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Current Affairs - 19 April 2017

General Affairs 

Supreme Court Seeks Centre's Reply On Plea For Policy On National Anthem, Song
  • The Supreme Court today sought response from the centre in four weeks on a plea seeking framing of a policy for promoting the national anthem and the national song.

    A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra issued notice and asked the centre to file its reply on the plea which also sought to ascertain the feasibility of singing the national anthem and the national song in parliament, assemblies, courts, schools and colleges on working days.

    The petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay sought directions for taking steps to promote brotherhood and national integrity in the country.

    On February 17, the top court had refused to go into the debate for making singing of the national song mandatory in schools and clarified that it has "kept alive" such a plea only for the national anthem without expressing any view on it.

    The top court had on November 30 last year ordered cinema halls across the nation to mandatorily play the national anthem before screening of a movie when the audience must stand and show respect.

    The order had come on a PIL filed by one Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking directions that the national anthem should be played in cinema halls across the country before a film begins and proper norms and protocol be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

    The top court, while passing a slew of directions, had also observed that "time has come when citizens must realise they live in a nation and are duty-bound to show respect to the national anthem which is a symbol of constitutional patriotism and inherent national quality".

    The top court had in February clarified that the audience need not stand when the national anthem is sung or played in the storyline of a feature film or part of a newsreel or documentary.

Students Must Learn Hindi Till Class X In The North, South Gets Reprieve
  • The NDA government has decided to make Hindi compulsory till Class X in north India but rejected a controversial recommendation that this rule should apply to students in non-Hindi speaking states. It has also turned down a suggestion that anyone aspiring for a central government job should know Hindi.

    But the decision to make Hindi mandatory till Class X will not be executed immediately.

    A Presidential order has ordered the Human Resources Development Ministry to come up with a policy in consultation with state governments to change the curriculum. Hindi is the central government's official language under the Constitution.

    The recommendations were made in the 2011 report of the Committee of Parliament on Official Language that is mandated under the Constitution to recommend steps to increase use of Hindi in government business.

    Under the existing scheme, Hindi is a compulsory language in north India till Class VIII. In Classes IX and X, CBSE students have the option of studying some other language including Sanskrit. Last year, the CBSE had suggested extending the three-language formula - English and any two Indian languages - to Class IX and X.

    The parliamentary panel had called for a hard push to the language. It wanted the government to move parliament to make sure that students across the country have to study Hindi as a compulsory subject till Class X.

    Conscious that this could lead to protests from non-Hindi speaking states, the Modi government said it would only accept this recommendation for the 8 north Indian states and union territories classified as Region 'A' states. Besides Delhi and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the six Hindi-speaking states are Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

    It, however, accepted a recommendation that a minimum level of Hindi education be fixed in all educational institutions.

    The parliamentary panel's thrust on Hindi in school education and as an eligibility condition for government jobs was aimed at ensuring that the government transacts more business within the central government in Hindi.

Check Train Delays Or Face Action: Rail Minister To Officials
  • With a number of complaints being received over late running of trains, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu has cracked the whip on officials concerned, asking them to improve punctuality rate or "face action".

    Zonal heads have been asked to deploy a senior-level officer in the night shift between 10 PM and 7 AM immediately to monitor the situation and address the problems, if any, to prevent delay in train timings.

    Besides, Mr Prabhu has also taken note of discrepancies between train timings data available on national train enquiry system (NTES), the official website of Indian Railways, and actual train timings being experienced by passengers.

    In a letter to the officials, he has sought immediate corrective measures to obviate the problems.

    The punctuality rate has deteriorated further to 79 per cent during April 1-16 period, as compared to 84 per cent in the corresponding period last year, a decrease of 4 per cent.

    Analysis of performance of zonal railways reveals that punctuality has registered a sharp drop over Eastern Railway (-8.9 per cent), North Eastern Railway (-11 per cent), East Central Railway (-10 per cent), South East Central Railway (11 per cent), West Central Railway (-8 per cent) and Konkan Railway (-6.9 per cent).

    Division-wise analysis of punctuality reveals that the performance of 11 divisions including Varanasi, Mumbai, Sambalpur, Danapur, Samastipur, Jhansi, Jabalpur leaves much to be desired, according to the letter written by Railway Minister office to all zonal heads.

    The Railway Minister has expressed his deep concern regarding further deterioration by over 4 per cent in punctuality between 1-16 April and directed that very close monitoring of these divisions should be done by senior officers in the 10 PM-7 AM  shift with immediate effect, the letter stated.

    According to the instruction, besides monitoring overall performance, these officers should take immediate steps to minimise asset failure time and co-ordinate with divisional and control offices of neighbouring divisions to make up for delay, if any, in their own divisions.

    The names and mobile numbers of these officers should be conveyed to Board's Punctuality Control on a daily basis, it stated.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi To Honour Bureaucrats On Civil Services Day
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will honour bureaucrats for effectively implementing key programmes of the central government on Civil Services Day on April 21.

    Like previous years, Civil Services Day celebrations will be held for two days beginning Thursday.

    Home Minister Rajnath Singh will be the chief guest at the inaugural session on April 20, according to an official release today.

    The PM's awards for excellence will be based primarily on excellence in implementation of five priority programmes --Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), e-National Agriculture Market (eNAM) and Standup India, Startup India.

    In addition, awards shall also be presented for innovative works done in areas of environment, conservation, disaster management, education, health, women and child initiatives, etc.

    There will be different breakaway sessions on agriculture, energy, skill development and entrepreneurship.

    The plenary session of Civil Services Day, on 'creating value through human capital management in government', will be chaired by Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh.

Declare Your Assets Every Year, Yogi Adityanath Tells His Ministers
  • In a fresh direction and stern tone, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told ministers in his government to declare their assets and property by March 31 every year. An official said on Tuesday that the Chief Minister also warned the ministers against any laxity in this regard.

    Right after his oath ceremony last month, Yogi Adityanath had told his cabinet ministers to submit details of their wealth within 15 days. And now he wants them to make it a yearly ritual.

    The ministers have been told to keep a distance from contractors and business entities. And any gift that costs more than Rs. 5,000 is not to be accepted, he specified. 

    They have been refrained from staying in luxurious properties and discouraged to attend parties and dinners. For personal visits as well as official tours, the ministers have been instructed to stay in government Circuit House and not to accept favours from anyone. 

    Earlier, he had urged "all his ministerial colleagues to shun siren and hooters as they create noise pollution".

    Ever since Mr Adityanath took charge of Uttar Pradesh in March, he has been advising ministers and officials to change their working style and work towards better and cleaner governance.

    He asked top officials to be transparent in recruitments and not work under political pressure. He also expects them to work 18-20 hours a day.

    It's not just a corruption-free system that Mr Adityanath is aspiring for, he also wants the state to be clean in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. 

    He asked his ministers to pledge to clean up their neighbourhoods and commit at least 100 hours every year to the cause. He also banned all forms of tobacco from the government headquarters after spotting gutka and paan stains on the floors and walls.

Business Affairs 

Petrol pumps in eight states to be shut on Sundays from May 14
  • Beginning May 14, fuel outlets in eight states will be shut every Sunday following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to conserve oil, a fuel pump owners' body said here on Tuesday.
    "We had planned to shut our outlets on Sundays a few years back. But oil marketing companies had then requested us to reconsider our decision. Now we have decided to shut the outlets on Sundays," said Suresh Kumar, an executive committee member of the consortium of Indian petroleum dealers.
    He said the association's decision was made in view of the Prime Minister's call during his recent 'Mann ki baat' programme to conserve oil to save the environment.
    Kumar, also the vice-president of Tamil Nadu Petroleum Dealers Association, said nearly 20,000 outlets in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Haryana would be shut for 24 hours on Sundays, starting May 14.
    "In Tamil Nadu, we expect a business loss of Rs 150 crore if we do not operate on a Sunday. But we have been seeing a decline in sales on Sundays by upto 40 per cent," he said.
    Asked if the association's decision was supported by the OMCs, he said, "We will communicate our decision to them shortly."
    Kumar said the fuel outlets which normally have about 15 staff each would have one staff member on the holidays to provide fuel if there was an emergency situation.
    On the issue of OMCs hiking the margins to petroleum outlets, he said the association was discussing it and would soon make an announcement in this regard.
    "That struggle is going on. We are meeting our association members shortly. We will announce our decision soon," he said. 

Economy to grow 7.2% in FY18; GST to have positive impact: World Bank
  • The effects of demonetisation could continue on the informal sector even as the Indian economy is set to witness 7.2 per cent growth this financial year which is expected to rise further to 7.5 per cent in 2018-19, says a World Bank report. 
    The estimate is similar to the growth pegged by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for 2018 on April 1, 2017. 
    "Indian economy is expected to grow at 7.2 per cent in 2017 and at the rate of 7.7 per cent in 2018," Jaitley said at the second annual meeting of the New Development Bank (NDB).
    In its report on the South Asian Economy, the World Bank said that "significant risks" to economic growth could emanate from fallout of demonetisation on small and informal economy, stress in the financial sector and uncertainty in global environment.
    Also, a rapid increase in oil and other commodity prices could have a negative implication for the economy, it added. The country's economic growth is expected to see an uptick at 7.2 per cent this fiscal and further accelerate to 7.5 per cent in 2018-19, the report said.
    The growth slowed down to 6.8 per cent in 2016-17 due to a combination of weak investments and the impact of demonetisation, the World Bank said, adding that timely and smooth implementation of the GST could prove to be a significant "upside risk" to economic activity in 2017-18.
    As per the report, the economic growth is projected to increase gradually to 7.7 per cent by 2019-20, underpinned by a recovery in private investments, which are expected to be crowded in by the recent increase in public capex and an improvement in the investment climate.
    "India's economic momentum suffered a modest setback due to demonetisation, while the poor and vulnerable likely witnessed a larger negative shock. The economy is expected to recover and growth will gradually accelerate to 7.7 per cent by 2019-20," it said.
    The demonetisation, the World Bank said, caused an immediate cash crunch, and activity in cash-reliant sectors was affected.
    The GDP growth slowed to 7 per cent during the third quarter of 2016-17, from 7.3 per cent during the first half of the fiscal. India's fiscal, inflation and external conditions are expected to remain stable, the US-based multilateral lending agency said, adding that the centre will continue to consolidate modestly, while retaining the push towards infrastructure spending.
    "Inflation will stabilise, supported by favourable weather and structural reforms. Normal monsoons have so far offset increases in petroleum prices," it said.
    Referring to the external factor, it said exchange rate has appreciated, partly reflecting expectations of a narrowing inflation gap between India and the US and limited external vulnerabilities as the current account deficit is expected to remain below 2 per cent of the GDP and fully financed by FDI inflows.
    It said challenges to India's favourable growth outlook could stem from continued uncertainties in the global environment, including rising global protectionism and a sharp slowdown in the Chinese economy, which could further delay a meaningful recovery of external demand.
    It said there is a great uncertainty about the extent to which demonetisation caused small, informal firms to exit and shed jobs. Also, private investment continues to face several impediments in the form of corporate debt overhang, stress in the financial sector, excess capacity and regulatory and policy challenges.

TCS Q4 net profit grows 4.2% to Rs 6,608 crore
  • The country's largest software exporter TCS on Tuesday reported 4.2 per cent growth in net profit at Rs 6,608 crore for the quarter ended March 2017.
    The company had reported net profit of Rs 6,340 crore in the same period last fiscal as per Indian accounting norms.
    The Tata Group company, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of the group's overall profit, reported a revenue growth of 4.2 per cent at Rs 29,642 crore for the said quarter, up from Rs 28,449 crore a year earlier.
    "2016-17 was a year of broad-based growth amid economic and political turbulence in our key markets. We added $1.4 billion in constant currency revenues during the year," TCS CEO and MD Rajesh Gopinathan said.
    He added that the company's digital business grew 29 per cent annually to $3 billion, with most industries showing double-digit growth.
    At the end of the fourth quarter, digital revenues were at 17.9 per cent, with a sequential growth of 7.6 per cent.
    For the entire 2016-17, TCS saw its net profit growing 8.3 per cent to Rs 26,289 crore while revenue was up 8.6 per cent at Rs 1,17,966 crore.
    During the January-March 2017 quarter, TCS added 20,093 employees (gross) while on a net basis, the addition was 8,726, taking the overall employee strength to 3,87,223.
    Attrition rate was at 11.5 per cent on LTM basis.

      Crackdown on 4 lakh shell companies over non filing of I-T returns
      • Four lakh shell companies feel the heat of deregistration over non filing of income tax returns, reports TOI.
        Over a third of the 11 lakh active Indian companies could be deregistered as they have failed to file their returns for three financial years.
        Quoting the sources, the report said that starting last month, notices are being sent out to over four lakh companies, which have failed to file returns for 2013-14 and 2014-15 with the registrar of companies.
        Meanwhile, the companies are being given time span of 30 days to do the needful. If any of the firm would fail to file the returns, its name would be strike off  by the government.
        To ensure that the defunct companies are unable to undertake transactions, the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) will make their names public and also share information about the companies and their directors with the income tax department, banks and the Reserve Bank of India, added the report.
        The Companies Act now allows firms to have a "dormant" tag, however, very few companies have actually opted for it.
        At the end of March 2015, there were 14.6 lakh companies, but only 10.2 lakh were considered active with just 214 classified as dormant.
        The sources said told TOI, that just the threat of names being struck off has prompted several companies to file their returns.
        The government has launched a drive against shell companies after it found that many of those were depositing cash during demonetisation.
        The Centre also has set up a taskforce to make a roadmap to ensure that they are not used as vehicles for tax evasion and money laundering.

      Sensex, Nifty slip to end in the red; Tata Steel top loser; Liquor baron Vijay Mallya arrested
      • The S&P BSE Sensex ended the day at 29,319.10, down 94.56 points while the Nifty50 settled the day 9,105.15, 34.15 points lower.
        The benchmark indices slipped in afternoon trade after touching highs.
        Stocks of Adani Enterprises surged over 30 per cent in intraday trade, hitting a 52-week high on the account of volumes being traded on the bourses. The stock saw a long build up during the day and was trading with volumes of 7,014,165 shares.
        Dragging the market down was Tata Steel and Coal India shed over 2 per cent on the BSE.
        In related news, Liquor baron Vijay Mallya has been arrested in London.
        He is currently being held by UK police and will be produced in Metropolitan court today. 
        3.20 PM:
        The Indian benchmark indices reversed its gains to trade in the red with the Sensex falling over 100 points and the Nifty trading below 9,150-level.
        Tata Steel and Coal India were the top losers shedding over 2 per cent in trade. 
        On the NSE, Ambuja Cemets took a beating, dragging the bourse lower. 
        1.13 PM:
        Markets dip from day's highs as Nifty falls below 9,200-mark while the BSE Sensex trades 29,571.76, 158 points up.
        12.00 PM:
        NSE Nifty reclaims the psychological 9,200-mark and BSE benchmark Sensex soared about 280 points in midday trade on Tuesday, triggered by across-the-board buying amid mixed overseas cues.
        Brokers said value-buying in select bluechips coupled with a mixed trend in other regional markets following positive lead from Wall Street influenced sentiment here.
        11.01 AM:
        80 per cent of the Nifty stocks are trading in the green led by RIL, Adani Ports and Hindalco.
        Major laggards on the NSE are COAL India and Bharti Airtel.
        10.09 AM:
        Shares of Delta Corp, Indian real estate, gaming and hospitality corporation that owns and operates casinos and hotels under several brands, has climbed 5.40 per cent on the BSE with a positive bias.
        10.00 AM:
        Adani Enterprises was up 16.82 per cent while Adani Transport was trading over 5 per cent and Adani Ports was up 3 per cent.
        TCS was trading flat, up 0.12 per cent as investors awaited its Q4 results after the shareholders approved buyback plan yesterday.
        Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest software exporter, on Monday said its shareholders have approved a Rs 16,000 crore share buyback plan.
        The board of directors passed the buyback programme through a special resolution saw 99.81 per cent of the total number of valid votes being cast in favour of the proposal, the company said in a regulatory filing.
        The proposed shares under the buyback represent 2.85 per cent of the total paid up equity share capital at Rs 2,850 per equity share.
        India's IT companies are looking at returning cash to their investors amid uncertainity which is hindering their growth prospects.
        Gruh Finance gained 6.54 per cent after the company announced an increase of 25.7 per cent in its net profit at Rs 110.45 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2017.
        Punjab National Bank gained over 1 per cent and Bank of Baroda was up 0.71 per cent after reports that these public banks may take over smaller lenders in a move to raise fresh capital, and changes in the hiring policy, including increased lateral entry. 
        Among other buzzing stocks were Bank of Inida was up 4.96 per cent and  CL educate was up 1.90 per cent.
        9.52 AM:
        Shares of ITC were trading at 1.34 per cent on the BSE. 
        9.50 AM:
        The S&P BSE Sensex was trading at 29,657.43, surging 245 points while the Nifty50 was at 9,207.30, 68 points higher.
        9.02 AM: 
        Sensex and Nifty gain in pre-opening trade.

        8.45 AM:
        Indian domestic markets are likely to open on a flat note on Tuesday following Nifty futures on the Singapore Stock Exchange and mixed global cues.
        Investors are on the lookout for Tata Consultancy Services after its shareholders on Monday approved the company's Rs 16,000-crore share buyback plan, the company said in a regulatory filing on BSE on Monday.
        The IT major will announce its financial results for the quarter ended March 31, 2017 later in the day.
        Among the other companies that will announce their Q4 results are: VST Industries, Muthoot Capital Services and Hindustan Oil Exploration.
        Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was trading at 0.86 per cent lower and Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.11 per cent in morning trade. However, Nikkei was trading higher by 0.34 per cent.
        On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 183.67 points to 20,636.92 on Monday, the S&P 500 added 20.06 points to 2,349.01 and the Nasdaq Composite added 51.64 points to 5,856.79.

        General Awareness

        Centre launches training program for women panchayat leaders

        • The Centre launched a training programme for Women Panchayat leaders to skill and administers them so that they can give special emphasis on efficient usage of funds for achieving their overall development.
          Major Points:
          • The objective of launching this training programme is to bring awareness of the laws and rights of women under Constitution of India.
          • The National Commission for Women (NCW) with the help of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has developed training modules for empowering these elected women.
          • To build the confidence of the women representatives in dealing with the daily functioning of the panchayats.
          • They will get training under experts from the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD and PR) in Hyderabad.
          • During the programme, Union Ministers Maneka Gandhi and Narendra Singh Tomar interacted with select women village heads from Jhakhand through video conferencing and requested them to take keen interest in learning about various development schemes of the government.
          • The main focus of this scheme is to learn how funds are allocated for various development programmes.
          • How to utilized money efficiently for a particular panchayat and how to ensure the quality of the assets.
          • It would ensure that women representatives do not have to depend on male representatives in running the panchayats.
          • This scheme is launched by seeing the challenges faced by women panchayat representatives and the day to day problems faced by them.
          Maneka Gandhi suggested women panchayat representatives to get an overall idea on how houses and sanitation infrastructures are constructed (Tiolets, drains)
          • To ensure that there will be no trafficking of women.
          • To ensure how to spend the money allocated for various projects.
          • To be aware of how many girls in your area attending school
          • To figure out why girl students are dropping out and look for a solution.
          • To provide special focus on women education in villages.
          • Opening of accounts is must for women so that no one can cheat them.
          • To use cashless modes of payment including the Bhim app.
          • To form a WhataApp groups to discuss and share among themselves their experiences and best practices along with achievements in order to boost each other.

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