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Current Affairs - 17 August 2017

General Affairs 

After PM Narendra Modi's Speech, Shiv Sena Turns To Article 370
  • The Shiv Sena in an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana' today said the government should abolish Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, so that people from across the nation can "visit Kashmir and embrace its people" - alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech.
    PM Modi at the Red Fort in New Delhi yesterday said, "Kashmir problem cannot be resolved by either bullets or by abuses. It can be resolved by embracing Kashmiris."

    The Shiv Sena in the editorial responding to PM Modi's speech said, "Why nobody got this great thought before is very surprising."

    "Now to bring this thought into practice, abolish Article 370 of the Constitution so that... people from across the country can go there and embrace its people," the editorial said.

    It said violence in "the name of faith is prevalent in the country", which affects people of all communities. "Some segments of the Hindu community have become violent and extremists in the name of cow protection. Merely warning them will not be enough," said the Shiv Sena, which is part of the BJP-led alliance governments at the centre and in Maharashtra.

    PM Modi had promised to bring back black money from foreign banks and deposit Rs. 15 lakh in every citizen's bank account, the Shiv Sena said, and added, "We believe this will be done in the next two years."

'Blue Whale Type' Games Totally Unacceptable, Says Ravi Shankar Prasad
  • Games like Blue Whale -- that have been provoking youths to commit suicide -- are "completely unacceptable", Union Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday.

    Mr Prasad said the government has already issued instructions to all tech platforms to check the spread of "The Blue Whale Challenge".

    On July 30, a 14-year-old schoolboy Manpreet Singh Sahani allegedly walked off the fifth floor of his building in Sher-e-Punjab Colony in Andheri East in Mumbai.

    Also, a former Manipur minister's son died after falling from a terrace in Delhi and the Blue Whale game is suspected to have driven him to death. A teenager in Kerala hanged himself to death allegedly while completing a Blue Whale challenge. 

    "We received several complaints related to the Blue Whale game that it has been provoking youngsters to commit suicide. Clear instructions have been issued to all tech platforms to check spread of the Blue Whale game," Mr Prasad said.

    "I appeal to all tech platforms to strictly abide by government instructions. Such a game is completely unacceptable," the minister said.

    The government has directed technology giants, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo to remove all links which direct users to the dangerous online game "The Blue Whale Challenge".

    "You are hereby required to ensure that any such link of this deadly game in its own name or any similar game is immediately removed from your platform," a letter sent by the Electronics and IT Ministry, dated August 11 and made available on Tuesday, read. 

    "The Blue Whale", reportedly created by a former convict in Russia, reportedly psychologically stimulates the players to indulge in daring, self-destructive tasks for 50 days before finally taking the 'winning' step of killing themselves, and each task must be filmed and shared as 'proof'.

    "The proponent of Blue Whale Challenge should be reported to law enforcement agencies," the letter said.

    "The Blue Whale Challenge" has reportedly claimed the lives of over 130 boys and girls across the world so far.

    According to experts, teenagers are more vulnerable because the virtual world allows them to act freely -- without the restrictions prevalent in the real world -- which seems to give them an adrenaline boost.

Bihar Floods: Number Of Deaths Rises To 72, Over 73 Lakh People Hit
  • The number of deaths due to floods in Bihar today mounted to 72, as over 73 lakh people across 14 districts have been hit by inundation which was triggered by incessant rains in Nepal and northern part of the state.

    The number of deaths yesterday stood at 56.

    Araria accounted for 20 flood deaths, followed by Sitamarhi (11), West Champaran (9), Kisanganj (8), Madhubani and Purnea (5 each), Madhepura and Darbhanga (4 each), East Champaran (3), Sheohar (2) and Supual (1), said Anirudh Kumar, special secretary in the state disaster management department.

    He said 73.44 lakh people are in the grip of flood which has engulfed 110 blocks and 1,151 panchayats spanning 14 districts, with Gopalganj also getting submerged today.

    The special secretary said 2.74 lakh people have been evacuated and taken to safer places. Out of them, 1.16 lakh have been put up in 504 relief camps in different places.

    Community kitchens have been started for victims in marooned areas and available line hotels, aganwadi kendras and railway stations in Katihar district are being used for running community kitchen, the principal secretary to the disaster management department, Pratyay Amrit said.

    Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was scheduled to conduct an aerial survey of Bettiah, Valmikinagar areas with Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi during the day could not do so due to bad weather.

    He, however, monitored the flood situation from Patna through interactions with senior officials.

    Pratyay Amrit held a meeting through video conferencing this evening with districts officials and gave them directions on helping the flood victims.

    Train services continued to be affected due to the calamity and rail movement is completely disrupted in many sections, a statement from East Central Railways chief public relations officer Rajesh Kumar said.

    These included the Motihari-Valmikinagar Road section of Samastipur division as water is flowing over the rail tracks in Narkatiaganj yard, besides Chamua-Narkatiaganj, Narkatiaganj-Sathi sections and Semra yard.

    Rail service was hit in Sitamarhi-Raxaul section of Samastipur Division due to flooding of tracks between Chaura Dano-Adapur stations and Kundwa Chainpur-Bairagnia stations.

    The Sugauli-Raxaul section of the saw flood waters submerging Sugauli and Raxaul yards and inundate area between Raxaul-Ramgarhwa stations.

    In Darbhanga-Sitamarhi section of Samastipur division the flood water is flowing over rail tracks between Janakpur Road-Bajpatti stations and Kamtaul-Jogiara stations.

    As a result several trains passing through these sections have been cancelled, diverted, short terminated and short originated, he said.

    The trains cancelled today include Indore-Guwahati Express commencing tomorrow, Sealdah-Saharsa Hatey Bazare Express today and the corresponding Saharsa-Sealdah Hatey Bazare Express commencing on August 17.

    The Rajendra Nagar(Patna)-New Jalpaiguri Express will short terminate at Katihar till further advice starting from today, the CPRO said.

    Bihar BJP President Nityanand Rai contributed Rs. 11 lakh on behalf of the party to the chief minister's relief fund.

All Trains To Northeast Stopped Till August 20 Due To Flood: Railway Official
  • All trains to the Northeast from rest of the country have been cancelled till August 20 after rail tracks were damaged due to floods in Assam, West Bengal and Bihar, officials said today. "The Railway Board has directed all zonal railways to cancel trains travelling from various parts of the country beyond Malda town and Katihar till August 20, 2017," Northeast Frontier Railway public relations officer Pranav Jyoti Sharma said in a statement.
    Rail connectivity in flood-hit areas in Bihar and West Bengal has been affected too. "However, virtually no accessibility to most of the damaged sites has affected the restoration work. Telecommunication network in the entire section is badly affected also," Mr Sharma said in the statement.

    A railway bridge between Maniyan and Kuretha was damaged by floods today morning, disrupting train communication between Katihar in Bihar and Kumedpur in West Bengal.

    "This has further hampered mobilisation of materials to sites," the railway official said, the railways has arranged special trains between Guwahati in Assam to Dalkhola in West Bengal and back.

    "Water is still above danger level in sections like Dalkhola-Telta-Sudhani Barsoi-Raiganj and Balurghat-Buniyadpur. Restoration work is going on. Boulder, ballast and other materials are being arranged from various locations for being used in restoration work," Mr Sharma said.

    He said Northeast-bound rail passengers who earlier had to get down at Katihar station in Bihar have taken trains till Malda in West Bengal.

    "On date, there are about 120 passengers, who are stranded at Guwahati station and railway administration is taking all necessary steps to extend all possible assistance to these people," the statement said.

All-Women Indian Navy Crew To Sail Around The World
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met six officers of the Indian Navy who will sail around the world in India's first attempt to circumnavigate the globe by an all-women crew.

    The crew of the sailing vessel INSV Tarini explained the journey's plan to PM Modi, who after wishing them success said he will track their progress.

    "He exhorted them to project India's capabilities and strengths across the world and also encouraged them to write and share their experiences after the successful completion of the voyage," the government said in a statement.

    The six Indian Navy officers will begin the sea journey later this month from Goa; they expect to return to the coastal state in March 2018, the statement said.

    The expedition has been named Navika Sagar Parikrama. The crew will stop at four ports - Fremantle (Australia), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands), and Cape Town (South Africa).

    "INSV Tarini is a 55-foot sailing vessel, which has been built indigenously, and was inducted in the Indian Navy earlier this year," the statement said.

    The vessel will be captained by Lt. Commander Vartika Joshi, and the crew comprises Lt. Commander Pratibha Jamwal, Lt. Commander P Swathi, Lieutenant S Vijaya Devi, Lieutenant B Aishwarya and Lieutenant Payal Gupta, the statement said.

Business Affairs

Govt extends tax break for industry in hilly states till 2027
  • Industries in the north eastern and Himalayan states will continue to get tax exemption till March 2027, albeit as refund, under the current GST regime which was rolled out on July 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.
    "Within the framework of the GST Act each industry will be entitled to its own refund mechanism during this particular period (March 31, 2027)," he said.
    The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has given approval to the Scheme of providing budgetary support under the Goods and Service Tax (GST) regime for the eligible industrial units in Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and north eastern states including Sikkim, he said.
    The support shall be available for the residual period (ten years from the date of the commercial production) in the States of North Eastern region and Himalayan States, he said.
    DIPP will notify the scheme, including detailed operational guidelines for its implementation within 6 weeks, he added.
    Under the new GST regime, there is no provision for exemption but there is one section under the Act which permits refunds.
    "Therefore, refund would be permitted through DBT. The sunset clause of these exemption has been extended to 2027.
    4,284 industrial establishment will entitled to this benefit," Jaitley said.
    Budgetary support of Rs 27,413 crore for the Scheme has been approved from July 1, 2017 till March 31, 2027 for such industrial units located in these states which availed the benefit of Central Excise exemption prior to coming into force of GST regime, he said.
    The Centre was implementing North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007 for north eastern states including Sikkim and Package for Special Category States for Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to promote industrialisation.
    One of the benefits of the NEIIPP, 2007 and Package for Special Category States was excise duty exemption for first 10 years after commencement of commercial production.
    Upon repeal of the Central Excise duty laws, the government has decided to pay a budgetary support equal to the central share of the cash component of Central GST and Integrated GST paid by the affected eligible industrial units.

Relief for Jaypee homebuyers on claim form; protests begin against Amrapali
  • There could be some relief for home-buyers who had invested in Jaypee Infratech projects.
    According to a report in Times of India, the insolvency resolution professional (IRP) has decided to accept whichever form their claims are filed in.
    Earlier there was confusion on whether homebuyers had to submit claim form for financial creditors or operational creditors.
    The confusion had happened due to two different rulings by NCLT and NCLAT. NCLT had ruled that homebuyers are not operational creditors whereas NCLAT had observed that flat buyers with assured returns from the developers are categorised as financial creditors.
    The Insolvency & Bankruptcy Board of India had erred in deciding on the forms as a situation like the current one was not envisaged. Not only forms, even the documents that are to be submitted while making a claim are meant for companies and not homebuyers, the report said.
    NBCC chairman and managing director AK Mittal had reportedly shown willingness in completing the delayed project.
    Meanwhile, NCLT has appointed a chartered accountant Anuj Jain who is required to prepare a resolution plan and submit it to the court. The plan will then have to be approved by 75 per cent financial creditors (by value) in the committee.  
    Amrapali protests
    Meanwhile, homebuyers held protest in Noida against Amrapali Group. The protestors urged Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.
    A  report in Moneycontrol said that homebuyers of delayed projects are seeking help of government-owned Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd (HUDCO) and NBCC Ltd to complete the pending projects.
    Under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, once a case is admitted by the NCLT, a resolution plan must be in place within 180 days of admission. This is extendable by up to 90 days. In case the turnaround doesn't happen, the company's assets will be liquidated.
    On August 10, NCLT had admitted insolvency proceedings against Jaypee Infratech Ltd. The Allahabad bench of the tribunal accepted IDBI Bank's plea and classified Jaypee Infratech as insolvent.
    Jaypee Infratech Ltd is among the 12 accounts identified by RBI for insolvency proceedings.
    Here's how to file a claim

    • First, you need to log-in to
    • Select the form you want to download.
    • Form C can be submitted online
    • Form C can only be filed electronically via e-mail.
    • Form B is for operational creditors
    • Form C is for financial creditors
    • Homebuyers can file any one of the two forms
    • Please note that merely because the claim may have been filed in a wrong form by a Creditor will not disqualify the claim from being considered.
    • Further, if any Creditor fails to file proof of claim or complete proof of claim alongwith the form will also not disqualify the claim from being considered. Such proof can be filed at a later date but not later than approval of resolution plan.
    • The forms must  be sent to Interim Resolution Professional/ Resolution Professional  before the resolution plan is worked out, which can take a maximum of 270 days.

Market valuations to stay high over next 3 years: Report
  • The Indian equity market is trading at a premium to its historic average and its valuations are expected to stay high over the next three years, says an Edelweiss Securities report. 
    The report said while supply side has undergone a structural change, reform momentum is well above its historic past and more aggressive than emerging as well as global peers. 

    Moreover, domestic flows into the equity market will have a fairly large and sustained influence on how the Indian market is valued. "We argue the love for India will only grow and its valuations will stay high over the next 3 years, as big fundamental transitions play through and pent-up cyclical drivers kick in," said Aditya Narain, Head of Research -Institutional Equities at Edelweiss Securities in the report. 

    Edelweiss Securities sees the Nifty index at 11,100 in June 2018. According to the report, India could effectively become a more domestic economy than it has been in the past because of its relatively high domestic growth. The report noted that though FDI is still flowing in, there is less trade, capital and earnings that are offshore dependent. 

    "But it does suggest that India could well, by dint of its relatively high domestic growth, effectively become a more domestic economy than it has been in the past," it noted. 

    It further said the role of FDI in India's growth story is likely to be more muted this time around and these in turn should keep the market and economy more insulated from global shocks. 

    "Given the significant lack of market awareness, limited access and products (regulatory as also business constraints), Indian equity capital should stay predominantly domestic, and progressively shift ownership from FIIs to locals," it said.

Yes Bank cuts savings account interest rate by up to 1%
  • Private sector lender Yes Bank today reduced the interest rate on savings bank accounts by 1 per cent to 5 per cent for deposits of less than Rs 1 lakh.
    However, the bank will continue to pay 6 per cent interest on deposits of over Rs 1 lakh and less than Rs 1 crore.
    The bank has also slashed interest rate on savings accounts to 6.25 per cent from existing 6.5 per cent for deposits over Rs 1 crore.
    The new rates would be effective from September 1, Yes Bank said in a statement.
    Yes Bank is the fifth lender to reduce saving account interest rate after market leader State Bank of India (SBI) begun the process of reducing the interest rate.
    On July 31, SBI slashed interest rate on savings account deposits by 50 basis points to 3.5 per cent on balance of Rs 1 crore and below.
    Another PSU lender Bank of Baroda had cut the rate to 3.5 per cent on deposits of up to Rs 50 lakh. Karnataka Bank too lowered interest rate on savings bank accounts.

Reliance Jio effect fading? At least, the fizz in Bharti Airtel stock suggests so
  • Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio may have caught the telecom market by surprise with its freebies and made telcos bleed in terms of their financials but it has barely been able to affect the stock price of market leader Bharti Airtel.
    The Sunil Bharti Mittal-owned firm, which is also the country's largest telco (in terms of subscribers) has gained 33.03 percent or 100 points on an year-to-date basis even as its reported a 74.89 percent fall in June quarter net profit to Rs 367 crore.  The Sensex gained 19 percent on year-to-date basis.
    In Q1 of the current fiscal, the company appeared to have controlled the quarter-on- quarter slide it had been experiencing since the entry of Reliance Jio in September 2016.
    Its January to March quarter net profit came 72 percent lower at Rs 373.4 crore, hit by sustained predatory pricing by rival Jio.
    Even brokerages are upbeat on the prospects of the stock. 
    Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BofA-ML) has maintained a 'buy' rating on the stock with a target of Rs 426.
    "The risk-reward ratio is getting increasingly favourable and the company is well placed to emerge stronger in both voice and data markets. Going forward, there is limited room for disappointment from Bharti Airtel's Africa numbers," the brokerage said in a note to its clients. 
    ICICI Securities in its report dated July 27, 2017 has given a price target of Rs 480 in 12 months with a Buy call.
    "While there remains a risk of churn based on Jio's 4G feature phone, we believe strong incumbent like Bharti would counter it by offering bundled plan with other 4G feature phone vendors, albeit without any subsidy, " said the brokerage in its report.
    Bharti Airtel's longstanding competitor Idea Cellular also gained 18 percent on an year-to-date basis. In March, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular cleared a $23 billion merger, excluding the former's stake in Indus Towers Ltd.
    The merger will create India's largest telecom firm with almost 400 million customers and 35 percent customer and 41 percent revenue market share.
    The merger which is expected to be completed by 2018 will help the two firms put up a stronger fight against Reliance Jio which earlier disrupted the market with its free voice calls and low data prices.

General Awareness

India to host steering committee meeting of TAPI gas pipeline

  • India will host the next steering committee meeting of the proposed 1,814 kilometre-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline. The meeting will be held in New Delhi. This decision was taken during the sixth joint Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) meeting on trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation.
    About Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline:
    • Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI), also known as Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, is an under construction natural gas pipeline that will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.
    • It was initially proposed in year 1995.
    • The pipeline is being developed by Asian Development Bank.
    • Construction on the pipeline started in Turkmenistan in December 2015and is expected to be operational by 2019.
    • From Indian perspective, the pipeline is an effort to tap Turkmenistan’s Galkynysh gas fields, which are the fourth largest in the world.
    Recent Developments:
    • The last steering committee meeting, scheduled to be held annually took place in April 2016.
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made the proposal to hold the TAPI steering committee meet in Delhi when he met the Turkmenistan President in Ashgkabad last year.
    • The move to hold TAPI’s steering committee meeting in India, is an effort by Indian government to stave off any Chinese interest in the project, given that Turkmenistan is a close partner of China in its Belt and Road initiative across Central Asia, and China is the largest buyer of its gas.
    • During the recent meeting between Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, Mr. Meredov said that his government strongly believes in this project and considers it as good foundation for providing peace and security in the region.

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