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Current Affairs - 01 September 2017

General Affairs 

Indian Ocean Nations Responsible For Peaceful Maritime Trade: Sushma Swaraj
  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said countries in the Indian Ocean are responsible for its peace, stability and prosperity as she underlined the need to keep the sea lanes safe and secure. At the 2nd Indian Ocean Conference in Colombo, Ms Swaraj said if the revitalised maritime economy of the Indian Ocean region is to be a force for global economic growth, it is essential that the waters remain peaceful.
    "It is imperative too, that all stakeholders abide by a rules-based global order," she said.

    The Indian Ocean is one of the most critical maritime transportation links in the world today, with one lakh ships a year passing through these waters carrying about half of the world's container shipments, one-third of the world's bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of oil shipments.

    "The fact that three quarters of this traffic is headed for destinations beyond the region underlines... the Indian Ocean is of vital importance well beyond the shores of the littoral states," Ms Swaraj added.

    For India, she said, the Indian Ocean is of vital importance -- the country has an extensive coastline of 7,500 kilometres and 90 per cent of India's trade by volume and almost all oil imports come via sea route.

    "As we envisage the Indian Ocean as an engine for growth and prosperity in our region and beyond, it is of utmost importance that these waters remain safe and secure. We consider it an imperative that those who live in this region bear the primary responsibility for the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indian Ocean," she said, amid increasing forays by the Chinese Navy in the region.

    Apart from establishing a naval base at Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, China is currently building ports in Sri Lanka's Hambantota and Pakistan's Gwadar. Chinese ships and submarines have appeared more frequently in the Indian Ocean in recent years.

    "The challenge before us is to ensure intra-ocean trade and investment, and the sustainable harnessing of the wealth of the seas, including food, medicines and clean energy," Ms Swaraj said.

    She said India has been the "first responder" to calls of assistance -- providing relief supplies and medical aid when flood hit Sri Lanka in June.

PM Modi, Shinzo Abe To Perform Groundbreaking Ceremony Of India's Bullet Train Project
  • As India plans to launch its first bullet train that will race between Mumbai and Ahmedabad by 2023, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for the ambitious project next month.

    The groundbreaking ceremony (bhoomi-pujan) for Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, commonly referred to as the bullet train project, will be performed in Ahmedabad on September 14.

    The bullet train, that could run at the speed of 350 kilometre per hour, will reduce the journey between Ahmedabad and Mumbai to two hours from seven; there are a total of 12 stations on the 508-km route - four of which are in Maharashtra and eight in Gujarat.

    The ceremony, coming up at an estimated cost of Rs. 98,000 crore, will be held at a ground near the Sabarmati railway station in the city, said a senior government official.

    The entire funding or 81 percent of the project will be done by Japan. Mr Abe will be visiting Ahmedabad for three days along with PM Modi from September 13.

    "Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and our PM would arrive in Gujarat on September 13 afternoon. The next morning, they would attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the high speed rail project at the Sabarmati railway station. Both of them are expected to leave on September 15 morning," the official said.

    The two leaders are also expected to hold bilateral talks and sign various MoUs related to investments.   

    The bullet train will start underground from the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai and travel 27 km through a tunnel in the sea before emerging over ground at Thane.  As per the detailed project report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the train on this route would mostly, 92 per cent, run on elevated tracks.

    Last year, when PM Modi visited Japan in November, it was announced through a joint statement that the construction will begin by the end of 2018, while the groundbreaking ceremony will be held in 2017.

PM Narendra Modi Asks Senior Officers To Work Towards Creating A 'New India'
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday interacted with a group of over 80 Additional Secretaries and Joint Secretaries and asked them to work with clear objectives towards creating a New India by 2022.

    Highlighting the current positive "global environment in favour of India", the Prime Minister asked officers to work with "clear objectives towards creating a New India by 2022".

    PM Modi also urged them to work towards improving the processes of governance.

    "A human touch is essential for developing team spirit, which can deliver better collective results," PM Modi said.

    This was the fourth of five such interactions.

    During the meeting, officers also shared their experiences on subjects such as innovation and teamwork in governance, healthcare, health education, agriculture, water resources, e-governance, tax administration and GST, ease of doing business, grievance redressal, and child rights.

China Says More Patrols In Doklam, But Cedes Changes For India Too
  • China's Defence Ministry said today that it will increase patrols in the region where a nearly 70-day-long standoff with India ended on Monday. However, Beijing reiterated that it will "adjust deployments" on the remote and mountainous Doklam Plateau that is disputed territory for China and Bhutan.

    "The Chinese military will continue to carry out its mission and responsibilities, strengthen its patrols and garrisons in the Donglang area and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and security," Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqing said.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi flies to China on Sunday for a summit of BRICS, a group which also includes Brazil, South Africa and Russia.

    Yesterday, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said "We're hoping that their side will learn lessons from this incident and prevent some of the things from happening again" but added that there is scope for great cooperation between Delhi and Beijing.

    In mid-June, Indian soldiers crossed the border at Sikkim to stop the construction of a new Chinese road in Doklam because of its location near a thin strip of land that links mainland India to its northeastern states. China furiously castigated India and said it had every right to build a road on its own terrain. But India backed Bhutan's claim about the land belonging to the small Himalayan kingdom. Delhi said it would use diplomatic dialogue to end the most serious and prolonged standoff in decades, but was clear that both armies must pull back their soldiers, while China insisted only India should withdraw its troops.

    By the end of Monday evening, soldiers from both sides had been moved. While government sources say that bulldozers and other road-making equipment have been removed by China since, a spokesperson for the Chinese government said yesterday that the construction of the road will depend in part on the weather.

    Neither country has offered explicit details of the terms of disengagement from the area which had raised fears of a wider conflict.

Google Announces $1 Million Flood Relief In India, Nepal And Bangladesh
  • Google on Thursday pledged $1 million relief to flood-hit areas of India, Nepal and Bangladesh.

    "We are committing $1 million from and Google employees to Goonj and Save the Children for their relief efforts," Rajan Anandan, Vice-President, South East Asia and India, wrote in a blog post.

    Save the Children is working in the flood-affected areas of the three countries and aims to reach a total of 1,60,000 people. 

    The organisation is providing food and livelihood support, temporary shelter materials, hygiene items and water source restoration to the affected people. 

    Children are the most vulnerable in situations like these. Save the Children is focused on setting up child-friendly spaces where children can gain access to educational materials and playtime.

    Meanwhile, Goonj -- a NGO -- aims to reach 75,000 affected families across nine states of rural India. The efforts include providing families with basic needs kits such as food, mats, blankets and hygiene items. 

    They are also aiming to help rebuild and revive community structures like roads, bridges and schools in the flood-hit areas.

    Meanwhile, Google's Crisis Response team has activated "SOS Alerts" for the flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal. 

    Six states in India, including Assam and Bihar, are reeling under floods. Mumbai also received very heavy rains on Tuesday. 

    The flood threat perception has been set high for parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, as the reservoirs and dams on rivers Mahi, Sabarmati, Banas and their tributaries are already holding 90 to 94 per cent of their capacity. 

Business Affairs

Q1 GDP growth slumps to 3-year low of 5.7%; Arun Jaitley blames destocking by manufacturers before GST
  • The Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Thursday said Gross Domestic Product (GDP) slumped to a three-year low of 5.7 per cent for the First Quarter (April-June) of financial year 2017-18.
    The Q1 GDP is estimated at Rs 31.10 lakh crore, as against Rs 29.42 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17, showing a growth rate of 5.7 percent, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation said in a release. 
    GST, the biggest indirect tax reform since Independence led to destocking activities undertaken by the manufacturers ahead of Goods and Services Tax implementation.
    Finance Minister Arun Jaitley blamed destocking by manufacturers during pre-GST period for lower GDP growth numbers, saying it was the most predominant reason for decline in growth.
    After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation move, GDP growth had declined to 6.1 per cent in January March quarter of the previous financial year. Experts had predicted that effects of deometisation would diminish in the current fiscal. However, the new GDP numbers of April-June quarter tell a different tale.
    Chief Statistician TCA Anant said decline in inventory before GST implementation pulled down GVA. "Large connection of growth slowdown is due to WPI normalisation," he said. 
    Quarterly GVA at basic price at constant (2011-2012) prices for Q1 of 2017-18 is estimated at Rs 29.04 lakh crore, as against Rs 27.51 lakh crore in Q1 of 2016-17, showing a growth rate of 5.6 percent over the corresponding quarter of previous year, the release said.
    The  Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of  Statistics and  Programme Implementation has released the estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter (April-June) Q1, of 2017-18, both at constant (2011-12) and current prices, along with the corresponding quarterly estimates of expenditure components of the GDP.
    The economic activities which registered growth of over 7 percent in Q1 of 2017-18 over Q1 of 2016-17 are 'trade, hotels, transport & communication and services related to broadcasting', 'public administration, defence and other services' and 'electricity, gas, water supply & other utility services'.
    The growth in the 'agriculture, forestry and fishing', 'mining and quarrying', 'manufacturing',  'construction'  and  financial, insurance, real estate and professional services  is estimated to be 2.3 per cent, (-) 0.7 percent, 1.2 per cent, 2.0 percent and 6.4 percent  respectively during this period.

ISRO launches IRNSS-1H satellite: India's GPS will now be on par with US.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS-1H), India's eighth navigation satellite, into a sub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit with the help of PSLV-C39 rocket.
    The 1425-kg satellite is meant to expand the existing seven satellites of India's NavIC constellation. The launch, which was scheduled at 7:00 pm today, is the 41st launch of the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).
    Named by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 'NavIC' or Navigation with Indian Constellation offers services like terrestrial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, navigation aide for hikers and travellers, visual and voice navigation for drivers.
    The launch took place from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. As in the previous six launches of IRNSS satellites, PSLV-C39 used the 'XL' version of PSLV equipped with six strap-ons, each carrying 12 tons of propellant. Like its other IRNSS predecessors, IRNSS-1H also carried two types of payloads - navigation payload and ranging payload. The navigation payload of IRNSS-1H will transmit navigation service signals to the users. Highly accurate Rubidium atomic clocks are part of the navigation payload of the satellite.
    The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India on par with US-based GPS. According to ISRO officials, the total cost of all the seven satellites was Rs 1,420 crore.
    While IRNSS-1H joins the constellation for providing navigation services, IRNSS-1A will be used for messaging services. IRNSS 1H comes with more flexibility in service and it is compatible with the satellites, which are in orbit, ISRO said.
    The 29 hours countdown operations of PSLV-C39/IRNSS-1H mission started on Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 14:00hr IST. The over 1,400 kg spacecraft was built and tested by ISRO along with a consortium of six small and medium industries.
    According to ISRO, NavIC is useful for fishermen to reach the potential fishing area. The fishermen can also get alert messages relating to bad weather, high waves or when they approach international maritime boundary line. The navigation system will also be helpful for railways in tracking trains and also giving an alert in the case of unmanned level crossing.

RBI annual report: How govt, RBI made a loss during demonetisation
  • While critics have argued that Prime Minister Narednra Modi's black money jolt last year brought down India's GDP growth by almost 1 per cent, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley defended the move saying that idea behind demonetisationwas to not just root out black money but also to increase transparency, digitisation, tax base, formal sector, minimize the cash in the economy and to curb terror funding.
    Even though there may be little evidence to suggest that India became a more formal economy after note ban, one can take some solace in the fact that the 99% of scrapped currency notes that came back to the banking system have now been accounted for and tax authorities are pursuing people who had deposited illicit money in the banks. However, with demonetisation, it seems the government and RBI had much to lose.
    Demonetisation was the one of the main reasons for Reserve Bank of India's lower-than-usual profits. The government too received a lesser dividend from the central bank as compared to what it received in the previous financial year. RBI transfered a meagre Rs 30,659 crore as dividend to the government for the year ended June 2017, which is less than half of what it gave to government a year ago, Rs 65,880 crore to be precise.
    While income for the year 2016-17 decreased by 23.56 per cent, the expenditure increased by 107.84 per cent. The year ended with an overall surplus of Rs 30,659 crore as against Rs 65,876 crore in the previous year, representing a decline of 53.46 per cent.
    The net income from domestic sources decreased by 17.11 per cent from Rs 52,157 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 43,232 crore in 2016-17 mainly due to higher net expenditure on interest on account of absorption of surplus liquidity in the banking system post withdrawal of Specified Bank Notes.
    RBI incurred a total expenditure of Rs 7,965 crore on printing currency notes in 2016-17, which is more than double the Rs 3,420 crore spent year before that. The rise in cost of printing could be attributed to printing of new currency notes during remonetisation.
    "The upsurge in expenditure during the year was on account of change in the production plan of printing presses due to the introduction of new design notes in higher denominations as well as the requirement of larger volume of notes for replacement of the demonetised currency," RBI said in its annual report.
    "To ensure availability of banknotes across the country at the shortest possible time subsequent to the demonetisation, banknotes had to be frequently air-lifted from the presses to the Issue Offices of the Reserve Bank as well as directly to currency chests that contributed to the increase in the cost of distribution of banknotes," it added.
    Another huge expenditure was the Rs 13,140 crore provision that the RBI set aside towards its Contingency Fund. Provisions were at Rs 1,000 crore a year ago. Contingency Fund represents the amount set aside on a year-to-year basis for meeting unexpected and unforeseen contingencies, including depreciation in the value of securities, risks arising out of monetary/exchange rate policy operations.
    Data released by the RBI in its annual report stated that out of Rs 15.44 lakh crore worth of currency notes that were taken out of circulation, Rs 15.28 lakh crore have returned to the banking system and around Rs 16,000 crore is yet to be deposited back to banks.  
    Without taking into account the individual hardships during demonetisation, the above data along with the economic cost of the demonetisation exercise itself, which includes sacrificing an estimate 1 per cent of GDP growth, one can easily say that economists hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's move to scrap high value currency notes as the single biggest 'surgical strike on black money' have a lot to answer.

PAN-Aadhaar linking deadline extended till December 31: How to link Aadhaar with PAN through SMS, income tax website
  • If you plan to link your Aadhaar number to your Permanent Account Number (PAN) but have not yet, then you still have some time on your hands. Government pushed the last date to link your Aadhaar and PAN details by four months today, reports said. The new deadline to link your Aadhaar and PAN cards is now December 31. The government had already extended the date once from July 31 to August 31 after several complaints of difficulties in linking Aadhaar to PAN on account of mismatching details.
    Speculations have been doing the reounds that the deadline might be extended on account of the ongoing right to privacy debate. A nine-judge Supreme Court bench has ruled earlier this month that Right to Privacy is a fundamental right and an integral part of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty under the provisions of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Now a three-judge Supreme Court bench is now looking into the matter of whether the biometric identification scheme infringes upon this right.
    The next hearing on the matter scheduled in November it was expected that the last date for Aadhaar-PAN linking will be extended. Government has already extended the last date to make Aadhaar mandatory for all welfare schemes from September 30 to December 31. The government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that it will extend the deadline to furnish Aadhaar details to avail social benefits after several petitioners challenged the validity of Aadhaar and government's move to make it mandatory for welfare schemes. 
    Government initiated linking of Aadhaar and PAN details to check tax evasion under the guise of multiple PAN cards. Tax returns by taxpayers who have not linked their Aadhaar and PAN details were not processed at the end of this financial year.
    If you are planning to link your Aadhaar and PAN later in the day, here's how you can go about it:
    Through Income Tax website
    Aadhaar and PAN could be linked in easy steps on the official website of Income Tax Department.
    • Visit the link
    • Enter your PAN card number, Aadhaar Number, your name on Aadhaar followed by the captcha code.
    • Click on the Link Aadhaar button at the below and your Aadhaar and PAN will be linked.
    • You will get an SMS telling you that Aadhaar has been linked.
    Through SMS
    Your Aadhaar and PAN can be linked bu=y through a SMS too.
    • Type UIDPAN<12 digit Aadhaar><10 digit PAN> an
    • Send it to 567678 or 56161.
    • A confirmation that your Aadhaar has been linked with the PAN card will be sent to you via text message.

1,353% return in 5 years: Here are the 15 most expensive stocks and their performances
  • Sensex ended the month at Rs 31,730, 2.5 per cent below its closing in the of month July. Though Sensex had started the August month at its all-time high, it stayed in consolidation mood for whole month thereafter. While the index is still over 31,000 levels, we did a quick exercise to find out the most expensive stocks listed on Indian exchanges and how much money have they made for investors in the last one year and in the last five years.
    The data used here was accessed from Ace Equity. Latest closing price of companies, which traded on August 28, 2017, were considered for our exercise. There were 3,584 such companies and then the list was sorted to take out 15 most expensive stocks.

    The outcome
    You can either buy a bike or an Apple iPhone or one share of MRF Ltd. One share of MRF costs Rs 62,954 as on August 28, 2017. MRF crossed Rs 60,000 on March 27, this year for the very first time. The second stock in the most expensive list is Rasoi Ltd, which is almost half of the MRF share's price. Rasoi Group has its interests in consumer durables, auto components, real estate and OTC healthcare products. It touched a 52 week-high at Rs 49,600.
    Other stocks in the list, which are over Rs 15,000 per share, include Eicher Motors, Bosch, Shree Cement and Page Industries. Read through the charts to look at returns generated by these top 15 expensive stocks.

General Awareness

NITI Aayog announces 12 winners of the Women Transforming India Awards 2017

  • Union Minister of Textiles, Information, and Broadcasting Smriti Irani will present Women Transforming India Awards 2017 a prestigious award to 12 incredible women winners at an event in New Delhi on 29th of Aug 2017.
    Key Points:
    i.The award has been launched by NITI Aayog, in partnership with the UN in India and MyGov.
    ii.It has been awarded to recognize the transformational impact of work undertaken by women across India.
    iii.This year’s campaign “to promote equal opportunity of women” received around 3000 entries from across India.
    1  Laxmi Agarwal, Uttar PradeshRising from the Ashes
    In 2005 a 14-year-old Laxmi Agrawal was attacked by 32-year-old stalker and his friends. Laxmi rejected his advances and turned down his proposal and the man and his friends threw acid on her face. In 2014, she received the International Women of Courage Award by the then US First Lady Michelle Obama. She was also chosen as the NDTV Indian of the year.
    2  Subasini Mistry, Hasnapukur, West Bengal:
    Subasini lost her husband at a young age due to lack of medical care but Subasini sacrified for two decades to realize her dream of building a hospital for the needy. Today, the 45-bed hospital spreads over three acres and has the best of doctors and medical equipment. Major surgeries for the poor are done for less than Rs. 5000 and minor ailments are treated for under Rs. 10.
    3  Safeena Husain, Mumbai, Maharashtra:
    Safeena Husain is the founder and executive director of Educate Girls, a non- profit organization working for girls’ education in some of the most educationally backward districts of India. She has has been involved in development projects across South America, Africa and Asia for the past decade. Safeena won the 2016 NDTV-L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Award in the Education Category.
    4   Arunima Sinha, Faizabad, Uttar PradeshMind Over Matter: Transcending Adversity to Make History
    Arunima Sinha, 24-year-old national level volleyball and football player. She was on her way to take the examinations, when she was thrown off a train by a group of gangsters for refusing to part with her gold chain and lost her left leg. Arunima is the first female amputee to scale the highest mountain in the world. In 2015 she was awarded the fourth highest civilian award of India, the Padma Shri and was also honoured with the Tenzing Norgay Highest Mountaineering Award.
    5   Kamal Kumbhar, Osmanabad, Maharashtra: The Social Entrepreneur with a Mission
    Kamal an entrepreneur owns six different businesses and is a role model business leader. Kamal was also a winner of the CII Foundation Women Exemplar Award 2017 in the field of micro-enterprise. Kamal has actively mentored more than 5,000 women to set up micro-enterprises.
    6   Jamuna Tudu, Maturkham, Jharkhand:
    She has managed to conserve 50 hectares of forest land around her village in Jharkhand. The Van Suraksha Samiti has about 60 active women members, who patrol the jungle in shifts thrice a day, morning, noon and evening. The Forest Department has ‘adopted’ her village, which has led to Maturkham getting a water connection and a school. In 2013, Jamuna accepted the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in the ‘Acts of Social Courage’ category. Around 150 committees formed by Jamuna, comprising more than 6,000 members, have joined her movement to save the forests.
    7  Rajlakshmi Borthakur, Bengaluru: Lifesaver Device Designed by a Mom
    Determined to save her child’s life, Rajlakshmi  Borthakur researched epilepsy for more than three years and developed a simple wearable device, a smart glove, that can predict epileptic seizures before they happen.
    8   Kiran Kanoji, Faridabad: From Accident Survivor to India’s First Female Blade Runner
    Survivor of a horrific accident, Kiran Kanojia, is a champion blade runner. In 2014, Kiran attempted the Hyderabad Airtel Marathon and won her first medal. Kiran is a champion blade runner and is invited to Delhi and Mumbai to run and flag off marathons.
    9  Harshini Kanhekar, Nagpur, Maharashtra: Breaking the Ceiling: India’s First Woman Firefighter
    Harshini Kanhekar rewrote the history of National Fire Service College, Nagpur and the country’s fire services to become India’s first woman firefighter.
    10   Shima Modak, Meghalaya: A Beacon of Hope for the Underprivileged
    Shima Modak has been working relentlessly towards the welfare of the deprived and distressed. . In 2010, Shima started small educational centres in community spaces to take education to the doorstep of those kids who cannot make it to school. Starting with 73 underprivileged children, the centres run by SPARK have as of date been able to cover more than 3,000.
    11   Sunita Kamble, Mhasvad, Maharashtra: Mhasvad’s Doctor Madam
    Sunita Kamble fought the odds to become the first woman goat veterinarian in her region, working with her team to protect her community’s livestock and create alternative and sustainable livelihood opportunities for women. Sunita and her team of seven barefoot veterinarians have performed artificial insemination on over 2,000 goats in the area.
    12   Kanika Tekriwal, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh: Ruling the Skies
    Kanika Tekriwal started her journey in the aviation industry at the tender age of 17. Kanika has won several awards chosen as one of the 100 most inspirational women in the world by BBC, recognised by Forbes Asia as one of the 30 under 30 leading entrepreneurs in Asia, CNN’s 20 under 40, and awarded the National Entrepreneurship award in E-commerce by Government of India.

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