Current Affairs April 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Current Affairs - 30 April 2017

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General Affairs 

Kashmir's New Face Of Protests: Teen Schoolgirls On The Streets
  • The girls are back to school. But during the past week, a gender barrier was broken in Kashmir valley. No one it celebrating it though. For the first time, scores of schoolgirls in their school uniforms came on Srinagar streets to protest. When the police tried to disperse them, some of them picked up a stone too.

    It was a defining image of the turmoil in the state; a rare and disturbing sight.

    The trigger, the students say, was the crackdown earlier this month on students by security forces in a college in Pulwama, some 30 km away. Video clips that showed students being beaten went viral on social media, after which security forces drew criticism. Over 50 students were injured after they protested against a temporary check-post set up outside the college by the security forces.

    The school girls say stone pelting that they participated in was a response to this police action.

    But the anger, Class 12 student Barjees suggests, is deep-rooted and dates back to the time when she wasn't even born.  But she has heard many stories, one of them about the Kunan Poshpora rapes in 1991.

    "I remember every incident... Yes, we are meant to be in front of blackboard with teachers, not armed men... No one is safe," says an agitated Barjees. The casualties in last summer's streets protests, the valley's bloodiest in years, didn't help either. Videos of students being beaten inside a college was the last straw.

    "It's not about particular gender, whether it is a girl or boy who is targeted. It is about the educational institutions and students who have been targeted here" said Babra, a schoolgirl.

    Her sister Baasira, a student of Girls Higher secondary School Kothibagh in Srinagar says school students cannot remain immune to what is happening outside. "We are the base of this society, of Kashmir... We don't want this conflict should carry on. Our protest is in solidarity with people" said Baasira, also a class 12 student.

    The ruling PDP and BJP alliance concedes it is a worrying development. "Students leaving their studies and joining protests and stone pelting... we feel is a very serious matter," said Arun Gupta, BJP spokesman.

    Nizamudin Bhat, general secretary of the ruling PDP that is in alliance with the BJP, appealed for calm. "I will appeal to society and parents that this will impact our social fabric. we are ripping apart and disintegrating  if educational turn into violent places," he said.

Before EVM Hackathon, Election Body's Move To Reach Out To Parties
  • In view of the accusations and controversy surrounding tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), the Election Commission could meet all political parties and apprise them about the security features of these machines, said Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi today. 
    "We will soon hold an all-party meeting in which they will be told how our EVMs are non-tamperable and secure, as per our administrative and technical safeguard system," Dr Zaidi, was quoted by news agency PTI today. 

    Dr Zaidi also informed reporters that the Election Commission intends to use Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) units, as demanded by the political parties, in all upcoming elections for greater transparency.  

    A VVPAT generates a paper slip, through which a voter can verify that their vote went to their intended party or candidate. The slip is also kept in the Election Commission records for future reference.

    "For VVPAT, we have got all the funds. We have placed an order for the supply of 15 lakh VVPAT units," the poll body chief said, and added that India could be the first country to use VVPATs in all polling stations in the near future. The Election Commission will also launch a campaign to create awareness about the benefits of VVPAT. 

    The Chief Election Commissioner, interestingly, also said that the poll body will organise an open-challenge, wherein it will ask contenders to try and hack their electronic voting machines to mitigate all doubts and boost voter confidence.

    Many opposition parties - Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Aam Aadmi Party among others - objected to the use of EVMs following the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The parties intensified their following after a demonstration video by Madhya Pradesh's election officer showed the EVM recording a vote for the BJP irrespective of which party was selected. The parties demanded that the Election Commission use ballot papers in all upcoming elections.

4 School Kids Injured In Patna Blast
  • Four school children were injured in Patna on Saturday when a low intensity bomb exploded in a government-run middle school, police said.

    Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said four students of the Urdu Middle School in Marwari colony of Khajenkala in Bihar were injured in the blast.

    "Prima facie it appears to be the work of anti-social elements. A crude bomb was kept on the roof of the school building. While playing, some students touched it triggering the explosion," SSP Maharaj said.

    Police have begun a probe into the incident. All four injured admitted in a hospital were said to be out of danger.

Use Penal Powers 'Expeditiously', Says Finance Minister Arun Jaitley To Enforcement Directorate
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today vowed to make an example of money launderers and tax evaders, and said that penalising powers of the Enforcement Directorate should be used "expeditiously" in cases of non-compliance. Speaking at the Enforcement Day in New Delhi, he called on the agency to "strictly" enforce law to help raise legitimate revenue.
    Mr Jaitley felt that non-compliance of tax laws has always hit the larger public and national interest.

    "The revenue department and the ED have a very important role to play," he emphasised. "There is an expectation of compliance and in the event of non-compliance, there is the power of penalising that the ED has. This power has to be expeditiously used whenever violations are detected."

    Stating that the government has given citizens the right to deal in foreign exchange with a sense of trust, he said serious offence of money laundering, including using hawala channels, flight of capital out of the country, round tripping of funds and creation of shell companies to avoid taxes have become a "very standardised practice".

    The finance minister said these violations are not difficult to detect and scrutiny of filing with registrar of companies can also lead to the detection.

    "The entire route of multi-layering through which the money laundering takes place... It is matter of a few minutes to detect how the violation takes place," he cautioned. 
    Mr Jaitley also stated that technology has provided tools to detect violations, and provisions under the PMLA and the FEMA have rules of evidence that can help take cases to the logical conclusion.

    "Once we are able to make an example of some of these offenders, I think others then will realise the benefits of compliance of law," he added.

    He hoped the ED will "strictly enforce the law in our endeavour to raise legitimate revenue which is in larger public interest which can only be achieved by ensuring voluntary compliances of people".

    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also called for introspection saying that as India evolves, the compliance level too should rise. He said the total budgeted tax revenue collection of over Rs. 19 lakh crore would have gone up if there were compliance in India and this money could have been used for funding education, healthcare and infrastructure.

North Korea Fires Another Ballistic Missile In Defiance Of World Pressure
  • North Korea fired another ballistic missile early Saturday morning but it exploded within seconds of being launched, American and South Korean defense officials said.

    Coinciding with renewed diplomatic and military pressure on North Korea from the Trump administration, this latest launch underscores both Kim Jong Un's determination to make technical progress on his weapons programs and his defiance amid international pressure.

    President Donald Trump, who was briefed on the launch soon afterward, took to Twitter to reiterate his expectation that Chinese President Xi Jinping use his leverage to make Kim stop.

    "North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!" he tweeted.

    Trump has repeatedly called on China, North Korea's neighbor and largest trading partner, to punish the regime in Pyongyang, and has warned Xi that if he doesn't act, the United States will.

    But Ralph Cossa, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Pacific Forum, said that the Trump administration appeared to be struggling to figure out how to deal with North Korea.

    "When it comes to foreign policy, and Korea policy in particular, the Trump administration has had a pretty steep learning curve, and it has been a lot more curves than learning," Cossa said.

    Saturday's launch marked the 75th missile test since Kim Jong Un became leader of North Korea at the end of 2011, according to a Nuclear Threat Initiative database.

    American and South Korean defense officials said that the unidentified missile appears to have exploded soon after being launched at about 5 a.m. North Korea time.

    "The missile did not leave North Korean territory," U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham said in a statement.

    North Korea's previous missile launch was on April 16, the day after huge military parade in Pyongyang to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of founder Kim Il Sung, and it also blew up almost immediately.

    But analysts said not to be consoled.

    "This test may have failed, but Kim Jong Un's overall missile test record is 58 successful flight tests and 17 failures," said Shea Cotton of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation, who compiled the Nuclear Threat Initiative database.

    North Korea is clearly making progress and has the political will, if not the technology just yet, to improve its missile technology.

    At this month's military parade, North Korea presented two of its newest model missiles, including the submarine-launched ballistic type it successfully fired last year and the land-based version it launched last month.

    Kim has repeatedly said that he wants an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the mainland United States, and although there are still plenty technical hurdles to be overcome, many analysts believe North Korea will eventually get there.

    The latest launch comes amid heightened tensions in the region.
    A U.S. Navy strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, will be in the waters around the Korean Peninsula this weekend, and one of the Navy's largest submarines has been in port in South Korea this week.

    Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday called for new economic sanctions on North Korea and other "painful" measures over its nuclear weapons program.

    "Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences," Tillerson said during a special session of the U.N. Security Council. "The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it."

    In its latest challenge to the United States, a North Korean propaganda outlet released a video clip this week showing simulated attacks on the United States and declaring that "the enemy to be destroyed is in our sights."

Business Affairs 

Reliance to roll out its FTTH service 'Jio Fiber' with minimum 100 Mbps speed
  • After successfully triggering tariff war for mobile internet, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio is now planning to launch high-speed fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband service.
    FTTH is a broadband network architecture using optical fiber to provide all or part of the local loop used for last mile telecommunications.
    The service is called Jio Fiber and it will be rolled out as a Preview in the coming weeks. According to the reports, Jio has already started trials in various cities and is ready for commercial launch.
    Jio Fiber broadband plans will start from 100 Mbps speed. Reliance Jio's upcoming FTTH service is not just about speed and tariff, it has several other features to offer.
    Reports suggest that it will have a smart calling feature that will virtually connect the cell phones to  landline. That means if a person receives a call on the landlines it can be received on cell phone.
    While the news about the launch is doing rounds, no official confirmation has yet been made. India Today analysed how Jio's entry into the fiber broadband is likely to help users.
    It said: "Although India is now home to a large number internet users, majority of them connect to the web using wireless connections like 2G, 3G, and 4G that are neither as fast as a good broadband nor as reliable. However, the neglect of the broadband sector has resulted in a situation where the wireless networks are clogged and even the wired services are poor, with users getting low speeds."
    Earlier in January, Airtel announced the launch of V-Fiber that offers consumers in select cities and areas speeds of up to 100mbps using the ADSL2 technology.
    This is the second time when Mukesh Ambani is experimenting in the telecom industry after successfully launching Jio that disrupted the whole telecommunication market with its aggressive tariff plans. 
    It has given tough competition to incumbent players like telecom major Airtel, Vodafone and Idea.

India-born Google CEO Sundar Pichai received nearly USD 200 million compensation last year
  • Googles 44-year-old India-born CEO Sundar Pichai received nearly USD 200 million in compensation last year, double the amount he got in 2015.
    Pichai received a salary of USD 650,000 last year, slightly less than the USD 652,500 he earned in 2015. But the long-time Google employee, who was named CEO during the companys re-organisation in August 2015, received a stock award of USD 198.7 million in 2016, roughly double his 2015 stock award of USD 99.8 million.
    The companys compensation committee attributed the lavish pay to Pichais promotion to CEO and "numerous successful product launches", the CNN reported.
    Larry Page, Googles co-founder and previous CEO, shifted his focus to growing new businesses under the Alphabet umbrella.
    Under Pichai, Google has boosted sales from its core advertising and YouTube business, while also investing in machine learning, hardware and cloud computing, the report said.
    In 2016, Google unveiled new smartphones, a virtual reality headset, a router, and a voice controlled smart speaker.
    These efforts have started to pay off for the company.
    Googles "other revenues", a category that includes hardware and cloud services, hit nearly USD 3.1 billion in the most recent quarter, a gain of about 50 per cent from the same quarter a year earlier.
    Alphabets stock has soared this year, pushing it above a USD 600 billion market cap this week for the first time, the report said. 

No question of taxing agriculture income: Arvind Panagariya
  • NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya on Friday categorically stated that there is no question of taxing agriculture income at a time when the government is keen on doubling the income of farmers.
    "80 per cent of rural areas are connected to agriculture and we are talking about doubling farmers' income. How can we talk about taxing farmers income?" Panagariya told reporters on the sidelines of a CII function.
    He was responding to a question on controversial remark on taxing farm income made by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy.
    "There is nothing of taxing agriculture income... in the document," Panagariya said, adding that the nearest thing that was mentioned in the 3-year action agenda was loopholes should be plugged to prevent non-agriculturists from converting their black money into white by showing it as agriculture income.
    On farm loan waiver, the NITI Aayog vice-chairman said, "States are empowered to waive farm loan... Besides their priorities, states are bound by the FRBM Act."
    A controversy had erupted after Debroy at a press conference said the agricultural income should be taxed.
    However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley later clarified that there was no such proposal and the Centre has no power to impose tax on agricultural income.
    The NITI Aayog too quickly distanced itself from the comment, saying it was the personal view of Debroy and there was no proposal in the 3-year action agenda, which was circulated among the chief ministers on Sunday, to tax farm income.

    Robert Vadra made Rs 50.5 crore without spending a single paisa: Dhingra Panel
    • In a report that could shed some light on potential businessmen-politicians nexus, the Justice SN Dhingra Commission has reportedly concluded that Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra made illegal profits of Rs 50.5 crore from a land deal in Haryana without spending a single paisa.
      The Economic Times reported on Friday that there was collusion aimed at benefiting Vadra's company. The Dhingra commission was set up in May 2015 by BJP-led Haryana government to look into the grant of licences for change in land use in four villages of Gurgaon. The commission has sought an inquiry into properties bought by Vadra and his businesses, the ET reported.
      Suman Khaitan who is representing Robert Vadra and Skylight Hospitality said that Vadra and Skylight had committed no wrong and that no laws were violated, ET reported
      This is not the first time when someone is questioning Vadra's land deals. Earlier in 2013, senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka leveled serious allegations against Vadra saying that money made out of the land deals was much beyond a mere business venture.
      While speaking exclusively to India Today's Managing Editor Rahul Kanwal, Khemka said: "This is not business at all. This is not even a middleman's commission. A middleman also does some job. I think this could be compared to 'Hafta collection'. It is like you are doing business here, so pay up. There was no service here."
      Most of Vadra's land deals took place when the Congress was in power in the state and it was alleged that the state officials colluded with Vadra to benefit him. Interestingly, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has challenged the constitutional validity of the SN Dhingra commission.
      The Dhingra commission has inquired into over 20 properties said to have been purchased by Vadra and his companies.
      Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday distanced herself away from her husband Robert Vadra's financial dealings with realty major DLF. 
      The statement came after a media house questioned Robert Vadra whether a portion of the money he had received from the DLF was used by his wife to buy properties in Faridabad in Haryana.
      The statement mentioned about Priyanka Gandhi having bought 5 acres of agricultural land in village Amipur in Faridabad district for Rs 15 lakh on April 28, 2006, six years prior to the purported land deal involving Skylight Hospitality. 
      Robert Vadra's Skylight Hospitality company is under investigating agencies' scanner over its land deals with DLF.
      Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's office issued a statement saying, "The source of funds for the aforesaid purchase was rental income of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from property inherited by her from her grandmother Indira Gandhi. The source of funds for this or any other property acquired by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has no relationship whatsoever with Shri Robert Vadra's finances and/or Skylight Hospitality and no relationship whatsoever with DLF."

    You might soon be using just mobile phone and Aadhaar for air travel

    • You might soon be using just your mobile phone and Aadhaar for air travel minus all that paper work, with the government looking to roll out a digital system for airport entry and subsequent journey requirements. 
      Under the proposed digi yatra initiative, the civil aviation ministry is looking to make "boarding pass and security interactions" digital. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha on Friday said the ministry is working on the initiative to ensure the whole air travel experience is completely digital. 
      "Your payment is digital, your boarding and security interactions are digital... That is the digi yatra concept we are working on," he noted. 
      According to Sinha, under the initiative, there will be no need for any paper and the traveller will be securely identified through Aadhaar number, passport or other documents. 
      "We have a working group established and we are very hopeful of rolling out some of these in the next few months," the minister said. 
      Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised by industry body CII, Sinha said, "The whole experience would be completely digital so that you wouldnt need any paper and you would be able to book your car to the airport, get into the airport, get a digital boarding pass, board your aircraft, take a car way back and do all of that just with your mobile phone." 
      He also stressed that the ministry is trying to understand how best to establish a uniform set of standards and protocols so that they can be applied across the system. 
      Meanwhile, Sinha said the ministry is in the process of coming up with an approach to have a no-fly list that is based on safety. "... if passengers behave in an unruly or disruptive manner and endanger the safety of all of us in an aeroplane, then we will have a way of ensuring they are not able to fly and are appropriately dealt with," he said. 
      Noting that the ministry is blazing a new trail on the no-fly list based on safety apart from security considerations, Sinha said it is a serious matter that needs a great deal of deliberations. 
      The government decided to have a no-fly list in the wake of instances of unruly behaviour by air passengers, especially in the case of Shiva Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad who assaulted an Air India staffer last month. 

    General Awareness

    PM Modi released 23 volumes of Vachana of Basavanna & other saints on social reformer’s birth anniversary

    • On April 29, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, unveiled translated volumes of Vachana, penned by 12th century social reformer Basavanna and other saints in 23 Indian languages to commemorate the 883rd birth anniversary of Basavanna. PM Modi also released the digital version of the work at first ever national level celebration of Basava Jayanthi in New Delhi.
      • This event coincides with golden jubilee of Basava Samithi, which has been actively propagating Basava philosophy and the teachings of other saints of 12th Century across the world. Basava Samithi was set up by former Vice-President of India, Dr. B.D. Jatti in year 1964.
      • The translation of 23 Vachana volumes, edited by esteemed literary scholar late M M Kalburgi was commissioned by the Bengaluru based Basava Samithi. More than 200 people were involved in the translation work. Rs. 2.5 crore was spent on this activity, out of which Rs. 1 crore was contributed by Karnataka State Govt.
      What is Vachana?
      The literal meaning of Vachana is ‘that what is said’. In context of Kannada literature, it is a prosaic text written in rhythmic style which flourished in 12th century. It was prominently used by Basavanna and other saints for spreading social awareness and bringing equality in the society.
      About Basavanna: 
      • Basavanna was a 12th-century statesman, philosopher, poet and asocial reformer during the reign of the king Bijjala I in Karnataka, India.
      • Through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanas, he spread social awareness and strived to bring equality in the society.
      • Basavanna was against superstitions, rituals and discrimination of any form.
      • As the chief minister of his kingdom, Basavanna introduced a public institution which was referred to as Anubhava Mantapa(translated as “hall of spiritual experience”). This institution welcomed men and women from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to openly discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life.
      At inauguration of International Basava Convention, PM Modi hailed Anubhava Mantapa as first parliament of India.

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