Current Affairs Current Affairs - 8 December 2016 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 8 December 2016

General Affairs 

50 Banks Under Investigation After Allegations Of Money Laundering
  • NEW DELHI:  On the heels of allegations of bank officials being involved in largescale money laundering across the country, the Enforcement Directorate is examining the documents of at least 50 banks to determine if there is any truth in the charges.

    Sources said the banks on the list have seen the largest deposits after the government's announcement of cash ban on November 8. The auditors of the banks are also part of the examination.

    The list covers banks in all they key cities - including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Goa, Chandigarh and Jaipur.

    Besides looking at the documents, the agency will also examine CCTV footage from some of the banks, sources said.

    The agency, sources said, will specially focus on the banks that saw huge deposits after the cash ban announcement, and within days the money was either transferred to other accounts, or taken out.

    Since the government scrapped high denomination notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 to flush out black money last month, 27 officials of public sector banks have been suspended or transferred.

    Despite the warning of the Reserve Bank of India to anyone who helps launder money, there have been allegations that largescale laundering of money is being done with the connivance of bank officials.

    This, along with several arrests across the country coupled with the seizure of huge caches of new Rs. 2,000 notes have got the scanner on the banks and its officials.

Supreme Court To Hear Plea Against CBI Interim Chief's Appointment On December 9
  • NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on December 9 a plea challenging the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the interim director of CBI.

    "Okay. It will come up on Friday," a bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao said after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, mentioned the plea.

    The petition, filed by the NGO, alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a "completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Mr Asthana was given the charge of CBI director".

    It has claimed that the government did not convene a meeting of the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of the largest opposition party and the Chief Justice of India, even though it was fully aware that Anil Sinha was going to demit the office of CBI director on December 2.

    Mr Asthana, an IPS officer of 1984-batch, was elevated as the Additional Director in the agency on December 2 when CBI Special Director RK Dutta, who was reportedly among the front-runners for the top post, was shifted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a Special Secretary.

    The PIL claimed that the government had "prematurely curtailed" the tenure and transferred Mr Dutta to Ministry of Home Affairs on November 30 -- just two days before Mr Sinha was slated to demit office.

One Has To Be Accountable Irrespective Of Credentials As Scholar: Education Minister
  • NEW DELHI:  Against the backdrop of Amartya Sen not finding a place in the Nalanda University Governing Board, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar today said one has to be "accountable" irrespective of having credentials as a scholar.

    Appearing to suggest that the Centre's decision regarding Sen was not politically motivated, Javadekar cited the recent reappointment of senior Congress leader Karan Singh as Chairman of Auroville Foundation, an autonomous body under HRD Ministry.

    "We reappointed Karan Singh to Auroville Foundation going by his credentials as a scholar. I want to make it clear that there has to be accountability no matter how big a scholar one is," he said, adding, "One cannot say that I will do whatever I want, I have to be given the money I need but I will not give you the expenditure details."

    The HRD minister's comments came in response to a question about Sen not being reappointed to Nalanda Board at the Agenda Aajtak event here.

    When asked whether his comments were directed at Sen, he said, "I did not take any name."

    Controversy hit Nalanda recently when Sen's association with the institute came to an end after the government reconstituted its governing body.

    Soon after, George Yeo, the second Chancellor of the University, quit saying its autonomy was being affected as he was "not even given notice" of the leadership change in the institution.

    However, Javadekar also underlined that the decision does not involve his Ministry.

    President Pranab Mukherjee, in his capacity as the Visitor of the University, approved the reconstitution of the Governing Board in accordance with provision of the Nalanda University Act, 2010.

India Pledges Aid To UN Relief Agency For Palestinian Refugees
  • UNITED NATIONS:  India pledged USD 1.25 million to the UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees as it voiced concern over the fragile situation and ongoing conflicts in the Middle east region that is aggravating problems of refugees.

    A total of 20 donors today announced contributions, or their intention to contribute, to the 2017 budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

    India made a confirmed pledge of 1.25 million dollars in annual contribution to the agency.

    First Secretary in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Mahesh Kumar said during a meeting of the agency's Ad Hoc Committee here on December 5 that "regrettably" an amicable solution to the Palestinian issue has not been found and as a result the refugee population's expectation to lead a normal life is also not fulfilled.

    "The current fragile situation and the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East region has compounded the problem of refugees," he said.

    Kumar noted that UNRWA, which has provided critical assistance to Palestinian refugees, is facing unprecedented financial and operational challenges. He reiterated India support for the just cause of Palestine and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

    UNRWA has been providing health, education, relief and social services, and emergency humanitarian assistance to some 5.3 million Palestinian refugees across its five fields of operation - Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip - for 65 years.

    In September, the agency had reported a funding gap of USD 74 million, threatening its ability to maintain vital operations through the end of 2016. After an urgent call to close the gap, UN Member States made contributions and the funding gap was now down to USD 37 million.

India Puts Remote Sensing Satellite RESOURCESAT-2A Into Orbit
  • SRIHARIKOTA, ANDHRA PRADESH:  India on Wednesday morning successfully put into orbit its own earth observation satellite Resourcesat-2A in a text book style.

    "Today we had a successful launch of RESOURCESAT-2A to provide three tier imaging data. The satellites solar panels were deployed. The launch was perfect," A S Kiran Kumar, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said soon after the launch.

    Mr Kumar said that for the first time a camera was put on the rocket, and as a result the launch of the satellite and the deployment of solar panels were seen.

    Around 10.25 a.m. the PSLV-XL variant rocket standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing 321 ton tore into the morning skies with fierce orange flames at its tail.

    Gathering speed every second, the rocket raced towards the heavens amidst the cheers of the ISRO officials and the media team assembled at the port in Sriharikota.

    At the rocket mission control room, Indian space scientists at ISRO were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the Earth's gravitational pull.

    Around 18 minutes into the flight, the rocket slung the 1,235 kg Resourcesat-2A into an 817 km polar sun synchronous orbit.

    The PSLV rocket is a four stage/engine rocket powered by solid and liquid fuel alternatively.

    According to ISRO, Resourcesat-2A is a follow on mission to Resourcesat-1 and Resourcesat-2, launched in 2003 and 2011 respectively.

    The new satellite Resourcesat-2A is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by it two predecessors.

    The RESOURCESAT-2A carries three payloads which are similar to those of the earlier two Resourcesat's.

    They are a high resolution Linear Imaging Self Scanner (LISS-4) camera operating in three spectral bands in the Visible and Near Infrared Region (VNIR) with 5.8 m spatial resolution and steerable up to 26 degree across track to achieve a five day revisit capability.

    The second payload is the medium resolution LISS-3 camera operating in three-spectral bands in VNIR and one in Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) band with 23.5 m spatial resolution.

    The third payload is a coarse resolution Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) camera operating in three spectral bands in VNIR and one band in SWIR with 56 m spatial resolution.

    The satellite also carries two Solid State Recorders with a capacity of 200 Giga Bits each to store the images taken by its cameras which can be read out later to ground stations.

    The mission life of Resourcesat-2A is five years.

Business Affairs 

RBI cuts growth forecast to 7.1%, sees short-term disruption
  • The Reserve Bank of India on Wednesday cut the economy's expansion forecast for current fiscal to 7.1 per cent, from 7.6 per cent earlier, saying that short-term disruption in economic activity and demand compression arising out of demonetisation have led to downside risks to growth.
    It said that in the near term the risks could travel through "short-run disruptions in economic activity" in cash- intensive sectors such as retail trade, hotels and restaurants and transportation, and in the unorganised sector and aggregate demand compression associated with adverse wealth effects.
    "Incorporating the expected loss of growth momentum in Q3 and waning effects in Q4 alongside the boost to consumption demand from higher agricultural output and the implementation of the 7th CPC award, GVA growth for 2016-17 is revised down from 7.6 per cent to 7.1 per cent, with evenly balanced risks," the RBI said in the fifth bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement for the current fiscal.
    The Indian economy expanded by 7.1 per cent and 7.3 per cent in the first and second quarter of the ongoing fiscal.
    "The outlook for Gross Value Added (GVA) growth for 2016-17 has turned uncertain after the unexpected loss of momentum by 50 basis points in Q2 and the effects of the withdrawal of specified bank notes (SBNs) which are still playing out," it said.
    RBI said the impact of demonetisation should ebb with the progressive increase in the circulation of new currency notes and greater usage of non-cash based payment instruments in the economy.
    RBI on Wednesday kept short term lending rate unchanged saying it is adopting a wait and watch policy to see the effect of withdrawal of 500 and 1000 rupee notes from circulation.
    "It is appropriate to look through the transitory but unclear effects of the withdrawal of SBNs while setting the monetary policy stance. On balance, therefore, it is prudent to wait and watch how these factors play out and impinge upon the outlook. Accordingly, the policy repo rate has been kept on hold in this review, while retaining an accommodative policy stance," RBI said.
    RBI said the second quarter GDP quarter was lower than projected because of deeper than expected slowdown in industrial activity.
    "Manufacturing slowed down both sequentially and on an annual basis, with weak demand conditions and the firming up of input costs dragging down the profitability of corporations," it said. 

Reserve Bank of India's monetary policy announcement disappoints market
  • For a  change , the  market was surprised  with the 'pause' decision of the monetary policy committee.  The  6-member  MPC have taken a decision to keep the repo rate unchanged in its monetary policy statement here today.  The repo rate - the rate at which banks borrows  funds from the RBI --   stays  at 6.25 per cent.
    In fact , this decision of the committee  has come as a huge disappointment for the market , which was expecting at least 25 basis to 50 basis points cut in the repo rate. Clearly , demonetization of currency has brought in huge unpredictability and hence the committee wants to wait and  watch.  In addition ,   the central banks of US  and Europe would also be reviewing their rates in the coming month.
    In the last two years , the RBI  has slashed the repo rate by 175 basis points. The RBI kicked off the  interest rate easing cycle as inflation softened from a high of 10 per cent plus to 4 per cent now.  In October , the CPI or the retail inflation closed at 4.20 per cent.  The current inflation is well within the  target of 4 per cent plus  and minus 2 per cent  ( a range of 2 to 6 per cent ).
    According to experts , there are several near term risks to inflation.  The decision to demonetize  the high value currency , which is over 85 per cent in value to total currency in circulation --  has brought  in lot of unpredictability. First , the demonetization has created a huge liquidity in the banking system.  The banks have got  estimated 10 -11 lakh crore in deposits.  There is likelihood of these deposits  moving out from the  banks en masse once withdrawal limits are removed by the banks. Currently , there is a weekly limit of Rs 24 ,000 for savings account holder and Rs 50 , 000 for current account holders.  To that extent , it has  impacted the demand  as lesser cash in hand has reduced the purchasing power of people.
    After touching the  lows, the commodity prices are  also on the upswing.  In the last one year , the oil prices have moved up from USD 35-36  a barrel to 52-54 a barrel.  This has the potential to fuel inflationary pressure  as the domestic economy relies on huge oil imports.
    The rupee depreciation is yet another element , which is dangerously  placed  as  the world's largest economy is showing signs of improvement.  The US dollar is already strengthening against the major currencies.  If rupee weakens against  the US dollar  going forward ,  there is likely to be outflow of dollars from the Indian economy. This will have a negative impact on rupee value  and consequently on the inflation as India  suffers from two deficits  - trade as well as current account deficit.

Sensex gains 128 pts ahead of RBI policy meet
  • The S&P BSE Sensex surged to 128 points in midday trade amid expectations that the Reserve Bank of India would cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.00 per cent today.
    The anticipation of a rate cut comes amid the Demonetisation move by the Government on Nov 8 to curb black money.
    Other reasons include a fall in Wholesale Price Inflation (WPI), retail inlfation in October and a cut in GDP forecast by
    "Consensus expects a 25 bps cut in the repo rate to 6 percent, with a small camp vying for a bigger 50 bps reduction. Either way, it is amply clear that the RBI MPC (monetary policy committee) is likely to prioritise growth over external uncertainties, in light of the recent banknote ban," reported Reuters.
    Sun Pharma continued to be the worst performer losing 4.92 per cent on the BSE.
    HDFC and Adani Ports were top gainers clocking 2.83 per cent and 2.50 per cent respectively.

RBI sets rupee reference rate at 67.8707 against US dollar
  • The Reserve Bank of India today fixed the reference rate of the rupee at 67.8707 against the US dollar and 72.7506 for the euro.
    The corresponding rates were 68.0322 and 73.1074 yesterday.
    According to an RBI statement, the exchange rates for the pound and the yen against the rupee were 85.8632 and 59.41 per 100 yens, respectively, based on reference rates for the dollar and cross-currency quotes at noon.
    The SDR-rupee figure will be based on this rate, the statement added.

Govt seeks nod to up net spending by $5.2 billion
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought parliamentary approval on Wednesday to increase net spending by 351.7 billion rupees ($5.2 billion) in the current fiscal year that ends in March 2017.
    The supplementary demand for more funds, the second to come before the Lok Sabha, had been expected for some months. In August, lawmakers had approved $3.1 billion in additional spending for the current fiscal year.
    The request comes after the latest data showed a healthy 7.3 percent expansion in the Indian economy over the September quarter was led by state spending, while investment and private consumption were weak.
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government must also contend with the fallout from his dramatic decision a month ago to abolish high-value banknotes accounting for 86 percent of the cash in circulation.
    The bid to purge the economy of "black cash" - undeclared income and the proceeds of corruption or racketeering - has caused huge economic disruption, making government spending a key prop for Asia's third-largest economy.
    The extra spending includes 40 billion rupees for a rural jobs programme, 31 billion rupees for the farm ministry and 11 billion rupees to cover a higher pensions bill, according to the request which is likely to be approved because the lower house has a large government majority.
    The supplementary demand also sought parliamentary approval to cover the cost of repayment obligations under the so-called Market Stabilisation Scheme, a facility run by the Reserve Bank of India to absorb up to 6 trillion rupees that have flowed back into the banking system following the so-called demonetisation.
    Jaitley, when he unveiled his annual budget in February, earmarked 19.78 trillion rupees ($291.4 billion) in total spending, up 11.6 percent from the prior year. He will unveil his next budget at the beginning of February.

    General Awareness

    Justice TS Thakur Recommends Justice JS Khehar as 44th Chief Justice of India

    • Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar has been recommended as the 44th Chief Justice of India (CJI) and shall succeed Chief Justice TS Thakur who will retire on January 3, 2017.
      • 64 years old Justice Khehar will be sworn in as CJI by the President Pranab Mukherjee on January 4, 2017 and will hold the tenure for over seven months till August 27, 2017.
      • Justice Khehar will be the first Chief Justice of India from the Sikh community.
      • Justice Khehar’s name for appointment as the next CJI was recommended by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on December 6, 2016.
      • After the retirement of TS Thakur and the appointment of Justice Khehar as CJI, the collegium for appointment of judges will also change. The new collegium will comprise of Justice Khehar, Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Chelameswar, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, and Justice Madan Lokur.
      About Justice JS Khehar
      • Jagdish Singh Khehar was born on August 28, 1952.He graduated in Science from Government College, Chandigarh in 1974 after which he pursued LL.B degree from the Punjab University, Chandigarh in 1977.
      • iHe also acquired LL.M degree from the Punjab University, Chandigarh in 1979 and stood first in the University for which he was awarded Gold Medal.
      Working Profile

      • 1979: Enrolled as an Advocate and practiced mainly in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court of India.
      • 1992: Appointed as Additional Advocate General, Punjab, in January 1992, and then as Senior Standing Counsel, Union Territory, Chandigarh.
      • 1995: Designated as Senior Advocate in February, 1995.
      • 1999: Elevated to the Bench of High Court of Punjab and Haryana, at Chandigarh, on February 8, 1999.
      • 2008: Appointed as Acting Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court twice i.e., with effect from August 02, 2008, and again, with effect from November 17, 2009.
      • 2009: Elevated as Chief Justice of the High Court of Uttarakhand, Nainitalon November 29,2009
      • 2010: Appointed as Chief Justice of High Court of Karnataka on August 8, 2010.
      • 2011: Appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court of India where he assumed office on September 13, 2011.
      Benches Headed by JS Khehar
      • Justice JS Khehar led the five-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court which had struck down the controversial NJAC Act for appointment of judges.
      • He also headed a bench which had set aside the imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh in January 2016 and restored the Congress government headed by Chief Minister Nabam Tuki in Arunachal Pradesh.
      • He was also a part of the bench which sent Sahara chief Subrata Roy to jail while hearing the matter relating to the refund of money invested by people in his two companies.
      • Justice Khehar also headed a bench which recently gave a significant verdict holding that the principal of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has to be made applicable to those engaged as daily wagers, casual and contractual employees who perform the same duties as the regulars.

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