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Current Affairs - 6 April 2017

General Affairs 

He Was Hit By Bullets, Missile. How Officer Chetan Kumar Cheeta Gave Death The Slip
  • There was a tip-off about the presence of terrorists at a house in Bandipora's Hajjan area. The police and the army had launched a joint search operation on February 14. Three soldiers died and 15 security personnel were injured in the cross-firing.

    Central Reserve Police Force commander Chetan Kumar Cheeta was among the critically injured. He had nine bullet and high velocity missile injuries that pierced through his brain, abdomen, hands and eyes. His condition was critical, his chances of survival bleak, said doctors attending to him at AIIMS' trauma centre where he was airlifted from Base Hospital in Srinagar.

    But Mr Cheeta's determination to live stunned all. After his "miraculous" recovery, the proud soldier was today discharged from AIIMS.

    "I felt proud when the chief of army visited me. These are very proud moments of my life. You owe your life to the nation and when people acknowledge that it's a great thing," Mr Cheeta said while heading home.

    Mr Cheeta's wife Uma Singh was with him in the air ambulance at the Srinagar Airport as he was being transferred to AIIMS in Delhi. She was shocked but she didn't lose faith. She knew he will make it through.

    Daughter of an army officer, Ms Singh has known her husband since school days. "He fought this battle with death the way he fights the enemy. I was sure he would be victorious," she said.

    Mr Cheeta, the 45-year-old Commanding Officer of the CRPF's 45th battalion in Kashmir Valley, was in coma for 16 days and spent a month in the ICU. He underwent the first surgery at Base Hospital in Srinagar. That was an important surgery which saved his life, said doctors at AIIMS, who later performed multiple surgeries on him.

    "When he was brought to AIIMS, he was deeply comatose. He was in a bad shape, and had to be put on ventilator. His blood pressure had to be stabilised. It was a challenge for all of us to save him," said Dr Subodh Kumar, Trauma Surgery and Critical care, AIIMS.

    The last two months had been tough on Ms Singh as she had to take care of their two kids and look after her husband in the hospital. But she stayed strong. "The doctors said he was in coma, but whenever I met him and held his hands, he responded by moving his fingers. In that moment, I knew he was coming back to me," she said.

    She says her ultimate reward would be to see her husband back in his uniform and return to work.

    Home Minister Rajnath Singh, too, wants to see Mr Cheeta back in action. He took to Twitter to praise the courage of the officer and said, "Fortune favours the brave. Extremely happy to know that Cheeta has made a miraculous recovery," the minister said.

    The doctors said that Mr Cheeta would have to undergo physiotherapy and speech therapy for a few months for complete recovery.

Railways Get Tough With Food Contractors Violating Norms
  • Cracking down on errant caterers, railways have terminated a food contract and blacklisted 16 contractors besides collecting a fine of Rs. 1.8 crore in 2,108 cases related to food complaints in the last one year.

    In its endeavour to provide quality and hygienic food to passengers, railways have developed and operationalised an institutionalised mechanism for monitoring of quality and hygiene of catering services through regular inspections at various levels to address catering complaints.

    A centralised catering service monitoring cell (CSMC) has been operationalised to monitor and address the complaints from passengers besides a toll free number (1800-111- 321) for prompt redressal of passenger grievances relating to catering has been in operation for real time assistance to the travelling public.

    The CSMC gives real time assistance to 250-300 passengers per day, said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with catering.

    On the stringest measures taken against caterers, he said one contract has been terminated, another is under notice for termination while 16 contractors have been blacklisted for breach of terms of contracts in the last one year.

    Penal action arising out of irregularities, complaints and inspections are regularly taken against the licensee depending upon the gravity of lapse.

    Inspections at various levels are conducted in trains and stations wherein feedback from passengers through surveys for enhanced satisfaction of the passengers is taken.

    A Twitter handle with the address @IRCATERING has also been made operational to cater to the complaints/suggestions with regard to catering services.

    Another helpline (138) for rail-users to lodge complaints/suggestions regarding food and catering services is operational.

    Railways have also implemented e-catering facility at 357 major stations to provide wider options to passengers.

    Introduction of ready to eat and precooked food on trains has also been introduced through IRCTC to ensure supply of hot meals.

Maharashtra's Devendra Fadnavis Is Studying UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's Model Of Farm Loan Waiver
  • Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's quick announcement of a farm loan waiver has put pressure on another young BJP Chief Minister. Maharashtra's Devendra Fadnavis said today that his government is studying the Uttar Pradesh model.

    In the Maharashtra assembly, amid demands from members of his party and ally Shiv Sena that the state government announce a loan waiver for distressed farmers too, Mr Fadnavis, 46, said, "We will study how Uttar Pradesh will raise such a huge amount of money."  

    He later tweeted, "I have already instructed the Finance Secretary to study the UP farm loan waiver model. We are working hard to help our farmers since Day 1 of our government."

    The Maharashtra Chief Minister said his government has asked the centre for financial assistance. "If we don't get help from the centre, we are working on how a loan waiver can be granted," he said.

    Yogi Adityanath's announcement of a farm loan waiver came only 15 days after he took oath. The 44-year-old Chief Minister has written off loans taken by marginal and small farmers worth over 36,000 crore, in keeping with an election promise made by the BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said while campaigning in UP that if a BJP government came to power it would announce a farm loan waiver.

    Mr Fadnavis has been under pressure to announce such a package for debt-ridden farmers not only from within his party, but also from opposition parties.

    Shamburaje Desai of the Shiv Sena said today that two debt-ridden farmers had committed suicide in Wadgaon of the state's Satara district recently. "If Uttar Pradesh can make a provision of Rs. 36,000 crore to waive off loans up to Rs. 1 lakh, why can't Maharashtra. Our financial condition is better than Uttar Pradesh. UP Chief Minister did not wait for central government help," Mr Desai said.

    He demanded that the Rs. 30,500-crore that farmers in Maharashtra owe to banks should be written off before the Budget session ends on April 7.

Surprised They Called India 'Xenophobic', Says Sushma Swaraj On Attacks On Africans
  • Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj today asserted in parliament that attacks on Africans near Delhi were "criminal acts" and cannot be called racial. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is personally monitoring the cases, she said, emphasizing, "Before the inquiry is completed, please don't say it is driven by racial discrimination."

    The minister was speaking in the Lok Sabha, where some opposition leaders demanded to know what the government's response was to allegations of "racial attacks" on Africans in Greater Noida. "I was surprised and pained to see the charge that India is a xenophobic country," Ms Swaraj said.

    "It is wrong to say racial attack since this was done by an angry mob...Indians have also died in African nations, we didn't allege racial attacks?"

    On Monday, India reacted sharply as a group of 44 African envoys described the attacks as "xenophobic and racial" and accused the government of taking no "known, sufficient and visible" deterrent action. The envoys also said they would go to the UN Human Rights Council.

    This morning, Minister of State VK Singh met with the Dean of African Head of Missions.

    In two attacks last week that were caught on camera, four Nigerians were assaulted by a large group of people taking out a candlelight march at Greater Noida to protest against the death of a schoolboy of a suspected drug overdose and a Nigerian student was beaten mercilessly inside a mall by a mob.

    "The incident took place when some miscreants took advantage of the anger among locals in the death of 19-year-old Manish allegedly due to drug overdose," said Ms Swaraj.

    The minister said a third attack reported on a Kenyan woman was false and she had lied. "Six people have been arrested, is that not a sign we are taking action?"
    "They want to go to the UN Human Rights Council, we have all human rights institutions here...a free press, judiciary," Ms Swaraj said.

NASA's Cassini Probe Of Saturn Prepares For Last Plunge
  • NASA's unmanned Cassini spacecraft is preparing for its final plunge into Saturn later this year, after two decades of helping Earth-bound scientists make new discoveries about the sixth planet from the Sun and its mysterious rings.

    For what NASA has described as Cassini's "grand finale" as it runs short on fuel, the spacecraft will soar through a 1,500-mile-wide (2,400-kilometer) gap between Saturn and its rings. 

    Its goal is to sample Saturn's atmosphere and particles coming from the main rings for the first time, while also capturing the closest-ever views of Saturn's clouds and inner rings, the US space agency said.

    Cassini's last close flyby of Saturn's giant moon Titan is planned for April 22.

    Then, the first of 22 dives between Saturn and its rings will begin April 26, NASA said.

    "No spacecraft has ever gone through the unique region that we'll attempt to boldly cross 22 times," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA. 

    "What we learn from Cassini's daring final orbits will further our understanding of how giant planets, and planetary systems everywhere, form and evolve."

    The final death plunge into Saturn's atmosphere is scheduled for September 15.

    The decision to end the mission was  made in 2010, as a way to make sure to avoid damaging moons like Enceladus, which could be explored for signs of water-life in the future.

    Cassini launched in 1997 and has been orbiting Saturn, the second largest planet in the solar system after Jupiter, since 2004.

    Cassini has made new discoveries about Saturn's icy moons, some of which may have conditions suitable for life. 

    Cassini dropped a European probe on Saturn's massive moon Titan and revealed its surface of methane liquid seas, including a complex system of rain and runoff.

    It discovered that the icy moon Enceladus conceals a subsurface, salty ocean beneath its crust.

    Cassini also observed storms, lightning and clouds around Saturn for the first time.

    "Cassini's grand finale is so much more than a final plunge," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    "Cassini will make some of its most extraordinary observations at the end of its long life."

Business Affairs 

UIDAI system foolproof, Aadhaar data can't be leaked: Govt
  • Aadhaar data cannot be leaked as the UIDAI system is foolproof, the government said today amid controversy over leakage of cricketer M S Dhonis personal details on social media. 
    "I would like to inform that there is no question of leakage of Aadhaar data from the Aadhaar system. There is no leakage and it cannot be," said Minister of State for Electronics and IT P P Chaudhary in the Lok Sabha. 
    Referring to the data leakage case, the minister said the former Indian cricket captain had called the Aadhaar enrollment agent to his house and got a photo clicked with the enrollment slip. 
    "If that photo appears on social media, it does not mean it is leakage from the UIDAI. No question arises of leakage of data from our system... I want to assure the members that till date no data, be it be biometric or demographic, have been leaked," Chaudhary said. 
    He further said the system is "so foolproof that under no conditions, Aadhaar, biometric, and demographic details can be leaked from the IT ministry. It has not happened till date". 
    The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is responsible for Aadhaar enrolment and authentication, including operation and management of all stages of Aadhaar life cycle. It is also responsible for ensuring the security of identity information and authentication records of individuals. 
    The minister further said advisories have been issued to institutions and banks not to publish Aadhaar details. During the Zero Hour, M B Rajesh (CPM) said Aadhaar data leakage has become a serious issue as it has serious implications. 
    Without taking name of Dhonis wife, he said she has raised the issue, claiming that the Ministry of Electronics and IT has admitted to the data leakage. He also referred to a TV report that two Aadhaar numbers were generated for a single person. 
    "It is the fault of the government that it is not able ensure security of the data and entire credibility of Aadhar has gone," he said, asking the government to explain the measures taken to prohibit leakage of data. 

Monetary policy review: Four reasons why RBI is likely to keep repo rate unchanged
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is expected to keep the policy rate (repo rate) unchanged at 6.25 per cent in its first bi-monthly monetary policy review on Thursday. Here are four reasons why the RBI will opt for status quo;
    1) Shift in policy stance from accomodative to neutral
    This big surprise came in the last policy in January this year, when the RBI suddenly announced a shift in policy stance from accomodative to neutral. The central bank has actually signalled that there is not much scope for reducing the interest rates. Clearly, the monetary policy committee must have taken this decision after much deliberation and thought.
    2) Inflation on an upswing
    Inflationary pressure is also building up in the economy. The consumer price index (CPI) or the retail inflation rose to 3.65 per cent in February compared with 3.1 per cent in January. The main culprit is food prices which are on the rise. The wholesale price index (WPI), too, is rising, closing at 6.55 per cent in February compared with 5.25 per cent in the previous month. A higher WPI generally shows up in retail inflation or CPI with a lag effect.
    3) Surplus liquidity in the system
    There is a surplus liquidity in the system post demonetisation. Banks, flush with funds-especially cheaper deposits-are also  doing retail lending aggressively. The surplus liquidity in the system has all the potential to fuel inflationary pressure.
    4) Fed rate hike and interest rate arbitrage
    The US, which has near zero interest rates post 2008, is now back to a normal monetary policy regime. Last month, the US Federal Reserve hiked the short term interest rates by 25 basis points. The direction very clearly is towards hardening of interest rates.This rise in US rates makes a case for higher interest rates to keep the arbitrage game going as US funds would flow into India.
    Theoretically, if Indian rates go down further as US rates inch up, there is likelihood of funds flowing out of the country, thereby putting pressure on the rupee and later bringing in imported inflation. 

Nitin Gadkari keen to achieve 40 km a day road construction target
  • Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said that efforts are being made to further improve the road construction target to 40 km a day from the current 23 km per day.
    The minister said 8,144 km of roads were constructed last fiscal. His ministry, Gadkari said, on an average has recorded road construction of 23 km a day as against 2 km a day when the UPA government was in power.
    "I had fixed the target of 40 km per day but I was not able to achieve that but... I am hopeful of achieving this target," he said while addressing a national conference on the steel sector.
    The minister further said he intends to complete infrastructure work worth Rs 25 lakh crore in five years. Gadkari said all these initiatives would give a huge boost to the steel and cement sectors.
    Till March 31, the ministry has already alloted projects worth Rs 5.5 lakh crore in roads and ports sectors, he added. The government has decided to increase the length of national highways from the existing 96,000 km to 2 lakh km.
    "We have fast-tracked the decision-making process for the projects," he added. Gadkari said there are also plans to make 11 expressways including Delhi-Katra and Delhi-Jaipur. "We will complete these two projects before August 15," he said, adding that work on Mumbai-Baroda Expressway would start in three months' time. 

    Asian Development Bank to lend $175 million to improve solar transmission
    • The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will offer $175 million loan to support construction of high voltage transmission systems to evacuate power from new mega solar parks to the inter-state grid and improve reliability of the national grid. The Manila-headquartered Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the government today signed an agreement to this effect.
      The loan will be given to the Power Grid Corporation and will include sub-projects in various locations in India, the multilateral organisation said in a statement. As an innovative feature, the project is designed to adopt the country's systems on both safeguards and procurement at the agency level.
      By supporting the construction of inter-state transmission systems for the mega solar power projects, the project will provide a means of exporting excess solar energy from states with surplus power to power-deficit states and those seeking to meet their renewable purchase obligation requirements, said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Finance Ministry, after signing the pact.
      ADB Country Director Kenichi Yokoyama said the project will support the continued expansion of solar energy in India in line with the government's objectives.
      In addition to the ADB loan of $175 million, the project includes $50 million co-finance from the Clean Technology Fund (CTF),  part of a $5.8 billion component of the Climate Investment Funds aimed at providing developing countries resources. PowerGrid will make an equity contribution of USD 135 million equivalent to support the total project cost of USD 450 million.

    Amazon.In sets up seven new warehouses; to hire 1,200 people
    • E-commerce giant Amazon.In said on Wednesday it has set up seven new warehouses (Fulfilment Centres or FCs) to cater exclusively to its large appliances and furniture category, a move that will create 1,200 new jobs.
      The company, which has committed an investment of USD 5 billion in the Indian market, will also set up 33 delivery stations to meet the demand it is witnessing in the said category.
      Amazon.In has 27 such warehouses across the country. With the addition of the new FCs, Amazon.In will have 34 FCs across 10 states.
      "We have set up a dedicated infrastructure of nine FCs and 33 exclusive delivery stations that will ensure faster and reliable delivery of large appliances and furniture to more than 150 cities," Amazon India Vice President India Customer Fulfilment Akhil Saxena told PTI.
      He added that while seven new FCs have been set up for the category, two of its existing centres in Mumbai and Gurgaon will now serve the category exclusively.
      Saxena, however, declined to disclose investment details.
      FCs are warehouses where sellers can stock their inventory. They can save money by replacing their upfront capital expense with low variable cost and pay only for the storage space they use and the orders Amazon fulfils.
      The new warehouses will enable Amazon India to make fast deliveries as it faces tough competition from online shopping giants like Flipkart and Snapdeal as well as other smaller players.
      Large appliances category includes products like air conditioners, air coolers, refrigerators, washing machines and TVs.
      "The category has seen nearly 200 per cent growth in the last one year and grew 5X of daily volumes during our last sale event held in January," Amazon India Vice President Category Management Manish Tiwary said.
      Saxena said the company is also setting up 33 new dedicated delivery stations that will enable next-day delivery of large appliances and furniture in 20 cities.
      "Between the nine dedicated FCs and 33 delivery stations, about 1,200 new job opportunities will be created. These will be a mix of temporary and on-roll jobs," he added.
      With the addition of the seven new FCs, total storage capacity for Amazon India's FCs now stands at 10 million cubic feet spread over 3.1 million sq ft, Saxena said.
      The new FCs will be opened in nine states including Karnataka, Haryana, Telangana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, he added.

    General Awareness

    India’s is the world’s 7th largest tourism economy in terms of GDP, says WTTC

    • According to a new report released by World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), India’s travel and tourism sector ranks 7th in the world in terms of its total contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
      Important Data about India’s Travel and Tourism Sector revealed by WTTC Report:
      • Contribution to GDP: This sector generated Rs 14.1 trillion in 2016 which is equivalent to 6% of India’s GDP. In absolute terms, it is 7th largest in the world.
      • Job Creation: 3 million jobs were created in travel and tourism sector of India in 2016. On account of this remarkable figure, India ranked 2nd in the world in terms of total employment generated. Overall, the sector accounts for 9.3% of total jobs in India.
      • Composition: As mentioned in WTTC report, the major chunk of total figure came from domestic travel which accounts for 88% of the sector’s contribution to GDP in 2016.Visitor exports i.e. money spent by foreign travellers in India, was only 12% of tourism revenues in 2016, culminating into 5.4% of the country’s total exports. This is lower than global average of 6.6%. Supplementing this information is the data from the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) which ranked India at 40th position in the world in terms of receiving international travellers. As per UNWTO data, India received only 9 million international arrivals in 2016, which was tenth of that received by top-ranking France.
      • Growth Rate: For the year 2016, India’s Travel and Tourism sector registered a growth of 5% – the fastest amongst G20 countries.
      Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, administers and regulates the tourism industry in India. Mr. Mahesh Sharma is the Tourism Minister of State (Independent Charge)
      Road Ahead for India’s Travel and Tourism Sector:
      • WTTC has forecasted 7% growth for the sector in 2017. Visitor exports are expected to grow by 5.4%in 2017.
      • Over the past few months, Indian Govt. has made significant changes in visa facilitation with a view to encourage international arrivals and thereby increasing visitor exports.
      • David Scowsill, President and CEO of WTTC has optimistically mentioned that with right policy initiatives and reforms, Indian tourism economy can attain much higher rankings.
      About World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC):
      World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) was formed by a group of key people from Travel and Tourism industry. Objective of WTTC is to create awareness about Travel and Tourism sector’s contribution to national economies across the world by using empirical data. Currently, CEOs of over 140 leading travel and tourism companies are members of WTTC.
      • Formed in: 1991
      • Headquarters: London, United Kingdom
      • Chairman: Gerald Lawless
      • President & CEO: David Scowsill (President & CEO)

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