future of Asia and the world, that the two nations approach each other with strategic maturity.

    He admitted that bilateral ties with China were "complicated" but stressed that one should not approach the relationship as a zero sum game.

    "There is an expectation in India that a partner like China would be appreciative of India's interests, especially when they are not in conflict with those of China.

    "Combating terrorism is one such area and sanctioning of well-known terrorist leaders and organisations should not emerge as an issue of difference. Nor should reservations on developmental issues, such as India's predictable access to international cooperation and investments in the field of civil nuclear energy," he said speaking at a conference.

    Mr Jaishankar was referring to China blocking India's bid to put Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar's on UN Security Council blacklist of groups linked to al-Qaeda or ISIS and India's entry in the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Admitting that India and China have a "complicated relationship", the Foreign Secretary said one should not ignore the collaborative and convergent side of the ties as well.

    Sino-Indian ties are a subject of heightened attention. Part of the reason is the weight of history that this particular relationship carries on its shoulders, he said.

    Some of it also arises from the great potential that it holds and the impact that its direction could have on regional and global politics.

    "The report card of our ties for the last three decades is much stronger than many assume," he said.

    Noting that from a situation of limited contacts and content, India-China relations have today transitioned out of their state of abnormalcy, Mr Jaishankar said one must give due credit to the efforts of successive governments on both sides who have ensured peace and tranquillity on the border, even as negotiations on its settlement continue.

    "Difficult problems, some of them pertaining to sovereignty, have not been side-stepped," he said.

No Price Shock For Travelers On Day 1 Of Railways Flexi Fare Scheme
  • MUMBAI:  Wary passengers who logged on to the Indian Railways booking website today morning expecting a jump in ticket prices were in for a pleasant surprise. Fares of premier trains like the Rajdhani and the Shatabdi remained largely unchanged despite dynamic pricing being enforced from today.  

    According to the railways' new rule on surge pricing, passengers travelling by premier trains including Rajdhani, Duronto and Shatabdi now pay between 10 to 50 per cent more for their tickets. The new pricing rule only applies on passengers travelling in AC-2 tier and 3 AC coaches.

    When bookings opened at 8:00 AM today morning, the fare for a 3AC ticket from Mumbai to New Delhi on the Rajdhani remained Rs. 2125. Even as the seats got quickly filled, the price remained unchanged. Even when less than 30 per cent of the total seats remained, there was no change in the price.

    Travel agents remained clueless about how dynamic pricing would affect passengers on the first day of what the railways clarified was only an 'experiment'.

    On Thursday, Indian Railways said that the flexi-fare system would be closely monitored to study its impact. The scheme is being run on a trial basis as the railways' struggles to turn around its operations after running losses for three straight years.

    Experts say that the new system would be more transparent and effective that a flat increase in fares if needed. They point out that the railways have a monopoly, and given the high demand for tickets, passengers would pay higher fares in absence of alternatives.

    However the introduction of dynamic pricing met with strong criticism from political parties including the Congress. Under pressure, Railway Board chairman AK Mittal said the dynamic fare system was not a permanent feature and it would be reviewed after some time.

Padma Awards Goes Public, Now Citizens Can Nominate Any Achiever
  • NEW DELHI:  Any Indian can now recommend any achiever for the prestigious Padma Awards, with the government throwing open the nomination process to general public to make it transparent and curb the crony culture of influence and lobbying.

    The nominations can be made online but the nominators would be required to furnish their Aadhaar details for authenticity and accountability.

    "For the first time, government of India is encouraging the people of India to nominate achievers for the Padma Awards," sources said.

    It is a step towards transforming the national awards into a truly people's award which will no longer remain restricted to elite rulers, they said.

    Opening up of the nomination process to the general public will also help in identifying unsung or lesser known people of excellence, the sources said.

    "Simple online nomination encourages and facilitates all Indian citizens to participate," the sources added.

    They said the changes in the nomination process is aimed at curbing the crony culture of influence and lobbying.

    "Online application portal plus electronic management system harnesses technology to make processing of nominations efficient and transparent," the sources said.

    The government has already received over 1,700 nominations and the last date of nomination is September 15.

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Reviews Situation In Kashmir
  • SRINAGAR:  Army chief General Dalbir Singh today reviewed the security situation in unrest-hit Kashmir, especially in the four worst-affected districts in south Kashmir.

    General Dalbir Singh arrived in Srinagar this morning and was briefed about the prevailing situation in the valley by General Officer Commanding of Chinar Corps Lt Gen Satish Dua, defence sources said.

    The sources said the Army chief visited defence formations in the north and south of the Valley to get first hand account of the situation from the officers on ground.

    "The Army chief was informed about the steps to be taken to help the civil administration restore normalcy, particularly in south Kashmir," the sources said.

    General Dalbir Singh also visited forward locations along the Line of Control in Kupwara district to review the preparedness of the anti-infiltration grid, they said.

    He will call on Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra later before heading back to Delhi.

Pak's Growing Nukes 'Thorny Challenge' To US Interests: Expert
  • WASHINGTON:  Stating that Pakistan has close to 120 nuclear weapons, an American think tank expert said that its growing nuclear arsenal poses a "thorny challenge" to the US interests.

    "The growth in Pakistan's nuclear capabilities and the broadening of its deterrence objectives raise thorny challenges for US interests to prevent a nuclear explosion and to maintain effective security on nuclear weapons and materials," Toby Dalton, co-director Nuclear Policy Program, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a Congressional hearing yesterday on Pakistan.

    In his testimony, Dalton said Pakistan has the capability to expand its arsenal by 20 nuclear weapons every year and the over the past decade the nation had significantly expanded the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

    Dalton said Pakistan places increasing emphasis on nuclear weapons to counter Indian military threats.

    "From Pakistan's few official pronouncements on nuclear doctrine and statements by government officials, it is clear that deterrence is understood to be elastic: whenever the Indian threat grows, more or new nuclear capabilities are needed," he said.

    In his testimony, Dalton praised the safeguards put in place by the nation when it comes to protecting its nuclear arsenal.

    "To be fair, Pakistan is not given sufficient credit for the nuclear security practices it has put in place. By most indicators, its security is probably quite good, but not foolproof.It has learned lessons from the AQ Khan affair and it has responded to international fears about terrorists acquiring weapons by putting in place a comprehensive security strategy run by a professional branch within the military," he said.

    "The prominence given to nuclear weapons in Pakistan's national security strategy means that the government has a very strong interest to protect them. To date, there is no public information that indicates any close calls of material going missing, and no hints of further technology leakage after the Khan proliferation network was dismantled," he added.

Business Affairs 

ICICI Prudential to launch the biggest IPO after Coal India on Sept 19
  • ICICI Prudential Life is all set to launch its Rs 5,000 crore initial public offering (IPO) on September 19, the first by an insurer in India and the biggest in nearly six years.  
    The insurer plans to sell up to 18.13 crore shares in a price band of Rs 300-334. At the upper band of the price band, the issue will fetch Rs 6,057 crore, while at the lower end, it will garner Rs 5,440 crore.
    This would be the biggest initial public offering after Coal India. The state-run firm had hit the capital markets in 2010 to raise over Rs 15,000 crore.
    The company, which filed the draft red herring prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) on July 18, got the regulator approval on September 2.
    The insurer is a venture between banking major ICICI Bank and UK's Prudential Corporation Holdings. Singapore's Temasek and PremjiInvest also are shareholders.
    ICICI Bank has around 68 per cent stake in the insurer, while that of Prudential is 26 per cent.
    Bank of America Merrill Lynch and ICICI Securities are global book running lead merchant bankers (BRLM) to the issue.
    Others are CLSA, Deutsche, Edelweiss, HSBC, IIFL, JM Financial and SBI Capital Markets.
    A maximum 50 per cent of the issue size will be reserved for qualified institutional buyers (QIBs), out of which up to 60 per cent for anchor investors and 5 per cent for mutual fund players.
    Besides, 35 per cent of total offer size will be set aside for retail investors, with the remaining 15 per cent for non-institutional investors.

Why iPhone 7 is 40% more expensive in India than US
  • Apple Inc. announced its new generation of iPhones on September 7. The changes can be termed as incremental at best. Another thing that is not changing is the exorbitant price tag of a new iPhone in the Indian market.
    Last year, a report published by CNET declared that iPhone 6s was priced highest in India.
    During the launch event on Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the iPhone 7 at $649 which roughly translates to Rs 43,200 and the iPhone 7 Plus at $769 which is around Rs 51,200. In India, the iPhone 7 is estimated to be priced around Rs 62,000 for the 32GB variant, whereas the iPhone 7 Plus 32GB is expected to be priced around Rs 72,000. Being an American brand, is iPhone 7 cheaper just in the US?
    Let's have a look at what other countries are paying for the same device:

    iPhone 7 32GB  iPhone 7 Plus 32GB
    UK  599 british pound (Rs 53,100) 719 british pound (Rs 63,750)
    Australia AUD 1079 (Rs 55,000)  AUD 1269 (Rs 64,600)
    UAE     Dh 2599 (Rs 47,100)   Dh 3099 (Rs 56,100)
    Canada     899 canadian dollar (Rs 46,250)  1049 canadian dollar (Rs 53,971)
    China     6,388 yuan (Rs 63,650)  7,188 yuan (Rs 71,630)
    China's pricing is similar to India's due to the depreciating value of Yuan. Apple is not willing to negotiate with the prices in order to maintain the profit margin. iPhone consumers in China will be paying an additional $45, in comparison to last year's launch prices of the 6s and 6s Plus.
    Coming back to India, since the very first iPhone, Apple has been pricing the devices higher than other countries. Though they provide various options to finance the product, Apple has failed to break into the top five smartphone companies in the country.
    Let's try and understand why iPhones in India come with such exorbitant price tags:

    Third party retailers
    Since Apple has no manufacturing unit within the country, they cannot avail the FDI in single-brand retail. This leaves them with no option but to collaborate with Indian retail agencies. To maintain profit margins, Apple sells the device at a higher price.
    The current pre-GST tax structure makes it tough for brands like Apple to maintain a low price. The custom duty is the first obstacle, which is calculated over the total price of the product, shipping charges and handling charges. Last year, the American company paid 11.43 per cent in custom duty for the iPhone 6s. According to Zauba, the accessories boxed with the iPhone have to be taxed separately and last year the taxes were more than double of the custom duty paid for the smartphone at 28.85 per cent.
    After paying the custom duty, the product has to cross various state borders which charge an approximate of 12.5 per cent VAT on the total price of the smartphone.
    Similar to China's current plight, India's weaker currency is also a major reason why Apple smartphones burn a hole in your pocket. The company wouldn't want to take the risk of decreased profit margins due to the drastic fall of Indian Rupee in the last decade.
    Apple's future in India
    The Cupertino giant, for the first time, experienced a double digit fall in year-on-year sales percentage. China, the biggest market for iPhones after USA has also showed a steep fall in purchases. On the other hand, despite the high prices in India, the company was able to show a year-on-year growth of 56 per cent. This is why Apple Inc. views India as a promising market, a market which can counter their saturation in sales.
    If Apple manages to come to terms with Modi's Digital India, the scary-looking prices on the iPhones might end up being a practical buy for the practical Indian.

Airtel to Trai: Ensure networks not abused by free traffic
  • Hitting out at Reliance Jio on interconnect issue, Bharti Airtel today asked telecom regulator Trai to find a way to curb the "massive asymmetric traffic" and ensure that receiving networks are not "abused by tsunami of free traffic".
    "We urge the Trai to find a way to curb the massive asymmetric traffic to ensure that receiving networks are not abused by tsunami of free traffic. In this regard, Interconnection Usage Charges is an effective tool in the hands of Trai, which we hope they will use judiciously," Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
    The company said that it was "grateful" to Trai for enabling a constructive dialogue today on the matter of providing PoIs to Reliance Jio.
    "We would request the Trai to also engage on the subject of a fair IUC regime and ensure that the practice of pricing is in compliance with the 30th Amendment of the Telecom Tariff Order dated January 16, 2004, which envisages tariffs to be IUC compliant, non-predatory and non-discriminatory," it said in an apparent dig at Jio's freebies.
    Asserting that "as a responsible company" it has always provided interconnectivity to other operators, Airtel said it is "fully compliant with all regulatory guidelines and licence conditions".
    Bharti Airtel alongwith other incumbent operators like Vodafone and Idea Cellular have been engaged in a massive fight with the new entrant Reliance Jio over providing additional points of connectivity between networks.
    The two sides today met TRAI to discuss the interconnect issue, which has become the flashpoint for one of the fiercest corporate battles in the sector.
    "None of the new operators who launched services in the last few years, has faced any PoI related issues with Airtel," it pointed out.
    Noting that the traffic will inevitably get to a more balanced level and PoIs will be less of an issue once the commercial charging of services by Reliance Jio starts by Jan 1, 2017, Airtel said, "in the interim, we continue with our efforts to augment the hundreds of PoIs already given to Reliance Jio, as per the bilateral agreement, so that customers are not inconvenienced".

Rupee dives 26 paise to 66.68 vs US dollar
  • In line with domestic stock market, the Indian rupee on Friday tumbled by 26 paise to end at 66.68, posting its biggest single-day drop in five weeks, on renewed demand for the American currency from banks and importers.
    A massive sell-offs in domestic equities tracking global markets, following the European Central Bank's decision to keep its monetary policy stance unchanged, mainly weighed heavily on the rupee sentiment.
    This is the biggest one-day fall in the rupee since August 3, 2016.
    Dealers avoided taking long positions ahead of key macro data release including the consumer price index (CPI) inflation data for August and Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for July on Monday, a forex trader said.
    Moreover, market sentiment will be influenced by crucial Federal Reserve's two-day meet next week and the BOJ's unveiling the results of a comprehensive policy review it promised in July, they said.
    The domestic unit resumed lower at 66.57 from Thursday's closing of 66.42 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market on the back of aggressive dollar buying initiated by domestic banks and importers.
    It was later stuck in a tight range after making a fast descending movement to hit a fresh intra-day low of 66.76 before ending at 66.68, revealing a sharp loss of 26 paise, or 0.39 per cent.
    The rupee briefly touched a high of 66.5275 during the day.
    Meanwhile, the dollar recovered against the yen, after North Korea's latest nuclear test pulled cash into the perceived safety of the Japanese currency.
    In other currency markets, the euro maintained its strong upward trend against other major currencies after the ECB kept its monetary policy unchanged on Thursday.
    The RBI fixed the reference rate for the dollar at 66.5462 and euro at 75.0242.
    In cross-currency trades, the rupee fell back modestly against the pound sterling to settle at 88.78 from 88.75 and dropped further against the euro to finish at 75.15 from 74.97 on Thursday.

Gold extends losses for second straight day, down Rs 150
  • Gold remained weak for a second day as the prices fell by Rs 150 to Rs 31,150 per ten grams at the bullion market today, on a weak trend overseas and easing demand from jewellers at the domestic spot market.
    Silver also cracked below the Rs 47,000-mark by plunging Rs 850 to Rs 46,150 per kg on reduced offtake by industrial units and coin makers.
    Traders said, besides weak trend overseas, a fall in demand from jewellers at the domestic spot market mainly kept gold prices lower.
    Overseas, gold fell 0.20 per cent to USD 1,335.50 an ounce and silver by 0.64 per cent to $19.45 in Singapore.
    In the national capital, gold of 99.9 and 99.5 per cent purity drifted further lower by Rs 150 each to Rs 31,150 and Rs 31,000 per ten grams, respectively. It had lost Rs 250 yesterday.
    Sovereign, however, remained steady at Rs 24,400 per piece of eight grams.
    Following gold, silver ready tumbled Rs 850 to Rs 46,150 per kg and weekly-based delivery by Rs 775 to Rs 46,540.

    Silver coins, however, remained steady at Rs 76,000 for buying and Rs 77,000 for selling of 100 pieces.

General Awareness

7 Indian Universities named in the QS World University Rankings 2016

    1. According to UK based ‘QS World University Rankings 2016’ survey, Seven Indian institutes have been listed in the top 400 educational institutions in the world. The top three spots were grabbed by,
      • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),
      • Stanford,
      • Harvard.
       The Ranking positions:
      • The rankings include 916 universities from 81 countries, with 33 countries featured in the Top 200.
      • The US dominate, with 48 institutions, ahead of theUK (30), Netherlands (12), Germany (11), Canada, Australia (9), Japan (8), China (7), France, Sweden and Hong Kong (5).
      • It is noted that Cambridge slipped out of the top three global universities for the first time.
      India’s position:
      Indian universities ranks namely,
      • Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Bombay – 219,
      • Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi – 185 from 179 in 2015,
      • Indian Institute of Science – 152 from 147 in 2015,
      • IIT Madras – 249,
      • IIT Kanpur – 302,
      • IIT Kharagpur – 313 and
      • IIT Roorkee – 399.
      Assessing Qualities:
      These rankings are based on four categories: research, teaching, employability and internationalization and the methodology consists of six indicators:
      • Academic reputation – 40 per cent,
      • Employer reputation – 10 per cent,
      • Faculty student ratio – 20 per cent,
      • Citations per faculty – 20 per cent,
      • International students – 5 per cent, and
      • International faculty – 5 per cent.

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