Current Affairs Current Affairs - 18 April 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 18 April 2017

General Affairs 

PM Narendra Modi Announces Extension Of Deadline For Procurement Of Pulses
  • In a relief to farmers across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the government has decided to extend the deadline for procurement of pulses by one week.

    Addressing a large gathering in Bajipura, PM Modi also thanked the farmers for accepting his appeal to grow more tur dal. The Prime Minister hit out at the opposition for attacking him on the issue of price rise of dals within days of his assuming office in 2014.

    "Due to a late monsoon last year, the sowing and harvesting of pulses got delayed. That is why we had decided to procure the pulses at MSP (minimum support price) for the first time," he said.

    "Recently, the farmers made a representation to me and sought extension of the deadline we set for buying the pulses from farmers," PM Modi said.

    "They urged me not to discontinue the procurement being done by NAFED after 15th (April). Today, I want to announce that we have extended the deadline for one week. This will benefit all those farmers whose crops are still being harvested," he said.

    Recalling his initial days as Prime Minister, PM Modi hit out at the opposition for blaming the then newly elected BJP-led dispensation for the price rise of pulses.

    "Within one week of assuming the charge (in 2014), the people, who disliked me, started criticising me on the issue of price rise in dals.

    "We were blamed even before the flowers in our victory garland dried. That price rise was the legacy we inherited. Despite that we were blamed for snatching away dal from the poor," he said.

    "At that time, I appealed to the farmers to focus on cultivating pulses such as moong, arhar and tur. Today, I want to thank the farmers for accepting my appeal, as we had a bumper crop of pulses this time. This has not only shut the mouths of many but also provided cheap dal to the citizens," PM Modi said.

    He was here to inaugurate a cattle feed plant of the Surat District Co Operative Milk Producers' Union, popularly known as Sumul Dairy.

    PM Modi also inaugurated an ice cream plant built by the dairy at Navi Pardi village and laid the foundation stone for various other projects by the dairy through remote control.

    He urged farmers to start various other activities under the cooperative set up, such as installing solar power panels, constructing bio-gas plants and honey production.

    Apart from various projects of Sumul, PM Modi also performed the symbolic ground breaking ceremony of a Rs. 958 crore irrigation project for the tribal-dominated Narmada, Tapi and Surat districts.

    PM Modi also inaugurated a Rs. 440 crore project of providing drinking water in some hilly areas of Tapi district using a pipeline network.

    Terming this project as an important technological achievement of Gujarat government, PM Modi said many parts of the country are still deprived of the basic amenities.

    "This pipeline is so large that you can drive your car in it. This is a significant achievement," he said.

    "I tell you how the past governments worked for 70 years. Whenever I visit other states, the poor people request me to build roads using clay, while in Gujarat people tell me to build four lane roads. This is the difference," he said.

    "Even today, there are many villages where installation of a hand pump is considered as a significant work," he said.

    "In other states, you can win elections three or four times by just installing a hand pump while here, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani is working towards making Gujarat hand pump free by providing tap water," he added.

Hundreds Of Students Clash with Security Forces During Kashmir Protests
  • Hundreds of students, many of them in school uniforms, clashed with the security forces in Kashmir today during protests against police action in a college on Saturday. The violence erupted in Srinagar after a day-long protest, and spread within hours to other parts of the Kashmir Valley including Tral and Sopore.

    As young men and women students wearing white headscarves joined the protesters, chanting slogans and throwing stones, the police used batons and tear gas to disperse them. Around 70 students were reportedly injured in the clashes. On Saturday, 50 students -- many of them women --  were injured as the police entered a college in Pulwama to hunt for men they said were involved in violence during the April 9 by-election in Srinagar.

    The Kashmir University Students' Union, a banned organisation, called for protests in all colleges and universities. The forces are not supposed to enter college or university premises without special permission, say students.

    By mid-morning today, violence was reported from at least four institutions in the Valley - including the Kashmir University and the Women's College in Srinagar and colleges in Tral and Sopore.

    As the ruling People's Democratic Party called for action against the policemen involved, former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah posted a series of comments targeting the government Tension has been simmering in the Kashmir Valley since the Srinagar parliamentary by-poll - eight people were killed in firing by security forces and around 200 incidents of violence were reported that day following a boycott call by separatists. Around 100 securitymen were also injured in the violence. On Saturday, videos were circulated that allegedly showed a vendor shot dead by securitymen. Another video showed a young man tied to an army jeep as a human shield against stone-throwing protesters.

    The protests by students come as the state police confront one of their biggest challenges - attacks by terrorists on the houses of policemen in south Kashmir. The state police chief has issued an advisory asking his men to avoid visiting their homes after the attacks. The opposition has called it a total collapse of law and order.

'Quota Bill Is A Trash Paper', BJP Rejects Hike In Reservation For Muslims
  • Dubbing the bill to hike quota for Muslims, which was passed in the Telangana assembly yesterday, as a "trash paper", the BJP today said it has no legal and constitutional sanctity and would be "quashed" at the central government level. 

    The government of K Chandrasekhar Rao in Telangana has increased quota in jobs and education for Muslims from 4 per cent to 12 per cent fulfilling its pre-election promise. But the BJP has strongly opposed the move calling it communal politics and that it would utilise the issue to politically "rise" in the state.

    "At the party level, we are going to utilise this as a great opportunity for BJP's rise in Telangana. At the (central) government level, this will be quashed right at the beginning," BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao said. 

    Mr Rao added that during the passage of the bill in both houses, the state government did not follow due process and system. "Religion cannot be a basis for reservations, and legally it's not viable as both the Supreme Court and high court have capped reservations at 50 per cent," he said.

    The local BJP unit will move court challenging the bill. "They (the government) haven't followed the correct process, so the bill is just like a trash paper, it does not have any validity. It will not stand the scrutiny of courts," he said. 

    In the recently concluded BJP national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar, this issue has been discussed and the bill would go "no further", he said. 

    "The government has been irresponsible and the bill has undermined the rightful constitutional reservation for Backward Classes," he said. The party would launch a "massive agitation" against reservation for Muslims, Mr Rao said. 

    "It (the agitation) is not going to be reactive one... one day or two days. We are going to expose Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) duplicity through one to one-and-half years leading up to elections," he said. 

    He added the BJP is okay with increasing reservation for Scheduled Tribes from 6 per cent to 10 per cent. The hike takes reservations from the present 50 per cent to 62 per cent in Telangana.

PM Narendra Modi Hints At Rules For Doctors To Prescribe Generic Drugs
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today indicated that his government may bring in a legal framework under which doctors will have to prescribe generic medicines, which are cheaper than equivalent branded drugs, to patients. PM Modi said his government brought in a health policy after 15 years and capped the prices of medicines and stents, which has angered some pharmaceutical companies.

    Speaking at the inauguration of a charitable hospital in Surat, he exhorted the wealthy people to come forward and contribute towards health care of the needy people

    "Doctors write prescriptions in such a way that poor people do not understand the handwriting, and he has to buy that medicine from private stores at high prices," PM Modi said. "We will bring in a legal framework by which if a doctor writes a prescription, he has to write in it that it will be enough for patients to buy generic medicine and he need not buy any other medicine," he said.

    "We have done this work, and you can imagine how angry the manufacturers of medicines will be. Despite the wrath of a very powerful lobby, the government is taking one step after another so that poor people and middle class get quality health services," the Prime Minister said. 

    Targeting pharma companies, PM Modi said, "When I was in Gujarat, I used to attract the wrath of many (by my decisions). Now when I have gone to Delhi, I have been instrumental in making many people angry.  Everyday, I do some work which makes some or other person sulk," he said.

    He said the government has implemented the 'Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Pariyojna', where people get generic medicines from stores at reasonable rates.

India's 680 Crores Worth Of Locomotives, Train Sets To Boost Sri Lanka Railways

  • In its largest export order for any public transporter, Indian Railways are going to supply modern locomotives and train sets to Sri Lanka worth six hundred and eighty crore rupees.

    Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES), a railway PSU, has secured its largest export order from Sri Lanka Railways for the supply of ten broad gauge diesel locomotives and six diesel multiple units (DMU) train sets.

    DMU train sets do not require separate locomotive as the engines are incorporated into one or more of its coaches.

    According to a senior Railway Ministry Official, All locomotives and train sets would be equipped with state-of-the-art technology and manufactured in Varanasi and Chennai.

    The contract will be funded under the Indian Line of Credit to Sri Lanka announced in 2011, and supplies will be made over the next two years, the official said.

    Since October 2016, the total amount of assistance to the Sri Lanka Railways from India for the development of the sector, in Sri Lanka has been up to $1,284 million.

    RITES, which also serves as the export arm of the railways, is at present executing a contract for the supply of eighteen locomotives to Myanmar Railways as well.

    It had earlier exported 20 DMU train sets, three locomotives to Sri Lanka, besides providing expertise for setting up railway maintenance facilities and training of the island nation's railway officials during the period 2008-12.

    Supplies of locomotives from Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) in Varanasi would be completed in 2017-18.

    RITES has also actively pursued exports of locomotives and passenger coaches to Bangladesh Railway. It has exported 120 LHB coaches from its Kapurthala factory.

    It has been the endeavour of RITES to facilitate rail infrastructure development in the South Asian countries, particularly in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

    In order to foster regional cooperation with these countries, the government has been extending various lines of credit for funding railway projects for export of Indian Railways-manufactured locomotives and rolling stock.

Business Affairs 

Indiabulls Real Estate stock hits seven-year high on restructuring plan
  • The Indiabulls Real Estate stock rose up to 40 percent today after its board considered the restructuring of business via demerger.
    At 15:02 hours, the stock was trading 39.16 percent higher at Rs 147.30 level on the BSE. 
    It closed 39.96 percent or 42.30 points higher at Rs 148.15 on BSE. 
    In a filing to the BSE, the firm said its board today considered the possibility of streamlining its existing 'residential', 'commercial' and 'leasing' businesses by segregating 'commercial and leasing' business carried on by itself and/or through its SPVs and vesting the same into 'Indiabulls Commercial Assets Ltd' (ICAL) and restructuring/reorganizing its businesses by either (i) restructuring by way of placing ICAL as a separate holding co under the Company to hold its assets and investments relating to 'commercial and leasing' business segment and to undertake the business & operations of 'commercial and leasing' business segment and/or explore opportunities to bring in strategic investments; or (ii) by reorganizing its existing businesses by way of a demerger of the undertakings, business, activities and operations pertaining to its commercial and leasing business segments.
    The stock which opened at 108 level, hit a 52-week high of Rs 150.90 on the BSE. About 23.22 million shares of the firm were traded on the BSE. The stock is up 108.08 percent on an year-to-date basis. 

Wholesale inflation cools to 5.70% even as food prices heat up
  • Inflation based on the wholesale price index slipped to 5.70 per cent in March as manufactured goods showed cost decline even as food prices hardened.
    The WPI inflation, reflecting the annual rate of price rise, in February was 6.55 per cent. In March 2016, the print came in at (-)0.45 per cent.
    According to official data released today, food prices saw a sharp rise of 3.12 per cent in March compared to 2.69 per cent in the previous month.
    This is primarily because of a steep price jump in vegetables where inflation stood at 5.70 per cent. As for fruits, the figure was also high at 7.62 per cent, while for egg, meat and fish, it was 3.12 per cent.
    Fuel inflation declined to 18.16 per cent, from 21.02 per cent in February.
    The manufactured items witnessed some softening in price rise, with inflation at 2.99 per cent in March, as against 3.66 per cent in the previous month.
    The government also revised upwards January inflation to 5.53 per cent from the provisional estimate of 5.25 per cent.
    Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank had left key policy rate unchanged at 6.25 per cent for the third review in a row citing upside risks to inflation. It had, however, increased the reverse repo rate -- which it pays to banks for parking funds with it -- by 0.25 per cent to 6 per cent, narrowing the policy rate corridor.
    For 2017-18, it projected retail inflation to average 4.5 per cent in the first half and 5 per cent in the second half.
    Data released last week showed that retail inflation touched a five-month high of 3.81 per cent in March on costlier food items and non-food products like fuel and light.
    RBI frames its monetary policy stance on the basis of retail inflation.

Supreme Court orders auction of Sahara's Rs 34,000 crore Aamby Valley properties
  • Supreme Court on Monday ordered auction of Sahara's Rs 34,000 crore Aamby Valley properties over the business conglomerate's failure to deposit money for refunding to its investors.
    The Supreme Court bench also directed that Sahara Group's Subrata Roy be personally present in the next date of hearing on April 28th in the case.
    "Enough is enough. You cannot say something today and resile tomorrow," a bench, comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, said, taking strong note of non- submission of over Rs 5,000 crore by the Sahara group.
    The bench also cautioned Roy from playing with the court's order and said non-compliance of its order would invite the wrath of the law and ultimately he will be at his own peril. 
    If you can't pay, go to jail, the top court said.
    The Supreme Court had earlier warned the Sahara Group that it would auction its prime property worth Rs 39,000 crore at Aamby Valley in Pune if Rs 5092.6 crore is not paid by the company by April 17 as promised.
    Last month, a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra directed the international real estate firm, which had shown willingness to buy Sahara's stake in New York- based Plaza Hotel for $550 million, to deposit Rs 750 crore in the SEBI-Sahara refund account instead of the apex court registry to show its bonafide.
    "We will auction your (Sahara) Aamby Valley project if the money is not deposited within the stipulated time period as promised," the bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, observed.
    The apex court had also asked Sahara Group to provide it within two weeks the list of "unencumbered properties" which can be put for public auction to realise the remaining over Rs 14,000 crore of the principal amount of around Rs 24,000 crore that has to be deposited in the SEBI-Sahara account for refunding money to the investors.
    SC on May 6, 2016 granted a four-week parole to Roy to attend the funeral of his mother. His parole has been extended by the court ever since. Roy was sent to Tihar jail on March 4, 2014.
    Besides Roy, two other directors -- Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary -- were arrested for the failure of the group's two companies -- Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) -- to comply with the court's August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors.
    However, director Vandana Bhargava was not taken into custody.

      E-commerce definition too wide in GST dispensation: Assocham
      • Industry body Assocham on Monday said that government must clearly outline the scope of 'e-commerce' under the GST, as the current definition can include even commodity derivatives exchanges where there is no actual delivery of goods.
        The term 'e-commerce' may get misinterpreted in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) law, industry chamber Assocham said.
        "E-commerce definition, as given in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) dispensation, has been left so wide that it could go well beyond Amazon or Flipkart marketplace platforms and may even cover the commodity exchanges," Assocham said.
        The chamber has sought clarity from government to remove uncertainty among businesses as the law is set for a rollout either in July or September.
        "The scope of the term 'electronic commerce' is very wide and does not restrict itself to cover electronic marketplace service providers like Amazon, Flipkart.
        "It covers all businesses where the supply of goods /services is through a digital or electronic network," Assocham said in a communication to concerned ministries.
        There are possibilities of unwarranted interpretations as futures and commodity exchanges may get treated as electronic marketplaces even though derivatives trading means no delivery of actual goods, it said.
        "In our opinion such an interpretation will not be in consonance with the object and intent of special provisions for the electronic commerce business. There are distinguishing legal and operational factors between e-commerce operators and commodity exchanges," the industry body said.
        "The commodities exchanges cannot be treated as electronic commerce operator in their legal capacity as well as in common parlance."
        It has also sought clarity on treatment of goods and services under GST for exports, gems and jewellery, MSME sector, banking and telecom.
        "The Assocham would like a seamless and flawless roll out of the GST to infuse a sense of confidence among the consumers, trade and industry. Eventually, the GST should become a showpiece of our reforms, its Secretary General D S Rawat said in the statement.
        The Central GST, one of the components of the law, is silent on exemptions provided on interest on loans.
        "The exemption under services tax, which exempts interest, should be replicated under GST," it said.
        GST is unification of multiple indirect taxes into a single law, hence, it is presumed current exemption would be continued for banking and other financial institution including non-banking financial company as these exemptions creates the basic foundation for taxing services provided by them, it added.

      NBCC signs deal with Bolix to import energy-efficient building solution
      • Government-owned construction firm NBCC (India) Ltd (formerly National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd) today signed an agreement with Poland's Bolix S.A. to import a building technology solution that can save energy consumption by up to 35 per cent.
        Headquartered in ?ywiec, the Polish firm is a leading producer of external thermal insulation and composite systems (ETICS) in Europe. It is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Berger Paints India, and recorded annual revenues of €35 million last year.
        "We have signed a Memorandum of Business Exploration (MoBE) with Bolix to use their thermal insulation technology, which can save energy cost by 30-35 per cent. The new technology will not only help improve the aesthetics of building façade, but will also extend the life of a building by up to 20 years," NBCC's Chairman and Managing Director Anoop Kumar Mittal told the media in Delhi today.
        NBCC will be using the ETICS technology in its ongoing and upcoming projects in India and abroad.
        Bolix will export these building materials and technology, and also plans to set up a dedicated facility in India.
        "We have many construction solutions with thermal applications that can have widespread usage across India. We have worked on Indian climatic conditions to optimise the usage and enhance the aesthetics," said Maciej Korbasiewicz, President of Bolix's Management Board.
        The application of the technology will be seen across many homes being built by the NBCC, which is constructing 30,000 houses in Delhi.
        Under the MoBE, NBCC will have an exclusive tie-up with Bolix to use the technology. Moving ahead, the two partners did not rule out the possibility of a joint venture. Setting up Bolix facilities in India by utilising locally available raw materials is also being explored.
        Over the years, Bolix has insulated over 100 million sq. m. of external walls and exports its technology and materials to Europe and the US. It uses acrylic plasters, silicone plasters, silicone-acrylic plasters, silicate plasters and mineral plasters for exteriors, interiors and ceramics usage.

        General Awareness

        India’s Economy will grow by 7.2% in 2017-2018 predicts World Bank

        • World Bank predicts India’s gross domestic product (GDP) to 7.2% in the 2017-2018 from 6.8% in this fiscal year.
          • Title of the World Bank report is “Globalization Backlash”.
          • According to Globalization Backlash India’s economic growth will rise to 7.7% in 2019-2020.
          • Exports to grow by 6% in the coming year.
          • The Globalization Backlash report focuses on the economic climate in the South Asia.
          • It predicts that the growth in this region will remain speedy and it is the fastest growing region in the world.
          • The analysis of World Bank has warned against significant risks to India’s favorable growth outlook.
          • There will be uncertainties in the global environment and the impact of demonetization.
          • Hikes in the oil prices and other commodities.
          • Hindrances in the private investments.
          • Inflation to grow by 5.2% in 2017-2018 and 5.4% in 2018-2019
          About World Bank:
          • President of World Bank is Jim Yong Kim
          • HQ Washington D.C. US

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