Current Affairs September 2017 - Vikalp Education

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Current Affairs - 30 September 2017

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General Affairs 

First Oil Shipment Of 2 Million Barrels From US Arrives In India On Monday
  • The United States, the latest entrant in the league of oil exporters, is a natural partner to India in terms of transforming the country's economy and meeting the needs of the people through technology, an US government official said in Delhi on Friday.

    The first shipment of crude oil from the US will be arriving in India -- the world's third-largest oil importer -- on Monday, October 2. The capacity of this shipment will be around two million barrels, according to the official who declined to be named.

    The official said although the Middle East will always be the preferred destination for India for its energy needs because of lesser distance and shipping costs, the US had huge potential in terms of technology innovations.

    "The energy markets are going to be transformed pretty radically in the next five-to-10 years or so. Oil and gas will continue to play a role. To the extent that it is economically viable, the US will play a role. But it is not going to be major," the official told reporters at an informal interaction.

    Talking about the upcoming first shipment, he said: "Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum have committed to buy multiple shipments. In case of Indian Oil, they will get around eight shipments through next March."

    "What the industry folks have told me is that it's all a matter of cost and so long as the price differential to buy crude is in the range of $2 a barrel, it is fine for them," he added.

    The official pointed out that the US entering into the global markets as an exporter will bring down the cost for consumers across the globe.

    "With India (coming on board), we hope it helps in terms of energy access and energy security. So, that is an opportunity for India to diversify its sources of crude both geographically and who they are buying from."

    He further said: "The ports in the US are not built for exporting because for the last several decades the US has been a net importer of oil. There are construction efforts going on to expand the ports, to allow very large crude containers... and we believe that will eventually bring down the shipping cost to about 50 cents per barrel, which will further bring down the cost for the US to markets like India."

Mumbai Stampede: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis Promises Strict Action, Announces 5 Lakh Compensation
  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today promised to take strict action against those responsible for the tragic stampede in Mumbai that claimed at least 22 lives and announced Rs. five lakh for the family of those killed.

    Mr Fadnavis, who is on a two-day investor-interaction visit to Singapore, expressed condolences and said, "My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones."

    He said he was saddened and shocked to know about the tragic stampede this morning on a foot over-bridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban railway stations in Mumbai. "Enquiry will be conducted by Government of Maharashtra and Ministry of Railways and necessary, strict action will be taken," he tweeted.     
    He announced R
    s. 5 lakh for the next of the relatives of the deceased. "All the medical expenses of the injured will be borne by the Government of Maharashtra," he said.

    Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has reached Mumbai and ordered a high-level inquiry into the stampede. Mr Fadnavis said he had spoken to Chief Secretary and city police commissioner and told them to reach hospital to monitor and ensure that everyone gets all the help.

22 Dead, Many Injured In Stampede Near Mumbai's Elphinstone Station
  • Twenty-two people including a child were killed and over 30 seriously wounded in a rush-hour stampede in Mumbai that broke out when thousands took a narrow railway bridge connecting two stations after heavy rain. Phone videos taken by witnesses show a crowd on the British-era bridge and people climbing over the railing and hanging onto it precariously. Moments later, bodies are piled up on the stairs, pressing against the railing.

    The stampede took place around 10.30 am on the tiny bridge between the Elphinstone Road and Parel stations, which are among Mumbai's busiest. Witnesses say four trains rolled in at the same time and a large crowd poured into the bridge that was already bursting with people taking shelter from a sudden, heavy downpour. A few commuters slipped, and people fell on them. "People on the bridge were in a rush to get down, while those who had arrived on suburban trains were making their way up," said Kishore Thakkar, a commuter.

    "The crowd was increasing ...We couldn't breathe, we were falling on each other, there was panic. There was no exit. There was also a rumour that the bridge is falling, the bridge is breaking," shared Shruti Lokre, who survived the horror.

    Visuals after the stampede showed multiple bodies and attempts to revive them. Passengers and local people were seen carrying bodies down the bridge. Footwear was scattered next to the bridge. "The overbridge of Elphinstone station was overcrowded and due to rain it got slippery too. This caused panic and resulted in the stampede," said Atul Shrivastav, inspector general of the Railway Protection Force.

    The police are investigating reports that a short-circuit caused a loud sound near the bridge and led to panic and chaos. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, who was in Mumbai today, has ordered an inquiry led by a top railway safety official.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted condolences.

    The two stations get much of Mumbai's local train commuter traffic as there are a large number of offices in the area. Security personnel are usually posted for crowd management at the bridge.

    Angry commuters and residents said the bridge is too old and narrow and not strong enough to take the busy sector. "It was a disaster waiting to happen," remarked a local resident, saying that the bridge has been overcrowded for years and there have been multiple demands for more railway bridges for the area.

    Many on social media targeted the bullet train project to link Mumbai with Ahmedabad launched earlier this month. Tweets urged the government to fund basic rail upgrades instead.

UP Police Begins Probe In Late-Night Violence At Banaras Hindu University
  • Twenty top university officials have been sent notices by UP police's crime branch days after clashes broke out at Banaras Hindu University. They have been asked to record their statement in the late-night violence in which several students, including women, and two journalists were injured. 
    Last Saturday, violence erupted at the university following protests against alleged inaction and victim-shaming in a molestation case inside the campus. Students say they only wanted to meet Vice Chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi and tried to enter his residence when they were stopped by the university guards. Soon the cops, who were stationed outside the campus, entered and lathicharged to disperse them. 

    Gyanendra Prasad, Superindent of Police (Crime), said they are analysing the CCTV footage and a cyber team has put a dozen mobile numbers, which were active near the incident spot, on surveillance. 
    He said notices have been served to senior officials, including former chief proctor ON Singh, who were on duty on the day of incident. They have been asked to record their oral or written statement within three days.

    They are gathering information about visitors and anti-social elements allegedly residing in and around the campus. Any person with information regarding the incident can also provide details, he said adding, their identity would be kept secret.

    Senior Superintendent of Police RK Bhardwaj, who transferred the investigation to the Crime Branch and the Lanka Police, is also assisting in the probe.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Begins Two Day Jammu And Kashmir Visit
  • Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today arrived here on a two day visit to Jammu and Kashmir during which she would review the security situation along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Valley and Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh region.

    Ms Sitharaman, accompanied by Army chief General Bipin Rawat, arrived here this morning on her maiden visit to the state and straightaway went to Kupwara sector in north Kashmir for an on-ground assessment of the situation along the LoC, defence sources said.

    The sources said senior army officials would brief the defence minister about the overall situation in the Valley, including counter-insurgency and counter-infiltration operations, upon her return from Kupwara.

    Ms Sitharaman is scheduled to meet Governor NN Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti later in the day, they said. She is scheduled to visit Ladakh region tomorrow where she would take stock of the situation along the LAC, the sources said.

    They said Ms Sitharaman might either visit Siachen Base camp or carry out an aerial tour of the glacier which is known as the highest battlefield in the world.

    The Siachen leg of the visit would depend on the weather conditions, they added.

Business Affairs

Government extends deadline for selling pre-GST goods to December 31
  • Bringing much needed relief to scores of retailers, the government on Friday extended the deadline for sale of pre-GST (Goods and Service Tax) goods with stickers of revised rates by three months to December 31, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday.
    The decision came after several companies and retailers body CAIT highlighted that they are still left with huge unsold stocks of pre-GST goods and need more time to clear that.
    After implementing GST from July 1, the government had allowed use of stickers with revised rates, alongside the printed MRP for pre-packaged items to reflect changes in selling price for three months till September 30.
    The unsold items had an MRP which included all taxes of pre-GST era but with the implementation of new regime, some of the final retail prices have undergone change due to increase or decrease in tax incidence.
    "On packaged commodities, industry can display revised MRP due to GST implementation using sticker/ stamping/online printing up to December 31 2017", Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan tweeted.
    A senior consumer affairs ministry official said the deadline has been extended following demand from several companies like Wipro, HPL and other non-food companies.
    Since food items have expiry date for consumption, there were not many representations from such companies, the official added.
    Traders body CAIT on Friday claimed that goods worth Rs 6 lakh crore may become redundant if the last date for using MRP-labelled old stock is not extended beyond September 30.
    "The government hereby further permits the manufacturers or packers or importers of pre-packaged commodities to declare the changed retail price (MRP) on the unsold stock manufactured/packed/imported prior to July 1, 2017 after inclusion of the increased amount of tax due to GST, if any, in addition to the existing retail price (MRP), up to December 31, 2017," said a government communication.
    Businesses had held discussions with consumer affairs ministry regarding unsold stocks, which took up the matter with the revenue department.

Bombardier signs $1.7 billion deal with SpiceJet for 50 Q400 turboprop jets
  • Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier today signed a pact with budget carrier SpiceJet for sale of up to 50 turboprop jets valued at $1.7 billion. Upon delivery, the airline will become the first in the world to operate a 90-seat turboprop, pending certification by regulatory authorities, Bombardier said in a release.
    Owned by serial entrepreneur Ajay Singh, SpiceJet had in June this year announced plans to purchase up to 50 Bombardier Q400s worth $1.7 billion.
    "We are very proud to firm up this agreement with SpiceJet. This repeat order will not only increase the Q400 aircraft fleet in the fast-growing regional market in India and in the Asia-Pacific region but will also launch the high- density 90-passenger model," Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Fred Cromer said.
    He also said the order confirms the airline's increased capacity needs on regional routes with high passenger demand and demonstrates the increased profitability potential that this unique turboprop configuration has to offer.
    Currently, SpiceJet has 20 Bombardier Q400 planes in a 78-seat configuration in its fleet besides 35 Boeing 737s.
    The purchase agreement includes 25 Q400 turboprops and purchase rights for an additional 25 aircraft, the release said.
    "I am pleased to confirm SpiceJet's latest order for up to 50 Bombardier Q400 planes, which has been announced at the Paris Air Show. I am sure this fresh order will help us further enhance connectivity to smaller towns..." Singh, SpiceJet's chairman and managing director, said.
    SpiceJet operates India's largest regional fleet and has always been a firm believer in the growth story of the country's smaller towns and cities, he added.
    The fleet expansion would provide SpiceJet with the ability to grow profitably and leverage the robust demand forecast in the world's fastest growing regional aviation market, Bombardier said.
    In a separate release, the no-frills airline said that since 2010 it has taken delivery of 15 Q400 aircraft (78- seater).
    The airline had earlier this year placed an order for up to 225 narrow and wide-body jets with Boeing.

India's April-August fiscal deficit touches 96.1 per cent of FY18 budget estimate
  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is under pressure to bring the economy back on track, even if is at the cost of fiscal deficit. However, reports suggest that the Finance Minister is going to stick to fiscal deficit target and may sell bonds to raise funds for extra spending. After the lowest GDP growth of 5.7 per cent in April-June quarter, economists and policy advisors suggested the government to take measures to put the economy back on the growth path. However, for that the government has to spend more and create demands.
    India's fiscal deficit at August-end touched 96.1 per cent of the budget estimate for 2017-18, mainly due to rise in expenditure. In absolute terms, the fiscal deficit - difference between expenditure and revenue - was Rs 5.25 lakh crore during April-August, 2017-18, according to the data of Controller General of Accounts (CGA).
    During the same period of last financial year, 2016-17, it was 76.4 per cent of the target.
    The Finance Minister in February had budgeted to raise 5.8 trillion rupees in 2017-18 through bond sales to bridge the fiscal deficit of 3.2 percent of GDP.
    Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said that the government would leave the full-year borrowing target intact and sell bonds worth 2.08 trillion rupees between October and March. "We do not foresee extra borrowing at this point in time, but we are conscious there may be a possibility," Garg said after meeting with the RBI officials.
    On Thursday, it was reported that the government was also planning to borrow Rs 2.08 lakh crore from the market in the second half of 2017-18. The government, for now, isn't thinking of any relaxation on fiscal deficit as any such move could invite a censure from credit ratings agencies and could also make foreign investors wary.
    This week, rupee came down to six-month low. This fall in rupee was attributed to the government's hint of stimulus package of Rs 50000 crore that raised fear among foreign investors who thought that it could be coming at the cost of fiscal deficit. Earlier on September 22, it was reported that the government was thinking of spending Rs 50,000 crore to boost the country's slowing economy. The move was estimated to widen the fiscal deficit for 2017-18 to 3.7 percent of the GDP from a budgeted target of 3.2 percent.
    The Reserve Bank of India on Thursday said that it would raise the foreign investment limits for government bonds by 80 billion rupees to 2.5 trillion rupees for the October-December quarter. The central banks' move came after the current quotas were almost fully exhausted amid strong buying by foreign investors.
    Economic experts believe that the biggest challenge for the economy is - private investments. The private sector investments are slow. Though government has been trying to do its bit, the fact that the share of government spending in the total capex is just 12 per cent gives little hope that government spending alone would have much of a difference on the ground.

    Oriental Bank of Commerce joins SBI, BOB in a race to cut base rate on home loan
    • After public sector banks like State Bank of India (SBI), Andhra Bank and Bank of Baroda (BoB), another public sector bank Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) announced a reduction of 0.05 percent in its base rate for its existing home loan borrowers. With the announcement, it base rate now stands at 9.45 percent. It will come into force from October 3.
      "This is to inform that the bank has revised the base rate from 9.50 per cent per annum to 9.45 percent per annum with effect from 03.10.2017," Oriental Bank of Commerce said in a regulatory filing.
      Yesterday, three public sectors banks- State Bank of India (SBI), Andhra Bank and Bank of Baroda lowered their base rates for borrowers. The announcement has come days ahead of monetary policy announcement by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and will become effective from Oct 1.
      The reduction in base rate will benefit all those home loan borrowers, who had availed home loans before April 1, 2016.
      In August this year, second largest public sector bank Punjab National bank (PNB) also cut its base rate by 0.20% to 9.15%.
      A base rate differs from the lending rate. While the former is the minimum rate of interest that a bank is allowed to charge from its customers, the latter is sum of base rate and spread on it.
      In April 2016, banks started lending loans on the new benchmark-marginal cost of funds. The new lending rate came to be known as marginal cost based lending rates (MCLR). It is closely linked to the actual deposit rates and is reset across different periods.  All home loans taken after April 2016 are linked with this rate.  At present, they are lower than the base rates.
      While borrowers with a loan-linked to base rate have an option to link their loans to the MCLR, many customers have not migrated to it, and have home loan linked to base rate.

      Sensex falls 447 points, Nifty closes below 10,000 level over North Korea hydrogen bomb scare
      • The Sensex and Nifty tumbled on Friday following nervousness in global markets as investors turned cautious following new US sanctions targeting North Korea which threatened to test a nuclear weapon in the Pacific.
        North Korea's foreign minister reportedly warned Thursday Pyongyang could test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean in response to US President Donald Trump's threats of military action.
        The Sensex closed 447 points or 1.38 percent lower to 31,922  level. The Nifty was down 1.56 percent or 157.50 points at 9964.40 level.
        IPCA Laboratories (8.78 percent), IndiaBulls Real Estate (8.23 percent) and Jindal Steel (8.17 percent) were the top losers on the BSE.
        On the 30-stock Sensex, Tata Steel (4.70 percent), L&T (3.49 percent) and Reliance (2.83 percent) were the top losers.
        Market breadth was negative with 519 stocks closing higher against 519 falling on the BSE.
        Meanwhile, the rupee fell below the 65 mark for the first time in over five-and-a-half months on Friday on concern that fiscal deficit will widen after the government said it was considering measures to boost growth.
        The Indian currency closed 54 paise lower to 64.81 per dollar on Thursday.
        The first-quarter GDP growth slipped to a three-year low of 5.7 per cent this fiscal year. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the government is considering additional measures to bolster the economy.
        Global markets
        Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.4 percent to 20,273.26 and South Korea's Kospi lost 0.7 percent to 2,389.83. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.8 percent to 27,877.19 and the Shanghai Composite fell 0.5 percent to 3,341.72. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.4 percent to 5,675.70. Taiwan's benchmark fell and Southeast Asian indexes were mostly lower.
        Major US benchmarks ended lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 0.3 percent to 2,500.60. The Dow Jones industrials fell 0.2 percent to 22,359.23. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.5 percent to 6,422.69.

      General Awareness

      Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 2017 held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

      • On 17th – 27th September 2017, the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 2017, was held at Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. This is the 5th edition of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
        i.India finishes 11th in Asian Indoor Games with 40 medals:
        India secured 11th place in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 2017.  Indians won a total of 40 medals.This consists of 9 gold, 12 silver and 19 bronze medals.India was represented by more than 200 athletes in 15 disciplines.
        1st -Turkmenistan topped the games with 89 gold, 70 silver and 86 bronze medals.
        2nd – China with 42 gold, 32 silver and 23 bronze medals.
        3rd – Iran with 36 gold, 23 bronze and 59 bronze medals.
        ii.Gold medal winners:-
        Purnima Hembram bagged gold medal in the women’s pentathlon event
        Indian athlete Purnima Hembram finished at the first position in the women’s pentathlon event with 4,062 points.She won the gold medal.
        Govindan Lakshmanan won gold in men’s 5000m race:
        Indian athlete Govindan Lashmanan finished at the top in men’s 3,000 metre race at eight minutes and 2.30 seconds.
        Ajay Kumar Saroj won the gold in men’s 1500m race:
        Indian athlete Ajay Kumar Saroj finished at first place in the men’s 1500m race at 3 minute and 48.67 seconds.
        PU Chitra clinched Gold in women’s 1500m race:
        Indian athlete PU Chitra finished at the top position in the women’s 1,500m event with a time of 4:27.32.
        Wrestler Bajrang Punia won gold in men’s freestyle 65kg event:
        Indian wrestler Bajrang Punia defeated Japanese wrestler Daichi Takatani in the men’s freestyle 65kg final event.
        Arpinder Singh won gold medal in the men’s Triple Jump event:
        Indian athlete Arpinder Singh topped the men’s Triple Jump event with an attempt of 16.21 m.
        Sumit Nagal clinched Gold in men’s tennis:
        Indian tennis player Sumit Nagal defeated Vijay Sundar Prashanth by 6-1, 6-1 in the men’s tennis final.
        iii.Silver medal winners
        Tejinder Pal Singh Toor and Sanjivani Jadhav won silver medals:
        Indian athlete Tejinder Pal Singh Toor won silver medal in men’s shot put.
        Indian athlete Sanjivani Jadhav won silver medal in women’s 3000m race.
        Women’s track cycling duo of Deborah Herold and Alena Reji won silver in team sprint:
        Indian cyclists Deborah Herold and Alena Reji bagged the silver medal in women’s team sprint event.
        vi.Bronze medal winners
        Neena Varakil, Dharmender, Neha Solanki, Jyoti and Keduovilie Zumu won bronze:
        Neena Varakil won a bronze medal in women’s long jump.
        Dharmender won a bronze medal in men’s freestyle 70kg belt wrestling.
        Neha Solanki and Jyoti won bronze medal in women’s kurash +87kg and 87kg respectively.
        Keduovilie Zumu won Bronze medal in Kazakh Kuresh style belt wrestling in 90 kg weight category.
        About Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games 2017:
        Host Country – Turkmenistan
        Motto – Health, Inspiration, Friendship
        Participants – 4012 athletes from 63 nations

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