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Current Affairs - 21 July 2017

General Affairs 

Ram Nath Kovind elected India's 14th President, to take oath on July 25
  • Giving India its second Dalit president, former Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind today won the presidential election with a comfortable margin against Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
    After final round of counting, Ram Nath Kovind got 2,930 votes with a value of 702,044 out of a total of 10,69,358.
    With the backing of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and few other parties, Kovind's victory in the race to the Rashtrapati Bhavan was a cakewalk and much expected.
    Incumbent Pranab Mukerhjee's last day as president will be on July 24 and Kovind's oath-taking as India's 14th president will be on the day after.
    President-elect Ram Nath Kovind will be administered oath by the Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar in the Central Hall of Parliament.
    Pranab Mukherjee had also taken charge on July 25, 2012.
    Among the MPs, 522 parliamentarians voted for Ram Nath Kovind while 225 MPs were in favour of Meira Kumar.
    The total value of votes of the electoral college (comprising elected MLAs and MPs) is 10,98,903.
    Besides parties belonging to the NDA, Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Biju Janata Dal, Telengana Rashtra Samithi in Telangana, different factions of AIADMK, and the YSR Congress (1.53 per cent) also had announced their backing for Kovind.
    Congress-led Opposition parties have a little over 35 per cent share in the electoral college.
    Ram Nath Kovind will now be the second Dalit President of India after KR Narayanan.
    Congratulating Kovind, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah said his victory is historic.
    I am sure Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji will distinguish himself as an exceptional President of our nation.

    The election of Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji is a victory for the poor, downtrodden & marginalised and their aspirations.Amit Shah (@AmitShah)

    After his victory, Ram Nath Kovind was visibly emotional. He said he will work towards protecting the Constitution and upholding its values, and will serve the nation to ensure happiness for all.

    "This is a very emotional moment," Kovind told reporters after being elected President of India. "This is a very big responsibility for me."
    "It is my duty to protect the Constitution and uphold its values as the President. I pay my respects to my countrymen and assure them that I'll serve the nation in the spirit of 'Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah' (May all be happy)," he said.

Meira Kumar after losing President election: This is a fight of ideologies, will continue
  • Meira Kumar, who as the Opposition nominee lost the presidential election to Ram Nath Kovind, said the fight with the BJP is of ideologies and it has not ended with the results today.
    "My fight for secularism, the oppressed and the marginalised continues. The fight has not ended. This is a fight of ideologies... it will continue," Kumar, 72, told reporters in New Delhi.
    The veteran Congress leader, who like Kovind is also a Dalit, extended her wishes to the winning candidate.
    "My best wishes with Shri Kovindji as it has fallen upon him to uphold Constitution in letter and spirit in these challenging times," she said.
    "I want to thank all the members of the collegium, (Congress president) Sonia Gandhiji and leaders of all the political parties who have supported me," she tweeted.
    Kovind secured a massive margin over his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rival, in a straight fight. In an electoral college of 4,986 voters with a vote value of 10,98,903, Kovind got 2,930 votes carrying a value of 7,00,244, while the former Lok Sabha Speaker secured 1,844 votes with a value of 3,67,314.

    While Kovind got 65.65 per cent of the total valid vote value of 10,69,358, Meira Kumar got 34.35 per cent.

Uttar Pradesh may lose a Deputy Chief Minister very soon to Centre
  • With the Presidential election out of the way, the attention of the BJP leadership is likely to turn towards the Uttar Pradesh, where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and four of his ministers are yet to become members of the UP legislature.
    More than four months have passed since the government was formed in Uttar Pradesh, but UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is still holding on to the post of Gorakhpur Member of Parliament whereas Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is an MP from Allahabad.
    The other ministers, who are not members of the UP legislature, include deputy chief minister Dr Dinesh Sharma. He does not hold any legislative position anywhere. He was the Mayor of Lucknow when he was appointed as the Deputy Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Sharma is still to resign from the post as Lucknow Mayor.
    Political analysts are predicting that in the current scenario, there is only one seat vacant in the UP Legislative Council, while there are five contenders for that seat. They believe that UP may be left with just one Deputy CM in the days to come.
    The buzz in Lucknow is that one of the Deputy CMs could be included in the Union Cabinet while the remaining four including the CM could contest assembly by-elections.
    The decision on this matter is likely to be taken in the last week of July or first week of August when BJP President Amit Shah will be in Lucknow on a three-day visit.
    There is no bar on unelected persons from becoming a minister either in the states or at the Centre. But, such a minister is required to seek election to the respective legislature.
    Speculation is rife that Keshav Prasad Maurya may continue to represent Allahabad in the Lok Sabha and become part of the Narendra Modi cabinet.
    On the other hand, Yogi Adityanath will resign from the post of Gorakhpur MP and contest assembly election. An MLA from Gorakhpur region is likely to vacate a seat for him.
    The BJP may send UP Minister Mohsin Raza to the Legislative Council from the vacant MLC seat. He is being presented as the Muslim face of the party in Uttar Pradesh.
    For Dr Dinesh Sharma, it is proving difficult to find an assembly seat in the Lucknow district. There are signals that Neeraj Bora, MLA from Lucknow North could resign from his seat paving way for Sharma. Neeraj Bora could contest election to the office of Mayor of Lucknow.
    However, there is another speculation going on about Dinesh Sharma that he is reluctant to contesting election. In that case, Dinesh Sharma could also be inducted in the Modi cabinet at the Centre.
    This entire exercise is expected to be over in August after election for Vice-President is over.

Doklam standoff: Differences between India, China should not be allowed to become disputes, says Gopal Baglay
  • Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay told reporters here that New Delhi has been in "close contact" with the Bhutan government on the unfolding developments.
    "India's approach is to have a peaceful resolution of issues on border with China," he said underlining the understanding at the Astana meeting that differences between India and China should not be allowed to become disputes.
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi had met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in June in Kazakh capital Astana.
    "So, it is obvious that every responsible power, person and player in the world prefers peaceful resolution of matters," Baglay said.
    Asked whether India has briefed other countries on the issue, Baglay said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on diplomatic interactions on sensitive matters.
    Baglay also confirmed that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will travel to Beijing on the 27th to attend a meeting of the BRICS multilateral grouping.
    Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a face-off in Doklam area of the Sikkim sector for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.
    New Delhi has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India's access to its northeastern states.
    China's state-run media has stepped up rhetoric against India in recent weeks.
    China claimed that it was constructing the road within its territory, and has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the Dokalam plateau.
    Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Doklam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.
    Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.

China trying to change status quo in Doklam, India ready to defend: Sushma Swaraj
  • Speaking in Rajya Sabha today over the months-long border standoff with China in Sikkim's Doklam area, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj issued a stern warning to Beijing, saying India is well equipped to defend itself.
    "Over the years, China has been trying to get closer and closer to where the tri-junction point ends. It has done things like repair roads, re-tar them and things like that," Sushma Swaraj said while responding to a question in the Upper House on the India-China border dispute.
    "This time though, they came with bulldozers and construction equipment with the aim of breaching the point where the tri-junction ends. That is a threat to our security," said Swaraj.
    "We had to intervene at the trijunction point to stop China's unilateral attempt to change status quo because this would impact our security. We are willing to talk but both sides should take back their armies to original position," the foreign minister said.
    "The global community is supportive of India's stance," Swaraj added. 
    Swaraj's statement came a few hours after reports emerged that Bejing was not keen on bilateral talks with India over the contentious issue.
    Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Tuesday, "We have stated many times that we hope the Indian side will get a clear understanding of the situation (and) immediately take measures to withdraw the troops that illegally crossed the border back to the Indian side of the border."
    India, on the other hand, has not sought any bilateral meeting from the Chinese side. Both sides are playing by the ear. If there is any indication of de-escalation and a window of opportunity opens up, the two sides might reconsider a meeting between the Special Representatives.

Business Affairs 

    Jaitley releases National Trade Facilitation Action Plan today
    • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley released the National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) on Thursday.
      The Action Plan aims to transform cross-border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, risk-based, co-ordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures which are supported by advanced sea ports, airports, and land borders.
      The NTFAP aims to achieve improvement in ease of doing business by reducing cargo release time and cost, promote paperless regulatory environment, transparent and predictable legal regime and improved investment climate through better infrastructure.
      "With the release of this Action Plan today, we look forward to ensuring compliance with the TFA and also, impetus to trade facilitation," Jaitley said while releasing the Action Plan.
      NTFAP also awards specific responsibilities to all regulatory agencies like Customs, FSSAI, Drug Controller, Plant Quarantine, DGFT, etc to be completed in a time-bound manner.
      "This Action Plan gives a time bound map, not only for implementing TFA, but also for India's initiatives for trade facilitation and Ease of Doing Business which goes beyond TFA," Jaitley further added.
      Apart from activities under the ambit of TFA, the Action Plan also goes beyond to what has been defined as TFA Plus category. It covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the roadways and railways leading to ports and the infrastructure within ports, airports, ICDs, land customs stations that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like shipping, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways, Home Affairs, Finance, Commerce etc have been assigned specified targets.
      All actions covered under the plan have been categorized by prioritizing the activities into short term, midterm and long term. The National Plan would be monitored by the Steering Committee (the operational arm of the NCTF) chaired by the Revenue Secretary and the Commerce Secretary. The plan would be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary.
      Earlier, a National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF) headed by the Cabinet Secretary was constituted comprising of stakeholders from the Government and the private sectors including trade community. The NCTF has adopted 76 point National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP) which is a reflection of the Government's commitment to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

    Reliance Industries reports net profit of Rs 9,079 crore in June quarter; Mukesh Ambani says Jio has revolutionised telecom sector
    • Reliance Industries today reported consolidated profit of Rs 90,537 crore, an increase of 26.7 per cent as compared to Rs 71,451 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.
      RIL issued a press statement saying that increase in revenue is primarily on account of increase in prices and volumes of refining and petrochemical products partially offset by lower prices and volumes from E&P business.
      "Revenue was also boosted by robust growth in retail business which recorded a 73.6 per cent increase in revenue to Rs 11,571 crore. Brent crude oil price averaged USD 49.9/bbl in 1Q FY18 as compared to USD 45.6/bbl in the corresponding period of the previous year," the statement said.
      Commenting on the results, RIL Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani said: "Our Company recorded yet another strong quarterly performance with net profit of Rs 9,108 crore, up 28 per cent Y-o-Y."
      He said that the leading portfolio of assets in the refining and petrochemicals business contributed to considerable improvement in the earnings for the quarter. Retail business also witnessed accelerated growth momentum with YoY revenue growth of 74 per cent.
      Ambani also talked about newly-launched Jio and how it impacted. He said: "Jio has revolutionised the Indian telecom and data consumption landscape. This digital services business has been built to address the entire value chain across the digital services domain with smart applications to make life simple, beautiful and secure."

    Government to launch GST exempt pension policy for senior citizens tomorrow
    • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will launch a pension scheme for elderly with 8 per cent fixed rate of interest on their savings on Friday. This pension scheme will be exempt from both service tax and Goods and Services Tax, reports suggest.
      It can be purchased offline as well as online through Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India which has been given the sole privilege to operate this scheme, the finance ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
      Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) is a pension scheme announced by the government exclusively for the senior citizens aged 60 years and above which is available from May 4, 2017 to May 3, 2018.
      "Scheme provides an assured return of 8 per cent per annum payable monthly (equivalent to 8.30 per annum effective) for 10 years," it said.
      Pension is payable at the end of each period, during the policy term of 10 years, as per the frequency of monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, yearly as chosen by the pensioner at the time of purchase, it said.
      The scheme is exempted from Goods and Services Tax, it said, adding, loan up to 75 per cent of purchase price shall be allowed after 3 policy years to meet the liquidity needs.
      Loan interest will be recovered from the pension instalments and loan to be recovered from claim proceeds, it said, adding the scheme also allows for premature exit for the treatment of any critical or terminal illness of self or spouse.
      On such premature exit, 98 per cent of the purchase price will be refunded.
      On death of the pensioner during the policy term of 10 years, the purchase price will be paid to the beneficiary.
      The shortfall owing to the difference between the interest guaranteed and the actual interest earned and the expenses relating to administration shall be subsidised by the Government of India and reimbursed to the LIC, it said.

    Wipro beats first-quarter estimates, posts consolidated profit of Rs 2083 crore
    • Wipro Ltd, India's third-largest software services exporter, posted a better-than-expected first-quarter consolidated profit helped by higher revenue from banking, insurance and financial services.
      Consolidated profit rose 1.2 percent to 20.83 billion rupees (USD323.30 million) for the three months to June 30, Wipro said in a statement on Thursday.
      Analysts had expected a profit of 20.29 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data.
      Wipro said consolidated revenue remained flat at 136.26 billion rupees, while revenue from its core IT services segment came in at USD1.97 billion, a 2.1 percent rise year on year.
      Wipro said it expected revenue from its IT services business to be in the range of USD1.96 billion to USD2 billion for the quarter ending on September 30.
      The Bengaluru-headquartered company also announced a buyback of shares worth up to 110 billion rupees.
      India's top IT firm Tata Consultancy Services Ltd earlier this year announced a buy-back worth up to 160 billion rupees while No. 2 Infosys Ltd has plans to return USD 2 billion to shareholders. 

    Sensex rises 244 points, Nifty reclaims 9900 level; Bharti Airtel, Coal India lead gains
    • The market ended the Wednesday trading session on a positive note, with the Nifty crossing the 9,900-mark again.
      On July 14, 2017, the Nifty crossed the 9,900 mark for the first time ever and on the July 17, the index closed above the crucial level for the first time.
      On Wednesday, the Nifty closed 72.45 points higher at 9899 level.  The Sensex closed 244.36 points higher at 31,955.35 level, recouping some losses it suffered from a 363 points or 1.13 percent fall in Tuesday's trade.
      On the 30-stock Sensex, Bharti Airtel (3.21 per cent),  Coal India (2.66 percent ) and FMCG major ITC (2.42 percent)  were the top gainers. Infosys (0.56 percent), Hero MotoCorp (0.49 percent), HUL (0.46 percent) and Adani Ports  (0.26 percent) were the top losers.
      ITC on Tuesday plunged up to 15 percent with the government raising tax on cigarettes. Other tobacco stocks such as VST Industries and Godfrey Phillips also lost ground on the government move.
      Today, VST Industries (1.22 percent) and Godfrey Phillips (0.71 percent) closed higher post yesterday's losses. 
      The Nifty Pharma index led by Aurobindo rose 210 points or 2.10 percent and contrubuted mainly to the Nifty's gains. 
      Aurobindo Pharma closed 4.48 percent or 33 points higher at 766 level on the BSE.  The company has received final approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) to manufacture Sevelamer Carbonate tablets 800 mg.
      The Hindustan Unilever stock on Wednesday hit a fresh yearly high on its healthy Q1 earnings announced a day ago.
      The stock reached a fresh 52-week high of 1,195 in early morning trade on the BSE.
      The stock closed 0.46 percent lower on the BSE. It has risen 28.27 percent year-on-year.  On an year-to-date basis, the stock is up 38.41 percent.
      On Wednesday, HUL, considered a bellwether for the FMCG sector posted a 9.3 percent rise in standalone net profit at Rs 1,283 crore for the April-June period.  This was more than Bloomberg consensus estimates, which had pegged net profit at Rs 1187 crore.
      Market breadth was positive with 1714 stocks rising against 971 falling on the BSE. 168 stocks remained unchanged.
      Global markets 
      Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 7,390.86 and the CAC 40 of France gained 0.1 percent to 5,177.63. Germany's DAX lost 0.1 percent to 12,422.19. Wall Street looked set for a tepid start, with S&P 500 futures up 0.03 percent while Dow futures fell 0.04 percent.
      Asia's Day Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index edged 0.1 percent higher to 20,020.86 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong climbed 0.6 percent to 26,672.16. The S&P ASX 200 in Australia jumped 0.8 percent to 5,732.10, while the Shanghai Composite index added 1.4 percent to 3,230.98. South Korea's Kospi added 0.2 percent to 2,429.94. Shares in Southeast Asia were mixed.

    General Awareness

    Ram Nath Kovind elected as India’s 14th President

    • On July 20, 2017, BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) nominee Ram Nath Kovind was elected as the 14th President of India. Mr. Kovind defeated Opposition candidate and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.
      Election of President of India – Process:
      In the election of the President, the citizens play no direct part and he/she is elected indirectly by the representatives of the people.
      • Process of election of President of India has been mentioned in Article 54 and 55 of Indian Constitution.
      • The President is elected by the members of an electoral college consisting of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament (MPs) and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) of the States.
      • It is to be noted that Members of Legislative Council of States are not a part of the Electoral College.
      • The value of an MLA’s vote depends on the population of his or her State and the value of an MP’s vote remains the same at 708 votes.
      • A candidate needs more than 50% votes to win presidential polls. 
      Details pertaining to Indian Presidential Election 2017:
      For the Presidential Election 2017total 4,896 voters (4,120 Members of Legislative Assemblies and 776 elected Members of Parliament) were eligible to cast their ballot.
      • In value terms, total strength of Electoral College was 1098903 votes.In eight rounds of counting, Mr. Kovind received 2930 votes with a value of 702044, whereas Ms. Kumar got 1844 votes with a value of 367314.
      • Counting happened under the supervision of Lok Sabha secretary general Anoop Mishra, who is also the Returning Officer for Presidential Election. 
      About Ram Nath Kovind:
      71-year old Ram Nath Kovind is a lawyer from Madhya Pradesh.
      • Before contesting presidential election, he was the Governor of Bihar.
      • He has served as a BJP MP in the Rajya Sabha as well.
      • Ram Nath Kovind will be the second Dalit President of India after KR Narayanan.
      • President Pranab Mukherjee’s term is ending on July 24, 2017 and the India’s 14th President Mr. Ram Nath Kovind will take oath on July 25, 2017.

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