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Current Affairs - 24 July 2017

General Affairs 

President Pranab Mukherjee remembers Indira Gandhi, lauds GST in his farewell speech
  • Outgoing president Pranab Mukherjee today in his farewell speech remembered his mentor and former prime minister Indira Gandhi. In his last speech as the President of India, Mukherjee said that Gandhi was a towering personality.
    "My career was mentored by Mrs Indira Gandhi who was a towering personality. She had the courage to call a spade a spade," Mukherjee said as he related an interesting incident that happened in London after the Congress' defeat post Emergency.
    "After the Congress' and her own defeat post Emergency, she went to London in 1978. A battery of mediapersons, in a fairly aggressive mood were waiting to ask questions.
    "The first question was: 'What had been your gains from Emergency?'. Looking directly into the eyes of mediapersons, in a level voice she replied: 'In those 21 months we comprehensively managed to alienate all sections of people'," Mukherjee recalled.
    After a few seconds of silence, there was laughter, he said.
    "Nobody after that asked a question about Emergency and the mediapersons melted away," he said.
    He added that he also learnt an early lesson of acknowledging his mistakes and rectifying them. He said that self-correction in such situations was always a better option than self-justification.
    In his speech, President Mukherjee also said that ordinance on money matters should be used only in compelling circumstances.  He added that it was unfortunate that parliamentary time devoted to legislations has been declining.
    While addressing the gathering, President Mukherjee lauded the recent passage of GST. He said that GST launch on July 1 was a shining example of cooperative federalism and that it spoke volumes for maturity of India's Parliament.
    During the farewell ceremony at the Parliament's Central Hall, the Lok Sabha Speaker presented a book signed by MPs to the outgoing president.
    HERE'S WHAT PRANAB MUKHERJEE SAID IN HIS FAREWELL SPEECH
    1. I would like to acknowledge my deep gratitude and appreciation to Honourable Speaker and the Honourable Chairman, Rajya Sabha and Honourable Members of Parliament for organizing this farewell ceremony on the eve of my demitting office as the 13th President of the Republic of India.
    2. If I say I am a creation of this Parliament. It shaped by political outlook and persona. Bear with me if I feel nostalgic and indulge myself by going back to the past. On 26th January 1950, the Constitution of India came into effect. In a remarkable display of idealism and courage, we the people of India gave to ourselves a sovereign democratic republic to secure to all its citizens justice, liberty and equality.
    3. We undertook to promote amongst all citizens fraternity, the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. These ideals became the lodestars of the modern Indian state. The Indian Constitution consisting of 395 Articles and 12 Schedules is not merely a legal document for administration but the Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation of the country. It represents the hopes and aspirations of the billion plus Indians.
    4. Sixty eight years ago, after the first general election, the Indian Parliament began its journey representing the sovereign will of its people. Both the Houses were constituted, the first President of the Republic was elected who addressed the first Joint Session of the Parliament and the Indian Parliamentary system rolled out.
    5. When I first entered the portals of this hallowed institution 48 years ago, I was only 34 years old. In July 1969, I came to this Parliament as a member of Rajya Sabha representing one of the six seats from the State of West Bengal. My election to Rajya Sabha took place on 4th July and the first session I attended began on July 22nd, 1969.
    6. Since then, for 37 years I served as a Member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Of these, I served five terms as a Member of the Rajya Sabha, elected for four terms from West Bengal and one term from Gujarat, and two terms in the Lok Sabha. My long career has been instructive and educative. I entered Parliament at a time when the Rajya Sabha was full of experienced Parliamentarians and leaders of the freedom movement, many of whom were brilliant speakers: M.C. Chagla, Ajit Prasad Jain, Jairamdas Daulatram, Bhupesh Gupta, Joachim Alva, Mahavir Tyagi, Raj Narain, Bhai Mahavir, Loknath Misra, Chitta Basu and many more.
    7. In fact, Bhupesh Gupta was truly a legend in the Rajya Sabha. Dahyabhai Patel and Maniben Patel, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's son and daughter, represented Swatantra Party in the Parliament. My years in Parliament were further enriched by the wisdom of P.V. Narasimha Rao, oration of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, cryptic one-liners of Madhu Limaye and Dr. Nath Pai, wit and humour of Piloo Modi, poetic discourses of Hiren Mukherjee, razor sharp repartee of Indrajit Gupta, calming presence of Dr. Manmohan Singh, mature advice of L.K. Advani and passionate support of Sonia Gandhi on social legislations.
    8. In those days, both the Houses of the Parliament used to reverberate with animated discussions and illuminative and exhaustive debates on social and financial legislations. Listening to the stalwarts for hours and days in Parliament sitting in the Treasury or Opposition Benches, I felt one with the soul of this living institution. I understood the real value of debate, discussion and dissent. I realized how disruption hurts the opposition more than the government as it denies them the opportunity to raise the concerns of the people.
    9. I internalized the essence of what Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said (and I quote): "There has always to be balancing of change and continuity. The system of parliamentary democracy embodies these principles of change and continuity. And it is up to those who function in this system, members of the House and the numerous others who are part of this system, to increase the pace of change, to make it as fast as they like, subject to the principle of continuity. If continuity is broken, we become rootless and the system of parliamentary democracy breaks down" (unquote).
    10. I experienced the joy of the enactment of pro-poor and pro-farmer legislations. The recent passage of Goods and Services Tax and its launch on 1st July is a shining example of co-operative federalism and speaks volumes for the maturity of Indian Parliament. To be a part of this system is a unique experience and I am grateful to the people of this great country for giving me that opportunity.
    11. I had the privilege of being a witness and a participant in the unfolding scenario of emergence of a great India. An India where 130 crore people belonging to three major ethnic groups - Aryans, Dravidians and Mongoloids - practicing 7 major religions and speaking 122 languages in daily lives live under one Constitution, one flag and one administrative system.
    12. Not a single part of this vast territory of 3.3 million square kilometers of landmass and islands is unrepresented in the Parliament. 543 persons from the 543 territorial constituencies of this country representing the people in Lok Sabha and 245 persons elected by 29 States and 7 Union Territories make laws, scrutinize orders of the executive and enforce accountability to protect the interests of the people. Each of these 788 voices is important.
    13. It is unfortunate that the parliamentary time devoted to legislation has been declining. With the heightened complexity of administration, legislation must be preceded by scrutiny and adequate discussion. Scrutiny in committees is no substitute to open discussion on the floor of the House. When the Parliament fails to discharge its law-making role or enacts laws without discussion, I feel it breaches the trust reposed in it by the people of this great country.
    14. Through the instrument of Ordinances, the Executive has been vested with extraordinary powers to make laws to meet exigencies during a time when Parliament is not in session. However, such Ordinances have to be approved by Parliament within six weeks of the next session of the Parliament.
    15. I am firm in the opinion that the Ordinance route should be used only in compelling circumstances and there should be no recourse to Ordinances on monetary matters. Ordinance route should not be taken on matters which are being considered or have been introduced in the House or a committee of the House. If a matter is deemed urgent, the concerned committee should be made aware of the situation and should be mandated to present its report within the stipulated time.
    16. It was in July 2012 that my membership in Lok Sabha came to an end when I was declared elected as the 13th President of the Republic on 22nd of that month. Even though thirty-seven years of my life in Parliament came to an end on that day but I still continued to have a tenacious link with this institution, in fact I became an integral part of it, as the President of Republic, as per the Constitution. Article 79 of the Indian Constitution says: "There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses to be known respectively as the Council of States and the House of the People."
    17. In these five years, my principal responsibility was to function as the guardian of the Constitution. As I had said on oath, I strived to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, not just in word but also in spirit. In this task, I greatly benefitted from the advice and co-operation extended by Prime Minister Modi at every step. With passion and energy, he is driving transformational changes in the country. I will carry with me fond memories of our association and his warm and courteous behaviour.
    18. As I retire from the Office of the President of the Republic, my association with the Parliament also comes to an end. I will no longer be a part of the Parliament of India. It will be with a tinge of sadness and a rainbow of memories that I will be leaving this magnificent building today.
    19. Dear friends, with a sense of gratitude and a prayer in my heart, I take leave of you. I leave with a sense of fulfilment and happiness of having served the people of this great country through this institution- as their humble servant.

Why Indian Army has run out of ammunition, key concerns in CAG report explained
  • In 2015, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said that the Indian Army did not have ammunition to fight a war extending more than 20 days.
    This year's CAG report, tabled in Parliament on Friday, said that there was not enough ammunition to last more than 10 days if war breaks out. This makes the Indian Army vulnerable when they are facing threats on multiple fronts from China and Pakistan.
    Indian Army is already engaged in an eyeball encounter with the People's Liberation Army of China over Doklam plateau in Bhutan for over a month. The CAG blamed the functioning of the Ordnance Factory Board for the shortage of supplies to the Indian armed forces. But, there are a number of factors contributing towards shortfall of ammunition to the Indian Army.
    WHAT CAG SAID IN 2015?
    The CAG report red-flagged acute shortage of ammunition required for protecting the borders of the country in the event of a war with China or Pakistan if it extended for more than 20 days. Not only this, some types of ammunition would not last even 10 days, according to the CAG report.
    In its 2015 report, the CAG had said that the Indian Army needed more budgetary support to reach 50 per cent of the target capacity of the War Wastage Reserve (WWR).
    The WWR is referred to as a collection of military material held in reserve in case of war. This includes bullets and other form of ammunition, as well as equipment, weapons and fuel.
    Ideally, the WWR should last for 40 days of intense war giving enough time to the ordnance factories for ramping up production of required ammunition and supply the same to the military.
    The CAG report meant that if adequate budgetary support was given, the shortfall in ammunition could be overcome by 2019 and in any case not before that.
    WHY ARMY IS RUNNING OUT OF AMMUNITION
    The latest report of the CAG mentions that despite the concern being red-flagged by the central auditor and also a high-level report on defence preparedness in 2015, no improvement was seen in the working of the ordnance factories.
    The production and supply of ammunition remain inferior in quality and quantity, the CAG report said.
    Indian Army is the third largest in the world with more than 13 lakh personnel. Such a huge size of army makes storage of arms and ammunition difficult. There have also been storage quality problems with defence establishment.
    Usually, bullets and shells last for decades if properly stored. But, large stocks of ammunition have been found to degrade and create problems when put to use.
    BUREAUCRATIC HURDLES
    Besides the functioning of the ordnance factories, there have been problems of funds for both production of ammunition in the country and import from outside.
    Defence observers say that due to red tapism and archaic bureaucratic practices have hampered defence over the years. According to one report, only 20 per cent of the targeted ammunition was imported between 2008 and 2013 as bureaucracy kept creating hurdles.
    The Make In India push is also blamed for poor defence procurement. Under the ambitious programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in 2014 that India would cut down import of arms and ammunitions to give a push to domestic production of the same.
    Modi said that India should emerge as an exporter of arms and ammunition to the world especially the smaller countries. Though, the programme is well intended but it further delayed bureaucratic clearances.
    The CAG has expressed surprise that majority of the procurement cases from other than Ordnance Factory Board and which were initiated by Army headquarters during 2009-13 were pending as of January 2017.
    LARGEST ARMS IMPORTER YET SPENDING LESS
    Though, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India is the largest arms importer in the world. Between 2012 and 2016, India accounted for 13 per cent of global arms imports.

    But, noted strategic thinker, Ian Bremmer recently said that India is among the few countries, which were spending more on infrastructure than on defence preparedness. Bremmer wrote on Twitter: "Under @narendramodi, India now spends more on infrastructure than defense. One of the only countries to do so."

Remember what happened in 1971: Venkaiah warns Pakistan on terror
  • Senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu, the National Democratic Alliance's candidate for the Vice-Presidential polls , today said terrorism had become Pakistan's state policy.
    "Terrorism is the enemy of humanity. It has no religion. It has unfortunately become Pakistan's state policy," the news agency ANI quoted Naidu as saying.
    "Our neighbour should understand that aiding and abetting terror will not help them, they should recall what happened in 1971," Naidu added, referring to the war that led to the creation of Bangladesh.
    His comments come on a day when a militant was killed in North Kashmir's Kupwara district as the Army foiled an infiltration bid along the Line of Control. Home Ministry data reveals that there have been more than 40 infiltration attempts by terrorists in 2017.
    Venkaiah Naidu stepped down as Union Minister after his nomination, handing over the Information and Broadcasting portfolio to Textile minister Smriti Irani .
    Also in the race to succeed Vice-President Hamid Ansari is Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson.

Ghorasahan train derailment plot: NIA chargesheet to name Pakistan man as main conspirator
  • Nine months after terror conspiracy to blow up train tracks in Bihar's Raxual - Sitamarhi railway track near Ghorasahan, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is ready to file its chargesheet against 10 accused, a first in series of train derailments that rocked the country last year.
    The case has exposed clear external linkages with conspirators based in Nepal, Pakistan and UAE, one of the accused Dipak Ram was eliminated at the behest of the ISI after he developed cold feet while planting the bomb, failing in their conspiracy to kill scores of innocent Indian passengers.
    A top source in the NIA told India Today, "We have got sanction prosecution from MHA. The chargesheet is expected to be filed in Patna Court by Tuesday."
    Director General Sharad Kumar said, "Our investigators have probed the case thoroughly to book the perpetrators of terror plot so that justice can be done."  
    The NIA chargesheet will name Dubai based Pakistani Sheikh Shafi, two Nepalese citizens Shamshul Hoda and Brajkishore Giri as the main conspirators. Six others including a slew of small time Bhojpuri film cast and criminal elements in Bihar East Champaran district have also been named as accused.
    As per the NIA chargesheet, Sheikh Shafi alias Shafi Chacha a Pakistan-based ISI handler, Shamshul Hoda a Nepalese citizen, was tasked with hiring Indian men to carry out the train derailment.
    Hoda is known to have contacted Brajkishore Giri, another Nepalese bitten by the Bhojpuri movie buff to use his Bhojpuri film connection to plan a sinister plot. Giri contacted Bhojpuri Singer cum vocalist Gajendra Sharma owner of Dangal Studio in Motihari, who roped in Moti Paswan, a small time petty criminal with past Naxal links to make the bomb.
    In October last year, a pressure cooker bomb was planted, luckily the bomb failed to go off, leaving the plotters frustrated. Upset at the failure, bomb planters Deepak Ram and Arun Ram were eliminated at the behest of the ISI. The videos of murders of duo was sent by Giri to Shamsul Hoda.
    The same group pressurised Moti Paswan to deliver, but the latter chickened out. Under pressure from Hoda, Brajkishore Giri now sought help of Uma Shankar, a known criminal. He delivered a small bomb which was placed on December 2 under the train in Nakardei. The second time too the bomb failed to go off. In both cases, pressure cooker bomb was used.
    This is when a conversation between Giri and Uma Shankar took place where he said "bomb nahi bana pao, tum kya kar lo, hum toh kila kuta nikal diye (You can't make a bomb, while we have taken a nail out on train tracks)," hinting at a conspiracy of the Kanpur train track, which now investigators believe was Giri showing off, making a jibe at latter's inability to make an explosive.
    The conspiracy angle of Kanpur is yet to be proved. Shanker kept a record of many such conversations pinning Giri and other accused in the sinister terror plot.
    The NIA chargesheet also mentions the steady money trail for the terror plot. The money flow started from Dubai to Nepal to India. Money came in from ISI man Sheikh Shafi to Shamshul Hoda to Brajkishore Giri. The first money installment came in from Himalayan Exchange in Nepal, a sum of Rs 2 lakh. In August 2016, two installments, each of Rs 36000 was delivered by via Al Ansari Exchange in UAE to Giri.
    The ones named in the chargesheet are Sheikh Shafi, Shamshul Hoda, Brajkishore Giri, Gajendra Sharma, Moti Paswan, Uma Shanker, Mukesh Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, Ranjay Kumar Sha. The chargesheet says Pakistani Sheikh Shafi appears to be acting on behest of ISI orchestrating accident.
    Meanwhile, in the two other cases of train accidents of Kanpur and Kuneru are still under investigation. Sources said an official report from IIT Kanpur is still awaited, with the NIA sending them a reminder to submit its report soon. No conspiracy angle has been found in Kuneru accident, sources in the NIA told India Today.
    On November 20, 2016, the Indore-Patna Express 19321, derailed in Pukhriyan, near Kanpur claiming 150 lives. While the Kuneru train accident on January 21, 2017, the Hirakhand Express 18448, a scheduled passenger train from Jagdalpur to Bhubaneswar, derailed near the village of Kuneru killing 41 people and injuring 68 others.

Bihar: Class 10 student who scored 0 in maths gets 94 marks after re-evaluation
  • The Bihar Board faced massive embarrassment after more than 50 per cent of class 10 students failed in the examination this year. Hundreds of angry students blamed the evaluation system put in place this year where they alleged that incompetent examiners evaluated the answer sheets. It was also reported that primary school teachers were assigned the task of evaluating answer sheets of Class 10 subjects of which they had no clue.
    Under pressure after a disastrous performance of candidates, the board then began the process of re-evaluating the answer sheets, the results of which is now declared. What has now been highlighted is the rot prevailing in the Bihar Board. A candidate who scored zero in Math has now secured 94 after re-evaluation. India Today is in possession of the mark sheets of many students who had applied for scrutiny of their papers at the BSS college in Begusarai which was the one of the examination centre. There are not one but more than dozen of candidates whose marks have shots up unexpectedly after re-evaluation.    

    More mix-up was found in subjects like Maths, Science, Hindi and Sanskrit after scrutiny. One of the students who scored zero in Sanskrit has now scores 40 after scrutiny. Another student who got 12 marks in the same subject, had his marks has shoot up to 61.
    The Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh has now slammed the Bihar Board asserting that the re-evaluation results reveal that initially answers sheets were evaluated by inexpert examiners.
    "I demand a detailed investigation into this mess in the Bihar Board. I believe a judicial inquiry into this is needed", said Shatrughan Prasad Singh, General Secretary of Madhyamik Shikshak Sangh.
    It is notable that in this year's Class 10th exams of the total 1723911 students who appeared for the examination, only 863950 had passed the examinations.

Business Affairs 

    Launching Rs 200 note will fill missing middle: SBI Report
    • Introduction of Rs 200 note will fill in the "missing middle" even as the new currency in circulation (CIC) has already reached 84 per cent of the pre demonetisation level, says a report.
      Cash with banks, a CIC component, has however witnessed a decline over November 2016 level, said the State Bank of India Ecowrap report. 
      The data for June 23, 2017 shows cash in hand with banks declining to 5.4 per cent of the currency in circulation from a high of 23.19 per cent for the fortnight ended November 25 2016, it said. 
      Going by historical trends, cash in hand with banks is roughly 3.8 per cent of CIC and is currently at 5.4 per cent. This means at least an additional amount of 1.6 per cent/ Rs 25,000 crore of excess currency may be currently lying in ATMs and herein lies the importance of new Rs 200 notes which could serve as the "missing middle" it said. 
      The report added that Reserve Bank of India has recently "put orders" for it. "The cash in hand with banks has been higher compared to the last year, because of demonetisation and the subsequent limits placed on withdrawals for some time. However, now the percentage is showing a decline and reaching pre- demonetisation levels," it added.
      The report noted that though there has been a significant move towards relocating distribution of currency towards smaller denominations post demonetisation, there is a mismatch caused by the presence of Rs 2,000 denomination straight after Rs 500 denomination.
      Moreover, an ATM machine typically holds 10,000 bills and if these were to comprise say only notes of Rs 100, the number and cost of replenishment goes up significantly. 
      "Herein lies the paradox. Notes of Rs 2,000 denomination in ATMs may find few takers because of missing middle/Rs 200 note," the report said. The Reserve Bank is reportedly expected to introduce Rs 200 notes in the coming months to ease pressure on lower- denomination currencies that are in short supply.
      The new notes of Rs 200 should be out before the end of 2017 and will greatly help in narrowing the demand and supply gap in smaller-denomination currency bills.

    Russia keen to sell MiG-35 to Indian Air Force: official
    • Russia is keen on selling its new fighter jet MiG-35 to India with the MiG corporations chief saying the country has evinced interest in the aircraft and talks were on to understand its requirements.
      Chief Executive Officer of the MiG Aircraft Corporation Ilya Tarasenko said that after having presented MiG-35 in January, the MiG corporation began to actively promote the aircraft in India and in other parts of the world.
      "We are proposing supply of the aircraft for tenders in India and we actively work with its Air Force in order to win the tender," he said while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the MAKS 2017 air show here.
      The MiG-35 is Russias most advanced 4++ generation multipurpose fighter jet developed on the basis of the serial-produced MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 combat aircraft.
      Asked if India has expressed any interest in the MiG-35, Tarasenko said, "Of course they have."
      MiG aircraft have been used by India for almost 50 years and MiG corporation proposes its new products to India among the first countries and intends to continue supplying India with its most modern aircraft, the MiG chief said.
      Asked about the current status of the proposal of the aircraft to India, he said, "We are in the negotiation stage where talks on technical and technological specifications that MiG can present to India and the requirements that India has for this aircraft were taking place."
      "Since this is a very new plane, it will still take some time to negotiate on exactly what India needs and adjust the product to it," he added.
      Talking about the cost of the plane, Tarasenko said it was economical due to the after-sales services being offered along with the aircraft.
      "We propose not just the aircraft, but also training for its use, as well as after-sales servicing where we take upon the responsibility to service it for 40 years," he added.
      He stressed that in comparison to its competitors, the prices offered by MiG were 20-25 per cent cheaper, making it an attractive option for those who wish to purchase this aircraft.
      Highlighting the main features of the MiG-35, Tarasenko said its technical specifications were close to a fifth generation aircraft, namely its flight capabilities, its new weapon range and defence systems, including stealth.
      "I would like to note the demand for this aircraft for our own air force, as well as our foreign partners. The plane is light, multi-functional and has high manoeuvrability," Tarasenko said, adding that the MiG was also offering special commercial terms to its partners.
      He also stressed that the plane was fully Russian-made with Rostec companies like United Engine Corporation (UEC), KRET and Technodinamika participating in the project.
      At MAKS 2017, the MiG-35 grabbed all the limelight as it took to the skies and enthralled the audience with breathtaking manoeuvres like the tail slide, barrel roll and the nesterov loop.
      Belyaev Mikhail, the Lead Test Pilot of MiG-35, told reporters that the main feature of this aircraft was the new on board equipment and the new quality of weapons -- air-to- air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea.
      "Compared with the basic version of the MiG-29, it is a new aircraft, new airframe, fly-by-wire, glass cockpit, adapted for night vision goggles...new engines, more power, more fuel, new on board equipment and new weapons," said Mikhail, who was earlier this year presented the star of the Hero of Russia by President Vladimir Putin for bravery in piloting and testing of aviation equipment.
      Asked if it was easier to fly MiG-35, Mikhail said new tasks were required for such an aircraft so one needs to learn these.
      "On the basic level it is not that difficult to switch from MIG 29 to 35 as the plane remains the same. It is still a light simple plane. The combat tasks that can be achieved from this plane are much more serious and much more complex," he said.
      "More combat tasks can be achieved from this plane than with the MiG-29. So it will take time to learn new tasks and to adapt," he added.
      An overhauled MiG-35 multi-role fighter completed a successful demonstration flight at the MAKS 2017 air show, with Russian officials saying the first combat-ready plane will be delivered to the Air Force next year.
      While speaking to reporters at MAKS, Tarasenko also noted that around 30 countries are using various modifications of MiG-35s predecessor, the MiG-29, and that "talks are already ongoing with potential buyers."
      The fighter jet features improved flight and technical characteristics, the most advanced on board radio-electronic equipment and a wide arsenal of air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.
      The flight tests of MiG-35 fighter aircraft began on January 26 and the planes international presentation was held in the Moscow Region on the following day. 

    Four of top-10 cos lose Rs 61,931 cr in mcap; ITC hit hard
    • The combined market valuation of four of the top-10 Indian firms plummeted by Rs 61,930.86 crore last week, dragged down mainly by ITC which alone took a hit of Rs 58,902.54 crore.
      While ITC, HDFC, State Bank of India (SBI) and Maruti Suzuki India suffered losses in their market capitalisation (m-cap) for the week ended Friday, RIL, TCS, HDFC Bank, HUL, Infosys and ONGC together added Rs 54,899.59 crore. However, their cumulative gain was less than the total loss suffered by the four firms.
      ITC emerged as the worst hit among the top-10 entities as its m-cap crashed Rs 58,902.54 crore to Rs 3,50,868.47 crore.
      During the last week shares of ITC fell by over 14 per cent. On Tuesday itself, the stock had plunged nearly 13 per cent on worries over increase in cess on cigarettes.
      The market valuation of SBI fell by Rs 1,079.01 crore to Rs 2,50,631.58 crore and that of HDFC slipped Rs 1,067.24 crore to Rs 2,61,489.41 crore.
      Marutis mcap went down by Rs 882.07 crore to Rs 2,27,393.79 crore.
      From the gainers side, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) stole the show as its market valuation jumped Rs 17,933.32 crore to Rs 5,15,790.39 crore.
      Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) added Rs 17,630.59 crore to Rs 4,76,829.90 crore in its m-cap and Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) saw a gain of Rs 7,699.94 crore to Rs 2,11,170.88 crore.
      The m-cap of HDFC Bank surged Rs 5,752.62 crore to Rs 4,38,422.41 crore and that of Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) rose by Rs 4,080.02 crore to Rs 2,50,764.04 crore.
      Infosys valuation advanced by Rs 1,803.1 crore to Rs 2,25,077.61 crore.
      In the ranking of top-10 firms, RIL retained its numero- uno position followed by TCS, HDFC Bank, ITC, HDFC, HUL, SBI, Maruti, Infosys and ONGC.
      During the past week, the Sensex registered a rise of 8.14 points, or 0.02 per cent, while the Nifty rose 28.90 points, or 0.29 per cent.

    Coal scam: Court directs CBI to respond to Javadekars plea
    • A special court has directed the CBI to respond by September 6 to the objections of Union Ministers Prakash Javadekar and Hansraj Ahir against its move to close a coal scam case.
      Special Judge Bharat Parashar allowed the probe agencys plea seeking time to respond to the ministers petition in a case allegedly involving Prakash Industries Ltd (PIL) and others as accused.
      HRD Minister Javadekar and Minister of State for Home Ahir, who are complainants in case, had approached the court seeking rejection of the CBIs closure report and a direction to the agency to further investigate it and file a supplementary charge sheet.
      In 2014, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had started its proceedings on the complaints made by the two ministers.
      The case was registered on the basis of CVCs reference, but after completing the probe, the CBI had filed a closure report in 2014 saying no incriminating evidence had come on record warranting prosecution of any accused.
      The BJP leaders had alleged in their petition that the PIL had deliberately misrepresented facts to the 35th Screening Committee with the connivance of others to get the coal block in Chhattisgarhs Fatehpur allotted to it and the CBI had wrongly accepted the claims made by the accused.
      Their petition came in response to the courts earlier notice asking them whether they wanted to submit anything on the final report in the case.
      The court had issued notices to both the ministers after CVC Director Sanjay Agarwal had informed it that the anti- graft watchdog was not a complainant in the matter and had no role to play in the case. It was these two leaders on whose complaint the CVC had started its proceedings, he had said.
      The court had said that before accepting CBIs closure report, it was duty-bound to issue notice to the complainant. It had also directed the CVC to clarify its stand on the report.
      According to the CBIs FIR, the Fatehpur coal block was allocated jointly to PIL and another firm by the 35th Screening Committee.
      The FIR was lodged against PIL, its three officials, some officials of the Coal Ministry and others on the charge that the firm had misrepresented its net worth while applying for the block.
      The FIR was registered under sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) read with 420 (cheating) of the IPC and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
      The CBI had also alleged in its FIR that while the company had misrepresented facts relating to its net worth, the screening committee had deliberately not followed the guidelines and showed undue favour to it.

    Tata Housing to invest up to Rs 800 cr for expansion in FY18
    • Tata Housing is planning to add 8-10 projects to its portfolio in 2017-18 involving an investment of up to Rs 800 crore, a top company official said.
      They will be a combination of greenfield and brownfield projects, Tata Housing Managing Director and CEO Brotin Banerjee told PTI here.
      The implementation of Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) and GST is likely to spur consolidation in the sector, which presents an opportunity for Tata Housing to expand its portfolio, he added.
      "There is already a slowdown in the sector and now with the addition of new regulations of RERA and GST, those with access to very large land banks or projects and not in a position to sustain in future are looking at consolidating. We see this as an opportunity for expanding our portfolio," he said.
      Banerjee said the company wants to expand its portfolio substantially and is looking at three routes -- joint venture, joint development and outright buyout of assets.
      When asked whether the valuations were attractive and the sellers ready to take a haircut, he said, "Sellers are far more reasonable now about valuations and land prices. This is one good thing that has happened due to the slowdown. Hopefully, rightly priced projects or land banks can be acquired and rightly priced inventory can be sold."
      Out of these 8-10 projects, around 3-4 would be under its affordable housing division Tata Value Homes, he said.
      "We are looking at 3-4 projects which are in the affordable segment. We are also waiting for the public-private partnership policy on affordable housing to be formulated, which is likely to come in the next couple of months," he said.
      The company is looking at cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, among others, for expansion.
      "At the moment, we are not looking at smaller, tier-II or tier-III Indian cities," Banerjee added.

    General Awareness

    India ranks 132 in Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index

    • India has ranked 132nd out of 152 countries on the inaugural “Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index” released by international NGO Oxfam in association with Developmental Finance International. 
      Highlights of Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index:
      Sweden topped the index while Nigeria took the bottom most spot. Sweden is followed by Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Germany.
      • Among India’s neighbouring countries, China’s rank is 87; Pakistan fared worse than India at 146 while Bangladesh ranked at 148. 
      • While countries such as Sweden, Chile, Namibia and Uruguay have taken strong steps to reduce inequality, countries such as India and Nigeria do very badly overall.
      • The report also noted that some middle-income countries are spending significantly less than nations that are rich today did at a similar point in their economic development.
      • Oxfam’s research has shown that since the turn of the century, the poorest half of the world’s population has received just 1% of the total increase in global wealth, while the top 1% received 50% of the increase.
      Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index – Top 10:
      1Sweden
      2Belgium
      3Denmark
      4Norway
      5Germany
      6Finland
      7Austria
      8France
      9Netherlands
      10Luxembourg
      India’s Performance on Main Indicators:
      India managed to secure a lowly 149th position on the health, education and social protection spending indicator, ranking below nations like Yemen, Senegal, Congo and Serbia.
      • The report highlights that India’s less-than adequate spending on welfare measures is on account of its low tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio compared to that of some other nations. Tax collection in India is just 16.7% of GDP.
      • India secured the 91st rank among nations on the progressive structure and incidence of tax indicator. The report outlined that the tax structure in India looks reasonably progressive on paper, but in practice, much of the progressive tax is not collected.
      • On indicator of labour market policies, India ranked 86th. On labour rights and respect for women in the workplace, India fares poorly, reflecting that the majority of the labour force is employed in the agricultural and informal sectors, which lack union organisation.
      • Gender norms and existing discrimination against working women have now manifested in the form of lower pay for women, often for doing the same job and despite longer working hours. In India, the wage gap is 32.6%.
      About Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index:
      The index measures efforts of Governments of countries which pledged to reduce inequality (gap between rich and poor) in 2015 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.
      • The index is based on three main indicators –welfare spending, progressive nature of tax system and prevailing wage inequality in the labour market.
      • The overall rank (Change Readiness Index Rank) for a country is calculated as an average of their scores on each of the main indicators.
      • Welfare spending is measured by expenditure on health, education and social protection.
      • In a progressive tax system, the tax burden on corporations and individuals goes up progressively as per rise in income levels.

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