Current Affairs Current Affairs - 20 October 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 20 October 2016

General Affairs 

Ceasefire Violation In Rajouri-Poonch Sector By Pak Troops
  • JAMMU:  Pakistani troops on Wednesday violated ceasefire in Rajouri-Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir, shelling Indian positions with mortar bombs and using automatic arms.

    "There was unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan in Bhimber Gali (BG) Sector from 1630 hours today," PRO Defence said.

    The Pakistani troops used small arms, automatic weapons and 82 mm mortars bombs to target Indian positions, he said.

    Indian troops responded appropriately and befittingly, the PRO said, adding there were no casualties till last reports came in.

    This was the 30th ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir since the Indian army carried out surgical strikes in PoK to destroy terror launching pads.

    On Tuesday , the Pakistani troops fired 82 mm mortar bombs, used small and automatic weapons in firing on Indian forward posts in Laam Battalion area in Naushera from 2030 hours to 0130 hours.

    Indian troops retaliated and gave befitting reply, he said, adding no one was injured in the ceasefire violation. On October 16, Pakistani troops violated ceasefire twice along LoC in Naushera and Rajouri sectors in which one jawan was killed.

Aung San Suu Kyi Says India An Inspiration, Hails Indo-Myanmar Friendship
  • NEW DELHI:  Hailing India's diversity and pluralism, Myanmar's iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi today invoked Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, saying people of her country drew huge inspiration from the two Indian greats in their yearning for democracy.

    Ms Suu Kyi, who led her National League for Democracy to wrest power from the military junta in a historic election earlier this year, said the new government wants to significantly deepen engagement and expand existing cooperation with India, asserting that the intention is to "depend on each other".

    "In our struggle for democracy, we have been helped greatly by the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. The two great leaders of Indian Independence movement have inspired with their vision and with their belief," Ms Suu Kyi said in her press statement in presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    PM Modi held extensive talks with her covering entire expanse of bilateral ties, signalling the importance she holds in Myanmar's polity and government though she is the State Councillor and Foreign Minister.

    Describing her visit here as "happy and extremely fulfilling", Ms Suu Kyi said the visit has confirmed the "long-standing friendship and trust" that exist between the two countries.

    She said "very very" wide range of subjects were covered in her talks with PM Modi.

    "It is our intention to engage more closely together, to depend on each other," she said.

    Her comments were seen as allaying apprehension here that Myanmar was getting close to China which has been increasing its footprint in that country and making huge investments in several major projects there.

    "We as a nation struggling to make democratic culture take root in our country, we believe India will be able to help us. We are going to be cooperating in areas of construction, energy, culture and education," she said.

    Referring to her meeting with top business leaders, Ms Suu Kyi said she urged them to invest in "trust" so that trade can flourish.

    "We have much to do. We are behind India in the field of development and in the field of politics. But we are confident that we will be able to make up for the lost time," she said.

    Observing that Myanmar was much ahead of many other countries in South Asia a few decades ago, she said, "Things change, life changes unexpectedly but with good friends and with commitment and endeavour on our side, we are confident of making up."

    Ms Suu Kyi said her aim now was to bring peace and stability to Myanmar and to the region and beyond.

    "We have been trying to bring peace to our country for decades. We hope that time has come for us to be able to say we have made the breakthrough and we are now firmly set on the path to a union, that will be a union which will be just to people."

    "For this too we look up to India with its experience of federalism, to teach us how we bring all our people into the process and to be part of our search for peace, stability and enduring federalism," she said.

    Talking about India's spiritual resources, she said the country's pluralism and federal structure were inspiration to Myanmar.

    "We always admired India as the greatest democracy in the world and for being able to maintain the system despite many challenges that have raised their heads since Independence," she said.

Month-Long Winter Session To Begin On November 16
  • NEW DELHI:  The Winter Session of Parliament will commence on November 16 and is likely to end on December 16, it was officially announced today.

    This will be the 10th Session of 16th Lok Sabha and 241st Session of Rajya Sabha.

    "The Tenth Session of Sixteenth Lok Sabha will commence on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. Subject to exigencies of government business the Session is likely to conclude on Friday, December 16, 2016," a statement from the Lok Sabha Secretariat said.

    A similar communique was issued by Rajya Sabha Secretary General Shamsher K Sheriff.

    The Session dates have been advanced this time since in the past it was normally convened in the third or fourth week of November.
    The recent surgical strikes in PoK are expected to grab limelight during the month-long Session. Some parties have alleged that the government is trying to politicise it.

    The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affair (CCPA) that had met in New Delhi on October 13 and recommended that the Parliament session should commence from November 16 and end on December 16.

    An early Session may help the Central GST (CGST) and Integrated GST (IGST) legislations, which will pave way for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), to be approved within November or latest by early December.

    The government is also considering advancing the Budget Session by a month and it expected to start in the end of January next year.

    Sources in the government said besides legislations relating to GST, around a dozen new bills are likely to be introduced.

Only 3 Odisha's Hospitals Meet Fire Safety Norm: Human Rights Commission
  • NEW DELHI:  Only three of Odisha's 568 hospitals have fire safety clearance, the National Human Rights Commission said today and issued a notice to the state government over the fire incident at a hospital in Bhubaneswar which has left 21 people dead so far.

    The Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that at least 21 people died and more than 100 others were injured in the blaze that broke out at the SUM Hospital and Medical College on Monday evening.

    "In Odisha, out of 568 hospitals, only three have clearance of the department of fire safety," the NHRC said in a statement today.

    The Commission has issued the notice to the Odisha government's Chief Secretary and sought a report in the matter within six weeks, including on the relief and rehabilitation efforts for the next of kin of the deceased and the injured, an NHRC official said.

    "He has also been asked to inform about the steps or precautions taken or proposed to be taken by the state government to prevent recurrence of such mishaps," the official said.

    The Commission has observed that "callous attitude" and "lapses of the authorities", if any, amount to violation of right to life of the patients, and expressed shock as to how the state authorities "allowed" such a large number of hospitals to function without proper fire safety clearance.

    The NHRC has also observed that reportedly the hospital in question was warned as early as in 2013 for not having adequate safety measures but the hospital authorities "ignored" it.

    The Director General of Fire Service in Odisha Binay had Behera yesterday submitted a report to the state government on the fire that reportedly started in the Operation Theatre of the Dialysis Ward and spread to ICU and nearby wards.

    Behera has mentioned in the report that fire safety norms as per the 2013 guidelines were not followed by the hospital authorities, a government official said.

    "40 patients in a critical condition were admitted to different hospitals," the statement said.

    Detecting serious lapses in safety measures, Union Health Minister JP Nadda, who inspected the fire-ravaged hospital, today said all those responsible for the incident should be punished.

    The state government has ordered a high-level probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training, into the incident.

Majority Of Indian-Americans Prefer Hillary Clinton Over Donald Trump: Survey
  • WASHINGTON:  Majority of Indian-Americans prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump as their choice for the next US President when it comes to issues of immigration, religious freedom and outsourcing, a Silicon Valley-based think tank has said.

    However, the New York-based billionaire has an edge over Clinton when it comes to India-specific foreign policy of the United States and the fight against terrorism, the Indian-American think-tank said yesterday quoting its recent survey.

    Most of the respondent preferred Clinton over Trump on immigration (59 to 29 perc ent), religious freedom (67 to 27 per cent), outsourcing (52 to 22 per cent) and trust issues (40 to 17 per cent), the Foundation of India and Indian Diaspora Studies ( said while releasing the results of the survey carried out on Indian-Americans about their opinions on the two US presidential candidates.

    Trump faired little better against Clinton over terrorism (48 to 43 per cent) and India specific strategic alliances (47 to 40 per cent) with respect to countries like Pakistan, China, Russia among others.

    FIIDS is a US think-tank based working on dialogues and research related socio, economic and geo-political issues and policy matters related to India and the Indian diaspora.

    An overwhelming majority of the respondents were naturalized citizens (89 per cent) and male (82 per cent). 

Business Affairs 

Sensex surges over 100 points to reclaim 28,000, Nifty nears 8,700 on positive global cues

  • The S&P BSE Sensex on Thursday rose over 100 points to reclaim its crucial 28,000 level, while the broader Nifty50 was heading towards its key 8,700 level.
    The headline indices advanced after Asian Markets propelled by strong US earnings and oil prices nearing a 15-month high, as the third and final US presidential debate before the November 8 election ended.
    At 9:20 AM, The 30-share index was trading at 28,106, up 121.82 points, while the broad-based 50-share index was ruling at 8,694 up 35.60 points.
    "The intraday supports for the Nifty index are placed around 8,615 and 8,575 whereas resistances are seen around 8,710 and 8,746," said Angel Broking in a research note." said Angel Broking in a report.  
    ONGC was the top gainer on Sensex while Idea was the top gainer on the Nifty.
    Among the Asian Markets, China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.09 per cent and the Hang Seng Index lost 0.72 per cent while Japan's Nikkei gained 1.03 per cent.
    US stocks notched a second straight day of gains on Wednesday, as climbing oil prices lifted the energy sector and earnings from Morgan Stanley provided a boost to financials.

    How Modi govt plans to smarten up railway stations in smart cities

    • THE Union Urban Development Ministry has joined hands with the Indian Railways for the development of railway stations in smart cities as planned by the Centre.
      The ministry and Railways will work together with agencies like the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), state governments and municipal bodies to create transportation hubs around railway stations that will accommodate all modes of local transport.
      These transit-oriented hubs will be spread over nearly 500 acres. An estimated Rs1,500 crore will be spent on the redevelopment of stations in the 60 cities that have been listed as smart cities.
      The proposed redevelopment involving railway stations envisages improving passenger amenities, easy access to stations, integrated public transport hub, waiting halls and other amenities for passengers, development of residential and commercial spaces and landscaping. With funding of the project being a key concern, the Railways is seeking monetary assistance from foreign bankers.

      Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that a round-table meeting with domestic and overseas bankers will be held next week to explore financing options for these projects. Countries like Germany, Japan, UK, France, South Korea and Belgium are likely to participate in the conference.
      "Railway stations and adjoining areas will be redeveloped on smart city lines for enhancing passenger amenities and easy access to stations. Optimal utilisation of land at railway stations, as a part of smart city development will also be ensured," said Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu, after signing an MoU with the Railway Ministry.
      To begin with, 10 cities would be taken up for the proposed redevelopment with the involvement of NBCC, which has successfully executed redevelopment projects on self-financing basis in the past. These include Sarai Rohilla in Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Lucknow, Varanasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Madgaon (Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry.
      As per the MoU, Railways will be responsible for forming joint ventures. The Urban Development Ministry will work with state governments and urban local bodies for integrating railway station redevelopment as part of smart city development plans. Prabhu said redevelopment of railway stations would primarily aim at decongestion of stations that would revamp the city landscape.

      Airtel launches another mega-data plan, now get 10GB for Rs 259

      • The entry of Reliance Jio in the telecom sector was clearly a positive disruptor for the customers. Right after the launch of the Jio network to the public, incumbents like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone responded to the competition by launching new offers at competitive prices.
        Bharti Airtel, one of the leading telecom companies in the country, has released another major 4G plan for its new subscribers. To retain the market share, the telecom company is consistently launching new 4G plans as a response to the newly launched Reliance Jio.  According to this new plan, users who own a new 4G capable smartphone can get 10GB of 4G data at a price of Rs 259.  
        To avail the offer, the user will have to subscribe to an Airtel service within 30 days of the new smartphone's purchase and recharge their account with Rs 259. According to the official website, the user will imideately get 1GB of $G data right after the recharge and the rest of the 9GB can be availed by downloading the MyAirtel app and claiming the additional data.
        Each user will be able to use this particular plan thrice within a period of 90 days and the validity for each recharge will be 28 days.
        Similar to Airtel, Vodafone had also released a 10GB 4G data plan which has a similar period and validity. Clearly, Jio's launch has triggered a war of tariffs in the telecom sector. The three months of unlimited data has seen a lot  of consumers shifting to the new network. Most of these new plans are for limited time and might get revised once Jio switches to paid data.
        Airtel and Vodafone reduced their data costs by almost 80 percent since the launch of Jio and other companies like Idea and BSNL have also pulled up their sleeves with new 3G data plans that are more than 60 percent cheaper than what they offered a couple of months back.

      Air India reduces debt by Rs 5,000 crore last fiscal

      • Air India, which has turned operationally profitable after a decade, has shaved off debt of over Rs 5,000 crore from its balance sheet, a senior airline official said.
        As it works towards becoming fully profitable ahead of its schedule under the 10-year turnaround plan, the carrier has brought down its debt to around Rs 46,000 crore at the end of March this year.
        "We have phased out more than Rs 5,000 crore debt from the books in the last fiscal and it now stands at around Rs 46,000 crore," a top Air India official said.
        The airline had a total debt of Rs 51,367.07 crore at the end of 2014-15 fiscal.
        Of the Rs 46,000 crore debt, the official said Rs 28,000 crore are short term loans and the rest are long-term borrowings.
        The airline is staying afloat on a Rs 30,231 crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA government in 2012 for a period of up to March 31, 2021.
        Earlier this year, the government had informed Parliament that Air India had a total debt burden of Rs 51,367.07 crore as on March 31, 2015.
        This amount includes Rs 22,574.09 crore outstanding on account of aircraft loans and the remaining amount comprises working capital, the government had said.
        For the first since the merger of Indian Airlines with itself, Air India has reported an operating profit of Rs 105 crore in 2015-16 on the back of lower fuel costs and higher passenger numbers.
        It had an operating loss of Rs 2,636 crore in 2014-15.
        A fall of nearly 31 per cent in fuel costs in the last financial year compared to the year-ago period was a key factor in the airline becoming operationally profitable.
        Sources had said the airline's net loss after interest declined to Rs 3,837 crore in the last fiscal, from Rs 5,859 crore in 2014-15.

        Rupee gets off to a bumpy start against dollar on Thursday

        • The rupee on Thursday got off to a bumpy start as it tumbled 3 paise to 66.71 against the US dollar after demand for the American currency from importers went up.
          Forex dealers said fresh demand for the US unit and its gains against the euro and other currencies overseas ahead of a closely-watched European Central Bank meeting pulled the rupee down, but a relatively strong opening of the domestic equity market minimised the loss.
          Yesterday, the rupee had closed 5 paise higher at 66.68 against the US dollar on sustained selling of the American currency by banks and exporters.
          Meanwhile, the benchmark BSE Sensex traded higher by 216.80 points, or 0.77 per cent, at 28,201.17 in early trade today.

        General Awareness

        Indian Navy commissions INS Tihayu

        • Indian Navy has commissioned INS Tihayu, a Car Nicobar Class water jet fast attack craft (WJFAC). It was commissioned by the Flag-Officer-Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command Vice-Admiral H.C.S. Bisht in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. About INS Tahiyu
          INS Tahiyu is the sixth WJFAC Car Nicobar Class vessel to be commissioned and allotted to the Eastern Fleet of the Indian Navy. It has been built by Kolkata-based shipyard Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE). Overall, INS Tahiyu is the 20th vessel in this class to be built by the shipyard. INS Tahiyu weighs 315-tonne and can achieve a top operating speed of 35 knots per hour. It is an improved version of the earlier vessels. It has been fitted with three water jet propulsion systems, powered by marine diesel engines generating 2720 KW of power. It also has been loaded with an indigenously-built 30 mm CRN gun, an assorted variant of machine guns and shoulder-launched IGLA surface to air missile.

          What are Car Nicobar Class WJFACs?
           The Car Nicobar class water jet fast attack crafts are high-speed offshore patrol vessels built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) for the Indian Navy. The class and its vessels are named after Car Nicobar island part of Andaman and Nicobar They are the first water jet propelled vessels of the Indian Navy. The vessels are designed by GRSE as a cost-effective platform for patrol, anti-piracy and rescue operations in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

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