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Current Affairs - 21 May 2017


General Affairs 

Home Minister Rajnath Singh Chairs Security Review Meeting Of Five Chief Ministers
  • Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired in Gangtok on Saturday the first security review meeting with Chief Ministers of five states bordering China.

    Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti (Jammu and Kashmir), Virbhadra Singh (Himachal Pradesh), Trivendra Singh Rawat (Uttarakhand), Pawan Kumar Chamling (Sikkim) and Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh) attended the meeting.

    A Home Ministry official said the objective of the meeting was to strengthen coordination between the Ministry and the five states so as to improve the overall border security.

    The Minister is on a three-day visit Sikkim visit on Friday.



    The official said border infrastructure work undertaken by the Home Ministry, border area development programme and coordination issues between the states and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police came up at the meeting.

    The ITBP is responsible for the security of the 3,488 km India-China border in Jammu and Kashmir (1,597 km), Himachal Pradesh (200 km), Uttarakhand (345 km), Sikkim (220 km) and Arunachal Pradesh (1,126 km).

    The Minister will on Saturday visit Nathula Pass and an ITBP border post at Lachung to meet troopers deputed on the Sino-Indian border.

1888 Indian Hailstorm Among All-Time Deadliest Weather Events In World
  • An 1888 hailstorm in India has been identified by the UN weather agency among all-time deadliest weather events.

    The severe hailstorm near Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh killed 246 people.

    This is the first time that the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Archive of Weather and Climate Extremes has broadened its scope from temperature and weather records to address impacts of specific events.

    "Extreme weather causes serious destruction and major loss of life. That is one of the reasons behind the WMO's efforts to improve early warnings of multiple hazards and impact-based forecasting, and to learn lessons gleaned from historical disasters to prevent future ones," WMO Secretary- General Petteri Taalas said.

    "The human aspect inherent in extreme events should never be lost," he added.

    While the in-depth investigation by a WMO expert committee documented mortality records for five specific weather-related events, it did not address heat- or cold-waves, drought and floods.

    The experts found that the highest mortality rate associated with extreme weather was during a 1970 tropical cyclone through what was at the time East Pakistan, which killed an estimated 300,000 people.


    Other record-breaking weather events included a 1989 tornado in Bangladesh that killed an estimated 1,300 people, destroying the Manikganj district; a 1994 lightning-caused oil tank fire in Dronka, Egypt, which took 469 lives, while 21 people were killed by a single lightning bolt to a hut in the Manica Tribal Trust Lands in what was then Rhodesia. 

    The findings were announced ahead of two major conferences on improving multi-hazard early warning systems and strengthening disaster risk reduction, taking place in Cancun, Mexico this month and organised by WMO and the UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction.

    Overall mortality can also decrease as a result of continuous improvement in related forecasting and warning infrastructure.

    "These events highlight the deadly tragedies associated with different types of weather. Detailed knowledge of these historical extremes confirms our continuing responsibilities to not only forecast and monitor weather and climate but to utilise that information to save lives around the world so disasters of these types are lessened or even eliminated in the future," said Randall Cerveny, WMO Rapporteur on Climate and Weather Extremes.

    The experts stressed that overall mortality can decrease as a result of continuous improvement in related forecasting and warning infrastructure. However even with improvements, mortality from weather-related events will continue. 

    "In order to put potential future weather-related catastrophes into accurate historical context, it is useful to have knowledge of baseline changes in weather-related mortality as monitored over the last one hundred and fifty years of official international weather records," said the WMO committee.

In Detailed Judgment On Coal Scam Case, Huge Relief For Manmohan Singh
  • A judgment which convicted three former coal ministry officials for corruption in one of the cases related to the coal scam on Friday has also given a huge relief to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in charge of the coal ministry then. A detailed order of the verdict by the special CBI court, which has been made available today, says that aspects of non-compliance of guidelines regarding this coal block allocation was withheld from the then Prime Minister.

    "The three bureaucrats led by former coal secretary HC Gupta with-held all these aspects of non-compliance with the guidelines from Prime Minister knowing fully well that he was Minister of Coal and will proceed to approve allocation of various coal blocks on the basis of recommendation of Screening Committee only... They thus certainly exploited this situation by abusing their offices," reads the detailed order of the special CBI court in the case related to the allocation of a coal mining block in Madhya Pradesh to a private company.

    The court also said that it was a well-designed scheme of the bureaucrats to ensure that applications are not checked for eligibility and completeness, and that other members of the screening committee were also kept in the dark.

    Former coal secretary HC Gupta, former joint secretary in coal ministry KS Kropha, and KC Samria, who was a director in charge of coal allocation, were held guilty by a special CBI court yesterday. This is the first time when senior government officials have been held guilty in any coal scam case.

    Mr Gupta, 69, was Coal Secretary for two years under the Congress-led UPA government before he retired in 2008. As the man who chaired a screening committee that cleared at least 40 cases of coal mining rights, he is accused of playing a leading role in the massive swindle dubbed the coal scam.

    The former top bureaucrat was accused of not following a transparent auctioning system and causing losses running into crores to the taxpayer. He was booked in as many as eight cases.

    During arguments in court, Mr Gupta had claimed that then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given the "final approval" in the case. The CBI, however, refuted his claim and said that Dr Singh, who was also holding the portfolio of Coal Ministry at that time, was "kept in the dark" and misled.

Government Could Step In If Triple Talaq Practice Not Changed: Venkaiah Naidu
  • The government may have to step in and enact a law to ban triple talaq if the Muslim community fails to "change" the practice, Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said today.

    "It is for the society to take up the issue and it will be good if the (Muslim) society itself changed the practice. Otherwise, a situation may arise where the government will have to bring in a legislation (banning triple talaq)," Mr Naidu said while addressing a meeting in Amaravati.

    "This is not to interfere in anybody's personal matters, but at the same time it's a question of justice to women. All women should have equal rights. Equality before law...that's the issue," the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister said.

    He recalled that laws were enacted to rid certain evil practices even in the Hindu society, like child marriage, sati and dowry.

    "The Hindu society discussed child marriages and Parliament passed a legislation banning it. Second is sati sahagaman, an ancient practice, wherein a woman too ended her life following her husband's death. Now it is prohibited by law, by the Hindu society itself. Third is dowry. The Dowry Prohibition Act was passed and the Hindu society accepted it," the Union Minister pointed out.

    "When it felt that such practices were against the society's good, the Hindu society discussed them and brought in reforms. Some more reforms are also needed and efforts should be made in that direction," he added. 
    "See humans as humans and don't separate them as Hindus, Christians or Muslims. No injustice should be done to women by such discrimination," Mr Naidu maintained.

    The minister was felicitated by several associations and well-wishers upon his recent election as chairman of the governing council of UN-Habitat.

    "I feel happy whenever the world recognises India. Take the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav. For the first time in history, India went to the International Court of Justice and obtained a stay against Pakistan's foolish act of trying to execute Jadhav. This is something we all should feel happy about," Mr Naidu noted.

    Recalling his long political career, Mr Naidu said the "only desire" left in him was to see Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister for ten years.

    "Mood of the nation is to go with Modi. If he is Prime Minister for a full ten years, India will emerge more stronger in the world," he said.

Be Ready For Operations At Very Short Notice: Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa To Officers
  • Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa has written a personal letter to officers of the force, asking them to be prepared for operations at a "very short notice" to effectively deal with security challenges, including sub- conventional threat, to the country.

    In the letter dated March 30, the Air Force chief also touched upon a range of issues relating to service matters and asked the officers to be morally upright and mindful of their professional conduct so that image of the force is not tarnished.

    Talking about various security challenges confronting the country, Air Force Chief Dhanoa, in an apparent reference to Pakistan backing terror groups targeting India, spoke about persistent "sub- conventional threat", asserting the force should be prepared for operations at a "very short notice".

    "It was a personal letter the IAF chief wrote to the officers covering a wide range of issues that he felt were important," a senior Air Force official said.

    In the letter, written three months after he took charge as IAF chief, BS Dhanoa also stressed on the need to mould the Air Force's training programme considering the evolving security scenario.

    Air Force Chief Dhanoa also talked about the need for the IAF to remain ready for operations with its "present holdings", seen as an reference to the force's depleted strength of 33 squadrons of fighter aircraft instead of sanctioned strength of 42 squadrons.

    In the letter, he also talked about the need for the Air Force to remain conscious about the new technological advancements in war fighting machinery as well as strength of India's adversaries.

    He also touched upon cases of alleged "favouritism" and "sexual harassment" in the Air Force, stressing on the need to maintain high standards of morality and fairness. He said the image of Air Force must not be allowed to get affected at any cost.

Business Affairs 

Tejas Express Fares To Cost 20% More Than Shatabdi
  • Equipped with modern facilities like wi-fi, LCD screens, CCTV cameras and more, the all new Tejas Express will be flagged off on the Mumbai-Goa route by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on May 22. Although, travellers will have to shell out 20 per cent more in terms of fares compared to the Shatabdi Express. There is an increase of more than 20 per cent in the base fare for Tejas as against the Shatabdi, news agency Press Trust of India reported quoting a railway ministry official. With additional features like smoke-and-fire detection system, the Executive Class fare in Tejas has been fixed at Rs. 2,540 without food and Rs. 2,940 with food.

    And, the Chair Car fare will be Rs. 1,850 with food and Rs. 1,220 without food. On the other hand, the Shatabdi fares are Rs. 2,390 for the Executive Class and Rs. 1,185 for the Chair Car which includes food also.

    Capable of running at speeds to the tune of 200 kilometres per hour, Tejas Express coaches will be equipped with a slew of on-board facilities including redesigned seats and personalised infotainment systems, the Railways Ministry said. Manufactured at the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, the coaches will have automatic entrance door, a first in non-suburban train in the Indian Railways. The trains will offer on-board facilities such as tea and coffee vending machines, snack tables and magazines, besides entertainment and local cuisine.


    The 19-coach Tejas train will also have bio-vacuum toilets and GPS-based passenger information display system. As promised in the budget, Tejas Express will also be pressed into service in Delhi-Chandigarh and Delhi-Lucknow sectors soon.

Casual Workers Bore The Brunt Of Notes Ban: Survey
  • Casual workers took the maximum hit from demonetisation, with as many as 1.52 lakh workers losing their jobs during the three months to December 2016.

    The government had invalidated high value notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 early in November last year, leading to disruption in economic activity.

    According to the quarterly report on employment scenario in select sectors by the Labour Bureau, a wing of the labour ministry, there was a reduction of 1.52 lakh jobs in casual worker category in eight sectors, including IT, transport, manufacturing, as on January 1, 2017, compared to October 1, 2016. 


    According to the survey, there was an increase of 1.68 lakh full-time workers while the number of part-time workers fell by 46,000.

    Contract and regular jobs saw a jump of 1.24 lakh and 1.39 lakh, respectively, during October-December.

    The overall increase over the previous quarter (July-September) in the eight sectors under review came to 1.22 lakh, which included type of economic activity, gender, type of worker (employee or self-employee), employment status (regular, contractual and casual) and duration of work (part-time or full-time).

    Manufacturing, trade, transport, IT-BPO, education and health contributed with an estimated increase of 1.23 lakh workers whereas construction saw a decline.

    The sectors that saw employment additions include manufacturing, trade, transport, IT/BPO, education and health.

    There was no change in accommodation and restaurant sector.

    Out of the total estimated change in employment of 1.22 lakh, females accounted for 52,000 and males 70,000.

Gold Hits Demand Bump, Slides Rs. 100, Silver Holds Out
  •  Gold's hat-trick of gains came to a halt as the prices softened by Rs. 100 to Rs. 29,100 per 10 grams today, hurt by local demand weakness, even as the metal paced up overseas.

    In contrast, silver climbed further by Rs. 50 to Rs. 39,200 per kg, driven by industrial units and coin makers.

    A decline in demand from local jewellers and retailers pushed down gold prices, but a firm trend overseas kept the fall here to a minimum. 


    Globally, gold rose 0.71 per cent to $1,255.60 an ounce and silver by 1.66 per cent to $16.83 an ounce in New York yesterday.

    In the national capital, gold of 99.9 per cent and 99.5 per cent purity dropped by Rs. 100 each to Rs. 29,100 and Rs. 28,950 per 10 grams, respectively. It had gained Rs. 600 in the past three days.

    Sovereign, however, remained steady at Rs. 24,400 per piece of eight grams.

    On the other hand, silver ready advanced by Rs. 50 to Rs. 39,200 per kg and weekly-based delivery Rs. 135 to Rs. 39,135 per kg.

    Silver coins, however, were on hold at Rs. 71,000 for buying and Rs. 72,000 for selling of 100 pieces.

    GST To Help Improve India's Exports: Nirmala Sitharaman
    • Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will help improve India's export growth.

      "The way the fitment discussions have happened in the GST Council and the way commodities and services have been treated, GST is only going to help in improving our exports," Sitharaman said here, briefing on three years of initiatives and achievements of the Commerce Ministry.

      India's total exports rebounded with a growth of 4.95 per cent in 2016-17 despite a negative growth in services. 

      The GST Council on Friday announced the fitment of services and 1,211 goods in the GST tax rates, heading towards the July 1 rollout of the new indirect tax regime.

    Filing Income Tax Returns? Things To Keep In Mind As Deadline Approaches
    • With the close of the financial year, most individuals have completed their tax planning and tax deduction exercise for the year. This leaves the final step in completing one's income tax process - filing ITR or income tax return. Often regarded as a painful formality, you must remember that this is one of the most important income document for any individual. While July 31, 2017 is the last day to file I-T returns, remember that the income tax filing website - incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in - typically has a lot of server downtime due to last minute rush so ensure that you do not wait until the last day to file your returns.

      Here are some important things to remember when filing for tax returns according to leading share trading company and financial consultant Motilal Oswal:

      1) Anyone with an annual income of over Rs. 2.5 lakh needs to file I-T returns whether the income is taxable or not. The Income Tax Department tracks lifestyle expenses, asset purchases, investments and foreign travel through your PAN card and Aadhaar number so try to be as transparent as possible. 


      2) Remember that all your sources of income must be filed as part of your I-T returns. Even if your dividends are tax-free, it is still essential to disclose all these details in your I-T returns.

      3) If you have made losses on shares or equity-oriented mutual funds, you need to show the loss when you file returns. If you do not disclose the loss in your I-T returns, you lose the benefit of setting off the losses against other gains and also lose the benefit of carrying forward these losses for a period of 8 years, says Motilal Oswal.

      4) You are required to file your returns online on the website of the Income Tax Department. However, your job does not end there. The returns need to be e-verified which can be done by linking it to your registered bank account having the same name details.

      5) While refunds below Rs. 50,000 are directly credited to your bank account via RTGS, refunds above Rs. 50,000 are only paid out by cheque. Hence if your refund is above Rs. 50,000 ensure that your address is updated in the I-T records.

      6) Remember that effective July 1, 2017, an Aadhaar card is a prerequisite for filing income tax returns.

      7) If you forget to file returns before the due date of July 31 and do not have any tax payable then you can file the returns by March 31 next year. But refund cases will not be entertained if returns are filed after the cut-off date of July 31.

    General Awareness

    Indian Prashant Ranganathan wins top intel science award in US

    • An Indian boy Prashant Ranganathan has won the top Intel Science Award in US. It is the world’s largest pre-college science competition in the US.
      Key Points:
      Prashant  has won in the category of environmental engineering for his project on bio-degradation of pesticides.
      • Prashant Ranganathan along with 1700 students from across the worldhas participated in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
      • Four Indian-Americans received top awards in various categories.
      • Prashant’s project is related with ‘Biodegradation of Chlorpyrifos using native bacteria’.
      • Projects deals in fighting against pesticide and getting rid of its side effects through biodegradable use.
      • It will help the farmers in biodegrading the pesticide which is plaguing the country.
      • Indian-American Pratik Naidu from Virginia bagged an award in the category of computational biology an bioinformatics.Adam Nayak from Oregon was declared the winner in earth and environmental sciences. Karthik Yegnesh bagged the award from Pennsylvania in Mathematics.
      • Rahul Subramaniam bagged the award from Connecticut in the microbiology category.
      • The awards ceremony concluded at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles.
      • The topmost Gordon E Moore Award of USD 75,000 went to Ivo Zell.
      • He is from Germany for designing and constructing a remote-control prototype of a new “flying wing”.

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