Current Affairs Current Affairs - 13 December 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 13 December 2016

General Affairs 

Digital payment: 0.75 per cent discount on fuel to kick in from Dec 13
  • A discount of 0.75 per cent on petrol and diesel will kick-in from midnight tonight on fuel purchases made using digital payment. The discount will start from midnight tonight and would be by way of cash back which will be credited to the buyer’s account in three days from the transaction, said Indian oil Corp, the nation’s largest fuel retailer.
    The 0.75 per cent discount on payments made using either credit/debit cards, e-wallets or mobile wallets will translate into a rebate of 49 paisa a litre on petrol and 41 paisa on diesel. Petrol is currently sold at Rs 66.10 per litre in Delhi while a litre of diesel costs Rs 54.57. The “discount will be credited to customer’s account by way of cash back within maximum three working days of the transaction,” IOC said in a statement here.
    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had last week announced a raft of measures including discounts on online payments for insurance policies, rail tickets and highway toll charges as the government looked to promote digital cash post demonetisation.
    “As a part of these initiatives, to promote cashless transactions Government of India has announced to incentivise petrol/diesel customers transacting at PSU petrol pumps by way of 0.75 per cent discount when a customer uses Debit/Credit Cards, Mobile Wallets and Prepaid Loyalty Cards,” the statement said.

4 killed in Tamil Nadu; NDRF teams conduct rescue operations
  • Accompanied by heavy rains and high-velocity winds, Cyclone Vardah pounded Chennai and the coastal districts of north Tamil Nadu on Monday killing four people in  the state. The cyclone has caused severe destruction by uprooting trees, damaging houses, disrupting power services, land and air transport and throwing normal life out of gear. Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam said, “Rs 4 lakh each will be given to family members of those who died due to Cyclone Vardah from the state disaster relief fund.”
    The cyclone reportedly killed four people in the state and led to evacuation of thousands of people from low-lying areas. The government deployd 7 NDRF teams and 2 each of SDRF and Army columns, who were conducting the necessary rescue operations. Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, spoke to Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam and enquired about the situation in the aftermath of Cyclone Vardah crossing Chennai and Tiruvallur.
    The government has issued high red alert. SriLankan Airlines said all its Chennai-bound flights were cancelled till Tuesday morning after authorities issued a red alert due to severe cyclonic storm “Vardah” which made a landfall in Tamil Nadu. The services at the Chennai Airport has been suspended till 9 pm on Monday.
    The storm will cross over in the next few hours, after which it will move westward and is likely to emerge in Arabian sea on December 14. The cyclone will turn into ‘cyclonic storm’ in the next 3-4 hours, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD).  Earlier, the cyclone was termed as a very severe cyclone, said IMD. Tamil Nadu, which is receiving heavy rainfall, has been under alert for the last ten days.
    Schools and colleges in Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur have also been ordered to remain close on Monday. Fishermen were also asked to not venture out into the sea since November 30. The cyclone, which originated in southern Thailand, has claimed about a dozen lives there and is now moving towards India. Earlier, tourists at Andaman and Nicobar islands were stranded there because of sudden change in the weather. They were later rescued by the Indian Navy.
    National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) DG, RK Pachnanda, has said that they are closely monitoring the situation and teams have been propositioned to act swiftly if any untoward incident takes place. The Tamil Nadu government has said that 7357 people have been evacuated to 54 relief centres safely so far.

Is Raj Thackeray running parallel government, asks Congress
  • Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam on Monday said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis should make it clear if MNS chief Raj Thackeray is running a “parallel government” in the state. “(Actor) Shah Rukh Khan meets Raj seeking permission for release of his film “Raees”. Who is Raj Thackeray that film makers and artists are seeking his permission rather than that of the Censor board?…Is Raj Thackeray running a parallel government? Fadnavis should clarify,” Nirupam said.
    “Ensuring smooth release of a film and maintenance of law and order is the job of the state government. Currently some people are indulging in extortion in the guise of patriotism.
    “The state government is supporting such elements and Fadnavis is deliberately creating fear about Raj Thackeray in the minds of citizens,” the Congress leader said.
    The earlier Congress-led government in Maharashtra had ensured a smooth release of Shah Rukh Khan’s film “My Name Is Khan” when Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt its screenings, Nirupam pointed out.
    MNS, which is opposed to Pakistani artistes working in India today said that Shah Rukh assured party chief Raj Thackeray yesterday, that Pakistani actor Mahira Khan, who features in his upcoming “Raees”, will not promote the film in India.

Rs 2000 notes to be phased out in next few years: RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy
  • According to RSS ideologue and renowned chartered accountant S Gurumurthy the new Rs 2,000 notes will be phased out over the next few years. In an exclusive interview to India Today, Gurumurthy said the Rs 2,000 note was introduced only as a bridge to meet the gap in cash being taken out of circulation.

    He added that high denomination notes would be done away within the next five years as the government was committed to moving towards smaller denomination notes.
    In a bid to weed out black money, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November announced scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and introduction of new Rs 2000 and Rs 500 notes.

Shiv Sena asks PM Modi to follow Donald Trump’s lead, act against Pak artistes
  • Shiv Sena on Monday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a cue from US President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to protect jobs for ‘sons of the soil’ and act against Pakistani artistes ‘snatching’ jobs from Indians in the country. “Pakistani artistes, technicians and TV people come to India to earn money, while touting words like friendship and ties. They snatch away livelihood of locals here.

    “Can India implement a policy like Trump and say that these Pakistanis won’t get a job here and also declare that those who give work to Pakistanis are the enemies of India,” an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana said.
    President-elect Trump had recently said that he would not allow Americans to be replaced by foreign workers, in an apparent reference to cases like that of Disney World and other American companies wherein people hired on H-1B visas, including Indians, displaced US workers.
    “What someone like Trump…can do, our PM, who is known as courageous and knowledgeable, can certainly do,” the Sena said.
    The Sena claimed that Trump seems to have been inspired by Balasaheb Thackeray on his slogan of ‘jobs in the US for sons of soil only’.
    India is going to bear the maximum impact of Trump’s stance and it should be seen how Modi government deals with it by talking to Trump, the editorial said.
    Incidentally, Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan called upon MNS chief Raj Thackeray on Sunday ahead of his upcoming film ‘Raees’, which features Pakistani actress Mahira Khan.
    The issue of Pakistani artists created a storm this year after the MNS objected to casting of actors from the neighbouring country in Bollywood movies citing their involvement in terrorist attacks in India.

    In October, the MNS had staged high-voltage protests against the release of filmmaker Karan Johar’s ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ for featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. But they later withdrew it after assurances from the film fraternity following ‘mediation’ by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to calm tempers.

Business Affairs 

Sensex plunges 232 points after Trump’s blunt talk, oil surge
  • The market showed its unpredictable side again as the flagship Sensex reversed two days of gains and dived about 232 points to close at 26,515 today, pulled down by dismal factory output data and higher oil prices amid mixed Asian indicators.
    The nervousness was palpable as investors looked forward to the release of CPI inflation, to be released on Tuesday. Wholesale inflation is due on Wednesday. The broader NSE Nifty cut a sorry figure too, which cracked below the 8,200-mark.
    Sentiment soured as IT stocks were hit hard by some blunt talk from US President-elect Donald Trump on visas while state-owned oil marketing companies declined after crude prices shot up to their highest since mid-2015.
    Globally, oil prices soared today following a landmark deal by Russia and other non-OPEC producers to join the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in capping output in a bid to curb oversupply that has hammered prices down.
    Benchmark Brent for February contracts went up USD 2.41 to USD 56.74 per barrel in Asian trade. A higher oil price means more cost outgo for Indian oil companies.

    The move marks the first time non-OPEC members have struck a deal since 2001 and follows a similar agreement by OPEC last month.
    The Sensex stayed in the negative zone throughout the day and touched a low of 26,468.59 before ending lower by 231.94 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 26,515.24. The index had gained 510.31 points in the previous two sessions.
    The 50-share NSE Nifty slipped below the 8,200-mark to touch a low of 8,154.45, but settled at 8,170.80, down 90.95 points, or 1.10 per cent.
    The forex market was closed for a holiday. Data on Friday showed that industrial output slipped into the negative zone again with a contraction of 1.9 per cent in October, mainly due to a sharp decline in production of capital goods and poor show of the manufacturing sector.
    Infosys fell as much as 1 per cent while Wipro shed 0.72 per cent, but TCS inched up 0.58 per cent. Shares of the fuel retailers such as HPCL, BPCL and IOC faced selling pressure and slumped by up to 4.25 per cent.
    To reverse a dramatic fall in income, Russia and 10 other non-OPEC states on Saturday said they will reduce their production by more than half a million barrels per day (bpd).
    Asian Paints emerged as the top loser among the Sensex constituents by diving 3.33 per cent followed by Axis Bank at 2.56 per cent. Other big losers included Bajaj Auto 2.52 per
    cent, Hero MotoCorp (2.29 per cent), Tata Motors (2.05 per cent), M&M (1.77 per cent) and Maruti Suzuki (1.54 per cent). In terms of sectors, auto fell the most by declining 1.73 per cent followed by banking 1.67 per cent, FMCG 1.20 per cent and oil and gas 1.14 per cent.
    Mid-cap and small-cap indices fell 1.11 per cent and 0.73 per cent, respectively, as investors trimmed their exposure to book profits.
    Meanwhile, foreign funds bought shares net worth Rs 200.52 crore last Friday, as per the provisional data.
    In rest of Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 1.44 per cent as investors look ahead to an expected US interest rate hike later this week. China Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.47 per cent while Japan’s Nikkei surged 0.84 per cent, helped by weakness in the yen against the American currency. European markets, however, were in a better shape.
    London’s FTSE rose 0.22 per cent, Paris gained 0.17 per cent while Frankfurt’s DAX shed 0.17 per cent. Of the 30-share Sensex pack, 23 scrips ended lower.
    In addition to the uncertainties surrounding the impact of demonetisation, investors were concerned about a possible interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve as the key meeting kicks off tomorrow.
    “The market plunged due to a spurt in oil prices and its impact on India’s inflation band, which has elevated the pressure on equities,” said Vinod Nair, Head of Research,Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services. “The focus remains on US economic outlook and inflation, though investors are likely to view the event in conjunction with the policy stance of the newly-elected US President.” However, ONGC rose 1.43 per cent, followed by NTPC 0.82 per cent and TCS 0.58 per cent.
    The market breadth turned negative as 1,533 stocks ended lower, 1,097 closed higher while 148 ruled steady. The total turnover on BSE came in at Rs 2,102.26 crore, lower than Rs 2,399.56 crore during the previous trading session.

Indian manufacturing sector may improve in Oct-Dec: Ficci
  • India’s manufacturing sector may show growth improvement in the October-December quarter with a slightly better outlook for production, driven by better export prospects, according to a report.
    The proportion of respondents positive about growth rose to 63 per cent from 55 per cent in July-September, revealed Ficci’s latest quarterly survey on manufacturing.
    Those expecting a negative figure seem to be reducing, at just 11 per cent.
    However, manufacturing growth in India got dampened in November as the demonetisation move weighed on new work flows, buying activity and production while subdued inflationary pressure may prompt RBI to loosen policy, a monthly survey released earlier showed.
    The Nikkei Markit India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) — a gauge of manufacturing performance — fell to 52.3, down from October’s 22-month high of 54.4.

GST council meeting: Law Ministry says only Centre can control traders
  • The Law ministry has said only the central government can control traders under the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) law and State Governments should not be empowered to levy and collect IGST on inter-state sales and purchases. The opinion is bound to upset many states on the eve of another round of meetings of the GST Council. The law ministry’s opinion in favour of the central government will be a setback to states such as Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, and could be a stumbling block to GST. The proposal will be presented in the GST Council meeting scheduled on December 11 and 12.
    The ministry’s opinion has come at a time when all the states want power to control traders engaged in inter-state sales and purchases. The draft integrated GST law says only the central government will have administrative power over all traders engaged in inter-state sales. The meeting of the GST Council, headed by finance minister Arun Jaitley, held last week failed to reach a consensus on the contentious issue of control.
    The law ministry, in its opinion, which was accessed by The Indian Express, said: “It’s understood that the issue under examination is in respect of authorisation of state governments tax authorities to levy and collect IGST and not the distribution thereof. In this context, Clause (1) of Article 269A is very much clear in terms i.e. ‘goods and services tax on supplies in the course of inter-state trade or commerce shall be levied and collected by the Government of India’ and therefore, there appears no scope for assignment of powers to the state governments’ tax authorities in relation to levy and collection of IGST as it is the normal rule of construction that when a statute vests certain power in an authority to be exercised in a particular manner then the said authority has to exercise it only in the manner provided in the statute itself.”
    It is understood that states are unlikely to accept the law ministry’s opinion and will insist on control of traders by state authorities. While the finance ministry is set to go by the opinion of the law ministry, it’s to be seen whether some concessions will be granted so that GST can be rolled out.
    The bone of contention is how the small taxpayers — who, under the existing regime, are largely with the states — will be administered. The states want exclusive control on businesses with turnover below Rs 1.5 crore (the current threshold for central excise), including the service taxpayers, who are close to 30 lakh in number. The Centre is inclined to give the states exclusive right to assess goods suppliers up to Rs 1.5 crore, but is firm that the service tax assessees should remain under its sole control at least in the initial years. The states don’t have the competence to deal with service tax, which the Centre has acquired over the last 22 years, officials said.

Govt to seek legal view on joining RIL arbitration
  • Government is considering joining the arbitration initiated by Reliance Industries and its partners against a $ 1.55 billion demand raised on them for “unfairly enriching” by producing natural gas belonging to ONGC. RIL and its partners BP Plc of the UK and Canada’s Niko Resources had on November 11 brought an arbitration notice against the government, disputing the USD 1.55 billion demand.
    “We have received the notice and are studying it. We will take an opinion of the law ministry on joining the arbitration,” a senior oil ministry official said. Under the dispute resolution mechanism set out in the production sharing contract (PSC), an arbitration notice over a dispute has to be followed up within six months by naming arbitrators.
    So, RIL and its partners have time till May 10 to name an arbitrator for the dispute. The government will thereafter name its arbitrator and the two will then decide on a presiding judge of the three-member arbitration panel. Often, the two do not agree on the presiding arbitrator and the matter over such appointment lands either at the International Court of Justice or the Supreme Court.
    “It is a long-drawn affair. If you are looking for a quick-fix solution, it won’t come so easy,” the official said.
    The oil ministry had on November 3 issued a notice to RIL, Niko and UK’s BP Plc seeking USD 1.47 billion for producing in the seven years ended March 31, 2016 about 338.332 million British thermal unit of gas that had seeped or migrated from the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation’s (ONGC) blocks into their adjoining KG-D6 in the Bay of Bengal.
    After deducting $ 71.71 million royalty paid on the gas produced and adding an interest at the rate of Libor plus 2 per cent, totalling $ 149.86 million, a total demand of USD 1.55 billion was made on RIL, BP and Niko.
    RIL is the operator of the KG-D6 block with 60 per cent interest while BP holds 30 per cent. The remaining 10 per cent is with Niko Resources.
    The Justice (retd) A P Shah Committee, in its August 28 report, concluded that there has been “unjust enrichment” to the contractor of the block KG-DWN-98/3 (KG-D6) due to production of the migrated gas from ONGC’s blocks KG-DWN-98/2 and Godavari PML.
    The government, the official said, has accepted the recommendations of the committee and consequently, it decided to claim restitution from RIL-BP-Niko for “the unjust benefit received and unfairly retained”.
    So, a notice was sent, he said, adding that the government is also pressing RIL to pay USD 174.9 million of additional profit petroleum after certain costs were disallowed because of KG-D6 output being lower than targets. The cost recovery issue is also being arbitrated separately.
    Originally, ONGC had sued RIL for producing gas that had migrated from its blocks KG-DWN-98/2 (KG-D5) and Godavari PML in the KG basin to adjoining KG-D6 block of RIL.
    Under direction of the Delhi High Court, the government had appointed a one-man committee under retired Justice A P Shah to go into the issue.

Govt to notify scheme for taxing black money holders this week
  • Government is likely to notify this week the scheme giving tax dodgers another chance to come clean by paying 50 per cent of tax on junked currency deposited in banks post demonetisation. The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) provides for 50 per cent taxes and surcharge on declarations of unaccounted cash deposited in banks. Declarants also have to park a quarter of the total sum in a non-interest bearing deposit for four years.
    The Department of Revenue will by the end of the week notify PMGKY 2016, which was a part of ‘The Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016’ and was approved by the Lok Sabha on November 29.
    “The notification will provide details as to how declarations are to be made (format) and the manner of paying taxes, whether in instalments or in full. It will also provide an end date to the PMGKY scheme,” an official said.
    ‘The Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016’ was introduced in the Lok Sabha as a Money Bill which necessarily does not require assent of the Upper House of Parliament.
    Constitution provides that that the Rajya Sabha is required to return a Money Bill passed by Lok Sabha within a period of 14 days from the date of its receipt. The period of 14 days is computed from the date of receipt of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, which is November 30 in this case.
    “The 14 day period comes to an end on December 14. After that it will be presented to the President for his assent and thereafter, will be notified this week,” the official added.
    The notification is also likely to specify that the disclosures in PMGKY scheme will ensure that no questions will be asked about the source of fund and there would be immunity from Wealth Tax, civil laws and other taxation laws. But there is no immunity from FEMA, PMLA, Narcotics and foreign Black Money Act.
    In a major assault on black money, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on November 8 announced demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 rupee notes and asked holders to deposit such notes in banks. Since then. people have been queueing up before the banks to deposit junked currencies.

    Since November 10, Rs 11.85 lakh crore in form of old 500 and 1,000 rupee notes have returned into the banking system. It was estimated that the now defunct notes constituted 86 per cent, or Rs 14.5 lakh crore, in circulation.

General Awareness

Madhya Pradesh Inaugurates First Crop Insurance Claim Distribution Programme

    • Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan on December 10, 2016, inaugurated the programme to distribute Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna claim worth 4 thousand 416 crore rupees to 20 lakh 46 thousand farmers of the state from Ujjain district. 
      • Earlier on February 18, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Prime Ministers Crop Insurance Scheme at Sherpur in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh during the Farmers Convention.
      • Madhya Pradesh became the First Indian State to implement the Prime Ministers Crop Insurance schemes by distributing such a big insurance claim worth Rupees 4 thousand 416 crore among farmers.
      • This is also the biggest and first-ever crop insurance claim distribution programme in Indian History.
      About the Insurance Claim Distribution Programme
      Minister for Farmers Welfare and Agriculture Development Gourishankar Biseninformed that under the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme, farmers who lost Kharif Crop in the year 2015 due to natural calamities will be benefited.
      • The distribution of the crop insurance claim will take place in all the 51 districts of the state and Chief Minister will begin insurance claim distribution at Ujjain.
      • Various camps will be held at all Tehsils where letter of the Chief Minister, certificate of insurance claim amount will be provided to the farmers.
      • In case any beneficiary could not attend the programme than revenue officer will hand-over the certificate personally at home.
      • During the distribution programme at Ujjain, the Chief Minister Chouhan will also present a roadmap to the farmers to suggesting ways to double the agriculture income.
      • Besides, the beneficiaries would also be provided with approval letters for agriculture equipments like sprinklers, drip set, seed cum fertilizer drill, seed under the Annapurna Scheme, keys of tractors etc.
      • Farmers would be provided with information regarding new agriculture techniques and crop insurance. About forty lakh farmers were linked to the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme in the state.
      • The insurance claim amount will be provided to the farmers in their bank accounts through online procedure.
      • Under the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme, claim amount to be distributed in different districts include: 400 crore at Sehore and Dewas, 300 crore at Ujjain and Vidisha, 200 crore at Rajgarh, Sagar, Hoshangabad, Shajapur, Mandsaur and 100 crore at Raisen, Harda, Agar-Malwa, Narsinghpur, Neemuch, Betul and Indore.
      About Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme
      The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme) was launched by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 18 February 2016.
      • It requires a uniform premium of only 2 per cent to be paid by farmers for Kharif crops, and 1.5 per cent for Rabi crops and 5 percent premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops.
      • This scheme aims to bring in more than 50% of the farmers to benefit with crop production within the next 2–3 years. Around 25% of the claims will be sent to the farmer’s direct account.
      • This insurance scheme will also covers local calamities too, such as landslide, hailstorm, inundation, etc. inundation was not covered by the previous schemes.

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