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Current Affairs - 25 September 2017

General Affairs 

PMO to review progress made under Make in India scheme in defence sector
  • Almost three years after the Narendra Modi government called for promoting Make in India in the defence sector, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is planning to review the progress made in the project with several schemes such as infantry combat vehicles, submarines and fighter aircraft already been initiated by the defence ministry.
    "The PMO is planning to review the progress made in the Make in India scheme with all stakeholders, including officials from the defence ministry and department of defence production," a government source told Mail Today.
    Sources said the focus of the meet would be on ongoing and long-pending projects under the Make in India category, which have been stalled or slowed down due to different issues, and ways on which they can be pushed towards completion at a faster rate.
    The meeting will give special focus on armoured vehicles to be provided to the Indian Army , which has been working on its futuristic infantry combat vehicle project for over a decade now. Efforts are being made to revive the project where big industrial players, including Tatas and L&T are in the fray, along with the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).
    The meeting is also likely to discuss the strategic partnership policy that was announced this year and also suggest new additions to it. The defence ministry has brought the manufacturing of submarines, helicopters, fighter aircraft and armoured vehicles and tanks under the project for promoting local military industry indigenously for complex weapon systems and platforms.
    While former defence minister Arun Jaitley had decided in favour of indigenous Akash surface-to-air missiles over systems offered by foreign vendors, new minister Nirmala Sitharaman decided to try DRDO developed light machine guns when the case was stuck due to a single vendor situation after trials.
    The government is also moving fast on the Air Force's project to manufacture 114 single-engine Made in India jets under the strategic partnership policy where Indian companies would tie up with American or Swedish firms to build the planes in India.

Prime Minister Modi lauds Sushma's strong speech at UNGA targeted at terrorism
  • From bringing "good quality chicken, mutton and fish", to training dogs, to fortune telling, to printing wedding cards: the pretexts used by visitors to the residence of the then CBI chief Ranjit Sinha are as interesting as the purposes for which they came, says a Supreme Court-appointed panel's report.
    Mail Today has accessed details of the ML Sharma committee's findings that were submitted to the SC in a sealed cover this year. None of those questioned by the panel denied visiting Sinha but almost everybody cited purposes other than official.
    Most of the frequent visitors or their companies are being investigated by the CBI in scams. The committee probed 36 most-frequent visitors to Sinha's house.
    For instance, a person who came 148 times recounted that "Smt Sinha would requisition his services for buying good quality mutton, chicken and fish from the market and also to discuss politics with her as she was interested in contesting Assembly elections from Delhi or Bihar," says the report. This visitor works in the office of the chairman of one of India's biggest oil and telecom majors. The son of a former DGP of Tamil Nadu came 144 times to Sinha's house to "train the ex-CBI chief's dogs" and on occasions was purportedly helping Sinha get access to an astrologer.
    It's a different matter that this person was being probed for defaulting on loans of about Rs 45 crore from two banks. A Gurugram-based printer came 44 times to Sinha's residence, supposedly for designing of wedding cards. But the person who had free access to the ex-CBI chief's house was a former general manager of the Central Mine Planning & Design Institute, Ranchi. He visited Sinha 298 times in 15 months after he "retired from a high position in coal sector and was under probe by the CBI". M L Sharma refused to comment on the report. But it's the high-profile visitors who have raised eyebrows. A top honcho of a telecom and power company who was questioned in the 2G scam and whose company was embroiled in the coal scam visited 28 times to have a "cup of tea" and discuss "Shri Sinha's son's education".

    Another top executive of the same company- now overseeing its newfound defence manufacturing interests- came 26 times as he was apparently apprising the CBI of its image in the market and the "perception of the government regarding the CBI". The panel panned the visit of "liaison" men to the ex-CBI chief's residence, saying "their visits with Shri Sinha couldn't have been without a purpose but it's not possible for the committee to give a definitive ruling as the PE files have not been made available by the CBI". A top meat exporter who is being probed along with a predecessor of Ranjit Sinha by agencies was a frequent visitor. The committee wonders whether the visits were "only for old times' sake or they had a deeper purport".

J-K: Terrorist killed in encounter in Uri, scene of the attacks that led to India's surgical strikes
  • Security forces have killed a terrorist in an ongoing encounter in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri, where a deadly attack on an army base last year led to India's cross-border surgical strikes.
    In fact, three terrorists, including the one who was killed, were planning to strike an army base in a similar manner, Jammu and Kashmir DGP SP Vaid told India Today. They were spotted just in time, he said.
    The other two terrorists "will also be eliminated," Vaid promised.

    As many as 19 soldiers were martyred after a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) fidayeen group attacked the administrative station of the Indian Army's 12 Brigade on September 18 last year.

Grave of 28 Hindus killed by Rohingya militants found, claims Myanmar Army: Report
  • Myanmar's Army has found the grave of as many as 28 Hindus killed by Rohingya militants, the news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) reported today.
    AFP did not say where the grave was found, or whether the Hindus were killed during the recent exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar.
    Hundreds of Hindus are caught in the crossfire between Myanmar's military and Rohingya insurgents. They have fled to Bangladesh, and are placing their hopes on the Narendra Modi government in India. Nearly 500 are sheltered in a cleared-out chicken farm in a Hindu hamlet in Bangladesh's southeast, a couple of miles from where most of the Rohingya Muslims who have also fled violence in Myanmar since August 25 are living in makeshift camps.
    The Hindu refugees say they are scared of going back to their villages in Buddhist-majority Myanmar's restive Rakhine state, but also wary of staying in mostly Muslim Bangladesh.
    The Indian government, meanwhile, is making it easier for Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and other minorities from Bangladesh and Pakistan to gain citizenship in India.
    Meanwhile, the United Nations has appealed for massive help for the 429,000 Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh in recent weeks. The exodus followed a Myanmar military offensive, after attacks by Rohingya insurgents targeted security posts and an army camp. About a dozen people were killed in those attacks.
    Myanmar says the offensive is a legitimate operation against "terrorists," but UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was best described as ethnic cleansing.
    The crisis has raised questions about Myanmar's transition to civilian rule under the leadership of Noble laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
    After breaking her silence on the ongoing exodus in a State of the Union address, Suu Kyi told the news agency ANI that the Rohingya crisis was a complex problem which can't be solved overnight.

BHU violence: CM Yogi Adityanath seeks report, Rahul Gandhi calls it BJP's version of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao
  • A day after police allegedly lathicharged protesters at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has sought a report on the incident from the divisional commissioner.
    A number of students, including women, and two journalists were injured in the alleged lathicharge by the police. According to police sources, some policemen were also injured in the clashes. "I have sought a report from the Divisional Commissioner, Varanasi, about the entire incident," Adityanath said in Lucknow.
    A group of students had staged a sit-in at the main gate of the university after a female student of the Arts Faculty was allegedly harassed by three motorcycle-borne men on the campus. The protesting students were allegedly lathicharged by the police on Saturday night.
    BHU vice-chancellor Girish Chandra Tripathi alleged that the protest was "planned because of Prime Minister's visit". "Outsiders are involved in this incident," the BHU vice-chancellor said, adding that the authorities had prior information that "some anti-social elements will try to disturb the environment of the university".
    On the alleged sexual harassment of a student on the campus, the V-C said, "An unfortunate incident took place with one of our students (and) we are committed to stringent action".
    In Delhi, youth Congress members protested against the alleged lathicharge on BHU students. Aam Aadmi Party leader Kumar Vishwas said the alleged police action on protesters in BHU took place "when the Prime Minister and the chief minister were in the same city". Vishwas said the vice-chancellor of BHU "must quit if he has some shame".
    Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav condemned the alleged lathicharge of the students in BHU. "The government should resolve the issue by talks, not by lathicharge. It is condemnable. Action should be taken againt the guilty," the former UP chief minister tweeted.

    In the wake of the students' protest and unrest on the campus, the BHU administration announced that classes will remain suspended from September 25 to October 2. Earlier, the university was scheduled to close for Dussehra/Durga Puja from September 28 till October 2.

Business Affairs

Govt to set up 5 scrap-based steel plants, invest Rs 500 cr
  • The government is planning to set up five scrap-based steel plants at an investment of Rs 500 crore within a year to ensure that a chunk of the countrys targeted 300 million tonne steel output is met through scrap. India's target is to more than double the steel output by 2030, from 10 MT at present.
    "...from 126 MT (million tonnes) to 300 MT (of steel output) that we are eyeing, in that everything will not come from the fresh iron. So it will be coming from the scrap," Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma told PTI. "Within one year all the five (scrap-based) plants will come," she said, adding that in each plant around Rs 100 crore would be invested.
    Stressing that all the scrap will be reused to make steel, Sharma said that by 2030 around 30-40 million tonnes of steel would be made from scrap.
    Stating that the first such plant would come up next month in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, she said, "after Noida we will start in Southern India, then in Western India, Central India then one more in Northern India". State-run metal scrap trading firm MSTC has signed a joint venture (JV) agreement with Mahindra Intertrade for setting up the first such plant. "As of now the JV is between MSTC and Mahindra.
    Hyundai has shown interest for Southern India. So they will also join the same group. What we are saying is that it is MSTC Mahindra JV (and) anybody can join them," Sharma said. Mahindra Intertrade is a part of Mahindra Partners Division of the USD 17.8 billion diversified Mahindra Group, while the mini-ratna public sector undertaking (PSU) is engaged in the export of ferrous scrap.
    The countrys annual scrap requirement is 5-6 million tonnes, which at present is done through imports. The government had earlier said that the scrap?based steel plants which are environment?friendly, energy?efficient and cost effective would be on the lines of melt and manufacture steel technology used in the US. PTI SID SA SBT

Telecom sector under a lot of stress: SBI chief Arundhati Bhattacharya
  • The countrys largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) today reiterated that the telecom sector was under stress and the bank was doing extra provisioning for this.
    SBI chairman Arundhati in Bhattacharya said, "The telecom sector is undergoing a lot of stress and the bank is extra provisioning due to this."
    She said this when asked whether TRAIs decision to reduce the IUC charges would affect incumbent operators like Vodafone, Airtel and Idea which were already feeling the heat of Reliance Jios disruptive move.
    On the banks NPA outlook for rest of the fiscal, Bhattacharya said, "We have probably reached the bottom. Slippages are under control although new sectors like telecom were showing stress".
    Bhattacharya, who inaugurated the State Bank Institute of Management at New Town area here said, said the merger of the associate banks with itself was a deep structural reform.
    "Results will come over a period of time. We will deliver the in the next three to four quarters as promised.
    Regarding outlook of the economy post demonetisation and GST, Bhattacharya said the government would have to do some heavylifting like infrastructure development.
    On the institute, she said, it would impart training in banking and finance of highest standards.
    The institute would not restrict entry for non-SBI people and was open to all banking finance professionals, she said.
    Bhattacharya said this initiative would help the bank in retaining leadership position in the banking industry.
    In future, the institute might also house an innovation lab to help start-ups, she said.
    The institute would accommodate 240 students and is fully residential.
    Admission for seats would start from middle management level professionals, she said.

Reliance Jio to start delivering 6 million JioPhones from today
  • The delivery of about 6 million Reliance JioPhones will start on Sunday and be completed within 15 days, as per a channel partner of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL).
    Deliveries of the low-cost 4G handsets will begin from rural areas and small towns before urban centres, the partner, who did not wish to be named, told PTI.
    "The chairman (Mukesh Ambani) had said that the Reliance JioPhone will bridge digital divide between rural and urban India. Therefore, delivery of JioPhone will start this Sunday in rural areas and small towns," the channel partner said.
    Queries sent to Reliance Jio did not elicit any response.
    Pre-booking of the Reliance JioPhone started on 24 August against payment of a refundable deposit of Rs500. The remainder Rs1,000 has to be paid by the customer when the company starts delivering the handsets. The entire amount will be refunded against return of the phone after three years.
    "The delivery of first lot of 6 million will be completed in 10-15 days," the person said. He, however, was not aware of the dates for the next round of booking for Reliance JioPhone.
    According to CyberMedia Research, a total of 61.8 million mobiles were shipped in the second quarter of 2017. With 6 million units of sale, Reliance JioPhone is estimated to account for around 10% of India's total mobile phone market in a quarter.
    Reliance Jio chairman Mukesh Ambani had announced that voice calling for customers of Reliance JioPhone would always be free and they would get unlimited data for a month against a payment of Rs153. JioPhone will come with pre-loaded Reliance Jio apps for messaging and entertainment. The phone can be connected with television sets for watching live TV using the Reliance Jio TV app.

Shoppers Stop to raise Rs 179.26 cr from Amazon
  • Retail major Shoppers Stop today said it will raise Rs 179.26 crore from Amazon by issuing equity shares, amounting to 5 per cent stake in it, on preferential basis.
    The board of directors of the company in its meeting held today approved issue of 43,95,925 equity shares of Rs 5 each at a price of Rs 407.78 per equity share to NV aggregating around Rs 179.26, Shoppers Stop said in a BSE filing.
    The company has entered into an agreement with Investment Holdings LLC for the purpose of issuing equity shares on a preferential basis, it added.
    The shares will translate to just over 5 per cent stake of Amazon in the company. As on quarter ended June 30, Shoppers Stops fully paid up equity shares were at 8,35,04,744, according to information available on BSE.
    The company said it has called for an ordinary general meeting on October 18, 2017 for seeking approval from its shareholders.
    Post allotment of the securities, the investor will have not any special rights under the agreement and will only be entitled to exercise such rights that are exercisable by ordinary shareholders of the company to the extent of its shareholding, Shoppers Stop added.
    In a separate statement, company said to strengthen their existing ties, Shoppers Stop(SSL) and Amazon Seller Services (ASSPL) have entered into an exclusive partnership for the department store format. As part of the deal, Shoppers Stop will have an exclusive flagship store on the Amazon marketplace.
    The two companies have an existing partnership since 2016 under which Shoppers Stops private and exclusive brands (Stop, Kashish, Haute Curry, RS by Rocky Star,) have been listed on the Amazon marketplace.
    Further, Shoppers Stop will now have a flagship store on where it will list its entire portfolio of over 400 across categories such as apparel, footwear, beauty and accessories.
    This partnership will leverage Shoppers Stops brand assortment and Amazon.reach to create a superlative omni- channel retail experience for consumers across the country. The two companies will also conduct joint marketing efforts and mutually beneficial marketing and promotion activities, it added.
    Besides, Amazon experience centers will be created across the physical network of Shoppers Stop stores.
    Commenting on the partnership, Shoppers Stop Customer Care Associate & MD Govind Shrikhande said: "Overall, this alliance with will give a significant fillip to the growth of our omni-channel business".
    Amazon Fashion Head Arun Sirdeshmukh said the partnership enables to further extend its "leadership on selection in fashion category and offer customers across India fast while it also enables Shoppers Stop to access Amazon.ins nationwide customer base and expand reach in new geographies.

    Trump travel ban expires Sunday; new restrictions expected
    • President Donald Trump is expected to announce new restrictions on travel to the United States as his ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority countries expires Sunday, 90 days after it went into effect.
      The Department of Homeland Security has recommended the president sign off on new, more targeted restrictions on foreign nationals from countries it says refuse to share information with the U.S. or haven't taken necessary security precautions.
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      Officials haven't said which - or how many - countries will be affected by the new restrictions, which could take effect as soon as Sunday.
      "The acting secretary has recommended actions that are tough and that are tailored, including restrictions and enhanced screening for certain countries," said Miles Taylor, counselor to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke.
      The current ban bars citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" from entering the U.S.
      Unlike Trump's first travel ban, which sparked chaos at airports across the country and a flurry of legal challenges, officials said they have been working for months on the new rules, in collaboration with various agencies and in conversation with foreign governments.
      The recommendations are based on a new baseline developed by DHS that includes factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information and share information about travelers' terror-related and criminal histories. The U.S. then shared those benchmarks with every country in the world and gave them 50 days to comply.
      The citizens of countries that refused could now face travel restrictions and more stringent screening measures that would last indefinitely, until their governments complied.
      Trump last week called for a "tougher" travel ban after a bomb partially exploded on a London subway.
      "The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!" he tweeted.
      Critics have accused the president of overstepping his authority and violating the U.S. Constitution's protections against religious bias. Trump had called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" during his campaign.

    General Awareness

    Government launches ‘Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat’ to boost PMUY

    • On 23rd September 2017, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr.Dharmendra Pradhan launched the ‘Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat’ in Mota Ishanpur village of Gujarat.
      Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat:-
      i.On this occasion, Mr.Dharmendra Pradhan handed over free LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) connection to a beneficiary of PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana) scheme.Gujarat Chief Minister Mr.Vijay Rupani was also present in the occasion.
      ii.‘Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat’ will focus on spreading awareness among LPG users about the proper use and benefits of LPG.
      iii.This Panchayat will act as an interactive forum for PMUY beneficiaries, officials, LPG distributors and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations).Under one Panchayat, around 100 LPG customers will be clubbed.
      vi.The customers can share their experiences with others.The Panchayats will also discuss about safety practices, quality of service provided by distributors and availability of refill cylinders.
      LPG distribution centres :-
      i.Mr.Pradhan said that LPG connection has empowered women and has ensured their safety. As, lakhs of women have died due to health complications from usage of firewood as a fuel.
      ii.One lakh LPG Panchayats are to be formed all over India.Mr.Pradhan said that 40 % of PMUY beneficiaries in Gujarat are Tribals and Dalits.
      iii.He said that 106 new LPG distribution centres have been formed in the last one and half years in Gujarat.
      vi.He added that 319 new distribution centres are to be set up in Gujarat. This will provide employment to 5,000 people.
      v.He also said that LPG connection has been provided to 8.5 crore households in India in a duration less than three years.
      About Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY):
      Launched by – Mr.Narendra Modi
      Launched in – 2016
      Purpose – to provide 5,00,00,000 LPG connections to women below poverty line.

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