Current Affairs Current Affairs - 13 January 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 13 January 2017

General Affairs 

Amazon Apologises To Sushma Swaraj Over Indian Flag-Themed Doormats
  • A day after Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj's stern warning to Amazon, the e-commerce giant has apologized for the sale of Indian flag-themed doormats on its Canadian website.

    "Amazon India is committed to respecting Indian laws and customs. To the extent that these items offered by a third-party seller in Canada offended Indian sensibilities, Amazon regrets the same. At no time did we intend or mean to offend Indian sentiments," Amazon India vice president Amit Agarwal wrote to Ms Swaraj.

    Last night, Amazon had dropped the Indian flag-themed doormats from its website.

    On Wednesday, Sushma Swaraj had said in tweets that Amazon must apologise unconditionally and withdraw all products insulting the flag or Amazon officials would not be granted Indian visas.

    "Amazon must tender unconditional apology. They must withdraw all products insulting our national flag immediately," the External Affairs Minister had tweeted.

    "If this is not done forthwith, we will not grant Indian Visa to any Amazon official. We will also rescind the Visas issued earlier," she said in another tweet.

    Her strong reaction had come after a Twitter user sent her a screen-grab of doormats featuring the flag on sale on Amazon Canada.

    The offending products were on offer by two vendors. Under India's law, any desecration of the flag is punishable with fines and imprisonment.

    Amazon has vowed to invest more than $5 billion in India as it takes on home-grown Flipkart and Snapdeal for a bigger share of the rapidly growing e-commerce market.

    Amazon's official support account on Twitter had earlier responded to angry user comments on Twitter by saying the mats were not being sold on their Indian portal and the concerns had been escalated.

    CRPF Man's Salary Video: Paramilitary Chief Frowns On Social Media Use
    • As a new video emerged of a CRPF constable, Jeet Singh, complaining about lack of facilities and poor salaries, the head of the paramilitary force, K Durga Prasad, told that many of these issues have been raised with the government, though he did not approve of jawans using social media to air their problems.

      "What they are now asking is the same thing which we have also presented before the 7th Pay Commission and other fora," Mr Prasad said. "Not just CRPF but all the other DGs of the forces. We have raised this issue because this is a demand from the forces. The matter is before the government," Mr Prasad said.

      In the YouTube video that's going viral, Jeet Singh had posted a message to the PM. "Government school teachers are paid more than us... and we get no holidays or benefits," he is heard saying.

      "Basically his contention is that I am doing the same job as the army jawan is doing. I am also facing the same threat, I am also having the same inconvenience so I should also get something similar to him," the CRPF chief said.

      He pointed out that it was "a question of comparison with another force and not simply something that was promised to him at the time of joining the forces and (him) not getting it".

      Spelling out the demands already made before the government, Mr Prasad said the 7th Pay Commission had not granted CRPF a salary similar to the army. The question of reintroduction of pension is still before the government.

      There was also the question of parity in perks, like travel allowances and tickets.

      "You know, when you go on leave you get one time you travel. Return journey also you get ticket. The second time when you go you get only one way," he said. The CRPF, he said, had wanted the return journey also. "They (the concessions)  look very small, but for the forces they matter a lot because it gives us aspirations. It is more of a feeling of getting what they wanted. So, many of them have been addressed and some are yet to be addressed. "

      Mr Prasad, however, did not approve of the use of social media by jawans. "Taking recourse to social media is not the healthiest trend and healthiest way of doing things," he said.

    From Nitish Kumar's Party A Rare Invite For BJP On Makar Sankranti
    • In this season of bonhomie comes a rare invitation from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's party to the state's BJP leaders for a special meal of "dahi chura and tilkut" on Sunday, when the Makar Sankranti festival will be celebrated. Bihar BJP leaders are yet to RSVP and are expected to check with Delhi whether they should attend.

      While host and Bihar chief of the ruling Janata Dal United Vashista Narayan Singh confirmed that invitations had been sent to top BJP leaders, the opposition party's state chief Nityanand Rai said the invites had not reached them yet. "We will take a call on whether to attend once we receive the invitation," Mr Rai said.

      The JD(U) always invites allies for the annual event, but this is the first time that it has also called an opposition party. Till 2013, the BJP, as a partner of Nitish Kumar's party, was a regular. But BJP leaders have not attended the event after the two parties split in 2013.

      Nitish Kumar's current allies Lalu Yadav and his RJD and the Congress will be present. Mr Kumar will in fact first visit a similar function hosted by Lalu Yadav, before arriving at Vashista Narayan Singh's home.    

      Earlier this week, the BJP confirmed its participation in a "human chain" that the state government is organising on January 21 to spread the message of prohibition. A world record will be attempted with people linked in the chain across over 11,000 km in the state. To be attended by over two crore Biharis.

      BJP leaders say their decision to join the "human chain" was influenced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's praise for Nitish Kumar's prohibition policy at a public rally in state capital Patna last week. PM Modi called it "inspirational."

      In recent weeks, Nitish Kumar has stood out among opposition leaders in his support for PM Modi's notes ban aimed at eliminating corruption and black money.

      The exchange of praise is in sharp contrast with the bitter attacks that the two leaders have made against each other for years. Nitish Kumar's decision to end his party's 17-year-long alliance with the BJP was prompted by the latter's decision to project his arch political rival as presumptive Prime Minister for the 2014 national election.

      The decision proved costly; the BJP and its allies won 32 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar, while Nitish Kumar's JD(U) could win only two. For the last assembly elections, Mr Kumar acquired his new partners and defeated the BJP to win another term as Chief Minister.

    10 Billion Dollars To Be Spent To Develop India's Airport Infrastructure
    • A sum of 10 billion US dollars would be spent in next five years to develop airport infrastructure in India so that the country could become the world's third largest aviation market in seven years, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey has said. As many as 400 unused airstrips across the country that had become cattle grazing grounds, would be brought back to life, he said.

      Addressing a day-long India Aviation Summit today, Mr Choubey said the Civil Aviation Ministry was determined to maintain the "historic" 23 per cent growth rate achieved in the aviation sector in the country.

      "USD 10 billion would be spent in next five years to develop airport infrastructure. Our aim is to become the third largest aviation market in the next seven years. We are determined to stay ahead of the growth curve," he said.

      India's nearest rival in terms of aviation growth was China with 14 per cent.

      Progressive and proactive industry-friendly policies played a significant part in Indian aviation's growth story and not just the fall in fuel prices, Mr Choubey remarked.

      "Our ultimate objective is to take the flight to the masses and to this end we have come up with a progressive policy. We have also undertaken a very bold experiment called Regional Air Connectivity Scheme at the national level," the bureaucrat said.

      "For the first time, the civil aviation sector has achieved rail parity. While the railways turnover is Rs. 1.6 lakh crore, civil aviation turnover touched Rs. 1.4 lakh crore and the number of rail and air passengers has also become almost equal," Mr Choubey pointed out.

      "Civil aviation is now just as popular and just as necessary. Airfares are now comparable to air-conditioned train fares. No one could imagine subsidy for air travel but under the RAC Scheme, we have been extending 50-60 per cent viability gap funding," he said.

      Stating that RAC Scheme created a lot of "excitement", the Civil Aviation Secretary said they received enquiries for as many as 800 routes.

      Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapati Raju, Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, and FICCI Chairman (Aviation) Pratyush Kumar were also present on the occasion.

    Milky Way's Black Hole Spewing Out Planet-Size 'Spitballs', Reveals Research
    • When a star comes close to the black hole only to be ripped apart, the outward gas streamer gathers itself into planet-size objects which are then flung across the galaxy in a game of cosmic 'spitball', new research has revealed.

      The team from Harvard University noted that the closest of these planet-mass objects might be within a few hundred light-years of Earth with a weight somewhere between Neptune and several Jupiters.

      "A single shredded star can form hundreds of these planet-mass objects. We wondered: Where do they end up? How close do they come to us? We developed a computer code to answer those questions," said lead author Eden Girma.

      These planet-size objects glow from the heat of its formation and are very different from a typical planet because they made of star-stuff.

      "It takes only a day for the black hole to shred the star and only about a year for the resulting fragments to pull themselves back together," said the study presented at the conference of American Astronomical Society recently.

      Almost 95 per cent of the planet-mass objects will leave the galaxy entirely due to their speeds of about 10,000 km per second. It would take about a million years for one of these objects to reach Earth's neighborhood.

      "Since most other galaxies also have giant black holes at their cores, it is likely that the same process is at work in them," Girma added.

    Business Affairs 

      TCS Chief Natarajan Chandrasekaran Is New Tata Sons Chairman
      • Natarajan Chandrasekaran, the CEO and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), will be the new chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company that controls the $100 billion Tata conglomerate. Mr Chandrasekaran will be the first non-Parsi chairman of Tata Sons. He will take charge from February 21, 2017.

        "At the Tata group, we are at an inflection point. I am aware that this role comes with huge responsibilities. It will be my endeavour to help progress the group with the ethos, ethics and values that the Tata group has been built on," Mr Chandrasekaran said in a statement.

        Mr Chandrasekaran, 53, has been chief executive of TCS, India's biggest outsourcer, since 2009. He was appointed as a director on the board of Tata Sons days after Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman of the group in October. He takes over from Ratan Tata, who returned as interim chairman of the group following Cyrus Mistry's ouster. Ratan Tata had headed the Tata group for 21 years before handing the reins over to Mr Mistry in 2012. 

        "Mr Chandrasekaran has demonstrated exemplary leadership as the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Tata Consultancy Services. We believe he will now inspire the entire Tata group to realise its potential acting as leaders in their respective businesses, always in keeping with our value system and ethics and adhering with the practices of the Tata group which have stood it in good stead," board of Tata Sons said in a statement.

        Meanwhile, TCS has elevated Rajesh Gopinathan, the current chief finance officer, as the new chief executive.

        The announcement was made after a board meeting of Tata Sons held at the group's headquarters Bombay House. Earlier in the day TCS announced its third quarter results, reporting a net profit of Rs 6,778 crore, beating the Street's estimates.

        Under Mr Chandrasekaran's leadership, the revenues of TCS grew over three times from Rs 30,029 crore in 2009-10 to over Rs 1 lakh crore in 2015-16. The crown jewel of the Tata group also remains the most valuable company in India with a market capitalisation of nearly Rs 4.2 lakh crore.

        Mr Chandrasekaran joined TCS in 1987 after completing a Masters in Computer Applications from the Regional Engineering College, Trichy in Tamil Nadu.

        Tata Sons had on October 24 removed Cyrus Mistry as chairman in a surprise move and named group patriarch Ratan Tata as interim chief, also setting up a selection committee to find the next chairman. The selection committee included Ratan Tata, Venu Srinivasan, Amit Chandra, Ronen Sen and Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya. All of them, except Mr Bhattacharya, are on the board of Tata Sons.

        Mr Mistry's ouster has been followed by a bitter public spat between him and the group. Mr Mistry, who is still a director on the Tata Sons board, has contested his removal as chairman in the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), a quasi-judicial body that deals with corporate grievances in India.

        Tata Sons has called an extraordinary general meeting on February 6 to remove Mr Mistry from its board. The Tatas have filed a legal notice against Mr Mistry, accusing him of breaching confidentiality rules, and alleging he that he shared "confidential data, business strategies, financial information" related to Tata Sons.

        Mr Mistry has alleged breach of governance within the Tata group, a charge that Tata Sons has denied saying it has followed the highest standards of corporate governance.

        NTPC Shares Jump Nearly 6%; Market Value Rises By Rs 7,709 Crore
        • Shares of NTPC surged nearly 6 per cent today after the company signed a non-binding agreement with Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd and Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd for takeover of Chhabra Thermal Power Plant.

          The stock gained 5.69 per cent to settle at Rs 173.75 on BSE. During the day, it jumped 6.23 per cent to Rs 174.65 --its 52-week high.

          At NSE, shares of the company soared 5.59 per cent to end at Rs 173.70. 

          Led by the rise in the stock price, the company's market valuation went up by Rs 7,709.94 crore to Rs 1,43,264.94 crore. 

          On the volume front, 11.15 lakh shares of the company were traded on BSE and over one crore shares changed hands at NSE during the day. 

          The stock was the top gainer on both the key indices Sensex and Nifty. 

          "NTPC Ltd has signed a non-binding MoU with Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd and Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd for takeover of Chhabra Thermal Power Plant Stage-I (4x 250 MW) and Stage-II (2x660 MW) of Rajasthan Urja Vikas Nigam by NTPC Ltd," the company said in a BSE filing. 

          The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is to takeover four operational units of 250 MW capacity each and two other under-construction units of 660 MW capacity each at Chhabara Thermal Power Plant.

        Jio Free Offer Is An Unfair Competition: Sunil Bharti Mittal
        • Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal today said Reliance Jio's free offer is hitting the sector adversely and has created unfair competition in the market which his firm has challenged before court.

          "There is a problem. Any big thing if given for free or at less price then it becomes very difficult to compete with. It is unfair competition which is being discussed through you (media) and in courts," Mr Mittal said in response to impact of Reliance Jio's free 4G service on Bharti Airtel.

          He was speaking to reporters after launching Airtel Payments Bank in partnership with Kotak Mahindra Bank. 

          Airtel has filed petition against extension of Reliance Jio free 4G service beyond December.
          In its 25-page petition before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Airtel had asked the quasi-judicial body to direct Trai to ensure Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond December 3.

          In the petition, Airtel had alleged that the Telecom regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in its decision dated October 20 "erroneously" concluded that since Jio's promotional offer of free services was only valid till December 3, it is consistent with the direction for 90 days. "When something is given for free then that impacts market.

          We are now before TDSAT to say that the free offer is creating problem in the sector. Ultimately, there should be 4-5 companies in this country for competition. If you give anything for free that creates problem for which we are at doorstep of TDSAT and TRAI is examining it," Mr Mittal said.

          Airtel in its second affidavit before telecom tribunal TDSAT has alleged that the regulator is "perpetuating illegality" by allowing the Mukesh Ambani-controlled Jio to continue offer free 4G mobile broadband and voice calling service.

          He, however, said that impact of Reliance Jio's offer on Airtel is least compared to that on other companies in the market.

          "It has its impact but compared to impact on companies in the market, Airtel is least impacted because of our 4G rollout, distribution reach. Our management is devoted and we have least market share or traffic share loss," Mr  Mittal said.

          Despite Notes Ban, Factory Output For November Rises By 5.7%
          • Factory output grew by 5.7 per cent in November as against a decline of 1.8 per cent in October. The growth in the month of November is much higher against the expectation of economists. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast a 1.3 percent growth in factory output compared with a revised 1.8 percent year-on-year fall in October.

            The factory output growth was mainly driven up by a surge in capital goods production, which remains highly volatile.

            During November, the output in mining, manufacturing and electricity sectors grew by 3.9 percent, 5.5 per cent and 8.9 per cent respectively as compared to November 2015. 16 out of 22 industry groups in the manufacturing sector recorded positive growth during the month.

            On November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes, aimed at uprooting corruption and black money. It took out 86 per cent of the currency in circulation and resulted in a cash crunch that stroked fears of a freeze in the manufacturing sector, with most ratings agencies predicting a decline in the country's growth for at least the next six months.

            The industry group 'Radio, TV and communication equipment & apparatus' has shown the highest positive growth of 32.2 per cent followed by 23.2 per cent in 'Electrical machinery & apparatus'.

            The consumer price inflation also eased to over two-year low of 3.41 per cent in December, helped by a sharp cooling in food prices.

            Economists surveyed by Reuters had expected annual retail inflation to come in at 3.57 per cent last month, compared with 3.63 per cent in November.

          Pay Rs. 600 Crore By February 6 To Stay Out Of Jail: Sahara's Subrata Roy Told By Supreme Court
          • The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Sahara chief Subrata Roy's plea to extend the deadline beyond February 6 for depositing Rs. 600 crore with Sebi, the capital markets regulator. 

            The Sahara chief, who is out on parole since his mother's death in May, sought more time for payment, citing demonetisation and economic slowdown.  The Supreme Court had in November asked Mr Roy to deposit Rs. 600 crore by February 6 and warned that in case of failure, he would have to surrender. 

            "This court had given so much indulgence to you and spent so many man hours in your case and the controversy started in 2012 and we had given so many chances and we are in 2017. You have still time to deposit," the Supreme Court told Kapil Sibal, who is Sahara's lawyer. 

            The top court, however, permitted Sahara to transfer Rs. 280 crore lying in its account in London to Sebi. 

            Mr Sibal had earlier referred to Vijay Mallya saying that the absconding industrialist took Rs. 6,500 crore from banks and is "enjoying" whereas Sahara didn't take even a single rupee from banks.

            Mr Roy was arrested in March 2014 after Sahara failed to comply with a court order to refund the money raised from millions of small investors who were sold bonds later ruled to be illegal.

          General Awareness

          National Youth Day- January 12, 2017

            1. National Youth Day also known as Yuva Diwas is celebrated every year with the great joy and enthusiasm in India on January 12 since 1985 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, the maker of the modern India.
              • This year January 12, 2017 marks the 154th birth anniversary of most respected spiritual leader, Swami Vivekananda.
              History of National Youth Day
              • The Government of India in 1984 declared for the first time to celebrate the birthday of Swami Vivekananda as the National Youth Day and so since 1985 the day is celebrated as the National Youth Day all over the country.
              • Many activities are organised on the Day in schools and colleges, all across India including, speeches, youth conventions, youth fests, seminars, Yogasanas, recitations, presentations, competitions, surya namaskar, yoga, sports and music events etc.
              About Swami Vivekananda
              Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863 in Calcutta as Narendra Nath Datta in an affluent Bengali family. He died at a young age of 39. He took great interest in spirituality and philosophy and in his short life managed to inspire millions. Vivekananda is also an inspiration to youth all over the world.
              • Swami Vivekananda always believed in the power of the youth. National Youth Day was started with an aim to encourage and inspire the youth of the country and motivate them by the life and ideas of Swami Vivekananda.
              • Vivekananda believed that the youth can lead and nourish the historical culture of the country. He felt that the youth is the key to solve various problems that India is facing. He inspired people to live for others not just for one’s own self.
              National Youth Festival 2017
              Every year the Department of Youth Affairs under the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports organizes the National Youth Festival on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda from 12 to 16 January.
              • This year also the Department has organized the 21st National Youth Festival at Rohtak, Haryana from January 12-16, 2017.
              • The theme of this year’s Festival is ‘Youth for Digital India’.
              • The Mascot of the festival is Lado. It reflects sensitivity of the state government towards the gender inequality in the state to bring women at par with men.
              • On the occasion of the opeing ceremony of the festival Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the participants of the festival through video conference.
              • Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh was the Chief Guest on the occasion along with the presence of Shri Mahohar Lal, Chief Minister, Haryana.
              • It is expected that about 5000 youth delegates from different States/UTs will participate in the festival to share their knowledge and experience and also take along with them the rich culture and heritage of the Nation.
              • The opening ceremony would be marked by a performance by renowned artist on the life and ideology of Swami Vivekanand.
              • Besides, the festival will encounter a variety of cultural programme form January 12 to January 16 2017 including Youth Convention, Suvichar-lectures, Exhibitions and adventure programmes, Hasya Kavi Sammelan, Haryanavi Nights, Cultural Evening by Hansraj Hans and Raftaar.
              • The Festival will also witness a Defence exhibition where various aspects and initiatives of the defence forces, display of equipment and avenues for recruitment into Armed Forces will be projected for the benefits of thousands of young participant.

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