Current Affairs Current Affairs - 22 August 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Current Affairs - 22 August 2017

General Affairs 

Assam flood fury: Kaziranga National Park is now a river of dead animals
  • Assam's mighty Brahmaputra seems to have cursed Kaziranga sanctuary in its worst form, virtually converting itself into a river of dead animals last week. Nearly 225 animals were reported killed due to the destructive speed and intensity at which flood waters rushed through the national park - a natural world heritage site famous for its one-horned rhino.
    The latest flooding, which hit Kaziranga on August 13 (second in a month) killed 15 rhinos, a Royal Bengal Tiger, four elephant claves and 194 deers. The park had witnessed floods just three weeks ago in July that had left nearly 105 animals dead, including seven rhino calves. Wildlife officials engaged in combing and rescue operation of animals compare the latest floods as 'next to the 1988 floods', which reported nearly 1,200 animal deaths.
    Officials say the 'intensity and frequency of flooding in Kaziranga is a matter of concern' and it immediately requires dozens of highlands for animals to find safe refuge from the rising flood levels. Says Kaziranga Park director Satendra Singh: "In terms of death toll of animals, floods hitting Kaziranga in 2012 and 2016 may have more deaths than the August floods, but the speed and levels the latter reached - almost 8-9 feet in just 24 hours - was not witnessed in those years. The current levels of flood water and the speed at which it rushed through the park was next to 1988, which claimed 1,200 animals."
    Added Ashish Phookan, owner of Diphlu River Lodge: "Luckily, this is offseason for tourism, but as flood waters started rising in the park area this week, we saw some elephants, wild boars, deers and wild buffaloes coming to our resort, which is slightly higher than normal Kaziranga levels. Later, as water kept rising, the animals left for higher and safer spots in the hills towards the south after crossing NH-37." Singh says the toll could go high as combing and rescue is still on. "The total death toll could be more by another 15 to 20 as combing and rescue operations are yet to be completed. We have covered most of the park area, but some portions are still left because of inaccessible terrains. We have also managed to rescue about 50 animals, including six rhino calves. All of them have been sent for treatment," he told Mail Today.
    Even as flood waters have shown signs of receding, worries for wildlife officials are far from over. "We are concerned about many animals, which have strayed outside the park corridors and deep into villages among human settlements. Some have strayed up to 10 km from their usual habitats and this makes them vulnerable to poaching and in worst case, killing by villagers. We have intensified patrolling for such animals," said a wildlife official.
    Citing the worst signs of climate change effects, Kaziranga officials fear the intensity and frequency of flooding threatening the sanctuary's existence will only increase in future, and therefore about 40 more highlands need to be developed immediately for the safety of animals. "More land along the corridors of Kaziranga national park need to be cleared of human settlements to develop as safe spots for animals during natural calamities and disasters," a senior wildlife official said.

Malegaon blast: Col Purohit might be released tomorrow, certified copies of order not submitted with jail today
  • Even after being granted bail by the Supreme Court, Leuitenant Colonel Prasad Purohit couldn't be released from the Taloja Central Prison, today. The order copy was sent to the jail authorities through fax but that couldn't be accepted as it's not allowed in the prison manual.
    As per procedure, the order copy from SC has to be submitted with the NIA court in Mumbai, as the parent court in the case. Once the NIA court gives a certified copy on the same, it will be submitted to the Taloja jail. The copy cannot be received by hand and has to be deposited in a box at the jail. If it is submitted before 12 noon, then he can be released by 1 pm.
    However, on the same day, he has another date for discharge application at the Sessions Court. He will have to attend the hearing and has to return to the jail before 5 PM for his release on bail. Only of he is unwell and tells the jail authority that he cannot attend the hearing, the authorities will send the information to the concerned court.
    He might be released by 1 PM if both the order copies are submitted to the Taloja jail before 12 noon. However, if it's submitted post 12 noon, he will only be released post 5 pm.
    A senior jail department officer said, "Certified copies of order from the parent court is mandatory for release. The lawyer of the accused will have to submit it in the bail release order box at the jail gate. The box is opened at 9,10,11 am and then at 12 noon for release of inmates who have secured bail. The procedure starts only after 12 noon as before that the judicial clerk is busy with sending the inmates to their respective courts for hearing,".
    "Once the procedure is completed and certified copies are assessed by judicial clerk and other officers, it is sent to the senior jail superintendent for final release sanction. The sanction is signed by the superintendent after which the inmate is given his belongings and then allowed to leave. The process would take around 1 to 2 hours after noon", the officer added.
    The jail officials confirmed that they had not received any certified copies of Supreme Court or Sessions Court for Purohit's release till Monday evening.

SRA scam: Devendra Fadnavis ready for Lokayukta probe if required
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis may have to face questions from the Lokayukta in the slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) scam involving housing minister Prakash Mehta, highly placed sources in the CMO told India Today.
    Fadnavis, on August 11- the last day of the monsoon session, ordered an inquiry by Lokayukta over the graft allegations in the SRA scam against Mehta.
    Sources confirmed to India Today that the CM has decided to confer powers to the Lokayukta to call him for questioning in the case.
    Mehta, in a file pertaining to a slum redevelopment project, had marked on a file that the CM was appraised about the decision of granting extra FSI to a private Builder.
    The Opposition has alleged that the decision had benefitted the builder to the tune of Rs 500 crore.
    Since his name has been mentioned in the file, Fadnavis has taken a decision to allow the Lokayukta to call him for questioning. The CM does not come under the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta but it can be included by the government. Orders in this regards are likely to be issued this week.
    According to sources, the move is specifically aimed at clearing the chief minister's name as he believes that the tainted housing minister has dragged his name without a reason. Facing questions would help Fadnavis come out clean.
    Fadnavis sought legal advice and after consultation, decided to appear for questioning if required.

Doklam standoff will be resolved soon, confident China will take positive steps, says Rajnath Singh
  • Home Minister Rajanth Singh today expressed confidence that China would take positive steps to resolve the ongoing Doklam standoff and that peace would prevail between the two nuclear-armed neighbours. "There will be a solution soon and I am sure China will make a positive move," he said.
    At the same time, Singh sought to project a strong front saying that while India is not aggressive and has never initiated an attack, it would not compromise on its security. "Our security forces have all the power to protect Indian borders."
    Ihere is no world power that can threaten India, Rajnath went on to assert, adding that New Delhi wants to maintain good relations with all its neighbours. The Home Minister brought up Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony from May 2014 to which leaders of all Indian neighbours were invited, calling the initiative a mark of India wanting friendly relations with its neighbours.
    The Home Minster's comments came at a function of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in New Delhi today. The ITBP guards the 4,057 km long Sino-Indian border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.
    Rajnath did not miss out on this fact, reminding the force that it was responsible for protecting India's security along the Indo-Sino border.
    Notably, ITBP soldiers were among those Indian troops involved in the recent Ladakh skirmish that momentarily put a question on whether New Delhi and Beijing could keep the Doklam situation from escalating.
    Indian and Chinese soldiers reportedly punched, kicked and threw stones at each other during the August 15 clash on the Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
    The clash came as the Doklam standoff near the Sikkim sector of the Indo-China border entered its third month.
    India and China have been locked in a face-off in the Doklam after Indian troops stopped the Chinese Army from building a road in the area.
    China claimed it was constructing the road within their territory and has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the disputed Doklam plateau. Bhutan says Doklam belongs to it but China claims it to be its territory.
    China has been ramping up rhetoric against India over the last few weeks demanding immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from Doklam. The Chinese state media, particularly, have carried a barrage of critical articles on the Dokalam standoff slamming India.

Why Doklam standoff is not good for Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of BRICS Summit, CPC Congress
  • Most of the border trespasses or infringements by troops occur due to overenthusiastic local commanders, who just go overboard. The senior poeple or the decision makers in the government come into the picture a little later and take a stand with certain objectives in mind. But, Doklam seems to be a different case .
    As reports from the ground suggest, Doklam standoff began after Chinese troops pulled down a couple of watchtowers and followed it up by destroying two bunkers built by the Indian Army for logistic support for patrolling in the region. Chinese troops were in the region to construct a highway.
    The Doklam move by the People's Liberation Army of China has come in accordance with the broad Chinese policy towards border relations with India. Chinese policy has had three contours:
    • To strengthen its infrastructure by building roads, bridges and other permanent structures in the region where China is in stronger position
    • To further 'salami slicing' in areas where both Indian and Chinese troops jostle for dominance and patrol at different times
    • To needle India from time to time to test water where Chinese are in weaker position
    Doklam has elements of both second and third contours of border policy. On ground, Indian forces occupy the edge of the hills and hence are in stronger position but this region is patrolled by the troops of both the sides. Indian troops have been patrolling the site of standoff for decades while Chinese do come and go occasionally.
    Now that the Doklam standoff is in its third month, Chinese objectives seem to have fallen in disarray. The Doklam standoff is most likely to damage the standing of Chinese President Xi Jinping both domestically and internationally. China cannot pull back its troops without losing its face and staying there is posing problems to Beijing and Xi Jinping.
    The ninth BRICS Summit is slated for September 3-5 and will be held at Xiamen in China. This year's theme of the BRICS Summit is "Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future" but Doklam standoff has put a question mark on "Partnership".
    Responding to a question last, the Ministry of External Affairs said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's participation was not yet certain. MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar said, "At this stage I can't confirm about PM Modi going to China. I will let you know if there are any further developments in this regard."
    If PM Modi does not take part in the BRICS Summit in the wake of Doklam standoff, it will be a second major snub to Xi Jinping after his One Belt On Road initiative. Modi staying from BRICS would also mean a 'flop' Summit that Xi Jinping can hardly afford at a time when it is pushing hard to emerge as the strongest economic superpower in the world especially when US President Donald Trump is being viewed as 'unpredictable' in his policies.
    Since its first summit in 2009, BRICS has been the alternative economic voice of the world in contrast to the one dominated by the US and European Union.
    China and India have worked together at several other platforms including the World Economic Forum, the World Trade Organisation as BRICS partners to prevent the western bloc from having its say on key issues including agriculture and climate change. It will not augur well for Xi Jinping if Xiamen BRICS Summit fails after a rather successful Goa edition last year in India.
    The Communist Party of China will be holding its 19th Congress later this year. It is expected to be held in two months after the BRICS Summit. Dates are not yet final but Xi Jinping will surely try to consolidate his position in the Congress, which will see a new make-up of the top leadership.
    The polit buro and polit buro standing committee will get a new look. On account of age, only Xi Jinping and Chinese Premier Le Kiqiang will enter the new polit buro of the CPC. Speculations are rife that Xi Jinping has plans to fill the posts in the polit buro standing committee with his own proteges. But, with Doklam not going China's way, Xi Jinping may find some opposition in the Congress.
    China has not got much support from the international community over Doklam. Ever since, the standoff over Doklam began, China insisted that India should withdraw before any talks could be held. After two months, none of the countries has come in its support. Not even Pakistan has said it openly.
    On the other hand, the US, the UK and Japan have backed India's stand one way or the other. While the US and the UK said that India and China should resolve the standoff bilaterally through dialogue, Japan went further to accuse China of being provocative saying that "no one should try to change the status quo" what the PLA tried to do by attempting to build a highway in the disputed region.
    China's 'salami slicing' policy may see India deepening its strategic ties with the US and Japan further. Chinese expansionist policy is being challenged in the east by the US-Vietnam-Japan alliance. India may work more closely with the already existing alliance making it more difficult for Xi Jinping in explaining Doklam standoff to his own partymen.
    While Doklam standoff continued, India, the US and Japan held annual Malabar Naval Exercise. Australia has been keen on joining the naval exercise for some time. India had in the past cited some technical issue. But, Following Doklam, India may walk a few extra miles to let Australia join the Malabar exercise. China is the biggest trading partner of Australia. If Australia joins the Malabar exercise, which China sees as directed against it, Xi Jinping may actually see an ally drifting a bit.
    One of the objectives of Doklam standoff appears to be winning away Bhutan from India. But, after India stood its ground firm, this Chinese objective does not seem to be fulfilled this time around. This will come as another failure of Xi Jinping. Bhutan continues to be the only Chinese neighbour having no diplomatic relation with it.
    Doklam standoff is turning out to be second successive loss of face for Xi Jinping with regard to his India policy after New Delhi snubbed China over One Belt One Road initiative. This follows a very pompous visit by Xi Jinping to India in 2014 and a successful Goa BRICS Summit last year.
    It is being widely speculated that Xi Jinping may push for a tradition-breaking third term as the President of China. No Chinese President after Mao Zedong has enjoyed such a long term in office. But, Xi Jinping has been dropping hints about his ambitious plan.
    In 2016, Xi Jinping got his position elevated to the "core leader". This year, Xi Jinping became the first Chinese leader after Mao to be publicly addressed by the PLA forces as the "Chairman". But, with Doklam mishandling, Xi Jinping may find it difficult to explain his stand in the Congress. Xi Jinping is said to be keen to get the approval of the Congress for another term in 2022. The CPC Congress is held every five years.
    Despite high-octane cries for war and rhetoric of 1962, a full-fledged war over Doklam is not worth for China. And, Xi Jinping cannot expect India to back off over short war. Chinese army cannot have its say at Doklam because Indian troops are better positioned strategically.
    To make India reconsider its stand over Doklam, China will have to escalate it over other sectors of boundary or use air force. Both will send wrong signals to the world and bring two nuclear powers in direct conflict. This may also work against Chinese emphasis on economic geo-strategy. Doklam standoff has left Xi Jinping in, what could be called, a constipated situation.

Business Affairs

Essar-Rosneft deal sets stage for face off between the Russian oil giant, Mukesh Ambani's RIL
  • The Indian oil play has been quite dull for many years after MNCs lost interest in acquiring exploration and production (E&P) assets--- thanks to the smaller reserves and the frequent government interventions and litigations in the business. The downstream (refining) business was dominated by a group of state-run companies --- including IOC, BPCL and HPCL--- and the private majors Reliance Industries (RIL) and Essar Oil. The entry of Rosneft is seen as a game changer in this context as they plan develop India as their refining hub for the region, in addition to opening more retail outlets in the country.
    Rosneft's entry will surely lead to a face-off between Mukesh Ambani-controlled RIL and the Russian oil giant in the crude refining business. RIL has been dominating the refining industry for the last 8-9 years since the launch of its second refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat. They almost doubled the refining capacity to 60 million tonne per annum (MTPA) with the commissioning of the second refinery in December 2008. Though IOC surpassed the Ambani firm to become the largest refiner in the country last year--- after the commissioning of 15MTPA Paradip Refinery, RIL has been going strong with high gross refining margin (GRM)--- around $12 a barrel in the first quarter--- and generating humongous EBIT, over Rs 25,000 crore from refining business in the last financial year.
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    Essar always struggled to fight the mighty RIL since announcing the construction of its refinery project in 1995. Dhirubhai Ambani, who announced the refinery project at the same time, had completed it in July 1999, while Essar's refinery delayed till 2006. The expansion of Essar's refinery capacity to 18 MTPA from 10.5 MTPA took another 5-6 years. By the time, Ambanis built their second refinery expanding the capacity to 60 MTPA.
    Fighting RIL will not be tough for Rosneft, which is the 51st largest company in the world with $65 billion in sales. In addition, it has the backing of the aggressive Russian government, which holds 50 per cent stake in the Moscow-based oil behemoth.
    But what is going to be Rosneft's business in India? It is clear that they want to become a key player in the Indian petroleum market. With this target, they acquired the pan-India network of over 3,500 retail outlets of Essar, along with the 20 MTPA refinery in Vadinar. They also acquired the 58 million tonne Vadinar Port for importing cheap crude from countries including Venezuela. Market analysts expect that Rosneft may even look at creating additional capacity at Vadinar, where there is unused land available in the project. Rosneft will be the third global player after Royal Dutch Shell and BP to enter the Indian fuel retailing market. Also, Rosneft sees the India business as a starting point to expand in the Asia-Pacific region by supplying fuels to Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Australia.
    Another change in India's petroleum map will be the growing influence of BP Plc, which made a big plunge by picking up 30 per cent stake in RIL's upstream assets at $7 billion in 2011. It had also formed a JV with RIL for marketing fuel in the country. The Rosneft-Essar deal will help BP Plc to increase its business interest in the region as it is the second largest share holder in the Russian firm with around 20 per cent stake after the Russian government.
    The RIL-BP JV was a failure so far as it couldn't resolve the geological issues in KG D6, where gas evacuation plunged to one sixth of the peak production. The British giant had to write down its value of investment in KG D6 block by $790 million in 2014 besides another $830 million in impairment charges. RIL and BP announced in June this year that they would spend Rs 40,000 crore to recapture its lost position in the hydrocarbon exploration and production (E&P) in India. They target to produce 30-35 million cubic metres (1 billion cubic feet) of gas a day from KGD6 block, which consists of the R-Series, Satellites and D55, starting from 2022.

Shell firms: BSE to compulsorily delist 200 firms, ban promoters from August 23
  • Leading stock exchange BSE will 'compulsorily' delist 200 firms this week and bar their promoters from the markets for 10 years as trading in these shares have remained suspended for over a decade.
    All these companies will be delisted from 23 August.
    The move also comes at a time when authorities are clamping down on shell companies-listed as well as unlisted-for allegedly being used as conduits for illicit fund flows.
    In early August, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) directed exchanges to act against 331 suspected shell companies, while the government has already deregistered more than 1.75 lakh firms that have not been carrying out business activities for long.
    Among the firms to be delisted are Eupharma Laboratories, Athena Financial Services, Magnus Rubber Industries, Rajasthan Polyesters, Transpower Engineering, Dupont Sportswear, Dynavox Industries and GDR Media.
    Majority of these companies have remained suspended for more than 10 years and are "under liquidation". These firms will be "delisted from the platform of the exchange, with effect from 23 August, 2017 pursuant to order of the delisting committee of the exchange in terms of Sebi (delisting of equity shares) regulations", BSE said in three separate circulars.
    Under the delisting regulations, the delisted company, its whole-time directors, promoters and group firm would be debarred from accessing the securities market for 10 years from the date of compulsory delisting.
    Promoters of these delisted companies will be required to purchase the shares from the public shareholders as per the fair value determined by the independent valuer appointed by the BSE.
    Further, these companies will be moved to the dissemination board of the exchange for five years as advised by Sebi.

Draft pharma policy disappoints industry
  • The draft of the new pharmaceutical policy has not impressed the Indian pharma industry. "I am unable to find anything significant in the policy that is aimed at promoting the growth of the industry. In fact, today, there are more hindrances than growth enablers," says the head honcho of a leading pharma company.
    "If you want to give us a bitter medicine, give us at once and not every hour," says another, talking about shifts in government policy that seem to be creating impediments for the growth of the industry. One industry leader, who like his peers does not wish to be identified and hopes to attend the meeting called by the government on August 30 in Delhi to discuss the policy, points to, what he calls, an amateurish manner in which the policy has been written. He points to a paragraph in the policy where it talks about drugs acting on a gene. Now, he asks, have you ever heard of a drug acting on a gene? "We only know of drugs acting on a receptor which, very simply, is a protein molecule on a cell. It receives chemical signals and is involved in the binding of a drug. Or, drugs are known to act on an enzyme," he says. The policy  draft instead says: "R&D for drug discovery involves identifying the gene that needs to be worked upon... efficacy of one particular molecule from a large number (thousands) of molecules that could finally work on that gene in a desired manner..."

    Summing up his views on the possible implications of the policy draft, on which the industry's views are being sought, D.G. Shah, the Secretary General of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, which has leading Indian pharmaceutical companies as members, says, "As it appears, I do not see the policy draft benefiting patients, as there is now a greater risk of substandard drugs entering the market, if not shortages, and as far as the industry is concerned, I see it getting further squeezed with its growth compromised." When asked what makes him say that, he refers to provisions such as removing strength and dosage on a medicine in the NLEM (National List of Essential Medicines). "It will defeat the very purpose of the NLEM and raise the span of price control from 18 per cent to over 66 per cent of the market." Also, on the move referred to as a measure to strengthen the NPPA (National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority) by having an advisory body to assist it , he says, "an advisory body would only add a layer to a difficult decision process."

McDonald's 169 outlets likely to close: What is the burger company's fight with Vikram Bakshi, CPRL?
  • McDonald's India today said that it has terminated the franchise agreement for 169 fast-food outlets in North and East India run by Connaught Plaza Restaurant Ltd or CPRL. McDonald's India had a 50:50 joint venture with CPRL, a company led by Vikram Bakshi. CPRL was the master franchisee for McDonald's India in North and East India. The decision comes weeks after 43 outlets run by CPRL in the national capital were shut due to non-renewal of eating house licenses by local authorities.

    WHAT HAS LED TO THE CURRENT SITUATION?McDonald's India and Vikram Bakshi had been fighting a court battle for some time. It all started when CPRL chief Vikram Bakshi was removed from the post of the Managing Director of the company in August 2013. McDonald's alleged that Bakshi had leased out his property to a rival company, suggeting a conflict-of-interest scenario. The US-based McDonald's further said that Bakshi had pledged 51,300 of his CPRL shares to get a loan of Rs 20 crore so that his company Ascot Estate (Manesar) Pvt Ltd could develop the Savoy Outlet Mall and service apartments in Manesar. McDonald's said that Bakshi did not take the company's approval before pledging his shares. It also pointed at a 2007 transfer of Rs 7 lakh from the company's account to his group company called Vikram Bakshi and Company Pvt Ltd. McDonald's said Bakshi was being selfish and not devoting enough time to CPRL.

    Vikram Bakshi refuted all these allegations and moved to the National Company Law Tribunal or NCLT. The NCLT later ordered his reinstatement saying, "The proceedings of the meeting of the Board of Directors held on 06.08.2013 relating to re-election of Mr Vikram Bakshi as the Managing Director of the Company are set aside and declared illegal, unjust and mala fide." "The status of Mr Vikram Bakshi as Managing Director is restored," the NCLT said.

    But the battle between Vikram and McDonald's had stared even before 2013. Back in 2008, McDonald's offered to buy Bakshi's stake for USD 5 million and later for USD 7 million. Bakshi waved Grant Thornton's report that pegged CPRL's enterprise value at USD 331 million and demanded upwards of USD 100 million. In early 2014, Bakshi offered to buy McDonald's stake at a net asset value of Rs 150 crore. The US company made a Rs 48-50 crore offer for Bakshi's stake. The latter insisted on fair market value and offered to sell initially for Rs 2,500 crore and later for Rs 1,800 crore. McDonald's did not respond. As this went on, the Delhi High Court stayed the arbitration proceedings in December 2014. Due to tussle between both - Vikram and McDonald's -  CPRL failed to renew licenses of 43 outlets in Delhi, resulting in shut down.

    After McDonald's terminated its joint venture with CPRL, the latter can't use its brand for any operations. The company has ceased using McDonalds's name, system, trademark, designs and its associated intellectual property, among others within 15 days of the termination notice. McDonald's in a statement said: "Today, we have issued the CPRL board a notice of termination of the franchise agreement between McDonald's India Pvt Ltd and CPRL for 169 McDonald's restaurants operated by CPRL in north and east India." McDonald's India said that it was committed to find the right 'developmental licensee partner for north and east India and was taking steps to do so.

Vishal Sikka's resignation wipes out over Rs 17,000 crore from Infosys market capitalisation
  • Infosys CEO and MD Vishal Sikka's resignation wiped out nearly Rs 17,000 crore from the market capitalisation of India's second largest software exporter on Friday.
    The stock which closed with a market capitalisation of around Rs 2,29,285 crore on Thursday, tumbled up to 10 percent, leading to a fall in its market capitalisation to Rs 2,12,262  crore.
    The Bengaluru-based firm sent a release to the exchanges informing them about the crucial development at around 9:09 am before the market opened. As the market came across the news of Sikka's resignation, the Infosys stock took a downward path and fell over 9 percent or 97 points to 924 level on the BSE.
    The stock is down 8.26 percent or 83 points on an year-to-date basis  now compared to 1 percent or 10 points movement based on yesterday's closing price.
    On an yearly basis, the stock is down 9.57 percent or 98 points.
    The stock closed at four-month high on Thursday a day after the Bengaluru-based firm said it would consider a proposal for buyback of its equity shares at its meeting to be held on August 19.
    It was the top gainer on Nifty 50 and the 30 stock Sensex. A share buyback is repurchase of a company's outstanding shares that reduces the number of shares in the open market. The buyback is carried out usually at a premium compared with a current market price at that point.
    Sikka cited distractions and disruptions as reasons for his resignation. Sikka will hold office until permanent CEO is appointed. For now, Sikka has been appointed as executive vice chairman of the firm. UB Pravin Rao has been appointed as interim MD and CEO.

General Awareness

India, US establish TWO-BY-TWO Ministerial Dialogue

  • India and US have established TWO-BY-TWO Ministerial Dialogue with an aim to elevate their strategic consultations.
    About India-US Two-BY-TWO Ministerial Dialogue:
    • The new format would include External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Arun Jaitleyand their American counterparts Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
    • Two-BY-TWO Ministerial Dialogue will replace India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue, once described by the US State Department as the signature mechanism for advancing the United States’ and India’s shared priorities.
    • The shared priorities include job creation, improving the business and investment climate and sustaining a rules-based global order.
    • The first Strategic and Commercial Dialogue was held in 2015 in Washington, US and the second in New Delhi in 2016. It was seen as an elevation of the US-India Strategic Dialogue in place since 2009 and which focused on regional security, economic cooperation, defence, trade and climate challenges.
    • The modalities of Two-BY-TWO format were discussed by Union External Affairs Minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj and her US counterpart Rex Tillerson during a phone call on August 15, 2017.
    • US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert has mentioned that no dates have been set yet for the dialogue under the new format.
    • It is to be noted that two countries will have a separate dialogue on commercial issues, which will not include the foreign ministers. Till last year, trade and commercial issues were discussed in the Strategic and Commercial Dialogue and the Trade Policy Forum.
    TWO-By-TWO Dialogues with other countries:
    • The US has strategic consultations in this format with key partners and allies including Australia, Japan and the Philippines.
    • India has had a dialogue in the TWO-By-Two format with Japan with secretaries or senior-most bureaucrats from the foreign and defense ministries engaging each other.

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