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Current Affairs - 12 September 2017

General Affairs 

1 More Person Dies As 7 Districts Are Affected By Assam Floods
  • The floods in Assam claimed one more life as the deluge inundated two new districts today, taking the total number of affected districts to seven.

    According to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), the two new districts to be affected by the deluge are Udalguri and Jorhat, while Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Morigaon, Nagaon and Sonitpur were already flood-hit.

    It said although two more districts were inundated by the flood, the total number of affected people decreased from yesterday's 71,819 to 49,335 today.

    Morigaon is the worst-affected where 24,985 people have been hit, followed by 21,679 in Sonitpur district, the ASDMA said.

    The body of a 22-year old man, reported to be missing in the flood yesterday at Chariduar in Sonitpur district, was recovered today, the report said, adding the latest wave of deluge has so far claimed 76 lives.

    With this, the toll in this year's flood in the state touched 160, it said.

    Rains in Assam and in the upper reaches of neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh have caused the Brahmaputra and its tributaries to overflow inundating human habitations and agricultural fields, official sources said.

    Flood water entered Jarasar river in Sonitpur district through Kameng river affecting several villages including Rangapara, Balipara and Chariduar, disrupting road connectivity from Balipara to Bhalukpong in Arunachal Pradesh, they said.

    The Brahmaputra at Nimatighat in Jorhat and rivers Dhansiri at Numaligarh in Golaghat, Jia Bharali at N T Road Crossing in Sonitpur are flowing above danger levels, the ASDMA said.

    In all, 12,266 hectare of crop land are under water. The floods also affected infrastructure with embankments breached in Sonitpur district and the water flowing over National Highway 37 in Jorhat district's Teok revenue circle, it said.

India And Afghanistan Agree To Increase Defence Cooperation
  • India today agreed to provide Afghanistan further assistance to strengthen its security forces as the two strategic partners decided to deepen security cooperation and resolved to work closely to deal with the challenge of cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.

    After holding wide-ranging talks with her Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani, External Affairs Mnister Sushma Swaraj said 116 new "high impact" development projects would be implemented jointly in 31 provinces of Afghanistan.

    "We remain united in overcoming the challenges posed by cross-border terrorism and safe havens and sanctuaries to both our countries," Ms Swaraj said at a joint media briefing with Mr Rabbani.

    Afghanistan has faced a wave of terror attacks in the last few months and the proposed reconciliation and peace process is yet to make any progress.

    Asserting that its relationship with Afghanistan is an "article of faith" for India, she said New Delhi would continue to work with Afghan people in their efforts to build a secure, stable, peaceful, prosperous, united and inclusive Afghanistan.

    The two sides also inked four pacts, including one on vehicular movement to boost overland transit and another on a fresh batch of development projects by India in Afghanistan.

    "We support national peace and reconciliation in an atmosphere free from violence and within the framework of Afghanistan's Constitution," Ms Swaraj said, reiterating that India would continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in realising their dreams.

    Both Sushma Swaraj and Salahuddin Rabbani were clear in their references about terrorism emanating from Pakistan though they did not name the country.

    Thanking India for its unflinching support for peace and stability in Afghanistan, Mr Rabbani said both countries agreed to strengthen security cooperation. "India has further agreed to provide assistance for Afghan national defence forces."

    India has already invested over USD 2 billion in reconstruction of Afghanistan in the last 15 years but has been adopting a cautious approach in supplying military hardware.

    India has given four military helicopters to Afghanistan and imparted training to hundreds of Afghan security personnel.

    Mr Rabbani said the current regional situation brings Afghanistan and India closer to protect and achieve their socio-economic goal and protect citizens.

    "The enabling environment for terrorism is directly linked to continued support they receive from outside of Afghanistan," he said.

    The Afghan foreign minister said the countries have been the target of terrorism and violent extremism which is threatening the stability of the region.

    He referred to "terrorists groups like LeT and JeM which have been launching attacks against India and indiscriminately killing civilians in this country and engaging in similar terrorist activities along with Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Daesh in Afghanistan". Daesh is the Arabic name for the terrorist group ISIS.

    He said Afghanistan's friendship with India or any other country does not mean hostility with others in the neighbourhood.

    "Unlike others, Afghanistan has hardly sought security in the insecurity of others."

    Afghanistan, Mr Rabbani added, is a landlocked country and its peace and prosperity is dependent on "those of our neighbours near and extended".

    "That is why we reject zero sum approaches that undermine our collective security today and years to come."

    In her remarks, Ms Swaraj said India was "indebted" to Afghan security forces for ensuring safety of Indians working in Afghanistan.

    Discussing connectivity projects, Sushma Swaraj said the development of Chahbahar Port in the trilateral cooperation with Iran was being expedited. The supply of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chahbahar port would begin in the coming weeks.

    She also announced 500 new scholarships programmes for next of kin of the martyrs of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces from academic year 2018.

    Mr Rabbani said Afghanistan strongly supports India's membership of the UN Security Council and other groupings and hoped that it would back Kabul's entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).

    The two sides also discussed easing of visas. Ms Swaraj said India would assist in development projects like the Shatoot dam and drinking water supply project for Kabul, low cost housing for returning refugees, water supply network for Charikar city and a polyclinic in Mazar-e-Sharif.

    "Focus will continue on building governance and democratic institutions, human resource capacity and skill development, including in the areas of education, health, agriculture, energy, application of remote sensing in resource management and space technology in governance," she said.

Survivors Join Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi's 'Bharat Yatra' Against Child Abuse
  • Survivors of abuse and victims of bonded labour came together to flag off Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi's 'Bharat Yatra' against child abuse on Monday. The quiet Vivekananda Rock in Kanyakumari was drowned in the voices of hundreds of school going children shouting the slogan "Down. Down. Down with child abuse". 

    "Each time when a child is raped, our conscience, innocence is raped. I am not going to tolerate this. I am going to change this. This is a growing epidemic. We are beginning from India, and India will show rest of the world the path forward.  

    The Bharat Yatra aims to break the silence around child abuse and trafficking. According to official records, only around 53% of boys and 47% of girls report any form of sexual abuse against them in India. 

    Among those present for the campaign were men like Balwinder (name changed), in his mid 40s, who is still fighting for justice in court against his neighbour, the alleged abuser of his two teenage daughters, who were rescued a year and half ago by the police. 

    "My neighbour had promised me that if I send my daughters to him to take care of his son; he would ensure their school education.  But this man used to sleep with my daughters and would not allow them to meet me. I am here because this must not happen to anyone else", he said.

    Another 23 year old woman, Neeta Rai (name changed) was rescued in 2013. She was given all legal help to fight her case in court by Bachpan Bachao Aandolan. The accused who sexually abused her is now in jail. "These things have been happening since years. Nothing has changed. I saw a 9-year-old girl in Sonipat brutally assaulted. I want to fight this and that's why I am here," Neeta said. 

    According to crime statistics, the accused in around 95% of abuse cases are known to the victims in India.

PM Modi's Addresses To Students On Vivekananda's Historic Chicago Address:
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi today addressed a students' convention today to mark the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda's Chicago address at the World's Parliament of Religion in 1893. "This year, we are marking 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda's Chicago address and Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya centenary celebrations," the prime minister said in another tweet. The theme of the address is "Young India, New India - A Resurgent Nation: from Sankalp to Sidhhi". The address will focus on Vivekananda's teaching in the present day context. The day also marks the centenary celebrations of BJP ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya. The event is being organised by the Deendayal Research Institute (DRI) and supported by the Culture Ministry.

    Here are the highlights of PM Modi's address at students' convention in New Delhi: 

    • Today is 9/11...this day became widely spoken about after 2001 but there was another 9/11 of 1893 which we remember
    • Just with a few words, a youngster from India won over the world and showed the world the power of oneness
    • The 9/11 of 1893 was about love, harmony and brotherhood
    • When Vivekananda went abroad, he showcased the greatness of India. But when he spoke in India, he highlighted our problems.
    • Swami Vivekananda raised his voice against the social evils that has entered our society
    • Swami Vivekananda said that only rituals will not connect an individual to divinity...he said 'Jan Seva is Prabhu Seva'
    • More than being in search of a Guru, Swami Vivekananda was in search of the truth
    • Mahatma Gandhi was also in search of truth
    • Swami Vivekananda did not believe in sermonising. His ideas & idealism paved way for an institutional framework via Ramakrishna Mission
    • Even after 120 years, the mission has neither been diverted nor diluted
    • It is my privilege that I also took part in the great lineage.
    • I participated the function in Chicago then and hence can understand what it would have been like
    • When I arrived here, everyone was chanting Vande Mataram, it gives oneself goosebumps
    • I am asking the entire nation, if we have the right to say Vande Mataram?
    • I want to specially mention all those people who are working tirelessly to keep India clean
    • Are we the ones who would eat paan and then spit and say Vande Mataram?
    • Only those who clean the nation have the right to sing Vande Mataram\
    • Whether we maintain cleanliness or not, we don't have the right to throw waste here ant their
    • Everyone thinks about flowing the ashes of their parents in Ganga, but do we think about cleaning the river
    • We are not healthy because of doctors, but because of those who keep the hospitals clean
    • I am happy that there are daughters in the country who say they won't marry unless there is toilet in the groom's home
    • Before Vivekananda, we were known as nation of snake charmers
    • We are the children of ancient heritage. Every person has contributed something. Even a beggar gives blessings to those who give him alms and the ones who don't
    • The correspondence between Swami Vivekananda and Jamsetji Tata will show the concern Swami JI had towards India's self-reliance
    • You'd be surprised to know Vivekananda was responsible for India's Green revolution
    • It is Acharya Vinoba Bhave's birth anniversary too. Vinoba Bhave lived the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi
    • Both knowledge and skills are equally important
    • We want to create self reliant individuals. We want the young men and women to be job creators instead of job seekers
    • At times failure carves the way to success. The one who stands on the banks, never drowns. But those who jump in the river and cross it, are the ones who succeed..
    • India is a huge market waiting for the knowledge and skill of the youngsters
    • Swami Vivekananda had given the concept of 'One Asia.' He said that the solutions to the world's problems will come from Asia

UP Deputy Chief Minister's Anti-Corruption Warning, With A Pinch Of Salt
  • A top minister in Uttar Pradesh has warned officials against corruption but his statement has become controversial. At a function on Sunday, Keshav Prasad Maurya, one of the state's two deputy Chief Ministers, said: "Earn, but only as much as the amount of salt you would have in your food..."

    To many, it appeared that Mr Maurya was recommending bribe-taking in moderation.

    His aides say the comments cannot be taken out of context and twisted, and that the minister was clearly talking about fighting corruption.

    What Mr Maurya said was this: "Nobody says now that the contractor will make money. We want a corruption-free system in which officials and contractors cannot loot money meant for building a road. Make money, but the amount should be like the salt we use in Daal. It is not wrong to make money or do business, but if you think you will loot public money then the BJP government will not spare such people." Keshav Prasad Maurya's remarks seemed like he recommended taking bribes in moderation

    Mr Maurya is in charge of the Public Works Department (PWD) in the Yogi Adityanath government. Five years ago, his predecessor faced trouble over similar comments.

    In 2012, former minister Shivpal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party was heard counseling officials at a meeting: "As long as you work hard and get things done, you can steal a little. But this should not translate into robbery."

    Mr Yadav, who was the second most powerful minister in then Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's cabinet, said later that his comments were edited by channels and he was actually discussing ways to check corruption.

Business Affairs

National Pension System entry age limit raised to 65 years
  • If you have not joined the National Pension System till now, take heart. Now you can enter the the lowest-cost pension product in the world   till 65 years of age.
    The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has upped the age limit for joining the National Pension Scheme (NPS)to 65 years from the current 60. It was announced by Chairman PFRDA Hemant Contractor at a conference on "Transferring Superannuation Funds to National Pension System". "NPS is currently open for people between 18 and 60, and our Board has approved raising the age limit for joining to 65," Contractor said. "The scheme anyway has the option of continuing and making contributions up to the age of 70," he added.
    Comparing NPS returns with the best in the industry, he said "Costs are important because even one per cent difference in cost over 25-30 years, makes around 15-16 per cent difference at the end because of the compounding factor. Our fund management charges are a miniscule 0.01 per cent- the lowest, when you compare others charging 0.4 or 0.5 per cent."
    National Pension System offers its subscriber different options ranging from equity and secure government bonds to life-cycle funds. Equity investment of a subscriber's funds can go up to 75 per cent of their contribution if one chooses the life-cycle fund. It also offers less risky options with a heavy component of fixed income investment
    As of now only 15-16% of employees in India are covered by pensions as 85 per cent of the workforce is employed in the unorganised or informal sector.

Direct Tax revenues rise 17.5 per cent to Rs 2.24 lakh crore in current fiscal, says Finance Ministry
  • The Direct Tax collections from April to August in the ongoing financial year reached Rs 2.24 lakh crore, said a statement by the Ministry of Finance. This translates to a 17.5 per cent growth in comparison to the same period during the last fiscal.
    The revenue collected within the first five months of the current financial year is equivalent to 22.9 per cent of the total budget estimates of direct taxes for 2017-18, the Ministry report said. This includes both personal income and corporate tax. The steady growth in direct tax collections is a result of increase in tax collections from individuals. The government has set a target of Rs 9.80 lakh crore from direct taxes during the course of this fiscal year.
    According to the Ministry of Finance, the growth rate for personal income tax collections, including Securities Transaction Tax (STT) increased 16 per cent. On the other hand, direct tax collections from corporate entities grew by five per cent. After adjusting refunds, corporate tax collections grew by 18.1 per cent whereas the growth rate for personal income tax collections reached 16.5 per cent.  A total of Rs 74,089 crore was issued as tax refunds during the first five months of financial year 2017-18. This amounts to a decline of 7.2 per cent in refunds issued during the corresponding period last year.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal warns catering staff to stop asking for tips; sets 48-hour deadline
  • Indian Railways' catering services, which is infamous for its food and hygiene, was told to stop asking for tips from passengers. The newly-appointed Railway Minister Piyush Goyal also set a 48-hour deadline.
    According to a report in The Indian Express, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has called for overcharging of food items in trains be stopped. "Letters have gone out to all zonal railway units across the country, asking them to ensure that the practice is stopped with immediate effect," the report said.
    This will be the first time that a deadline has been set by the Railway Minister on the issue of overcharging of various Railways' services. Also, the issue of catering staff asking for tips was never taken up at this level.
    After Goyal's orders and the ministry's directive, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has promptly contacted its catering contractors to convey an ultimatum. Violation will invite heavy penalty, the report said.
    IRCTC's catering inspectors are expected to inspect trains to find malpractices prevalent in trains. Indian Railways may also keep a tab on social media posts from passengers about complaining either overcharging or tips.

Sensex rises nearly 200 points, Nifty closes above 10,000 level
  • The Nifty rose 0.7 percent on Monday to close above 10,000 points for the first time in more than a month, as auto makers such as Maruti Suzuki gained after an increase in the goods and services tax was less wide-ranging than expected.
    The BSE Sensex climbed 0.61 percent or 194.64 points to 31,882.16, while the broader NSE Nifty rose 0.72 percent or 71.25 points to 10,006.05, closing above the 10,000 level for the first time since August 7.
    Shares of Maruti Suzuki closed 2.15 percent higher. Meanwhile, IndusInd Bank Ltd rallied 5.6 percent after saying it had entered into exclusive talks with Bharat Financial Inclusion Ltd for a potential merger.
    All BSE sectoral indices gained with the Sensex Next 50 rising 270.76 points or 0.79 percent, the maximum among the indices.
    On the 30-stock Sensex,  Larsen and Toubro (3.80 percent), Asian Paint (2.84 percent) and Maruti Suzuki (2.41 percent) were the top gainers.
    Market breadth was marginally positive with 1412 stocks closing higher against 1218 falling on the BSE.

    Petronet LNG, GAIL (India), Oil India, Indian Oil stocks gain as India to save Rs 10,000 crore for LNG imported from Australia's Gorgon project
    • Oil and gas stocks were trading higher on Monday on reports that India has renegotiated the pricing of liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported from Australia's Gorgon project to save more than Rs 10,000 crore over the life of the contract.
      The BSE oil and gas index was up 1.20 percent or 182 points at 15,278 level.
      Petronet LNG (4.86 percent), GAIL (India) Ltd (4.20 percent), Oil India Ltd (2.02  percent), Indian Oil (1.13 percent)  and Reliance Industries (0.84 percent) were the top gainers on the index.
      GAIL, Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) hold 12.5 per cent each in Petronet.
      Exxon Mobil Corp has agreed to charge 13.9 per cent of the prevailing Brent oil price at the port of delivery rather than previously decided 14.5 per cent of the oil rate at the port of loading, a source privy to the development said.
      "Besides changing the indexation, LNG pricing will be on DES basis rather than FOB previously decided," he added.
      Delivered ex ship (DES) is a trade term requiring the seller to deliver goods to a buyer at an agreed port of arrival. Under FOB, the buyer has to make shipping arrangement. At USD 50 per barrel oil price, Gorgon LNG, whose supplies started in January this year, would have cost USD 7.25 per million British thermal unit at the port of loading.
      Adding another USD 1 for transportation would have led to delivered price of USD 8.25 in the old contract. In the new formula, Gorgon LNG delivered at Indian port will cost USD 6.95 per mmBtu.
      "Happy to share good news that India has, yet again, been able to address the long-term price issue of LNG from Gorgon to suit Indian market," Oil Dharmendra Pradhan said in a tweet.
      India had used its status of Asia's third largest LNG buyer to renegotiate in 2015 the LNG pricing formula with Qatar's Rasgas to buy the gas at half the original price.
      "Indian customers will receive (Gorgon) LNG volumes at an amicable price soon. This is done in a similar way to what we did with LNG from Qatar," Pradhan said in another tweet.
      Petronet LNG, India's largest liquefied natural gas importer, had last year formally sought at least 10 per cent cut in price of LNG it plans to buy from Australia's Gorgon project. Petronet LNG, a private firm whose chairman is the oil secretary, had in August 2009 signed a 20-year deal to buy 1.44 million tonnes per annum of LNG at a price equivalent to 14.5 per cent of the prevailing oil rates.

    General Awareness

    Government to launch Project Insight

    • On 11th September 2017, The Union Finance Ministry, has announced that is has planned to launch ‘Project Insight’ from October, 2017, in a move to restrict black money holdings and transactions.
      Project Insight:
      i.The Government has signed a contract with L&T Infotech Ltd., regarding ‘Project Insight’.
      ii.The aim of this project is to observe and check high value transactions, and track tax evaders with the help of technology to restrict black money holdings.
      iii.The project will use data mining and big data analytics technologies to find tax evaders from social media platforms by calculating mismatches between their spending pattern and income generated.
      iv.This will also help taxpayers resolve simple tax related issues through online, without having to visit the Income tax office.
      Puropose of Project Insight :
      i.The linking of PAN (Permanent Account Number) with Aadhaar will help identify and analyze the transactions of tax payers.
      ii.This Information Technology method is non-intrusive. Whereas, the earlier method was search and seize, which was highly intruding the tax payers.
      iii.This method will use the government databases of IT forms, IT returns, TDS/TCS statements and transaction statements received from financial institutions etc.
      iv.It would create a reporting compliance management system that would ensure that the third party reporting entities like banks and other financial institutions report in time and accurately.
      v.It would also set up a data exchange mechanism for other government departments.
      vi.It would also be used to implement Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act Inter Governmental Agreement (FATCA IGA) and Common Reporting Standard (CRS).
      vii.IT Department is about to set up a new Compliance Management Centralised Processing Centre (CMCPC) to carry out preliminary verification, campaign management, generation of bulk letters/notices and follow-up.
      About the Finance Ministry:
      Headquarters – New Delhi
      Minister – Mr.Arun Jaitley
      Deputy Ministers (Ministers of State) – Mr.Arjun Ram Meghwal, Mr.Santhosh Gangwar

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