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Current Affairs - 15 September 2017

General Affairs 

India, Japan Agree To Strengthen Cooperation Against Pak-Based Terror Groups
  • Strongly pitching for a "zero-tolerance" approach towards terrorism, India and Japan today agreed to strengthen cooperation against terror groups like Al Qaeda and Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe asked Islamabad to bring to book the perpetrators of terror strikes, including those involved in the Mumbai (2008) and Pathankot (2016) terror attacks, according to a joint statement issued after their annual summit.

    The two leaders also condemned in the "strongest terms" the growing menace of terrorism and violent extremism, it said.

    "They shared the view that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is a global scourge that must be forcefully combated through concerted global action in the spirit of 'zero tolerance'," the document said.

    The two prime ministers called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

    "They looked forward to the convening of the fifth Japan-India Consultation on Terrorism and to strengthening cooperation against terrorist threats from groups, including Al Qaeda, ISIS, JeM, LeT and their affiliates," the statement added.

    Prime Minister Modi and his counterpart Shinzo Abe called upon all UN member countries to implement the UN Security Council resolution 1267 and other relevant resolutions dealing with the designation of terrorist entities, the statement said.

Give More Respect To Other Languages: President Ram Nath Kovind To Hindi Speakers
  • President Ram Nath Kovind today asked Hindi-speaking people to give more respect and space to regional languages and their speakers in a bid to make Hindi more popular across the country.

    Addressing a function on the occasion of 'Hindi Divas' in New Delhi, the President said Hindi continued to face opposition in some parts of the country even though it became an official language many decades ago.

    Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was also present at the function organised by his ministry, said in his address that Hindi could be enriched further if its speakers also used words from other languages.

    Referring to recent incidents on the Bangalore Metro, where a pro-Kannada group opposed Hindi signboards in the train service, and earlier agitations against Hindi in Tamil Nadu, President Kovind said there was a feeling among some people that Hindi was being imposed on them.

    "Non-Hindi speaking people desire that we (Hindi-speaking people) give attention to their languages. Those who speak Hindi should give space to other languages. We all have the responsibility to give respect to non-Hindi speaking people and regional languages," he said.

    President Kovind suggested that those who speak Hindi should greet a Tamilian with a 'vanakkam', a Sikh with 'Sat Sri Akal' and a Muslim with an 'Adaab' -- words of greeting in Tamil, among Sikhs and in Urdu respectively. They should use the word 'Garu' (sir) while addressing a Telugu-speaking person, he said.

    The adoption of other languages and cultures will help unite the people and the country, he said.

    The president said he had used the Russian word 'spasiba' (thank you) while ending his speech at a state banquet during the recent visit of Belarus President AG Lukashenko. The guest was so delighted that he spontaneously responded with a 'Jai Hind'.

    The Belarus president also announced that Hindi would be taught in their state university from this month.

    President Kovind also asked lawyers and doctors to use Hindi and other regional languages at work.

    "In India people don't understand the language of lawyers and doctors. In courts, now, gradually Hindi and other languages are being spoken. Similarly, if the doctors start giving prescriptions in Devanagari and other languages, the doctor-patient distance will be reduced," he said.

    In his address, the home minister said Hindi was the unifying language for the country and had helped bring people of different regions together during India's freedom struggle.

    "We (Hindi-speaking people) should accept and use popular words of regional languages. If we do that, it will enrich the language," he said.

    Mr Singh said the contribution of non-Hindi speaking people such as Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak was immense in making Hindi an official language of the country.

    He also questioned those who said English was required for India to become an economic power. "I want to ask those who say that without English India can't be an economic power, how come China has become an economic power by speaking Mandarin," he said.

    In his welcome speech, Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said even though Hindi was not his mother tongue, he felt immense pride while speaking the language.

    "In my native state (Arunachal Pradesh), Hindi is widely spoken and used by common people from all walks of life," he said.

    All the speakers spoke in Hindi at the function. Hindi is the mother tongue of the president and the Union home minister.

Prime Minister Modi On Bullet Train Critics Then And Now
  • Critics who earlier dismissed the bullet train as "big talk" are now asking what use it is, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi today after inaugurating work on India's first bullet train in collaboration with Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly launched the project in Gujarat's Ahmedabad.

    "When I was in Gujarat and used to speak about the bullet train, they said Modi only talks of bullet trains in India... They kept asking when will he get it. Now that they see I have actually got the Bullet Train to India, they ask why are you getting a Bullet Train?" the Prime Minister said.

    "It's a new India which has to fly high," PM Modi said. He said the ambitious project would bring pace to development in the country and that no country can grow if they don't dream big. "To grow one needs to expand his dreams and decide his strength to achieve that," the Prime Minister said.

    The first bullet train is expected to begin running between Ahmedabad and Mumbai in 2022. "The bullet train is not India's priority," said Congress leader Anand Sharma, adding that the strategic partnership between Japan and India is very important and there are more crucial issues to be discussed. "Our prime minister should not limit it to the photo opportunity and theatrics. There are serious issues on the agenda. Prime Minister Modi has misplaced the priority," Mr Sharma said.

    Sharp criticism also came from the BJP's Maharashtra ally Shiv Sena, which described the new bullet train project as PM Modi's "expensive dream" alleging that it will "loot the nation of Rs. 1,08,000 crore". Among the problems that the Shiv Sena listed in an article in its magazine the Saamna, is that the bullet train will have eight stops in Gujarat and only four in Maharsahtra. And that Maharashtra will "have to shell out Rs. 30,000 crore" for it.

    It compared the project to those launched by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress, like the Bhakra-Nangal Dam, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and other schemes, saying, "All those projects were needed by the country. Is the bullet train a project of national importance for which such a huge amount is being spent to cover the 508-km distance at 350-kmph speed?"

    The bullet train, which is expected to halve the travel time between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, would be a ride for the rich, the Sena alleged, arguing that the money could've been spent to write off loans to distressed farmers. It has also asked why the bullet train project has been speeded up while existing infrastructure for the Railways is yet to be upgraded.  

    The ally has also questioned the timing of the launch, alleging that the bullet train is aimed at giving "something new to the industrialists of Gujarat where elections are coming up shortly." The Congress has asked why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is being hosted by the Prime Minister in Gujarat and not in national capital Delhi.

    "We do not want to transgress propriety by commenting on a state visit but it is rather quixotic that the Prime Minister of a country as important as Japan, who is almost India's strategic partner in many respects, is strangely not even being hosted in Delhi," aid Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari, and added that he hoped the visit is not being used for "political purposes" in view of the elections in Gujarat.

Admissions Of Over 700 Medical Students Cancelled In Puducherry
  • Admissions of more than 700 students in seven private medical colleges and deemed universities of Puducherry has been scrapped by the Medical Council of India for irregularities. The students, the council said, had been admitted last year in violation of rules under management quota.

    Since last year, admissions through medical entrance exam NEET have been made mandatory by the Supreme Court.

    But these institutions admitted students who did not qualify the test, the Medical Council said. Many students were allegedly admitted after the last date.

    Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said the institutions were responsible for the situation. "The Puducherry government had no role in it," he said.

    The move by medical regulatory body came after parents of NEET qualified children and  Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi wrote to it.

    In July, the council had cancelled the admissions of nearly a hundred students enrolled in post-graduation courses for similar reasons.

    At the time, the colleges had admitted the students even though they had not undergone counselling by the central Admission Committee CENTAC, another procedure made compulsory by the Supreme Court, Ms Bedi had said.

Bullet Train Not A Common Man's Dream: Shiv Sena
  • Slamming the bullet train project, NDA ally Shiv Sena today said the project was not a dream of the common man but that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    The Shiv Sena, in an editorial in its mouthpiece 'Saamana', sought to know if the Ahmedabad-Mumbai high speed train project really fits into the needs of the country.

    The criticism came on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone of India's first bullet train project in Ahmedabad.

    "We are getting a bullet train without asking for it. We do not know exactly which problem will this problem solve," the Shiv Sena said.

    "(Former Prime Minister) Pandit (Jawaharlal) Nehru laid the foundation of several projects, from Bhakra Nangal to Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, to ensure the country advances in technology and science. All these projects were needed for the nation. Does this bullet train fit into the needs of the country?" the ally asked.

    Out of the estimated Rs. 1,08,000 crore cost of the project, at least Rs. 30,000 crore would have to be shelled out by the Maharashtra government, it said.

    "The demands for loan waiver of farmers were being made since many years. Nobody sought a bullet train. Modi's dream is not of the common man but of the rich and industrialists," said the Shiv Sena, which is an ally of the BJP in Maharashtra and at the Centre.

    Those saying that this project will create employment were speaking false, because Japan will bring everything required, right from the machinery to labourers from there for the project, the editorial said.

    The high-speed train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai is expected to be completed by 2022.

    The train is expected to cut the journey time from the current six hours to less than three hours.

    Of the 508-km route and 12 stations of the bullet train, 120 km and four stations will fall in Maharashtra.

    Japan has extended a soft loan for the ambitious project conceptualised by PM Modi.

    The Maharashtra government has agreed to allot 0.9 hectares of land at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) here for a station for the proposed bullet train with certain conditions.

    A Government Resolution (GR) issued by the Maharashtra Home Department on September 12 said the state has set a condition that the cost of the land at BKC should be considered a part of the state's preliminary share of Rs.
     125 crore for the project. 

Business Affairs

Action against shell companies: I-T Dept, MCA to share companies' PAN, audit reports
  • The income tax department and the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) have signed a pact to regularly share data, including PAN and audit reports of firms, to crack down on shell companies, the government said today.
    The pact aims at curbing the menace of money laundering, black money and misuse of corporate structure by shell companies, a finance ministry statement said.
    The MoU for Automatic and Regular Exchange of Information between was signed between the MCA and Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on September 6 and took effect the same day, it said.
    Under the pact, tax authorities will now relay audit reports of corporates and specific information from their I-T returns along with PAN data to MCA.
    Besides, financial statements filed by corporates with the Registrar of Companies, returns of allotment of shares and statement of financial transactions received from banks will now be shared between the two departments.
    "A Data Exchange Steering Group has also been constituted for the initiative which will meet periodically to review the data exchange status and take steps to further improve the effectiveness of the two agencies," it added.
    The MoU will ensure that both MCA and CBDT have seamless PAN-CIN (Corporate Identity Number) and PAN-DIN (Director Identity Number) linkage for regulatory purposes.
    "The information shared will pertain to both Indian corporates as well as foreign corporates operating in India," the statement said.
    The data will also be shared for the purpose of carrying out scrutiny, inspection, investigation and prosecution.
    The government has already said that over 1.06 lakh directors will be disqualified for their association with shell companies.
    The MCA is in the process of cancelling the registration of 2.09 lakh companies that have not been carrying out business activities for a long period.
    Besides, banks have been asked to restrict operations of these companies' bank accounts by their directors or their authorised representatives.
    Following deregistration of over two lakh companies currently there are about 11 lakh companies with active status.

41 percent of people in India realize that they have life cover lesser than required: Survey
  • At 78 per cent, concern over uncertainty is high across the country and has increased in the last four years. 83 per cent people living in metros feel uncertain about life as compared to 67 per cent people in non-metros, highlighting a considerable difference between the two.
    Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance conducted an online Protection Survey, which highlights the people's concerns and their financial preparedness for future. Major highlights are as below:
    Child education is top priority; Stable income is biggest worry
    According to the study, providing for child's education is the top priority trigger of uncertainty for Indians followed by living a healthy and active life. It was observed that while the highest area of concern amongst male respondents was their child's education (36%); women across the country are most concerned about protecting their health and having an active life (35%). The survey identified that the focus has largely shifted from rising prices to stability of jobs and health in the last 4 years. Stability of jobs and income is the biggest worry for men and women both.
    Earning family members rise
    In terms of preparedness to face any form of financial uncertainty, 76 per cent of the respondents are aware of the need to protect their family against uncertainties. The awareness is equal amongst metro and non-metro residents. Corroborating this fact, the survey reflected that in the last four years, the number of people earning per family has considerably risen. 51 per cent of the respondents now have 2 persons earning in the family as compared to 31 per cent in 2013.
    Saving and investment rose
    The survey also unveiled that the focus towards savings has witnessed a whopping rise in the last four years. With more inflow of money, the monthly saving of 25 percent or more of the monthly income for the respondents of the nation has seen over a two-fold growth.  Along with savings, more people are investing close to 20 percent or more as compared to 4 years ago.
    Financial preparedness escalates
    The study states that more people in the country are planning for their retirement as soon as they start earning. The number has increased by 12 percent in the last 4 years.
    As compared to 2013, more people are confident and completely prepared to face uncertainties as compared to 2013. However, a large number of the population are not completely prepared. 60 per cent of the respondents hold intent to purchase life insurance solutions as their preferred choice of financial investment.
    Underinsurance remains the biggest trouble
    As per research, the average life cover that an individual should have is just double the income which should ideally be 10 times of ones' income. The Survey unveils that 41 percent of people in India realize that they have life cover lesser than required; whereas another 50 percent feel that they have enough cover.
    'Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance online Protection Survey' was conducted among 1,540 people in the age-group of 22-50 years including both males and females. The study is a comparative study between the year 2013 and 2017, assessing the gradual shift of consumer sentiments around their future and how they plan to deal with these concerns from a financial perspective.

Capacit'e Infraprojects IPO subscribed 1.30 times on Day 1
  • Mumbai-based Capacit'e Infraprojects' initial share-sale offering was subscribed 1.30 times on the first day of the three-day bidding on Wednesday.
    Capacit'e Infraprojects' Rs 400-crore initial public offer (IPO) received bids for 1,48,15,320 shares against the total issue size of 1,14,28,572 shares, as per data available with the NSE.
    The portion set aside for qualified institutional buyers (QIBs) was oversubscribed 1.74 times, non-institutional investors 11 per cent and retail individual investors 1.55 times.
    The construction firm raised Rs 120 crore from anchor investors. The company's IPO will close on September 15. The price band has been fixed at Rs 245-250 apiece.
    Proceeds of the issue will be utilised for funding working capital requirements, purchasing of capital assets and general corporate purposes.
    Axis Capital, IIFL Holdings and Vivro Financial Services are the book running lead managers to the issue. The equity shares are proposed to be listed on the BSE and National Stock Exchange.
    The firm undertakes construction of residential, commercial and institutional buildings in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, National Capital Region, Bengaluru and other major cities spread across India.
    Capacit'e Infraprojects was incorporated in August 2012 and offers the following construction services:
    • High rise and super high-rise buildings
    • Gated communities
    • Villaments
    • Commercial and office complexes
    • Institutional buildings
    • Multi-Level car parks
    The company works for a number of reputed clients include Kalpataru, Oberoi Constructions, The Wadhwa Group, Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust, Lodha Group, Rustomjee, Godrej Properties Limited, Brigade Enterprises Limited and Prestige Estates Projects Limited.

    Goldman Sachs India, Reliance Capital Trustee Company and ICICI Prudential Growth Fund are among the 15 anchor investors. The company would allot 48 lakh shares to the anchor investors at a price of Rs 250 per scrip-upper end of the IPO price band.
    Capacit'e Infraprojects' order book stood at Rs 4,600 crore as on May 31, 2017.

WPI inflation rises sharply to 3.24% in August
  • Wholesale inflation rose to a four-month high of 3.24 per cent in August as prices of food articles, led by onions and vegetables, soared.
    Inflation based on the wholesale price index (WPI) was 1.88 per cent in July 2017 and 1.09 per cent in August 2016.
    The last such high level of inflation was witnessed in April when the rate of price rise was 3.85 per cent.
    The government data released today showed that prices of food articles went up by 5.75 per cent in August on a yearly basis, as against 2.15 per cent in July.
    Vegetable prices shot up by 44.91 per cent in August, as against 21.95 per cent in July.
    Onion prices witnessed a sharp surge at 88.46 per cent in August, as against a contraction of 9.50 per cent in the previous month.
    Inflation in manufactured products witnessed a slight increase at 2.45 per cent in August, against 2.18 per cent in July.
    In fuel and power segment, inflation saw a sharp surge to a near double digit inflation at 9.99 per cent, against 4.37 per cent in July.
    Fuel inflation shot up as petrol and diesel prices continued to remain high relentlessly on global crude oil rates, while power tariffs shot through the roof on lower domestic production.
    Apart from vegetables, the food articles that saw rise in prices include pulses, fruits (7.35 per cent), egg, meat and fish (3.93 per cent), cereals (0.21 per cent) and paddy (2.70 per cent).
    However, potato continued to see deflation at 43.82 per cent and pulses (-)30.16 per cent.
    The final print of June WPI inflation remained unchanged from provisional estimate of 0.90 per cent.
    Data released earlier this week showed retail inflation rose to a five-month high of 3.36 per cent in August due to costlier vegetables and fruits.
    Also industrial production grew by just 1.2 per cent in July from 4.5 per cent a year ago, bearing the brunt of a dismal show of the manufacturing sector.
    Last month, the Reserve Bank cut policy repo rate by 0.25 per cent to 6 per cent citing reduction in inflation risk. The rate cut was the first in 10 months and brought policy rates to near 7-year low.
    The RBI said it will endeavour to keep retail inflation close to 4 per cent but in the near term, there might be some uptick on account of pay commission payouts and price adjustments post GST rollout from July 1.

    Suzuki to pump in fresh investment of Rs 3,800 cr in Gujarat
    • Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp today announced fresh investments of around Rs 3,800 crore in Gujarat to add a third car production plant.
      The company along with its partners Toshiba and Denso will also invest around Rs 1,150 crore for a new unit to produce lithium ion batteries.
      The new investment in enhancing capacity of the Hansalpur plant will take the company's total investment in the facility to around Rs 13,400 crore, where it has already put in Rs 9,600 crore on two plants along with another engine and transmission production unit.
      The Hansalpur-based plant is Suzuki Motor Corp's first wholly-owned unit in India.
      Announcing the fresh investments, Suzuki Motor Corp (SMC) Chairman Osamu Suzuki said the company will invest Rs 3,800 crore on the third plant which will have a production capacity of 2.5 lakh units annually.
      When the third plant starts functioning fully, the SMC's Gujarat plant will have a total capacity of 7.5 lakh units per annum. He, however, did not elaborate on the time for commissioning of the third plant.
      The first two plants also have capacity of 2.5 lakh units per annum, while the engine and transmission unit has a capacity to produce 5 lakh units a year.
      The overall production capacity of SMC along with its Indian arm, Maruti Suzuki's two plants in Haryana will increase to 22.5 lakh units annually.
      Currently, the first plant at Hansalpur produces premium hatchback Baleno. The second plant along with the engine and transmission units is expected to go on stream in 2019.
      He said with the new investment, the company's Hansalpur facility will will help in generating employment for 10,000 people, including suppliers.
      "We will also construct a hospital and school near Hanslapur facility," he added.
      Last week Maruti Suzuki India Chairman R C Bhargava had stated that SMC was also considering setting up a fourth production line of 2.5 lakh units at Hansalpur plant to take its total capacity to a million units.
      Suzuki said as part of strategy for adapting to new technologies, SMC along with its partners Toshiba and Denso will invest USD 180 million (around Rs 1,151 crore) to manufacture lithium ion batteries.
      The batteries will be used for "hybrid vehicles manufactured in India and export these genuinely manufactured in India vehicles to international market", Suzuki said.
      The plant is expected to be operational from 2020, he said adding, "We plan to continue with our efforts to promote make-in-India program further".
      Last year, SMC had joined hands with Toshiba Corporation and Denso to set up a plant in India to produce lithium ion batteries.
      The three Japanese entities inked an agreement to form a joint venture to tap growing popularity for electric vehicles in India and supply lithium-ion battery packs in the country.

    General Awareness

    74th Venice Film Festival Awards 2017

    • The 74th annual Venice International Film Festival was held from 30 August to 9 September 2017. The most important award is the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale and considered one of the most prestigious film awards, like the Golden Palm in Cannes and the Golden Bear of Berlin.
      Details of the awards :
      1 – Golden Lion                –  The Shape of Water, directed by Guillermo del Toro
      2 – Grand Jury Prize         -Foxtrot, directed by Samuel Maoz
      3 – Silver Lion                 – Best Director Xavier Legrand, Jusqu’à la Garde
      4 – Volpi Cup                  – Best Actress Charlotte Rampling, Hannah
      5 – Volpi Cup                  –  Best Actor Kamel El Basha, The Insult
      6 – Best Screenplay          -Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
      1 – Best Film                  – Nico, 1988, directed by Susanna Nicchiarelli
      2 – Best Director             -Vahid Jalilvand, No Date, No Signature
      3 – Special Jury Prize     – Caniba, directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
      4 – Best Actress               – Lyna Khoudri, Les Bienheureux
      5 – Best Actor                  –  Navid Mohammadzadeh, No Date, No Signature
      6 – Best Screenplay         – Los Versos Del Olvido, directed by Alireza Khatami
      7 – Best Short Film           -Gros Chagrin, directed by Céline Devaux
      8 – Lion of the Future      – “Luigi De Laurentiis” Venice Award for a Debut Film Jusqu’à la Garde, directed by Xavier Legrand
      1 – Best Restoration                          –  Idi I Smotri, directed by Elem Klimov
      2 – Best Documentary on Cinema    -The Prince and the Dybbuk, directed by Elwira Niewiera and Piotr Rosolowski
      1 – Best VR                          -Arden’s Wake (Expanded), directed by Eugene YK Chung
      2 – Best VR Experience      – La Camera Insabbiata, directed by Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang
      3 – Best VR Story                 -Bloodless, directed by Gina Kim
      About Venice Film Festival
      • The Venice Film Festival or Venice International Film Festival founded in 1932.
      • The oldest film festival in the world.
      • The film festival is part of the Venice Biennale, which was founded by the Venetian City Council in 1895.
      • The first edition of the Venice Film Festival was carried out from the 6 to the 21 of August in 1932.
      • Location Venice, Italy

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