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Current Affairs - 7 October 2016

General Affairs 

Airports Authority Selects Purandar For International Airport Near Pune: Devendra Fadnavis
  • MUMBAI:  The Maharashtra government on Thursday gave a go-ahead for carrying out a detailed project report (DRP) for the greenfield international airport, which will come in Purandar tehsil of Pune district.

    The proposed airport will be spread over 2,400 hectares and the site has been already approved by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai on Thursday.

    Mr Fadnavis held a meeting with Maharashtra Airport Development Corporation (MADC) on the issue.

    "We decided to grant permissions for carrying out DPR as well as Obstacle Limitation Surface survey for the proposed site," the Chief Minister added.

    "Located near historic fort Purandar - the proposed airport would named as Chhatrapati Sambhajiraje International Airport", Mr Fadnavis said, adding post acquisition of land, the airport will commence within three years.

    "The site is around 15-20 km away from Pune city. Located on the south of the city, the proposed airport will be connected with six different routes including National Highway 4 and 17", he said.

    According to the Chief Minister, there will be a special ring-road connecting major industrial establishments with the proposed airport from Hadapsar area of Pune.

    Officials said some of these establishments include Chakan MIDC, several phases of Talegaon MIDC, Bhosari MIDC, having an annual economy of Rs. 30,000 crore and Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park, which has an average IT-export of over Rs. 50,000 crore every year.

    The IT and auto sectors were demanding a dedicated international airport with cargo facility for over a decade.

    When asked about earlier proposed sites like Chakan and Rajgurunagar, Mr Fadnavis said except Purandar no other site is approved by AAI.

    "Most of the farmers have expressed their willingness for the project. The farmers, whose land will be acquired for the project, will become partner in the airport developing company which will ensure some steady income source for them. This model has been used in the state earlier for land acquisition of (proposed) Navi Mumbai International Airport", the Chief Minister added.

    Officials said Purandar is an arid region with very low rainfall and most of the land is non-agricultural while in some areas farmers opt for kharif crops only.

Questions In Lok Sabha, And Their Answes, To Be Made Avialable Online
  • NEW DELHI:  All questions asked in the Lok Sabha, and the replies given to them, will now be made available online for everyone according to a direction by the Cabinet Secretariat. The decision was taken after the Lok Sabha secretariat complained about delays in the filing of replies to questions by central government ministries.

    Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha said: "Soft copies of replies to starred questions will be uploaded by 10 am on the day the questions are listed, so members can draft supplementary questions. Replies to un-starred questions will be uploaded immediately after Question Hour, at noon."

    Under existing rules hard copies of replies to all questions are required to be forwarded by the ministries or departments to the Lok Sabha secretariat by 3:00 pm a day before the question is listed in the parliament. The replies are also to be uploaded online - on - the next day.

    However, government ministries and departments often did not follow the rules, which is why the secretariat issued the new guidelines. Mr Sinha said that secretaries had been instructed to ensure "strict compliance" of the new rules from the forthcoming Winter Session, later this year.

    Ministers must reply to starred questions -- which are distinguished by an asterisk mark - themselves and legislators can also ask supplementary questions to starred questions. In case of un-starred questions, the minister does not need to answer the question orally, and there can be no follow-up questions.

Smriti Irani's Degree Case: Court Summons Documents From Election Panel
  • NEW DELHI:  A Delhi court today asked the Delhi State Election Commission to file certain records relating to Union Minister Smriti Irani's educational qualification, filed by her while contesting 2004 general elections, on a complaint alleging she had given false information in her affidavit given to the poll panel.

    Metropolitan Magistrate Harvinder Singh, who was expected to pronounce the order on whether to summon the politician as accused in the case, directed Election Commission officials to file the documents after noting that some clarifications were required in the matter.

    During earlier hearings of the complaint filed by freelance writer Ahmer Khan, the court was told by a poll panel official that the documents filed by Ms Irani regarding her educational qualification while filing nominations were not traceable. However, the information on this was available on its website, he had said.

    In pursuance to the court's earlier direction, Delhi University had also submitted that the documents pertaining to Ms Irani's BA course in 1996, as purportedly mentioned by her in an affidavit filed during 2004 Lok Sabha elections, were yet to be found.

    The court had on November 20 last year allowed the complainant's plea seeking direction to the officials of EC and DU to bring the records of Ms Irani's qualifications after he said he was unable to place them before the court.

    The complainant had alleged that Ms Irani had deliberately given discrepant information about her educational qualifications in affidavits filed before the poll panel in 2004, 2011 and 2014 and not given any clarification despite concerns being raised on the issue.

    Ahmer Khan had alleged that Ms Irani had knowingly furnished misleading information about her qualifications and that a candidate, deliberately giving incorrect details, could be punished under provisions of the IPC and under section 125A of the Representation of the People Act (RPA).

    Section 125A of RPA deals with penalty for filing false affidavit and entails a jail term of up to six months or fine or both.

BJP Assures Reservation To Marathas In Maharashtra
  • MUMBAI:  Amid campaign by Marathas across Maharashtra for reservation in government jobs and educational institutions, the ruling BJP today said it was committed to meeting the demand of the community without upsetting the existing OBC quota.

    A resolution seeking to provide reservation to the Maratha community was adopted on the second day of the party's state executive meeting in Mumbai.

    The resolution, moved by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil, was adopted, state BJP president Raosaheb Danve told reporters after the meeting.

    "BJP will provide 16 per cent reservation to Marathas in government jobs and educational institutions," Danve said. Asked about reservation for Muslims, he said there is no provision for quota on the basis of religion.

    During the meeting, Opposition Congress and NCP were criticised for "ignoring" Maratha community after using it as their vote bank for years.

    Promising that it would stand up to address grievances and demands raised by the community, BJP blamed Congress and NCP leadership for the situation in which the Maratha community finds itself.

    The resolution noted that the leadership of both the parties (Congress and NCP) had used the community as a vote bank.

    Before the 2014 state Assembly elections, the then Congress-NCP dispensation had approved 16 per cent reservation for Marathas and five per cent for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions. The decision, however, was challenged in the court, where it is pending.

    The "silent marches" taken out by the Maratha Kranti Morcha around Maharashtra to highlight their demands have elicited huge response, creating ripples in state politics. According to observers, all main parties -- BJP,

    Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP -- are unnerved by the turnout at the rallies, highlighting demands like reservation in job and educational institutions, though the immediate trigger being the rape and murder of a girl from the community at Kopardi in Ahmednagar.

    More than 20 rallies have already taken place across the state over the last one-and-a-half months.

    Danve had yesterday said that a resolution supporting the demand of Maratha reservations would be discussed and adopted at the state executive meeting. 
    He had rejected the allegation of Congress and NCP that BJP government could not present its stand on the Maratha quota before the High Court adequately.

    The previous Congress-NCP government issued the ordinance giving reservations to Marathas and Muslims with an eye on the Assembly polls, and that was the reason the ordinance did not stand up to the court's scrutiny, Danve had said.

    The resolution alleged that the Maratha community bore the brunt of corruption of Congress-NCP leaders in co-operative sector.

    It noted that the disenchantment of the community was due to lack of opportunities in employment and education. "The Congress-NCP leadership misused power for their own selfish benefits," the resolution charged.

    "The previous government announced quota for Marathas with an eye on Assembly polls in 2014 against the backdrop of the severe drubbing in Lok Sabha elections a few months earlier," the political resolution said, adding that BJP's "clear and definite" stand has been that the community should get reservation without impacting the existing set of quota.

    The resolution also said it was the endeavour of the BJP government to resolve grievances of all sections of the society.

    Condemning the rape and murder of a minor girl in Kopardi, it said the state government was doing everything possible to punish the culprits.

    In the political resolution, the executive committee highlighted the package worth Rs. 49,000 crore for Marathwada and said the development agenda would be followed in letter and spirit.

    The resolution blasted the opposition Congress-NCP for attempting to derail the development agenda by raising "unnecessary" issues.

    It said the good work of the BJP government will help the party to do well in the forthcoming local body polls. In the agriculture resolution, the party said the government is working on improving the farm productivity and good market price for the produce.

    "Roads, electricity and water are necessary for this and the government's efforts in this direction will show good results," it said.

'Time To Invest In India', Foreign Secretary Tells Japanese Businesses
  • NEW DELHI:  Japanese businesses should not expect the same returns from doing business in India, as the ones they are used to from doing business in other countries, foreign secretary S Jaishankar said today. Instead he advised companies to mold their expectations to India's ground realities.

    "India is India," he told heads of various Japanese businesses, adding that "a more educate, aware and localised investment approach would yield better results in India."

    "I won't defend everything which goes right or wrong. But it is important for Japanese companies to understand that their expectations must be grounded in the Indian reality," he said.

    The foreign secretary's comments come at a time when several Japanese companies - like Maruti and Toyota - are facing labour issues in India, even leading to temporary closure of a plant near Bengaluru.

    He reassured Japanese businesses that the government valued their partnership.

    "In India's growth story, Japan has a very unique role," he said.

    "I am not sure whether Japanese understand how Maruti-Suzuki changed India's mindset. And entire generation grew-up with that change. The next change came with the metro rail project. Today we expect the High-Speed Railway project to emerge as the third phase in changing India's mindset," he said.

    He also accepted that India had failed to fully exploit the opportunities that became available after India and Japan signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in 2013. However, he said, things had changed since.

    "We have gone out of the way to make special carve-out for Japan including business visa arrangement which is unique. It is important that today we aggressively push investments," he said.

    The bilateral trade between India and Japan stood at 14.51 billion dollars in 2015-16. India has received 20.96 billion dollars in Foreign Direct Investment from Japan between April 2000 and March 2016.

Business Affairs 

Sensex trades flat, Nifty holds above 8,700 on muted global cues, ONGC top gainer
  • The S&P BSE Sensex on Friday was trading flat, while the broader Nifty50 was hovering around its key support level of 8,700.
    The headline indices rallied tracking muted trend seen in Asian markets ahead of US job market data, which is seen as key to determine whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates before the end of the year.
    At 09:30 am, the 30-share index was trading at 28,141, up 35.23 points, while the broad-based 50-share index was quoting 8,718, up 8.80 points.
    "In today's session, 8,680 would be seen as immediate support. A move below this may drag the index lower to test 8,620-8,580 levels. On the flipside, intraday support is seen at 8,740-8,760 levels," said Angel Broking in a research note.
    ONGC stock was the top gainer on the Sensex and gained nearly 2 per cent on the BSE.
    Among Asian markets, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell over 100 points, while Japan's Nikkei was also ruling over 60 points lower. Chinese markets are closed for the week to observe national holiday.
    Overnight, Wall Street closed little changed even as declining names outnumbered advancers.

        Spectrum auction ends with bids worth Rs 65,789 cr in 5 days
        • Telecom spectrum auction ended on Thursday with bids worth Rs 65,789 crore over the last five days, a mere 40 per cent of the total worth of spectrum that was placed on the block.
          There were no takers for the expensive 700 Mhz and 900 Mhz bands during the course of the five days. The 700MHz band alone was expected to fetch Rs 4 lakh crore for the government.
          "Bids worth about Rs 65,789 crore were received at the end of 31 rounds for 965 Mhz of spectrum out of total 2,354.55 Mhz put for auction," official sources said.
          Around 60 per cent of mobile airwaves in value terms remained unsold in what was billed as the country's largest spectrum auction where Rs 5.63 lakh crore worth of spectrum was put up for sale from October 1.
          Earlier in the day, total bids had dipped a bit to about Rs 63,325 crore at the end of 26th round as compared to previous closing. Activity, however, picked up pace in the later rounds. Each round today was of 45-minute duration, unlike 60 minutes on the previous days.
          The bidding activity took place only in few circles with interest continuing to be largely around 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz that can be used by operators to provide 4G services.
          Industry also showed interest in 2100 Mhz (3G/4G) band, 2500 Mhz (4G) band and 800 Mhz (2G/4G) bands.
          The debt-ridden telecom industry was cautious in the auction and opted for low-priced spectrum that will help them improve mobile service quality as well offer next generation services in the world's second largest telecom market.
          As per rating agency ICRA, the consolidated debt level of the industry stood at around Rs 3,80,000 crore in December 2015 against Rs 2,90,000 crore in March 2014.

          Adoption of GST will boost India's medium-term growth: IMF
          • Asserting that India has shown that progress on reforms could "ignite" business investment, the IMF on Friday said the adoption of goods and services tax is poised to boost the country's medium-term growth.
            "India's strong reform push in 2016 is welcome and should continue apace. Adoption of the goods and services tax is poised to boost India's medium-term growth," the IMF said in its latest Asia Pacific regional economic update.
            Greater labour market flexibility and product market competition remain essential to create jobs and raise growth.
            Priorities also include effective implementation of the new corporate debt restructuring mechanisms, it said.
            "As shown by India, progress on reforms could ignite business investment (including already strong FDI inflows), further boosting domestic demand," the IMF said.
            Over the medium term, a number of Asian economies stand to benefit from a demographic dividend, as the working-age population in some economies like India and Indonesia continues to grow, potentially helping sustain strong potential growth.
            In its report, the IMF said India's GDP growth is projected at 7.6 per cent in both 2016/17 fiscal year (ending in March 2017) and 2017/18 fiscal year, up 0.1 percentage point relative to the April 2016 World Economic Outlook, a survey conducted and published by the IMF.
            The ongoing growth recovery remains braced by private consumption, it said.
            "Monsoon rainfall coming in at normal levels bodes well for agriculture and, along with a decennial rise in government employee salaries, will underpin the ongoing recovery in domestic demand," the IMF report said.
            "Further progress on reforms will boost sentiment, and the incipient recovery of private investment is expected to help broaden the sources of growth amid gradual fiscal consolidation and broadly neutral monetary policy," it said.
            "Medium-term growth has also been revised upward reflecting continued progress on structural reforms (constitutional amendment enabling implementation of the national goods and services tax, adoption of inflation targets, and removal of foreign direct investment (FDI) ceilings)," the report said.
            The IMF said India's growth has continued to benefit from the large improvement in the terms of trade, positive policy actions, including implementation of key structural reforms, gradual reduction of supply-side constraints, and a rebound in confidence.

            Consumption growth has remained strong and activity in core industrial sectors has picked up. Government consumption is set to continue to support growth in 2016, it noted.
            According to the report, in China, GDP growth is projected to remain relatively strong in the near term, helped by the fiscal stimulus on infrastructure spending. Overall, growth is projected to be 6.6 per cent in 2016 and 6.2 per cent in 2017 (0.1 percentage point higher for 2016 relative to the April 2016 WEO), reflecting fiscal stimulus and credit support.
            Both consumption and investment growth have been revised upward, while the contribution of net exports has been revised downward, as import growth is expected to accelerate amid stronger domestic demand.
            Medium-term growth has been revised down to 5.8 per cent from 6.2 per cent, reflecting rising vulnerabilities and slower progress on reining in credit growth and on state- owned-enterprise reform, it said.

          Reliance Jio acquires 269.2 Mhz spectrum for Rs 13,672 crore
          • Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has made committment of Rs 13,672 crore for 269.2 Mhz of airwaves in the spectrum auction that ended on Thursday.
            The company acquired spectrum in 800 Mhz, 1800 Mhz and 2300 Mhz bands across all the 22 service areas in the country, said Jio, which launched its 4G services last month.
            "We have expanded our spectrum footprint thereby significantly enhancing capacity of our all-IP data strong network and ensuring world class services for all Indians. Jio is committed to taking India to global digital leadership by bringing the power of data to all Indians," Mukesh D Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries said in a statement.
            The company, last month, announced that it will offer free voice for life for its subscribers while the data would be charged at a fraction of the prevailing market rates, a move that prompted other operators to slash data prices and led to a fierce data tariff war in the telecom sector.
            Interestingly, during the auction most of the action was seen in the 1800 Mhz and 2300 Mhz bands - both of which can be used for delivering 4G services.
            Reliance Jio bought spectrum worth Rs 3,623 crore in 800 Mhz band, of worth Rs 2,154 crore in 1800 Mhz band and of about Rs 7,895 crore in 2300 Mhz band, taking the grand total to Rs 13672 crore.
            In the 800 Mhz band - which is generally used for 2G and 4G services - the company acquired airwaves in Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan and UP East. In the, 1800 Mhz band, it secured spectrum in Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, UP and West Bengal circles.
            In the 2300 Mhz band - used for 4G services - it secured airwaves in circles except Haryana, J&K, Punjab, Rajasthan and UP.
            "RJIL has renewed its expiring spectrum in 800 MHz band in Gujarat circle and purchased additional spectrum in the 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands at 6.5 per cent premium to reserve price," the company said.
            Through this acquisition, the company's total spectrum footprint has now increased to 1,108 MHz with an average life of over 16 years, it added.

            RBI official lambasts digital wallet firms on KYC norms
            • A senior Reserve Bank official on Thursday lambasted prepaid payment instrument (PPI) providers for laxity in meeting KYC norms, saying it is leading to opacity in the movement of funds.
              PPIs are creating wallets "automatically" without proper consent from customers, said Nanda Dave, chief general manager overseeing the payments and settlement systems at the central bank.
              Dave was speaking at a Payment Council of India event here.
              A majority of players in the segment use the 'minimum details' or the 'no-KYC' (know your customer) wallet while onboarding a customer, she said.
              "The customer is being identified by his or her mobile number, period. And such wallets have been used for routing money which has been fraudulently taken from bank accounts," the RBI official said.
              She wondered whether a "conduit" is being provided by not having necessary details of the end use of funds. "When we have no details of customers with us, it is very difficult to even trace where that money has gone," she said.
              It can be noted that following repeated terror attacks across the world, regulators have increased KYC requirements to trace both the source and end use of funds.
              Banks are routinely fined for overlooking such critical aspects.
              Dave, however, admitted that PPIs are "subject to very light regulations" with low entry barriers which have seen "mushrooming" of many entities.
              Flagging protection from frauds and monitoring as an issue, Dave said the RBI's "suasion" has not worked.
              "We forced then to come out with rules and guidelines," she said.
              She also came down heavily on PPIs for targeting the same affluent class, which does not help the agenda of getting more people into the formal financial system.
              "Are we all following the same customers or are we bringing unique, new customers onto our platforms or services? It appears that more and more players are targeting customers who are already aware of banks or have some choices," she said.
              Terming "financial inclusion" as a "magical" word, Dave said it facilitates players to cater to many segments.
              She also made the RBI's displeasure public on PPIs being used only for jobs like remittances and recharges and not for merchant purchases as much.
              The central bank also has concerns over outsourcing of back-end work to a select few parties and also mis-selling by PPIs, she said.
              The RBI has stopped issuing licences to new PPIs after its disappointment with the existing ones for lack of differentiation, she said.
              "In the past few years, we have 50-odd non-banks and equal number of banks issuing wallets. You can't differentiate one from the other. Some will advertise more, some will give discounts, but very few have brought in innovative ways to reach to customers," she said, adding a review on it is underway.
              Dave, however, affirmed that the RBI is committed to ensuring that the industry grows.

            General Awareness

            Union Government Approvals – October 5 2016

            • Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approves bill, agreements and MoUs between different nations on October 5 2016.
              Cabinet approves amendement bill related to HIV/AIDS
              The Cabinet approved amendments to the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014 in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The bill makes antiretroviral treatment a legal right of HIV/AIDS patients.
              • The HIV and AIDS Bill, 2014 has been drafted to safeguard the rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV.
              • The provisions of the Bill seek to address HIV-related discrimination, strengthen the existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.
              • The Bill seeks to prevent and control the spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS, provides for informed consent and confidentiality with regard to their treatment, places obligations on establishments to safeguard rights of persons living with HIV arid create mechanisms for redressing complaints.
              • The Bill also aims to enhance access to health care services by ensuring informed consent and confidentiality for HIV-related testing, treatment and clinical research.
              • The bill, which was introduced in the last days of the UPA government, was revived by the present government. In July, a Group of Ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had met to smoothen out kinks in the bill, as pointed out by a parliamentary standing committee. 
              India signs MoU with AARDO, will help member nations enhance rural development sector
              The Union Cabinet gave its approval for the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and African-Asian Rural DevelopmentOrganisation (AARDO) for capacity building programmes in the rural development sector.
              • AARDO is an autonomous, inter-governmental organization formed to promote cooperation among countries in the African-Asian region and eradicate thirst, hunger, illiteracy, disease and poverty in the region.
              • The programmes will be organised in institutes such as the National Institute of Rural Developmentand Panchayati Raj (NIRD and PR), Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and institutions governed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
              • The MoU for the triennium 2015-2017 is being signed, under which capacity building programmes for AARDO member countries will be organised every year during the triennium at various institutions of excellence in India.
              Cabinet approves India-EU MoU on water cooperation
              The Union Cabinet  gave its approval for the signing of MoU between India and European Union in the field of water resources.
              • The MoU envisages strengthening the technological, scientific and management capabilities of India and the European Union in the field of water management on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
              • It provides technical exchange on water issues, including on integrated water resource management plans within river basins and through study visits.
              • It envisions a more sustainable management of water resources in India with an objective of tackling the challenges posed by water management in the context of growing population, competing water demands and a changing climate
              • The MoU aims to identify key environmental issues and approaches to sustainable development where exchange of experiences and cooperation could be mutuallybeneficial to strengthen and further develop cooperation between India and the European Union in the field of water management.
              Government clears ONGC’s extra 11 percent stake buy in Russia’s Vankor fields
              The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Wednesday gave its nod to the acquisition of 11 per cent stake in Russia’s Vankor oil fields by ONGC Videsh Ltd(OVL) from Rosneft Oil Company for $930 million, which will take its overall stake in the project to 26 per cent.
              • The latest move brings the investment by Indian companies in Russia’s east Siberian fields to $5.5 billion, aiding the country’s sanctions-hit economy.
              • The overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) had last year bought 15 per cent stake in the field for $1.268 billion. The acquisition of stake in Vankorneft will provide 3.2 million metric ton of oil equivalent (MMTOE) to OVL by 2017.
              • It is noted that the Cabinet also approved HLL Lifecare Ltd, a miniratna PSU under ministry of health and family welfare to sub- lease 330.10 acres of land at Chengalpattu, located in the outskirts of Chennai, to setup a medical devices manufacturing park (Medipark) through a special purpose Vehicle.

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